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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…

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

 

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.

 

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.

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!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No…The American Dream Will Not Go Silently Into The Night Mr. Bannon…
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.

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.

 

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…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on We Aim To Please!
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.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 20: Why Do You Ask?
December 27th, 2016

FYI – A Coming Out Story Episode 20 Coming Soon

I’m on holiday vacation for the next couple weeks and I’m using my time at home to work on A Coming Out Story. Hoping to finish up the pencils and inks and scans on Episode 20 by the end of the day today. After that it’s mostly just adding the text and the texturing, getting the HTML pages made and uploading all of it. Probably get it all done by Friday

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on FYI – A Coming Out Story Episode 20 Coming Soon
December 23rd, 2016

Understanding

Brought me to tears, this. Especially since the company that produced this ad, Kodak, has been such a big part of my life and they’re struggling now to hold on in this digital age (note that the filmmaker shot this in 35mm). They could have just kept silent but not only did they not do that, they went far beyond simply making a boilerplate statement of diversity: they showed us all a film about love. And now…when so many people need it so very much.

 

 

I think this may just be the best Christmas present ever. Thank you so much Kodak: from a gay guy who’s been an amateur/sometimes professional photographer since he was a teenager back in the 1960s-70s (who still loves his film cameras very much). I wish I could have grown up in the world your filmmaker shows us here…but I am glad that other gay kids will now…thanks to folks like you.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Understanding
December 15th, 2016

December 15, 1971 – The Moment Everything Changed

December 15, 1971…Sometime around twilight I took a walk from the apartment mom and I shared, up Parklawn Drive to Twinbrook Parkway, then across the railroad tracks and to Rockville Pike. I sat down on a curb near the Radio Shack and watched the twilight deepen over Congressional Plaza. A classmate I was madly crushing on, but could not admit to myself that I was crushing on, had put an arm across my shoulders as we walked together down a school hallway to a side exit where he always parked his little motorcycle, and given me a quick little squeeze, and my head went into the stratosphere and I’d been walking on air ever since. I was watching the colors in the sky deepen, but all I could see was his face, and all I could think about was how it felt to have his arm around me.

Eventually I could think it: I’m in love. And then I could think the rest of it and not be afraid or ashamed, because nothing had ever felt so wonderful. And from that moment on I was never afraid or ashamed. Life was better than I’d ever thought possible. The days after that, winter into spring, then into summer, really were like a Walt Disney movie. The birds really did sing a little more sweetly. The stars really did shine a little more brightly. I walked with a lighter step. Life was wonderful. Everything was wonderful.

Forty-five years ago…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on December 15, 1971 – The Moment Everything Changed
November 28th, 2016

The Man With The Power

Those interesting little intersections between my gay heritage and my science-fiction geek child heritage. On a Facebook page I follow, dedicated to Retro Sci-Fi good stuff, someone posted the trailer to the George Pal film version of Frank M. Robinson’s novel, The Power. I wrote in the comments…

If you haven’t watched this, see if you can find the novel it is based on by Frank M. Robinson and read that first. It pulls a pretty impressive rabbit out of the hat at the end that you don’t see coming and the movie had a hard time giving it the same kind of impact. Pal gave it his best shot but he went for the science-fiction visuals and the book reads more like a dark cinema noir detective story.

I’d bought my copy whilst browsing the paperback shelves on the basis that it had been made into a George Pal movie and I was a fan of his. But it was better I read the book first, because as I say there it really throws you a very clever plot twist at the end that you don’t see coming, but it retrospect it was all there. Robinson played fair. And as I said, it read more like a dark cinema noir detective story than a science fiction thriller about a man with superhuman powers of mind over matter. It’s a good read…I highly recommend it.

While googling more about it I discovered this, from Robinson’s obituary in the New York Times…

Frank M. Robinson, a well-regarded science fiction writer whose credits include a novel adapted for the 1974 blockbuster film “The Towering Inferno,” and who was also a speechwriter and adviser to Harvey Milk, the San Francisco city supervisor assassinated in 1978, died on Monday at his home in San Francisco. He was 87…

He made his name as a writer on the basis of The Power, and got screen co-credit for two Irwin Allen blockbusters and with that money settled in San Francisco where he met Harvey Milk and worked for him as a speechwriter. He had a small role in the movie Milk and its star Sean Penn interviewed him extensively about his memories of Harvey…

Mr. Robinson had little or no dialogue in most of his scenes. But at one point he improvised a line, standing at a window to shout a profane coming-out announcement about his sexuality. “I’ll tell my brothers!” he said. Mr. Van Sant liked the moment well enough to film it a second time.

Mr. Robinson had never told anyone in his family that he was gay, neither his parents nor his four brothers. And though the scene did not end up in the film, saying the words had made him tremble with emotion, he told The Chicago Reader. It had been his coming out.

“I suddenly realized I was saying goodbye to all that baggage.”

Power, power, who had the power…? You did Frank. Well done.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Man With The Power

A Memory of Love And Romance

You reposted one of those Facebook chain post things…this one was where you ask people to post something they remember most about you and then repost it to see what people remember most about them. But I can’t post this to your page because…well…you know. So I’m posting it here. It’s actually something I posted back in the Usenet days, on alt.romance. Some moron wrote in there that gays don’t really love so there couldn’t be any such thing as gay romance, and in a way of fighting back at that crude prejudice I posted this. It’s been a while so I’ve edited it a tad.

It’s as close as I ever came to it, for a while I believed I was living it…finally, so the memory is very heavily tinged with sorrow and regret. But you gave me a chance to revisit it tonight and for that I am grateful….


In the mid-90s I began dating a guy I’d known since we were both boys growing up in a suburb of Washington D.C. He came from a very anti-Gay fundamentalist family and things he’d experienced had wounded him deeply. But he had a kind and gentle heart and he was a survivor. We’d dated briefly some years before but after coming out to his family he felt he had to break it off. I still vividly remember the hurt, but also my determination to let him go his way without playing the angry jilted lover. Whatever else happened between us, I was not going to become another leash on his collar. I loved him, and I wanted him to have at least one person in his life, willing to let him be free. But god it hurt.

Eventually I moved from the Washington D.C. suburbs where we’d both grown up to the Baltimore suburbs where I’d found work as a software engineer. During that time he went to chef’s school and moved shortly afterwards to Hilton Head where he’d done an internship at a big restaurant. He said later he found he liked the island and that it was good to be living at least one day’s drive away from his parents. One day several years after he’d broken off the relationship with me he called me up, and then later that year came up to visit me. Almost at once we began to rekindle the affair where we’d left off. Two weeks later I went down to Hilton Head to visit him.

We’d known for years that we had a lot in common, both in experience and temperament. We grew up Baptists, I in a more traditional Baptist church, and he in a southern Baptist church. Religion permeated our lives while growing up and we had both had our share of family pressures. We knew what it was like to have to fight every second you were around certain family members, to protect our self identities. We knew how rare and how important it was, to have someone in your lives who loved you who trusted you, and could be trusted unconditionally.

We lived in separate professional worlds; he was working as a cook, trying to make his way to chef, and I had stumbled into a career as a software engineer from teaching myself how to build my own personal computers and then teaching myself how to make them do tricks. He was still struggling to earn a living, and I was making a pretty good one. But as we would talk about our professional lives it became clear to us both that our attitudes about work and the art of what we both did, fitting the process cleanly and elegantly to the job at hand and leaving your mark on everything you do by how well you do it, were just about identical. We were birds of a feather.

When I walked into his apartment on that first visit we discovered a common interest in things 30s and 40s. Big band music, old radios and radio shows, deco and such. As it turned out, he had some friends who owned their own bar and restaurant, which they’d fashioned into a WWII Pacific GI hangout. That evening he took me to their place and we had dinner. It was situated near one of the main public entrances to the beach. Just outside the door a speaker played big band music from the times. Stepping inside was like stepping back in time. Behind the bar was a picture of FDR flanked by two 48 star flags, newspapers from the times, and an old refrigerator. Mounted on the wall was an period black bakelite telephone and below it on a stand stood a period radio which was hooked up to a CD player stashed under the counter playing the music I’d heard outside the door.

We had a great time and afterwards we went back to his house and settled in for the evening. As he was flipping channels he found one that was showing Jimmy Stewart in The Glenn Miller Story. He said that was a good one to watch so we settled in and almost instantly discovered another little bit of common ground: we both liked watching movies on TV while sitting on the floor, backs up against the sofa, snacks placed strategically around us.

It turned out to be a tear jerker at the end. I’d forgotten that Miller died in a plane crash before the end of WWII. The film focused on his struggle to make a living as a musician and the deep bond of love between him and his wife. There’s a running gag about the song “little brown jug”, which she loved and he hated, that runs throughout the film and I won’t give away what happens at the end in case anyone here hasn’t seen it, but it had us both crying, and he’d had already seen it several times. Another piece of common ground: we both like tear jerking romances from Hollywood’s golden age. After the film we talked about our favorites. Mine is Casablanca which to my amazement I found out he hadn’t yet seen. I resolved that when I went to visit him again I’d bring down a copy for us to watch together.

It was getting late and instead of turning in we decided to take a walk to the beach knowing there was a good chance at that hour that we’d have it to ourselves. It was the end of December but all we needed were light jackets. Hilton Head is nearly a tropical paradise but tourist season was still a few months away and the streets were nearly empty. We walked past his friend’s restaurant, the speakers mounted outside the door playing the White Cliffs of Dover as we walked from the pavement to the sand. Apt, I thought, since I felt at the time like I was trying to conduct a romance in a war zone. South Carolina isn’t exactly gay friendly territory.

There was no moon, and the beach was almost pitch black. It was low tide, and at low tide the beaches at Hilton Head become huge. There were no clouds in the sky though, and the night was bright with stars. Not as intense as I’ve seen out west, where the sky fairly blazes with them, but it was a denser field of stars then I usually get here in the Baltimore suburbs. To the east a calm sea seemed to stretch forever toward the bright flickering stars on the horizon.

We walked down to the water’s edge, and turned south. At some point I put my hand in his, something we could never have done there in broad daylight, without risking assault, and possibly even arrest. No love story I’ve read so far has quite fully captured the feeling of how that simple, beautiful, elegant gesture of taking your boyfriend’s hand in yours can be both deeply soul satisfying, and fraught with danger.

But on that shore the night not only sheltered us from hostile eyes, it made us a little paradise. There were no tourists. The locals were all home and we were alone. To the many condos crowding the edge of the dunes we would be two vague figures walking along the beach. The air was cool but not cold and a gentle breeze came ashore with the waves breaking one after the other it seemed as if to the beat of our hearts. We walked for a mile or so down the shore, turned, and started walking back, not speaking a single word, rapt in the simple company of one another like two strings spanning a single instrument vibrating in harmony. I am a fast walker and all my life friends have complained at me to slow down a tad when we’re walking together. I have to think to walk at everyone else’s pace and it’s work. That night he and I kept a slow easy pace with each other that just happened like breathing, and in the back of my mind a slow, easy big band song began to play itself over and over as we walked together.

Eventually we approached the public beach entrance again and we stopped not wanting to return to the real world just yet. We stood on the shore and I put my arm around his waist and he put his head on my shoulder and we looked up at the stars. I love star gazing and began pointing out this and that constellation to him. Orion was high in the sky, his sword pointing toward the sea. I was pointing out the three blue giants that made up the belt when a meteor shot across it. He shivered, and I think I did too, and for a while all we did was stand there silently watching the heavens and listening to the waves breaking nearby.

In the parking lot on the other side of the dunes a car radio briefly blared out some loud music and drove away. When it was quiet again I remarked that I’d had a big band tune dancing in my thoughts all that time, and he just nodded his head, “Moonlight serenade…right? Me too.” I like to think that even if it had been broad daylight in that moment I would have still drawn him to me and kissed him.

We stood there in each other’s embrace for the longest time. Eventually we slowly walked back to the public walkway. The little bars and restaurants nearby were all closing and there were people in the parking area. As we walked onto the pavement our hands parted. We were back in the world. Somebody beside one of the parked cars was having a loud argument with his companions about who should drive. He looked drunk and I hoped he didn’t end up winning the argument. In the distance I heard somebody’s car alarm start warbling for a moment. We crossed the parking lot, and walked around the traffic circle to the road leading back to his apartment. On the way we passed his friend’s restaurant. It was closed, but the outdoor radio was still turned on and it was playing Moonlight Serenade.

 

[Update…] Our little fling didn’t last long. It was a long distance relationship when we started it up again, with me in Baltimore and he in Hilton Head, and he eventually dumped me for a guy he’d met on AOL messenger, who I guess he just liked better than me. They’ve been together 17 years now. I was a contract software developer back then and my company had offices close to Hilton Head and I was making plans to move closer to him when I got told. We were chatting on AOL messenger when I asked him straight up if he was seeing someone else and he said finally that he was. So I stayed here in Baltimore and eventually got the job at Space Telescope and a house of my own, which he actually visited once, so I could say it all worked out I suppose. But like that character in Heinlein’s Job – A Comedy of Justice, I’d have washed dishes forever to have had him to come home to. So it didn’t work out, it just happened the way it did.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Memory of Love And Romance
November 10th, 2016

Perhaps, I Have Not Been Making Myself Clear All This Time…

A little something I just posted to my Facebook page…

Odd really, in retrospect, the little things you don’t expect to make you snap until they do and you reach for that UnFriend button. Like that Kermit The Frog drinking tea meme I just saw babbling about how funny it was that all the people who voted against hate were spewing so much of it now.

Fuck that noise. Seriously. Your LGBT neighbors are poised to lose everything we’ve struggled so hard to gain in the past few decades. The right to marry and have our marriages recognized across the country. We may go back to new era of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or worse. A Trump supreme court could overturn Lawrence v. Texas and then we’re all back to being presumptive felons, unable to get security clearances and professional licenses. If you think that’s hyperbole take a fucking look at his transition team. He’s stacking it with the dregs of the anti-gay sewer. I just cancelled a Christmas trip to visit family in California because I am afraid to drive across the country I am seeing now.

Hate? Hate? You think you know what hate is?? I’m laughing in your face. Your LGBT neighbors have lived under a cloud of hate nearly all our lives, only to see the clouds part a bit in the past few years. And now the sky is getting ominously dark again. Thanks to some of you, who for whatever god forsaken reason decided to vote for the pussy grabber. We have lived in a torrent, a blizzard of unrelenting venom. We’re child molesters, walking disease vectors, destroyers of family and civilization, abominations in the eyes of god, walking signposts of the end of the world, bringers of doom to nations. Multi million dollar political action groups work 24/7 to generate attack ads that incite violent religious passions toward us. And It Gets Us Beaten, Bloodied And Killed. Every week…Every Fucking Week…I read about another attack somewhere.

You have no idea, not clue one, how hard some of us have struggled all our lives not to hate back.

And now, thanks to some of you, we who simply desire mates of our own sex, who have wanted nothing more than that same happily ever after you do, who have watched as our hopes and dreams of love and happiness get ripped out of us so other people could make their stepping stones to heaven out of them, we are seeing it all coming undone, and the darkness coming back down on us. And there was never any reason for any of it. We are not monsters, we are not a cancer on society, we are not sick, we are not degenerates, we are human beings, there is nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. And yet, we keep getting these knives stuck in our hearts. Sometimes, so we are told, with Love. How wonderful it is to be loved.

If my reposts of all the eminently predictable hate incidents suddenly happening, against gay folk, against non-whites, against foreigners and immigrants, look to you like hate and not a warning about what this country is on the verge of becoming if you don’t Wake The Fuck Up then by all means defriend me now before I see one more little thing that makes me snap and I hit the button myself. Save me the trouble. If you can’t grok why I, and so many others are angry and terrified just this moment then you don’t understand my walk at all and we really aren’t friends after all are we. Go away.

I had one life. Once upon a time I fell in love. It was like something out of a Disney movie. No…really. The stars really did shine a little brighter. The birds really did sing a little more sweetly. I really did walk with a lighter step. It was the most wonderful thing in the world. And now some of you have elevated to the highest offices in the land the very same human gutter that took those moments from me and turned them into an empty barren wasteland. And now I’m old and it’s getting toward curtain time for me and it’s over, it’s all over. No chance of it now. None. And now some of you are all like, what…what did we do that was so bad…why are you so mean and hateful??

Go away! Just go away!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Perhaps, I Have Not Been Making Myself Clear All This Time…
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