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March 13th, 2017

Mourn For The Dead. Mourn Also, For The Living…

A survivor recounts…

Why I’ll Mourn Joe Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy Icon

Reparative therapy led me off course for many years, and it deepened my shame rather than alleviating it, but he was not intentionally cruel. I can blame Nicolosi for misdirecting people, but not for mistreating them.

His intention, however, does not excuse the damage reparative therapy has inflicted on so many LGBTQ people. Reparative and conversion therapies have caused gay people to feel fundamentally broken and irrecoverably sinful. This kind of therapy has shattered not only people’s self-worth but their spiritual connection to God. Those whose lost faith might call themselves lucky, for others lost even the will to live. These people took their own lives. And so we must ask ourselves: What good is a therapy that purports to save some lives if it takes others?

So many hearts this man destroyed. So much love that could have been, so many smiles that never were, because this man walked among us. One reason, not the main one but an important one, that I am not a Christian is I know what Jesus of Nazareth would tell me now, that I have to forgive him. And I can’t.

I do not bring forgiveness with me, nor forgetfulness.
The only ones who can forgive are dead;
the living have no right to forget. -Chaim Herzog

Read the whole thing Here

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
March 11th, 2017

Question Death


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | React!
March 10th, 2017

The Soul Died Long Before The Man

‘Ex-Gay Therapy’ Leader Dead at 70

Nicolosi, 70, was a practitioner of conversion or reparative therapy, treatments intended to change a person’s sexual orientation that have been widely denounced by major medical associations—including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association—and banned by legislation in five states…

Death only closes a man’s reputation and determines it as good or bad. -Joseph Addison.

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it. -Mark Twain.

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
February 13th, 2017

The Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown – Spoiler Alert…it didn’t end well…

SPOILER ALERT!  That comic story I’ve been telling for the past decade or so…it didn’t end well.

You know how the game is played in grade school…right?  First base, second base, et al. These days I think of it more along the lines of Kurt Vonnegut’s three strike rule. Well…he didn’t exactly call them strikes. What he said according to his daughter was…

“I think you’re allowed to be in love three times in your life.” 

I’ve had my three strikes. Strike three was the boy I met in church. Strike two was when a very pleasant mutual closeness with a straight friend dropped me into a pit lots of gay kids probably find themselves in when they start crushing on a close but thoroughly straight friend. Decades later I’m still not ready to look back on that time.

Strike one was the boy I met in school…that other place which in a better world I might have hoped to find that magical first crush and first date and…dare I imagine it…going to the prom together and all that magical Disney-esq stuff boy and girl couples get promised as a part of growing up. He’s the Tyler (TK) Anderson in A Coming Out Story and no, that’s not his real name. I’ve changed all the names in that cartoon, in part because I don’t want to tell other people’s stories for them, but mostly because the story isn’t about him and it’s only tangentially about me: it’s about growing up gay in 1971-72 America, and what that did to a lot of us and why grownups need to give gay kids a break. I’m telling it with a sense of humor because I can still manage to look back on all that with a sense of humor, and because even after everything that’s happened to me, or not happened as the case may be, I still feel it deep down inside as a magical Disney-esq period in my life. The stars really did shine a little brighter, the sky was a little more blue, the birds really did sing a little more sweetly, I walked with a lighter step. Life was good…wonderful even. You’re allowed to believe it three times in your life.

My first time began as it had to with a couple gay kids, but with the added layer of us both being somewhat nerdish (me Way more than him). First comes a lot of stunned gawking at each other. Gawking turns to smiles, smiles turn to hellos, hellos become brief chats that turn to longer and longer ones. In our case it was the school library where we often met. Talking shyly turned to touching. First in safe pretense that it was accidental. Then it became a thing. The touch of hand to arm. Then meeting each other at the end of the day and walking together out the school door became a thing. From there we went our separate ways. We lived in different neighborhoods. One day on our walk together he put an arm around my shoulders, gave me a quick little squeeze, and before I could say anything rushed out the door with a see ya later. I swear I lifted off soared into the stratosphere right then. Later that evening I could finally admit to myself that I was in love, and oh by the way, gay.

Things developed from there in that thrilling and terrifying way it was for gay kids in 1972. It’s something I still have to think more about how to talk to in my cartoon. But I’ll give everyone a major spoiler now because, why not: It ended abruptly after I made plans with him to go on a camera hike at Great Falls.

I mean…come on…  I’m old and single and that we didn’t become a Disney happily ever after couple can’t be much of a spoiler. No, it didn’t work out. But happy Disney endings were on short supply for gay kids in 1971-72. In some places here in America they’re still nearly impossible to find. In some places elsewhere you get thrown off a building or honor killed.

I’d talked him into a tentative interest in photography. Looking back on it if I’d had half a brain, which teenagers don’t, I’d have taking an interest in his interests. But he was into things like tennis and skiing and I am not the sporty type. One day he brought one of his father’s nice Leica cameras to school and I told him what I knew of how to use it. We agreed to go on a hike with our cameras the following Saturday along the towpath at Great Falls. I asked for his phone number so I could call to let him know I was coming. Then the plan was we’d take a drive to the Great Falls park and wander the towpath looking for some good shots. This would also allow us to be alone together for a while, and so I was hoping, get a bunch of stuff out in the open between us that by then was getting ridiculous not to openly acknowledge.

You need to understand…this was spring of 1972. The torrent of abuse gay people got from the world around us back then, from Every Direction, is probably hard for some of you to understand today. And what I didn’t appreciate enough was what would happen when his family found out. I…perhaps stupidly…never thought twice about bringing him home to mom because I just knew mom would have loved him. He was bright, hardworking, decent, the kind of guy I might have hoped to meet in church or in school in some other better world. And mom would have loved him too…right up to the point she found out what my interest in him actually was. What I probably didn’t appreciate enough until decades later was how what happened next may have saved me from that major heartbreak way too many gay kids know all too well: what happens when the parents find out.

We’d agreed I would call at 11 on Saturday. So all morning Saturday I was on pins and needles waiting for the appointed time. When the clock struck 11 I jumped on the phone and dialed. I got an answer, but it wasn’t him. It was an older male voice.

“Hello?”

“Yes…is Tyler there”?

“Who’s calling?”

“Bruce”

“Hold on…”

Wait…wait…wait…

Tyler comes on the phone. First words out of his mouth are…and I’m not kidding: “Why are you calling me!?”

His voice was terse, irritated.  For a second I didn’t know what to say.  Like an idiot I began to remind him of our plans for a Saturday morning camera hike.

“I never agreed to that.”  

…but…we agreed…

“I don’t know what you’re talking about”

…but…you said…

“I never said I was going anywhere with you.”  

…but…yes you did…

“I don’t know why you’re calling me.”

That was pretty much how it went.

If I’d had half a brain, which teenagers don’t, I’d have realized something was going on at his end and I just needed to play along…oh sorry…this has all been a terrible mistake, please accept my profuse apologies…  But now in addition to the massive letdown I’m feeling I’m also getting a bit irritated at being called a liar and by him no less. So I stupidly pressed on…yeah we did…we were going to go to Great Falls..

“No…I never said anything of the sort..”

…with our cameras…

“I just don’t know why you’re calling me.”

Finally in desperation I said, “You gave me your phone number!”  

And he says… “Well I didn’t think you’d use it!”

Which must have gone over well with whoever was at his end listening in.

After that, he kept me at arm’s length for the rest of the school year. I figured I would just wait it out, whatever it was, and eventually he’d start talking to me again. But it wasn’t long after that the family moved away, and for the next three decades I wondered what had happened, where he’d gone.

I moved on and yet I didn’t. Isn’t that how it goes? But straight kids had the possibility of getting a little closure afterward. Why did this happen? Why did I get dumped? Father doesn’t like you. Mother says you’re a bad influence. You’re from the wrong neighborhood. You have the wrong religion, color of skin, income level. Gay kids get reminded not just of how much their culture hates them, but also of how badly the need is to erase us from existence. The beloved gets hospitalized and the scared and terrified other gets told they don’t belong there with them and security escorts them out the door, while the family that hates them both is allowed the bedside. The beloved dies and the one left behind is denied a place at the funeral while the family that hates them both changes the locks on the doors to their home and removes their belongings to distribute amongst themselves. You have no rights. It isn’t just you don’t belong here. It’s you do not exist.

I kept searching for him. There were other guys, other attempts at just getting a date, strikes two and three came and went. I never stopped trying but I never stopped searching for him either. At first I just wanted to know what had happened and hoped against hope that we could begin again, and maybe this time it would go better. Then came AIDS. I visited the Names Project quilt the day it was first displayed on the Capital Mall, and for years afterward had nightmares of wandering among the panels and finding the one with his name on it. So I kept searching. I had to know.

I eventually found him. I’ll write about it someday. It’s not a happy Walt Disney ending. Those are for the happiest place on earth. But for your gay neighbors of a certain age, that ending is the rare and wonderful exception. We did not exist back in those days. Thank goodness you’re only allowed to learn that three times in your life. I don’t think I could handle a forth.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown – Spoiler Alert…it didn’t end well…
February 9th, 2017

Yet Another Annual Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…

Hi Kids…why not let’s have another…

Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown!

In just a few days it will be the anniversary of something Jim Burroway first noted on Box Turtle Bulletin some years back, which always adds some…feeling…to my Valentine’s Day thoughts and reminisces…

New York Times Magazine Publishes “What It Means To Be A Homosexual”: 1971. The Harper’s October 1970 cover screed by Joseph Epstein — the one where he called gay people “an affront to our rationality” and were “condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom among men” — generated an outpouring of anger in the gay community, which resulted in a protest inside the offices of Harper’s (see Oct 27). Gay activists demanded another article to give the gay community equal exposure, but the Harper’s refused the request. Its editors also refused to apologize. The outrageous insults in the piece become something of a second, lesser Stonewall in the way it brought out even more gays and lesbians who decided it was time to become more involved publicly.

Among them was Merle Miller, a former editor at Harper’s who was also a novelist and biographer…

You should go read the whole thing…Jim’s “Today In History” posts are worth reading every day. But this one always helps remind me of the times I grew up and passed through adolescence in.

Ah…adolescence… That magical, wonderful time when we are discovering what desire and love are all about and all that icky holding hands and dating stuff the big kids were always going on about was all about. Well it should have been the most magical, wonderful passage in our lives that is…but for some of us, condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom, it was deliberately made into a nightmare so that others could feel appropriately righteous. That was more the fact for others than for me, thankfully, or I might not even be here now to type all this. But the atmosphere of hatred and contempt I grew up within did its job on me too. In 1971, the year before I graduated from high school, the year I experienced my first crush and fell madly in love, Joseph Epstein wrote, “If I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth.” He couldn’t of course, but there was always the next best thing. You could make sure whenever it was in your power to do so, that a gay kid never had that chance to know what it was to love, and be loved wholeheartedly in return.

Without a doubt Epstein did just that whenever he got the chance.  His howl against the homosexual in that Harper’s article almost certainly became a dagger in the the hopes and dreams of young gay men and women back then, reassuring parents, teachers, clergy that it was no sin to put a knife in the hearts of teenagers in love, that if they were condemned to live their one life in loneliness and heartache that was merely the Curse Of Homosexuality, not their own bar stool arrogance and cheapshit prejudices that did it to them.  Bobby and Johnny are getting just a little too friendly aren’t they…let’s pack them off to the psychiatrist quickly now…or to some nice church camp somewhere far away, where they can pray their unspeakable sin away…

Ah…Valentine’s Day…when all the lonely hearts ponder writing new songs about the one that did them wrong.  I have a different thing in mind.  How about stories of that which might have been, but for the cheapshit prejudices of the world we were thrown into. 

I have a few stories of my own to tell.  Pull up a chair.  Sit a spell.  Love is in the air.  Let me pour you a drink.  There is a box of Valentine’s Day candy over there on the table, pieces like the moon rattling hollowly inside…angry, angry candy…


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Yet Another Annual Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…
February 8th, 2017

Valentine’s Day – All In All It’s Just Another Heart In The Wall…

If I were ever to write a book about my love life, reaching from that first teenage crush to tired old man despair, I’d be tempted to titled it A Series of Unfortunate Events, but Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) has taken that one.

I’m on Facebook (aren’t we all!) and recently a certain postcard company has been tormenting me with advertisements for this…

Lovers-in-a-dogwood-tree

You have to appreciate how something like this hits me. Or maybe you can’t because you had the love life, or at least a memory of having had one, that I don’t and never will. But I am nothing but not resilient (otherwise I’d probably be dead by now). I buy myself birthday cakes…why not valentine’s day cards and flowers too!  So yesterday I went onto their web site to order up one for myself.

They were sold out.

And a more perfect celebration of Valentine’s day for Bruce I cannot even imagine. So this year I won’t be doing the Valentine’s Day Poster Contest again. I’m over it. I’ve moved on…

 

But I’ll be reposting the stories I’ve told previously on the lead up to previous Valentine’s Days, and maybe add one or two more, and not just because it gets it out of my system in the least self destructive way.

Maybe someday, maybe, give it some thought anyway, Valentine’s day will be a time when we all try to help the lonely find their other half, instead of merely congratulating ourselves for finding ours. How better to celebrate the joy of loving, and being loved, than by dedicating ourselves toward bringing more of that into this poor lonely angry world?

Well…there’s always postcards.

 

another-heart-in-the-wall-4

 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Valentine’s Day – All In All It’s Just Another Heart In The Wall…
February 5th, 2017

A Coming Out Story – The Zen of Tacos

…in which our hero discovers that knowledge isn’t necessarily power.

acos_22-sm

A Coming Out Story, Episode 22…Here.

 


Posted In: Art Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – The Zen of Tacos
February 4th, 2017

A Coming Out Story – Episode 21: The Pause That Distresses

In which our hero learns that fast food can be bad for the heart…

acos21-sm

A Coming Out Story…Episode 21…is Here.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 21: The Pause That Distresses
February 1st, 2017

No…The American Dream Will Not Go Silently Into The Night Mr. Bannon…

…it is bigger, richer, more urgently felt than you could ever know…

 

One thing I love about this ad is the open acknowledgement of how immigrants were treated even back then. It’s so refreshingly honest about our history compared to the rainbows and unicorns version I got back in early grade school. We were so proud of our little melting pot back then…back when we were competing with the Soviet Union for the hearts and minds of the rest of the world. Not so much anymore.

If a certain German someone and I were still on emailing terms I would have loved to share this with him. But now I’m not even sure he’d appreciate the sentiment in it. It’s one thing to be determined to follow your dreams. It’s another to be determined not to have any. But some of us still believe in our dreams…rough hewn and broken though they may be… Here’s to you Herr Busch. Here’s to you Herr Anheuser. Prost!


Posted In: Life Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No…The American Dream Will Not Go Silently Into The Night Mr. Bannon…
January 30th, 2017

Trust Us, This Doesn’t End Well

There was a joke I saw making the rounds just after the election…In the U.S. you call it the Alt-Right, in Germany we call it why grandpa lives in Argentina.

It’s stunning to me how, every German I know, and every born American of German descent with family living in Germany, all of them are so emphatically warning everyone about what is happening now…

Do we have to learn the hard way too? I guess we’ll see…


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trust Us, This Doesn’t End Well
January 29th, 2017

Heaven Is…

I keep wanting to do a riff on those drawings that say “Heaven is where every (Dog/Cat/Pet) you ever loved comes to greet you”. But mine will say Heaven is where every car you ever loved lets you drive it again. And sign it with a nod to Seanan McGuire.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Heaven Is…
January 20th, 2017

Oh Say, Can You See…?

A friend on Facebook who shared this said it felt like the funeral procession for our country. It’s the slower tempo they’re singing it at that gives it a more somber tone. But a more beautiful rendition of the national anthem I have never heard and I refuse to hear it as the closing number on the American experiment in democracy.

No. I hear it in the way I used to listen to the old Baptist hymns in the pews when I was a kid. This is the national anthem as a spiritual, and the faithful are not beaten down or cowed by the ruthlessness of predators. The heart is stronger than the fist. America isn’t a place on a map, it’s a dream of liberty and justice for all, and we Americans are the people of the dream, wherever we happen to live.

 


Posted In: Gently Tapping My Pulpit Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Oh Say, Can You See…?
January 19th, 2017

We Aim To Please!

It’s winter here in Charm City, and certain establishments have enacted winter dress codes. I just saw this notice posted at a local convenience store…

No hoodies.
No face masks.
We have heat inside.

A more deft double entendre I have never seen…


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on We Aim To Please!
January 16th, 2017

They Still Hate Him

…even some of us white Americans. This came up in my news feed this morning from the New York Times…

Which Martin Luther King Are We Celebrating Today?

“Every year on the third Monday of January, Americans of all races, backgrounds and ideologies celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is rightly lionized and sanctified by whites as well as blacks, by Republicans as well as Democrats.

“It is easy to forget that, until fairly recently, many white Americans loathed Dr. King…”

Until fairly recently??  On what planet?  But never mind…  I lived through that period. I was an eighth grader when he was murdered. They hated him more than all the others back then. Malcolm X…Stokely Carmichael…Huey Newton… they hated King with a passion totally absent from their fear and loathing of the others. Because King claimed the moral high ground, and spoke from the roots of his religious faith in a completely authentic way that the segregationists could not.

Most of all they hated him for that.

Read this Times opinion piece for its clarity of the history of conservative appropriation and inverting of King’s activism…turning it against the very struggle for civil rights and equal justice that he championed, and eventually gave his life for. In the software trade we have a phrase to describe what the republicans did: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.  


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on They Still Hate Him
December 30th, 2016

A Coming Out Story – Episode 20: Why Do You Ask?

In which our hero tries to figure out football…and himself…

acos-20-sm

A Coming Out Story – Episode 20…

Main Page.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 20: Why Do You Ask?
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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