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.