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Archive for July, 2007

July 31st, 2007

Just Hanging Out Here In California…

Nothing much to say.  You may have already noticed the Twitter box I’ve installed at the top of the right sidebar (when it’s working…right now it apparently isn’t because Twitter is doing some sort of upgrade…).  Other then twittering I’m not much in a talkative mood right now. Just de-stressing with my brother here in Oceano…wishing I could live here all year long. 

It’s the end of July and you need a light jacket in the mornings here.  It stays cool, but not cold, all year long here.  Mornings here by the Pacific coast everything’s covered in dew.  Most mornings there is a light fog.  By noon the fog is gone most days and it’s blue sky and sunshine and mild temperatures.  That’s the climate here.  All year long.

Cute guys here too.  Way too good looking for my own good.  Too bad there’s no IT work here for me.  But if there was IT work around anywhere near Oceano or Pismo or Arroyo Grande then the price of housing here would be insane, as opposed to merely delusional. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Just Hanging Out Here In California…

July 29th, 2007


Having touched all the bases I had to touch this trip, I decided to weasel a little time to spend in my native land out of my last week of vacation.  I’m going to spend a couple days here in California with my brother and the Garrett side of my family tree.  I simply could not get this close without crossing the border, even if it’s just to spend only two days with my brother.

Here I see Damiel Gonzales over at Box Turtle Bulleting fleeing California for the more affordable Denver, and here I am desperately wishing I could go back and spend the rest of my life in the land of my birth.  But for the same reason Daniel can’t stay, I could not go, except to visit.  I have a cute little rowhouse and the best job in the world waiting for me back in Baltimore.  (Now if only I had a boyfriend back there waiting for me too.  Ah…but he would be here with me, enjoying the western scenery…)

This trip just worked out weird, because I had so many people I had to visit along the way, plus the Open Source Developer’s Conference in Portland.  Unlike previous years, the direct route took me away from my beloved four corners, and California.  It was first to Memphis, then to Topeka, and then to Portland, and then back to Boise.  So the route took me north, away from the four corners area, and into Wyoming, which after what I saw in Laramie, I am coming to despise.  In the southwest the desolation is beautiful.  The arid landscape between Boise and Cheyenne just stares back at you vacantly.  Before long, that emptiness is staring into your soul, like Nietzsche’s abyss.  You just want to get the hell out of there.  This trip it seemed, I would have to cross it twice.  If it wasn’t for another Garrett in Boise that I promised to come visit (we Garretts are actually quite adorable while we’re still young), I wouldn’t have considered it.

But after my stopover in Boise I decided to hell with it and zigged back across Nevada into California.  I called my brother and told him I’d be there for a couple days.  Then I’ll travel back across I-40, hit the trading posts at Gallup on the way back, buy a little more Turquoise, and enjoy at least a little of Arizona and New Mexico before going back home.

But…swear…a few days in California are necessary right now.  Something deep down inside of me felt like it was starting to suffocate until I crossed the border and something deep down inside of me sighed.  I think it was Wyoming.  Wyoming just…did something to me.  Something…disturbing.  I had to go see California, had to plant my feet on its soil, had to breath in its air, run my hand through the sand along the Pacific shore.  It’s in my will that when I die I want my ashes scattered here, somewhere in or near Oceano, where the grassy hills watch the Pacific waves caress the shore.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on California!

You Know You’re In Nevada When…

…It’s easier to find a slot machine in a gas station, then a pay-at-the-pump, pump.  Why that is I have no idea.

Gas prices ranged along I-80 from 2.95 a gallon to 3.56.  Sometimes right across the street.  They have a funny idea of market forces here. 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

July 25th, 2007

Trapped In The Left-Handed Lifestyle

Historically and linguistically, being left-handed has long been associated with the mark of the devil. In Latin, the word "sinister" means "left." In French, it is "gauche" – a far worse sin in France than being sinister, no doubt.

There is the left-handed compliment, which is no compliment at all; the bad guy was made to sit at the left hand of God; and there has been a higher than average number of left-handed, insane villains like Jack the Ripper and the Boston Strangler.

-Beth Quinn – Good News From The Left-Handed Liberation Front

Sin.  Sinister.  Left-Handed.  We don’t have to imagine a religion that regards left handedness as a mark of the devil, because it existed.  Perhaps in some corners of the human world, it still exists.  And some of us of my generation don’t have to imagine what reparative therapy for left-handedness would look like, because we have seen it with our own eyes.

The myths and superstitions surrounding left handedness were almost completely dead, at least in the United States, when I entered grade school back in 1959.  But they hadn’t died out completely.  I’m old enough to remember watching two teachers tie a classmate’s left arm to his side after he was caught writing something with his left hand. 

They did it at the kid’s parent’s request, and they were not brutal about it.  It wasn’t like they were binding him tightly or anything.  The thinking was that if you just train a kid to use their right hand early enough, it would take and they wouldn’t be left handed anymore.  It was a bit like putting something bitter on the thumb of a small child that won’t stop sucking their thumb.  They just lightly tied a small strap around the kid’s waste and left arm, to prevent him from reflexively using his left hand to write with.  The kid did not resist, he just sat there crying, humiliated, because he knew he’d done something wrong.

Except…he hadn’t.  Put aside for a moment that their model of how handedness works was all wrong.  That it was something like a bad habit which, if caught early enough, you could correct.  Even if handedness was a completely chosen thing, there is nothing wrong or evil or harmful about using your left hand over your right.  Unless that is, you believe that it’s a sin.  Left-handed.  Sinister.  Sin.  Or you believed the few remaining mental health professionals of the day who said  that left-handedness leads to a host of mental and psychological problems.  Didn’t you know that a higher then average number of serial killers are left handed? 

It isn’t hard to picture how an ex-leftie ministry might work to suck the pride and joy and love of life out of a young guy, a kid maybe who keeps having these…urges…to use their left hand.  Every time he gets that urge he believes he is being unfaithful to God.  He believes this, because his church is telling him this.  The Devil baptizes his followers with his left hand…  His peers either ridicule him, or bath him in suffocating patronization.  He has this…condition.  He can’t help himself.  There is something tragically wrong with him.  His parents are profoundly ashamed that their son uses his left hand.  The kid is deeply ashamed of himself.  And every time he feels the urge to use his left hand, the shame deepens.

But there is one final hope.  Reparative therapy.  Thousands have found freedom from left-handedness.  Question left-handedness.  There are stories of hope and redemption.  This one has been living as a right handed man for over a decade, and is now a successful painter who, he says, never feels the urge to use his left hand to pick up a brush.  That one has been in a successful relationship with another ex-leftie and they are raising a healthy, godly family of right handed children.  This one has been freed from left-handedness through the power of faith.  That one abandoned the left-handed lifestyle, and all its self destructiveness, the drugs, the booze, the litany of health problems, and has been living a clean and sober life ever since.

So he checks himself in for a round of ex-leftie therapy.  Perhaps he misses the fine print on the form that says he will never be completely cured of this left-handed urges.  Perhaps it is not in the fine print.  Perhaps, full of all the stories of hope and cure and…redemption…he decides not to notice. 

So he spends months…then years…and thousands of dollars in the ex-leftie world.  He abandons school, career, the life he had, the life he could have had, on his quest to rid himself of his urge to use his left hand.  But he can’t.  He’s left handed.  After a long struggle he eventually becomes adept at using his right hand to do simple chores.  He can write…sort of.  An accomplishment he’s proud of.  Now he can write with a fountain pen and not smear the ink.  He can use scissors with his right hand.  He can pitch a ball with his right hand…sort of.   But the urges never go away, and maddeningly after years of adapting to a right handed life, he…falls…again and again. 

Sometimes its unexpected, like when his neighbor’s kid playfully tosses a ball at him and he catches it in his left hand.  Sometimes it happens when he lets his guard down, and he catches himself doodling something with the pen in his left land.  It seems the devil won’t let go of him.  But it’s not the devil.  It’s just his biology.  The model of handedness he’s been fed is all wrong, and no amount of sincerely held religious belief can change that any more then it could change the fact hundreds of years ago, that Galileo and Copernicus were right.  And yet, it moves. 

All his life this left handed man has been fighting his nature.  And…for what?  To please a lot of right handed people who have bought into, for whatever reason, a model of handedness that is not true, and which…surely only coincidentally…elevates them above their left handed neighbors.  His own nature has been used against him since childhood, to implant shame, self loathing, disgust.  To make him accept his lowly status.  He has been denied a wholesome and nurturing spiritual life, being made to feel himself alienated from God Every Time He Gets An Urge To Use His Left Hand.  Which he keeps getting, Because He’s Left Handed.

He is either condemned, or at best, patronizingly offered help for his…condition.  When he is not being told that his sin is the worst sin of all, he’s being patronizingly told that well…we’re all sinners in the eyes of the Lord.  But this sin seems woven into his very being, like a taint on his very soul.  He just can’t stop the urges.  His body fights him every time he picks up a pencil or pen.  It reminds him constantly that, somehow, he is fundamentally wicked, in a way no one else seems to be.  No one else except other devil marked lefties.  

He has been denied wholesome and nurturing relationships with his peers, with his community, with his family, because every time he catches himself using his left hand for something, or even feeling the urge to, he is ashamed, and so he withdraws, feeling ashamed, unclean, unworthy. He has been denied the career he might have had, the friends he might have made, and all the joy and fulfillment they might have brought. 

Who knows…perhaps he was even denied the love of his life, because he was taught from such an early age, that there was something innately unclean about him.  A feeling of shame and despair that was reenforced, again and again within him, every time he had that perfectly natural urge to use his left hand.  Sin.  Sinister.  Left-handed. 

The devil baptizes his own with his left hand…  He sees himself as someone profoundly, horribly tainted.  Unworthy.  He gets on his knees nightly and begs God, tearfully, to take the urges away from him.  But they don’t go away.  He’s Left Handed.  It isn’t something you can pray away. 

He pays therapists thousands of dollars to talk him into being right handed.  Perhaps it was an overly dominant mother.  Perhaps when a boy uses his left hand to write with, he is subconsciously rebelling against his manhood.  Left is associated with the feminine isn’t it?  Whereas right is associated with the masculine.   Perhaps his father was too distant.  Perhaps he isn’t getting enough masculine activity.  But therapy doesn’t work either.  He’s Left Handed.  You can’t psychoanalyze it away.  It wasn’t his mother.  It wasn’t his father.  It’s his biology.  It’s perfectly normal.  Not average.  Not common.  But nonetheless, normal.

But he is never told that.  There are nights when he wonders why God even allowed him to be born.

There is nothing wrong with him.  Nothing.  He’s just left-handed.  It neither harms him, nor his neighbors, that he uses his left hand.   And it doesn’t separate him from God, because if God is the creator then God made him that way.  If anything, it is trying not to be what he so clearly is, that is separating him from God.  It is also separating him from his family, and from his community.  It has separated him from the whole life he could have had.

Reality matters.  Existence exists.  When the bird and the bird book disagree, believe the bird.  You would think that someone of a deeply religious nature, wishing to be faithful and devoted to God almighty would instinctively grasp how the hand of the creator has the final, absolute say over all our human pretensions.  However we might wish reality to be, reality is what it is.  There is a lesson on standing humbly before the Creator in that, which you’d think the religious conservative would find completely agreeable.  You’d think.  But if that were so, then there wouldn’t be a movement to teach creationism to school kids, let alone a movement to teach homosexuals to hate themselves, and to teach their peers, their neighbors, their country, to treat them with contempt.  The problem with standing humbly before the creator, is that its…well…humbling. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trapped In The Left-Handed Lifestyle

July 24th, 2007

How About We Discuss Our Differences Over A Nice Glass Of Get The Fuck Off My Back?

I have this love/hate relationship to the books of Robert Heinlein.  When he’s good he’s pure gold.  But there are times he makes me want to hit the roof.  And I suppose he’d be delighted to hear this.  He always said he wanted first to make a living as a writer, second to be entertaining, and third, to make you think.

Anyway…there’s this passage in Stranger In A Strange Land which I could forgive Heinlein anything for writing.  It’s the scene where Jubal Harshaw introduces a friend to Anne, who is a "fair witness".  I’m doing this from memory here, but as I recall it, Jubal and his friend are by the pool with some others, and the friend remarks that he’d never met a fair witness before and Jubal says of course you have, Anne is one.  Oh really, asks the friend.  And Jubal calls over the Anne "Anne, what color is that house on the hill over there?"  And Anne takes a look and immediately replies, "The side that’s facing me is white." 

That’s not only a beautiful illustration of what it means to tell the truth, but also how telling the truth has to work in the human context.  We are not gods.  We do not have the god’s eye view of reality.  So we have to be careful to understand, really understand, what it is that we know, and what it is that we don’t.

I’ve heard religious fundamentalists say that the most important question facing us is where will we spend eternity.  No.  There is another question that is more important then that one, more important then any other question you can ask.  Because it’s the question you have to know the answer to, before you can answer any other question:  What do I know, and how do I know it?

I suppose a fundamentalist would reply with some form of "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."  But that’s still not answering the question.  How do we know that the Bible is an authoritative source?  How do we know what the Bible says?  At some point, we all have to make judgments, and those judgments are always personal.  It helps to make them honestly and sincerely.  But it also helps to do that with a little humility.  You only know the side that’s facing you.  And it goes without saying, that its helpful not to misrepresent the facts that we do know, to kind of…nudge people…in the right direction.  For their own good.

We should always behave such that what is true, can be verified to be so. -Jacob Bronowski.

But that’s been something of a problem for the ex-gay world, hasn’t it?

So I’m reading the back and forth between the ex-gay blogs and the survivor’s blogs in the wake of the Survivor’s Conference.  Seems the very word ‘Survivor’ is controversial.  One writer in the comments on Peterson’s blog says that using the term survivor is provocative.  As provocative as a million dollar billboard campaign designed to make people think that their homosexual neighbors’ most intimate sense of self is something akin to a blackboard that they could just wipe clean and redo for the pleasure of their heterosexual neighbors whenever they wanted to, if they weren’t so selfish, or so…trapped…in homosexuality…I’m not so sure.  How would a heterosexual be expected to feel upon laying eyes on a billboard that featured a handsome, happy gay man asking them to "Question Heterosexuality"?  Ah…but it’s not provocative to assert that there is no such thing as a homosexual…only people trapped in homosexuality. 

An anonymous ex-gay blogger asks if the ex-ex-gays are survivors, does that mean she’s a mortally wounded victim, or a corpse, or a zombie.  Well let me just answer as a gay man, who keeps hearing homophobic jackasses bellyaching about how we stole the word ‘gay’ away from decent society, that what other people call themselves doesn’t make you anything.  As a gay man who has heard himself labeled a symptom of social decay, if not a walking signpost of impending Armageddon, ever since he was a teenager, let me say that how other people live their lives doesn’t make You anything.  As a gay man who has walked among my fellow gay folk in many places and many scenes, from the sublime to the ridiculous, let me say that even when other people assert their identity with you, in ways you may find completely nonsensical if not utterly bewildering, That does not make you anything.  It’s your own experience in this life that makes you something.  It’s the fact that you lived it, or are still living it, that gives you the right to name it. 

But of course, this isn’t about what people call themselves, it’s about what they call others.  And I can appreciate how the ex-gay movement can take the use of the word ‘survivor’ in this context as an attack, considering that the religious right has made an art out of applying labels to themselves, as a way of back handedly pasting labels onto others.  So they say they’re pro-life, as a way of saying the other side is pro-death.  So they say they’re pro-family, as a way of saying the other side is anti-family.  So they say many thousands have found freedom from homosexuality, as a way of saying that homosexuality is a prison, or an addiction.  But that’s not what’s going on here, and if the word ‘survivor’ has any meaning, then just reading the stories on Beyond Ex-Gay is all that’s necessary to see how the word applies to these people. 

Of course, those stories are pretty damming, whether the survivors intend that or not.  Mortally wounded?  How about, Part Of The Problem.  A name on the knife in someone’s heart?  Someone you may have never even laid eyes on.  Perhaps some helpless teenager.  Delivered with love.  Yes, it would be nice if we could all just get along, regardless of what we call ourselves.  Yes, it would be wonderful, peaceful, happy tranquility if we could all just live our fucking lives, find our happiness in this life, make our way for ourselves in this world, reach for the dream within our hearts, to the best of our ability, to the best within us.  But that’s, let’s face it, just not in the cards.  Righteousness forbids it. 

The answer to how we all manage to get along despite our differences, is simple, in the way all impossible answers are simple.  You let leave us alone and let us live our lives, and we leave you alone and let you live yours.  But that is just not to be.  You are called to save us from ourselves, because you have the ultimate truth, and we are all merely trapped in sin, and never mind that you only see the side of the house that’s facing you.  Salvation has given you the God’s eye view.  So you’ll keep twisting that knife marked Salvation into people’s hearts and those of us trying to find and have and hold that someone to love in this poor, angry world, that intimate other, that soul mate, or as you might say, Trapped In Homosexuality will keep trying to get you The Fuck Off Our Backs, even if that means we have to be rude about it.  Because, you are taking what should be one of our life’s most perfect joys, and making it your offering to God and our hearts are not yours to offer.

I was content to ignore the ex-gay movement until the day I watched it try to drive a knife into the heart of a gay teenager who was perfectly content with who he was.   And then I took a closer look at what was being done to many other innocent hearts in the name of God, and even more obscenely…in the name of Love.  Most of them adults, some of them just kids.  I listened to one gay teenager talk about being forced through Love In Action against his will, and then how his own mother beat the living crap out of him because he was still as gay when he came out as when he went in, because the religious right had taught her to loath her own flesh and blood, and the ex-gay movement taught her that he didn’t have to be gay if he didn’t want to be, that his sexuality was an addiction, a false image, a renunciation of manhood, proof that she was not a good mother, and I don’t think the day will ever come when remembering his words and the look on his face as he told the story of the day his own mother started pounding her fists into him won’t make me want to put my fist through a wall.  It could make a stone cry.  But not the righteous.

So…I’m all about dialogue.  Considerate and transparent dialogue is a Good Thing.  But it’s a bit like dialogue between Israel and the Arab states surrounding it:  A prerequisite to talks is that you recognize my right to exist.  And see…that’s the problem.  Because there is just no way I can ask you to do that, ask you to get off our backs, ask you let us live in our communities, in our country, as full and equal citizens, no way I can even suggest it, that you will not hear me demanding of you that you renounce your faith.  We have to bleed, so you can be righteous.

So…maybe instead of calling ourselves gay, or ex-ex-gay, we all should just cut to the bottom line, and call ourselves Scapegoats.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How About We Discuss Our Differences Over A Nice Glass Of Get The Fuck Off My Back?

July 21st, 2007

You Have To Want To Learn The Lesson, Before You Can Learn It.

While on the road from Laramie, I tuned into Sirius OutQ and heard that John Edwards wife had made a speech about the need for hate crime legislation…

Edwards’ wife says local homicide illustrates danger of hate speech

Elizabeth Edwards said Saturday she is troubled by the suspected anti-gay beating death of a Sacramento man, and said the killing of Satender Singh demands renewed condemnations of hate speech in America.

Singh, a 26-year-old Fijian immigrant, died four days after he was attacked July 1 at Lake Natoma by an angry group hurling explicit gay slurs and racial remarks.

Edwards, campaigning in Sacramento for her husband, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards of North Carolina, said she was so affected by news of Singh’s death that she rewrote a speech on human rights she was due to deliver later Saturday in San Francisco.

“I thought we learned some lessons from Laramie and Matthew Shepard,” Edwards said in an interview, referring to the fatal 1998 beating of a gay college student in Wyoming that triggered an uproar over anti-gay violence.

Oh you did, did you?   Well I was just in Laramie lady, and I can tell you for a fact that they are busy trying to forget it ever happened.  Learn something?  Oh my goodness.  How to bury their fucking heads in the sand deeper maybe.

The first time I visited Laramie since the murder, I was driving through on my way back home to Baltimore.  I thought I’d swing through the town and see if I could find the place where Shepard was killed and pay my respects.  But without knowing exactly where it was, other then a general description of the site, it was hopeless and I had to give up.  So I drove through town looking for any sign, any acknowledgment, of what had happened.  Maybe a little poster in some window somewhere.  Maybe a little plaque.  Some notice somewhere, anywhere, that gay folks would be coming here to morn and pay their respects.  I found exactly nothing.

Okay, thinks I…next time I come, I’ll know the location beforehand.  So I did a small amount of poking around and found the spot where Shepard’s dying body was found and looked it up on a map.  Shepard was driven from The Fireside bar near the edge of the downtown part of Laramie, out to Snowy View Road.  I’d already read that the property owner had torn down the deer fence that Shepard had been tied too, out of pique that so many people were leaving flowers and tributes there.  But I figured I could still stand at the spot for a moment or two and morn.

It was not to be…

The road leading to the site is now marked with signs warning you that it is a private drive, not a public road, and that everyone should keep out.  That entire area is now off limits to the public.  You can’t get anywhere near the place where Shepard’s dying body was found anymore.

I suppose at some point, they’ll do something like build a condo right on top of the spot where it happened.  Or maybe a nice tennis court.

Over and over again in this struggle for our freedom and human dignity, I am put in mind of the words of Malcolm X.  He was not anything near the peacemaker that Martin Luther King Jr. was, but he knew what progress meant…

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, and America hasn’t even begun to pull out the knife.

Progress is healing the wound… Hate crime legislation, anti discrimination laws, same sex marriage…these are all good things, necessary things.  But real progress toward gay equality, toward that day when gay people can live side-by side with our heterosexual neighbors in peace and good will, won’t happen, won’t even begin to happen, until straight America is willing to begin healing the wound.  And not only are they not pulling out the knife, in Laramie, they’re still trying to make people forget it’s even there.

And this is why gay people are still being murdered every year in America, for no other reason then that they are gay.  Too many people hate us enough to kill us, to think of killing us as some kind of sport, or a rite of passage into manhood.  And too many other people don’t give a shit.  Hate, and it’s lover, Contempt, just keep doing their dance on our lives, their dance over our bodies.

That was why Matthew Shepard was killed, make no mistake.  ABC News can get away with helping the religious right whitewash that basic fact of the killing, because few people outside of the gay community will bother making the trip to Laramie to see the place where it all happened for themselves.  But last night I drove from about where Shepard was kidnapped to the place where his killers tied him to a fence, put their cigarettes out on his skin, and beat his skull open with the butt of a pistol.

You go out of the downtown section…you drive for blocks…past the university…past the outlying convenience stores…a few fast food joints…some liquor stores…out to the edge of town and beyond.  Into the rolling sage.  Into the darkness.  I know why they turned off onto Pilot Peak Road now.  Pilot Peak was their last turn off before the Interstate.  They had to make that left, or they would have been on the Interstate and from there it was either drive back toward town or drive for miles to Happy Jack Road.  So they took the left onto Pilot Peak Road and drove back into that sub division as far as they could.  Into the darkness.  Where no one would see.  Where their handiwork wouldn’t be discovered for a long time.

You take that drive…out of town…far away from the town lights…into the night…and you start thinking to yourself…This was a robbery? No way.  Just.  No.  Way.   There were two of them against one small, 112 pound boy and they passed plenty of nice, quiet, dark places where they could have taken Shepard, robbed him, dumped him, and driven off. Hell…they passed plenty of places where they could have just shot him dead and driven off without being seen.  You don’t drive that far out of town, into the middle of nowhere, just to rob a 112 pound kid.  You drive him there because you intend to spend a while enjoying yourself beating a faggot to death while he begs for his life and nobody can hear him scream for help, and you don’t want the body discovered before you’ve had a chance to clean up and get rid of the evidence.

That was always the plan, from the moment they got him into the truck.  If you doubt that, take the drive yourself some night, from downtown Laramie to Snowy View Road, and try to convince yourself that they only intended to rob him.

Lessons?  Lessons?   There is no memorial to Matthew Shepard anywhere in Laramie that I could find, the site of this beating is off limits to the public now, and thanks to ABC News, people are calling Matthew Shepard a Meth addict who knew his killers, and maybe even had sex with them once or twice.  And the killing goes on.  They’re learning how to live with the increasing stench of their own prejudices is what they’re learning.  Because that is still preferable to treating homosexuals as their neighbors.

[Edited a tad…]

[Update…]  The Good People of Laramie eventually did decide to erect a memorial after all. Ladies and Gentlemen, I hereby present you with the Matthew Shepard Memorial…bench.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

In Laramie

I was going to lay over in Cheyenne today, but they were all booked for the night.  There’s some sort of festival going on there.  Frontier Days, they’re calling it.  So I had to blast my way to Laramie before they were all booked there too.  The room I was finally able to get was in a place not far from where it happened.  I can look out my motel room and see the general area of it.

I tried to wander around the old historical district for a bit with one of my F1s, but it’s hard to see Laramie.  I took a few photos, mostly around the rail yard.  But everywhere I look there’s a face that haunts me.  The face of a sweet young gay kid who had his whole life ahead of him.

Before bedding down for the night I light a cigar and take a wander up the road away from the motel.  It’s mid July, and the night is a tad chilly here on the high plains.  I walk up the road and quickly leave the town lights behind me.  It’s lonely on the plains.  Quiet, save for the constant plains wind that tugs at my ponytail.

The stars are shrouded by a cloud bank.  I can see a few, shining weakly through the clouds.  But mostly it’s pitch night here.  My path recedes ahead of me into blackness.  All around me rolling sage covered hills swell and dip in the night like an unsettled sea.  My guide stars are nowhere to be seen.  I’m not sure which way is which.  Only the footpath I’m on suggests direction, and it leads further and further into the darkness.  Eventually I stop, drag easily on my cigar, watch the smoke drift away into the night.  Behind me are the town lights.  Somewhere, many unseen horizons to the east is my empty little home, waiting patently for me to return.  To my right, at the top of a small hillside, is a wooden post and wire fence, silhouetted against the night.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

July 20th, 2007

Comment Moderation

Due to a sudden and severe increase in my comment spam, I’ve increased the level of comment moderation a tad here.  If you’ve previously left a comment here you should be able to keep commenting without difficulty.  If you haven’t you’ll probably see a message saying I need to approve it before it will appear.  Also, if your comment has more then one hyperlink in it you’ll also get that message.

Hopefully this will take care of the problem.  If not I’ll have to hold all comments for moderation.  If the level of comment spam goes back to normal levels I’ll reduce the moderation level again. 

I’d like to throttle them all… 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Comment Moderation

Sexual Anorexia

A really interesting post from Joe Kort, over at Straight Guise

Many religious homes are very judgmental about homosexuality. Ex-gays go through exaggerated attempts to repress, control and avoid their sexuality—in a way that parallels the dynamics of sexual anorexia.  Ex-gays have come to see me talk about believing their homosexual urges were sick and wrong. They believe their homosexuality is a sexual addiction and try to use Patrick Carnes’s model to set boundaries around their “sexual acting out” behavior. They speak of hating themselves for having these homoerotic urges and would never consider acting them out. Instead, they work hard at repressing them. Preoccupied with any feelings toward the same gender, they’re extremely judgmental toward those who do live out their homosexual orientation, sexually and romantically. They tell me they don’t believe me when as I say I’m happy in my life as a gay man.

Ex-gays go to extremes to avoid sexual contact with the same gender, even if it means behaving in hateful ways—such as trying to pass legislation against gays. I strongly believe that those in the forefront of the ex-gay movement suffer from sexual anorexia and self-hatred about homosexuality, which was taught to them as children. So many come from families, cultures, and communities that disdain homosexuality, and have incorporated this to such an extreme that they can never fully actualize themselves as the gays and lesbians they were meant to be and truly are. Along with their true sexual orientation, they have shut down their capacity to be loving and accepting, particular toward other gays and lesbians.

Joe’s site deals with a topic I’ve often thought about…why essentially heterosexual guys have sex with other guys.  Joe takes pains at the top of his blog to assure us he’s not doing "reparative therapy"…

This site is about men who have sex with men (MSM) who question their sexual orientation. This is not intended for reparative therapy, religion or pornography. This site is about the many reasons men engage in sexual contact with other men that are not about homosexuality. It will educate readers on the differences between sexual identity, sexual behavior and sexual fantasy.

I say this topic is of interest to me, as a gay man, because I’ve often found myself, irritatingly, on the receiving end of a straight guy’s attentions.  In my college years, it occasionally came from other straight friends.  Often after they’d just broken up or had a fight with their girlfriends.  I always tried to handle those as tactfully as I could, and I’m still friends with some of them all these years later, but it’s demeaning.  And especially so when I have to live in a society that treats gay people as second class citizens. Sure buddy…you can have a little fling with me…the day I can wear a wedding ring like yours… 

You hear a lot of joking among gay folks about picking up not-so-straight straight guys.  In Memphis a couple years ago I was told by a guy working at a gay bookstore, that the community there in Memphis was mostly married men, who had sex with guys on the side.  And I was hearing from some friends who’d been on an ocean cruse that the sexual pickings on a gay cruse are vastly more limited compared to that on a regular, mostly heterosexual one.  It’s, I’m happy to hear, easier to find a willing straight guy on a mostly straight cruse then a guy on a gay cruse who would cheat on his boyfriend.  I’m sure a lot of deeply closeted gay men do that sort of thing.  But the fact is that there are essentially heterosexual men who do it too and I’ve never thought that was healthy.  I’m finding that Joe’s blog is shining a helpful light into that kind of behavior on the part of straight men.  It’s certainly reinforcing my belief that it isn’t healthy.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sexual Anorexia

Angry Candy

This, for some reason, has been playing on my iPod almost constantly since I left Memphis…

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord
Ive been waiting for this moment, all my life, oh lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord, oh lord

Well, if you told me you were drowning
I would not lend a hand
Ive seen your face before my friend
But I don’t know if you know who I am
Well, I was there and I saw what you did
I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off the grin, I know where you’ve been
Its all been a pack of lies

And I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord
Ive been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh lord
I can feel it in the air tonight, oh lord, oh lord
And I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life, oh lord, oh lord

Probably because I saw something while I was there that rekindled a long smoldering anger. 

I found this from the Dixie Chicks just a few minutes ago over at Chronicles of an Ex-Ex-Gay… 

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

I should probably listen to some of their music…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Angry Candy

July 19th, 2007

Loving The Sinner…(continued)

Via Box Turtle Bulletin.  The man who went to a Houston Texas gay bar looking for a homosexual to kill, and killed 46-year-old Kenneth Cummings Jr., believes with all his heart that he did the right thing.  Well of course he does…

Murder suspect says he was doing God’s work

A Cypress man charged in the death of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant said Saturday that he was doing God’s work when he went to a Montrose-area bar last month, hunting for a gay man to kill.

"I believe I’m Elijah, called by God to be a prophet," said 26-year-old Terry Mark Mangum, charged with murder June 11. " … I believe with all my heart that I was doing the right thing."

Interviewed in the Brazoria County Jail Saturday morning, Mangum said he feels no remorse for killing 46-year-old Kenneth Cummings Jr., whom relatives described as a "loving" son who never forgot a holiday and a devoted uncle who had set up college funds for his niece and nephew. He worked at Southwest for 24 years.

Mangum, who described himself as "definitely not a homosexual," said God called on him to "carry out a code of retribution" by killing a gay man because "sexual perversion" is the "worst sin."

Mangum believed Cummings to be gay.

"I planned on sending him to hell," he said.

Cummings disappeared June 4. His charred remains were found June 16, buried on a 50-acre ranch near San Antonio owned by Mangum’s 90-year-old grandfather.

Hey, John Smid…I got your considerate and transparent dialogue right here…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Loving The Sinner…(continued)

We Are Always Open To Considerate And Transparent Dialogue. Not That We’ll Engage In It…

Dialogue anyone?

July 17, 2007

Love In Action received no formal notice of Mr. Toscano’s arrival, not did he invite us to participate in today’s proceedings, though it is apparent he did take the time to invite media sources…

Blah, blah, woof woof…  And you took the time to prepare a statement for the press and have a bunch of them printed up with with your logo and web site address and attach a tasteful little business card with your Communications Coordinator‘s name on it to every one.  So you knew it was happening, and in fact, Peterson has been talking to you John Smid.

But then…you knew that.  The wall is yellow John. 

More on the Survivor’s Initiative at Love In Action last Tuesday, and Peterson’s response to the LIA press statement Here.   In the meantime, I have some photos…

David Christie (right) and Brandon Tidwell display the collages of their
life journeys they would later present to the Love In Action staff.
At their request I’ve blurred out the details in the artwork.



 Some of the local folks who came out to support the survivors…


Brandon and David return from delivering their collages
to the LIA staff.  The only point at which anyone from LIA
came out to talk to anyone was to deliver copies of their
press statement.  I’ve no idea what was said at the door to
LIA, but the meeting was short.


 Brandon gets some artwork to take back home with him.
One of the protesters gave Brandon her poster and I’m
a tad jealous because that was a real good one.  I’d watched
them making it and a bunch of other good ones just before
the first anniversary protest last year.


LIA’s Press Statement

Someone had put them there, to keep them from blowing
away I guess, and I thought it made a good shot.  I think
that’s one of Morgan’s tripods.




by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on We Are Always Open To Considerate And Transparent Dialogue. Not That We’ll Engage In It…

July 16th, 2007

Memphis Wander

Just wandering around…

Pawn Shop With Golden Lion- Memphis


Cash For Gold – Memphis


Shopping Cart Line – Memphis


Chism Trail – Memphis


Side Entrance, Raleigh Springs Mall – Memphis


by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

July 15th, 2007

Those Little Things That Creep Up On You The Older You Get


For some years now I’ve had to wear glasses to read with.  It started out with the tiny print.  You know…the font the food companies print the ingredients lists on their product packaging with.  It got worse slowly…like a creeping fog cluttering up my vision.  One day I noticed I could not read the year mark on a dime.  Then it was the print in a newspaper.  Then it was the print in a book.  Then it was the print on maps.  Then it was the text in my computer display.  I gritted my teeth and just bought new half frames with stronger and stronger magnification factors.  I didn’t mind the half frames so much.  They were light in weight, and I could tuck them into my day pack and shirt pocket where they didn’t take up much room.  And I liked the look of them on me.  Even after a friend called me Granny Garrett when he saw me wearing a pair.  Half frames were invented by Ben Franklin, a man I greatly admire.  They’re so typical of his practical, common sense inventiveness.

I’d held out a hope that my distance vision wouldn’t be affected.  But some time ago I had to admit deep down inside that it was not to be.  I noticed myself having to work to get distant signage into focus.  Then I noticed I was doing the same thing to get the horizon into focus.  I could see it coming then.  So I did what any graphic artist would do when he notices his vision is getting worse.  I went into denial.

As long as I could reasonably make out what was there in the distance, I didn’t bother noticing that it was all getting fuzzier and fuzzier.  I just didn’t want it to be.  When the letter from the Maryland DMV to renew my driver’s license came in the mail the other day, I hoped that I could still pass the eye exam and for another couple of years at least not get the damn notice put on my license, that this driver needs to be wearing glasses to legally drive.  After all, I could still read the highway signs.  I just had to work my eyes a tad to do it.

Well…it was on the road to Memphis yesterday that I finally had to admit it.  My distance vision isn’t right anymore.  It’s not horrible by any means.  But it isn’t right.  Driving down highways that are unfamiliar, in traffic flows you are not used to, you really need to be watching the signs the moment they appear in the distance, so you can make your lane changes safely, well before the cutoff points.  When you can’t read the big green Interstate highway signs at a distance anymore, when you need them to be almost on you before the fuzziness goes away enough that you’re certain you know what they’re saying to you, you need glasses.  

Had I dealt with this more rationally I might have had some before I started heading out to Memphis.  As it was, I was able to get by using an old, old pair of spare reading glasses I’d stashed in the glove compartment.  They were so old they were useless for reading with, and I’d been meaning to toss them out.  As it turned out, luckily, that was just right for seeing the highway signs again.  But what really convinced me when I put them on and looked into the distance, wasn’t just the highway signs.

Oh…the horizon…it’s full of stuff now…

I could see it all…and yet I couldn’t.  I could see all the trees and houses in the distance, all the buildings in the far city skylines, all the elegant structures, human and natural, in the world around me.  But over the last couple years apparently, the detail in all that plenty had been fading away like the color in an old photograph.  And I didn’t know how much of it I’d already lost, until I put those old, weak, useless reading glasses on and looked out at the world beyond the highway signs.  I’d allowed my world to loose more of its richness and vitality then I’d realized, because I just didn’t want to know that my eyes were getting old, and that I was going to have to start wearing glasses all the time.

I hate it.  I used to have great eyes.  My left eye had better then normal vision in it: 20/14.  It’s still the better of the two.  But both of them need help now.

Since I was going to stay in Memphis for a while, I checked around to see if one of those quickie eye glass places could take me in, and make me a couple pair to tide me over until I got back to Baltimore.  I found a place that says they can do my exam first thing tomorrow morning, and probably have my glasses ready in an hour.  That’ll do until I can get back home.

My face is going to have a whole new look I reckon.  Oh.  And one other really irritating thing.  In the motel, I took a look at myself in the mirror with those old reading glasses I’d been using to drive down the highway with.  I’m 53 years old, and I hadn’t thought I was looking my age, until I looked at my face with a pair of glasses that allowed me to clearly see all the detail that I’d been missing, probably for the past couple years.  Damn.  Damn.  Damn.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

July 14th, 2007

On The Road

It’ll be lite posting for a while here because as of…er…Right Now…I’m heading out to the big highways to visit some friends, attend the Open Source Developer’s Conference in Portland, and do some exploring along the way.  I’ll be on the road most of the day today, but I’m heading for Memphis and I’ll stay there for a while to see some friends, and…stand with Soul Force in front of Love In Action.  Via Peterson Toscano

Ex-Gay Survivor Initiative Heads to Memphis

What: Gay men visit Love in Action to tell of the psychological and spiritual harm that they experienced there and in other "ex-gay" ministries. Three survivors of the controversial residential program will present Love in Action with personal artwork depicting the damage caused by the message that gays and lesbians can and should change their sexual orientation.

When: Tuesday, July 17, at 10:30 a.m.

Where: Love in Action, 4780 Yale Road, Memphis, Tennessee

Who: David Christie is a former Love in Action client who spent 13 years in ex-gay therapy before accepting himself as a gay man at the age of 28.
Brandon Tidwell completed Love in Action’s adult residential program in 2002, but ultimately rejected the organization’s theology and reconciled his sexual orientation with his Christian faith.

Other participants: Jeffrey Harwood, Lance Carroll

Why: Love in Action (LIA) is a Christian residential program that claims to help clients "break out" of "homosexual attraction and behavior" at a cost of $7000 for 3 months. In 2005, the facility was under investigation by the state of Tennessee for operating a mental health facility without a license. LIA has since changed its operating procedures to avoid state regulation. Most recently, LIA closed its controversial Refuge program for teenagers and replaced it with "Family Freedom Intensives," a 4-day, $600 per person. The program is for parents of gay or questioning teenagers.

Love in Action is part of a larger "ex-gay" movement, which continues to thrive in spite of Americans’ growing conviction that sexual orientation is not subject to change and despite a growing willingness on the part of faith communities to accept gays and lesbians as whole and valuable members.

This event is part of the Survivor’s Initiative, a national campaign to share the stories of "Ex-gay Survivors"-men and women who feel that ex-gay messages and programs did them more harm than good.

If you are in or near Memphis, come and show your solidarity. Also, spread the word. It’s been two years since the summer protests sparked by Zach Stark’s blog entries. No matter how LIA words it, Refuge is no more. Even so, the voices of their former LIA clients need to be heard as a witness and a warning.

If you can be there to stand peacefully in witness and solidarity with the survivors, please come.  The ex-gay movement cynically pleads tolerance for religious diversity and freedom of choice but they have none to offer themselves for gay people.  They instill shame where there should be joy.  They teach fear where there should be love.  They build walls of shame and fear and mistrust between parents and their children.  All so that our hearts may bleed, so that they can feel righteous.  If there is such a thing as Sin in this world, Capital S, then to put a dagger of shame into a person’s heart and take away the possibility of finding that intimate other and building a life together, must surely be a big one.  For years the ex-gay ministries have claimed that thousands have changed.  Now another voice is making itself heard: that of the ones who tried, and who learned after great hardship and pain that to finally become whole persons, they first had to accept themselves, in the words of the old spiritual, "Just As I Am." 

Come, stand with us if you can, in witness and in solidarity.  Just as you are.  Just as we are.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

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