Open Thread

A few deep thoughts to get you rolling:

The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly - that is what each of us is here for. Oscar Wilde

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy? Mahatma Gandhi, "Non-Violence in Peace and War"

What else is love but understanding and rejoicing in the fact that another person lives, acts, and experiences otherwise than we do…?
Friedrich Nietzsche

What's on your mind?


Prayers for Laurel

This article says it all.

Laurel, I'm sorry. You should be able to pass from this world without these worries on you. You should have peace to know your loved one will be safe and sheltered, that your love and hardword together is honored and respected. Laurel, I apologize for the human race for being so callous, so unfeeling, so unloving to a dying woman.

I wish you peace in a better world where love knows no limits.


Happy Thanksgiving Day?

Focus on the Family wants to make sure that New Yorkers don't have a "Happy" Thanksgiving Day, at least in a "gay" way.

Instead of spending time with their own families (since they are SOOOOO family values-oriented, you know) on Thanksgiving, they would rather spend that precious family time pelting New Yorkers at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with anti-tolerance ad campaign.

Focus on the Family has announced plans to distribute 5,000 balls during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to promote a website it operates that claims homosexuality is a disorder that can be changed through faith.

The balls - called "stress balls" are part of a major effort by FOF reach a wider audience during the holidays. Each ball carries the name of its advice site http://www.troubledwith.com. The Web site also carries faith-based advice on topics ranging from eating disorders to depression.

The balls will be tossed out by volunteers along the route and is not part of the official parade. Because they will be on public property there is little Macy's can do.

Last week the Colorado-Springs-based FOF began running ads on the giant electronic billboard in Times Square, and on Monday, it launched ads on "Dr. Phil" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on New York television stations.

This ad campaign is not an accident though.

The conservative ministry appears to be in a desperate search for new, younger followers to tune in to the radio show by Focus founder James Dobson. Web site creator Steve Watters told the Associated Press that the number of listeners has not been growing in recent years and that most people who call for help are in their late 40s.

These folks just need to get a life! What is it with this perpetual need to ruin perfectly happy events? Seriously, whatever happened to spending quality time with your OWN family? When people spend this much time worrying about other people's families and personal lives, they are surely neglecting their own and are bound to get a BIG bite in the ass one of these days.

FOCUS ON YOUR OWN DAMN FAMILY, DOBSON!!! (or at least go pick on another cartoon character)


The State of Hate

A recent FBI report shows that blacks are more likely to be targeted for hate crimes than any other group.

I can hear the nashing of teeth and the fodder for the fundigelical fascist rightwingers saying "See, see! Queers aren't as hated as they claim to be! This is a queer-lovin' country!"

A couple of clarifications:

1) There are a lot more blacks than there are gays; hence, there will be a lot more reports of hate crimes against blacks than gays

2) Blacks aren't as easily intimidated into being victims as gays. They're not afraid to start a riot when things don't go their way!

3) There are federal laws to protect blacks against discrimination and hate crimes; therefore, they are encouraged to report crimes against them because there is a far greater likelihood that something can and will be done. Not so for gays.

4) How can a DEAD gay person report a hate crime? And whose voice is left to hear but the perpetrator of the crime that can make up any excuse they want?

Not all crimes against gay people end in death, but many are much more brutal and violent and have increased in their brutality over the years.

Matthew Shepard is the name everyone thinks of, but there have been many since.

Brandon Teena
Sakia Gunn
Elvys Perez
PFC Barry Winchell
Billy Jack Gaither
Scotty Joe Weaver
Roderick George

The last three were all from Alabama, my home state, and now there is a fourth:

Billy Sanford, a 52 year old Jackson, AL man, beaten into a coma with a hammer by 26 year old handyman, Marcus Dewayne Kelley.

Police said that his doctors have given him little chance for survival. Even if he does survive and regain consciousness his is likely to have permanent brain damage and would be unlikely to testify at Kelley's trial.
Police said that they would have liked to have charged Kelley with a hate crime, but gays are not covered under the state's hate crime law.

Several days ago, not far from my own home, a very well-known gay man was killed. The killer is still at large and supposedly the motive was robbery, but nothing was taken. How can we know? Will we ever know? Even if there was an anti-gay motive, there's NOTHING we can fucking do about it!!! There's nothing that can put these monsters and haters away for life! They can claim it was panic, robbery, anything as long as it's against a queer.

The dead can't speak, but I can!!


Baptists vote on gays in member churches

Let me say this up front and VERY clear:

I have no problem with churches speaking their mind and being as hateful and bigoted as they want to be, okay?

What chaps my ass is that churces are so BOLD as to go BLATANTLY against Biblical teachings of outreach and preaching to the world! Jesus preached to the lepers and the adulterers. He even ate dinner with them! Yet, here is a state Baptist association that wants to vote on kicking out member churches that have accept gay congregants.

Didn't these people ever consider how they were going to preach the Gospel to the supposedly "stray sheep" if they didn't even allow them through the doors of their church?

There's an old saying in the South: You can draw more bees with honey than with vinegar.

Maybe if they stop being so sour and mean, they'd get better response from those they are trying to "convert." What a novel concept!!!


John Cusack for President!

An AMAZING post by John Cusack (yes, the actor) on the Huffington Post. It's heartrending, gut-wrenching, and parts of it almost made me me cry.

Quoting Hunter S. Thompson:

"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world -- a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you. "Well, shit on that dumbness, George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didn't vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today -- and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever. "Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid rich kids like George Bush? "They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us -- they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. "And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them."

Quoting Bill Moyers:

"One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts."

As Dr. King says and as John emphasizes:

"A time comes when silence is betrayal...We must speak out with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak."

My thoughts-

We'd be wise to remember that as Americans our history is rooted not in establishing tyranny in other lands or even in our own country, but seeking freedom from tyranny. We are a great people who are capable of great things. Why are we determined to destroy America with tyranny, bloodshed, and hate?

"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the Republic to abdicate his responsibility."

Edward R. Murrow


Brokeback Mountain-today's gay cinema

An Americablog post a few days ago got me thinking about gay cinema (or lack thereof).

Americablog covered the potential "liberal Hollywood" flack that will inevitably come from the release of "Brokeback Mountain," a cutting edge gay western about two men struggling to fight their love for each other. Considering the two men live in 1963 Wyoming, the circumstances of their struggle shouldn't be surprising. They have occasional rendevous in the mountains while keeping their wives and families back home. Perhaps not much has changed in the reddest of red states or just in the most conservative of gay people (yes, they do exist and I've known a few, even today).

Can this really be "liberal Hollywood" or a dose of reality about the lives gay people have had to lead to survive?

The gay community has given flack too over the movie saying it shows us as self-hating. However, I suggest that it shows what the world does to us. When secrecy is forced on us, we become torn between our heart and our head, between natural instinct and safety. Could it not be that when the hegemonic social powers-that-be enforce demands of secrecy over us that we find we have no choice but to succumb to the social order, yet our human nature to claim control over our lives pushes us to live life and live it as fully as possible, even within social prisons?

Look at the movie, "Aimee & Jaguar", a true story of a Jewish woman and the wife of a Nazi officer who fell in love during WWII. Despite their short time together and the enforced social codes of the Nazis against all minorities, they managed to claim a piece of joy even while hiding their life together. Of course, nothing was ever hidden from the Nazis and their life together was cut short by the camps.

It was a heartbreaking story much like "Brokeback Mountain" will be, but it's proof of our lives that manage to survive. They tell the truth of how we have had to live in order to survive in this world.

Forget "Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert" or some other silly movie! These are the real stories and the real lives of gay people.

You don't know us because you've never really bothered to talk WITH us. You've just spent your life generalizing and talking ABOUT us and TO us, but never WITH us.

Get educated!


A Fascinating Read

The previous post mentions that interracial marriage and the constitutional amendments that were attempted to outlaw interracial marriage were employed well before the civil rights era. The states had long been outlawing interracial marriage, but there were attempts to outlaw these marriages on a national basis too.

Here is an interesting read that covers the whole topic of marriage in the US and how we have been creating and uncreating laws to control marriage since the founding of our country.

On page 630 there is a particularly interesting quote from the California Supreme Court in 1948 when it finally overturned its anti-miscegenation laws in Perez v. Lippold:

Since the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one's choice, a segregation statute for marriage necessarily impairs the right to marry.

Their reasoning was based on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This is the same amendment that the anti-interracial marriage folks hoped to undo with a new amendment outlawing such marriages.

Some Legislation Dies, Others Live On--WHY?

The Republicans seem to have the common sense at the last minute to pull back legislation such as ANWAR, but the Judiciary Committee passes on a 5-4 vote to let anti-gay legislation pass through (i.e. the right to marriage equality).

Sen. Arlen Specter said that even though he opposes the measure he was voting for it to get it out of committee. I'm still trying to make sense out of that one.

You would think that Republicans would have learned something from the stupidity of Schwarzeneger's homophobic "girly-men" comments and refusal to acknowledge ANY legislation for the large gay California constituency (didn't even TALK to them!). Bloomberg won back NY and I don't recall him making nasty comments about gays or actively trying to relegate them to the dark ages.

The only logic I can see with Specter bringing this out of committee (and it's heartening that it BARELY got out of committee) is that he KNOWS it will DIE a miserable death. With the Republicans weak, this is prime time to let this legislation die again. It could also show how shallow, hateful, and narrow-minded the Republicans (and some Democrats) are. If these representatives have ANY common sense, they won't vote for discrimination of Americans and they certainly won't do it when they want to get re-elected.

They should see what happens to the hatemongers and the results of their elections. A smart representative will stand on the side of justice and fairness. It's time to call our elected officials on this. To tell them, we won't vote for someone who votes for discrimination.


Take it to the Voters!!!

With elections and referenda in several states yesterday, I have to say on a day with the sweet smell of victory and the eminent downfall of the fundigelical fascists trying to destroy of great democracy, that YES, let's take it to the voters!!!

Let's take it right now!!!

Maine passes civil rights legislation for gays!

Democrat Tom Kaine wins in VA!

Democrat Jon Corzine wins in NJ!

(two key states that Pugs do not want to lose ground in!)

All four of Schwarzenegger's referenda DIE!!!

(don't fuck with the girly-men, asshole!)

Yeah, I know Texas passed the gay marriage ban. As if we didn't expect that. It's better to screw a steer than another man in Texas!

I find it most hilarious and quite sad that the rabid fundigelicals in places like Maine and Texas just can't stop. One loses in Maine on basic civil rights but thinks they can pass a gay marriage amendment. Okay, that's smart! You've already shown yourselves to be hateful bigots, just keep digging a little deeper hole.

Texas on the other hand is going YEEHAW!!! We won so let's heep a little more bigotry and hate on them queers!

Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas states:

"There's a good old Texas phrase about getting the bit in your teeth. If the horse gets the bit in his teeth, he can run as he wants, and I believe the social conservatives feel like they have the bit in their teeth."

Yeah, first they came for me, and you're next!

Rev. Ryan Rush, senior pastor of Bannockburn Baptist Church in Austin says, "I think that's a positive thing because evangelical Christians stand for what's right."

Oh, I missed the red part in the Bible where Jesus taught about hating the queers and pass laws and legislation against them ad nauseum so it makes you feel high and mighty. So, that's what a good Christian does? No wonder my Sunday School teacher looked at me funny when I asked about "love thy neighbor." Then again, he made fun of the homeless woman who came to our church because she didn't dress "right."

My thoughts: Yes, let's take it to the voters! Let's take basic civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians to the voters and force their hand. These bastards are so much for state-by-state legislation and letting the voters decide on other's rights. Well, let's make 'em put up or shut up! Demand the bigots show their faces to their neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. Insist that if they think they are so much better than gay people that they deserve something a gay person doesn't (i.e. freedom from harassment and discrimination) then stand up and say so. The fires are hot for it and I say we do it!!!


Contributions of the Queers

In response to a poster suggesting that queers don't make any contributions to "man."

Famous Gays and Lesbians in History

Sappho (600 B.C.) Greek Poetess
Socrates (470-399 B.C.) Greek Teacher and Philosopher
Plato (427-347 B.C.) Greek Teacher and Philosopher
Alexander The Great (356-323 B.C.) Macedonian King and Military Leader
Wu (140-87 B.C.) Chinese Emperor
Hadrian (76-138 A.D.) Roman Emperor
Richard the Lion Hearted (1157-1199) English King and Crusader
Edward II (1254-1327) English King
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Italian Renaissance Artist, Teacher, Scientist and Inventor
Michelangelo (1475-1564) Italian Renaissance Artist and Sculptor
Montezuma II (1480-1520) Aztec Emperor
Julius III (1487-1555) Catholic Pope
Ieyasu Tokugawa (1542-1616) Japanese Shogun and founder of the Edo Shogunate
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) British Statesman and Writer
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) English dramatist and poet
Christina (1626-1689) Swedish Queen
Peter the Great (1672-1725) Russian Czar
Frederick the Great (1712-1786) Prussian King and Military Leader
Madame de Stael (1766-1817) French Writer and Intellectual
Lord Byron (1788-1824) British Poet
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) Danish Poet and Writer
Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) Euro-American Writer and Journalist
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Euro-American Philosopher, Naturalist, and Peace Activist
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) Euro-American Poet
Herman Melville (1819-1891) Euro-American Writer
Chief Crazy Horse (Tashunca witco) (1849-1877) Oglala Sioux Chief
Peter I. Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) Russian Composer
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish Writer and Dramatist
Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) British Composer, Writer, and Activist
Marcel Proust (1871-1922) French Writer
Sergei Diaghileff (1872-1929) Russian Ballet Impresario
Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) British Writer
Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950) Russian Ballet Dancer
Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) British Author and Gay Rights Pioneer
Willa Cather (1873-1947) Euro-American Writer and Critic
Colette (1873-1954) French Writer and Actress
W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) British Writer and Dramatist
Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967) Euro-American Writer; Stein's Domestic Partner
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) Euro-American Writer and Art Collector; Toklas' Domestic Partner
Bessie Smith (1894-1937) African-American Blues Singer and Entertainer
E.M. Forster (1879-1970) British Writer
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) British Writer and Publisher
Ernst Rohm (1887-1933) German Nazi and SA Leader
T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) (1888-1935) British Soldier
Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) French Writer and Filmmaker
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) British Economist and Nobel Prize Winner
Cole Porter (1893-1964) Euro-American Composer
Bayard Rustin (1910-87) African-American Civil Rights, Labor Rights, & Peace Activist/Leader
Alan Turing (1912-1954) British Mathematician and Computer Scientist
James Baldwin (1924-1987) African-American Writer and Civil Rights Activist
Truman Capote (1924-1984) Euro-American Author
Tennessee Williams (1914-1983) Euro-American Dramatist
Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-1987) Belgian-American Writer
Federico Garcia Lorca (1894-1936) Spanish Poet and Dramatist
Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) British Author
W.H. Auden (1907-1973) British Poet and Writer
Harvey Milk (1930-1978) Euro-American Politician
Audre Lorde (1934-1992) African-American Writer and Activist
Billie Jean King (1943 - ) Euro-American Tennis Champion and Activist
Martina Navratilova (1956- ) Czechoslovakian-American Tennis Champion and Activist
Andy Warhol (1930-1987) Euro-American Pop Artist
Frieda Kahlo (1907-1954) Mexican Artist and Activist
Gore Vidal (1925- ) Euro-American Writer
Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993) Russian dancer
Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) British Singer/songwriter/musician
Elton John (1947 - ) British Singer/songwriter/musican
Janis Ian (1951 - ) Euro-American Singer/songwriter/musician
Nathan Lane (1956 - ) Euro-American Actor
Ellen Degeneres (1958 - ) Euro-American Comedian/actor
Melissa Etheridge (1961 - ) Euro-American Singer/songwriter/musician
k. d. lang (1961 - ) Canadian Singer/songwriter

And if that's not enough, here's oh, an alphabetical listing of possibly a few hundred or so (and if you want to spend your time counting them just to prove me wrong, you have WAY too much time on your hands!!)


The Quack Test

Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning News provides an engaging straight man's view on the gay marriage debate(I'm copying it in its entirety so you won't have to register with the paper):

I saw Sandra Bullock interviewed on TV recently, and a question came up about her unlikely marriage to Jesse James.

I'm sure you know Ms. Bullock, all perky and cute. You may not know Mr. James, all coarse and tattooed. He builds motorcycles for a living and became a TV star in the process.

So Ms. Bullock explained the unusual way she realized she wanted to marry this outlaw.

She attended a car race he was in. He crashed during the race and was badly injured. She ran to the ambulance and discovered that as his girlfriend or live-in or whatever, she was just a face in the crowd, legally speaking.

Excuse her language, but she said: "I was so pissed off that I had no legal say. None! And I knew from the moment I got into that ambulance ... that I was in for the long haul with him. That was a huge deciding factor for me."

Well, her story probably won't be a huge deciding factor in the upcoming election, but it struck me as going to the very heart of this gay-marriage amendment.

Neither you nor I may understand homosexuality. But I'll bet we both understand Ms. Bullock's moment of realization that she wanted to officially be part of Mr. James' life. Forsaking all others, she wanted to be one with him.

And that's really all this boils down to – whether two adults ought to be able to legally entwine their lives into one.

Love is funny, isn't it? I'm sure Ms. Bullock can't explain why she was drawn to rough-and-tumble Jesse James. She just was.

I can't explain why dark-haired, headstrong women appeal to me so much. But they do. And I'm sure happy with the one who plighted me her troth, whatever that means exactly.

Love plays its funniest joke on gay people. For reasons neither they nor science can explain, the heart draws them to people of the same sex.

It's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's just another wrinkle in funny old love.

As I have observed the long, long debate over homosexuality, it sure seems like society has pulled a double-cross on gay folks.

In the beginning, you often heard opponents portray all gays as outrageous, wanton, sex-obsessed creatures.

That description certainly didn't fit the mass of gay and lesbian couples living quiet, faithful lives.

Yet when that segment of the gay community stepped forward to decry promiscuity and champion committed relationships, the critics suddenly reversed course.

Oh, no! they screamed. You can't have what we have! Marriage is only for men and women.

So gay folks are blasted for being promiscuous on the one hand and blasted for wanting to legally marry on the other.

Talk about a no-win situation.

Many people I respect seem caught in a semantic quandary. They believe that gays deserve fair treatment. But they are deeply troubled by expanding marriage to include same-sex couples.

For me, it boils down to a pretty simple "duck" test. (You know, "if it quacks like a duck ...") Gay couples I know have relationships that sure quack and waddle in a very familiar way, one I call "marriage."

To me, marriage is about commitment, not plumbing.

But I understand that society changes in stages. So if it's just words that hang people up, then fine, let's find some new ones for this new territory. Fairness is the real issue here, not vocabulary.

And that's where Proposition 2 goes wrong. This amendment goes far beyond defining marriage. In a case of overkill, it goes on to deny gay people "any legal status identical to or similar to marriage."

Did you get that swipe?

Forget about marriage, the amendment tells gay couples, and also forget any other legal commitment that even smells like marriage.

Look, I can't explain love. Sandra Bullock and Jesse James? That will always be a mystery to me. Gay couples may baffle you even more.

But should we deny them the right to unite their lives – just because we don't understand?