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Archive for April, 2006

April 29th, 2006

So When’s The Next Coming Out Story Episode…Coming Out…???

I haven’t abandoned my Coming Out Story…honest.  And I’m not going to make excuses here as to why it’s been since last November that I’ve posted an episode.  But I’ve got the pencils at least finished on the next one just now.  I think maybe another week on the inks.  This next episode is 17 panels long, and it’s about why my friends back then used to worry about me. Since I started this thing as a web comic, I’ve been determined to make the most of the freedom the web allows me.  Some episodes are kinda short, and some are pretty long.  Well…I let myself get bogged down on a long one and I shouldn’t have. 

I really want to get more episodes done and up, in part because I’m still a ways from introducing my two favorite characters in the series…

The one with the white shirt, tie and pocket protector (and jeans and sneakers) is my right brain.  The one with the peace symbol, beads, tie-dye shirt and bells is my left brain.  They actually have more on-screen time in this story then my libido, but they won’t get introduced for another…uhm…four episodes yet.  

I was also thinking this morning, about putting a couple of Mark and Josh mugs up on that Cafepress thing for sale.  I have a vague idea about the design.  And maybe some Busy Gay Mafia mugs…since that seems to be one of my more popular cartoons.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on So When’s The Next Coming Out Story Episode…Coming Out…???

April 28th, 2006

STFU…That Would Be, Like, Step Two…

The Decider-In-Chief was asked a question today in a brief Rose Garden press conference, about whether FEMA was prepaired for the upcoming hurricane season

"It’s going to be interesting — let’s pray — first of all, pray there’s no hurricanes. That would be, like, step one."

"May you live in interesting times" –Old Chinese curse

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on STFU…That Would Be, Like, Step Two…


Bin Laden Demands Cartoonists

Something I hadn’t heard about the recent Bin Laden rant, is that he wants the Danish cartoonists who drew Mohammad extradited…to al Qaeda.  For a fair trial of course…

Al Qaeda’s leader focused much of his almost 52-minute message on what he continually referred to as "a Zionist-crusader war on Islam," which he said was shown most explicitly by the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

Muslims consider it sacrilegious to produce a likeness of Mohammad, and the cartoons sparked violent protests throughout the Muslim world.

He said the cartoon controversy was "too serious for an apology" and was the most serious aspect of the alleged war against Islam.

Now, in a babbling rant that touched on "…what he called the slaughter of Muslims in places such as Palestine, Bosnia, Kashmir and Chechnya", you’d think he’d rank that slaughter at least a tad higher then twelve cartoons of Mohammed.  But…no.  In the screaming mental chaos of the religious fanatic, bloodshed isn’t nearly as offensive as defiance.

He called for the extradition of those responsible for drawing and publishing the cartoons to be tried by al Qaeda, just as he said the United States and United Nations had demanded he be turned over after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"We demand that their governments hand them over to us to be judged by the law of Allah," he said.

"This request is from the category of treating in kind, and we say to you, if you have not forgotten, let us remind you that when you announced Osama bin Laden was accused of striking at American interests, you issued a [U.N.] Security Council resolution which was passed unanimously declaring the extradition of Osama was mandatory despite no evidence being provided," bin Laden said.

Al Qaeda has previously claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.

In kind.  In kind.  He really thinks that drawing cartoons of Mohammed is worse then killing Muslims.  Perhaps he’d like a few more then.  I’d certainly rather draw cartoons then kill anyone.

Damn…I’m going to be so happy when we finally have a president who wants to go after that bastard.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Bin Laden Demands Cartoonists

April 27th, 2006

Say…How About A Little Truth?

Yesterday was the Day of Silence, a day when students all over the country refused to speak, in silent solidarity with those whose voices have been silenced by hatred and bigotry.  Sounds just like one of those foofoo liberal protest kinda things that the bleeding hearts are always doing…right…?  I mean…what the hell is that all about anyway…who needs it…why can’t they just stop waving it in our faces…?

Three-quarters of students surveyed across America said that over the past year they heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of ten  reported hearing "that’s so gay" or "you’re so gay" – meaning stupid or worthless – frequently or often.

Over a third of students said they experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter on the basis of their gender expression. 

Nearly one-in-five students reported they had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth  because of their gender expression.

Today the other side gets its shot.  They’re calling it, without any apparent irony, the Day Of Truth.  And if you’re wondering when truth ever even remotely mattered to a group of people who wave Paul Cameron’s lies about homosexuals around like a goddamn bible, then you’re probably a filthy heathen.

Via Ex-Gay Watch, here’s what Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund, which fights anti-bullying measures in public schools with the ferocity of…well…a bunch of bullies, has to say about it:

“Day of Truth” participants will hand out cards of their own, offering to share a candid, loving, fact-based counterpoint to the unspoken assertions of the advocates for homosexual behavior. While making their case from a Christian perspective, the “Day of Truth”ers will confront with compassion — not condemnation — and restrict their discussions to the periods before, after and between classes.

Loving.  Compassion.  Not Condemnation.  How about a little truth in this Day Of Truth?  In April 2004, while other students at Poway High School in northern San Diego County were observing the Day Of Silence, student Tyler Harper put masking tape all over the shirt he was wearing, and wrote messages on it specifically to let the gay students at Poway High School know his contempt for them, and for those who thought their lives, and their right to a decent education, were worth defending:

 

A candid, loving, fact-based counterpoint….confronting with compassion, not condemnation…  If you’d think the Alliance would object to this sort of thing…well…think again.  The school ordered Harper to take it off.  Harper, with the help of Alan Sears and his Alliance Defense Fund, sued the school.  They lost:

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that a T-shirt that proclaimed "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned" on the front and "Homosexuality Is Shameful" on the back was "injurious to gay and lesbian students and interfered with their right to learn." The court said that the shirt can be barred on a public high school campus without violating the 1st Amendment.

"We conclude that" Poway High School student Tyler Harper’s wearing of his T-shirt " ‘collides with the rights of other students’ in the most fundamental way," wrote 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt, quoting a passage from Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision on the free speech rights of students.

"Public school students who may be injured by verbal assaults on the basis of a core identifying characteristic such as race, religion, or sexual orientation have a right to be free from such attacks while on school campuses. As Tinker clearly states, students have the right to ‘be secure and to be let alone,’ " Reinhardt said.

It seems so simple.  All American kids have a right to an education, that’s what the public schools are for.  They’re there for the fundamentalist kids, and the heathens alike, but they’re there for everyone.   While you’re in school, you have to respect each other.  That means the other kids can’t harass you, and you can’t harass the other kids.  It seems so simple.  But it isn’t.  That kind of live and let live agreement is anathema to the religious right.

Had a the school allowed its students to wear t-shirts condemning fundamentalist Christianity as shameful and telling the student body it should be ashamed for tolerating the fundamentalists among them, Alan Sears would be furiously throwing lawsuits around like an antipersonnel mine throwing shrapnel.  But let the school tell fundamentalists kids they can’t to the same thing to their gay and lesbian peers, and Sears sides with the harassing students.  Hypocrisy?  Oh mes non!  Fundamentalists have rights that no one else has…because they’re god’s favorite people.  To claim that the heathens have the same rights they do isn’t merely an attack on their privileged status, it’s literally an attack on God Almighty Himself.  Heathens simply don’t have the same rights god’s people do.  Certainly not the right to be left alone.  Especially not the right to an education.

Or for that matter, the right to even live.  In Iraq and Iran as I write this, gay people are being kidnapped and tortured to death at the behest of the mullahs, whose sense that they are god’s right hand is little different from the theocrats of the religious right here in America.  Exodus’ Randy Thomas takes note of that, and compares it to the persecution Christians face…

If you are Christian in Iran … you get stoned to death.

If you have same sex attraction in Iran … you get stoned to death

If you are a Christian who struggles with same sex attraction in Iran … you get the point.

Alas…he doesn’t.

We must keep this in mind for perspective and seek out ways to intercede (prayer and other ways) for our Christian siblings and for those being murdered because of their sexual orientation.

Homophobia is not some off the cuff comment about Tinky Winky.  Homophobia is what you see happening in Iran.  I am grateful for the Dutch government finally giving asylum to those fleeing Iran.  I pray that those who want to find Christ will and those who want to overcome homosexuality will be allowed their right to self-determine that path for their lives as well.

What’s missing from this?  Any hint that homosexuals in Iran have the right to exist just as they are.  Thomas’s prayer is only for those who wish to change.  For the rest, he has no prayers.

Exodus is now taking it’s tacit approval of anti-gay violence to the caribbean, and to Jamaca, where a murderous killing nightmare is taking place.  Wayne Besen writes:

An article in last week’s Time magazine calls Jamaica the "most homophobic place on Earth." It points out that two of the island’s leading gay rights advocates, Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey, were recently ruthlessly slain. If that was not enough, a crowd essentially danced on Williamson’s grave by celebrating over his mutilated body.

In 2004, a father learned his son was gay and went to his school to invite a group of peers to lynch his son. Now that’s family values!

Not too long after this sickening episode, witnesses claim, police egged on a mob that stabbed and stoned a gay man to death in Montego Bay. Earlier this year, a Kingston man, Nokia Cowan, drowned after a crowd shouting "batty boy" (a Jamaican slur for queer) chased him off a dock.

"Jamaica is the worst any of us has ever seen," Rebecca Schleifer of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch explained to Time.

Into this malstrom, comes Exodus, with this message:

Some say decriminalise homosexuality……we say lets offer solutions

Solutions

Brian Williamson's Body Being Taken To The Morgue

That’s what was left of Brian Williamson after the mobs got through with him.  Another human life lost to hate.  Another voice forever silenced.  Truth.  But for Exodus, PFOX and the Alliance Defense Fund to come out strongly against anti-gay violence would be to completely contradict their own message, which is that homosexuals can leave behind all the harmful effects of the gay lifestyle any time they want to.  Change is possible.  Or, to put it another way, whatever happens to homosexuals is their own fault. 

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. -Leviticus 20:13

There is the ex-gay message.  Not Change Is Possible, but Their Blood Shall Be Upon Them.  Brian Williamson.  Nicolas West.  Billy Jack Gaither.  Gwen Araujo.  Matthew Shepard.  Barry Winchell.  Allen Schindler.  Seventeen year old Kristofer Guy King, who was killed when a neo nazi with a knife broke into the trailer he was sleeping in, looking for his eighteen year old gay friend.  This is what happened to his friend’s mom, Patricia Wells:

Truth.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Say…How About A Little Truth?

April 26th, 2006

Day Of Silence
Why…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Day Of Silence

April 25th, 2006

Must…Not…Put…Brick…Through TV…

Am I the only one getting sick and tired of hearing about Tom Cruse’s new baby?  Seems like every frickin channel is all Tom Cruse, all the time.  Well…except for the Law and Order channel…

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

April 24th, 2006

Celebrate Diversity

On April 11, Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher removed protections against job discrimination from gay and lesbian state employees. To add insult to injury, he did it on the same day he declared "Diversity Day".

 

More on the cartoon page

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Celebrate Diversity


Shallow Understanding

Shallow understanding from people of good will, is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Jason Johnson, the gay college student expelled from The University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky, has been allowed to return to class and finish the school year, under an agreement hammered out by his, and the school’s lawyers.  I’m actually surprised.  I’d thought the school would dig in its theological heels and insist on its absolute right to remove filthy sodomites from its sacred grounds.  In exchange Jason agrees not to sue the school, but I’m puzzled as to how much leverage the threat of a lawsuit against a Southern Baptist school in the Bible Belt could have been.  In any case, they’re not going to lie on his transcripts that he failed the semester anymore.  Whether or not they treat him fairly in the classroom remains to be seen.

From the Lexington Herald-Leader comes this column from Paul Prather.  I wish I could like it…he says a few things I completely agree with…

• I believe private religious schools should have the right to make whatever rules they want (short of mandates to torture or behead heathens), in keeping with the tenets of their faith…

• If you can’t obey a school’s code of conduct, common sense dictates that you might not want to enroll there.

• On the other hand, the same principle holds true for the school itself. If the University of the Cumberlands hopes to earn accreditation from a secular agency, it must be prepared to abide by that group’s secular standards. You can’t have it both ways.

That’s pretty much where I am generally, and I’d go on to add that if you want to discriminate against a portion of the citizenry at minimum you can’t expect them to support you with their tax dollars.  Prather goes on to comment on the hypocrisy of singling out gay students for violations of sexual conduct rules, saying that in his own experience on Christian campuses, the straight kids could be just as sexually active as the kids on the secular campuses, if at least a tad more reserved about expressing it openly.  But then he goes on to assert that Johnson’s problem was that he called attention to himself, and from there his column goes down a familiar path…

Thus, Johnson’s main mistake wasn’t simply being gay. It was calling undue attention to his orientation. Christian colleges might have been the originators of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell philosophy.

It is a fact that Johnson posted pictures of himself and his boyfriend on his MySpace profile, but nowhere have I seen it said that he was being open about his sexual orientation at school.  What I’ve always heard to date is that someone informed on him to the school administration, and they went looking for his MySpace profile and then confronted him with it.  In other words, Johnson didn’t tell the school, the school Asked.  That’s not Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell…that’s stay in the closet if you know what’s good for you.  If heterosexuals understand nothing else about their homosexual neighbors, they need to understand this: Those days are over. 

There are a lot of us, far too many in my opinion, who are still perfectly willing to be closeted on a situational basis, but none of us but the desperate self loathing are willing to live our entire lives inside the closet anymore.  There’s a reason for that, and it’s not turning your back on God or having a lack of moral values or defiant homosexual militancy.  It’s something else, something that the Prather’s of the world just don’t seem to get.  And yet it’s so simple, or would be, if only you can see the people for the homosexuals.  Prather, in trying his best, and I don’t doubt for a minute that he’s actually trying, misses it completely.

If a straight student had, say, posted photos of himself and his girlfriend in flagrante delicto on the Internet, he also would have been expelled.

In flagrante delicto.  It means "Caught in the act."  Johnson didn’t post pictures of him and his boyfriend having sex on his MySpace profile.  But you could tell at a glance those photos were of two teenagers in love.  Look at that for a second.  Prather is using a phrase that generally is taken to mean getting caught having sex (the act) to describe photos of two gay teenagers in love.  And he goes on in that manner for the rest of the column, trying his best to be sensible and compassionate, and failing miserably because he cannot see the people for the homosexuals…

Homosexual activities and extramarital heterosexual sex indeed are contrary to biblical and historical Christian standards. Yet, they’re about equally as errant as pride, gluttony, stinginess, temper tantrums, disrespect for parents and lying.

Homosexual activities.   Homosexual activities.  Homosexual activities.

One question raised by the Johnson case is this: How should Christian groups react to sexual misconduct? All religious organizations are made up of human beings who, in my observation, tend to fail miserably a fair amount of the time.

Sexual misconduct.  Sexual misconduct.  Sexual misconduct. 

Maybe Christian administrators should consider reacting the way Jesus did. I never can think about an incident such as Johnson’s without remembering the time Jesus was confronted with a woman who had been caught "in the very act" of adultery and was about to be stoned for it…

Adultery.   The Very Act.

Jesus said, "Let the one who is himself without sin throw the first rock." That ended the stoning. Then he addressed the woman. "Neither do I condemn you," he said. "Go your way. From now on, sin no more."

What a beautiful response…

Beautiful perhaps, when made to someone who had cheated on their spouse.  But it is unmitigated ugliness to say this to a gay teenager about his first love.  Johnson is not married (never mind for now, that homosexuals can only Be married in one state of the union).  He is not having an affair with another married person.  And considering Johnson’s religiosity, it would not surprise me in the least to hear they aren’t even having sex yet.  We don’t all jump right into the sack on the first date.  So at worst you can only call Johnson’s "sin" fornication, not adultery, and there is no evidence even for that.  But notice the mental leap here, from images of two young men in love, to adultery, and even more grotesquely, to forgiveness for adultery.  No.  From Johnson’s MySpace profile, his sin can only be one thing: being a homosexual in love.  And there’s what’s missing from all of Paul Prather’s compassion and understanding: any sense whatsoever that homosexuals love, and that they are punished simply for being in love.

Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex…  This is the bedrock of anti-gay prejudice, the one irreducible premise through which everything else about homosexuals is understood.  Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. Never mind the raving haters of the world like Fred Phelps…if you want to understand how otherwise decent people can casually rip the lives of their gay and lesbian neighbors apart with no thought or care for the human misery and wreckage they leave behind, there’s why.  They can do it, confidant in the knowledge that our feelings for our mates are shallow imitations of the real feelings heterosexuals feel for theirs.  Heterosexuals feel love and contentment and fulfillment in their spouses, but homosexuals can only feel a pale imitation of that.  "Playing house" as the homophobic science fiction writer Orson Scott Card once put it.  Heterosexuals feel deep and profound grief at the loss of a spouse,  but homosexuals can only try to mimic grief at best.  So we cannot rip apart everything in their lives they ever held dear, because they don’t really hold those things dear…not the way we do.  Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.

It’s how anti gay prejudice becomes it’s own unstoppable machine, grinding up the lives of innocent people while others who fancy themselves decent and compassionate and thoughtful citizens look sadly on, as though watching the fate of dogs that have to be put down because they’re so sick.  Oh how…unfortunate…for them…  If you think that the only wrong done to Jason Johnson was being expelled from his school, you’re missing the graver injury done to his person, and right at the very core of his being.  To see it, all you have to do is be able to see the person for the homosexual.  Let me try to explain to the Prathers of the world how horrible that "beautiful response" actually is. 

Picture the first time you fell in love.  Picture that amazed, wonderful feeling.  One day, life just seemed more wonderful, more intense, more amazing then you’d ever dreamed it could be.  The sun shone a little brighter on everything around you then it did before.  The stars seemed to shine more intensely.  Everything old seemed new again.  Life was beautiful.  It was worth living no matter how hard or desperate it got.  Everything that ever happened to you was worth it, because it brought you to that moment, and that person.  Everything that ever Could happen to you from then on was worth it, so long as a certain person was there, so long as you could see them smile.  Because whenever they smiled, you smiled.

I remember it well.  When I was a teenager I used to listen to all the pop culture love songs of the sixties and early seventies on my radio, and never really understood what they were about, until I fell in love myself, with a male classmate.  I remember hearing this song on my radio one day, I’d heard it countless times before and I didn’t like it at all because it was it was slow, it had no beat, it was just some gooey sugary love song and whenever one of those came on I would reach for the tuning knob and try to find something else I could rock to, and this time when it came on I sat and listened, and began to cry…because I knew exactly how the person who wrote it felt…because it said it all about what I was feeling then…

Today I feel like pleasing you more than before
Today I know what I want to do but I don’t know what for
To be living for you is all I want to do
To be loving you it’ll all be there when my dreams come true
Today you’ll make me say that I somehow have changed
Today you’ll look into my eyes, I’m just not the same
To be anymore than all I am would be a lie
I’m so full of love I could burst apart and start to cry
Today everything you want, I swear it all will come true
Today I realize how much I’m in love with you

-Jefferson Airplane, Today

Homosexuals mate to their own sex.  That we do doesn’t take from us any of the higher emotions heterosexuals are capable of expressing to their mates, or of their unions.  We love.  We honor.  We cherish.  Til death do us part.  We are capable of great sacrifice for the honor of our love.  We are capable of great joy in that love.  Our unions are as life affirming to us as yours are to you.  The only difference between us is that we mate to our own sex.  You can’t take the homosexuality out of a homosexual, otherwise the snake oil salesmen of the ex-gay ministries would have thousands of happy heterosexuals to show as proof, instead of one paid staff member after another who proudly proclaims their heterosexuality only to get caught in a gay bar months or years later.  We are what we are. 

You can make us ashamed of ourselves.  You can make us hate ourselves.  You can make us terrified of the slightest shred of sexual arousal.  But you can’t make us heterosexuals because we aren’t.  What you Can do, is take all the higher aspects of love and devotion away from us.  All the romance.  All the poetry.  All the honor and devotion.  All the awe and all the joy and all the wonder.  You can take that from us.  You can drain our lives of every last drop of it.  But when you do we are still homosexuals, and all you have done is leave us empty human shells with sexual needs that won’t go away. 

And that’s exactly what you do, every time you tell a gay kid that his feelings for his first love are sin.  You convince him of it, and you literally leave him with nothing left in his life but mindless loveless lust.  That’s what you’re calling beautiful.

I’m not going to argue theology with anyone.  If you’ve got yourself locked into a relentless fundamentalist religiosity that insists that every last comma and period in the King James bible Must be literally true or you’re not a faithful Christian, then I guess the universe really was created in six days and is about six thousand years old and women suffer the pains of childbirth for the sin of Eve.  And if that’s what you believe then all I have to say to you is: Get the fuck off my back! 

I’m not going to argue about whether or not we have a choice.  That argument is over and done with for everyone except bigots and religious fanatics for whom no science could ever be enough to change their minds.

Here’s what I have to say about the case of Jason Johnson and forgiveness of sin: it doesn’t matter if you don’t mean to hurt anyone, if you won’t stop hurting them!  And one other thing, which was said more eloquently by another man, dealing in his own blunt way with another mindless human prejudice that was, and still is, tearing away at innocent people’s lives…

If you stick a knife nine inches into my back and pull it out three inches,
that is not progress. Even if you pull it all the way out, that is not progress.
Progress is healing the wound…

-El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X)

Forgiveness.  The biggest problem I have with Christianity, the reason I could never go back to it, is forgiveness.  Christ would tell me I have to forgive.  I know that.  I just can’t.  But maybe if I saw a serious start in this country at healing the wound I could try. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Shallow Understanding

April 21st, 2006

The Lord’s Army…

Via a friend on MySpace, comes this appeal for letters.  First, from the Wikipedia, a little background

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), formed in 1987, is a rebel paramilitary group operating mainly in northern Uganda. The group is engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government in what is now one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. It is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself a spirit medium, and apparently wishes to establish a state based on his unique interpretation of Biblical millenarianism. The LRA have been accused of widespread human rights violations, including the abduction of civilians, the use of child soldiers and a number of massacres.

It is estimated that around 20,000 children have been kidnapped by the group since 1987 for use as soldiers and sex slaves. The group performs abductions primarily from the Acholi people, who have borne the brunt of the 18 year LRA campaign. The insurgency has been mainly contained to the region known as Acholiland, consisting of the districts of Kitgum, Gulu, and Pader, though since 2002 violence has overflowed into other districts. The LRA has also operated across the porous border region with Southern Sudan, subjecting Sudanese civilians to its horrific tactics.

God save this poor world from your prophets…  My friend passes along this request that you send a letter to the U.S. State department, urging them to keep this horrific conflict high on the agenda.  In includes the story of one boy who was kidnapped and forced into The Lord’s Resistance Army…

Ms. Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. State Department
Washington DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice,

I am deeply concerned about the conflict in northern Uganda, and particularly its devastating impact on children. I am writing to urge you to place this forgotten crisis higher on the United States’ agenda, and to use the U. S. influence to end the human rights abuses by both sides that lie at the heart of the conflict.

Since the war began in 1986, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has abducted more than 30,000 children to serve as soldiers, laborers and sex slaves. These boys and girls are forced to fight against the government Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), carry out raids, beat and kill civilians, and abduct other children. Girls are additionally forced into sexual slavery as "wives" of LRA commanders. Children who refuse to follow orders or try to run away are often captured and killed.

I want to tell you about a boy who I will call Peter. Peter lives in Gulu, Uganda, on of the most targeted areas in the country. One horrific day, while attending his primary school in Gulu, Peter was abducted by the LRA along with 6 other schoolboys. The same day the LRA went to Peter’s house and murdered his two uncles and his father, and later took Peter home to see their dead bodies, and watch his mother get beaten unconscious. Additional members of his family were also tortured and murdered before his eyes.

Peter was dragged into the bush where he endured severe unspeakable brainwashing meant to turn the abducted children into brutal soldiers. If the children dropped their guns they were beaten, if they tried to escape they were tortured in front of the other children as an example of what would happen in the case of disobedience. Peter lived among this nightmare for 10 long years, quickly rising to the rank of Joseph Kony’s (the leader of the LRA) personal bodyguard. Peter managed to escape the LRA when he was 19 years old and has now lived the last 5 years of his life doing everything he can to spread awareness and end this treacherous war.

Peter is only one story out of the approximate 30,000 children that have been abducted into the LRA.

The threat of LRA abduction is so great that every night as many as 40,000 children leave their homes in the countryside to sleep in the relative safety of towns. They seek refuge overnight at churches, hospitals, bus stations and temporary shelters before returning home again each morning. These children are known as "night commuters" because of the long distances they travel nightly on foot.

Top UN officials have called the war in northern Uganda the world’s biggest forgotten crisis. Child abductions and other human rights have now continued for nearly twenty years,

I urge the United States government to take stronger action to address this crisis. The United States should use its leverage with the government of Uganda to push for increased protection for children and other civilians in the north of Uganda. It should press the new government of Sudan (the government of National Unity, formed with the former rebel forces in 2005) o cut off all support, formal or informal, for the Lord’s Resistance Army which operated in southern Sudan. The U.S. should also support efforts through the United Nations to strengthen human rights and child protection operations in the North.

Under President Bush, the United States played a significant role in achieving peace between long-warring parties in Sudan, Uganda’s northern neighbor. I urge our government to place a similar priority on addressing the crisis in northern Uganda.

Respectfully,
 

In addition, the request is that you also send a copy to John Bolton.  Now…I strongly doubt that Rice or Bolton give a good goddamn about the fate of impoverished children anywhere, let alone in Africa.  But it can’t hurt to try and prick somebody’s conscience in the State Department.  And while you’re at it, send a copy to your congress critters too.  War is hell enough on children but this is beyond evil.  It might not seem like much, but sometimes just knowing that people are aware of and watching what’s going on is the difference, that makes a difference.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Lord’s Army…


Yes…I Was There…

Just a little something to add the My World post…

A thought struck me the other day as I was re-reading it: I’m the only one I know from my high school/college days, who’s ever actually been to a street protest.  At least…that I know.  It flabbergasted me for a moment to think that, because my circle of friends back then was very politically aware.  Remember, those were the Nixon/Viet Nam years.  My friends and I were angry, livid even, about what was happening.  Everyone could cite you chapter and verse the Nixon gang’s various crimes against America and democracy.  We talked about it a lot.  We ranted and raved and bitched royal.  But I was the only one I could recall, who ever marched or became politically active, even just a little.

Never mind the national gay rights marches.  Never mind all the Pride day marches I’ve been too, let alone the ones I’ve actually marched in and not watched from the sidelines.  In the 70s I went to an assortment of anti-war protests too, and various women’s rights and civil rights marches, merrily taking photos along the way.  I lived in the suburbs of Washington D.C., and it was easy to get downtown to the Mall whenever something was happening.  Sometimes I went purely as a photographer.  But more often I went as I often do, as both participant and observer, camera in hand, marching along with the others, chanting the chants, helping out here and there when I could, and with my camera documenting the times I lived in.

And I’ve never, never considered myself all that much of a radical or an activist.  Never.  I’m not an organizer.  Shy as I am, it took every shred of nerve I could muster to go out when I had to and get petitions signed, because I just hate walking up to total strangers and starting up a conversation.  It’s nerve wracking.  And I’m not preoccupied with politics all day long, not even gay politics.  I’ve always considered it to be a part of my life, a part of the times we all live in, but not all there is to life.  And sometimes I feel guilty that I’m not doing more politically, especially now.

And yet…I marched.  Nobody else did.  Not even on their issues.  That…really surprises me to recall.  I have no idea why I never noticed it before.

 

I always tried to get a button from the marches I went to, for some small token that says that, yes, I was there.  I suppose you can pick them up at flea markets and hip retro ’70s boutique shops now too, along with lava lamps, peace necklaces and tie-dyed t-shirts.  Alas my hair there is covering one of my favorite march buttons, the one from the first gay rights march on Washington in 1979.  The others are from the rest of the national gay rights marches to date.  The little Capital dome with the rainbow below it is from the HRC Millennium March in 2000, which got the biggest crowds ever, but was dismissed as being more of a big block party then a political protest march.  The little green square next to it is my GLIB button…the Gay and Lesbian Information Bureau BBS which I did volunteer work for many years on, and which gave me my first real access to the larger gay community beyond the confines of the D.C. suburbs.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Yes…I Was There…

April 20th, 2006

The Hand That Grips The Tire Iron

Via Some Guys Are Normal, Ben at Scattered Words, who is questioning homosexuality (but probably not in the same sense as physicists are questioning dark matter), finds that someone at Christianity Today didn’t think Brokeback Mountain was such a bad flick after all

Homosexuality has been like a ghost, hiding in the shadows of my shame, telling me I can never reach my full potential as a Christian. As strange and contradictory as it may sound, seeing Brokeback Mountain helped me bury that ghost and begin moving forward.

What I saw in Brokeback Mountain tore my heart apart. I cried with Alma when she discovered the truth about Ennis and Jack. I also cried for the countless wives in real life who know that their husbands are leading a secret existence. I cried even harder for the men, more in number than we realize, who are trapped in sexual sin and don’t know how to escape it. And as I wept, I wondered if God could use me to help reach some of them with his grace and delivering power.

No scene touched me more than the one in which Ennis’s daughter pays him a visit after Jack dies, and tells him he needs to buy some furniture to liven up his cold and barren trailer. Ennis responds, "If you ain’t got nothin, you don’t need nothin." I made up my mind then and there that I would not let homosexuality rob me like it had robbed Ennis.

No you drooling moron…homosexuality didn’t rob Ennis, a goddamn tire iron swung by all the force hate could give it robbed him.  Twice

"You won’t catch me again," said Jack. "Listen. I’m thinkin, tell you what, if you and me had a little ranch together, little cow and calf operation, your horses, it’d be some sweet life. Like I said, I’m gettin out a rodeo. I ain’t no broke-dick rider but I don’t got the bucks a ride out this slump I’m in and I don’t got the bones a keep gettin wrecked. I got it figured, got this plan, Ennis, how we can do it, you and me. Lureen’s old man, you bet he’d give me a bunch if I’d get lost. Already more or less said it — "

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. It ain’t goin a be that way. We can’t. I’m stuck with what I got, caught in my own loop. Can’t get out of it. Jack, I don’t want a be like them guys you see around sometimes. And I don’t want a be dead. There was these two old guys ranched together down home, Earl and Rich — Dad would pass a remark when he seen them. They was a joke even though they was pretty tough old birds. I was what, nine years old and they found Earl dead in a irrigation ditch. They’d took a tire iron to him, spurred him up, drug him around by his dick until it pulled off, just bloody pulp. What the tire iron done looked like pieces a burned tomatoes all over him, nose tore down from skiddin on gravel."

"You seen that?"

"Dad made sure I seen it. Took me to see it…"

Annie Proulx,  "Brokeback Mountain"

That’s what robbed Ennis.  That’s what stole from him his capacity to love and accept love from another man.  Nearly every review of the film I’ve seen has commented on how perfectly the actor who played him, Heath Ledger, captured the sense of a man completely uncomfortable inside his own skin, so completely inhibited he can barely talk.  Shame.  Guilt.  Self loathing.  It’s not enough for the hatemongers to make other people hate us.  We have to hate ourselves too.  We have to hate ourselves even more then they hate us.  Because only by hating ourselves that much, will we keep punishing ourselves for simply existing, for just being alive and walking this good earth along with them and breathing their air, when they’re not able to punish us for it with their own two hands.  And those of us who never fell into or who manage to escape that bottomless pit of shame and self loathing, still have to deal with the hate and all the myriad ways, large and small, that it cheats us out of one of this life’s most perfect joys. 

That’s what robbed Ennis.  And it robs all of us.  Some of us more then others…horribly more.  I’ve never hated myself and never tried to obliterate myself in reckless squalor, or an all controlling self-annihilating religious cult.  I’ve never lost a lover to the tire iron.  I’ve never been forced against my will into ex-gay therapy.  But I can count in months the time in my life I’ve had someone to love, and that’s partly because I’ve fallen in love so many times with other guys, who could not love and desire whole heartedly, because they were so ashamed to love and desire at all.

Hate, and the tire iron.  One way or another it robs us all.  It robbed me…and it robbed you too. Mr. Belkofer.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Hand That Grips The Tire Iron


My World

This post isn’t for everyone.  This one’s for…uhm…to whom it may concern

News Item: Congress Moves To Except Religious Schools From Gay Rights Laws

(Washington) Private Christian colleges would be excepted from local and state non-discrimination laws under a proposed amendment to the Higher Education Act – a move that would allow the schools to legally reject LGBT students.

The amendment, proposed by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah), would prevent accrediting boards from making adherence to non-discrimination laws a requirement.

Now…you’d think nullifying local discrimination laws for private christian schools would mean congress was givng them the green light to discriminate on the basis of race, religion and a host of other things too.  But…well…not.  This isn’t about opposition to anti discrimination laws.  This bill’s target is a tad more specific then that.  It’s a bullet aimed at one particular group of students…

The committee also inserted language in the bill stating that it is not meant to allow an institution to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability. The provision does not include sexuality.

News Item: GOP Bid To Shore Up Conservative Support With New  Effort To Pass Anti-Gay Amendment 

Between now and the November elections, Republicans are penciling in plans to take action on social issues important to religious conservatives, the foundation of the GOP base, as they defend their congressional majority.

In a year where an unpopular war in Iraq has helped drive President Bush’s approval ratings below 40%, core conservatives whose turnout in November is vital to the party want assurances that they are not being taken for granted.

So what’s a good way to get votes in this country?  Well…crap like this for instance:

 

News Item: Police Investigate Gay Beatings In Fort Lauderdale

News Item: Montana Prof Threatened After Speaking Out Against Homophobia

News Item:  Hate on a Michigan campus

What the gay students of Michigan Tech are seeing on campus these days…

 

News Item: Pope Uses Easter To Attack Gay Families

(Vatican City) In marking the Stations of the Cross during Good Friday observances in Rome Pope Benedict XVI called for the "filth" that surrounds society to be cleansed and said the world is in the grip of "a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family".

Diabolical pride.  Diabolical pride.  Diabolical pride.  Aimed at eliminating the family.  Next week is kill a fag week…bring your own gun!!!

News Item: Students Sue Georgia Tech Over Gay Tolerant Policy

(Atlanta, Georgia) A conservative law practice has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Georgia Tech of violating the constitutional rights of religious students over the school’s non-discrimination policy that protects gays and lesbians on campus.

The suit, filed by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of two students, names President Wayne Clough and other administrators. ADF is involved in fighting LGBT issues across the country.

The lawsuit alleges that the school policy discriminates against Christian and Jewish students by barring them from speaking out against homosexuality and other issues.

Next week is kill a fag week…bring your own gun!!!

News Item: Anger Over Gay Bullying Speech At Vermont School

(Burlington, Vermont) Several parents are blasting the Burlington, Vermont school board for inviting a state-wide LGBT advocacy group to make a presentation on gay bullying at a local middle school this week.

A teenage member of Outright Vermont told the sixth graders about the bullying he faced and the difficulty he had in coping.  The presentation at Lyman Hunt Middle School was part of Wellness Week".  Other presentations covered topics such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs abuse, eating disorders, suicide prevention and violence against women and girls.

Parent Kristy DeGuise said parents should have been notified in advance that a gay person would be speaking.

"School is a place to learn. I don’t personally believe that learning about not bashing gays is going to get them a better job in life," she told the Burlington Free Press.

Mary Rouille, a parent who said she is Catholic but enrolls her children in the public system said the speech should never have been allowed.

"If we can’t bring our religion into the school, they shouldn’t bring their beliefs in," she said.

Next week is kill a fag week…bring your own gun!!!

Welcome to my world.  Maybe you can understand why gay politics preoccupies my time and my throughts a lot these days.  Maybe you can understand why I seem so goddamn angry and pissed off sometimes.  Maybe you can understand why I take a little…erm…Pride…in my activism, artistic and otherwise…pissing in the wind though it all sometimes seems to me. It takes a certain amount of courage to stand up to this kind of vitriolic hate, look it in the face and tell it ‘No’.  Do you understand that?  I’m Proud of what I’ve done to fight this cancer on our lives, this profound insult to the human identity, this all out war on that deepest most intmate part of ourSelves where we can love and trust and hope and dream.  Maybe you can understand why I think it’s so important to be out, and to push back against prejudice and hate.  Or…not.  Maybe I’m just irritating you more by waving all this in your face again.

Here…let me show you what gets waved in mine, on a regular basis:

It’s not just that I’m single…it’s not just that at 52 I see one of life’s great dreams receding into the distance…vanishing over the horizon…it’s not the triumphalism of all the gutter crawling bigots of this poor world whenever they get another chance to twist that knife in our hearts, and murder that dream in yet another gay soul, and then dance in its ashes.  Oh it’s all that…but I could endure it all, and maybe be a little less angry, and a little more balanced and secure, but for the indifference, the motherfucking indifference, of a few people in my life, a few people I once held dear. 

You should have cared.  You should have given a good goddamn.  Never mind my desolate love life, you should have cared about my physical safety, about my status as a free and equal citizen, it should have bothered you, just a tad, how bad the threat to your friend was getting.  But it never did.  Here…look at it again…

See a connection there yet?  And you’re pissed off at me because I’m fighting back…because I’m standing up to it, because I’m proud of what I’ve done in the fight?  So where the hell were you during the great great American Kultar Kampf?  One of this life’s most magical, most wonderful moments, that time when you discover love, and sex, and falling in love for the first time, and being loved in return, is systematically turned into a desolate nightmare for some of us and I’ve asked myself why so many nights until my head is going in circles that I can’t count them anymore.  But I’ll tell you what: I’ve stopped asking why some of the people in my life never really seemed to care. After the last election, when the republican national committee proudly took credit for that Bible Ban ad, I reckoned there was just no fucking point in it any more.  Someone who has gay friends and isn’t completely pissed off at how their friend’s lives are under constant, relentless attack these days, is simply faking it. 

I am not the some in some of my best friends are.  In a better time, I could treat my sexual orientation like it’s just another part of me…like my blue eyes and brown hair, and the fact that I’m right handed and like to paint and draw and take pictures and go on long road trips.  In a better time we all could. You have no fucking idea how much I’ve wanted to just live my goddamned life as if my sexual orientation was no big deal.  

But when I have to read about one attack on my person after another nearly every fucking day in the newspapers, when they’re calling for an amendment to our constitution declaring me in essence a second class citizen, and religious passions toward people like me are being thumped on pulpits from one end of the country to the other,  then I can’t afford to ignore it any more then I could afford to sit on my porch and sip ice tea while a tornado is bearing down on me.  As William Lloyd Garrison once said, Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm

I stood on a protest line last summer while a sixteen year old gay kid was involuntarily put through an ex-gay therapy program.  I have to tell you it crossed my mind more then once during that protest, to wonder what my own friends would have done for me had I been placed into that kind of nightmare when I was that age.  Picture me standing in a protest line, staring at this run down church they’d converted into an ex-gay ministry, not knowing the answer to that.  

Hate cannot take our lives away from us, it cannot devastate our hopes and dreams, without the help of indifference.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

Elie Wiesel

Yeah.  I’m angry.  So fucking what?  Where the hell were you while I was in Memphis?  I know…I know…the same place you were while I was marching in Washington for equal rights…in 1979…in 1987…in 1993…in 2000.   You were somewhere else.  You were always somewhere else.

[Edited a tad…] 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on My World

April 19th, 2006

Respect Our Diversity

This week’s cartoon. 

 

More about PFOX’s war on gay youth in our schools later, when I’ve caught up a bit… 

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

April 18th, 2006

Spring Arrives…

On the way home yesterday I saw my first barn swallow darting around the Institute parking deck.  So never mind the spring equinox…spring arrived in Baltimore sometime yesterday afternoon, while I was busy in my ground floor office trying to figure out why my XML parser was validating a document that it should have failed.

When the swallows leave for the winter, their nesting spots are taken over by the local sparrows and house finches.  The house finches aren’t much of a problem, but sparrows are mean and aggressive as all hell.  They only seem like small birds.  Side by side you notice that they’re actually bigger then most of the the native songbirds.  My worry has been that if we get enough sparrows in the parking deck they’ll drive out the swallows.  But not to fear…it seems the first order of swallow business upon returning to their nesting grounds from South America is clearing out the sparrows.  When I saw my first swallow of the year it was chasing a sparrow for its dear life away from their nests. 

Swallows are tiny little things, but they’re fast and can turn on a dime in mid air and what I saw the other day is that sparrows are just no match for them in air combat.  I watched while that swallow fairly terrorized that sparrow in a high speed wheeling and hair pin turning chase up and down half the parking deck.  They zipped and turned and darted between parked cars and around the concrete columns like a couple bats out of hell, with the swallow loudly cussing and the sparrow completely terrorized until it finally, I’m not kidding, ducked under a parked car.  Then the swallow perched on one of the overhead fire sprinkler lines nearby and sassed it for a few minutes before flying off.  So I guess the swallows aren’t afraid of the sparrows.  If this year is anything like all the others, what will happen is the sparrows will move to a few isolated locations around the deck, perch on the deck railings during the day and sass the swallows as they fly in and out of their nests, and the swallows will just ignore them as long as they keep their distance.

Everything is green again.  The neighborhood trees are almost fully leafed now, and my bird feeders are suddenly getting a lot less traffic then they did in the winter.  My Spanish moss offering was picked over a little, but not much, so I guess the city birds aren’t really impressed with it as nest material, but I’ll leave it out for a couple months more.  I can walk to work in shirtsleeves most days now.  The swallows are back.  It’s spring now.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Spring Arrives…


Ack…Still No Cartoon…

Sorry…  This one’s taken a little longer then I thought.  And I’m still too tired during the day for some reason.  I’m still napping a lot when I really need to be working around the house and in my art room.  I’d hoped to be getting more past all that now then I am.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

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