Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Brief Look Back at the Year that Was

Just a few highlights and not nearly all of the highlights from 2006 (and in no particular order)
Comics - I love me some comics. 2006 was a particularly good year for them. Thank you Grant Morrison for some of the best stuff out this year. Ed Brubaker, Warren Ellis, Kurt Busiek, Darwyn Cooke, Matt Wagner - youse guys ain't too shabby either. In related news, comic anthologies made a nice splash.

Democrats take both the Senate and House. Wow two whole years to do nothinng, continue to put forth no coherent agenda, and allow Republicans to win the presidency again in 2008. Hillary, I believe you would make a great president, but no, sweetie. Stop now. Pelosi, pull it together, girlfriend.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. Morbid, quirky history made fun. The paperback came out this year, so shut up.

Heroes - it's imperfect and doesn't treat women particularly well and may have retconned a supporting character's sexuality, but it's comics on TV and frankly the only show that's held my attention since Buffy left the air (24 comes close, but some weeks it is far too talky). Ugly Betty, I love you too ( a special kiss on the check to Eric Mabius).

Anti-gay Homo-hypocriscy revealed- Ted Haggard and Mark Foley, to name just two. In related news, Mary Cheney gets preggers - remember all those "Where's Mary?" campaigns? Apparently Mary retreats to sperm banks. Ewww.

Legal documents - signing them - making a commitment. A lot of fun in DC and a little in Orlando.

Leadershape - becoming part of an awesome organization and having the time of my life.

The cult of Gallup - the strengths approach to life, work and play made a tremendous impact on me this year. I think it made one on my students too.

Aikido - I've got a trio of committed guys working with me and it's just wonderful. It's great teaching again with yet another set of great people. Thanks, David, Barry, and Bobby. I love all three of you. I missed the reunion but there's next year.

There is certainly stuff from earlier in the year that I can't recall right now because I forget things in the new year. But there is one thing that ended my year that I'm real happy about!!

Here's a slight clue:

Ye Olde Yule Blog

Christmas Eve linkblogging...

This is modern togetherness - Peter and I sitting on the couch together with our laptops by our lighted Christmas tree, presents finally all wrapped, both of us surfing the web (and me blogging). Tomorrow we go visit my family for a couple of days; I wish his family was closer so we could visit them.

Thanks to the congratulations sent for Peter and me "legalizing" our relationship. Emilie U. - Peter sent me your message - thanks!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May you may find peace and happiness.

And now, our special "sex before Christmas" edition:

95% of Americans had sex before marriage - a number consistent since the 1950's. Even 88% of women born in the 1940's had pre-marital sex. Do those of you preaching abstinence only education might change your tune a little? It doesn't seem to be working.

Adolescents often disavow having signed a virginity pledge
Virginity pledges delay sex but don't cut down on STD rates.
What virginity pledges do and don't do

73% of military personnel aren't bothered by gays and lesbians, according to Zogby Intl. poll
What else do we need before we end the ridiculous "don't ask don't tell" policy? We fire essential personnel in fighting terrorism (outed Arabic translators) and most of our service members don't care. Can we please quit being stupid now?

New Jersey enacts civil unions - exciting as exciting as separate but equal can be!
"For most, people marriage has a religious connotation, and for many there is a view that that term is not consistent with the teachings of their religious belief," the governor said. "So there is not democratic support in the broader society for that label, even though there is strong support for equal protection under the law."

Peter has always said, and I agree, that the government should not be in the business of legislating marriage, because marriage is a religious institution. Seems the NJ governor largely agrees with us; my argument remains however that, until all civil unions of couples are called the same thing, we are being treated as second-class citizens. This remains an issue of American citizens not receiving equal rights. I will insist on marriage until straight couples are given civil unions as well (and of course the repeal of DOMA, the state constitutional bans, and national recognition of such same-sex unions).

And now the person who may be my person of the year - certainly my ally of the year: Carol Gilligan. The noted theorist and professor takes the evil, lying James Dobson to task for misrepresenting her research in Time.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Those Wacky Virginians

Thanks to Anne for both of these pieces...

Check out this rather good op-ed piece in the Washington Post on the few VA Episcopal churches that have withdrawn in protest of the main church's increasingly growing acceptance of same-sex couples.

In stark contrast to that piece, here's another news nugget:

Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and to his partner, TV producer Kevin McGee, wed this weekend at a private civil partnership ceremony in London. ...All guests, along with the couple of honor, attended in costume. While Lucas donned a vibrantly plumed Ali Baba costume, McGee sported an Adam Ant–style Prince Charming getup. Sir Elton John and David Furnish attended (as Captain Hook and Prince Charming, respectively—though not cool, Furnish, showing up the groom!), as did out pop star Will Young (as one of the Ugly Stepsisters), Courtney Love (as the Queen of Hearts), chat-show host Graham Norton, Ab Fab cocreator Dawn French, Doctor Who’s David Tenant, Queer as Folk creator Russell T. Davies, and Little Britain’s cocreator David Walliams.

Here's the photo:

Monday, December 18, 2006


Tonight, Peter and I, quietly and in the presence of two good friends as witnesses and a very nice lawyer, finalized the legal documents that will allow us to take care of each other should the need arise. We celebrated with a fun dinner afterwards.

No fanfare, no songs (well Christmas songs on the radio), no confetti, no hoopla. This was us putting the ultimate trust in each other. Our lives are completely open books to each other in every sense now. Our financial resources and decisions about our health and the handling of our departure is in each other's hands.

Forced to draw up documents that most people never think about because society has deemed that we don't deserve the right to love and protect each other, I'm at a loss to feel resentment or anger right now. All I can think about is the miracle of two people finding each other and knowing that that other person is the absolutely perfect person to make the most important decisions of their life for them. Not many people, gay or straight, or that fortunate. Forced to truly examine our relationship in ways that many straight couples never do, we are all the stronger and certain for it.

It's really something quite amazing if you stop to think about it. Love and trust expressed through a signature. Legal documents that signify something far greater than the words on them.

This is the secular made sacred and spiritual. The mundane made holy.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Few Smaller Items

Neil, I believe, commented on my "Straight Talk" post about bisexuality but I chose not to post it because of the language he used in it. I try to keep this a PG-13 site, on rare occassion R, but Neil went into some X-rated language. Still, he made a point worth addressing, which is that some people are true bisexuals. Bisexuality is not well understood still and even less accepted by either the gay or straight community. I do think there are some true bisexuals - people equally attracted to both sexes, but I think this is exceptionally rare. I still think that most people who label themselves bisexual, particularly men are rejecting the gay label. If we understand sexuality as a continuum, them likely most people will favor one side of the other. I don't want to diminish the experience of true bisexuals; my personal experience is that it is often used as a transitionary label or a final grasping at non-homosexuality.

During our Disney vacation, I fainted during a tour (which unfortunately Peter was greatly anticipating). It was the first time I've ever fainted in my life and I think it was caused by a combination of factors, the biggest of which was unthinkingly having wine for dinner while still on some powerful medication from a previous illness. I was attended to by the head of guest relations, a very cute paramedic, and an affable but goofy security guard. (Ok, not literally Goofy.) The security guard, using what must be a standard joke for him, asked me if I had seen Minnie Mouse walking by since she often has that effect on fellows. The paramedic glanced over to the guest relations head (both of whom I believe were family) and then told the security guard, "I think you are missing some important clues." I have continued to laugh my butt off on that one.

Various stations have been running The Polar Express continuously these past few weeks and I have caught it at various stages. The animation is really, really creepy. It could have been a very good movie, but unfortunately it isn't, which is a shame since the book it's based on is beautiful. My main problem, storywise, is that the young protagonist has a problem believing in Santa. This issue is only resolved after he's been transported on a magic train to the North Pole, where he is surrounded by elves, flying reindeer, and impossible devices. There are other story problems, but this is a deal-breaker for me. It's not inspiring to see someone have faith in something once they've all but seen it. The young man doesn't see Santa until he says he believes, but given the incredible surroundings, it's not such a leap of faith. I would prefer he came to a decision point well before then - faith is believing in what you can't prove or see.

I hope to be able to maintain more regular posts, but only time will tell. Certainly the winter holiday will afford me some time, but when I return to work in January will be the true test.

The Bully Pulpit

Yes, over three months have passed since my last entry. Life has say the least. I won't go into details here, or at least for now, but let me say that a week long vacation/business trip (v/k for me; work for Peter) perfectly symbolized our life by having half of it wiped out. We lost two days because of a very odd episode involving me fainting (more on that in a later post) and three days because Peter was bitten/stung by some unknown insect that luckily found me not as tasty. Poor Peter has continued to struggle with the fallout from the bite for ten days now and it's still not over for him yet. A symbolic, if not restful, vacation.

What has prompted me to post now, however, falls perfectly in line with my previous post. (Hi, anyone out there still??)

Not ere a month since the reverend Ted Haggard's disclosure of "sexual immorality," another evangelical has come out of the closet, also in Colorado, a bastion of the religious right. The Denver Post reported on December 11th that the Rev. Paul Barnes, the minister of a 2100 member church, has resigned because he continues to struggle with homosexualilty. Barnes is a 54 year old man, married with two daughters in their twenties. Barnes said in a videotaped segment that he had struggled with being gay since the age of three.

Barnes apparently still rejects the idea that people are born this way and is searching for childhood influences on how he became gay. I'm not sure what could possibly influence someone at the age of three to become gay; I don't remember anything really before I was in kindergarten, but clearly Barnes isn't ready to accept that perhaps God made him that way. Tragically he recounts one childhood incident where his father talked about what he would do if a "fag" approached him. Barnes recounts how this impacted him; how he wondered what his father would think of him.

It's unfortunate that Barnes cannot see that it wasn't childhood circumstances that made him gay, but instead childhood circumstances that caused him to hate himself. Although Ted Haggard did not recount a similar conversation in his letter to his church, he did mention that "there's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all my adult life." Somebody told him that his life was repulsive and I honestly don't think it was God.

Initially, I was very angry with Haggard and happy to see another anti-gay hypocrite brought down. That was not the right response. Soulforce correctly models the proper Christian attitude of forgiveness and compassion. And, honestly, when I read Haggard's letter, my anger melted away. His letter is filled with sadness; it's easy to see how much he hates himself and how much he thinks he is unworthy of respect and love. I suspect Barnes feels the same way. That any human feels that way is intensely sad. I'm afraid that being under the control of the hate spewing and fact-distorting supervision of James Dobson will not help Haggard feel differently about himself any time soon. I hope he can come to realize that his life is not over and that he, as a gay human being, is worthy of God's love and acceptance.

Societal and religious discrimination and homophobia are the real culprits here. The failure of the average church-goer to understand what God's Word really says about gay people and the purposeful use of distorted facts and scripture for personal and political gain by religious and political leaders are the factors that cause people to have less meaningful, less fulfilled lives. They promote a culture that damages and harms people, children, youth, and adults alike.

Evangelical culture actually encourages people to act very un-Christian. Evangelicals become obsessed with rules and regulations; they are the modern pharisees and sadducees that Jesus reprimanded time and time again. They are concerned with who is and isn't going to Heaven through obeying The Rules rather than focusing on service, love, sacrifice, and compassion. These were the values of Christ, whom I cannot believe would endorse the repeated aggressive attempts of modern Evangelicals to enact legislation that denies gays and lesbians even basic civil protections.

Evangelical culture promotes followers who will send you e-mail, such as I recently received, telling you that you are "full of confusion" and despite comparing you to pedophiles and practioners of bestiality insist that they are still "not writing to you to make you feel condemned or unloved or even unaccepted." My e-mailer seems far more confused than I am. I suspect that my admirer finds me confused becaause I readily express that there are mysteries of faith that I don't and can't understand. That I unashamedly admit that I find myself conflicted sometimes in matters of faith. Evangelicals like certainty: right and wrong clearly defined. There is no place for honest reactions, doubt, or thinking that maybe our finite minds cannot fully understand the infinite mind of God. Like many Evangelicals, my writer readily pronounced me as not being a Christian, as if Jesus had called her up to let give her the inside scoop. She pretends to know my heart and mind; something I thought only God could do. But passing judgment is a favorite past-time of Evangelicals, who prefer to gloss over verses such as "judge not lest ye also be judged" but love verses that seem to suit their purposes.

Ah, but I digress from my original purpose, which is to highlight how the misuse of scripture, religion, and homophobia have created a pressure cooker that is starting to crack. It's been leaking for almost a decade now, but I think this one is finally getting ready to blow. I wish it didn't take people having to undergo such traumatic events. I hope that a brighter dawn emerges from the storm we are all in.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Straight Talk

Peter found this article on WebMD. It's fascinating, but not too surprising to me. I believe one of the side-effects of the gay civil rights movement may have been to make married, straight-identified men (or straight men in an opposite-sex "serious" relationship) more bold or at least less scared of acting on their same-sex sexual interests.

Undoubtably, some of our comfort as a society talking about gay issues has helped bring this issue to light, but I find it curious that many more men seem willing to either label themselves as "bi", probably because to be "gay" is far too effeminate and faggy. "Bi" seems to allow these type of men a self-concept of masculinity that somehow seems elusive to them as gay men. I also wondeer if it hasn't caused some men who like to have sex with men to hold even harder onto that mythical American dream of a wife, kids, two cars in the garage, and a white picket fence while at the same time embolding them to act on their sexual desires.

Societally, as we've become more open and accepting of homosexuality, we've seen a strong counter-current of people desparately clinging onto antiquated ideas of what it means to be a man in American society. Perhaps feeling that these outdates concepts of masculinity are on the verge of becoming extinct (sadly, I think, they're nowhere near that - many concepts of masculinity have prevailed since time began), they cling even harder to that self-identity.

Many Straight Men Have Gay Sex
Nearly 10% of Self-Proclaimed 'Straight' Men Only Have Sex With Men
Daniel DeNoonWebMD Medical News
Reviewed By
Louise Chang, MDon Monday, September 18, 2006

Sept. 18, 2006 -- Nearly one in 10 men who say they're straight have sex only with other men, a New York City survey finds.

And 70% of those straight-identified men having sex with men are married.

In fact, 10% of all married men in this survey report same-sex behavior during the past year.
This means safe-sex messages aimed at straight and gay men are likely missing this important subgroup, suggest Preeti Pathela, DrPH, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues.

"To reduce the burden of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infection among men who have sex with men, it is of utmost importance for [health care] providers to take a sexual history that ascertains the sex of a partner," Pathela and colleagues report. "Asking about a patient's sexual identity will not adequately assess his risk."

Straight Men Who Have Sex With Men
In 2003, Pathela's team performed telephone interviews with nearly 4,200 New York City men. They conducted the interviews in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian; a translation service helped with interviews in Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Polish, and Haitian Creole.
In nearly every study of sexual behavior, the percentage of men who report sex with men is higher than the percentage of men who report being gay.

So Pathela and colleagues first asked the men if they were bisexual, gay, or straight. Then they asked about specific sexual behaviors.

Some of the findings:
Straight-identified men who have sex with men report fewer sex partners than gay men.

Straight-identified men who have sex with men report fewer STDs in the past year than gay men.

Straight-identified men who have sex with men are less likely than gay men to report using a condom during their last sexual encounter.

Straight-identified men who have sex with men are more likely to be foreign born than gay men.

Also, a man who says he is straight but is having sex with other men is more likely to be married than a straight man who has sex with women, according to the survey. Only 54% of the men who say they're straight and have sex with women are married, compared with the 70% marriage rate among the men who say they're straight but have sex with men.

Pathela and colleagues note that because they report fewer STDs and fewer sex partners than gay men, straight-identified men who have sex with men may think they are at lower risk of HIV and STDs. This isn't necessarily so.

The men with whom these straight-identified men have sex may themselves have multiple sex partners and elevated STD and HIV risk. The low rate of condom use makes the straight-identified men vulnerable.

"Prevention messages should focus on the activities that pose risk -- for example, unprotected receptive anal sex -- and should not be framed to appeal solely to gay-identified men," Pathela and colleagues suggest.

The findings appear in the Sept. 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
SOURCES: Pathela, P. Annals of Internal Medicine, Sept. 19, 2006; vol 145: pp 416-425.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Shiver Me Justin Timberlake

I about missed "Talk Like a Pirate Day". What's your pirate name, me harties?

My pirate name is:

Mad Dog Rackham

Part crazy, part mangy, all rabid, you're the pirate all the others fear might just snap soon. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Courtesy of Pirate - where else? Arrrr

Gay (News) Parade

Or lazy linkblogging...

Openly-gay Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit re-elected (and possible viable candidate for head of state)

Gay couple's affection banned on oversea American Airline flight

Thanks to Dorian for pointing out those two items.

More companies gay-friendly, according to annual HRC study. Exxon is again one of the companies that scored a complete zero on the index. Buy your gas ANYWHERE else, people.

Charles Barkley, interested in running for governor of Alabama, down with gay marriage

Advocate cover features yet another straight (B-list at best) celebrity
That's not really news, though, now is it?

And in the news item voted "Most Likely to Raise Michael's blood pressure the Most"...

McGreevey Opposed Same-Sex Marriage To Hide Own Sexuality
From the article...

"'I did not want to be identified as being gay, and it was the safe place to be,' McGreevey said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. 'I wanted to embrace the antagonist. I wanted to be against it. That's the absurdity.'"

"Though he angered the gay and lesbian community in 2002 with his opposition to a lawsuit giving legal protection to same-sex marriages, the state's top gay rights organization and the lead attorney for the gay couples who sued for the right to marry say they are not upset by McGreevey's admission.

"'He did use his office as governor as a bully pulpit to speak out against gay marriage. And we were mad as hell,' said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality.

"'But he did a 180. When someone does that, how do you turn around and say you won't accept their apology,' Goldstein said."

You say, "apology NOT accepted." How about that? I can't stand the hero-ization of McGreevey, a man who does not in any way shape or form deserve it. And to simply dismiss his active participation in hindering civil rights for people as excusable because now he "did a 180." (In what way? By coming out? By coming out when he was about to be exposed, not because of some high inner moral edict or belief?) Let's not pretend that just becomes somebody is an out homosexual that he or she is beyond reproach. Let's try to find some real role models and spokespeople.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Failing to Advocate

The Advocate is striking out, and not in bold new directions. No, the magazine is striking out in the recreational sense. I'm tired of it; I quit subscribing to it a few years ago because I felt like it had lost touch with its mission and its audience. (Hopefully I'm right about the latter half, although I fear I'm wrong and that The Advocate actually is properly addressing its audience.)

In the previous issue, the editor came out strongly against criminal penalties for people who have HIV, know they have HIV and fail to disclose this to sexual partners. I find this wholly unresponsible and as an example of political correctness gone awry. I don't blame people who are HIV positive for their condition, and I recognize the difficulties that such a law could pose for people living with HIV, both knowingly and unknowingly. However, failure to disclose HIV status to a sexual partner is, without question, morally wrong. It's a sin of the greatest magnitude, just slightly under lying about your HIV status.

I agree that some people may advocate for such laws out of ignorance, irrational fear, or even hate. That doesn't make it an unreasonable law intrinsically, however. I don't advocate for doctors or other medical personnel having to disclose their HIV status; that's an entirely different matter. But somebody just trying to get laid who purposefully hides his/her status in order to have sex (or worse to knowingly try to transmit) should be punished. It's irresponsible and selfish. This doesn't absolve people from asking - dammit, there's a level of responsibility on both sides, but one party's failure to ask is not sufficient reason to subject that person to a debilitating, expensive, even deadly disease.

Now, once that status has been disclosed, it's no longer that person's responsibility to protect you. If you, at that point, chose to engage in high-risk behavior, then that's your choice. You had full information and chose to participate. This is one potential problem with such a law: people who claim they weren't informed but actually were. I think the optimal solution is to have that disclosure in writing. Being able to prove that on the date you encountered the person, they had awareness of your status is crucial to protect yourself. This, I think, is easy enough with an e-mail or even a signed statement. Yes, I know, it takes all of the romance or lust or perversion out of the encounter, whatever you're asking for, but some people into risky or adventurous sex advocate using contracts just so that everybody is clear on the expectations. Contracts aren't sexy, but they are probably worth it.

If you want to argue against this point, that's understandable and I'm willing to listen to counter arguments, but The Advocate seems to make its stance with no thoughtfullness at all. It comes off as what they believe is the popular opinion, or at least the "cool" opinion, so that's the one it goes with.

The most recent issue, you know, the one with the Gwen Stephanie cover, has an editorial that's nearly as frustrating. (No, Gwen's not gay, by the way.) Although it deals with a much less weighty topic, The Advocate's editor decided to go after Born Different, the campaign with the cute dog who "moos." The Advocate, the magazine with the numerous celebrities on its covers (many who aren't gay, but sure like us queers a lot) complains that too much money was spent on what it characterizes as an ineffectual campaign, exclaiming that the money could have been spent on telling the story of real individuals. The Advocate, the one with the sexy and provacative cover just three issues ago (their summer sex issue), berates the campaign for being too easily discredited by Focus on the Family and its ilk ("dogs aren't born mooing and people aren't born gay").

I have no idea how impactful, if at all, the Born Different campaign has been. I'm a huge fan of exposing people to gay and lesbian families that they can relate to (although I'm also a huge proponent of making sure that we don't lose the radicalness of queer identity). I also firmly believe that the good word (that us queers aren't out to steal your kids and husbands) needs to be delivered in a variety of ways. Different people respond to different messages. I can tell you one thing over and over and you may never understand it until somebody else tells you the exact same thing, except in a different way that you respond to. So, without any hard facts to prove that the BD campaign hasn't been useful, this magazine that once was the premiere publication of our community but now is obsessed with interviewing straight celebrities, has the audacity to attack an organization actually promoting not just civic acceptance, but societal acceptance. This campaign, trying to change peoples' hearts and attitudes, not just their vote, is belittled by a magazine that has lost its way and does almost nothing to truly advocate for our community any longer. The Advocate needs to change its name to The Hypocrite.

If I didn't already get the magazine for free, I'd cancel my subscription.

In Poor Taste (and Not Just Mine)

Brisbane, Australia (AP) -- Representatives of the international Stingray community today called the attack against famed entertainer Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin "barbaric." Leaders of Stingray communities across the world condemmed the attack as the action of a militant and fundamentalist sect of Stingrays. These leaders, along with other global leaders, urged that individuals not lash out at Stingrays in their communities.

Even President George W. Bush, noted for defaming gay and lesbians for political gain and power said, "We should not rush to stereotype these typically peaceful people. Stingrays are postivit contributors to society; they are a peaceful people and should not be retaliated against unless you are absolutely sure they are a terrorist." National guardsmen were deployed to several Stingray community centers to ward off possible violence.

Admittably, this is at best in borderline taste, but really it's aimed at the news media who has been treating this unfortunate man's death as if he were a political dignitary. Steve Irwin's death is tragic, but does not rise to the level of coverage given to it when far more pressing matters fail to gain the attention they deserve. The news media continually fails to correctly and successfully prioritize news coverage. That said, sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.

It's half tempting to go into an extended parody of what the stingray ate during its arraignment, given the news media's fascination with the meals of the Jon Benet Ramsey Non-Killer.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

When Is Progress Not Progress?

This past Monday, Wal Mart has entered into a partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Leaving the Chamber to make the announcement (no press release came from the company), representatives of the megacorp nonetheless expressed that "[Wal Mart] is making a very sincere effort to reach out to people who are a significant part of our customer base."

I came across this while listeing (as all highly-educated, hyper astute individuals do of course) to NPR today and Cox News (yes, I'm tempted to be crass here) offers a write-up that includes most of what I heard on the radio (found courtesy of Wal Mart Watch). The article details the totally not-unexpected resistance from right-wing "family" groups and also the not-surprising negative reaction from liberal groups opposed to Wal Mart's decidely non-worker friendly policies, regardless of sexual orientation.

While mention is made of Wal Mart's interest in expanding into urban areas, home to greater populations of the gay-folk, what it doesn't expound upon (that NPR did) is that Wal Mart is also seeking not just to increase its customer base, but specifically looking for those with more disposable income. (I always hear that us queers have tons of disposable income. When do I get mine?) Wal Mart wants people to spend more during each trip and the way to do that is to cultuvate a more, shall we say, income-available crowd. Wal Mart has to up it's snob appeal.

It is, of course, somewhat of a conundrum. On one hand, any positive step for greater acceptance of gay people in society is a good thing. On the other hand, it's merely a calculated business move to generate more income, not a gesture motivated out of some inherent ethical perspective or foundation. It's both affirmation and cynical manipulation in the same embrace.

Also, shouldn't we as a community be concerned for the more encompassing ills that Wal Mart perpetuates as a company? It is decidedly unfriendly in its policies for its workers and its business practices to drive down prices from its suppliers frequently have disasterous trickle-down effects for those suppliers and/or their employees. Americans think Wal Mart is a good deal (well, some do, others of us find it a disgusting and unethical place to shop at and others are forced out of necessity to shop there) but in the long run, many practices are probably hurting the people who need those low prices the most.

Right wing pundits in the article claim that Wal Mart's core shopping group will stop shopping at the stores because of this seemingly gay-friendly move. Not likely. We've seen the disasterous effects that the Southern Baptist boycotts have had on the finances of the Disney Corporation. Disney is ready to sell their theme parks to Jerry Faldwell just to get out of debt. And Disney is entertainment. Wal Mart provides food and other supplies that are vital to people living or having any quality of life.

Americans are not civic minded and self-sacrificing enough over any issue above their own pocketbook. If Wal Mart prices stay low, they won't lose any revenue. Much of the country could probably care less to begin with, as attitudes towards gay rights continue to become more positive. In the end, this is a no-lose motion on Wal Mart's part. The company can only gain by giving the perception that it's a welcoming affirming place, especially for rich queens and sapphic home makers (or renovators).

In other non-progressive news, Wayne Besen reports on a New York Baptist church firing a Sunday School teacher because she's a woman (and an old one at that). The decision was based in the literal interpretation of the Epistle of Timothy: ""I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.""

This was New York state, might I add. Shut up about the red state crap now.

And on a happier note, I was amused by the story on All Things Considered today of a Nova Scotia lobster seller who had to innovate on their shipping of lobsters. No longer able to pack the lobsters in ice or cold gel packs, the company became truly clever and now packs the lobsters in...frozen vegetables. Not only do they work as well as ice, but now the company advertises a free vegetable side! That, my friends, is using the ole noggin.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Hijacking That's Truly a Concern

Sent to me from my friend Anne (oooh, Anne, you got a blog mention - don't you feel blogworthy?)

Hijacking fears and values
By Bishop Paul V. Marshall
August 2006

This is Bishop Paul Marshall’s August column for secular newspapers, usually different from his column in Diocesan Life. The column is sent to newspapers throughout our 14 counties. It is published by The Morning Call, Allentown, on the first (occasionally, the second) Saturday of every month. The combined circulation of papers that publish the column regularly is about 400,000. More than 100 columns have been published over the past nine years.

When Samuel Johnson observed in 1775 that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” he was disapproving of scoundrels, not patriotism.

What scoundrels did, and do, is hijack people’s values in order to amass power and wealth for themselves. It is not just patriotism that is used this way, but anything that evokes people’s fear of losing what is sacred to them. Family and moral values are recent examples of values being hijacked for ignoble purposes.

When the two can’t be told apart, religion is as bad as politics. No religion on earth fails to have blood on its hands – the arguments tend to boil down to whose religion has more.

No fictional example of the moral profiteer is more memorable than Professor Harold Hill of The Music Man, who sells musical instruments and band uniforms by harnessing people’s fear that their youth may be corrupted by the presence of a pool table.

No real-life example is more horrific than what happened in Europe when an evil man convinced Germans that they were victims of a conspiracy in the 1930s.

What will history say of our own time?

Eric Fromm, who gave much of his career to helping people live and love authentically, observed: “There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.”
History provides an example. The Crusades, no matter what the motivation of their initiators, became the opportunity for breath-taking pillage and murder.

Can anyone say that the love of God motivated those crimes? Of course not, but those who perpetrated them said so. Some of them apparently believed it.

Fromm and Johnson suggest a test for weighing our responses to what we see and hear. If someone consistently raises our fears and repeatedly harks on what is wrong in an effort to get our votes or our money, we may be in the presence of a scoundrel.

If someone reduces patriotism or morality to one issue or a very small cluster of issues, a scoundrel may be at work.

If we notice that our outrage can be linked to our own sense of personal security or to our pocketbooks, we may be listening to a scoundrel.

That’s the easy part – if the alarms just described go off, don’t vote for the scoundrels and don’t give them money. The more challenging part is regulation of whatever, inside our own souls, makes us vulnerable to the scoundrel’s pitch.

Fromm says that the envy and hate on which the scoundrel relies are already there. The scoundrel merely provides the channel through which they can flow.

It is worth asking ourselves, when we hear a stirring denunciation of someone else, what in us makes us interested in hearing such things?

An answer comes in part from the fact that we tend to blame in others what we fear in ourselves. This may explain why so many high-profile crusaders turn out to have secretly sordid lives.

Those who are willing to look into the chaos of their own souls tend to give others a break. People who know their lives to be in order are seldom obsessed with apparent disorder in the lives of others.

The highest use of religion is not to create the illusion of order and a place from which to obsess about the failings of those around us. The highest use of religion is to make us enough at peace with our own dark places that there is no joy in degrading others. Such a state of things would put a lot of scoundrels out of work, but it would be pleasant.

[The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall is bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem, 14 counties of eastern and northeastern Pennsylvania. Additional columns and sermons by Bishop Marshall are available]

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Crazy Season

This is the time of year that gets the busiest for me; the days leading up to the opening of the buildings and moreso the start of the academic year. Although the halls opening has much less impact on my job than getting ready for class does and the return of the faculty causes me more work than the return of the RAs, this time nonetheless is exceptionally busy for me. This year should prove to be exceptionally moreso; it will be a matter of picking out my priorities and focusing on them and ignoring that which doesn't get done simply because there weren't enough hours in a day.

Of course, one of those priorities must be my relationship with Peter, whose job just never seems to get done. We are looking forward to some time together later this Fall, but our anniversary time was severely cut into this year by the demands of both our jobs. We got in some QT, but it just wasn't enough, plus we're both exhausted right now.

That exhaustion does worry me for Peter's health. I'm convinced it played a major part in his profound illness back in March. And our now-former doctor failed to adequately explore what exactly caused it all, in my opinion. We finally found a really good doctor today, one who understands the issues of two gay men and one who, more importantly, seemed interested and caring in his approach. He's far away from us (a good 30 minutes using the interstate) but I think he'll be worth it. This has given me no small piece of mind; do not underestimate the importance of a good doc.

The frustration with the past-doc definitely raised the issue as to why exactly she failed to provide an adequate level of care. Although I never got an anti-gay vibe from her, the question of course popped into both of our heads. It's a shame, really, to have to even consider the possibility. Being white men, it's easy for us to forget the world of priviledge we belong to and how we get by most days without thinking about if we got shafted because of who we are. It is the consequence of being completely out (and I wouldn't have it any other way) that we do sometimes run into the wall of subordinate membership. We may not have been discriminated against, but maybe we did and I hate even thinking about it. I've had this conversation several times with black friends: they don't want to think that they second-hand treatment (or worse) simply because of their race; they don't want to play the race card, yet it's hard not to wonder. And when that pattern becomes repeated, then obviously something is going on here.

My experience is that reasonable people seek reasonable answers. Even when the reasonable answer is, yes, we live in a society that oppresses certain groups daily, usually in the most subtle, unnoticed, or underhanded ways, most reasonable people belonging to a subordinate group look for another reason. Most people want to believe the best of their fellow person, yet the spectre of reality, the reality of institutionalized -isms is lurking right over their shoulder. It whispers about the shadow side of human behavior. And that whisper is impossible to ignore. Some people hear this whisper daily, others, like myself, less frequently. I want to be the reasonable person; I hope I am right in being so.

Nonetheless, being out is an important decision, especially being out to your doctor. Here's a good article about making that decision and how to find the right doctor. GLMA (the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association) is an invaluable resource for our community. We found our new doctor, whom we are estatic with, through this resource.

We now return you to our regular programming...

Peter's and my relationship has never been more important to us than it is right now; never more alive or central. It's become something that's far deeper than I ever anticipated. I always thought the heady rush that accompanies that initial puppy love stage and stays with you for months even was where it was at. I mourned the loss of that feeling. But what I feel now is far more compelling, important, and ingrained to my being. It's impossible to imagine him not in my life, not with me. It's not just a desire to not be lonely - it's about him. No other substitute is possible, even conceivable. It doesn't mean we're the perfect couple. Certainly we still fuss and fight, but the connection, which at times felt breakable in the past, isn't part of the equation any more.

In regards to other priorities, this blog will take a bit of a back seat unless something really rattles my cage or I suddenly find less work to do (not likely)!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Positively Interesting

Right now I'm really immersed in the Gallup Organization's research on talent and excellence. They have combined this research with an emerging field called positive psychology, which instead of studying what is wrong with people, studies what is right with people.

It sounds all a bit Pollyanna-ish and Norman Vincent Peale-ish, but it tries really hard to avoid that and is rooted not just in theory, but actual studies of people who are the best (and the average) of what they do. Gallup is really interested in what distinguishes your average joe versus the best of the best.

Gallup has found that what makes excellence (at least in the workplace) is a strong match between a person's job and their talents. A talent, for Gallup, is any recurring thought, feeling, or behavior that can be constructively applied.

Gallup distinguishes talent from skill, which are those things that can be taught (like how to fill out a database or spreadsheet) and knowledge, which are those things you know from experience or being taught/reading. Talent, on the other hand, cannot be taught. They can be sharpened into strengths, but because they are innate to who you are, they can't be changed. For instance, if you aren't empathic (the ability to feel what others are feeling - the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes), then no amount of training or practice will turn you into a strong empath. You can learn some skills that will improve how empathic you are, but likely you will always have to think very purposefully about those things (what your posture is, what nonverbals to look for, make sure to listen to voice rate, pitch, tone, etc.) and you may even funtion at a decent level of empathy, but it will never come naturally and spontaneously to you. It will never be as fulfilling to you as other things you are more talented at doing.

And, you can "not do it." Your talents are things that you can't not do.

All of this setup to say, therefore, I loved the following quote that was the signature in an email I received from a staff member of Leadershape:

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit."

Apparently this stuff has been around for a lot longer than we realized!

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Necessary Set Back?

I've surprised myself by taking the New York Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage pretty hard. I honestly hadn't thought much about it, considering it well out of my realm of being able to do anything about it. And although I wasn't certain about the chances of success there, I certainly thought that same-sex marriage had a better chance of being upheld as being legal and in accordance with New York State constitution than not. But, what I think hurts the most is the language and rationale behind the judges which suggests that they cowed to political or public pressure.

The word "sexual preference" over "orientation" was used by at least one judge and a portion of the ruling seems to suggest that gay marriage disrupts traditional heterosexual marriage and that is needed to stabilize the currently shaky state of affairs in many straight relationships. I swear I'm not making this up! According to the New York Times:

In particular, they noted one section suggesting heterosexual couples need marriage to be preserved as a way to shore up their faulty relationships and protect their children who might suffer in broken-home situations.

"It's a mess of a decision that in the end makes a very weak argument: That you can justify barring same-sex couples from marrying because of the unstable relationships of heterosexual couples," Mr. [David Buckel, head counsel for Lambda Legal] said.

To quote Jon Stewart, "muwa-huh?" I've never understood how giving same-sex couples legal protections impedes on traditional marriage. The idea of preserving something that won't be going anywhere is highly illogical to me.

I'm also greatly pained thinking about the gloating that several right-wing groups are going to be doing for a while now. They'll certainly take the opportunity to say that this is a message/signal/sign that God/America/People with SUV's isn't going to stand for gay marriage. This decision has already been called the Gettysberg of gay marriage. I'm just going to have to not watch TV for a while because I just don't want to hear it.

If anything, I think the clear message here is that we must work on changing laws by working through legislators and winning over individuals and communities (which, by and large, is done individually). It's more difficult, it's a much harder journey, and it requires more sacrifice. It requires gay and lesbian people to be more out and open and expressive about our lives. We must speak up and out to our family and friends about this issue. It's not easy; I find it very difficult to do with my own parents. But trying to win through the courts is not working by and large. Yes, we've had some victories, and yes, we did it through the legislative process in California and got sent to the courts by a coward and a snake. But people are resenting the victories in the court and it's giving ammunition to our opponents.

Although it's easy to get depressed and tired from set backs like this, I hope it leads the advocacy groups to re-think their strategies and re-prioritize to make them even more impactful and effective. For my fellow gay American, I hope it makes us more willing to share our lives with the people around and to express how deserving we are of the legal protections our straight friends and co-workers share.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Common Sense Christian

I really like this woman....

Episcopal News Service
Sunday, June 18, 2006
From Columbus: Jefferts Schori's 'Reign of God'

By Pat McCaughan

[ENS] Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori's vision to lead the Episcopal Church comes straight out of the prophet Isaiah's vision of the reign of God and includes such United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as eradicating poverty and hunger.

"The poor are fed, the good news is preached, those who are ostracized and in prison are set free, the blind receive sight," Jefferts Schori said June 18 during her first news conference after her election.

The Presiding Bishop-elect fielded questions on topics as wide-ranging as creationism, human sexuality, her call to the priesthood and why she became an airplane pilot.

Elected to the 2.4 million member church's top post on Father's Day, Jefferts Schori said she became a pilot after her father promised her flying lessons if she completed college. "I flew as recently as last Saturday ... a Cessna 172," she said.

She drew upon her experiences as an oceanographer when asked how she'd reconcile with those who oppose her ordination and episcopate. While researching the living habits of worms, squid, octopus and shrimp 30 years ago, "a cruise captain wouldn't talk to me because I was a woman," she recalled. "That lasted about 15 minutes. We got over it."

"My training as a scientist has given me the gift of looking at the world carefully, and investigating. I take delight in the incredible diversity of creation, delighting in the view from several thousand feet above the earth."

When a reporter asked how the "average Anglican who is a black woman under 30, earns two dollars a day and is evangelical," might react to news of her consecration and to her consent to Gene Robinson's consecration, she responded: "If the average Anglican is as you describe, she is dealing with hunger, inadequate housing, unclean water and unavailability of education. Those are the places I would start. The issue of sexuality comes along much higher on the hierarchy of needs."

About creationism and evolution, she said: "Evolution most definitely should be taught in school. It's a well-tested premise and the best model that fits the data available. Creationism can't make that claim. I believe in the creeds. They say God created the world, but they don't say how."

About homosexuality, she said: "I believe that God welcomes all to his table, those who agree and those who disagree. The Episcopal Church always has been a strong voice for including a variety of opinions; the marginalized are welcomed at the table."

-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan is senior correspondent for ENS and serves as associate rector at St. Mary's Church in Laguna Beach, California.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Achieving Your Potential

I'm a Gallup Groupie. I have become fascinated and slavishly enthralled to the Gallup Organization's literature on recognizing talent and strength and, relatedly, how to create an environment in an organization that creates the greatest outcomes for the organization. (That, not coincidentially, is tied to providing a good working environment for the members of the organization.) The book dealing with the organizational setting is First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. It's a fascinating subject and I fully recommend that you read it if you manage people. But today I want to tackle a specific element of the Twelve Questions that resulted in the book Now, Discover your Strengths. This book is about discovering and developing your natural talents.

This is all based around research that Gallup conducted approximately 10-12 years ago. Gallup found that people who were considered the best of the best in their profession (and this included people in all different types of positions: policemen, managers, housekeepers, teachers, lawyers, customer service representatives, etc.) no matter what their age, race, gender, or profession had careers that catered to, and allowed them to focus on, (for most of the day anyway) their natural talents and strengths. Those talents of course varied from profession to profession and even within professions (say a stockbroker at one firm versus another firm) because of the requirements, philosophies, or desired outcomes from specific organizations.

Gallup defines talent as any naturally reoccurring behavior, thought, or feeling that can be productively applied. When we employ our talents, we enjoy the activity we are engaged in, time seems to fly by, and we obtain a large amount of happiness and satisfaction from using the talent (or from the outcome of the talent). Talents can be developed into strengths with practice and the addition of skill and knowledge. Gallup isn't certain how our talents develop; certain scientific rationales exist for how the brain forms neural pathways, but if our talents are genetic or aquired through our environment is not fully clear (sound familiar?)

So far, with one small exception, this doesn't all seem very queer does it? Well, hold on, I'm getting there.

In their research, Gallup found a couple hundered different talents and from them derived 34 themes. Donald Clifton and others then developed an assessment instrument to help determine what your most dominant themes are - you receive your top five themes after taking the assessment. (The instrument is available online only. A code to use the Clifton Strengthsfinder is available with each new copy of Now, Discover Your Strengths. (If you choose to order a copy and want to take the instrument, DO NOT order a used copy.)) Gallup only gives you the top five so you will narrow your focus.

The idea is that you quit focusing on where you are weak because you will only ever make marginal gains on them. Instead, you focus on what is natural and enjoyable because these are your talents and work on them can yield significant results, your talents become strengths, enabling you to be the best of the best in what you do. It's a very different way of thinking and one that makes a lot of sense once you consider the basic premise.

This core concept: focus on what comes naturally to you - the things you can't NOT do - and you can go beyond exceptional - has tremendous application to queer life. Are you a little femme? Maybe a good deal butch? Enjoy doing hair or arranging flowers? Enjoy building and repairing? Enjoy fashion? Barely capable of matching your socks? Are you a great conversationalist? You just want to settle down with the guy/girls of your dreams in a suburban bungalo? Then, do it, enjoy it, celebrate it, or quit worrying about it. If it's the way you are, then capitalize on it. Find a community or organization or workplace that lets you be you and you will shine. It's when we deny those things that make us US, when we try to supress those qualities that we stumble, worry, and ultimately fail.

So, here in the month of Pride, I say be proud of who you are. Capitalize on your innate characteristics. Find people and places that let you express yourself. (Oh, and let's not be snobs to those who are different from us - let's appreciate our uniqueness.)

Go Little Sis!

My little sister is on a float in the Atlanta Gay Pride parade today. How did my little sister, who is straight, end up in a pride parade long before her older (and only) gay brother (who probably never will)? Because her boyfriend is in a Rocky Horror Show troop. Isn't life strange?

Thanks for supporting all the queens and trannies, sista-love. :)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fish, Fish, Fish

Tim Fish is an up and coming indie artist. He's actually been around for quite some time, but it just starting to get some of the attention he deserves.

So far his seminal work is Calvacade of Boys, a series detailing the lives of several different gay men. It's a very entertaining read. Some of it strikes home as very accurate despite occasionally falling into a stereotypical short-hand. You can really see Tim's progress as an artist and writer through the course of the series. I fully recommend it for anybody who enjoys slice-of-life comics, romance comics, and almost any gay man I think would enjoy it.

His latest release is Strugglers, which is actually an updating and amplification of an earlier work of his, Meet Me in Saint Louis. Strugglers is a prequel of sorts to Calvacade. It focuses partly on Tighe during a phase in his life when he's just graduated college and not yet fully dealt with his sexuality. It also is the story of his two roommates, Alison and Tracey, good friends and recent college graduates trying to make it in the indie music scene in St. Louis, Missouri and also dealing with the realities of post-college life.

Strugglers is very much the coming-of-age story, a collegiate Huck Finn in some ways. Although the indie music scene lifestyle of these characters is one that I don't know much about or really even relate to much, I still found myself engrossed in their story. You really begin to care about each of them and get frustrated when they don't make the decisions that are best for them. (I found myself particularly frustrated with Tighe, but that's probably my own projections.) Although this is an earlier work than Calvacade, it feels a bit more well rounded, quite probably because of the additional material that Fish has added to fill out the story more. The new material is pretty obvious because Fish's art current art style is a bit more clean and a finer line than his earlier work. The change is noticeable without being jarring and I found the comparison of styles interesting. Fish's style feels loose and bold, but is actually minimistaclly expressive and full of movement; you can feel the constant dynanism of his pages.

Strugglers might very well escape your radar, but you would be making a mistake. Even if you're not interested in Fish's exploits of gay romance in Calvacade (and you really should, it's quite good stuff), you're still certain to enjoy Strugglers if you've ever wondered what you were going to do with your life.

Fish also has a collection of short pieces he's done in Something Fishy This Way Comes, which is due out in August. Any local comic book shop retailer should be able to order it for you. If they refuse, you can order it through Fish's own website.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Goodbye, Mary

Can my virtriol towards Mary Cheney cause me to post on her even though I don't want to give her any more attention than she's already undeservedly getting? Apparently so; the woman is worse than the dismissable psychopath Coulter.

My only comment is that in every interview with Mary that I've heard or read, she comes across as dissembling, disengenuous, and inauthentic. It's clear that because she was born into a station of wealth and priviledge, she's never truly thought about or worried about the injustices being perpetrated on her and every other gay and lesbian American. She could have offered a memoir demonstrating nuance, conflicting priorities and loyalties, and articulate introspection, but opted for something safe, shallow, and political.

A person who can express intense anger over John Kerry's (admittedly political) mention of her sexuality but cannot muster any emotion over the leader of our nation supporting legalized discrimination is either foolish, has severely hindered mental or emotional faculties, or is so rich and priviledged that she doesn't have to worry about it. I'm tempted to vote for all three. This woman has not just passed up opportunity after opportunity to speak out on behalf or use her influence to help gay and lesbian Americans, she has, through action and inaction, worked against the LGBT community.

Mary, you are the viper under the flower. You seem harmless and friendly, but you're nothing but poision.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blogging Against Sexism (A Day Late)

A casual perusal of my archives will show that I frequently blog about the women I love and why I, as a gay man, love women. Therefore, although I have no significant thoughts, I want to make a small contribution to Blogging Against Sexism Day.

One, I'd like to quote a section from a previous entry because I think it's perfectly relevant:

If you've never seen the documentary Trembling Before G-d, do take time to see it. It's a great look at being Jewish (especially orthodox) and gay/lesbian. Recently, Rabbi Steven Greenberg was on a local radio interview program "Charlotte Talks." Listen to his interview here. What I thought was very interesting was his discussion of the relationship between homophobia and misogyny. I've long held this notion in my head, but the rabbi articulated it beautifully: "homophobia is a smaller room in the larger hotel of misogny." He goes on to talk about the threat that out gay men pose to traditonal patriarchical structures and notions of masculinity.

Women and gay men (and really all minorities) need to be concerned about what happens to each other. We're all in the same boat, people, and laws and unfair practices that impact one group impacts us all. If we can keep qualified women from earning the same as a man, what keeps us from denying qualified gay men that same equal pay? (Nothing is the answer - we're not even a protected group by law.) If gay people expect straight people to fight with us for our rights, we must help fight other injustices in our society.

The men who hate women hate queers. The men who hate queers hate women. We should stand up for each other.

Also, I can't seem to find anywhere that I've ranted on the slutification of American girls. Our culture has become obsessed with sexualizing children it seems. (And ironically it seems that the most conservative parents are the ones who permit the most porn-star-like attire in their girls.) Only in a society where slutification is a beauty standard can Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears be celebrities and role models. I've seen some brief clips of the Bratz cartoon via my weekly dose of The Soup (on E! TV - the irony/potential hypocrisy does not escape me). Bratz are these big headed big eyed dolls that look like they stepped out of a bizarro Steve Madden commercial. In any case, this cartoon features the characters at a bar and dressing in high slut fasion (and gossiping and of course the female characters are mean and vindictive to each other). And Bratz is outselling Barbie currently (not that Barbie doesn't have her own gender politics, but she's never been about being an evil porn-star wannabe).

Mature women can make the choice to dress however they want to; I'm concerned about how we're socializing our children, however. If we teach young girls that their value in not only in their bodies, but in how flamboyantly they expose their body parts, we are setting them up (and likewise our future selves) for trouble. This is the breeding ground for sexism: teaching that beauty is makeup (and a lot of it) and clothing (and little of it). We set our girls up to be objectified by young boys (potentially before they even hit puberty) and send the message to the girls that sexuality is their best and only attribute.

A Fevered Vision

Hi, all, well this past week Peter fell dreadfully ill and in the course of tending to him, I caught the durn stuff as well, so while I've not been as sick as him, it hasn't been a fun week to say the least. Togetherness is not so wonderful when you can't breathe (literally).

In any case, during the recuperative process and whilst reading the regular e-mail newsletter from (go visit Mary there - she's a sweetie), my thoughts ran to the late stage in life in which I came out. I finally came out to myself at the age of 29, younger than some do, but older than most men (on average). Peter was the first man I connected with emotionally and physically. For six years we've kept that connection, although at times we were apart from each other. We've maintained our relationship continuously for the past three and a half years. Peter knew he was gay at a very early age. I had certain expressions of homosexuality starting in my pre-teen years, but never realized what they actually were, such was my sheltered life. (Not that I am blaming my parents for sheltering me; they absolutely gave me the appropriate information when I asked for it and was ready for it. Society today is far too obsessed with adult-izing and sexualizing children -- I know I've posted somewhere on here about the slutification of American girls.)

So, sometimes I wonder what I might have missed out on: that early fumbling kiss with another exploring young man, being able to take advantage of my more lithe (I was never athletic) and young body and looks to attract other guys, discovering other young gay friends in college, etc. Yet, I'm constantly drawn to one conclusion: I came out when it was right for me.

I firmly believe that God graced me (for some unknown reason) with the ability to grow to a point in my life where I could accept and deal with my sexuality. I almost certainly didn't miss out on anything. Growing up in Mississippi, there weren't a lot of outlets for gay people (or at least none that I would have had access to then). And at points in my life I was fiercely evangelical and fundamentalist. I would sent myself to a re-orientation camp (and did briefly consider this after watching a tv program right early in the coming out process). And, I did have gay friends in college, some of whom where out and the time and others who weren't. Of course, they knew about me, but wisely weren't going to force that on me.

No, I was in an emotionally and spiritually mature enough place to accept this part of me. I also had the right support structure: a good town to come out in (Atlanta), a friendly and affirming co-worker, and my sister, who was at that point old enough to be fantastic emotional support and come to her own indepent, thought-out conclusions. Even with all that, it took me another year and a half/two years to come out to my parents. Had I been much younger, I would have certainly suffered in silence for decades (even though I know they would have been loving and supportive as always).

I wish all gay men and women could have the opportunity that I did, to have the gift that I did. Thank you, God, for the gift you gave me. Please extend Your grace to my brothers and sisters who need it.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Freedom to Marry Week: February 12-18

From Equality North Carolina...

The week of February 12-18 marks Freedom To Marry Week across the country, just in time for Valentine's Day! To celebrate the quest for marriage equality, we're hosting screenings of the documentary Freedom to Marry: Journey to Justice. This moving short film documents the exciting movement for marriage equality in California in 2004 and 2005, and tells the story of families who are affected by discriminatory marriage laws.

These screenings are free and open to the public. A brief discussion will follow.

Wednesday, February 157:00 PM
The Lesbian and Gay Community
Center1401 Central Avenue, Charlotte

with the NC Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality
Thursday, February 167:00 PM
Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
4907 Garrett Road, Durham

In Remembrance: Coretta Scott King

It's truly a sad day for our nation with the passing of Mrs. King. She faithfully carried out her husband's vision her entire days - extending well past what even Dr. King envisioned (or at least past the verbal expression of his vision). She took his dream and talked about how it applied to everybody.

Unlike some of her children, she has stood by the ideal that equality extends beyond race to incorporate any number of differences, the least of which is not sexual orientation. Mrs. King was a staunch ally of gays and lesbians in the quest for civil equality.

Courtesy of Lambda Legal, here are some of Mrs. King's own words on gay and lesbian equality. Mrs. King, we mourn your passing. Heaven salutes you as you enter through its gates.

“I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice.... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people...

Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida and many other campaigns of the civil rights movement . . .. Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions.”