Thursday, December 30, 2010

Question of the Week

Which LGBT issue do you most want to see addressed in 2011?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This Week's Quote

A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.

Anonymous

Source: quotations.about.com

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Question of the Week

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Week's Quote

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it "Christmas" and went to church; the Jews called it "Hanukkah" and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Hanukkah!" or (to the atheists) "Look out for the wall!"

Dave Barry

Source: quotegarden.com

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hopes for the New Year

As 2010 draws to a close, I'm looking ahead. Here are some of my hopes for the LGBT community in 2011, along with a few predictions.

I hope next year the Pope will reveal a new attitude toward gays. I predict he won't.

Now for a bolder prediction concerning Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has the grinding task of holding together the worldwide Anglican Communion as it convulses over the gay issue.

I think poor Rowan will chuck it all. He'll become a pagan, and periodically be seen frolicking at Stonehenge wearing nothing but a whimsical smile and un-strategically placed flowers.

Moving to another part of the planet, it is my fond hope that the murderous anti-gay bill still pending in Uganda's parliament will be quietly withdrawn. Or loudly withdrawn—I'm not particular.

Now that the frothing homophobe Yuri Luzhkov has lost his job as mayor of Moscow, let's hope that city can finally have an open, legal Pride. Russian LGBT folks need an infusion of freedom. Luzhkov, married to a billionaire, needs a soul, but he'll probably settle for a Piaget watch.

Turning to these shores, I don't want 2011 to bring on a case of As Maine goes, so goes New Hampshire. You know that in 2009 Maine voters shot down the state's same-sex marriage law. Now conservative legislators in New Hampshire are gearing up to repeal gay marriage in the Granite State.

Repeal would be a dagger in the heart of every LGBT person in the state. Plus it could mess with my plans. My partner and I have been considering getting hitched in New Hampshire, my home state. If the legislators kill same-sex marriage, the state will miss out on all the money we planned to spend—on a six-pack and a bag of cheese popcorn.

Regarding the Prop 8 litigation, experts tell us that whatever the outcome in the appellate court, the case won't really be decided until it reaches the U. S. Supreme Court. I'll nonetheless hope for an appellate court victory. I'm not against being bathed in validation.

With DADT on its official way out of Dodge, what can we expect in 2011 from Sen. John McCain, the Obstructer-in-Chief? After fighting with such baffling intensity to keep DADT, McCain's passion, or bile, over the issue of gays in the military will continue. Look for him to chain himself to the Pentagon. Or to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, causing interesting rumors about the two of them.

By the way, if Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is still peeved with Gen. James Amos, head of the Marines Corps, for his public opposition to DADT repeal, I can guess whom Mullen will choose to replace him: Lady Gaga.

If she can wear raw meat from head to toe, she has the stomach for it.

Turning to other performers, country singer Chely Wright and Christian music artist Jennifer Knapp came out this year. Since both hail from genres traditionally unfriendly to gays, I want this fine trend to continue next year. Hey 2011, bring us a reggae artist.

Each year I hope a male pro athlete who's still playing will come out, but so far nobody has obliged me. I hope 2011 will be the year a football, baseball or basketball player does the deed. But I'll happily settle for a hockey player. With or without teeth.

Finally, I hope that next spring I don't have to write another column about a gay teen's fight to attend his or her prom with the appropriate date. If Constance McMillen could triumph in 2010 in small-town Mississippi, no place is safe from prom equality.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Question of the Week

Does "Don we now our gay apparel" speak to you, or do you prefer "Make the Yuletide gay"?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Week's Quote

The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision.

Lynn Lavner

Source: thinkexist.com

But Why Was It on the Shelf?

And now a wee update.

Harvard has determined that the three dozen LGBT library books ruined by urine (see below) was not an act of vandalism. Instead, a Lamont Library staffer accidentally spilled a bottle of urine he or she found on the shelf.

Hate crime, no. Hygiene crime, yes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tinkling Their Dislike

At Lamont Library on the campus of Harvard University, some 40 LGBT books were recently vandalized with urine.

Somebody had a whiz of an opinion to express.

The Crimson reported that library staffers found next to the ruined books an empty bottle, which may have contained the urine.

Think about the trouble somebody seems to have gone to: peeing repeatedly in a bottle, smuggling the bottle into the library, and waiting until the coast was clear to pour out the contents.

This person was on a mission. Either from God or a urologist.

Since the books were LGBT, the Harvard University Police Department is treating the incident as a bias crime.

Of course, the perpetrator could simply have been a student looking to get out of some reading. The student doesn't hate gays, just homework.

That's my fantasy, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Parents and LGBT Youth

If you're concerned about the well-publicized plight of LGBT youth, here are a couple of items from 365Gay.com that are more hope than mope.

The first is an account of a new study that for the first time clearly demonstrates that LGBT kids with accepting families have better emotional health.

"The study shows that specific parental and caregiver behaviors – like standing up for their children when they are mistreated because of their LGBT identity or supporting their gender expression – help to prevent depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in early adulthood."

In other words, huzzah for parents who defend rather than offend.

The other item is a first-person piece called "I am a Marine; My Son Liked Dolls. What Happened Next."

Admit it: You want to know.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Week's Quote

Behind every cloud is another cloud.

Judy Garland

Source: brainyquote.com

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winging Their Way to Gayness

Scientists in Florida have discovered that when male white ibises eat too much mercury, they turn gay.

Don't blame an overbearing ibis mother. Blame the metal.

Suspicious that mercury had led to lower breeding levels among the wading birds, researchers fed groups of ibises varying levels of mercury over three years. The results shocked the stuffing out of the scientists.

The higher the mercury dose, the more likely a bird was to sing show tunes.

These new Friends of Dorothy "pretty much did everything except lay eggs," said study leader Peter Frederick to The Miami Herald. "They built nests, they copulated, they sat in the nests together."

They went to a lesbian flamingo therapist when no egg appeared.

Male ibises with any mercury intake were more reticent to perform ritual courtship displays, causing numbers of female ibises to cry together over Cosmopolitans.

In the high-mercury birds, reproduction plunged 35 percent. Complaints from wannabe grandparents soared 65 percent.

The mercury levels in the experiment mirrored those found in the birds' natural wetland habitats. Frederick, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Florida, told Nature.com "the implication is that this is probably happening in wild bird populations."

Which means the wilderness is getting wilder.

Not a good thing, in this case. These beautiful, long-billed birds are being poisoned into gayness. In wild populations of ibis with no mercury exposure, same-sex pairings don't occur.

Well, it probably happens once in a while, when the tequila is plentiful and the birds are bi-curious, but not as a rule.

We should go with what nature intended. Let's keep the ibises straight and the people gay!

In south Florida, mercury leeched into the Everglades for years, mainly from the burning of municipal and medical waste. Frederick said, "Most mercury sources are local rather than global—local enough that we can do something about it, such as installing scrubbers on smoke stacks. Ecosystems respond very quickly to regulatory action when it comes to mercury."

But how will the birds respond? If their diet is cleaned up, will they revert to being straight? If they need a little help, then by George, we might've found an actual use for ex-gay groups. Ex-gay leaders can take ibises under their wing and lead them back to heterosexuality. The success rate can only be higher than it is with people.

Speaking of people, Frederick frets that "people will read this and immediately jump to the conclusion that humans eating mercury are going to be gay. I want to be very explicit that this study has nothing to say about that."

Doubtless some parents have nonetheless purged their larder of tuna fish, tossed the thermometer, and made a date at the dentist's to convert all of Junior's mercury fillings.

And if they hadn't already banned from the house the music of Freddie Mercury, they have now.

Frederick also said that what's true for ibises isn't necessarily true for other species, even other bird species. So jump to no conclusions about a couple of male green herons that adore each other's company. Make no assumptions about the two roseate spoonbills with a passion for pomegranate martinis.

The turtles that hide during mating season are simply shy. And the alligators that agree they'd make lovely boots are just metrosexual.

I visited south Florida this past year, and I watched ibises. I admit to my shame that I didn't notice any gay goings-on. This is probably because I can't tell males from females.

I needed obvious indicators of homosexuality. Now, had two canoodling birds sported Prada shoes, I would've caught on.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Telling the Truth

Check out this Illinois state senator telling it like it is during the civil unions debate. Some senators must've squirmed in their seats like first-graders waiting for recess.

Question of the Week

What is your reaction to Illinois green-lighting civil unions?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What's the Right Greeting?

It's World AIDS Day. Since this isn't a day of celebration, what's the appropriate greeting on this day? If someone offered me a cheery "Happy World AIDS Day," I'd think he was still in a Thanksgiving tryptophan coma.

Maybe a more appropriate greeting would be, "It's World AIDS Day and I've been tested." Or, "Let's hope this is the last World AIDS Day." Or, "I'll show you my status if you'll show me yours."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This Week's Quote

The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

Mark Twain

Source: Quotationary

A Fuss Over History

A straight friend of mine who's an archivist sent me this link to the Bay Area Reporter about the to-do that's developed over the papers of Jim Rivaldo, a gay San Francisco political consultant.

Rivaldo's first mistake was not being clearer about who should get his archives. His second mistake was dying.

Rivaldo helped elect Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1977, and he was the last person to speak to Milk before the gay icon was murdered. The progressive consultant helped other gays win office, as well as people of color.

His collection of work-related materials filled three filing cabinets and 40 boxes. An archivist's dream--or nightmare.

Forced to downsize his living space as he fought with illness, Rivaldo moved his collection to the office of fellow gay political consultant Ray Sloan. The two planned to go through all the material, Sloan says, but in October of 2007 Rivaldo died.

Superior Court Judge Ellen Chaitin, a close friend of Rivaldo's and the executor of his will, then asked for the archives. Sloan slammed the proverbial filing cabinet on her proverbial fingers.

Sloan and Chaitin both claim they want the archives housed where the public can access them. A third party tried to broker a deal, but no go.

Jim Rivaldo was a key player in the growth of gay political power in San Francisco. Three years after his death his personal materials still can't be touched, and that must be making local researchers cranky.

It's clear why this case has caught the attention of archivists around the nation. When two different people claim ownership of historically important archives, a Solomon-esque solution would be nice. Without cutting the papers in two, of course.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Question of the Week

What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Week's Quote

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.

Jon Stewart

Source: poemofquotes.com

Monday, November 22, 2010

Transgender Steps Forward

Recently our community marked the 12th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a somber day devoted to memorializing those murdered for their gender identity.

Also recently, however, we've seen transgender breakthroughs that are, in a word, fabulousgreatwonderful.

College basketball season has begun, and many a media outlet has covered the story of Kye Allums, a junior guard at George Washington University. At 5-foot-11, Allums won't be shattering glass, but his story is.

"Yes, I am a male on a female team," Allums, 21, told USA Today. "And I want to be clear about this. I am a transgender male, which means feelings-wise, how it feels on the inside, I feel as if I should have been born male with male parts.

"But my biological sex is female, which makes me a transgender male."

This was a college student taking great pains to educate a sportswriter, who's accustomed to X's and O's, on X's and Y's. The sportswriter can expect a midterm.

When Allums' college playing career is over, he intends to transition. He planned to keep quiet until then, but "it just got too tough not to be me."

His teammates, coach and university all appear to be supportive. The NCAA probably thought not long ago that it would have to deal with this issue the day the Rhode Island School of Design won the Rose Bowl.

But the NCAA has a policy, explained a spokesman: "A female who wants to be socially identified as a male but has not had hormone treatments or surgery may compete on a women's team."

So this college basketball season begins with an African-American, openly transgender person playing Division 1 hoop. This represents so many steps forward it's practically traveling.

Turning to a different sport, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) will soon have a different understanding of "lady." GolfChannel.com reported the LPGA will propose in a Nov. 30 player meeting to axe its "female at birth" requirement.

It's not that association honchos experienced an epiphany. It's that they have drivers aimed at their heads.

Lana Lawless, 57, who had gender-reassignment surgery five years ago, filed suit in San Francisco over the LPGA declining her application for tour membership. Her suit claims the organization discriminated due to her transgender status, a violation of California's anti-discrimination statutes.

The LPGA has landed in the rough indeed.

A change to the constitutional bylaws requires two-thirds of the LPGA membership to agree. The association has already told players the old gender rule was established "in a different time," and defending it legally today would be harder than putting with your eyes closed.

Also, the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Golf Association and other golf entities now allow transgender participation. The fairways are getting fairer.

Victoria Kolakowski, who had reassignment surgery in 1991, has scored big in a different arena. In a race so tight it couldn't be called until two weeks after the election, voters in California chose Kolakowski for Alameda County Superior Court.

An openly transgender woman wins a popular election. Thank you California for being . . . California.

Kolakowski, 49, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the election result "speaks well of our ability to look past differences and look to the things that matter: our ability and experience."

Here's hoping she has both, because she'll be scrutinized like an "American Idol" finalist.

Two days after Kolakowski declared victory, transgender LGBT activist Phyllis Frye was appointed a municipal court judge in the Houston City Council chamber, the same room where 30 years ago Frye helped repeal Houston's "cross-dressing ordinance."

Frye, 63, said to the Houston Chronicle, "Things have changed, and it's pretty wonderful."

Two judges in two days. That's the right kind of order in the court.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Question of the Week

What do you guess will happen when the Senate votes on DADT during the lame-duck session?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This Week's Quote

Did you hear about the Scottish drag queen? He wore pants.

Lynn Lavner

Source: allgreatquotes.com

A Sunday Stroll on Campus

Since I was going to be spending an afternoon in Greenville, S.C., I decided to take a stroll on the campus of Bob Jones University, one of the most conservative schools in the nation.

How conservative? BJU prohibited interracial dating until 2000. The school will prohibit gay dating until 3000.

As I walked around, I was mildly concerned that some sensor in the ground would identify me as a lesbian Unitarian and I'd be catapulted over the gate.

I wanted to get the feel of the campus, see what the students looked like, maybe talk to some about, oh, homosexuality.

I got the feel of the campus, all right: It felt dead. On a glorious Sunday afternoon, hardly a soul was about. The library, campus store, coffee shop—all closed. The few students I saw were dressed up and apparently headed for something spiritual.

I know the Soulforce riders visited Bob Jones U on their bus tour of homophobic schools. I hope they didn't go on a Sunday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Week's Quote

My lesbianism is an act of Christian charity. All those women out there praying for a man, and I'm giving them my share.

Rita Mae Brown

Source: quotegarden.com

Look Homeward, Lesbian

It was a North Carolina author, Thomas Wolfe, who wrote "You Can't Go Home Again." My partner Anne decided to ignore him and go home to North Carolina anyway.

I decided to go along to help her clean out the family home in Rutherfordton. Over four grueling days we lifted and sorted an incredible number of boxes. By the end of all that heavy lifting, I'd mentally changed Wolfe's title to "You Can't Stand Straight Again."

In those boxes we found symbols of the tension between Anne's lesbianism and her mother's religiosity. And when Anne and I went into town we discovered another tension, between how we live in Seattle and how we felt we had to behave in a small Carolina town.

There was a third tension regarding the nutritional value of fried okra, but I'll confine myself to the gay bits.

When Anne was 14, her mother became a fundamentalist Christian. That's one way of coping with a budding teenager.

Anne's mom liked to hand out religious tracts, and in one box, along with myriad tracts on accepting Jesus as your personal savior, sat copies of "The Gay Blade." An image of a man with not one but two limp wrists graced the cover.

Copyrighted in 1972, this tract proclaimed, "Out of Satan's shadowy world of homosexuality, in a display of defiance against society, they come forth."

Sounds like a zombie movie.

"Their power structure is widespread—they occupy all kinds of jobs." Some are "even hinted to be in high government positions."

Yup, we snuck in right under the nose of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover . . . oh . . . wait . . .

Most of the tract's pages were devoted to a vivid rendering of the Sodom story, suitable in any decade for putting the fear of God in someone.

Anne's mom handed out anti-gay tracts at the same time her daughter was feeling lesbian stirrings. No wonder it took Anne a bunch more years and a run at Christian education before she became the openly gay woman of her mother's nightmares.

Speaking of Christian education, we also uncovered one of Anne's grade reports from Moody Bible Institute. Perhaps her mom kept it because she was proud of Anne's good grades. Or maybe she kept it, Anne theorizes, as proof that her daughter once had fine Christian intentions.

Anne's mother is still living, still handing out tracts to strangers. When we visited her in South Carolina on this trip, I wanted to ask if her stock included anti-gay treatises. I refrained. I don't want my picture on the next round of tracts.

During The Great Purge, Anne and I occasionally got away from the house and headed to Main Street. There in the town where she was born, where everybody still knows her family, she found herself reluctant to touch me on the street or in a restaurant. A natural toucher restrained.

I felt the same. In that area of the country, where you can't throw a hush puppy without hitting a church, and where I twice heard white people refer to someone as being black "but good," discretion felt nearly necessary. A new feeling for me, and I liked it as much as barbecue sauce on a MoonPie.

When we entered the antiques store, we found Anne's childhood playmate working there. I heard Anne pause before introducing me as her partner. That was not the pause that refreshes.

The next day Anne saw her again, and the woman said she was sorry she couldn't say goodbye to me as well.

You just never know what you'll find when you go home again. In an old box or in people.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Week's Quote

The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.

Adlai E. Stevenson

Source: brainyquote.com

Monday, November 1, 2010

Election Eve

It's election eve, and all is not well.

Gay voters are angry, concluded The Associated Press, "at the lack of progress on issues from eliminating employment discrimination to uncertainty over serving in the military to the economy — and some are choosing to sit out this election or look for other candidates."

The man who two years ago instilled people with hope is now instilling them with lethargy. Moreover, the president is out of touch with our community, remarking in an interview with bloggers, “I don’t think that the disillusionment is justified.”

If he walked a mile in our Pradas, Birks or army boots, he'd know it's justified.

All that said, I believe the LGBT community should vote, and preferably Democratic.

I offer three reasons. Though Obama's efforts have been periodically anemic, he has come up with some of the goods, like the federal hate-crime law and hospital visitation rights.

Second, it's a cliché but infuriatingly true that change takes time. Two years is enough time to get your teeth straightened, but not enough time to get your rights.

Third--and sadly this is my greatest motivator—consider the alternative. If these two years of Democratic "control" have been rough, think about what awaits us under Republican dominion. A Congress dipped in tea promises to be God-awful for us and for our allies.

Please, please vote. If it helps, hold your nose. Or your boyfriend. Anything.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Question of the Week

Do you think "lesbian bed death" is real or a myth?

School Board Member Gets Crazy Homophobic

The rash of teen suicides around the country has made schools examine how they handle the bullying of gay students.

An Arkansas school board member gave the matter appropriate thought and announced his solution: All gays should commit suicide.

Clint McCance, who sits on the board of the Midland school district in northern Arkansas, used his Facebook page, The Advocate reported, to get some things off his chest:

"Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE."

Given the current political climate, I wouldn't be surprised if this guy gains a following. Joe the Plumber, meet Clint the Imbecile.

One person responded to McCance, "Because hatred is always right," which prompted the school board member to share some more:

"No because being a fag doesn't give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I dont care how people decide to live their lives. They dont bother me if they keep it to thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die. If you arent against it, you might as well be for it."

It's one of nature's jokes that a specimen this underdeveloped can procreate.

A commenter told McCance to hush up and think for a second, "you big Christian man." If McCance doesn't want people talking about his family, he shouldn't talk about other folks.

McCance answered, "I would disown my kids they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone."

I don't know if these kids are even born yet, and he's already planning to run them off.

I feel the deepest pity for them, whether they're gay or straight. And this creature is responsible for the welfare of the children in the school district!

Is it too late for his parents to rethink that procreation thing?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Week's Quote

A politician should have three hats: one for throwing in the ring, one for talking through, and one for pulling rabbits out of if elected.

Carl Sandburg

Source: Quotationary

Monday, October 25, 2010

Finding Your Festival Pace

I looked in my partner's eyes. "Go on without me," I breathed. "Leave me behind. I don't have the strength. Promise me you'll keep going."

Tenderly she said, "Leslie, it's just a damn movie."

It wasn't just one movie. It was umpteen movies. The Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival had worn me out. Anne turns into a cinema Energizer Bunny over those 10 days, hopping from theater to theater. By Day 7, I was hanging on to her bunny tail.

As a result, I now know how to attack the festival more pragmatically. Here's my advice on pacing yourself so you can get the most out of any major gay film festival without turning into something on the cutting room floor.

The first thing you do is get hold of the festival program. Such choices! Such variety! Such a pain to get to the early movies from work! You might consider quitting your job. That would certainly be a form of pacing yourself. But don't do it, or you won't be able to pay for any of this.

That brings us to tickets. Should you buy a pass for the whole festival, or pay for movies individually? For now, figure out the rough number of movies you want to see. Then do the math. Which route is cheaper? If it's reasonably close, buy the pass. You'll be helping the festival and guaranteeing I can't call you a tightwad.

You'll also make things a little easier on yourself. One of the perks of the festival pass here in Seattle is the pass-holders' line. People in that line are admitted early. They get their choice of seats, and don't have to worry about a film being sold out. Anybody in that line can lay off Xanax for a week.

Since I'm trying to make the festival experience comfy, know that if you have a pass to the whole shebang, you can attend all the receptions that are held after the bigger movies. That way, if you missed dinner in your hurry to get to the movie, you can eat. And drink. Comfy yet?

Now it's time for the nitty-gritty, which movies you see. Scan the catalog and mark in a bold color the ones you really want to see. Mark in a less bold color the ones you sort of want to see. Remember, you're aiming not to overdo and exhaust yourself, so choose judiciously.

If you plan to attend the films with someone else, forget everything I just said.

Only when you're attending the festival alone can you choose the perfect schedule. If you're going with a partner or friends, compromise is required. Along with the occasional game of rock, paper, scissors.

Don't assume you and your other half are in sync on the film festival, no matter how long you've been together. On the festival's second day, it unfolded that I thought we'd see three films, but Anne had figured on four. She was aghast at missing a movie; I was aghast at never seeing daylight.

If you agree on your schedule before the festival starts, you improve your chances of achieving a civilized pace. And a civilized relationship.

The bottom line is everyone's taste and stamina differ. In one evening Anne will happily see a Danish lesbian documentary, transgender shorts and a gay male Peruvian feature. After such an evening I might not know where I am. Or who.

Come to think of it, our different movie-going appetites might make a good short film. Anne and I should make one. If we can agree on the pace.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Question of the Week

Do you own anything rainbow-colored?

The Luck of the Gay Irish

Here's a shocker. Ireland might get a gay president.

Not long ago a leprechaun would've had a better chance, so something has shifted in this conservative Catholic nation.

Sen. David Norris, a James Joyce scholar, told the Guardian his candidacy resulted from a Facebook campaign urging him to run. Opinion polls have him leading in next year's race for president.

It's a mostly symbolic position, which would be appropriate, since his election would be one helluva symbol to the whole world.

Norris knows that: "Anybody else elected as president of Ireland I don't think is going to get the same kind of sensational news coverage. And I think that's splendid, because if I went to Washington as president every single news channel will be there hungry for a story. I have been around long enough to deal with that story with dignity and then move on to talk about Ireland, to sell our country."

If he's selling, I'm buying.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Week's Quote

I went to a convent in New York and was fired finally for my insistence that the Immaculate Conception was a spontaneous combustion.

Dorothy Parker

Source: An Uncommon Scold

God on Our Minds

Over the weekend I went to see "Mississippi Queen," a documentary about an out lesbian returning home to Mississippi to make sense of the fact that her parents run an ex-gay ministry.

PFLAG parents these were not.

In addition to her parents, Paige Williams interviewed other Christian folks. I'm still ruminating over the two female ex-gays. Both gals had given up women and weren't involved with men. When asked about missing intimacy, one said she had an intimacy with God.

My snort was heard 'round the theater.

Right, I thought, that's satisfying. Girl, you've cut yourself off from human contact. That's a gigantic void God can't fill. All to satisfy a small-minded interpretation of the Bible. The other woman said something like she was in relationship with God, so both ex-lesbians were looking at a future with God as their significant other. I trust he'll at least pay for dinner.

But later I got to thinking. Gurus, nuns, priests, monks, mystics—there are people for whom God is enough. They actually are in relationship with him or her, and that relationship supersedes all others.

My partner Anne, who long ago journeyed out of Christian fundamentalism, summed it up, "The ex-gay movement shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, but it certainly has its roots in grotesque religious homophobia."

If God really is enough for these two women, then may they be happy. But I don't think most ex-gays hear a call that divine. I think they hear a bellow of condemnation here on earth.

It makes me want to hand out earmuffs. God's call will pass through them; the bellow of the hypocrites who cherry-pick the Bible will not.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Question of the Week

What do you want to say to people who won't vote in next month's election?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This Week's Quote

I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: ‘The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that’s fair.’ In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.

Bertrand Russell

Source: finestquotes.com

Monday, October 11, 2010

All Aboard the Crazy Train

Lately the crazy train has picked up speed.

I don't know if it's the upcoming midterm elections or people are scared by gay court victories or what, but we're in a period of nutty.

Take David Barton. Please.

An evangelical minister, teacher at (Glenn) Beck University and former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, Barton, a self-styled historian, is the founder of WallBuilders, a group devoted to the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation.

On his WallBuilders radio show recently, Barton discussed with Rick Green how health-conscious America is, regulating cigarettes and trans fats and salt, yet allowing something to slip through that is such an obvious threat to the health of Americans: "Jersey Shore."

Okay, he didn't say that. Instead, Barton reeled off fanciful statistics, like, "Homosexuals die decades earlier than heterosexuals," and "nearly one-third (of homosexuals) admit to a thousand or more sex partners in a lifetime."

Barton said, "I mean, you go through all this stuff, sounds to me like that's not very healthy. Why don't we regulate homosexuality?"

That's the moment he boarded the crazy train.

Barton, the quack historian, cited a 1920s study that found nations that "rejected sexual regulation like with homosexuality" didn't last "past the third generation from the time that they embraced it."

Have gays been embraced? When will the third generation appear? It's important to know when we're supposed to make this country collapse. We have a schedule to keep.

Rick Green's role in this production was to be properly aghast that the breathtakingly unhealthy gay lifestyle is promoted and protected. That makes Green—recently a candidate for the Texas Supreme Court--the porter on the crazy train.

If David Barton wants the government to regulate gay sex, Andrew Shirvell's goal is much more modest. But Shirvell is the conductor on the crazy train.

For almost six months Shirvell has railed in a blog against Chris Armstrong, the openly gay University of Michigan student assembly president. Shirvell, a Michigan grad, accused Armstrong of so many things, including being anti-Christian, hosting a gay orgy, trying to recruit freshmen to be gay, and my favorite, sexually seducing a conservative student and influencing him to the point that he "morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda."

Good strategy, that seduction. Armstrong should be able to convert everybody on campus by the time he's 106.

During his anti-Armstrong crusade, Shirvell protested outside Armstrong's house, and called him "Satan's representative on the student assembly."

Paranoid much?

All this would be plenty bad enough, but the fact that Shirvell is a Michigan assistant attorney general launches the affair into the realm of the bizarre. Rod Serling couldn't have made this up.

Shirvell's boss, Attorney General Mike Cox, cited the guy's right to free speech, while also telling CNN he's a "bully." Cox said that Shirvell's "immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

This is more than a case of bad judgment. Shirvell is obsessed with Armstrong's homosexuality. I have to wonder if Shirvell—now on a voluntary leave of absence--is an immense closet case, or a few ties short of a railroad track.

Either explanation or both might apply to Fred Phelps, leader of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, but it's his daughters who recently clambered on the crazy train. Margie Phelps represented Westboro at the Supreme Court in the dispute over protests at military funerals, and after, while addressing the press, she and sister Shirley Phelps-Roper broke into song.

They warbled a few lines of a variation on Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train." Osbourne declared his displeasure that they used his music to advance "despicable beliefs."

When the Prince of Darkness looks civilized compared to you, your caboose is loose.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Question of the Week

Were you ever bullied in school, for being gay or for anything else?

Exodus Exits

You've heard of Exodus International. It's that infamous ex-gay group that pushes "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ." Exodus wants you to give up gay for God.

Gad.

Out of this fiery pit comes a surprising announcement. Exodus will cease sponsoring the Day of Truth, the conservative Christian response to the annual Day of Silence, when students vow to be silent to call attention to anti-gay bullying in schools.

Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, told CNN, "All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they'd like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not."

This is going to make some of their allies as mad as Moses when he clapped eyes on that golden calf.

Mind you, Exodus' position on homosexuality hasn't changed. But the Exodus folks have made a significant statement against anti-gay bullying. We'll see if they get bullied for it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Evangelicals and Divorce

Calling divorce "the scandal of the evangelical conscience," a leading Christian conservative is calling upon his brethren to wake up and smell the hypocrisy.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, decries that evangelicals are more likely to get agitated over a badly printed hymnal than divorce in their ranks.

He writes on his Web site
that "evangelical Protestants divorce at rates at least as high as the rest of the public. Needless to say, this creates a significant credibility crisis when evangelicals then rise to speak in defense of marriage."

Needless to say. But I'm glad he's the one saying it.

Mohler also writes that "divorce harms many more lives than will be touched by homosexual marriage."

A real sense of perspective from a powerful conservative Christian? The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Question of the Week

The apparently bisexual Tony Curtis died yesterday at 85, so now is a fitting time to ask: Which of his over 100 films is your favorite?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Save Our Kids, Part 2

And now for something completely the same.

As I finished writing the post below about LGBT kids killing themselves, my partner alerted me that another horror story had just popped into the news.

A Rutgers University freshman jumped off the George Washington Bridge last week after his roommate broadcast live images of him having sex with another guy on the Internet. The body of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi hasn’t been found.

Ah, the carefree days of youth . . .

Save Our Kids

This has been a notable month for the LGBT community. In September there's been a whole lot of DADT action (see the column below), and four young men who attended Bishop Eddie Long's megachurch have accused the prominent homophobe of coercing them into sex when they were teenagers (don't see the column below as it doesn't exist yet).

But to my mind the biggest story of the month is the one you may not have heard. Three boys in their early teens killed themselves in September. They lived in Indiana, Texas and California. Relentless antigay bullying took them all.

Their parents grieve, and we grieve. They died for nothing.

Perhaps we can give their deaths some meaning. Yes, folks, this means making a real effort. Get back here—I see your finger wandering to the escape button. We need to get involved. We need to save our kids.

Dan Savage had a great idea. He's launched a YouTube channel—www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject—providing video proof to LGBT youth that their lives will improve.

What else can we do? If you have a suggestion, large or small, please leave it in the comments section. It's time to do something, anything. Some among us have been struggling against youth suicide for a long time. They need the rest of us to join in. Think of it as the biggest gay party ever.

Monday, September 27, 2010

DADT's Hectic September

Boy, there's been a lot of action around Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) lately. Let's all follow the bouncing ball.

On Sept. 9, a federal judge in California declared DADT unconstitutional. Judge Virginia Phillips of Federal District Court struck down the military's ban on openly gay soldiers after the plaintiffs challenged the law under the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. It was the Log Cabin Republicans that brought the suit.

On Sept. 10, every gay organization kicked itself for allowing the gay GOP'ers to get there first.

On Sept. 12, two gay and two lesbian soldiers, all DADT victims, escorted Lady Gaga to the MTV Video Music Awards. The five people involved wore dress uniforms—for Lady Gaga, an Alexander McQueen ensemble including tall gold feathers on her head is a dress uniform. The former military members looked dignified and handsome.

On Sept. 13, I wondered if I could get a military escort for going to Safeway.

On Sept. 20, Lady Gaga turned up in Portland, Maine, to speak at a rally aimed at pressuring the state's two senators to vote for DADT repeal. She suggested a new policy for straight soldiers who are "uncomfortable" being around gay soldiers.

She said, "Our new law is called 'If you don't like it, go home!'"

On Sept. 21, every American soldier in Afghanistan and Iraq claimed to be uncomfortable around gay soldiers and asked to go home.

Also on Sept. 21, political D-Day arrived. The "D" wound up standing for "Doofuses." In the Senate, each Republican and two Democrats voted against repealing DADT. Everybody accused everybody of playing politics, and everybody was right.

This vote was a blow to the gay solar plexus. But it's possible the Senate might address the issue again after the elections. We can hope during a lame-duck session the senators will act more like owls and less like ostriches.

Often in our struggles we've had to count on politicians, judges and voters treating us fairly because it was the right thing to do. Now we actually have public opinion on our side—according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, over 75 percent of Americans think gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. Such approval feels weird, but I could force myself to get used to it.

Again on Sept. 21, the GLBT site JoeMyGod.com reported on the Senate vote, and someone left this comment: "All Faggots must die." The message was traced to the office of Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

On Sept. 22, Chambliss' office issued a statement saying that so far it was unknown which person there left the comment. Then I issued a statement saying apparently the senator hires staffers with the soul of a plum pit.

On Sept. 23, U.S. government lawyers filed to stop Judge Phillips (see Sept. 9) from issuing an injunction that would immediately halt DADT. They argued she should confine any injunction to the 19,000 members of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Now there's a bizarre idea. Only Republican gays can be soldiers.

In further bizarreness, the White House tried to explain why government lawyers were defending a policy President Obama wants to eradicate. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs must go through Excedrin like candy.

On Sept. 24, a federal judge in Tacoma, Wash., ruled that Maj. Margaret Witt, a lesbian and decorated flight nurse booted from the Air Force, should get her job back. U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton, an active Republican, became emotional as he recalled some of Witt's testimony.

He decided her discharge advanced no legitimate military interest, and in fact weakened her squadron. So an open lesbian is going back to the military.

Two weeks of a DADT roller coaster. Forget cautiously optimistic--I'm nauseously optimistic.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Question of the Week

Given this week's maddening setback in the Senate, when do you think we'll actually be rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banishing Florida's Ban

Today a Miami appeals court ruled unanimously that Florida's 33-year-old law banning adoption by gays is unconstitutional. The case will probably go to the Florida Supreme Court for resolution.

But the real resolution will be when Rosie O'Donnell finally gets to adopt every foster child in Florida.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oklahoma OK

It's sad but true that when I think of Oklahoma I think of Sally Kern, the vocal state legislator so terrified of gays she'd rather have her hair cut by Osama bin Laden.

That's why it's terrific when good news comes out of the Sooner State. Yesterday the Tulsa school board voted to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy for students, staff members and parents. The vote was unanimous.

Kern, a former teacher, must be itching to rap some knuckles.

In June, the Tulsa City Council and the Tulsa City-County Library Commission added sexual orientation to their anti-bias policies.

These dominoes have to be driving Kern wild. Is Tulsa lost?

We can only hope.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Question of the Week

What words would you like to hear Pope Benedict XVI say on any gay issue?

Monday, September 13, 2010

They Meant Well

We've reached a point in America where many companies seek to do right by gay people. Once in a while, they get bit on the butt for it.

Microsoft recently lost a piece of its posterior to 26-year-old Josh Moore of West Virginia. Moore is an avid gamer, and as an unemployed factory worker, he's got plenty of time to indulge his passion for Microsoft's Xbox Live.

Moore favors "shooters" like Call of Duty, Medal of Honor and Ghost Recon. Since I don't know Ghost Recon from Casper the Friendly Ghost, I'm out of my depth here.

But I do grasp that people play these games online, and Moore was gearing up for a Search and Destroy competition when Microsoft searched and destroyed him, or at least his alter ego. The colossal corporation suspended Moore's gaming privileges, believing he had violated Xbox Live's code of conduct.

In his profile, Moore had listed his hometown as Fort Gay.

Can you see where this is going?

Fort Gay is a real town of about 800 located along West Virginia's border with Kentucky. But somebody, presumably a fellow gamer, smelled insult among the bullets, explosions and general mayhem, and complained to the Xbox Live folks.

"Someone took the phrase 'fort gay WV' and believed that the individual who had that was trying to offend, or trying to use it in a pejorative manner," said Stephen Toulouse, director of policy and enforcement for Xbox Live, to The Associated Press. "Unfortunately, one of my people agreed with that."

Moore found himself up a creek without a joystick.

"At first I thought, 'Wow, somebody's thinking I live in the gayest town in West Virginia or something.' I was mad . . . It makes me feel like they hate gay people," he said.

"I'm not even gay, and it makes me feel like they were discriminating."

I am gay, and I'm confused.

It's not clear whether Moore thought Microsoft or the person who complained was discriminating against gays. Either way, Microsoft and the complainer were actually trying to do the opposite. Moore intended no offense. Microsoft intended to prevent offense. Moore was offended.

Who, huh, wha'?

An angry Moore called customer service, figuring he could explain that Fort Gay really exists. But the representative said if Moore put Fort Gay in his profile again, Xbox Live would cancel his account and keep his money.

Now I know whom they use as a model for their games' tough-guy characters.

"I told him, Google it—25514!" Moore said, listing Fort Gay's ZIP code. "He said, 'I can't help you.'"

Mayor David Thompson got involved, and I can just imagine his call to customer service: "What do you people think I'm the mayor of, Brigadoon?"

Even if Thompson managed to convince the representative of Fort Gay's existence, it didn't solve Moore's problem. The mayor was told the city's name didn't matter—the word "gay" was inappropriate in any context.

Hmmmm. Protecting us by eliminating us. Making us as ghostly as Casper. I'm feeling mighty pallid.

The employee got that wrong, said Toulouse, the Xbox Live rules enforcer. The player's contract says users may not write profile text that could offend others. But the Code of Conduct says players can use such words as gay and transgender in their profile.

Toulouse said the company has modified its training, and he plans to apologize to Moore.

Microsoft might be feeling that no good deed goes unpunished. In this swirl of good intentions, the vacuum sucked up everybody. It's a good thing, though, that this incident showed the Xbox honchos the need to refine their procedures. Before they get calls from Gay, Mich., and Gay, Ga.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Question of the Week

What is your favorite lesbian movie?

RIP Inspector Pine

Seymour Pine, who died last week at 91, was a crucial figure in LGBT history. A less likely candidate you never saw.

In 1969, Pine commanded the New York Police Department's vice squad for Lower Manhattan. On June 28, he led eight officers on a raid of the Stonewall Inn.

You know what happened next. The L's, G's, B's and many T's fought back. The pumps and purses were a'flying. The Stonewall riots lasted for several nights, and had a profound effect all over the world.

"The Stonewall uprising is the signal event in American gay and lesbian civil rights history because it transformed a small movement that existed prior to that night into a mass movement," author David Carter told The New York Times.

On that hot June night, Seymour Pine, WWII veteran and father of two, walked into the illegal gay club and tripped right into history.

He spoke at the New York Historical Society in 2004 on the uprising. Back in '69 the police "certainly were prejudiced" against gays, Pine said, "but had no idea about what gay people were about."

They could've asked. But I digress.

Pine insisted the cops routinely raided gay clubs because many clubs were controlled by organized crime. Also, officers saw arresting gays as a means to boost their arrest totals. "They were easy arrests," he said. "They never gave you any trouble." Well, alllllllmost never.

Someone in the audience at the Historical Society stated Pine should apologize for the raid. He did. Classy fellow.

“There’s been a stereotype that Seymour Pine was a homophobe,” David Carter said. “He had some of the typical hang-ups and preconceived ideas of the time, but I think he was strictly following orders, not personal prejudice against gay people.”

“He once told me,” Carter said, “‘If what I did helped gay people, then I’m glad.’”

It did help. Perversely, we thank you for arresting us. You pissed us off beyond endurance, and things haven't been the same since. You belong in our pantheon. Make sure that uniform is pressed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Youth, Meth and Going Viral

"In my brief moments of clarity I knew my life was supposed to be better than this."

Who said that? Who had mere seconds of clarity? Yogi Berra? Dan Quayle? Maxwell Smart?

If you guessed Lindsay Lohan, you're getting warm. The speaker was 26-year-old Jordan Duran, who in an interview with The Seattle Times described his addiction to crystal meth. He was part of a story about young gays contracting HIV through meth use.

As happy a topic as exploding oil rigs.

Though there is some happiness connected with Duran's story: He's alive. Not long ago you'd have gotten better odds on Mel Gibson joining the diplomatic corps.

Duran struggled in his hometown of Puyallup, about 35 miles south of Seattle. By the age of 5, he knew he was different from other boys. In high school he seized on religion. Duran even went to a therapist who "specialized" in reversing homosexuality. During his senior year, he came out.

After graduation he headed for Seattle, moving in with an older man who apparently took his role as mentor very seriously, arranging official introductions for his protégé—to ecstasy, ketamine, GHB and then meth.

"From the first time I took meth I was hooked," said Duran. "It was about escaping from who I was, and meth was the perfect drug to wash it all away."

Chocolate does the same for me, but oddly it doesn't have that effect on everyone.

On his 21st birthday, Duran drank a boatload and then scored some meth. He had unprotected sex with a stranger.

A few weeks later it became clear what he'd gotten for his birthday: HIV. And many happy returns.

Joshua O'Neal, who does HIV-testing research at a local hospital, told The Seattle Times that three-quarters of those who test HIV-positive at his clinic have used meth. Said O'Neal, "When you feel invincible, you don't care about using a condom."

After he tested positive, Duran's downward spiral got a move on. By 23, he was using meth 20 times each day.

Most people don't do anything 20 times a day. Except breathe.

He had unsafe sex. Staph infections and MRSA were frequent visitors. He contracted syphilis, which spread to his brain, causing disorientation. He was homeless.

Only Dante could do justice to this circle of hell.

Finally Duran saw a doctor, who happened to resemble his grandmother. She asked if he was using meth, and told him if he continued to use he'd be dead within six months from an overdose or the HIV.

Grandma took no prisoners. Thank goodness.

"Up until that point I was afraid of living, but suddenly I was afraid of dying," said Duran.

He went directly from the doctor's to an AA meeting, and began the arduous task of getting clean. "Quitting the drugs wasn't the hard part," he said. "Feeling my emotions was the hard part."

Duran has been victorious in the smackdown with his emotions--he's been sober for well over two years. Soon after starting antiretroviral drugs, his viral load was undetectable. He now works for Gay City Health Project, which focuses on gay men's health.

When someone on the skids comes in and tells him he doesn't know what it's like, Duran must struggle not to guffaw.

In Seattle's King County, in the space of a year, about 10 percent of gay and bisexual men use crystal meth. For men under the age of 30, the figure is twice as high.

Combine that with the studies saying gay men who use meth are at scary-high risk for contracting HIV, and it all adds up to a real problem: tweaking twinks who can't think.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Amy is Angry

And now a change of pace for this site. And a change of author.

My good friend Amy heard on NPR how officials in Imperial County, Calif., have taken it upon themselves to defend Prop 8. Since California's governor and attorney general refuse to defend it, agreeing as they do with the federal judge's ruling that the marriage ban is unconstitutional, Imperial County honchos are stepping into the breach. Such heroes.

Is Amy ever mad. Below is her passionate letter to the county supervisor who was quoted in the radio story:

Dear Supervisor Terrazas,

I listened with a heavy heart to your interview on NPR yesterday morning.
I’ve heard about the efforts in Imperial County that favor
withholding marriage rights to committed, loving couples, but to hear
such justification for discrimination from a leader is heartbreaking.

I am a nurse who has cared for Hispanic families--much like the
majority of people in your Imperial Valley--for more than fifteen
years. In Albuquerque, I worked at a county hospital in obstetrics
and worked hard for my laboring patients, carrying a battered
English/Spanish dictionary in my back pocket and welcoming the extended
family that often came to celebrate a birth. I then moved to Seattle
and cared for migrant workers--often Hispanic, often poor, and in dire
need of the primary care I provided. I found my patients to be kind,
fair-minded, reasonable people that valued family. That is why I
feel compelled to write this note to you.

Your opposition to marriage equality in Imperial County can’t really
be about religion, because we both learned in Sunday School about
Jesus preaching love and inclusiveness, and the Golden Rule. And,
there really can't be much of a threat to traditional marriage since
gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for five years and the
lowest divorce rate in the nation happens to be held by Massachusetts.
Could it be the residents of El Centro have become pawns for this so-called
group “Advocates For Faith and Freedom” that is funding your
lawsuit?

As a leader, I imagine your struggles are great. But when it comes to
equality, please set a strong example.

I encourage you to open your heart and mind to what marriage is really
about. If you are fortunate enough to be happily married, as I am,
then how can you really deny someone else that right?

In peace,

Amy Coe, RN, NP
Boston, MA

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Question of the Week

Now that Ken Mehlman, President Bush's campaign manager in 2004 and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has come out, would you like to welcome him or throttle him?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The L Wart

I find it hard to believe. I certainly don't want to believe it. But the rate of domestic violence among lesbian couples is high.

How high? Higher than George Michael behind the wheel.

In a story on a Massachusetts woman who allegedly killed her ex-partner's AA sponsor earlier this month because she thought the sponsor came between them, EDGE notes that one in three lesbians will experience domestic violence at some point.

So much for the idea many of us believe, even hold dear, that female space is safe space. Makes you want to head to outer space.

By the way, the rate of domestic violence for straight women is the same. Equality at last.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Question of the Week

How old were you when you realized you were gay or bi or trans?

Monday, August 16, 2010

You're Outta Here!

Even if you don't like baseball, you've probably seen video of a manager vociferously arguing a call with an umpire. The manager might throw his cap. He might throw a base. He might throw out his back throwing a base.

Brent Bowers, skipper of a minor league team, performed an unusual physical maneuver and delivered a scalding tirade during a confrontation with openly gay umpire Billy Van Raaphorst. Bowers now has a place in baseball history, but it will only get him into the Hall of Shame.

On July 31, Bowers' Edmonton Capitals played the Orange County Flyers in Fullerton, Calif. Van Raaphorst, of Irvine, Calif., was the crew chief. In the first inning, another umpire called a close play at first base. Bowers and some of his players pointedly objected to the call. Van Raaphorst warned them. When Bowers and two players continued beefing, Van Raaphorst ejected them, the second day in a row he'd tossed Bowers in the first inning.

Bowers promptly benched his brain.

Outsports.com obtained the official report Van Raaphorst gave to the Golden Baseball League in which the umpire provided his account of what happened next. Bowers ran over to him and screamed, "You know what I heard? I heard you are a fucking faggot . . . So what do you do you fucking faggot? Do you take it up the fucking ass you faggot?"

Bowers bent over and grabbed his ankles, apparently fearful the umpire hadn't understood his words and a visual aid was in order.

This leader of men screamed into Van Raaphorst's face, "What's the matter, did your fucking boyfriend fucking cum on your face today, is that how you like it you fucking faggot?"

It was a fine, family-friendly day at the ballpark.

Bowers threatened, "I ought to kick your ass you faggot." The plate umpire came over and Van Raaphorst walked away. Bowers screamed at the plate umpire, "I know he is a faggot, I was told by [two prominent people in the league] that he is a fucking faggot. I know he is a faggot!"

Whew. Van Raaphorst, who stands 6'4", did well not to knock him into the hotdog stand.

Several possibilities here. The first is clear: This manager can't manage his anger. As to the second and third possibilities, his rant was so extreme and so primal, Bowers either is a poster child for the testosterone-soaked ethos of pro sports, or he's gay.

My bet is the former. The very idea of the latter probably makes him want to throw bats out of the dugout. Preferably with me in the way.

The Golden Baseball League responded to the homophobic tirade by suspending Bowers for two games. Yup, a whole two games. That decision was the foulest of foul balls.

Fortunately, Van Raaphorst's fellow umps were incensed over this slap on the wrist, and threatened to walk off the job. The league then suspended Bowers for the rest of the season. Bowers, who admitted to the tongue-lashing, resigned.

The guy without a job said he regrets what he did. "I've grown up more in three days than ever before," said Bowers. That still makes him only about 14.

The league president said, due to this incident, all 10 teams will be required to go through diversity training. Now that is a grand slam.

Kudos to Billy Van Raaphorst, who managed to endure an appalling situation. I don't know if there's a blessing for baseball umpires, so I'll make one up: May your calls be accurate, may your temper be slow, and may a line drive never land in your teeth.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Question of the Week

What is your favorite gay male movie?

The Plot Twist that Twists Me

My partner Anne and I finally got around to seeing "The Kids Are All Right" the other night. We ran into several friends, proving we weren't the only ones slow in getting to the theater.

Slow, yes, but what lavender-blooded gal would miss the chance to see beauties Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play gay in a film written and directed by an actual lesbian? Puh-leeze.

I had steadfastly avoided reading any reviews of "The Kids," so they wouldn't influence my take on it. In fact, I'd done such a good job of avoiding reviews, blog posts, even ads that all I knew about the movie was this: long-term lesbian couple, two teenagers, sperm donor newly on the scene, attractive stemware.

In this age of souped-up media, how do I manage to insulate myself from information? How do I keep myself thoroughly ignorant? Downright stupid? It's a gift.

I realized just how little I knew when Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo hit the sheets. I had managed not to hear about THAT little plot twist.

After the film Anne and I stopped to talk with another lesbian couple outside the theater. "Why does the femme always sleep with a guy?" one of the women promptly complained.

I hadn't seen the affair in terms of butch/femme. In truth, I was lucky just to see the screen, because the moment the lesbian and the straight guy bedded down, I found myself in a bubble of my own, little prickles going up and down my body. It was like someone had electrified the popcorn.

I was having a flashback. No, not the kind you're thinking. I was with men until I was 30; getting sexual with a man now seems redundant.

I was propelled back to a weekend eighteen months ago, when I sat, terrified, in a screenplay seminar. The instructors, two straight men, cut to pieces the screenplay synopses before them.

My synopsis also got the Ginsu-knife treatment, which it deserved. The instructors managed to find a few bits they liked, and they didn't agree with each other on everything. But one thing they did agree on: My lesbian character should have sex with the guy who wanted her.

That would be a "true reverse," it would bulk up her character and the plot, it would . . . make me sick to my stomach.

My innards churned as they talked. In my head I heard "No, no, no!" Whether the casually dispensed advice came from their brains or somewhere well south of there I'll never know, but I sure felt alone in that room.

When I saw Moore and Ruffalo trysting on screen, the emotion of that experience came back, along with the conviction that for me, a dyke doing a het is last resort. We've seen too many movies where lesbianism gets the shaft because a lesbian couldn't say no to a shaft.

That said, the affair in "The Kids Are All Right" made organic sense in several ways. And that said, had I known ahead of time the movie hinged on an affair between a coupled lesbian and a straight man, I probably wouldn't have gone. No matter what stunning lesbians Bening and Moore make.

Since seeing the flick, I've checked out the blogosphere and found that some lesbians are angry about the affair, others find it completely believable, and others, like yours truly, feel some of both. We're the pretzels.

My partner takes the long view about lesbians on film: "It's a progression. We moved from suicide to having heterosexual sex in the movies."

Next stop, homosexual sex. Then I'd like a lesbian Indiana Jones . . .

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Question of the Week

How did you feel when you heard that Judge Walker had struck down Prop 8?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back in the News Groove

I've shirked my duty. I haven't provided you with a GLBT news quiz in an eon. Shocking behavior.

I'm back on the case now, ready to help you figure out whether you know your news. For each multiple-choice question below, circle the right answer. Or the wrong one—in my current contrite state, I can't be pushy.

1. At a rally in Indianapolis, a man held a sign that said, "The solution to gay marriage," and underneath the words dangled a couple of nooses. Which organization staged the rally?
a. the Republican Party
b. Westboro Baptist Church
c. the National Organization for Marriage
d. the Taliban

2. "Interview with the Vampire" author Anne Rice announced, "In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian." Rice, mother of gay novelist Christopher Rice, declared she refuses to be "anti-gay," "anti-feminist" and "anti-Democrat." Where did her written declaration appear?
a. in Newsweek
b. on Twitter
c. on Facebook
d. on a church door in Wittenberg

3. Intent on staging a counter protest to Jerusalem's Pride parade, Deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus sought permission to greet marchers with live animals to represent the "bestial" nature of the parade. Which real animals did he want to use?
a. dogs
b. sheep
c. donkeys
d. armadillos

4. Ellen DeGeneres has chosen to leave "American Idol." Her reported replacement as a judge will be:
a. Rosie O'Donnell
b. RuPaul
c. Jennifer Lopez
d. Madeleine Albright

5. And in further lesbians-and-TV news, the now officially out actress Sara Gilbert ("Roseanne") will co-host a new daytime talk show in which celebrity moms discuss the trials of motherhood. What will the show be called?
a. "The Mothers"
b. "The Mom Show"
c. "The Talk"
d. "The Stretch Marks"

6. Eight GetEqual protesters were arrested in the Capitol rotunda, their sit-in an effort to push House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring ENDA up for a vote. Pelosi's spokesperson said:
a. "Go away."
b. "I told you that floor is cold."
c. " . . . passing ENDA before DADT repeal has been finalized jeopardizes both initiatives."
d. "You people have too many acronyms."

The answer to each question is c. Since it's been so long, I didn't want to strain you by mixing things up.

If you didn't do well, fear not. I'm feeling sufficiently guilty that I hereby declare everyone has aced the quiz. What's a little grade inflation between friends?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Question of the Week

Which LGBT figure from history—or the present—do you most admire?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just Not Enough Men

Elisabeth Hasselbeck has got it sussed.

When Whoopi Goldberg, Hasselbeck's co-host on "The View," asked why there seems to be an increase in lesbians coming out later in life, Hasselbeck said that "the older men are going for younger women, leaving the women with no one."

Now you know.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Question of the Week

Now that Melissa Etheridge and Tammy Lynn Michaels have parted, who will be Melissa's next girlfriend?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Victory for Argentina

Argentina suffered a distinct blow when its promising soccer team was bounced from the World Cup. What did the country do to pick up its spirits?

It passed gay marriage.

Argentina is the first nation in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. Gays and lesbians in Argentina will have all the legal rights and responsibilities that marriage affords straight couples.

Goal!

The days leading up to the momentous decision were infused with pressure, both sides pushing and pushing. About the only thing missing were vuvuzelas.

And for all I know, some Argentine soccer fans brought those horns home from South Africa and blew them in the streets of Buenos Aires, aggravating people on both sides of the marriage battle.

The issue of same-sex marriage pitted the Catholic Church against Argentine President Cristina Fernandez. Time.com reported that Buenos Aires archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio said, "This is no mere legislative bill, it is a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God."

Fernandez responded that Bergoglio's statement was "really reminiscent of the times of the Inquisition."

The hyperbole was sky-high enough to tickle St. Peter's feet.

Polls indicated a solid majority of Argentines favored same-sex marriage, even though the country is overwhelmingly Catholic. With the president of the nation a strong supporter of the bill, and the lower chamber having approved it in May, all that remained was for Argentina's Senate to get in the game.

In a march organized by the Catholic Church and evangelical groups, 60,000 people descended on Congress the evening before the vote. Same-sex marriage supporters held smaller, loud rallies. As the final debate took place inside Congress, opponents stood outside reciting the rosary in freezing temperatures, and supporters chanted equality slogans.

These people must've wondered if the senators had escaped out the back door—the vote didn't take place until 4:05 a.m., after 15 hours of debate. The game lasted so long it went into penalty kicks.

"Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species," asserted Sen. Juan Perez Alsina, according to The Associated Press.

Sen. Norma Morandini compared the discrimination closeted gays experience to the oppression Argentina's past dictators imposed. "What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance," Morandini said.

With that, every dictator rose from his grave and tried to give her a red card, but no one noticed.

At the end of the long, tense session, the Argentine Senate approved same-sex marriage 33-27, with three abstentions. Argentina became the 10th nation in the world to approve gay marriage.

On the same day the Catholic Church lost the game, the Vatican announced that the "attempted ordination" of women is now one of the most serious crimes under church law, on a par with clerical sexual abuse of children. Altogether, the Catholic Church is shooting on the wrong goal.

The first legal same-sex wedding is scheduled for Aug. 13. Ernesto Rodriguez Larrese, 60, will wed Alejandro Vanelli, 61. The men have lived together for 34 years, so presumably they require no pre-wedding counseling.

Mexico City, which legalized gay marriage last year, made an offer the guys might not be able to refuse. The city's tourism minister promised a free honeymoon to the first gay couple wed in Argentina. The minister seeks to recognize tolerance and to promote gay tourism, a healthy, eminently practical combo.

By the way, the two World Cup finalists, Spain and Holland, both legalized gay marriage. All the soccer-playing nations in the world, and it was those two that made it. I'm just sayin' . . .

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Question of the Week

How would you rate President Obama's handling of GLBT issues so far?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Y oh Y?

The YMCA announced on Monday that henceforth it's to be known as the Y, and a certain disco band is not pleased.

Village People's mega-hit "Y.M.C.A." is still played relentlessly at weddings and ballgames. The group, whose utterly gay sensibility slid into the mainstream, issued a statement on the change: "We are deeply dismayed by today's announcement from the YMCA that they feel a name change and a rebranding are in order after 166 years. Some things remain iconic and while we admire the organization for the work they do, we still can't help but wonder Y."

I'm wondering about that Y, too. Will we now form just a Y with our arms when the anthem is played and leave out the other letters? That will be a boon to those who never figured out the motions, anyway.

I guess the song will now go, "It's fun to stay at the Y! It's fun to stay at the Y!" Ooh, shrill.

If you're getting married this summer, stick with the Chicken Dance.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Question of the Week

Which of the seven "Gilligan's Island" characters (Gilligan, the Skipper, Thurston Howell III, Lovey Howell, Ginger, the Professor, Mary Ann) do you think was in the closet while marooned?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Change Tackles the Rugby World

Things do change.

Consider the case of Gareth Thomas, an international rugby star. The Welshman is 6'3" and a muscular 225 pounds. He's busted his nose five times, fractured both shoulders and a hip and an arm, lost eight teeth and been concussed an average of three times a year.

Rugby is such a wussy sport.

You wouldn't think Thomas would be afraid of anything. But he was, in a bone-deep way. He feared that people would find out he was gay.

In the May 3 issue of Sports Illustrated, writer Gary Smith delved into Thomas' psyche, his years of striving to be fitter, louder, drunker than his teammates, his brothers. The man named to the Welsh national rugby team more often than anyone else fought to keep his secret from his rugged teammates and his rugged country.

You can guess how well that worked out.

In 2006, at a physical and emotional low, Thomas began telling people closest to him the truth, starting with his wife--generally a good choice.

He resisted going public until December of 2009, when, wrote Smith, "a now-or-never feeling gripped his chest. He was 35, his international career finished, and he trusted his Cardiff Blues teammates and coaches." Thomas knew coming out as an active player rather than in retirement would have a far greater impact.

Hours after he came out in print, he found himself in a game sporting the jersey the team occasionally wears for away matches—the pink one.

At least the ball wasn't rainbow-striped.

The man Sports Illustrated called "the world's bravest athlete" for being the only out active player on a major men's team sport has become a changed fella, a visible gay force.

In the months since coming out, he's talked about homophobia on TV and at universities, and become a patron of LGBT History Month. Thomas wants to help kids. "I want to be the gay role model I never had. The note I got from a guy who gave up rugby years ago because he was gay and has returned to playing it since I came out—that outweighs lifting the biggest trophy as captain of Wales."

Such notes won't break any part of his anatomy, either. Except perhaps his heart.

It's not just one man who has changed. The reaction from teammates, fans, the media has been largely positive. Paul Burston, a gay editor who hails from Thomas' Welsh hometown, said, "Something really deep is changing. There's still a lot of homophobia, but it's not something you let out in genteel company now. It's been stigmatized."

How great is that? The stigma is now on the other rugby boot.

Thomas, who was planning to retire, felt so invigorated that he signed on with a team in northern Wales to play two years of an even faster and more physical brand of rugby. Either he's feeling suddenly, wonderfully free, or the man has had one too many concussions.

On March 26, in his second game for the Crusaders, his squad played the Castleford Tigers in Yorkshire, England. Tigers fans subjected Thomas to homophobic taunting. Some of those Yorkshire lads would rather hurl themselves into the scrum than go along with this change thing.

But they may have to. On June 29, the Rugby Football League (RFL) slapped the Castleford club with a fine of about $60,000. The RFL said, "Castleford were found guilty of unacceptable behaviour, of breaching the RFL's respect policy, of misconduct by their supporters and of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the sport."

Here's my very un-British reaction: Yeehaw! First Thomas came out, now the league has his back. Finally everybody's on the same team.

Monday, June 21, 2010

DADT: Truth and Sense Gone AWOL

The things they say.

Politicians and advocates opposed to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) have provided a chain of ignorant remarks and fantastical claims. I suppose when fear is your main motivator, your lips come out swinging.

In May, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chatted on American Family Association (AFA) radio about DADT. "You have women, men, then you'd have a third group to deal with," he said.

A third group? What, Smurfs?

Inhofe continued, "A military guy—I happen to be Army, and Army and Marines always feel that when we're out there, we're not doing it for the flag or for the country; we're doing it for the guy in the next foxhole. And that would dramatically change that."

Apparently every straight soldier would forget his training and duty, emerge from his foxhole and announce to the enemy, "Stop shooting! There's a faggot next to me so I've decided to just go home."

A couple of weeks later, AFA radio treated listeners to a history lesson. Host Bryan Fischer, as part of his discourse on DADT, declared that Hitler was "an active homosexual" who recruited gays to be Storm Troopers.

"Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders, but that homosexual soldiers basically had no limits," said Fischer.

If he twisted history any farther he would decapitate it.

The truth is that several leaders of the SA, the Nazi Party's paramilitary, were gay. That Hitler was gay is unlikely. That Fischer chose to trot out a crazy picture of gay soldiers as vicious animals during the national DADT debate suggests he's desperate and delusional, his head full of Brownshirts doing a Bavarian folkdance.

That's what the American Family Association offered to the debate. Not to be outdone, fellow social conservative group the Family Research Council stepped up to the fantasy plate at the same time. Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg released what he said was the first study of "homosexual assault" in the military.

According to the TPM Web site, Sprigg told reporters that gays in the service "are three times more likely to commit sexual assaults" than straights.

His facts are about as trustworthy as BP's.

Should DADT be repealed, said Sprigg, the situation would become more dire. "The number of homosexuals would grow, the threat of discharge for homosexual behavior would be eliminated and protected class status for homosexuals would make victims hesitant to report assaults and make commanders hesitant to punish them for fear of appearing homophobic."

And Liza Minnelli would join the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Returning to politicians, consider Al Krieger, the mayor of Yuma, Ariz., who supports DADT and whose remarks at a Memorial Day ceremony in a cemetery included, "I cannot believe that a bunch of lacy-drawered, limp-wristed people could do what those men have done in the past."

What will it take for a person like Krieger to grasp that some of "those men" were gay? That some of them are now? He's as ignorant as a head of cabbage.

Krieger proved that again when he defended himself to TV station KYMA, saying, "We need solid strong men, not pacifists, to fight those battles."

Finally, in June, Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he thinks DADT should stay, in part because Congressional debate could force families to discuss homosexuality.

"What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?" Skelton asked media members.

They say sometimes girls fall in love with girls, and boys fall in love with boys, you great big coward.

Cue the irony--the congressman wants a policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lit and Flicks Sustain the Newly Out

After we finished working out and I had breath again to speak, I asked my friend Louisa about her weekend plans. She said she intended to cozy up with a lesbian romance.

It's not that Louisa doesn't have anyone real with whom to cozy up. She's a year into her first lesbian relationship, and that's the point. Because she's in love, because she's new at this Sapphic thing, she gets sustenance from LGBT books, publications and movies.

Even a trashy romance. Especially a trashy romance.

Whether you're in a relationship or not, when you're in the process of coming out, gay books and such affirm that process. They tell you, most basically, that you're not alone. They help you make sense of what you're feeling. It doesn't matter if you're 13 or 75. LGBT books offer clues for the clueless.

I asked Louisa if her romance was a Naiad book, referring to the defunct publisher of all kinds of lesbian novels. She said yes. Ah, I said, Naiad helped many newbies through their lesbian adolescence, including me. Good thing the fruits of that company's labor are still around, helping other, um, fruits.

Louisa's voice held only a tinge of embarrassment for reveling in a romance. For a professor, that's pretty good. As an academic who teaches literature, she's practically required to dismiss romance as being as unworthy as rude limericks. I'm just glad she has tenure.

Of course, she also subscribes to the journal The Gay & Lesbian Review, a fact she can remind herself of should she start feeling a bit too plebeian.

When my partner Anne served as the advisor for a new lesbian support group at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Va., in the late '80s, the first thing the organizers did was head to a gay bookstore in Washington, D.C. Before returning to Lynchburg, where Jerry Falwell ruled, they loaded up on books that would've made his hair ignite.

The topics of the fiction and nonfiction included relationships, sex, discrimination, coming out and other baby-dyke essentials. Anne says the students chose books that provided "a chance to see how others had survived. And thrived."

My experience tells me that sometimes the works we seize on in our early days are just lousy. Take the lesbian movie "Claire of the Moon." Hardly a soul in the film can act, lesser characters are achingly stereotypical, and did I mention hardly anyone can act?

But I watched that movie more often than film buffs watch "Citizen Kane." Because my lesbian celluloid options were limited. And because of one hot sex scene, if I'm honest. And absolutely because I could relate to the emotions and longings, despite their being so badly packaged.

That's how desperate we can be as gay people to see ourselves on the screen or on the page. We need to see our lives represented at any time, but when someone is newly out, the need is especially primal. Gimme a gay fix. Now.

I'm thinking Lesbian Starter Kits might be a good idea. Buy one for the rookie lesbian in your life. Choose from a variety of books, magazines and movies. Suitable for housewarmings, birthdays, bat mitzvahs or any occasion.

I can't remember the last time I watched "Claire of the Moon," and I haven't read a Naiad novel in a long while. I think for most gay folks the hankering for gay books and films doesn't evaporate, but it does become less acute. No longer do I yearn to acquire written or filmed lesbiana.

But I haven't forgotten what it's like to be newly out. I should write a book.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Well-Earned Comeuppance

Since entering Congress in 1994, Indiana Republican Mark Souder focused on changing America's moral direction.

Now we know whose moral direction got changed.

The eight-term congressman, a pillar of family values, recently resigned his seat, saying that he had "sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff."

Why did he bother to say she's part-time? Does that make it only a part-time sin?

Souder's paramour, Tracy Meadows Jackson, is also married. The affair started after she joined Souder's district staff in 2004. Jackson hosted audio and video productions that featured the congressman discussing conservative concerns.

A video in which Souder sounds off about a 2008 House hearing on abstinence education became a YouTube hit following his confession. The congressman and his mistress made a pro-abstinence video. If I'd made that up, you wouldn't have bought it.

In the past, noted The Wall Street Journal, Souder has said that he's "most defined by the fact that I'm an evangelical Christian." As a staunch social conservative, Souder made George W. Bush look like a hippie.

In a 2004 PBS interview, Souder said, "I believe people can have a propensity to alcoholism. I believe they can have a propensity to look at pornography on [the] Internet. I believe they can have a propensity to be homosexual. But I believe that it's wrong and it's controllable."

I believe I'm glad he's gone.

Two weeks before his fall from grace, Souder won his primary race. In a campaign radio ad, he trumpeted his efforts to prevent Hoosier schools from being forced to employ "transvestite teachers."

Fanning the family-values fires in Fort Wayne. Phooey.

In committee, Souder led the opposition against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of 2007, declaring, "In their quest to grant special rights to homosexuals, Democrats are trampling on the religious freedoms of all Americans."

Souder said he has gay friends—and a masochistic bunch they must be--but because of the clarity of the Bible on homosexuality, "there just isn't much room to compromise."

So where in the Bible does it say thou shalt diddle thy part-time staffer?

With such hard-line views and votes, the self-described "ultra-conservative" has taken an ultra fall.

"I think the people who get treated the worst are the ones who preach the most, are the most pious. Nobody loves a hypocrite," said Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker to The Associated Press.

Said Baker, "There are some people who have kind of a malicious delight at a downfall like that."

Guilty.

Okay, I might not be delighted but I certainly am pleased by Mark Souder's collapse. The reason is simple: He made it his life's work to keep me and mine second-class or lower. He thumped that Bible and his breast and insisted he walked with God while others of us walked with Bozo.

Apparently LGBT people aren't the only ones fed up with politicians like Souder. "There is a growing intolerance for hypocritical behavior," political expert Andrew Downs told The Indianapolis Star. "If you want to run as a pro-family candidate, don’t have an affair."

Six months ago Souder and Jackson were caught in a parked car in a nature preserve, the former congressman told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. "Subconsciously, was I wanting to get caught? Or was God so frustrated with me he said, 'I've had it. You're so stupid here I'm going to, in effect, out you.'"

God "outed" the adamantly anti-gay congressman. God has a wicked sense of humor.

Monday, May 10, 2010

George Rekers' European Vacation

As a Baptist minister, a co-founder of the Family Research Council and a board member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), George Rekers has been a relentless leader of the Christian right for decades. He lifted the banner of anti-gay activism, but now he can't lift luggage.

That's the reason he gave for hiring a male escort to accompany him on a European vacation. Thanks to surgery, Rekers needed the 20-year-old to carry his luggage. His second story was he brought him along to urge him toward Jesus and away from homosexuality.

We'll be learning more about Rekers. And, for that matter, about the callboy dubbed "Lucien." Right now I can only guess, based on the information in the Miami New Times, which broke the story, what that 10-day sojourn abroad was like:

Rekers: You're back! Right on time.

Lucien: Barely. I got lost on the subway. Ended up in some place called Convent Garden.

Rekers: I think you mean Covent Garden.

Lucien: Oh. You were right, the British Museum was fab. I might go back tomorrow. Want to go with? I saw a hieroglyphic that looked just like you when you sneeze.

Rekers: Wow. I'm old, but not that old. Did you spend your whole stipend today?

Lucien: No, I'm saving to go to Harrods tomorrow.

Rekers: I call this a practical arrangement. You go out and spend money; I stay in the hotel room and spend none.

Lucien: Why don't you come with me? It'll be fun.

Rekers: I told you. Allergies. Really bad ones.

Lucien: You have a whole suitcase full of medicine. I know—I carried it. Doesn't that help?

Rekers: No. I guess I'm just allergic to London. Maybe I'm allergic to Beefeaters.

Lucien: Is that a gay club?

Rekers: No.

Lucien: I should've picked a different city.

Rekers: I might do better when we get to Madrid. Y'know, you look different from your Rentboy profile.

Lucien: I do?

Rekers: In a good way. I noticed that the first time I came to your townhouse.

Lucien: I noticed your mustache. When you take your clothes off, I swear it changes color.

Rekers: Oh my God! Excuse me, Lord. Didn't mean that.

Lucien: I love being here. I'm not in a hurry to get back to Florida.

Rekers: I love that I finally found an escort who worked out. You just don't know what you're getting.

Lucien: Yes you do. Eight inches. I told the truth on my profile.

Rekers: I mean, you don't know if the guy can have a conversation, or whether he's out to rip you off.

Lucien: George, how come you don't want real sex? Or to get off?

Rekers: My mama raised me not to be a greedy boy.

Lucien: Okay, whatever.

Rekers: Besides, you've gotten so good at the Long Stroke. Except yesterday you made me giggle.

Lucien: It's a sensitive area.

Rekers: Yup.

Lucien: I see why you call it that. It is long. And complicated. Front, and back. Since you want it every day, I'm afraid of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

Rekers: I guess there's no workers' comp for that.

Lucien: Ready?

Rekers: Make sure you rub the whole body, especially my shoulders. I feel tense.

Lucien: How come?

Rekers: Now I know my mustache is about to change color.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bad Fences Make Bad Neighbors

Fences.

Poet Robert Frost, playwright August Wilson and novelist Mark Twain got literary mileage out of fences. Now instead of writing about a fence, Chris Trumbull has written ON a fence. He didn't create literature; he created graffiti.

Or it would be graffiti if he'd written on someone else's fence. Trumbull wrote on his own fence, so it's protected speech. Ugly, but protected.

On the outside of his fence, Trumbull, of Casper, Wyo., spray-painted "Leviticus 20:13, To be gay = death." I support free speech. But as a home beautification project, his sign bites.

"I put it up because society is not looking at the truth," Trumbull told the Casper Star-Tribune. "They're not my words, they're the Lord's."

Actually, that Leviticus passage reads, "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

Trumbull shorthanded the passage. He edited God.

The Wyomingite said he's generally disappointed in society, and no specific event induced him to paint his sign.

"I'm not doing it to be spiteful. Gay people are bashing themselves," said Trumbull. "My fence seems like the proper setting [to express an opinion]."

Why stop with the fence? He could paint a message on his roof, warning planes and ducks not to be gay.

Trumbull's property sits on the route between Roosevelt High School and the Boys & Girls Club. Over 100 students walk by it every day, getting an education of sorts.

The city asked Trumbull to remove the sign, but he refused. More than that Casper cannot do, said the city code enforcement supervisor. Freedom of speech means Trumbull is free to be rude, obnoxious, holier-than-thou, incendiary and a thorn in the side of the Wyoming tourism department.

While Trumbull's fence raises questions about protected speech, a different issue stands out to me: What is it with Wyoming and fences?

The stories I read about the Trumbull case didn't mention Matthew Shepard, but he leaped to my mind anyway. Wyoming. A fence. Loathing of gays. If I hadn't made that connection, I'd worry that my synapses have walked off the job.

They have, Wyomingites might reply. Trumbull didn't kill anybody. He just made his fence into Martha Stewart's worst nightmare.

True. But Trumbull has undeniably contributed to a poisonous atmosphere for gays. In Wyoming. Using a fence.

Who can forget that ranch fence Shepard was tied to after being savagely beaten and left to die in 1998 on the outskirts of Laramie? It's no longer there, by the way.

Many wish Trumbull's sign was no longer there, perhaps hoping a modern-day Tom Sawyer would find a way to give it a good whitewashing.

According to Towleroad, something similar happened. A person or persons changed the words to "Religion = War." The message was then changed back, presumably by Trumbull. It's the Great Graffiti War.

Trumbull is obstinate and Casper's city officials say their hands are tied. So unless Trumbull's opposition plans to perform a drive-by editing every night, it's up to the community to handle this in a positive manner.

Marty Wood, safe schools coordinator for the Natrona County School District, said teachers could make something out of Trumbull's creation. "I'd use it as a big learning piece about free speech and constitutional rights," he said. "We live in a free country, so how do you handle disputes and differences of opinion?"

If the students learn that lesson, maybe a future Matthew Shepard will be avoided. Chris Trumbull will have accidentally paved the way to understanding. I hope he can live with the shame.