A Welcome Bit Of News – Yen, Jesse ~

On February 11th and 12th I talked about Yen and Jesse (the person with the aggressive melanoma) from their blog Two Lucky People.
I’ll talk more about this later tonight (in Early Morning Thoughts), but I wanted to share a few welcome comments that Yen posted on their blog. Be sure to read the entire post – and don’t hesitate to leave a comment for them. I have no doubt they would/will be appreciated…

After more than a week of rest at home, Jesse has recovered almost completely from the IL-2 therapy.

He is his usual self, loving and already focused on getting stronger for the next round.

There is a “however” in the post:

Despite our best efforts, he’s still losing too much weight, hovering at a slender 140lbs for his 6′1in-tall frame. Our diet has whittled down to occasional meals, shared Chinese take-out, ramen, sushi sometimes. He has developed a liking for fresh watermelon, which I try to procure diligently.

That he’s home and recovering is encouraging news – and my thoughts/prayers continue to be with them…

more thoughts tonight…

Self Fulfilling – Integrity? Prophecy? ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Acceptance is acknowledging our sexuality as a given.
Self-love is being thankful for the gift.
adapted from a quote by Ken Hanes

Trying to hang onto integrity in what seems to be a world that wants nothing to do with it – getting discouraged is almost a given.
If I’m going to live in integrity – I’m going to have to learn to love in integrity as well. Which opens up an enormous area of thought. No matter what the orientation, belief or concern – it seems there are those who oppose it, want to downgrade it – and want to denigrate those who are interested, believers and followers.

And in the process it become very difficult for people to know who they ARE, let alone what they believe.

Gay – straight, black – white, northern-southerner, democrat – republican, etc., etc. We seems to deal with incredible self-fulfilling stereotypes. Tell people long enough that they are inferior, and they will come to believe it. Most of us believe that we are in large part what society constantly brands us as; in response we come to exhibit the characteristics that justify the stigma.

For example: there are a large number of neurotic, unhappy, compulsively promiscuous homosexuals whom on might regard as “pathological.” This pathology is however, the result of social pressures and the way they have internalized these, not of homosexuality itself.

If people are led to feel guilty about an essential part of their own identity, they will in all likelihood experience considerable psychological pressures……The insistence on the objective sinfulness of all homosexual relationships is precisely the type of moral thinking that psychologically destroys the ability of many homosexuals to enter into a permanent and fruitful relationship.

The only certain substantive conclusion that follows from the scientific data is the terrible cost in terms of human suffering and degradation that has followed on the mistaken moral judgments and prejudices of the past which are still invoked to support the prejudices of the present.
adapted from a passage from:
John McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual

I don’t think that the church is responsible by itself for “neurotic, unhappy, compulsively promiscuous homosexuals”…Personally, society at large, the media, politicians carry responsibility. And – I may get in some trouble for this, but I think those in the gay community carry responsibility as well.

And again when I look around, I realize that it’s a problem for so many people of all different colors, beliefs, orientations, hopes, dreams and desire to live life. And so much of it seems to be at the door step of “self-fulfilling prophecy.” If I take something to be the truth about myself, eventually that will become the truth. If I take something about someone else to be the absolute truth, eventually everything they do I will see through that lens. And the worst part about it, eventually they can come to believe it as true themselves.

To a small acceptance, add a larger acceptance of what we are continually told again, regardless of color, belief or orientation. As an example, my Father decided at around age 55, he was an old man. He began to externalize what he had decided internally. Over and over her would say things such as: “I can’t do that, I’m a little old man (then he would chuckle). As time went on, the chuckle became less frequent, but the results did not. Finally by age 65 he had become what he said.

But, as I mentioned above, it also concerns how people regard us. A very troubling study by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson, in 1968, gave all the children in an elementary class a test and told teachers that some of children were unusually clever (though they were actually average). They came back at the end of the school year and tested the same class again. Guess what? The children singled out had improved their scores far more than other children. (by the way, they didn’t repeat the experiment because they were afraid the children would be ultimately harmed. Interestingly enough the teachers had NO idea they were treating different students in different ways.)

And by the way – a self-fulfilling prophecy generally involves acceptance of an untruth and making it true. This makes sure that the balance of truth hangs over what I am going to accept as truth. For example – at my current … ahem…age, I am not going to be able to compete in an Olympic swimming event. However, I refuse to accept as true that I’m just “a little old man.” It’s taken awhile, and several failed relationship to get this through my head (thick skull?)…I am me, and I have worth. At the moment, his side of the bed may be covered with magazines and books, but there WILL come a day …

It’s easy to get
Truth never looks at me crookedly
but always straight on.
Sometimes in my small humanness
I try to turn my gaze.
Truth maybe too bright,
too garish,
without pity.
Sometimes truth seems to be not beautiful.
But more and more
with the passage of years
I find that I can turn my gaze
directly into the face of truth.
And more and more
I perceive with quaint surprise
that the truth I thought to be ugly
is more beautiful than the lie
that I feared was true.
-Charles Doss

More on this to come ~

The (insert group here) "Problem" ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Forgive the shift in tone from yesterdays warm romanticism (which I will return to) and previous posts about integrity, childlike enthusiasm and such. I had been out and about all day, and came home and opened my emails to see what people had sent, and to enjoy the communication I’ve had/I have with some of them.

There was one email from a name I didn’t recognize. Normally if it’s someone I don’t know – or the header is wrong, I hit the delete quite quickly. This header referenced Amore and Poison to Medicine. Ah, a reader…no problem then. But, there was a problem. I guess I have somewhat “made it” in the blog world,
as I received my first “hate” mail letter today. Right at the start I was hit with that old chestnut “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” (My reaction to that statement EACH time I hear it: Of course, He did. If He hadn’t, neither I nor those that espouse that kind of nonsensical rhetoric would be here, would we?)

And it went on from there … most of it I had read/heard other places (including a variation of Fred Phelps battle cry “God Hates F*”), so I figured this was probably a person without an original thought in his head. A perfect follower of whoever had the loudest voice, and the most compelling sound bites …until:

The end of the letter gave me pause. A great pause…

“Eventually, there will be no more problems with your kind. The change is coming and it will be for good.”

Take a good look at that again, doesn’t the phrase “no more problems with your kind” stand out? It almost hit me across the head when I read it. That phrase has fueled great controversy in the past — the Nazi’s and the “Jewish problem,” the bigots of the American South and the “N* problem.” and most recently for me – the church I WAS attending and the “(denomination) church problem.”

The Chicago Sun-Times had an op-ed in January titled “beware the american fascists…” by Chris Hedges in their Sunday Controversy section, however, you can’t find it there. You have to go to truthdig.com to read the original: “Christianists on the March.

Disclaimer: I do not necessarily like some of the tone and language used in the original article, but the points raised far outweigh the sometimes “rant” style of writing.

Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told his students that when we were his age—he was then close to 80—we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

The warning, given 25 years ago, came [when public religious leaders] began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts toward taking control of all institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government.

Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global Christian empire.

This call for fundamentalists and evangelicals to take political power was a radical and ominous mutation of traditional Christianity. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of those who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors had found a mask for fascism in the pages of the Bible.

Dr. Adams was in Germany 1935-36 when the Nazi’s were coming to full power. The corollaries between that time in Germany and today in the US are remarkable.

Adams saw in the Christian right, long before we did, disturbing similarities with the German Christian Church and the Nazi Party, similarities that he said would, in the event of prolonged social instability or a national crisis, see American fascists rise under the guise of religion to dismantle the open society.

He despaired of U.S. liberals, who, he said, as in Nazi Germany, mouthed silly platitudes about dialogue and inclusiveness that made them ineffectual and impotent. Liberals, he said, did not understand the power and allure of evil or the cold reality of how the world worked. The current hand-wringing by Democrats, with many asking how they can reach out to a movement whose leaders brand them “demonic” and “satanic,” would not have surprised Adams.

Like Bonhoeffer, he did not believe that those who would fight effectively in coming times of turmoil, a fight that for him was an integral part of the biblical message, would come from the church or the liberal, secular elite.

The…right has lured tens of millions of Americans, who rightly feel abandoned and betrayed by the political system, from the reality-based world to one of magic… This mythological worldview…creates a world where facts become interchangeable with opinions, where lies become true—the very essence of the totalitarian state.

It includes a dark license to kill, to obliterate all those who do not conform to this vision, from Muslims in the Middle East to those at home who refuse to submit to the movement. And it conveniently empowers a rapacious oligarchy whose god is maximum profit at the expense of citizens. We now live in a nation where the top 1 percent control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined, where we have legalized torture and can lock up citizens without trial.

Arthur Schlesinger, in “The Cycles of American History,” wrote that “the great religious ages were notable for their indifference to human rights in the contemporary sense—not only for their acquiescence in poverty, inequality and oppression, but for their enthusiastic justification of slavery, persecution, torture and genocide.

George Santayana from Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense (1905!!):
‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

All that said, I have a strong belief system – some of which aligns with what is being called the “religious right”. Some aligns with what is being called the “godless left.” So I have grounds and knowledge to be able to speak to most issues. As to the letter I received that caused tonights post, I did send an email back. I gently took issue with some of the statements he made, suggested that he really needed to search his heart and the Word to form his own opinions and seek/see the truth for himself. I even offered some places in scripture to look.

As far as the end of the letter to me, my tone changed – and I offered him my thoughts and some of the article I have quoted here – and the link to the entire article. However, based on the tone and some of the rhetoric of the original – he might be more turned off than helped. Which is going to another post…

Chris Hedges a graduate of Harvard Divinity School,
worked for The New York Times,
is the author of
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America

Encouraging Valentine’s News ~ Update on Jesse

I have been praying/thinking about Jesse and Yen for some time now. As you have read in previous posts, they are two delightful people who truly live the love they profess. Where I first found them was their wonderful blog…Two Lucky People.

Jesse is suffering from a very aggressive form of melanoma and was undergoing a very toxic clinical trial. As I talked about just the other day that had to be stopped because Jesse’s body was unable to handle it. He was supposed to go home the other day, but because parts of his body seemed to be failing – his release was delayed.

I was so thrilled and relieved to read this post today…while not completely out of the woods (as much as someone suffering as he is can be), he is getting there.

I can’t be there – but I feel as if I share … and that’s a wonderful feeling!!!

The Truth Or Dare Challenge (2) ~ WD’s Reply

My original post on the Truth or Dare challenge is here.

(As posted on his blog,) my truth to Jake was “What is a moment that gave you the most sensual pleasure when you look back on it. (doesn’t have to be sexual – sensual was a deliberate choice.) And why….”

A couple of days ago, when I told a couple of friends about Jake’s challenge they sat for a moment, then wanted to know what he wrote. I chuckled and told them he hadn’t written it yet, but I had to respond to the same question. Again, silence for a moment. Then I was asked how I could do that, as that would expose share a side of me that hadn’t been on the blog. I then talked about what I had been blogging about, and finally said that if I believed all that I have been struggling to write about, then why not? This is a side of me – albeit not a side that I beat people over the head with, but it is a side of me and my life. And besides the challenge had renewed some other areas of my inner being that had been slightly “dented” over the last several years – and it brought to mind a number of wonderful moments that reminded me even more of the “me” that can “be.” (Thank you Jake!!)

It’s a two-bar story that all took place on one night. I was living in the Montrose area of Houston (18 gay bars in a relatively small area) and was trying to get over an absolute terrible week. My self-respect/self-worth seemed to have been flushed down the proverbial (pervert-ial?) toilet, and wanted to get out and get away from it all.

I walked my way down to the first bar called Heaven. When it first opened it was a dancing twinkie bar. During the week, it was slightly more welcoming to those who usually didn’t dance with their shirts off and pants slipping slightly down their bubble butts. I sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender. There were at that moment few in the place. The bartender was a good one, and thought he knew how to work a customer. At one point, he took a candle from the back part of the bar, lit it and put it in front of me and said: “There, now I can see you better.” The place was well lit, so my heart really didn’t flutter (stupid me). As I was sharing an apartment with a bartender, I thought I recognized the “hook” to keep a customer there – drinking and tipping (especially tipping)(stupid me). I finished the drink, did the patron flirting with the bartender shtick and took my leave.

Literally one city block away was a dance bar called Pacific Street. A dance bar that was packed every night it was open. While I enjoy dancing, many times I go and find my niche (re: corner) and listen and enjoy the DJ’s work. It was only a short walk to get there. I was not disappointed, the music was great, and the crowd was fun. I sat and enjoyed the people, the music and felt a great sense of relaxation start to sweep over me. So much so (no I don’t think it was the vodka) that I decided I would get out and dance for a bit. There was no way I was going to take my shirt off but I could certainly enjoy being around those who had.

I was getting into the music and enjoying the feeling and energy surrounding me. I felt a hand on my waist and shoulder. I thought it was someone who needed me to move but then there was a voice in my ear. “I could see you better at my bar, could see you here on the dance floor, but don’t turn around.” My already beating rapidly heart skipped a beat. I recognized the voice and the phrase. I stood still and put my hand on the one on the shoulder and the other on the waist. I could feel the warmth from behind me, and feel a soft breath occasionally on the back of my neck.
I was being gently pulled toward the DJ booth side of the floor. It was an area where the lights didn’t quite reach,

“May I turn around now?”
“Not yet. Let’s just enjoy for now.” The music was wonderful, I was held by two hands and had a rather attractive man behind me. It was going to be interesting to see where this all would end.

“Take off your shirt.” My reply was as if I had just pushed the buzzer on Jeopardy. “I don’t dance with my shirt off.” I felt his breath by my ear “But I would enjoy it.” His hands left their posts and moved to the front and began to pull off my shirt. I didn’t bother protesting. “Much better . . . Now, I’m going to play – just enjoy.”

I have no idea what was being played during that time, who else was there – or if I had somehow wandered into a gay version of the Twilight Zone. I was moving to the rhythm of the man behind me. His fingers moved, explored and gently moved up and down. I know that my skin several times began to get goose bumps, but not from the cold. My breathing rate had certainly changed, and yet – I felt amazingly comfortable, quiet, horny and enveloped all at the same time. He had obviously unbuttoned his shirt as he leaned into my back and put his head on my shoulder. The fingers continued to explore, move and even “tweak.” But nothing went below the belt and when I would reach around I didn’t either (which would obviously limit my reaching around).

He began to speak very softly into my ear – just loud enough to be heard over the music, but soft enough to be very sensual.

If I hadn’t been so caught up in the sensuality of it all, I probably would have cried. Now remember, this is someone I had met a couple of hours before (gotta LOVE bartenders’ shift change) and who had no idea what I had been going through.

What was actually said is unimportant. What was delivered is what was important. The talk reached deep inside and reaffirmed me . . . my worth, my sensuality, my sexuality and my very being.

It was a wildly erotic and sensual time. He finally turned me around and we kissed. I was about ready to melt. He stepped back, gently kissed me again, put his finger in that delightful way some men have on my lips.

“I need to leave, but hopefully we will meet again.” Another deep kiss – and he left. I slowly put my shirt back on – put my life back on. I made my way home and as I was laying in bed . . . the wonder and the power of it all swept over and over me.

Heaven burned down and has been replaced by a much larger, more elegant dance club.
Pacific Street has since changed owners and names several times.

The Truth or Dare Challenge (1)~ Jake’s Post

My original post on the Truth or Dare challenge is here.

(As posted on his blog,) my truth to Jake was “What is a moment that gave you the most sensual pleasure when you look back on it. (doesn’t have to be sexual – sensual was a deliberate choice.) And why….”

He came back with the an amazing, haunting and touching story. I have repeated the entire story here – I know you will enjoy it! (you might want to have a Kleenex handy – I needed one.)

One moment guys…while I take a trip down memory lane…

I’m going to start this post with the quote that will forever be etched in the depths of my heart and soul…

You never know what you have…until it’s gone…

September – 1995 (me: 15 years old)

The Alarm started it’s long forgotten temper tantrum at a quarter to seven in the morning. I peered across the room through squinted eyelids attempting to see the thing that had so rudely intruded upon my dreams… I laid there a few minutes wondering how long an alarm goes off before it shuts up on its own, but then couldn’t handle it any longer…

My fist came down on top of the cheap plastic alarm clock my Mom had purchased last year, after deciding it was a better alternative to waking me up herself. (I guess even then I was a bitch to wake).

Today…Was the first day of my High School Career… and My first day back into “the population” as an “out” gay male. You see…the last few weeks of Junior High…I announced my “gaydom” to who I thought at the time were my closest friends. Now to give you an idea on how quickly “Jake’s a Fag” spread through my junior high…think of the way a Christmas tree looks and feels 4 mos after the holidays…now add a little gasoline, and a match… poof right… yeah…well you get the idea.

So…Off to hell I went.

My first class was unique…Health class…for the life of me I can’t remember the teachers name, but she was an Ex-Cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys, and cooler than shit. Midway through class a boy walked in, backpack slung over one shoulder, soft leather jacket, Blue sparkling eyes, and thick brown hair…(yeah I know…worse than a teenage girl). He moved across the front of the class, handed the teacher something, and she pointed to the rest of us in a general direction telling him to choose an available desk.

Now..here’s where she became cooler than shit… None of the desks around me were available…but…she saw me eyein’ that boy up and down…and worked magic.

Teacher: Sean…Wait a second..(she gave me his name)…

Sean: *standing in the middle of my row of desks*

Teacher: Jake…switch with (whatever the bitches name was – directly to my right)…and (bitch’s name) you sit right here…(taps an open desk at the front of the class)…Sean you take Jake’s desk.

I could have kissed her… She gives me his name, gives him mine, and puts us next to each other…coincidence right…wrong….while I was moving myself to the desk next to me the teacher winked at me. I couldnt help but blush and grin… (BTW…All my *Evil Grin’s* come from her…she used to grade our papers and if she really liked something she would *evil grin* next to it.)

The rest of the class flew by with me trying not to be obvious about staring at him…he was hot. After class during passing I stopped him on the way out of the room…

Me: Jake…(pushing my hand into his)

Sean: Yeah… I know…(grinning)… Sean…

I think we checked out each other’s schedules, and he talked about the JR high he went to, what he didn’t get to do over the summer, etc.. Random Bullshit… and we went our separate ways. The day continued, and I completely forgot about him…(applause for the attention span of a horny 15yo)…

Until…After school I stopped at a fast food joint all the kids used to go to, bought something to eat, pulled out homework or something I’m sure and began being the book work grade A student I was.

A Large Coke slammed itself on my table…The sweat from the wax coated cup dotting my paperwork.

Sean: Anyone sitting here?

Me: (Flashback to early AM…big nervous swallow) no…

Sean: good…

His voice was soft, his tone warm…and I’d venture to guess he was as nervous as I was… The debris of my homework quickly cleared the table, and we sat, ate…talked…laughed…and then… I slipped…

Me: You have Wiley? He’s hot…………………………………….(big nervous swallow…fuck)

Sean sat there quietly as my face went pale, and my hands went cold and clamy…

“I knew it…” he said quietly, as his hand moved across the table to hold mine…”I thought so too…”

He blushed…My heart was about ready to beat it’s way through my ribcage… In my head, I was dancing around like a little boy, screaming, giggling, singing some cheesy happy song, the whole works…but in reality I was sitting there just smiling…not a cute smile..but the really big annoying ear to ear smiles some people get…LOL…

We shared our coming out stories, our fears, our triumphs, our new found love for Mrs. what’s her face in health class…the time moved as if we had an endless supply of it… When we finally left the restaurant the stars were out, and the moon was high in the night sky. His attention was to the sky as he inhaled the fall night’s air in a big long drawn out sigh. The moonlight outlining his profile, his eyes not the sparkley blue they were just 10 mins ago. They were a deep slate gray under the stars. He turned to me, cupped my head in one hand, caressing my cheek with his thumb, moved in close and kissed me… I couldn’t watch him walk away…I would have ran after him…when I finally did look back…he was gone.

And HERE is the rest of this story … It was posted on his site several days ago, and I’m sorry I missed it!!!

Sean and I spent a lot of time together during those first few weeks of school. During that time we learned a lot about each other, and formed an extremely deep emotional, and loving bond. I fell in love with Sean, and he with me…It was never said…not out loud, but it was there. As dangerous as the relationship was (dangerous at school, and medically speaking) we didn’t care… We were careful, but no matter how careful we were, I knew it wasn’t going to last forever. You see… Sean was raped when he was 10 yrs old by a male babysitter. That rape resulted in Sean contracting HIV. During the short time Sean was in my life, I witnessed a beautiful person wither, and fade. It was September of the next school year when Sean took up residency in a local hospital room… I was sitting on the edge of his bed, the nurse told me I couldn’t stay long (she let me in even though I wasn’t “family”…)

He didn’t look like my Sean…He was pale, and he struggled to smile… I laid next to him and held him tight…

“I love you Sean….”

after a pause that seemed like an eternity…He smiled at me, and I saw that sparkle in his eyes again…

“I knew it…..” he whispered…

He gripped my hand tightly, and drifted off to sleep…

I got up carefully as to not wake him, and tip toed out of the room…

My heart was warm and full of joy as I walked down the hall, but at the same time it felt heavy…My baby was sick in the hospital…

As I rounded a corner in the ICU a slew of nurses rushed past me…she was one of them…the nurse who let me into Sean’s room….

Sean’s Mom gave me the watch I had given him as our “first month” anniversary gift. She told me he wanted me to have it, and that he wanted me to know how much he loved me…

I wore that watch until it stopped working…and now it sits in my home…one of my most precious possessions…

That brief period of time…was…..no…is my most sensually pleasurable memory…and will always be…Sean was my first true love… I’ll always love him…

Thanks Sean…

Integrity – Grace ~ Early Morning Thoughts

I interrupt the regularly scheduled posting to bring you something that I have been struggling with for several weeks. It began with the election-timed fall of Ted Haggard in a drugs-and-gay-sex scandal. And hopefully what I’m saying will not be misunderstood as something it is not….I do try to tie it up at the end of the article.

Early in November, the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Douglas County preached to his 2,100-member congregation about integrity and grace in the aftermath of the Ted Haggard drugs-and-gay-sex scandal.

Here is a parts of the sermon Rev. Paul Barnes gave as the Haggard scandal was still unfolding … his comments are powerful and ring with truth. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t his original sermon – but one he composed shortly before delivering it.

The title of his new sermon: “Integrity, Sin and Grace.”

During the sermon Rev. Barnes defined integrity as “being the same on the outside as you are on the inside.”

All people come to God broken, he said. Maybe it’s alcoholism, he said. Or a bad temper. Or pornography. Some people overcome their problems; others continue to live with them, he said.

Most of us, if the truth were known, we wear masks,” Barnes said. “… Sometimes, we wear masks because we want to be appear more perfect than we are. But the reality of it is, all of us are so very imperfect.

Some people view homosexuality second only to pedophilia on a list of “disgusting things a person can do,” he said.

But why, he asked, do so many Christians gloss over the sins of adultery or idolatry?

What causes more damage to a society? The 2 to 3 percent of the people in a society that are gay or the 50 percent of people in society who have been married and divorced and remarried? (remember he was speaking to a congregation, not the public at large which explains his narrow few of what damages society.)

He urged grace and mercy for all.

Later in December, in a tearful videotaped message Sunday to his congregation, he confessed to homosexuality and announced he had voluntarily resigned his pulpit.

Now, the 54-year-old Barnes has joined Haggard as a fallen evangelical minister who preached that homosexuality was a sin but grappled with a hidden life.

I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy,” Barnes said in the 32- minute video,… I can’t tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep …”

Unlike Haggard, who had the ear of the White House, Barnes is not a household name. He is a self-described introvert who avoids politics. Barnes and Grace Chapel stayed out of the debate over Amendment 43, a measure approved by Colorado voters defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

“I can’t think of a single sermon where he ever had a political agenda,” said Dave Palmer, an associate pastor.

So, unlike Haggard – this was not a pastor that entered the political realm or sought personal gain by his sermons, books or speaking engagements. He seems as a man trying as Paul described in Philippians 2:12: Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always done — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…

This, to me is what Rev. Barnes was attempting to do. And, this admonition continues to haunt even today….gay or straight we are to work out our OWN reality with fear and trembling.

Now the part of the article that really troubled me:

Palmer said the church got an anonymous call last week from a person “concerned” for the welfare of Barnes and the church. The caller had overheard a conversation in which someone mentioned “blowing the whistle” on evangelical preachers engaged in homosexuality, including Barnes.

Why is this troubling? These people profess to be something they are not – and encourage discriminatory behavior. So, it does seem logical that their secrets need to be brought to light. Where I have a problem, is when we take on ourselves to make what is in the dark public without caring about the result. This may get me into trouble however: To me, private is private ~ however, as far as secret evil is concerned an ancient admonition is crystal clear:

Things that are done in darkness (hidden/masked/hypocritical)
WILL be exposed to the light
.

It might not be my timetable or the way I would wish it to be – but I have seen it time and time again.
The biggest noisemakers or their so-called truth end up in ashes
.
We can name them and it takes more than the fingers of our hands.

So here is where my quandary begins. Their speech harmed people, caused discrimination and in some cases, deep hurt (which sometimes is physical). So the exposing of the hypocrisy seems to do a good thing. But, is it? I don’t have an easy answer. As far as their speaking out against gays, but living the gay lifestyle the answers seems clear-cut. Again I ask in all honesty…Is it?

Where I’m at for now, is looking at the result. What has it changed? Has it brought reasonable dialogue or even more posturing from all sides of the damaging kind. I do know that I can not cheer and relish the downfall of someone, anyone — unless I would want the same kind of downfall on myself. I also know that I can have relief that they are no longer doing damage to others in the way they were – but also, that I need to work toward reconciliation of people of all kinds and types to the greater good of all.

Remember the title of Rev. Barnes sermon included the word integrity?

The opposite of integrity, etymologically, is privation, deprivation, depravity, perversion, rupture, destruction, corruption. That which takes away from the whole entity or system or organ, from wholeness, wholesomeness, holism, soundness, sanity, ecology, cohesion, idealism, interconnectedness. In other words, breakdown.

The term can be applied in the moral, rational, or physical domains of human endeavor. Moral integrity refers to a cohesive set of principles, rational integrity to a cohesive logic, and physical integrity to a cohesive physical structure. In each sense integrity means wholeness, soundness, consistency, coherence.

So when we say something lacks integrity we mean, literally, it is falling apart. It has lost the critical elements, balance, connectedness that kept it together. It has come unglued.
–Dave Pollard 12/5/2003

Thus endeth the posting for this morning – your regularly scheduled posting will resume tomorrow.

2nd picture Soul Struggle by Frank Picini http://artworks.avalonweb.net/gallery/excellence_main.php
6th picture The Reconciliation by Gwen Raverat http://www.broughtonhousegallery.co.uk/raverat_38.html

Early Morning Thoughts ~ "But They Made Me Do It ~

Today, I read a news article that really stunned me.

A major U.S. AIDS treatment group plans to file a lawsuit on Monday that accuses drug giant Pfizer Inc. of illegally promoting recreational use of its blockbuster impotence pill Viagra.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) told Reuters it wants Pfizer to be barred from marketing Viagra as a lifestyle or sexual enhancement drug. The nonprofit organization said Pfizer’s actions had led to risky behavior by men and an increase in HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. (And they did not say gay or straight – just behavior by men)

“Pfizer has created and contributed to the perception of Viagra as a safe, sexy, lifestyle, recreational drug, to be frequently used regardless of the degree, or even existence of” erectile dysfunction, the group said in draft legal documents.

Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, said it was committed to appropriate Viagra use and urged men to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. The drug is sold by prescription. (Of course, both straight and gay “party spots”of any kind, have various people that can make it available without a prescription.)

While I personally feel that ED has become the latest “fashion illness.” For a gay organization to blame the drug or its ads as causing unsafe behavior is a twist of logic that bothers me.

It’s not the fact that it’s available readily that troubles me, it’s the unwillingness for people straight or gay to accept responsibility for their actions that is the most troubling. In the sexually charged atmosphere of a circuit party or a night out at the bar or private party, it can be difficult to avoid the enticement of all that is available. It is still a matter of personal choice as to whether or not to participate – and willing participation should result in a willingness to accept the consequences of the actions.

As a person I really respect once said: If you’ve lit the fuse to the bomb, you can’t pray for someone to come along and blow it out…you either have to blow it out yourself, or decide not to light it in the first place.

But it seems that more and more, people want to avoid the responsibility for their actions/decisions and to try and find someone to blame. Someone to become the scapegoat. It would be easy for me to take this to the political arena, but that’s for another time I think. (Perhaps in a galaxy far, far away!) When I refuse to acknowledge that my actions have reactions, then I need to find someone to blame.

The Internet is littered with many stories about people who refused to accept the choices that they made, and seemed to get away with it. The burglar who fell through a skylight and wanted to sue because there was no warning label that warned him that falling through the skylight could be dangerous. The tourist that sued a travel agent because they weren’t warned that a coconut falling on their head could cause pain.

While laughable in some cases it points up a serious and growing problem. It’s an inability to acknowledge that what I do can/does have an effect, and that effect can be serious.

When my Father had a seizure and the resultant exams showed brain cancer – it was also discovered that he was addicted to pain killers, and had been for some time. I was impressed with my Mother’s reaction. She didn’t go after the doctor’s who wrote the prescriptions nor the several pharmacies that filled them. She went directly to the heart of the problem – my Father. Of course, by that time it was apparent that taking him off the addiction would be worse than treating the cancer. But at least there was control of the situation, and an acknowledgment from Dad that he had made some poor choices.

And that’s where the mountain seems to be…poor choices. And as far as sex is concerned, we know the correct choices. As far as some moments in our lives we know the correct choices. I know that hot coffee if it spills will hurt, that putting my hand through glass will cut…and the list could go on and on. But what about the subtle choices…the one’s that don’t seem that obvious.

the 2nd part of this tomorrow

Early Morning Thoughts ~ One Incident Led To ~

Today was a first for something I would have preferred not to have happened at all. I was crossing the street, and the two people in a car, who wanted to make the right turn were not pleased with my speed (even though I had the right-of-way). As I reached the curb and they started their turn, one rolled down the window and yelled out the window “‘F’ing’ faggot.” Not once, but twice. As there was nothing that could have identified me with the gay community, it was a slur, and verbal attack.

My minor incident follows on the heels of the incident with Isaiah Washington and his use of the word “faggot” on the set of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. While TV and the Internet has been roundly criticizing him (and his later attempts to cover his tracks), something seemed to be missing to me.

I will admit it, I no longer watch American Idol until toward the end. This year, there was an incident that caused me to watch the clip in question. I’m talking about Simon Cowell’s very personal attack on one of the auditioners. He stepped beyond merely challenging this person’s singing ability and attacked him personally, by going after his physical attributes. Of course, there has been some outcry about it, but still something seemed to be missing to me.

These incidents are not isolated nor unrelated. And finally, I realized each incident – all of them – involved hate speech. That was what as missing in all the discussions about what had occurred. No one really seemed to want to say that Isaiah or Simon had engaged in hate speech, but that’s exactly what it was. To me, by attacking someone with something that is either a part of their life (i.e. being gay) or something they have absolutely have no control over (i.e. basic physiognomy) hate speech is being used.

Again, Isaiah attacked another person’s sexuality and core of existence. Simon, rather than going after talent or lack of it, attacked someone about their physical characteristics, and in the process brought their core being into question. . And while there has been some outrage over both, (and possibly leading to Isaiah’s loss of job) no one is talking about what this kind of tolerance does to us as people and as a nation. These two incidents are just symptomatic of something deeper and more insidious. Even though there might be some disgust or upset over what was said, the lack of immediate, decisive reaction and immediate decisive action, says a lot that those of us disgusted over what is happening really need to be concerned about.

In what really wasn’t so long ago, Michael Richards followed in the footsteps of Mel Gibson, and carried a rant into front page headlines. A powerful writer/blogger at Proceed At Your Own Risk (which is currently closed for renovations) wrote a tremendous article about intolerance and language. I’ve posted this before and completely unapologetic, part of it is reprinted here:

Politicians like Rick Santorum and religious leaders like James Dobson openly and proudly use words that are painfully insulting to gay Americans. Senator Allen laughingly calls a college student “Macaca.” Rappers and Reggae singers celebrate rape, murder, racism and homophobia. We pretend that it’s humor, Biblical or a political statement, when in fact it is hate language that pollutes our society and even worse the minds and hearts of our children.

Rather than uncompromisingly condemn this behavior and language as disgusting, we debate it. We look for ways to explain it away and allow it.

The collective outrage over Michael Richards’ “nigger” tirade rings hollow in a society were politicians are applauded for comparing homosexuality to bestiality, where millions of voters are indifferent to Macaca, where hate-spewing rappers, black and white are given record contracts and Grammy Awards, where openly homophobic Reggae singers are booked for concerts and religious leaders who use words like fag and abomination to describe their fellow Americans are allowed tax exemptions.

Partly it’s because as a nation we have perverted and trivialized the value of free speech. Neither the Bible nor the Constitution were intended to justify intolerance and bigotry. Michael Richards is symptomatic of a badly damaged society. Tolerance is not an absolute; we do not tolerate murder and rape, nor should we tolerate homophobia, racism or intolerance for that matter.

As a society we must take harsh action against hate language regardless of it’s source: the Bible, politics, booze or rage. As adults we can rationalize, excuse and trivialize, but in the meantime less sophisticated minds, our children, are listening and learning very bad things.

“Bigot: A person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices esp: one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.”

When we tolerate any of this kind of behavior, we are saying – especially to our youth – that it is acceptable. That it will cause some “discomfort,” or upset – but it is still tolerated. I no longer want to be any part of tolerating hate speech of any kind. Frankly, life is too short, and people are too valuable for that. I want to support that which builds up, not tear down.

postscipt:

I am not criticizing the comments about the singing talent on American Idol. After all the years I’ve spent in theater on both sides of the footlights, I’d be out of my mind to even suggest that. The auditioners know that they are going to be looked at for their singing. What, to me, is NOT acceptable is to “go after” something that is not connected to the talent. And before we condemn the lack of talent, remember William Hung make a fortune — by really not being able to sing. But, then – that’s nothing new. Anyone remember Ethel Merman’s disco album? Or Kiss’s disco I Was Made For Loving You? (I thought so)

Early Morning Thoughts ~ Poison to Medicine (part 3)

“take full responsibility for whatever is happening,
even if none of it seems to be your fault,
and decide to turn poison into medicine.
– Geoff from the book, “The Buddha, Geoff and Me

When I began to write about ZZ and the “dark night of the soul” decision I made, the words did and have not come easily. There has always been concern about being misunderstood, or simply dismissed as being a “drama queen.” As this is a personal account, it can be taken as such. Perhaps you have faced something similar. If you haven’t, as I said last night, be very thankful.

When I made my final decision to end it all, for so long I felt as if I had been locked in a box. That there was no key to the lid, and I was literally quite finished … as a older gay individual, an older human being and as something of worth. None of those were correct assumptions, but to me at the time, they were not only valid, but universal truths. I had chipped away at what I was for so long – there were serious cracks in the marble of my foundation. I knew in my heart of hearts that what I wanted from ZZ was never going to be – couldn’t be. I knew that I had given away too much, that I had run dry of what to give for basically nothing in return. I only knew that my vision was faulty, but I hadn’t come to the realization (yet) that I was not seeing him as he was – only as I wanted him to be.

So – the time had come. I was manager of a small apartment complex, and it was easy to decide upon the place. A downstairs, empty apartment. I actually did write a letter, being vague and careful. I chose the candles, the necessary piece of equipment, the pills to dull the pain, and the applesauce to sooth the stomach. I
made my way down the stairs of my apartment (I lived on-site) and into the empty one. I taped the letter to the inside of the door, and went into the bathroom. Lighting the candles, and laying out what I had brought. I arranged everything very attractively – again the gay in me.

I climbed into the tub, and stretched out and prepared. Well, as much as one can prepare for that. This is something I can’t prove, but you can’t disprove – I believe that most of us in those moments have a moment when the mind can “snap-to” and we can see something for what it is. It certainly happened to me. There was no earth shaking, no wind,no thunder or lightning. No booming voice spoke from the ceiling (which did need to be repainted), nor was there a knock at the door to interrupt. What came to me was the entire situation that I was planning and setting up. I realized that it was as empty and futile as I had been feeling. This was not going to solve anything or make anything better.

There was a realization that I was about to embark on the most selfish, thoughtless act I could have done. You may think that I had lost my mind (well, OK – maybe I did) at what happened next, but I began to chuckle. As I looked around at the seedy stage set I had put together, I saw it for what it was. Nothing that could help, nothing that would solve anything. I was actually heading to do nothing more than validate what I had been erroneously thinking. And then I began to cry. Three people came to my mind that I had not thought about during all the preparation and downward spiral. I realized that to these people I had some worth, and they had worth to me.

I climbed out of the tub (not the most comfortable place) and blew out the candle. I took the note off the door(which needed to be thoroughly cleaned), and went upstairs. ZZ (who was a bartender from 8pm – 3am) was surprisingly awake. I sat down and told him what I had almost done. His reaction neither surprised me nor helped.


The spiritual journey does not consist in arriving at a new destination

where a person gains what he did not have
or becomes what he is not.
It consists in the dissipation of one’s own ignorance concerning one’s self and life
and the gradual growth of that understanding which begins the spiritual awakening.
The finding of God is a coming to one’s self.
– Aldous Huxley

Tomorrow morning: how the poison has turned into medicine

the locker picture from http://www.amnesty.de
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