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December 10th, 2017

Train Ride!

All my life I’ve wanted to do the big cross-country train ride to California and back. This holiday season I’m finally doing it and I can’t begin to describe how thrilled I am. Last July you may recall, I did Amtrak to Orlando and Walt-Disney World. I booked a roomette there and back on the Silver Meteor and loved Every Minute of it. So I gave some serious thought to doing the Christmas/New Year holiday trip to California by train instead of making it a road trip as I usually do. Comparing the cost of a round trip ticket to past trips to the west coast I found them nearly identical, and the time spent just a tad shorter since the train is always moving even when I’m sleeping. So shortly after I returned from Florida I bought my tickets.

The itinerary is thus: Northeast Regional from Baltimore Penn Station to Washington D.C. Union Station. From there I catch The Capital Limited to Chicago Union Station. One day later in Chicago Union Station I catch The Southwest Chief (which runs the route of the legendary Santa Fe Super Chief) to Los Angeles Union Station. That last leg is two nights and two days. So three nights total, and maybe three and a half days. The drive has usually taken me four and a half days and more, but I stop frequently for stuff and a road trip is for exploring. A big reason why I’m more in favor of the train these days is my vacations give me less time to explore the road. Things are coming to a head on the James Webb Space Telescope and even though launch has been moved back to (possibly) spring of 2019, there is still a tight schedule and a lot of work ahead of us. So when I take time off it’s limited to windows I can be away, and usually it’s only a week of time I can be spared. So I mostly use those windows for Walt Disney World trips. Christmas/New Year is another window where I can take more time, but that’s for family holiday stuff and once again it’s just a matter of going from here to there, not exploring roads I’ve not been down before. But I still want that disconnect from my work life for a spell, and if I can’t get it on the road I’ve discovered, to my delight, I can still get it from the train.

The fact that a train ride is slower than riding jet airplane to anyplace is a feature, not a bug! Every vacation, every time away from the office, needs a gateway into and out of your normal everyday world. The road can be all that. So can the train. As I’ve written before, you can get your own room on a train and the food in the dining car is Much better than air fair and you get to chat with your fellow passengers and hang out in the lounge or stroll around which you can’t do on an airplane which is relentlessly made for getting you from point to point and for nothing else. A road trip is a journey. A long distance train ride is a voyage. Either one can be your portal into a different mode of life for a while, where you can find your inner bearings again, look around, consult the compass and chart a course.

As of today I am pretty much all packed and ready to go and it’s only Sunday. I’ve been working it for two weeks now and it’s been a challenge because this trip I really need to travel light and yet there’s a bunch of stuff I will need for two weeks plus in California.

I divided things into two groups…that which I can mail to my brother in California prior to the trip, and that which I either need for the train ride or things I don’t want to risk going through the mail. Turned out most of the first group were clothes and shoes. Two small boxes went to California.

I decided on one backpack and one mid sized carry-on suitcase, both Briggs & Riley made. These take the clothes I need for the train ride, my toiletries kit (I’ve never showered on a train before so this will be an experience…), a small first aid kit, penlight, two books to read, the Leica M3, 50 & 24mm lenses, Gossen Pilot light meter and ten rolls of B&W film, the Sony-Hasselblad (for color photography), assorted travel snacks and a flask of Grand Marnier because Amtrak lounge car liquor menus are pitiful, a small power block with USB charger ports, assorted cables, three nice cigars in tubes (for when I’m in California), my Garmin for navigating the rental car in LA, and watching my train’s progress as I travel, locking cables to keep my luggage secure in my roomette, and my travel folder with my tickets and rental car agreement. The backpack and suitcase will also hold one of my household laptops, the office laptop and charger block.

Plus travel pillow.

The backpack holds mostly clothes and snacks. The suitcase everything else.I’ve already test hoisted the suitcase and it is Heavy but will roll smoothly: Briggs & Riley make them with oversized wheels. It seems a lot to describe here but it’s actually a pretty small luggage set compared to what I generally see on the train and in the stations. My goal was to not have to store any luggage in the central luggage area of my Superliner Sleeper cars, but keep it all in my roomette. Basically all I am taking with me is a backpack and a suitcase that maybe ten years ago would have qualified as airline carry-on. I’m almost expecting someone to ask me where the rest of it is. I’ll tell them it went by UPS and it’s already there.

A friend has kindly agreed to house sit for me (in exchange for food and money). I still need to tell the alarm company about him, and show him around to the neighbors when he gets here so they won’t think I’ve got a squatter.  I will also be posting about my adventures as I go along. This is going to be so very cool…I have never done the long distance train ride cross-country before and I am so much looking forward to it starting this coming Thursday.

 


The Southwest Chief


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
December 9th, 2017

A Coming Out Story, Episode 23: Consulting The Oracle

…in which our hero consults with a world renown and highly respected seer to learn what the F*** is going on with him!

Episode 23 of A Coming Out Story…Here.

A Coming Out Story – Main Page…Here.

 


Posted In: Art Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
December 4th, 2017

A Coming Out Story, Episode 23 On The Way!

ETA Sunday, December 10…

One of the cool things about doing A Coming Out Story is I get to bring back to life for a bit my beloved Rockville as it used to be when I was a kid. This episode takes place in the Congressional Plaza that once was. I used to burn off tons of nervous energy walking from the apartments at Village Square West to Congressional and then to the Super Giant and Korvettes and back down Randolph Road to home. But even before then, when mom and I lived in Courthouse Square, the Plaza was a center of gravity. And to this day I have a fondness for that 1950s-60s stack stone treatment on the facades of the storefronts. It will always take me back whenever I see it.

And oh God…you don’t want to see what they did to it now. But that’s okay. I can bring it back to life as it was in my artwork…

In this episode I consult with a world renown and highly respected oracle for some insight as to what the hell is going on with me. Here’s some work-in-progress. I’ve got panel one of the tale pretty much done. The inks and dialogue in panels 2 and 3 are ready for lighting and texturing treatments. I do all my initial artwork in traditional media, but then I scan it in and finish it in Photoshop…

 

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 29th, 2017

The Least of It

That’s the least of what I miss. But yes…that. Also.


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 25th, 2017

Thanksgiving Family

“Gay Community” is an awkward term, but the language doesn’t seem to give us any other ones. We’re people of a shared sexual orientation, and to a certain extent, a shared history of oppression. But there really isn’t all that much uniting us. Things you would expect such as marriage equality and protections from discrimination in employment, housing, and the marketplace, often generate a surprising amount of static among us. And running beneath it all like a hidden underground stream is how being hated, and being taught to hate ourselves, damages our capacity for sexual intimacy, trust, and love.

And even that is not exactly a shared experience among us. There is, and I am seeing more clearly with the passing of years, a distinct generational difference. Younglings living in a more accepting and affirming culture, having more and better, healthier, opportunities to date and discover love and desire in the ways heterosexual kids have for generations, are starting to look more and more like their heterosexual peers when talking about relationship issues. For a gay guy of my generation it is wonderful to witness. But then, inevitably, like snapping back out of a pleasant daydream, I must return to my own life, my own generation because that is where I am fixed in time and place, and where I reckon I will always belong.

Among them is where I must find companionship, because only they understand me. They know what the world was like when John Lennon was alive, and Hendrix was playing at the Filmore, and Jefferson was Airplane. They know what America was like before Reagan. When music came on vinyl disks and telephones had wires and shopping centers had newsstands and bookstores and we were putting footsteps on the moon. They know me. Or so I would like to believe anyway.

But community is an awkward way of describing us and “family” is even more awkward. Yesterday I had Thanksgiving dinner with as much “family” here on the east coast as I have now and while the host was a good friend with a good heart whose company I thoroughly enjoy, most of the guests were gay guys of my generation, none of whom I really knew very well. A couple of them frequently drove the conversation into territory I found uncomfortable at best and distasteful mostly, and the rest just went gamely along and I kept my mouth shut. A conversation was started about the first gay bar we’d ever been to, a thing I couldn’t specifically recall but I gave it my best shot: a piano bar called Friends, and later Windows. I can’t actually recall the first time I set foot in a gay bar…or any other sort of bar for that matter. When I was a toddler my maternal grandmother would walk me to the grocery store periodically, and every time we passed by a bar she would point at the door and say “the devil lives there.” So never mind working up the nerve to enter a gay bar, my first step ever into a bar probably took a lot of nerve, but I don’t now recall it. I remember Friends though, because it was the only gay bar at the time I felt comfortable in. And there was a reason for that. But the topic quickly took off and others of the group took it and ran with it into the backrooms and toilets. I tried to steer the conversation to When Did You First Come Out To Yourself. That generally went in the same direction. Eventually I made myself a drink and sat some distance from the others and just listened.

Understand…I don’t particularly care what sorts of sexual shenanigans people get themselves into. It’s not that important. In her biography (and I know I’ve quoted this often here on the blog so just bear with me…), the author Mary Renault is quoted as saying that politics like sex, is just a reflection of the person within, and if you’re mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics when what matters is you’re not the sort of person who behaves like that. People who talk at me that there is more to life than sex are missing it profoundly. Life…the life you live…and sex…the sex you have…is a reflection of the person within and it’s the person within that matters. It matters to me that you aren’t mean and selfish and cruel. The rest is detail.

But sometimes the detail can be bothersome all the same. And especially when you are in the company of others who either consistently don’t get yours or regard them as hangups you just need to get over. And that’s one of those generational things I was speaking to earlier. My generation of gay men, post Stonewall, came of age when the gay rights movement was taking to the streets, angrily, loudly, renouncing the suit and tie assimilationist tactics of the Mattachine Society. It went from Michael in The Boys In The Band lamenting “If we could just not hate ourselves so much…” practically overnight to No fuckers we aren’t just like you, and we don’t want any part of your straight sexist sex-negative society! Nuance is for reactionaries. 

When I was a teenager, I fell in love, as teenagers will. It was wonderful. I wanted that feeling to last forever. I thought I’d found the person who could make that happen. But it didn’t. So I kept looking. And looking. And looking. And now I’m 64 and single and never had so much as a boyfriend let alone a spouse to have and to hold, and here I am on Thanksgiving day with a group of other mostly lonely old gay men listening to some of them talking about the time when a certain bathroom at the University of Maryland was a hookup spot, and random sex with strangers at this or that gay bar back in the day. There’s a reason I couldn’t contribute to any of those tales, but I’m broken in a different way, so don’t take any of this to mean I think I’m better than they are because I don’t. Oscar Wilde once said that we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. No, we are not all in the gutter. But some of us who are looking at the stars cannot help but notice all that darkness surrounding them. And it is from the darkness we behold the stars. Some of us.


Posted In: Life

by Bruce | Link | React!
October 30th, 2017

Seeing Events Through That Other Planet You Were Raised On

I’ve been pretty open about being raised in a Baptist household. Sometimes I even joke about it. But those are my roots and there are times, like now as I’m reading the story of Kevin Spacey and Anthony Rapp, that I find myself more than a little glad it was what it was when I was a boy, and wishing it left me with better eyes for understanding this world better than it did.

Mom, to her dying day, never once swore in my presence, never drank while I was growing up, and never once touched tobacco, let alone anything else. I remember going to a friends apartment for the first time and seeing his mom walk into the dining room and light up a cigarette and the shock of it, go ahead and laugh, is still something I can recall vividly. I didn’t know moms smoked, and there right in my presence was the living proof that some did. I felt uncomfortable being in his apartment after that. Later in her life, retired, content in her little southern Virginia apartment, surrounded by family and friends, I came to understand that mom would happily have a glass or two of wine every now and then. Amused, I often wondered if she did it knowing full well her mother was rolling in her grave. To her dying day, she never touched a drop of alcohol in front of her son. And even back in the day, those early 70s teenage days of parties with all sorts of things being passed around, I never let myself get drunk or stoned in front of her. At 17 I was beginning to see how lucky I’d had it, even accounting for our low budget lifestyle, and the fact that so many of my grade school teachers just assumed I would be a problem child because I was the Product Of Divorce. Behave in front of your kid, the way you want them to behave in front of others. And she did. Always. 

That upbringing put something into me…not only a sense of how I as an adult needed to behave, but also how adults behave around kids. Not so much out of a cheap sense of propriety and decorum but because one of the line items at the very top of the job description of ADULT is you keep the next generation healthy, safe, and prepared for their own adult lives. And what I’ve learned, from mom, and from walking through my adult life with my eyes wide open, is you do that almost exclusively by becoming the adult you want them to grow up to be. Preach all you want and it just goes in one ear and out the other. But they watch. You live it, and that will take. How much of all the crap we wade through in the news every day lately, is the end effect of adults saying one thing to kids and doing another.

So I’m reading all this about Kevin Spacey and how fourteen year old Anthony Rapp was there at a cast party, watching TV in a bedroom, and Spacey walks in drunk, hits the bathroom then comes out and picks the kid up, plops him down on the bed and lays on top of him. And the kid squirms away, runs into the bathroom, then after a while comes back out and gets the hell out of there. I appreciate that Spacey has apologised and said he was drunk at the time and doesn’t remember it. Spacey needs to appreciate something the ancients knew: in vino veritas.  

As I’ve grown older, and sat down in my share of bars, and downed a good amount of alcohol, I’ve come to find the I Was Drunk defense a bit puzzling…because if alcohol did anything to you it was to pull the curtain aside and let the inner you out. Maybe that was the person you were always hard wired to be. Maybe you let yourself become that person. But…whatever…in vino veritas. It wasn’t the drink. It was you. Spacey needs to ask himself how he became someone, some Adult, who could do those things, and especially to a kid at the age where sexual urges are just beginning to emerge.

Starting with…how could you just walk stinking drunk into a room with a teenager in it and not be deeply embarrassed? How do you even get that drunk at a party where there are kids. I’m sure a cast party can involve a lot of uncorking and letting go of stress and that’s fine. But that obligation to set an example never goes away just because it is inconvenient. Welcome to Adulthood! Arrange some adults-only get together for later, celebrate with the kids in the cast now, make it a memorable experience for them, send them off with visions of the future…and then retire to the grownup club and get it all off your chest There

If it seems like I’m fixating on the drunkenness over the sexual abuse it’s because it’s one of those telling little details that, at least for me, snaps the rest of the picture into place. He didn’t care there was a kid in front of him…and all the tomorrows that will ever be so long as there are kids to behold them. The way we treat children is our verdict on the human race. And…ourselves. As nice as it would have been to just let go and drink himself into John Barleycorn bliss at that cast party the instant Spacey walked into it and saw kids there he needed to be an adult and he couldn’t be bothered. There’s the problem. The rest of it was all of a piece.

But then, I grew up on another planet…


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Seeing Events Through That Other Planet You Were Raised On
October 27th, 2017

Dreams Stitching Together Random Parts Of Your Life

I was having an odd dream about Woodward, my old high school, last night. I was in a Greenbelt hotel staging myself close to Goddard Space Flight Center because I had to be there bright eyed and bushy tailed first thing the following morning to get my fingers printed for a security clearance level change. The significance of that being that I wasn’t in my usual bed in my little Baltimore rowhouse, and that not being where my sleeping body expects to be often provokes strange, vivid dreams.

I actually have pretty regular dreams about Woodward and they’re always pleasant, as opposed to the dreams about my Jr High Schools. But even the high school dreams can drift into strange territory, particularly if I’m dreaming that I’m a teenager again. That strangeness will manifest itself in how images of the life I have now as an adult merge…weirdly…with memories of the past. For example: bits a pieces of the neighborhood I’m living in now, or places I’ve visited since high school, showing up in the neighborhood around the school. At this stage of my life I often have dreams where I’m back at the apartment complex I lived in during high school, but it has bits and pieces of every other apartment complex I’ve ever lived in added to it. While you’re in the dream this does not seem strange, but then you wake up and it’s a bit mind bending. 

Last night was like that. I was wandering around the hallways, and it seemed as if Woodward was being emptied of everything inside of it. But it was also full of elementary school kids and their teachers who seemed to be having some sort of community event in the old school building. It made me sad to see almost all the furniture gone, as if the building was about to be torn down, which was very odd in retrospect because news from Rockville lately is they want/need to expand Woodward, not close it, because of enrollment figures that the larger school down the street, Walt Whitman can’t handle. Further adding to the effect was the floor tiles seemed to have been taken up and I was walking over old wooden planks. The dream was so vivid I could feel the old wooden plank creaking a bit under my feet as I stepped on them.

Okay…I know where that one came from. I moved out of a storage unit I’d rented for the summer and that building, cobbled together from one very old city warehouse and a newer more modern building attached to it, had those exact same old wooden floors.This is how my vivid dreams weirdly mix and match details from out of my memories. So Woodward got the floors from my storage room. The part about how it was full of kids and teachers celebrating something I’m still thinking over. There were also all kinds of artwork on the walls of the sort you see in elementary school hallways…paintings paper mache art, paper collages. It was all bright and cheerful but set against a dark background of a place I dearly loved being vacated.

In my dream I wandered about the hallways, slightly afraid that one of the adults there would challenge my presence. What are you doing here? Whenever I passed someone in the hall I just acted like I belonged there, that I had some purpose I was attending to, and nobody bothered me. Eventually I passed a classroom where a certain someone used to sit at the end of a day, during the tail end of my junior year. If I passed by and he was still there I’d peek apprehensively in as I walked by. If you’ve ever watched that wonderful little animated short In A Heartbeat…I was Sherwin…

 

…beguiled, utterly clueless, unsure and more than a little afraid to acknowledge what I was feeling then…only that the sight of him made me smile, made the sun shine brighter, made the stresses of my day rest lighter on me…

Now the classroom was mostly empty. I walked in to stand where the desk he sat at was. Inside were a few objects of the kind you get at the very end of moving out…little odds and ends that for one reason or another didn’t make it into a box or the moving van until the very end. The last remnants of what was once there. If the heart is a house… A few small boxes sat in corner, next to a board leaning up against a wall that might have been part of a bookshelf. I wanted to see what he saw out the window while he sat there…for some reason in the dream that seemed important. So I looked and what I saw was a stunning view of one of the tall narrow rock walls in Arches National Park…I’d once hiked to a spot where they were visible…again, something out of my past. But it wasn’t in Arches, it was here just outside of Woodward, and surrounded by a lush forest around its base and flowering bushes. The sun was low on the horizon hitting it, casting it in a lovely reddish glow.

My jaw dropped. It was stunningly beautiful. And…because in dreams your mind isn’t quite all there…I thought to myself, Is that Sugarloaf Mountain? No…can’t be…that’s all the way out in Comus…

…and then I woke up, and I was in Greenbelt, and it was nearly morning and I had to go get my fingers printed…


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Dreams Stitching Together Random Parts Of Your Life
October 9th, 2017

The Power Of Stories

I posted a short cartoon below about how it was being a gay teenager growing up in the late 60s to early 70s. How, no matter which direction you turned, the message was you don’t exist, or if you did, you should not. At best you were invisible…something not spoken of in polite company. At worst…well…you probably don’t want to hear it here.

Now at least we are visable. We can’t be arrested simply for being visible. Before Stonewall that was a fact of life. The riot happened you may recall, when the police came to raid one of our few bars in New York City. Now we can live our lives openly. Now we can tell our stories in our own words. And now we are, tentatively, becoming part of the audience. Stories are being told, not just about us, but To us.

That’s a problem for some people, who would rather the old rules still applied…

“Black”, “Homo” And “Freaking Females”: Heated Scenes As Retailers Turn On Each Other At Marvel NYCC Q&A

This was about the recent trend in comics to include, or even reimagine characters as women, black and gay. A recent storyline in the X-Men series had younger versions of the team being transported in time to meet their adult selves. One of them, Bobby Drake aka Iceman, is forced to come to terms with his sexual orientation that his adult self relentlessly denied. It made for some amazing and heartfelt drama, of the sort you didn’t use to see in the comics, especially of the super hero kind, and yet which you could have only have found within that genre…

Marvel Comics – Uncanny X-Men #60

This was just amazing, absolutely amazing storytelling. It took the gay generation gap and played it at an angle only this, or a science fiction tale could do, and in doing it made plain the horrible burden the older generation lived under due to the prejudices of their day. What do you do when the kid you once were, comes face to face with you and asks why he should have to live his life in the closet? It’s one thing to tell how it was to the new generation that doesn’t have to live it the way you did, doesn’t have to make the bargains with hate that you did. They need to know this history, if only to keep their watch against it all coming back. But how do you justify it to the kid you once were? What do you say to him?

This is what those retailers, and the readers they speak for, were protesting. And what you reliably hear is something along the lines of hey I don’t have anything against the gays, I just don’t want it shoved in my face. ‘It’ being the fact of our existence. Yes, you don’t have anything against the gays…so long as you don’t have to know we’re there among you. But it’s more than that.

Stories have power. Stories are how we pass down knowledge of what it is to be human. How are we supposed to grow and mature and live our lives as fully realized human beings if we are not allowed to know the stories of the lives of others like us. How are we supposed to grow as decent people if we cannot hear the stories of others who are not like us. How do we see the common human heart we all share. The myths, the legends. The hero’s journey.

The answer of course, is we’re not supposed to grow at all. Black…homo…freaking females. We have to stay where we’re told. In our place.

Marvel Comics – All-New X-Men #17

No we don’t…

 


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Power Of Stories

I Don’t Want To Hate The World…I Really Don’t….

Facebook helpfully sends you these little notices to look back on your Facebook past. You click on the link and get a feed of every post you’ve made on that particular day, going back through the years. Often it’s fun and enlightening. Sometimes it reminds you of things you’d rather forget. Like the day the best cat to ever come into my life got run over by a car in front of my house.

Today it was this, from October 9, 2011…

Of all the life experiences I’ve had that I could absolutely have done without, getting lectured by a guy I loved very much and thought of very fondly for 40 years about how I need to look elsewhere because life in the closet has damaged him too much is probably right at the top of that list.

When I told you that it was falling in love with you when we were both young that freed me forever from any possibility of living in the closet, I thought you’d feel proud. But I was twisting the knife in your heart wasn’t I?

I don’t want to hate the world. I really don’t. But some days I really do.

Further down in Facebook memory lane, there was this on October 9, 2008…

[Bruce Garrett] …is still reeling from a conversation he had yesterday with his first crush…

That would have been the “It’ll happen…things are better than you know…” conversation. Wow…full circle, almost, on October 9.

Here on the blog, but not Facebook, on October 6 2006 it was this

So for years now…34 years to be exact…I’ve been throwing these little messages in a bottle out into the world, where, hopefully, they would eventually find there way to a certain someone.  So what happened between us back when we were both teenagers is pretty central to who I am today.  So I finally got a reply.  After 34 years of searching for him I finally found him.  So we talked.  For just over an hour we talked.  You have to expect that 34 years is a lot of time for things to happen.  And things did happen.  Many things he told me about.  And many things I can only guess at from what he would only allude to.  He sounds just like he always did.  It was like picking up the phone and talking to him back in 1972.  It was eerie.  It was wonderful.  It was thrilling.  It was disturbing.  He’s the same guy he was back then.  And he’s different.  And things have happened in 34 years.  Many things. 

And I feel like…a gently whirling dust devil just suddenly smacked into me and threw parts of me that no one has ever touched or disturbed in 34 years reeling into the air, scattered across the sky, and now I’m just standing here becalmed, watching it all lazily settle back down, and I know it will still be me when it does, but different, and I don’t know what will happen next because those parts of me ran so old and so deep and so still…

It’s all there, gathered by these quick little online notes across the years of October.  It was December of 1971 he first put his arm around me and my heart shot into the stratosphere and later that evening, that I was able to finally come out to myself because of it. It was March of 2016 we spoke our final, angry words at each other. 

Life goes on…you take your hits and you get back up, dust yourself off, move on and get back to work. Because there is no growing up, there is only growing. And the opposite of that is dying. And dying isn’t something you want to waste your life doing. Yeah it hurts. Sometimes it hurts like a sonofabitch. You can let it beat you down, or you can take it as proof that you’re still alive, still growing, still moving forward. Eventually you get use to it. Eventually you move beyond it. Eventually.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Don’t Want To Hate The World…I Really Don’t….

The Rain, The Park, And Other Kids…

Posted to Misc Cartoons.  What it’s like growing up in a world where you don’t exist…

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
September 18th, 2017

The Soul Eaters

This came across my newsfeed today…

Mormon apostle’s gay brother shares his religious journey, preaches love for his former partner, faith and family

This story is almost unbearably sad. And…angering. 

I am now a sixty-four year old gay man who has had to try and find love in a world where my hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams of thousands like me are turned into other people’s stepping stones to heaven. I’ve written about it extensively. And these stories never get any easier to bear to read.

The choice for gay Mormons themselves, however, is more stark and inescapably painful: Either pursue an intimate same-sex relationship and possibly be cast out of the church or live as a celibate within it.

Christofferson tried both, but ultimately made an agonizing decision. He picked the church.

…and basically left the man who loved him. First story like this I read ages ago ended with the slow decline into drugs and depression of the one left behind, ending with their suicide and some very bitter regrets by the one who walked away because their religion told them to. Or more specifically the heterosexual gatekeepers of religion.

Dig this…

Still, the ever-optimistic Mormon hoped he and his partner could continue their “emotional relationship,” after giving up a physical one.

It proved impossible.

No shit Sherlock. The physical and the emotional are of a piece, a single seamless weave, or it isn’t that kind of relationship. And it’s hard for two people to share a house together that one burned halfway down. Oh look…the other half is still there…what’s your problem?? He told man he had loved that their every intimate moment was something he was now ashamed of, and seems to not understand what that did to him in that very deep place only the lover shares. 

I know that feeling. The hurt never goes away, nor with it, the deeper feelings of rejection, inadequacy, of insufficiency, of unworthiness for love. It’s excruciatingly hard to pick yourself back up again, and try again to find love. I know from hearing it often how this is so for broken hearted heterosexuals. We gay folk live in a world that keeps telling us from all directions that this is but our lot in life. We are damaged goods, not to expect much by maybe pity…from those who put the burden of their prejudices onto us. But of course, as they keep reminding us, it’s all done out of love. Love!

I have to, when I read these, put aside my feelings about the one that was left behind, and try, try very hard, to recognise that they’re both victims in this despicable endeavor powerful men engage in where the dashed hopes and dreams of some people, gay and lesbian people, are made into charms for church bracelets, proofs of devotion. The more gay hearts you break, the closer you get to sit to the throne of Christ.

“This is a story of love for him and his partner and love between those two men, whom I respect and understand,” the former stake president says now. “But it’s also about hard choices.”

Hahahahahaha… Don’t let it break your heart Mr. Former Stake President. The gay man chose you over the one that actually loved him, so you got another stepping stone to godhood out of it.

Two hearts were broken here, and every time a gay person is taught to fear wholehearted love and desire more than the approval of the men behind the pulpit. The one who walked away from love, and the one who was left behind. And this poor world loses something irreplaceable, and becomes a little more lost and lonely, a little more fearful, a little more angry.

Which suits the eaters of souls just fine. 


Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Soul Eaters

Sorry…

Did I say I had an eclipse story to tell…and that it was coming soon.  Erm…yes. Sorry. It’s something I’m still turning over in my head. In the meantime I have something to get off my chest…next post.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sorry…
August 24th, 2017

Eclipse Story Coming Soon…

I drove to Topeka Kansas to visit a friend and see the eclipse. I have a great story to tell about all that, but I seem to have brought back home with me a nasty flu and at the moment it’s about all I can do to post this short note and tell them at work that I’m taking a sick day.

So…more later…stay tuned…


Posted In: Life

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Eclipse Story Coming Soon…
August 8th, 2017

The Inclusion Non Paradox

Google fires employee who wrote memo against workplace diversity, citing biological differences between men and women as the reason women cannot be engineers.

Predictably the howling begins from the right that liberals are intolerant, thereby providing yet another opportunity (as if we needed yet another one) to ponder the Barber Paradox. Or: how to redefine a thing in such a way as to make the thing you’re redefining impossible to exist.

Tolerance is not indifference. Inclusion is not indifference. Freedom of speech is not indifference.
 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Inclusion Non Paradox
August 4th, 2017

That Empty Place Where A Heartbeat Should Be But Isn’t

I came out to myself in December of 1971. I’ve been in this struggle ever since. When I got my first dial up Internet account in the early 1990s, I discovered Usenet newsgroups and for almost a decade engaged a spectrum of homophobic bigots and just very confused individuals on topics of gay people and our place in this world. There are very predictable patterns that keep emerging, certain expressions, mindsets, tautologies, circumlocutions that you just come to expect to see when some event, some pop culture thing suddenly takes hold, and gay people are seen for a brief moment as fully realized human beings complete with recognizable human emotions and motivations. For a brief moment the gutter seems a bit stunned and speechless.

But not for long. And then the usual tropes, the usual slogans, usual bile comes pouring out. And in the bedrock there is always this one, absolutely unmovable conviction, that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.

My new exhibit ‘A’ is In A Heartbeat. For most of the week since its Monday general release on Vimeo and YouTube the gutter was amazingly silent. I say amazingly because the howls of outrage usually come pretty fast and furious whenever something positive about gay people takes hold in the pop culture. But for almost the entire week the gutter was mostly silent. But it’s finding its voice now. Just this morning an article on the film from the Facebook page of People Magazine showed up in my newsfeed. Clicking on the link took you to the Facebook post complete with all the comments on it. I’d been expecting this sort of thing ever since Monday…

 

people magazine IAH comments-6

people magazine IAH comments-7

Produce a sweet little film about that first romantic crush, something that would provoke a torrent of how sweets how cutes how adorables if it was an opposite sex couple, but make it about a same sex couple, and the criticisms immediately fixate on sex, and a floodgate of sewage straight from the human gutter opens up.

Why are you introducing sex into a children’s cartoon? Why are you pushing sex on children? Stop trying to sexualize our children! The only thing about this routine that I’ve seen change over the decades, is nowadays it’s occasionally bundled with a Some Of My Best Friends Are disclaimer. We really have nothing against gays we just don’t want them flaunting it in front of the children. ‘It’ being sex.

What…you say there wasn’t any sex in that film? Yes there was. It was about gays, so it was about sex.

That’s the mindset. They can’t or won’t see the people for the homosexuals. And there’s a word for someone like that. Bigot. It’s not an ad hominem, it’s not an insult hurled at people for disagreeing, it’s a good old fashion English word and it means something. And a bigot’s mind is like an eye: the more light you shine on it, the tighter it closes. This sweet little film shines a light on gay hearts. Now see the eyes close tightly…tightly…more tightly…

So much, so obvious. But I’m not sharing this so you can go read the comments and stare into Nietzsche’s abyss. There’s actually some lovely sunlight in there. Because not everyone is a bigot, this sweet little film is getting all the how sweets how cutes how adorables from a lot of heterosexuals, many of whom are just now encountering that immovable denial of the humanity of gay people, and more specifically gay kids, for the first time and they are stunned.

I came out to myself in December 1971. I’ve lived under the cold icy gaze of that denial of my humanity ever since. Glad to see some of the rest of you are noticing it now. Oh…And you’re seeing it in people you might have otherwise thought were decent moral human beings too! Surprised? Appalled? Don’t take it too much to heart. If the human race was made of people like that there would be no civilization.

This is actually good. Let the gutter howl at this film. This is how things get better.

At the end of The Wonder Years the narrator, little Kevin Arnold all grown up now, says…

“Once upon a time, there was a girl I knew, who lived across the street. Brown hair, brown eyes. When she smiled, I smiled. When she cried, I cried. Every single thing that ever happened to me that mattered, in some way had to do with her. That day, Winnie and I promised each other that no matter what, that we’d always be together. It was a promise full of passion and truth and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that can only come from the hearts of the very young.”

There are people who will never see, no matter how often it gets in front of their noses, that this is something gay kids feel too, for the one that stole their heart. There’s a word for people like that. It isn’t an insult, it’s a description.


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Empty Place Where A Heartbeat Should Be But Isn’t
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