Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I'm taking a week off.  Are bloggers allowed to do that?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Unreal: the Haggards on Reality TV

By now you've heard—and maybe not believed—that disgraced preacher Ted Haggard and his wife Gayle will appear on "Celebrity Wife Swap."  Actor Gary Busey and his baby mama Steffanie Sampson are scheduled to be the other fun couple.

I have to think Gayle Haggard had major qualms about participating.  I can just hear her praying over the subject:

"Oh Lord, I need your guidance.  Unless I'm very much mistaken, I married a jackass.

"No, Lord, I didn't mean that.  Please forgive me.  I'm just so  . . . tired.  I've gone through trial after trial.  Ted having sex with a male prostitute, and using drugs.  The shame we endured on an international scale.  Being banished from Colorado, and forced to live in the wilderness, otherwise known as Phoenix.

"But I didn't give up on my marriage.  No sir.  I chose to forgive him.  You walked me through the slow healing of my heart.  I love him more than ever now.  But he still knows how to irritate the you-know-what out of me.

"Can you believe he wants to do this?  There must be a lot of money in it.  Between you and me, Ted made a lousy insurance salesman.  He's not so hot at anything, except preaching.  If we're going to make a go of our new church here in Colorado Springs, we do need money.  Pews aren't cheap.

"Honest to goodness, when he said the show was about celebrities swapping, I thought he meant recipes.

"I know Ted loves TV and the spotlight, but Lord, last I knew, wife-swapping counted as a big sin.  I mean, it's on the order of worshipping a Beanie Baby instead of you.

"Your rule is that marriage is between one man and one woman.  And once in a while, a faggot on the side.  Oh, I'm so sorry, God.  Even I surrender to the occasional cynical moment.

"But really, these last years have been all about rebuilding our marriage, our trust in each other, and our faith in you.  Doesn't this seem like we'd be treating all that too casually?

"Ted says we'd show all the people watching how a marriage can hit rock bottom, but come back to life.  We'd be ministering to viewers by modeling godly ways.  Just how godly can I be under the same roof with Gary Busey?

"Sweet Jesus!  Gary Busey!  Why don't they just add in Charlie Sheen and we can have a real party?

"I realize, God, there's no sex involved in this swapping.  I wouldn't even be considering it if there were.  Neither would Ted . . . I hope.

"Things can happen, though, like innuendo and ugliness.  And Busey has a brain injury.  If he puts a finger on me, I promise I'll emulate Jael and drive a tent peg through his head.  I don't care if it hurts the ratings.  Actually, it would probably help them.

"I should really be more Christian toward Gary, shouldn't I?  He may be a bad boy, a recovering drug addict, and have a child out of wedlock, but I know first-hand how cruel and unforgiving people can be to sinners.  Isn't Gary a minister with Promise Keepers?  As long as he keeps his promises on the set, we'll be fine.

"Lord, if this is what Ted wants and thinks is best, I'll go along.  But I can't help wishing he'd been approached by a different show, like "Dancing With the Stars."  If they have a gay man and a transgender something-or-other this season, why not a powerful minister ruined by a gay sex scandal next season?  He has two left feet, but I'll keep quiet about that if you will."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Marking a Sad Anniversary

The parents of Asher Brown, who killed himself one year ago at age 13, are asking people to pause at 8 p.m. CDT  to remember Asher and other bullying victims.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Question of the Week

If Michele Bachmann wins the nomination, who do you think—be creative here—would make a suitable running mate?

Would His Beard Get in the Way?

I've given this all the thought that it deserves, and I've decided that the next LGBT individual I'd like to see compete on "Dancing With the Stars" is Albus Dumbledore.

Alas that he's dead and fictional.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Dancing" and That Ain't All

I've confessed before that television shows have a way of slipping by me.  But even I am aware that the latest version of "Dancing With the Stars" includes openly trans Chaz Bono and openly gay Carson Kressley.  So I am openly paying attention.  Kind of.

I checked out The Washington Post's TV blog for an update, and, whew, Bono and Kressley are still in the running, er, dancing.

The Post cracked me up on the subject of contestant and pro basketballer Ron Artest:  "The judges have started calling Ron 'Metta World Peace,' as Artest legally changed his name to that moniker last week. We don’t want to call him that, however, as it’s an insult to the world, and possibly to peace."

All thoughts of world peace and dancing LGBT's fled my head when I saw these words off to the side:  "Ted Haggard will swap wives with Gary Busey on reality show."


Coming Out From a German Base

In a video that's gone viral, this military man marks the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell by telling his father.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This Week's Quote

Sometimes getting older feels easy; sometimes it feels difficult.  It depends how the wine is hitting you really.

Rupert Everett

Source:  The Mammoth Book of Great British Humor

DADT Passes On

Don't Ask, Don't Tell died at 12:01 this morning.  You can read President Obama's statement on the end of DADT here.

My statement is in the form of an epitaph:

          Here lies the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
          He was a compromise that didn't go well.
          He resulted in so many gays being fired;
          Now it's his service that's no longer required.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Progress in Texas

The San Antonio City Council passed a new budget that includes domestic partner benefits for city employees.

This despite hours of objections from Christians during the public comment period.  Some speakers warned of political retribution for a pro-benefits vote, and a representative of the San Antonio Family Association said the issue had "awakened the sleeping Christian giant."

Immediately I pictured a snoozing Jolly Green Giant.

DallasVoice.com reported that "Pastor Gerald Ripley, the main organizer of the protests, displayed a picture of his infant grandchild who has only two teeth, saying his grandson had a better bite because the DP initiative was a toothless idea that was fraught with potential for fraud."

When politics and dentistry collide.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Question of the Week

Did you ever regret coming out to somebody?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fear Gets Constitutional Footing in N.C.

This week both branches of the North Carolina state legislature voted to place on the ballot a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and for all I know, gay potlucks.

Now is a good moment to revisit the words of Sen. James Forrester (R-Gaston), who has sponsored a Defense of Marriage Act for eight years in the N.C. Senate.  Last week Forrester attended a DOMA rally in Gaston, and his statements, as reported by the Gaston Gazette, show the man's heart is in the wrong place.

“If this bill does not pass then homosexuality will be taught into public school as the norm,” said Forrester. “Do you want that? No. The homosexuals want to have their lifestyle considered normal.”

He called the city of Asheville "a cesspool of sin."  Forrester said if he were gay—a revolting thought both to him and to me—he would "target" North Carolina to practice homosexual "mischief" because the state has no constitutional law against it.

Forrester is a physician.  He claimed AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases cut the gay lifespan by at least 20 years.

“We need to reach out to them and get them to change their lifestyle back to the one we accept,” he said, raising my blood pressure to an intemperate level, because that's really the crux of it, isn't it?  He is so ignorant of who we are, and so scared by difference, that he needs us to conform, to match his idea of acceptable.

For eight years he's sought to legislate his fear.  This time he succeeded.  Next spring, it will be up to the people of North Carolina whether they want to go along with Forrester's Festival of Fear.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Week's Quote

Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

Oscar Wilde

Source:  The Quotable Intellectual

Monday, September 12, 2011

Find Me a Find

Yente would plotz.

The matchmaker in "Fiddler on the Roof" would have a coronary over the kind of matchmaking being practiced these days.  And by a rabbi, no less.  The shmendrik.

For his part, Rabbi Arele Harel doesn't need criticism from fictional characters, as he's receiving plenty from real people who are angry over his efforts to match Orthodox Jewish gay men with Orthodox lesbians.

On the face of it, pairing a zebra and a wombat might stand a better chance of success.

Harel, who lives in a Jewish West Bank settlement, told The Associated Press he fixes up gays and lesbians so they can have children, a commandment of Jewish law.

"The main aspiration here is parenthood," he said.  "It allows them to become parents in a way that is permitted by religious Jewish law and prevents a conflict between their religious world and their sexual world."

Um, the conflict between the two will still be there, as surely as I don't intend to marry a wombat.

But I get what he means.  He's helping people live by the letter of the law.  Even as the spirit of the law and their individual spirits won't fare so well.

Harel believes some gays shift their orientation through therapy.  He said his approach is for those whose orientation won't budge, but who want to remain observant.  Six years ago he started matching gay men and women, recognizing a "deep distress" among those "facing a dead end road."

Instead of finding a new road, 24 gays and lesbians chose to tread the straight and narrow one—Harel said he's wed 12 couples, some of whom produced children.  Perhaps with assistance from Falcon Studios and Angelina Jolie movies.

Adultery is a no-no under Jewish law.  In Harel's view, when two married straight people mess around they're guilty of adultery, because the two are sexually compatible.  In a gay-lesbian marriage, as long as both persons know the other is dating, it's not adultery.

Seems like Harel has found a loophole big enough to force a huppah through.

He maintains that once kids come, the gays learn to love each other.  "Their love is based on parenthood.  Parenthood is the glue and it's strong."

A number of Israelis are critical of Harel's unorthodox approach to Orthodox gays.  Most Orthodox Jews view the homosexual as slightly more appealing than the arsonist.  Orthodox rabbis say Harel should be pushing gays to change their orientation.

On the other side, a liberal religious gay group charged Harel with trying to "erase" gays from the Orthodox community.

Harel's position is a precarious one.  Kind of like—Didn't you know I was going to say this?—a fiddler on the roof.

A group for gay Orthodox Jews called Kamoha independently fielded many phone requests for gay-meets-lesbian matchmaking, so Kamoha has joined with Harel to offer the service.

Kamoha's website reads, "In this project, all of the cards are open, and without the lies, half-truths, and 'mistakes,' because both participants know very well the nature of the prospective spouse's orientation."

Do they ever.  They can spend many a happy evening swapping coming-out stories.  Or non-coming-out stories.

You know, now that I really think about it, Yente was nothing if not pragmatic as a matchmaker, so maybe, if she were living in Israel today, she wouldn't be appalled at these gay pairings.  She might even be getting in on the act.  A successful match fetches about $400 from both groom and bride.

Whoever performs the unlikely matching, the endeavor brings to mind lyrics sung by Tzeitel in "Fiddler" as she wryly imitates Yente:

                            I promise you'll be happy. And even if you're not,
                  There's more to life than that. Don't ask me what!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Capote Gets Seared

Rich Little does Truman Capote doing Hamlet.  From a 1974 "Dean Martin Celebrity Roast."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Question of the Week

What kind of physical response do you have to the thought of a Rick Perry presidency?

"What Kind of Liberal Are You?"

If you think of yourself as the progressive sort, click here to take an absolute hoot of a quiz from About.com.  Answer the questions to determine what kind of liberal you are.  I turned out to be a "reality-based intellectualist."  What are you?

Thanks to Seanna Jordan for turning me on to this.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Know Your Audience

In an interview, The Advocate asked lesbian comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer the difference between performing for a straight crowd and a gay crowd.

"The biggest difference is that if I have an all straight audience, I can make fun of straight people more and they kind of dig it," she said.  "Whereas, if it’s an all gay audience, people don’t like it when I make fun of straight people as much."

Wow.  Either we feel protective of straight people or we don't like to share the spotlight.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Week's Quote

Ladies, here's a hint. If you're up against a girl with big boobs, bring her to the net and make her hit backhand volleys. That's the hardest shot for the well-endowed.

Billie Jean King

Source:  Quotationvault.com

Guest Post: Getting Better NOW--5 Tips on Dealing with Bullies

By Eric Poole

Yeah, it gets better.

But what about when some armored tank with ears is escorting you, face first, into your locker or a ditch? Or some charm-challenged cheerleader who can barely spell D-E-F-E-N-S-E goes on the offense on Facebook? Is it really a crapload of comfort to have people tell you that, as ADULTS, their lives got better?

Oh, it's absolutely true -- once you get out of high school, or in some cases college, things just about always turn around. In fact, most bullies, once they grow up, end up realizing what jagholes they were (or they score a mug shot for selling meth from an ice cream truck, but at that point it's pretty clear which of you is the winner, here).

But a few years from now is like a freaking lifetime, right?

Before it gets better, you've gotta live through this year. This month. This. Rotten. Day. And I'm guessing you're more concerned about how you can handle your life RIGHT NOW.

I certainly was when I was your age. And unfortunately, I didn't have any tips on how to handle it. You wanna know how I coped? Have you ever seen the old TV series (or the movie) Bewitched, about the woman who was a witch married to a mortal? Well, at home, alone in the basement of our house, I would pretend to be her mother, Endora.

Yeah, I pretended to be a 60-year-old female witch. Shut up. I didn't say it made sense. But you can only pretend to be sick and stay home from school so many times; eventually, you run out of diseases. And this helped me deal with the pantsing, the threats, the humiliation that made my childhood so relentlessly miserable. Swathed in a bedspread (which was my approximation of the caftans Endora wore -- hey, when you're eight, you gotta improvise), I would close my eyes, envision a better life, and try to cast magical spells.

Believe it or not, that helped when I was a little kid. But when I was 14, or 16, I couldn't exactly run home and wrap a bedspread around me. So I had to find new ways to deal.

Some worked; some didn't. And I want to share the ones that did, so you can have an easier time of it than I had. Because your life can get better now.

#1) Accept the haters.

You could be Oprah Winfrey, saving the world and tossing free Pontiacs from your private jet, and still some people will hate you. That's life.

But accepting that is harder than you might think. Being unliked can make you feel like a big, fat failure. But the moment you understand that some people are just insecure, that some thrive on debasing others in order to elevate themselves, that you can't win the hearts of people whose hearts are closed, you will have less judgment on yourself. And you should, because it's NOT ABOUT YOU. They have their own drama going on.

This was a tough one for me, because I'm a people pleaser. But the moment I accepted that I was never gonna win over about 30% of the people in my world, I immediately became 30% happier. Screw the people who don't see how awesome you are.

#2) Have a big mouth.

If you're being harassed, be it physically or verbally or via Facebook/text/etc., tell someone. Tell your parents. Tell your principal or counselor or your favorite teacher. Tell anyone in a position of power. Don't be ashamed.

And if the first person you tell doesn't do anything, tell someone else.

When I was a kid, nobody sued the school. Nobody got the principal fired. We had no choice but to take it, and then apologize to the bully for making him hit us.

But now, you have resources. You can file a complaint. You can get the police involved. You can threaten legal action. This may not make you any more popular, but it probably won't make you any less, because at the very least, people will be afraid to tangle with you.

#3) Carry a Big Stick.

Turning the other cheek is an inspirational notion. If you're Jesus. As spiritually evolved as it may be to silently bless someone's fist as it heads for your face, it's not exactly the most effective deterrent.

Bullies are only brave because you're not. The minute you stand up to them, 99% of them back down. And the 1% that don't should be reported -- see #2 -- before they end up selling meth from an ice cream truck.

Self-defense courses like Karate, Aikido, etc., are a powerful deterrent to violence, because as soon as a bully sees that you can protect your ass, he's highly unlikely to tangle with you. Bullies prey on the weak, the defenseless, the fabulous -- not the kid who can be standing with his or her foot on their face in 2.5 seconds.

Of course, bodily contact isn't for everyone. My idea of hand-to-hand combat as a kid involved two G.I. Joes and some highly inappropriate battle moves. If you're not comfortable taking self-defense training (or you don't have a school near you), there's another option.

There was a guy in my middle school who routinely tried to pick fights with me, and I didn't know what to do. Doing his homework had worked -- but only for a while -- and I was running out of options. So I tried something my sister's boyfriend, who was a cop, had told us to do if we were ever abducted.

The next time he tried to get me to fight him, during gym class, I went apes***. Right there, on the soccer field, I started screaming. And carrying on. Acting like I'd lost my freaking mind.

This can be surprisingly effective. It not only makes them think that you're insane and therefore potentially dangerous, but it draws a lot of attention to them. Bullies don't like public attention when they're not in control of it.

I had to do this a couple more times to assure him that I was indeed mad, bad and dangerous to know, but it worked. He never tangled with me again. And there was something liberating about expressing all that pent-up rage.

#4) Carry a big computer.

Cyberbullying is not only super passive-aggressive, it's super stupid. People leave a digital footprint everywhere they go on the internet, and every snotty/threatening thing some bully posts or sends you can be copied and filed away forever.

If somebody is emailing or texting you mean notes, or posting reputation-smearing comments on Facebook, or setting up a website designed to demean you, YOU HAVE PROOF. Don't give them the satisfaction of responding to it -- that only fans the flames and can be used against you. Just save everything -- the texts, emails, screenshots of web pages, etc. Print them out. Then block their phone number and email address, and report the offender to the school -- and, if necessary, the police.

The punishment can be severe -- expulsion from school, jail time, lawsuits against the family of the bully, etc. You have the power to do far more damage to them than they could ever do to you.

#5) Find Your Posse.

Feeling comfortable in your skin is all about finding the people who recognize how amazing you are. And they're out there.

I was a total band nerd. And while playing the trumpet didn't do that much for my popularity in school as a whole, it gave me a place to be myself. It was a safe space, where I could let my inner superstar run free and bond with other kids who shared my passion. You'd be surprised how much acceptance you can get from guys who play the clarinet and girls who play the tuba.

There are arts and academics and sports organizations within your school. And, often, gay/straight alliances that bring together allies from both worlds. Find the one that makes your heart sing. And you'll find your posse. It may not make you prom queen, but it will make you happy.

Finally, if you try all these tips and still feel alone, or hopeless, know that there is always someone to turn to. The Trevor Project's hotline is open 24 hours a day. 1-866-4-U-TREVOR. Call it. Or go online to find out how they can help.


© 2011 Eric Poole

Eric Poole, author of "Where's My Wand?: One Boy's Magical Triumph Over Alienation and Shag Carpeting," is a VP of marketing for a major media company and the winner of more than thirty advertising awards. He was once called "the best undiscovered writer I've ever met" by Tracey Ullman, an accolade he continues to live up to. He lives in Los Angeles with his partner of nine years.

For more information please visit http://www.ericpoole.net, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

This piece has also appeared online at The Bilerico Project.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Question of the Week

What is a gold-star lesbian?