Here's some fireworks for your New Year's celebration.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Of course this all calls for this (non-Mormon-specific) classic.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
This video is Peter recounting a very funny tale from his ex-gay days that he titles "A Homo No Mo Christmas."
I hope everyone has a very refreshing and Homo-Friendly Holiday!
Other holiday links you may enjoy:
Best Hot Cocoa Mixes
The Real Story of Rudolph
Wikipedia entry on "Santa Claus"
Monday, December 17, 2007
Batman Begins was, I'd argue, about as good of a superhero movie as you can get. It got the tone of the movie right, pin-point characterization, good costuming, and it all didn't seem too silly at all. The only other movies that really come close to me as very well done super-hero films are Spider-Man 2 and the 1977 Superman movie.
The Dark Knight looks very well like it may be a very worthwhile sequel. I admit that Heath Ledger as the Joker initially seemed off to me, but Nolan did such a good job with the first movie, particularly with casting (well, I could have done without stepford-Cruise Katie Holmes, but she wasn't terrible), so I was willing to see how it worked out. Judging by the trailer, I'd say he's quite the impressive Joker, actually. What we can see shows a pretty scary Joker; he's calm until he has a fit of rage and seems genuinely homocidal. Jack Nicolson's much lauded Joker portrayal from Burton's Batman never sat well with me; he was far too campy (although, admittably, the performance fit the tone of the movie, which was a bit too campy for me as a whole) and over-the-top. Ledger's seemingly cool, brooding Joker is infinitely more frightening.
Warner has done a ton of viral marketing for this film. Take this interesting site for instance: The Gotham Times. Check out the "tear" on the front page and lots of interesting tidbits scattered among the other pages. Then compare it to: The Ha Ha Ha Times. I find it effectively creepy and morbidly humorous. A whole listing of the websites can be find here: Yahoo results. (Thanks to Mike Sterling for pointing this out.)
I'm looking forward to this movie
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Nine lads a dancin' (and singing, naked, of course)
Six guys a-playin' (if I were bad, this would have been TOTALLY different)
Sunday, December 09, 2007
—Frank Schaeffer, Crazy for God (selection quoted in "oldspeak," an online journal)
Frank Schaeffer is the son of evangelical minister Francis Schaeffer. Together they had a significant impact on American Evangelical Christianity, essentially forming the modern Religious Right movement. Frank's life journey, which has led him to be a filmmaker and prolific author, as well as the father of a marine who served in Iraq, has brought him to the writing of a memoir called Crazy for God that focuses not just on his life, but the lives of his parents, many Evangelical leaders and the Religious Right movement.
Below are select quotes of his during various interviews. These interviews are either printed in their entirety at or linked through his website. Please go visit FrankSchaeffer.com for more of his insights as well as to learn about him and his works.
I became aware of Schaeffer through the Bob Edwards Sunday (12/9/07) broadcast, where Schaeffer gave a fascinating interview. Unfortunately the Edwards broadcast requires purchasing a copy, but fortunately many of Schaeffer's points and insights are captured in other interviews, exerpts of which appear below.
I was profoundly impacted by his thoughts on how modern Christianity is a cult of personality; that all one has to do is say the right things at the right time to the right people to make millions virtually overnight. He describes modern Evangelicals as hungry for the next big person, forgetting those who become tainted or imbroiled in scandal; the focus has gone off of Christ and onto people. In a similar vein, in another radio interview (link below), he discusses the Disney-fication of American Christianity.
Schaeffer was particularly insightful about the Religious Right being anti-American. Members of the Religious Right are striving, hoping for, and amplyifying the signs for their apocyliptic vision of the world. He discusses how they revel in bad fortune and outcomes because it enforces their view that, as Jerry Falwell once put it, God has removed his hand of protection from America because of its sins.
Slightly less fascinating, but strangely comforting was his insight into the nasty character of figures like Dobson and Falwell. Both he and his father thought that Pat Robertson was just plain insane, a sad confirmation of what most people suspect. He certainly does not spare George W. Bush, pointing out that he believes Bush to be a sincere Evangelical, which makes him all the more dangerous as president since he believes in the rightness of his actions, sincerely believes that he is in league with God and so fails to properly contemplate and consider the situation fully and to look for points of compromise, so sure is he of his actions.
I had hoped to bring you some direct quotes from the interview; my personal summation is lacking; Schaeffer spoke far more eloquently. Hopefully, these other interviews will provide you with a good idea of his eloquence and pointed and unique insights. What follows are his words.
Interview with John W. Whitehead
A lot of people in the evangelical and fundamentalist communities speak theoretically about homosexuality being no worse than adultery or divorce. However, in practice, they are not undertaking national campaigns to single out evangelical people who were married to somebody else at one time and got divorced. So actually there is a tremendous moral hypocrisy there because the whole gay issue has been singled out for special treatment.
In other words, the Religious Right was as negative and anti-American as anybody I ever talked to on the Left. I personally came to believe that a lot of the issues that were being latched onto by the Christian Right, whether it was the gay issue or abortion or other things, were actually being used for negative political purposes. They were used to structure a power base for people who then threw their weight around.
[The Religious Right's] idea was that without fundamentalist Christian beliefs being absolutely imperative for everybody in the country, the country would go to hell in a handcart and that would be the end of everything. So negative things were always accentuated. ... By the time they tell you over and over about all the bad things happening, such as statistics on crime, teen pregnancy and so on, I begin to get the feeling that they don’t want things to get better. This is their shtick. This is the way they raise their money. This is how they maintain their central power base.
[George W. Bush] is arguably the worst president in the history of the United States. He is unfit for the office of president of the United States. He has trouble speaking the English language and articulating a point of view....It is ironic that someone who proclaims he is a Christian president has single-handedly started a war that has undone the last Christian minority in the Middle East.
Schaeffer to the Dallas Morning News
"Unless you know who you are and have a life outside of your ministry, you will be corrupted by the control you have over other people's lives. You can begin with the best intentions, but the success itself will take you farther away from God than any failure ever will.
Big-time American Christianity is incompatible with the Gospel. It is part of the entertainment business. No matter what you think you are doing, you are really just another celebrity in a celebrity-obsessed culture. If you want to serve God, get out of the evangelical machine while you still can and save yourself. "
No matter how good a cause, when you think you are on a mission from God you eventually get crazy. I wasn't exempt. The problem is that the evangelical world is really a series of personality cults. And for a while there I was a personality.
But this brings up another point: Evangelicals just don't "get" what writing – or art for that matter – is.
The problem with the evangelical slant on writing (and all art) is that in itself it isn't worthwhile, it must serve some "higher purpose." In the evangelical's case, that's "bringing people to Christ."
This reduces human expression to propaganda. It also means that no artistic conversation is honest. There is always an ulterior motive. Religious fundamentalists always look for what is not there.
Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back
Interfaith Radio Interview with Frank Schaeffer (about 20 mins)
1.And. lo, Jesus said, "Go forth and spit upon the homosexual. Curse him in public; defile his name to all. From him take from his property, job, family, and hope. Hit him upon the cheek; if he turns it, smite him yet again. Smite him with seven upon seven blows. Show no mercy; turn all against him. Once thou hast cast down the sodomite, feel free to indulge thy lust watching women who lie with women.
2. "Sit upon high in thy mega-church casting judgment upon all who art not members. Render unto the politicians what e'er may gain their favor to further my work. Impose my will upon all creation."
Well, it seems like this is what they are reading...
Russian Evangelicals responsible for Sacramento gay man's death.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I think that sensitivity comes from years of unbalanced representation. Most of the earliest American popular media depictions of homosexuals made us into predators or silly nancy-boys, worse than even women, perhaps even negroes. And, of course, very real societal /religious persecution doesn't help exposed nerves and raw sensitivities much.
I do sometimes think that over-reactions or getting up in arms about what I perceive as the wrong things hurt "the cause", as it were; after all, we don't want to show ourselves as the sissies they think we are, do we? There's nothing worse than being a sissy; nothing worse than not being able to take that "playful" punch on the shoulder; nothing worse than crying when the bully beats you up. Real men don't cry.
There is a concern among some of the brethren that we gays are pushing for legislated acceptance. While some may be trying to accomplish that, I don't personally need to legislate acceptance of my gaiety. I do think that a gurantee of my rights needs to be legislated; otherwise, hey, this is America and you are free to hate me as long as you like as long as you grant me my rights.
But really, in this quest for civil rights, do we have to be so uptight that we can't take a joke? We gays are pretty funny, right? The straights will like us better if they can make those hairdresser and interior decorator jokes about us, won't they? (See "not being a sissy" above.) For me, sure, we can joke all around all day if I know that you're in my corner or that you're at least an equal opportunity abuser (and also that I can joke about your secret desire for the lawn boy to blow you).
Recently I was watching a documentary on Don Rickles, a man who has been insulting everybody for the past 40 years or more. Many comedians noted that Rickles can "get away with it" because he applies the insults equally. I'm pretty okay with the fag jokes from him, because, hey, he's throwing it about every other minority (and majority) group. Does Kathy Griffin or Margaret Cho want to crack some gay jokes? Go ahead, they've shown their friend. Dave Chapelle? He takes a crack at just about everyone and does it intelligently (which often is another qualifying element about whether it is funny or tasteful, for me at least), so okay. South Park? Well, that show has offended me on a lot of stuff, so why not add homosexuality to the list.
Speaking of Chapelle, he once commented on the Actor's Studio that he received a lot of flack from his relatives about a lot of his skits and particularly his use of the "N" word. Although it didn't/doesn't stop him, he essentially said he understood their concerns, since sometimes he wants to punch out white guys using the word because they think it's okay since they saw it on TV (and they found it funny). I have a similar reaction; I'll be the first one to make a joke about us gays but damn it, straight boy, you better not say a word.
I've heard the accusation frequently: why can't we take a joke? Why are us gays drowning in a gloomy and unfriendly quagmire of PCiety? But we seem to be one of the few populations that the accusation sticks to (well, us, and women. Broads can be so uptight you know.) Don Imus was thrown off the air for (a very poor) "joke" about black women, and that's one example. Yes, some people thought it was an overreaction, but overall it didn't stick. These kind of "jokes" are not tolerated by society, and generally it is accepted that this is not a being overly sensitive, unless you're talking about the gays, who are, for some reason, perhaps because they're so feminine.
I think the questioning of gays' sensitivity by other gays is actually rooted in the need for acceptance. We may say we don't care if we are accepted, but if so, then why care if somebody lodges a complain we find baseless or unnecessary? Why label it with "whining" or as hyper-sensitive or PC? We do so because we're afraid we'll be seen as different, as a sissy, as not mainstream, as not being able to play well with others, and all of that leads to non-acceptance. If we truly didn't care about what people thought, we'd just ignore what we thought were baseless complaints instead of labeling it as "humorless" or "whining." We so badly don't want to be seen as a sissy.
Wayne Besen has the video (from Right Wing Watch).
These people think that an American interstate is mentioned in the Bible? That's just, well, arrogant, not to mention stupid.
I also found absurb the "converted" homosexual in the clip. He mentions that he was going from gay club to gay club prior to being on his way to see his fiance when he encountered the evangelists. He says he felt like he was "on acid" when the evangelists told him "fire" and touched him. A couple of things: gay men refer to their significant others several ways - partner, husband, boyfriend, etc., but I've never heard one refer to another many as "fiance." So, perhaps this allegedly converted homosexual was on his way to meet his female wife-to-be? I know that when I was about to become engaged that I very much thought that my feelings about men would go away; had an evangelist approached me during this time with the offer to "take away" my homosexuality, I would have been eager to take him up on the offer (and then act like it had been successful). And second, perhaps you were on acid if you were traveling between gay bars.
One of the other alleged converts was "a back slidden youth pastor." Think this guy might be feeling a little guilty? Think he might also be eager to think and act like he has been changed? Maybe a little.
And from a pure theological perspective, I'm tired of the claims of faith healing (prove it, guys, seems like it would be a huge news item) and the non-Biblical use of tongues and the Holy Spirit. Of course these people aren't interested in sound theology, just using Christianity as their modus operandi to impose their world vision and oppress people different from them.
Do I believe at least that some of the accusations are true ? Yes.
Do I believe Mike Jones? Not really.
Does it matter? Not really.
I think it's been pretty well established that Craig is a major self-loathing homosexual, trapped in a closet made out of two-way glass. (We can see in, he can't see out). It would be easy to feel sorry for him except that he has used his political power to bash other gay people.
This development really is of minimal interest except to see how Craig continues to twist in the wind, with no supporters (except his in-denial wife), and works to save...what, I'm not sure. His political career is in shambles now, his public persona is completely discredited, so the only thing left that I can think of left to save is his personal self-image. If he can continue to shake off the accusations, he can convince himself somehow that he hasn't been after dick all this time, he's just been misunderstood.
Denial is a powerful force and leads to the dark side, Luke. I'm sure when Senator Craig takes a copy of Men's Health into the bathroom, he's just wanting the latest workout tips.
Interview with Diane Sawyer (Yahoo / ABC)
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Gay Sci-Fi PSA
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Matthew 18: 6
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea
I believe that many modern leaders of the religious right / Christian evangelical movement would be better off, for their own sake, with millstones around their neck. Although Jesus is referring to children in these versus, I believe it is easy enough to extrapolate that he probably also meant anyone who is a child of God. So many modern Christian leaders have led from their pulpits such an unrivaled persecution of gays and lesbians, driving them from the church and the love of God that they will be judged harshly for their crimes.
What is hard for me to understand is how they rationalize their hatred and seeming hold on the truth. The Bible offers much advice, some of it seemingly contradictory. How so then can these people be so sure that it is their interpretation that is the right one? Of course this kind of irrationality is nothing new; it is as old as time.
However, Biblical literalism is fairly new. The literal interpretation of the Bible is a 20th century invention and obviously creates many problems. As "Steve Falkenberg, Ph. D, professor of religious psychology at Eastern Kentucky University, says, 'I've never met anyone who actually believes the Bible is literally true. I know a bunch of people who say they believe the Bible is literally true but nobody is actually a literalist.' 'Taken literally, the Bible says the earth is flat and setting on pillars and cannot move (1 Chr 16:30, Ps 93:1, Ps 96:10, 1 Sam 2:8, Job 9:6). It says that great sea monsters are set to guard the edge of the sea (Job 41, Ps 104:26)...'" (from Wikipedia entry on "Biblical literalism")
Ultimately, I am arguing for what Professor Ehrmen, Biblical scholar and author, calls for in his radio interview (below), a tolerance for diversity and difference in interpretation. And furthermore, a rational and studied understanding of what the text actually says in opposition to the anti-intellectual approach of literal misunderstanding. Literalism has done nothing but hurt the church and hurt so many others, most recently and particularly gays and lesbians.For the Bible Tells Me So movie website - an excellent documentary dealing with Christianity and homosexuality (and what the Bible really says about it), including "ex-gay" therapies and following the stories of several families
Diane Rehm interviews Bart Ehrmen, author of Misquoting Jesus (audio)
This interview is an excellent discussion of how the Bible was constructed and even touches on briefly scriptual meaning relative to women in the church and passages on homosexuality.
On the Heresy of Literalism (article)
An evangelical minister discusses the hypocricy of modern evangelicals (Christianity Today, 2005)
Friends of God HBO documentary on the modern evangelical movementIs the Homosexual My Neighbor? Revised and Updated: A Positive Christian Response
What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality
Monday, November 26, 2007
However, rather than displaying proven psychic ability, these individuals, Praagh and Edwards particularly, demonstrate no level of connection with the dead beyond that which closely resembles a technique that is centuries old called "cold reading." (Browne uses cold reading also, but also stakes out psychic predictions unlike Praagh and Edwards, although these wild pronouncements rarely have their veracityascertained.)
Cold reading boiled down to the most simple (and not its best) definition is eseentially using some basic psychology, making sweeping generalizations and guesses, and imploying some statistical likelihoods on individuals eager and willing to make and give importance to whatever strands of connection they can make out of these guesses to their deceased loved ones. This gives the appearance that the psychic has knowledge about facts, people, and situations that the psychic would not otherwise know or be able to know unless s/he was actually in touch with the dead.
Why do I care? Well, many of these people are making money off of the hurt and pain of individuals who have lost loved ones; others make wild claims that give false hope or hurt to people (like Browne's latest(and one of her most egregious) incorrect "prediction" of the death of Shawn Hornbeck, who later turned up alive); and they're just liars and I hate liars. If they claimed to just be entertainers with no real ability, I wouldn't care, but they claim true powers and abilities (all the guise of helping people) that they can't prove in controlled situations. They can't even prove them in self-controlled situations, with numerous incorrect guesses that don't rise above anything you or I could do.
I also believe that understanding how our own minds can deceive us and how our desire to want to believe certain things can color the way we take in and process information is vitally important to us in this day and age where our government keeps inching towards the newspeak and controlling eyes of Orwell's distopia and where we cannot rely on our media outlets any longer to bring us objective, well researched, factual and/or relevant news any longer. So understanding how this small sector of our society works informs us about greater and larger issues and how we should, could, and probably are approaching them.
In short, don't believe anything you hear, read, or see without knowing the facts behind it (and beware of whose "facts" they are).
A better definition of "cold reading" (along with other important associated concepts from The Skeptic's Dictionary)
Cold Reading Bingo (the most common techniques used in cold reading)
Professional Magician analysis of John Edward (humourous but serious analysis and some excellent thoughts on skepticism and beliefs in psychics by Ian Rowland)
John Edward reading analysis ("lay person" analysis - a little long)
Video presentation of James Van Praagh cold reading techniques (two parts - watch both)
Stop Sylvia Browne website
Related: Book review of Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World
Other resource: The James Randi Educational Foundation
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
From The Advocate.com: Haggard convinced he's now ''completely heterosexual''
Of course Haggard originally stated when the Mike Jones scandal broke that he had "never had a gay relationship with anybody." So, I'm not sure I trust his judgment.
It's interesting to note that Haggard had no advanced degree; he's now pursuing a Master's in psychology (good choice, Ted. Physician, heal thyself.) I'm used to my clergy having a Master's of Divinity. I'm somewhat snobbish in believing that my ministers should have formal, in-depth training on scripture, theology, and somewhat important matters such as history, Jewish culture, Hebrew, Greek, things like that.
Wikipedia also documents that "Haggard developed ministry efforts towards homosexuals early in his Colorado Springs ministry. He frequented gay bars and invited men to his congregation." Sounds like a certain infamous ex-gay leader.
Also noted is that the editor of a Colorado GLBT newspaper is corroborated by anti-gay leader Lou Sheldon (and friend to Haggard) that Haggard's homosexual activities were pretty well known prior to the Jones incident.
Lastly, and somewhat surprisingly (or perhaps not now), Haggard may have actually supported civil unions for gays. I don't think this undoes his strong anti-gay messages, but it does demonstrate that he is a more complex man than the simple cypher he is or has become.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
You see Michael Anthony Castro, the three-sport star athlete and most popular kid in school, was openly gay. Came out when he was a sophomore.
"He caught a lot of crap over the first six to nine months after coming out," says Phil Takacs, a Banning High counselor. "Sometimes he would come to my office and ask if he could just spend the rest of the day there. He would say that he couldn't take being called 'faggot' any more today and just needed a break. He even thought about quitting sports. But over time, Anthony just got tired of the other kids making him feel bad for who he was.
"One day he was in practice and one of the other wrestlers was giving him a bunch of crap about being gay. Anthony looked at the kid and said 'You have a problem with me; why don't we take this to the mat?' This guy wrestled in the heaviest division, but Anthony pinned him in less than 30 seconds. That guy never said anything else again."
Takacs became Anthony's guardian after Anthony's mother showed him the door shortly after he came out at 16. His father is in prison. Takacs, who is also gay, said initially he was concerned about having Anthony stay with him for fear of disparaging rumors, but he didn't want to see Anthony out in the cold either.
"We're a redneck little town out here," Takacs said. "My partner and I were always scared living here because we always thought our asses would get kicked. But Anthony taught me a lot. He taught us all a lot. He made it OK to be gay."
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Musgrave gives up on federal marriage ban
A proposed federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage nationwide has been shelved in light of the congressional takeover by the Democratic Party, The Pueblo [ Colo. ] Chieftain newspaper reports.
The proposal's sponsors, Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, said last week they have no plans to reintroduce their antigay legislation in the new Congress. "At this time I haven't discussed it with anyone," Allard told the newspaper on Thursday. "If we thought there was a decent chance to bring it to the floor for debate, I would, but with the new Congress, I'm not sure we will ever have that opportunity."
A Musgrave spokesman confirmed that the congresswoman would not introduce the legislation this year.
To amend the U.S. Constitution, the proposal would have to win approval by two thirds of each house of Congress and be ratified by three fourths of the states. The proposal, which has been strongly supported by President Bush, has passed in the House a couple of times in recent years but has consistently stalled in the Senate. (The Advocate)
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
I never saw an organization exist so long, raise so much money, and do so little.
--Larry Kramer to the Village Voice, December15-21, 2004
Friday night a Human Rights Campaign representative called our house asking to speak with either Peter or me. I have, for quite some time now, not been a fan of the HRC. (I'm sure there's some archived post with me ranting about the HRC.)
To avoid talking to the individual, but to stay polite, I asked if we could call a number back. When I was told no that it was a phone campaign and that they would just call back, I asked if there was a website we could visit.
The person explained that they were running a membership renewal drive. I explained nicely that we would not be renewing our membership. The person asked me if it was because of the elections. You mean the one where not nearly enough Replublicans were unseated and where even more states passed anti-gay legislation? No, the election has nothing to do with it I replied.
Because, I explained in somewhat peturbed tones, I believe that the HRC does not spend its money effectively and caters mostly to the wealthy in the gay community and not enough to the average gay American.
Case in point: the ticket price for the 2007 HRC Carolinas Gala (a not uncommon event held by the HRC) is a not uncommon $175, jumping to $195 after February 1st. Or you can purchase a premium location table for ten at the low, low price of $2500. The guest speaker is comedian/actor Leslie Jordan, who I greatly enjoy but whose theatrical productions I can buy for much cheaper or just watch him on Will and Grace for free.
I neglected to add to the phone rep that I agree with Larry Kramer on the fact that the HRC frequently takes credit for things that it really had nothing whatsoever to do with (like the failure of the federal Constitutional amendment not being passed). I also didn't add that, based on my informal observations and conversations with a trusted friend who would know, that our local HRC chapter is exceptionally exclusive and cliquish.
Doing nothing to change my perceptions about the HRC, the solicitor responded in an indignant and snobbish "Sir, that's not true." I explained that, from my point of view, indeed, it was and hung up.
One might reasonably expect that any random individual treat one with respect and courtesy; one might even more reasonably expect that an individual asking for one's money would be exceptionally courteous, not to summarily dismiss my opinion.
I understand I just dumped on his organization. But he asked and one should not ask for what one is not prepared to hear. Might I suggest that a proper response would have been a sincere "I'm sorry you feel that way." Might I suggest that a great follow up after that would have been: "is there anything we can do to change your mind?"
Perhaps even a "F--k you, we don't need your stinking money 'cause we throw fancy dinners you can't afford" would have been preferrable to the intellectual equivalent of the familiar childhood refrain "am not."
I would hope that somebody representing an organization whose mission is to spread acceptance, understanding, equality, and to make the voice of gay Americans heard would actually demonstrate those qualities and listen to a fellow member of the gay community even if we disagree.
I have written to the HRC - I'll let you know if and how they respond.
Friday, January 05, 2007
Today I received a link that offers a "buy one /get one free" ticket offer for the Charlotte, North Carolina tour production of Edward Scissorhands. Click here to see more scissors for less. (Can we get that discount for a Scissor Sisters concert?)
Edward opened Thursday, January 4th at the Blumenthal Center and runs until January 10th.
Now, never said I never gave you anything.