August 01, 2008

MySpace Friend of the Day: Brian "A little guy with a BIG heart"

First and foremost...I LOVE TO LAUGH!!! I don't like to take life to serious and the more people who have a BIG smile on their face the better! I am HIV+ and I make sure that everyone knows it. HIV does not rule my life but I make sure that I use it to make something good come out of a bad situation that I put myself into. We all are affected if not infected by HIV/AIDS in some way or another. Life can be difficult but it can also be a lot of fun...just be careful!

Inside a GLBT Homeless Shelter

From the Washington Post:

Another transgender woman shared her autobiography with me, a two-page testament on college-ruled paper, in which she described being raped at age 12 and beatings by her foster father. "You are so nice," she once told me, tapping me playfully on the shoulder, "and I ought to know."

One day she arrived at the shelter in terrible shape. She had been followed and attacked, unprovoked, near Times Square in the middle of the day. Our pastor arranged for her to stay inside that day, and after the reconstructive facial surgery that followed.

An analysis of available research done by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force suggests that between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. These young people clearly experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate, given that only between 3 and 5 percent of the total U.S. population identify as LGBT.

Thousands of them make their way to New York City looking for a safe haven after coming out to unhappy receptions at home. There are only about 100 beds in the city designated specifically for this population, who often experience abuse in other shelters, such as one resident who said he was urinated on. Mainstream churches are beginning to open their doors, including the year-round transitional shelter at my church, Trinity Lutheran, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Click here to read the rest of this gut-wrenching story.

July 31, 2008

Link of the Day: Some Guys Are Normal

This is my personal blog about the world as I see it. You'll see a bit about politics, gay, and ex-gay issues, but there is some other stuff too. Stick around--I'll try to keep it interesting.

I like following politics, but I let partisan politics rile me up too much--especially anti-gay rights stuff. Other than that I'm pretty sane

How the Threat of Violence "Keeps GLBT People In Check"

Wayne Besen wrote an exceptional column reflecting on the factors that have led to a cultural environment that could have encourage violent acts like the shooting at the Unitarian Church in Knoxville, TN last weekend:

The far right's dirty little secret is that they depend on the threat of violence to retard the advancement of the GLBT movement. Without the fear of physical attack, the number of people who are out of the closet would quickly multiply. Gay couples would hold hands in every city in the nation. On each block, from San Francisco to San Antonio, gay and lesbian people would be visibly present.

Each day, all but the bravest GLBT people make subtle or even significant adjustments to remain safe. Some dress a little blander in order to blend in. A number of gay men talk a bit deeper so they won't arouse suspicion. Some lesbians apply make up so they won't get beaten up. And, most loving couples act like buddies so they won't get bashed.

We tell ourselves comforting lies, such as "we don't like public displays of affection," to justify pushing a partner's hand away at a romantic moment. But, the reality is, even the most confident and brave among us have something to fear.

Of course, the overwhelming majority of people are not violent and a significant minority of Americans fervently supports GLBT people. What the right wing realizes, however, is it only takes a small number of twisted fanatics to keep GLBT people in check. We rarely know who these lunatics are, as they often keep their hate closeted. But, each gay person knows these hidden ticking time bombs exist and could go off at any moment -- shattering our lives.

When Focus on the Family's James Dobson says that giving gay people the freedom to marry will "destroy the earth" he is encouraging hate crimes. When Oklahoma state legislator Sally Kern says that homosexuality is the "death knell of this country," she is promoting gay bashing. When Elaine Donnelly told a congressional committee that lifting Don't Ask/Don't Tell would let lesbians take pictures of people in the shower she was setting the stage for violence. When Ann Coulter authors, "How to Talk To a Liberal (If You Must)," people like Jim Adkisson may be influenced.

What I find hypocritical is that the Religious Right will take any image it deems gay and claim it "promotes homosexuality." This even extends to fictional characters such as Tinky Winky and Sponge Bob Square Pants. Yet, these same oversensitive preachers refuse to acknowledge that their mean-spirited sermons might lead to violence.

This is not reactionary hyperbole. I know people, including some members of my church family and my late brother, who lived and continue to live with that fear. The fact that, as Besen writes, it is often promulgated by those claiming they speak for God and are acting in his will makes it even more heinous.

Click here to read the rest of the column.

July 30, 2008

MySpace Friend of the Day: Gay is Not

Too often in our everyday language,the word gay (in reference to sexual orientation), is loosely used as an insult. To say that something "looks gay" or "sounds gay" represents a lack of creativity and articulationthat only serves to advance homophobia.

Words don't hurt. How you use them does.

Unitarian Church Targeted For Their "Liberal Theology"

I'm sure by now, most of you have heard about the shooting on Sunday at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

For those of you who don't know the story, a man opened fire at a children's play at the church on Sunday and killed 2 people. He also injured 6 others, I believe. Parishioners tackled the man and held him down until police arrived. After he was taken into custody, police found a 4-page letter stating that this man targeted the Unitarian church because he wanted to punish liberals who are "ruining the country". He was unemployed and blamed liberals for that, as well as other things. He also had books by well known right-wing talk show hosts in his home and car.

What I find really telling about this incident is that this man obviously listened to these hosts who spout forth on a daily basis about how the liberals are taking over America. They tell their listeners that gay people are out to get their children and that we are trying to destroy so-called traditional marriage, etc.

When I joined Soulforce in 1999 and we went down to meet with Jerry Falwell and his congregants, we tried to impress upon them the need to tone down the rhetoric. We really talked at length about the damage that words can do. Do we need any more evidence than this shooting??

When will the religious right and the right wing pundits learn that they have got to stop speaking in such a way as to inflame people who are mentally or emotionally unstable? When will they realize that they are partially to blame for this tragedy? When we start de-humanizing people because of their beliefs or because of parts of their personality, color of their skin, whatever, we open the door for people like this man to do harm to the people who he thinks are somehow less than human and, therefore, fair game.

This guy was mentally ill. There's no doubt in my mind. However, we don't know what might have contributed to his dillusions. Maybe he'll be able to share that knowledge some day. All I'm saying is that it's not life-affirming, Christian, or even worth saying things that are so hateful. Bill O'Reilly is constantly saying things about how the liberals are trying to "humanize homosexuals", as if we aren't already human! The last time I looked, I was part of the human race. I'm not a rabbit or something. Rush Limbaugh talks about "feminazis" and acts as though lesbians are these man-hating androgenous she-wolfs who eat babies and bare their breasts in parades and such.

I find what they say ridiculous and sometimes even laugh at their incredulous talk. The problem is that people like the man in Tennessee didn't find it ridiculous. He bought it...hook, line, and sinker. This church had a ministry to GLBT and questioning youth. They had fought for desegregation, women's and GLBT rights since the 50's when many churches still wrestle with issues of equality. Since this man had it in his head that all of these things were evil and were ruining our country, he felt he was justified in shooting the church up and taking 2 lives. It's just amazing that in 2008, we are still struggling, as a nation, to accept each other for who we are. We just can't seem to get past labels and let people be. We need to start going in that direction or there will be more violence.

Years ago, I was friends with some folks from a local UU church. We were shocked that in a community that was supposedly pretty progressive in their politics, the church's "Marriage Equality" sign was torn down or set on fire several times. Why would people be so opposed to a church simply expressing their views that marriage was something that should be able to be shared between two adults, no matter their gender?

This is not the first incident of violence against a congregation for their beliefs, and it won't be the last. However, I am hopeful that this latest event will cause many of my Christian brothers and sisters to re-think how they talk. In God's Word, He speaks to us many times about the power of the tongue to speak life or death. We would do well to remember those scriptures when we start to speak about others. Jesus said that we were to love our neighbor as ourselves. We need to practice that in everything we do. How about it, religious right? Will you join me in loving as Christ loved?
If you'd like to read the whole story, it's at:


July 29, 2008

Link of the Day: Rodney Croome-Gay Adovcate

Articles, essays, reviews, speeches, lectures and daily comment by prominent Australian gay advocate Rodney Croome.

For my North American readers, I think it's helpful to be reminded that the issue of equality for GLBT people is one being wrestled with across the globe.

Is The Dark Knight Gay?

Yes, there was a time when there was some strong sentiment that Batman, the Dark Knight running across our movie screens fighting off the Joker, was gay.

From The Bilerico Project:

The accusation that Batman was a homo, as strange as it might sound to our own ears, was taken quite seriously by government and public alike. It wasn't leveled by a marginal nut or crank, but by a world-renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Frederic Wertham.

Wertham was the Chief Psychiatrist for the New York Department of Hospitals and an important figure among the New York City liberal intelligentsia. His writings were respected enough to help form part of the legal strategy for Brown v. Board. In 1954, Wertham published a scathing indictment of comic books, The Seduction of the Innocent, which argued that comic books were an invidious influence on American youth, responsible for warped gender attitudes and all manner of delinquency. Wertham's accusations garnered the attention of Senator Estes Kefauver and his Senate Sub-committee on Juvenile Delinquency, where Wertham repeated many of his central claims.

Batman and Robin, Wertham charged, inhabited "a wish dream of two homosexuals living together." They lived in "sumptuous quarters," unencumbered by wives and girlfriends, with only an aged butler for company. They cared for each other's injuries, frequently shared quarters, and lounged together in dressing gowns. Worse still, both exhibited damning psychological characteristics: proclivities for costumes, dressing up, and fantasy play; secretive behavior and double-lives; little interest in women; and, most damning of all, neurotic compulsions resulting in their violent vigilantism. Indeed, Wertham argued, depictions of Batman and Robin were frequently homoerotic, visually emphasizing Batman's rippling physique and Robins splayed, bare thighs.

You know what, I think he makes a pretty darned good case here, especially since I've read many, many Batman stories going back to the beginning of the comic. What if he actually did come out of the bat-closet? Now THAT would be interesting.

Click here to read the rest of the story on The Bilerico Project. It's worth clicking through just to see the reproduction of the cover where Batman wore a pink costume.

July 28, 2008

MySpace Friend of the Day: Pride Connections Center of New Jersey

HPC is the only social service provider dedicated to and founded by the LGBT community in Hudson County. We are a non profit organization serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities and all people living with HIV since 1993. Check us out for more info at


Interested in Youth Connect? LGBT or questioning? Join our MySpace group:

Ask us for non-judgmental support and help.

YouthConnect @ Hudson Pride Connections is making our services available to everyone--blk, latino, asian,white, gay, str8, bi, trans, girl, boy, male, female, or anything else.

You can get non-judgmental support & information about any kind of sexual health question.

You can email us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at or here. You will get an answer to your questions and can learn about our local services!

Is California the Deciding Battle in the "Culture Wars?"

That's what American Family Association Don Wildmon says.

From Religion Dispatches:

The “culture wars” will be irrevocably lost, said Wildmon, if Proposition 8 (the “California Marriage Protection Act“ which states that “Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”) loses on November 4.

“If we lose California, if they defeat the marriage amendment, I’m afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost,” said Wildmon, “I’ve never said that publicly until now—but that’s just the reality of the fact.”

Wildmon pointed out that If the “homosexuals” were “able to defeat the marriage amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, then the culture war is over and we’ve lost—and gradually, secularism will replace Christianity as the foundation of our society.”

“California is a big dam, holding back the flood—and if you take down the dam in California, it’s going to flood 49 other states,” Wildmon maintained. “It will destroy marriage as it has been known for thousands of years [For an opposing view from a historian of the family see Stephanie Coontz's "Traditional" Marriage or a Break with Tradition?—ed.], and with that the cultural decline that normally would follow.”

Of course, he's not the only right-winger using their standard fall-back methodology--fear mongering.

“Homosexual rights are trampling freedom of religion, of speech and of association,” Michael J. McManus, President and Co-Chair of “Marriage Savers,“ recently wrote. “Homosexuals have a right to live any way they wish, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for the whole culture.”

"What is at stake in the California marriage debate now taking place?” asked Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which helped qualify Proposition 8 for the ballot, in a recent piece for the National Review. “The meaning of marriage, the idea of judicial restraint, and the official harassment and repression (by our own government) of traditional religious faiths.” (Gallagher, a long-time marriage advocate, also received money—without disclosing it—from the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the President’s “Healthy Marriages Initiative“.)

Of course, what is at stake is one of the largest states in the nation taking a stand and granting equal rights to ALL people and not hiding behind tradition to perpetuate discrimination.

That apparently just scares the living crap out of some people. What a shame for them.

Click here to read the rest of the article from Religion Dispatches.

July 27, 2008

"Do I Need Medicine of Prayers for Depression?"

Billy Graham answers that question for the Christian Post:

Q: My doctor says I need to get on some medicine for my depression but I'm afraid to do it. I have a friend who says I just need to pray and get close to God. How do I do that? I admit I need some kind of help. I don't understand what's been happening to me. - Mrs. B.T.

A: Depression can be very crippling, and I commend you for facing up to it and seeking help. Unfortunately, some people who experience depression feel guilty or ashamed, and as a result they refuse to admit they need help.

But they shouldn't feel this way; some of the Bible's greatest people (such as Job and Elijah) knew what it was to be depressed. In the midst of his suffering, Job cried out in despair, "Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?" (Job 3:11). But in time Job realized that God still loved him, and when he turned to God he found new strength and comfort.

And I pray this will be your experience as well. Perhaps you've never thought about God very much - but He made you, and He loves you. He loves you so much that He sent His Son into the world to give His life for you and make you part of His family forever. If you have never done so, ask Jesus Christ to come into your life today - and He will. No matter what happens to us, we can have hope when we know Christ.

At the same time, don't hesitate to seek medical help if you need it. Depression can be caused by many things, including chemical imbalances in our brains, and often the right medicine can correct these. God can use doctors and medicines to help us, and in fact they may be God's answer to our prayers.