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April 5th, 2014

Can’t We All Just Get Along…You Miserable Child Molesting Perverts?

Via Dan Savage this morning, I get a link to this excellent article by Mark Joseph Stern over at Slate…

Just a Reminder: The Campaign for Prop 8 Was Unprecedentedly Cruel

The view that Eich was just expressing his opposition to marriage equality, a common stance at the time, strikes me as naive. Because Prop 8 is now dead, and because its passage was largely overshadowed by President Barack Obama’s election victory, it’s easy to forget the vicious tactics of the pro-Prop 8 campaign. Or, I should say, it’s easy to forget them if you’re not gay—because almost every gay person I know remembers the passage of Prop 8 as the most traumatic and degrading anti-gay event in recent American history.

(Emphasis mine)  On the one hand, you can look at this and say the bigots are merely counting on the short memory of the American voter. But it’s more likely that Eich and his comrades in arms didn’t figure that the wounds over that fight would still be so fresh in the minds of the gay community, because after all they’re homosexuals and homosexuals don’t have normal feelings like the rest of us. When you hear them babbling about political correctness that’s not them attempting to trivialize our feelings about what they did to us, it’s them telling everyone they can’t see the people for the homosexuals. When you run a multimillion dollar smear campaign and you don’t expect the objects of that campaign to remember what you did to them, it’s because you don’t think the people you smeared have any human feelings at all, or you simply can’t be bothered to care.

Stern’s Slate article helpfully refreshes the public’s memory of what kind of campaign the Proposition 8 folks ran by showing everyone the ads they used to get people to vote yes. Look at them and tell me it’s time for gay people to forgive big money donors like Eich and put it all behinds us…

The tactics used by pro-Prop 8 campaigners were not merely homophobic. They were laser-focused to exploit Californians’ deepest and most irrational fears about gay people, indoctrinating an entire state with cruelly anti-gay propaganda. Early on, Prop 8’s supporters decided to focus their campaign primarily on children, stoking parents’ fears about gay people brainwashing their kids with pro-gay messages or, implicitly, turning their children gay.

Oh but it was a tad more than that. The eternal trope of the bigots is that to be gay is to be a child molester. You’re gay because you were molested and now you’re out to turn other kids gay by molesting them. That’s what homosexuals are, that’s what homosexuals do. Homosexuals don’t reproduce, they recruit… That’s what was being dog whistled in Each And Every Proposition 8 Ad. And Brendan Eich bought a thousand dollar share in that ad campaign.

And when his one-grand contribution came back to haunt him, instead of even making a minimal effort to distance himself from that massive, slick, professional The Gays Are After Your Children smear campaign he just clammed up and said it was his personal business. Well, when you throw a multi-million dollar smear campaign at me and thousands like me, designed Specifically to arouse the most primitive fears adults could have about their children and make us a target for violent passions…well…that’s my personal business too.

In his one and only public statement about the affair, Eich bellyached

There is no point in talking with the people who are baiting, ranting, and hurling four-letter abuse. Personal hatred conveyed through curse words is neither rational nor charitable, and strong feelings on any side of an issue do not justify it.

This is such a hoot. The Gays Are Coming For Your Children message is Exactly what you trot out when you Don’t want a rational discussion, you just want to push people’s buttons.

Forgive and forget? At least say you’re sorry. Not that you’re sorry we got angry, not that you’re sorry we felt hurt, but that what you did was wrong. And if that’s too much to ask of you then, let’s face it, you’re still in the fight aren’t you…you’re still waiting for your next chance to arouse the old hatreds, the mindless passions, against me and other’s like me, and what you want isn’t for me to put it all behind me and let’s have a fresh start and all be fellow Americans again, but for me and others like me to let our guard back down so you can kick us in the face again.

What happened in California in the summer and fall of 2008 will go down in history in the annals of anti-minority hate mongering. Gay people have been brutalized, jailed, medicated, lobotomized, tortured, burned at the stake, beaten to death, murdered, for so terribly, terribly long, all the way back to when the first scribe wrote that god hates fags in what was to eventually become the bible. And the lies spread by the Proposition 8 campaign have been the tools by which hate has traditionally excused itself, and incited even more hate. They say that history is written by the victors, but the history written in blood never forgets. If you don’t want your name written in the roll call of hate, the time to make amends is always now, not tomorrow, not some day.

 


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React! (2)
March 31st, 2014

Hopefully The Last Time I Ever Have To Draw Fred…

My cartoon for this week’s Baltimore OUTLoud…

I’ve been paying so much attention to my AAEC presence I’ve woefully neglected my own political cartoon pages.  I will be working on bringing them back up to date soon.


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
March 29th, 2014

Don’t Worry…It’s Only Geek Humor…

This came across my Facebook stream the other day…

my-neighbors-suck-funny-wifi-network-names

I think I’ll name mine The Network That Dare Not Speak Its Name…

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
March 28th, 2014

Let’s Talk…Just Not About What We Need To Talk About

I got this link to a blog post from someone working at Mozilla…

What’s Happening Inside Mozilla

I won’t quote from it lest I be accused later of selective editing. Go read it for yourself, the blogger is obviously distraught over the sudden tidal wave of anger being directed at the company for putting a man at the top who gave a thousand bucks to support Proposition 8.  On the other hand, you’d think from reading his links that all the happy gays and gay friendly people at Mozilla have no problems at all with a guy who dropped a grand to cut off the ring fingers of gay couples in California.

PC Magazine wrote the following about the controversy

“Mozilla’s new CEO this week expressed “sorrow” for having caused pain by making a donation in support of California’s Prop. 8, which sought to ban gay marriage. And while he made an “active commitment to equality,” Brendan Eich did not elaborate on his beliefs regarding gay marriage and the LBGT community…”

A thousand bucks might have seemed chump change to this guy but it’s still serious money, and it shows a serious commitment to a belief that homosexuals are at best damaged goods that don’t actually love and aren’t fully human. There is no argument about protecting the institution of marriage as being about one man and one woman that does not have as its bedrock the image of The Homosexual as some sort of defiling pornographic cesspool flung into a sacred ground.  Marriage is about love and family…homosexuals are degenerates that just have sex, molest children and spread disease.  That was what Proposition 8 was about from beginning to end.  It was an attack, not just on the right of same sex couples to marry, but on the humanity of gay people. It was a multi-million dollar hammer brought down against the very idea that there could possibly be anything sacred about the feelings of love and devotion gay couples feel, waged by people who think we are a cancer on human existence.  And Eich bought a thousand dollar share in that campaign.

But at Mozilla according to this blogger, what they’re having is a discussion about freedom of speech verses equality. That’s the argument the religious right wants everyone to have and it’s exactly the wrong argument to be having. You can give your product away but throw your character into the gutter and you’ll be years cleaning it back up. And this man still doesn’t seem to think he did anything wrong.

That’s the problem here. If they’re having a discussion about rights at Mozilla they’re having the wrong discussion.They should be talking about character. That PC Magazine article says that he expressed “sorrow” and did not elaborate on his beliefs regarding same sex marriage and LGBT people.  Tell you what…read His Own Words and then tell me with a straight face that this man has any regrets about what he and countless others did to their gay neighbors in California. Everything is sickeningly there in plain sight, to anyone who has fought this battle:

…the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: “no”.

Hahahahaha…  Where have I heard that before?  You’re just calling me a hateful bigot because I disagree with you!  No Brandan, ‘bigot’ is a perfectly good old fashioned English word and it means something.  And something else that has some meaning is you declaring you won’t discuss your involvement with Proposition 8 at the same time you’re bellyaching about having a rational discussion.  Actually Brandan they had that rational discussion at the trial and David Boies said it best when he said that the witness stand is a lonely place to lie. But it’s not the only lonely place and you are not a mere dissenter. Freedom of speech is one thing. A thousand dollars to a campaign to cut people’s ring fingers off isn’t mere speech.  But let it be said the speech you dropped a grand on is bad enough. That money went to ads that played the Gays Are Coming For Your Children card!  Living with the lies you paid a thousand bucks for come home to roost is another lonely place. You could renounce them, but it seems you won’t, and that makes them your lies too.

Lies are a kind of speech, yes. Hate mongering is a kind of speech, yes. But what kind of speech, and what kind of person utters it? If they are having a free speech verses equal rights discussion at Mozilla they are having the wrong discussion.

[Edited a tad for clarity...]


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React! (3)
March 26th, 2014

Thumping The Bible Verses Thumping The Tire Iron…

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Comparing Gays To Abortion, Pat Robertson Sad Christians Don’t Stone Gays Anymore

700 Club Host And Christian Evangelical Leader Compares Gays To Abortion, Laments Gays Aren’t Stoned To Death Anymore Because Homosexuality ‘Denies The Reproduction Of Human Species’

You had to sorta figure that the TV preacher who told his viewers gays have secret rings that cut people who shake their hands and infect them with the AIDS virus would be sad gay people aren’t being stoned to death anymore.

So are a lot of them. Sit down and total up everything you know about religious conservatives, let alone right wingers, and you discover that you know volumes about who and what they hate and nearly nothing about who and what they love. Charles de Gaulle once said that patriotism is when love of your own people comes first and nationalism is when hate for other people comes first. So if religion is where love of god comes first what is it when hate for other people comes first, because it isn’t religion.


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
March 25th, 2014

Fred

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

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

I’ve lived through such terrible times and there are people who live through much worse. But you see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned and in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children – they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die, but I recognize the habit; the addiction to being alive. So we live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough. It’s so inadequate. But still bless me anyway. I want more life. -Tony Kushner, “Angels in America”

In his book African Genesis Robert Ardrey wrote one of the more eloquent analogies for the grandeur of time and the curtain death places between us and the past, so often overlooked when pondering the origins of life. He asks the reader to place themselves on a lonely narrow California beach where foggy mountains slope down into the sea…

…let us make two assumptions. The first, not difficult, is that the visible horizon is just ten miles away. And secondly, we must assume that our sea is death, and that it is rising. This is not too difficult an assumption either, thanks to the lonely beach with the muted cries of a few distant gulls, and no other living thing. It is a sea of  death that we face, stretching beyond the visible horizon to the other end of the once-living world. The death-sea rises, slowly and eternally as it has always been rising, covering all things that it touches. It laps now quietly at our narrow beach, the present.

Where the little waves fall back not twenty feet across the shining sand, we see revealed the rotting, moss grown, Spanish hulks of the Great Armanda…A gentle trough between two incoming swells reveals for an instant not a hundred feet from where we stand a cross…Hammurabi’s Babylon is lost beneath the water amidst shifting sands. We cannot see it, for the sea has risen too high. Eighty yards from our little beach, however, what seem to be three rocks break the incoming swells and make white water. They are, of course, the pyramids at Giza.

Nothing breaks the surface of time’s ocean beyond the pyramids…Had we the courage to wade out into this sea of no return, and to swim out a few strokes, we should find a sandbar just below the surface. These are the fields and pastures of those Middle Eastern peoples, nameless and forgotten, who domesticated wheat and barley and cattle and sheep… All that we call civilization stands between the sandbar and the shore…

…the beach we stand on is the precarious present. It will be swallowed before long as other beaches have been swallowed, and a new one will form just behind us…

I think of this image often when confronted by death. In Ardrey’s sea the ten mile horizon becomes a million years, and each one after that another million, and not many horizons do we travel before the short distance between the sandbar at the beginning of civilization and the shore seems almost laughably, terrifyingly small, let alone our lonely little beach.  The joke I heard once is that it isn’t that life is so short but that we’re dead for so long.

I strongly doubt there is an afterlife and the concept seems awkward anyway. If you’re still there then there is no after, only metamorphosis of some sort. And even then the question becomes, of what sort. Do we still have anything left of us that can be thought of as human?  In the end, what Tony Kushner said is true; what we want is not so much an afterlife as more life. But I don’t think there is even that.

But there is something. Our lives are as though little pebbles tossed into Ardrey’s sea of death. At the moment they hit the water and disappear we are gone. But there are ripples that fan out and away from our lives: The reputation we leave behind. The things we did to our neighbors in this life.  The good and the bad.

There is no point in doing unto Fred as he did unto the rest of us because he won’t be bothered by it, he’s gone. You could think of picketing his funeral as a poke at the little tightly wound church of hate he left behind, but the point is without Fred that little ball of bile would not be. Fred was the problem and now Fred’s gone and he won’t care what you have to say about him now. His last chance of earthly redemption is gone. He done passed the Last Chance station and now it’s too late to get off. He will always be Fred God Hates Fags Phelps. Perhaps that was how he wanted it in the end anyway, to be remembered for what he hated, not what he loved.  But at the end, could he even remember anything he had once loved?

There is nothing wrong with being angry at Fred. There is nothing wrong with that feeling of contempt for the man.  He earned it, worked hard for it, and probably right up to the very end was immensely proud of it. But stand quietly at his grave, respectfully because this is your destination too someday, and let the life that once was be a warning. Hate does not share power within a heart. It will systematically kill every other thing you have in there, everything fine and noble you ever were or ever could have been, and take from you all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love you might have shared, until there is nothing left inside of you but hate itself. To picket a grave is pointless, there is nothing there anymore, only the ripples of what once was spreading gently across the sea of death. For all his picketing of the dead, and all the obscene hatred he vented at the mourners, he was powerless to stop or alter the ripples of their lives, and all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love that were shared, gently spreading outward in time.  All Fred had within his power was to change the nature of his own reputation, his own life’s ripples and he did not. He hurt a lot of people, but he destroyed himself.

Stand quietly. Say a prayer if you have one in you. Will this world be better for your having walked in it? Then let him go. Don’t bury yourself along with him.

[Edited a tad for clarity...and some additional thumping...]


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
March 16th, 2014

The Closet Is The New Tolerance

The story, as passed down to me, is that several generations back on mom’s side of the family, an Irish man fell in love with an English woman who also loved him very much. And against the wishes of both their families they married. And were promptly disowned by both their families.  So they came to America, and that is why mom’s side of the family tree became Americans.

I could see it…the lovers wanting to come to the New World instead of settling down somewhere in England or Ireland away from their respective families.  Even at a young age I understood that the English and Irish didn’t get along very well.  It wasn’t until I scratched below the surface of the history the books like to call the Great Potato Famine that I began to grasp why it was such a hard history to put to rest, why the old hatreds kept boiling over.  What I never got was why the Irish kept facing ignorant discrimination here in America too. Wasn’t this the Great Melting Pot? Wasn’t this the land of the Golden Door?  Some years back, while perusing the stands at the big Labor Day Flea Market in the little Virginia town mom had retired to, I saw a No Irish sign for sale along with other signs from ugly days gone by.  White Only.  Colored Entrance.  No Indians Served.  They made my skin crawl, yet I hoped someone was preserving all that. I’d been out of the closet for about two decades by then, and had experienced over and over how bigots could be alternatively proud of their cheapshit prejudices, righteous even, and then suddenly turn on a dime and deny they had a prejudiced bone in their bodies.

We don’t discriminate against homosexuals…we are moral people who believe that open sexuality has no place in public…  The double standard being of course that an opposite sex couple holding hands in public is but a simple little display of their mutual love and affection that should put a smile on everyone’s faces, whereas when a same-sex couple does exactly the same thing they’re flaunting their sexuality in everyone’s faces.  We don’t care what you do in the bedroom…just keep it there…

I don’t think in my entire life I ever saw a No Gays sign, or a want ad that said Gays Need Not Apply. But you always knew what would happen to you, the moment you stepped out of the closet. Our struggle was about the closet.  It was always about the closet.  As long as we had to stay in the closet the only things people would know about us was were the lies.  I grew up with those lies.  I knew how they were killing us, how they would always keep killing us, until we could live our lives openly, without fear, and people could see us for the human beings we were, not the monsters they were constantly being told we were.

This came across my news stream this morning…

‘Diversity float’ will be part of St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Foster and his friends and neighbors are not marching Sunday as part of a gay organization. They are marching as South Boston residents who have coalesced around building a park in a corner of the neighborhood known as the Lower End. Many of the people working on the float just happen to be gay. And they have been embraced by the Allied War Veterans Council, the parade’s longtime sponsor.

That would be the longtime sponsor that took their right to discriminate against their gay Irish neighbors all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won a pyrrhic victory.  Every year now the breadth and depth of notable people, politicians and companies boycotting these No Homo parades grows.  But Boston Globe reporter Andrew Ryan would like us to know that diversity is afoot this year in South Boston.  Yes…a Tolerance Float built by gay south Bostonites has been accepted into the parade.  No..embraced.  And I can see exactly why they were embraced too…

“They know us as their neighbors first and as gay second,” said Foster, an Air Force veteran who served in Desert Storm and who has lived with his husband in South Boston for seven years. Of outside gay groups coming in and hoping to march, he said: “How in the world do you ever get compromise if the first statement out of your mouth is, ‘I’m different than you?’ ”

Compromise.  Yes, quite.  And the compromise between staying in the closet and being out is you pretend you aren’t being pushed in and they pretend they didn’t push you.  Such a deal.

“The only way for this to work was to keep quiet. We had to wait it out and prove what we said when we first started, that we’re not here to make a big statement,” Foster said last Saturday, taking a break from float construction. “We all thought, if we just show up on parade day and we march and have a cool float, people will understand.”

There was a time I thought I was working toward this “understanding” myself.  I kept it low key among certain friends…I figured by giving their sensibilities breathing room I was giving them time to work out for themselves how everything they thought they knew about homosexuals was wrong.  I could be the living example that taught them to see past their assumptions and prejudices.  But prejudice is by definition irrational, and in the end I discovered all that was happening was they thought they were teaching me to keep it quiet.

Never doubt, that this is what the Allied War Veterans Council thinks they’re teaching the gays.  The compromise from their point of view is they’re willing to let people they know to be homosexual into the parade.  As long as they…you know…keep it quiet…

Lead parade organizer Philip J. Wuschke Jr. acknowledged that the inclusion this year of two groups with gay marchers represented “a little bit of a step,” but he pushed back against the assertion that the parade is intolerant.

“Gay people march in this all the time. Every year. This isn’t the first time,” Wuschke said. “We don’t ban gay people. We ban groups that are trying to make a statement.”

This is the sort of convenient circumlocution people use to prevent themselves from looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing a bigot staring back at them.  It’s also pathetic.  Does this man truly know nothing of the history of Irish people in the United States that he can honestly believe the St. Patrick’s Day parades do not now and never did have a political overtone to them?

 no_irish-1

pd-paddy

problem_solved

Celebrating a people and their history is making a statement.  So is excluding a people. Being proud of who you are is making a statement.  So is telling someone to hide what they are in exchange for acceptance.

And when gay people willingly closet themselves in exchange for acceptance they are also making a statement. They may think it’s a statement about building bridges, but in reality it’s a statement of self worth. That is what Allied War Veterans Council is happy to have finally taught them.  The Irish have a long and hard history they can be proud to have endured and overcome. Gays…well…they just have sex.  And Irish gays are best not spoken of in public.


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 25th, 2014

Subhuman

This came across my Twitter stream the other day…

No Nugent Is Good Nugent
GOP weeps over Nugent comments, but are these crocodile tears?

There’s been hand-wringing and eye-rolling among the Texas GOP this week over Ted Nugent calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” The real question is, why now?

Because the rest of the country started taking notice, that’s why.  But as usual the corporate news media only looks at it superficially, lambasting republicans for hitching Ted Nugent to their wagon while focusing almost exclusively on his “subhuman mongrel” crack at the president.  Yes, yes, it’s telling in its in-your-face racism.  They’re not even dog whistling at the base anymore.  But that was hardly all there is to find in the catalog of Nugent’s wit and wisdom.

Christ almighty you’d think the Family Values party never bothered to listen to his music, hear the lyrics, or even just glance a second or two at the album cover for “Love Grenade”?

 

And then there’s this lovely little ditty…

Well, I don’t care if you’re just 13
You look too good to be true
I just know that you’re probably clean…

Jailbait you look fine, fine, fine…
It’s quite alright, I asked your mama
Wait a minute, officer
Don’t put those handcuffs on me
Put them on her, and I’ll share her with you

Now get back to me about how you’re all against the gay agenda because homosexuals prey on children.

What were they thinking you ask?  Oh I know what they were thinking.  They were thinking inside that comfortable cocoon that Fox News and Talk Radio and their right wing billionaire money teats built for them.  That gentleman’s club at the edge of town where they can let the masks come off and say all the things they really mean without decency and humanity getting a word in edgewise.  Sometimes they forget the cocoon they live in is not the world they live in, and then the rest of the country sees them hugging the likes of Ted Nugent like he’s their soul brother.  But that’s only because he Is their soul brother.

Take advantage of a 13 year old girl for her body…take the food out of her mouth because you wanted another yacht…the difference between the Wall Street men and the duck dynasty boys is the cost of their toys…

 


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 21st, 2014

I Hate You Cupid…

…but then I’m hardly the only one.  This came across my Facebook stream a little while ago…

straight_boy_freakout

Count your blessings straight boy, and be nice to the one you can’t love back. Painful unrequited love is probably waiting patiently for you too, somewhere down your road…


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 17th, 2014

Solitude…

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox. So much win in that poem…

But she also wrote, Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes. How I hope that is true…


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 14th, 2014

Repost: Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…No Rescue For The Rescuers…

There was the guy I met on the path in Rock Creek Park. I was bicycling to work in those days because I didn’t have a car, and the path through the park was a good shortcut that allowed me to stay off the main roads. It was also a peaceful ride through the woods early in the morning. No busy buzz of traffic, no early morning commuter noise. I saw a cat laying on the side of the path and as I got close noticed it wasn’t moving. At first I thought it was dead, but as I slowed down next to it the poor thing raised its head and looked at me. It was in distress.

Another guy about my age comes bicycling up and together, me gently carrying the cat and him walking both our bicycles, we get the cat to his house, which was nearby. By the time we get there the cat has perked up a bit, but still isn’t moving much. It was a longhair of some sort, there was no blood anywhere on it and its coat was in good condition. But there was no collar so no way to tell who its owner was. Nothing seemed broken but you couldn’t be sure. The guy and his dad agreed to take it to a nearby vet. I went off to work.

After work I stopped by their house to ask about the cat. But I had nefarious motives. The guy who helped rescue the cat was beautiful, and had set even my dull gaydar ringing. On the walk back to his house we began chatting about this and that. There was an air of sadness to him. He spoke in soft, quiet tones as though he was sitting in church. His mother he said, had passed away some years ago and he and his dad lived together. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life but for now he was working part time and in school part time and hoped to get his degree soon. Somehow we begun talking about books we’d read and I’d thrown in a couple trolling comments about Lambda Rising bookstore, which he was familiar with enough that he knew where it was and where it had moved from, and when he mentioned he often used the path for an early morning jog I mentioned Billy Sive, the main character in the novel The Front Runner, and he replied that he was a vegetarian too and it was a better diet not just for runners but everyone.

So there I was at his front door, and his dad answers and invites me in. The guy I’d met was there and the three of us sat in the living room and chatted for a bit, first to assure me that the vet had said the cat would be okay and they were going to take care of it until its owner could be found. Then the talk turned oddly to me…what did I do for a living, how long had I been living in Rockville, what were my interests, and so on. I didn’t mind the inquisition, which came almost exclusively from his dad. In fact I was wanting just then to make myself seem interesting enough to the guy who knew who Billy Sive was that he’d want to see more of me.

Oh yes…I work at a custom plastic shop over in Kensington, and in my spare time I paint landscapes and and draw cartoons. Plus I do photography work for a couple local newspapers and I’m working on a book of my art photography. I emphasized as I usually do when I’m trying to get someone’s attention, my creative side. As his dad chatted with me about my photography, I noted that I had his son’s absolute attention, and from the occasional sideways glances I could tell that his dad saw it too.

His dad asked about my political views and then, as casually as he could manage, asked how I felt about gay rights. And with all the nerve I could manage I replied that I was completely in favor of gay equality. At this point I almost expected to get shown the door, but his dad nodded his head and…smiled warmly. “That’s good,” he said, “that’s good.”

Dad…approves?! This was unknown territory for me, but I was more than willing to explore it. His son seemed very uncomfortable. Shortly after that his dad excused himself, saying he had work to do. When we were alone, his son set me straight.

Dad was a happy agnostic apparently, but when the mother died the son converted to Catholicism. And to be homosexual was a very grave sin (it later became a mere intrinsic disorder…). I could have argued it with him, but there’s a point where you just see it in someone’s eyes that it’s going nowhere. Perhaps he saw it in mine too. He didn’t try just then to get me to believe it too, just to make sure I knew he believed it. 

So we shook hands and I left. Years later I experienced for myself the bottomless grief of my own parent’s deaths…dad first and then many years later, mom…and have never doubted since how despairing and vulnerable it leaves a person. And I have wondered ever since if that gay guy’s dad had been trying, not so much to set his gay son up with a nice boy, but trying somehow to awaken him out of grief. Life goes on…find someone to share it with… But there are those who prefer gay people pass the hours of our lives alone, and in despair. I have no idea if, absent one life hating priest somewhere anything might have come of it between us, but a even a brief walk in the garden might have done wonders for both of us just then. Which, of course, is exactly why he had to believe that love between men was a grave sin, and I had to believe he believed it


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

Repost: Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…The Boy I Met In Church

The Google doodle today is lovely, and for me personally, very painful. Those of us who came of age right around the time of Stonewall had to find our way to love across a minefield of prejudice, ignorance and hate. And looking back on it you realize that so many of those roadblocks were put there to prevent you from proving other people’s prejudices wrong…to prevent you from rising above them. Because the one thing you never want the scapegoat to be able to do, is believe in themselves.

I have remarked often on how the gutter thinks homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. I’ve had it said to me outright at various times online. Orson Scott Card has written columns saying it with the same off-handed matter of factness one might talk about the weather. Here’s Randy Thomasson of Save California saying it. When I was a young man, people took it as an insult, as a mockery of their own happiness and joy, whenever gay people asserted their right to seek and find their other half too. And so many time I came close, only to have yet another chance snatched away because I couldn’t be allowed to live outside the gutter I’d been tossed into.

It’s better for gay youth and young adults nowadays. But this is not a good time for me. I’m 60 years old now, and I have so many stories…none of them happy…

Closest I ever came to having an actual boyfriend was the one I met in church. And that’s the way you would imagine it would happen in the best of all possible worlds isn’t it after all. You meet the boy or girl next door, say at church or some other social common ground. Your heart skips a beat and so does his (or hers) and the next thing you know the two of you are dating. The problem for us was twofold: we were gay and we were Baptists.

So, and perhaps unsurprisingly, right from the start of it emotional closeness was difficult for both of us. It’s a common complaint you hear at the tail end of romantic misfires among gay couples. He had trust issues. He was emotionally distant. Perhaps we simply were not right for each other after all. Or perhaps it was something he confided to me one night, as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice.

We began our tentative affair almost as soon as he got out of the military, having honorably served a tour of duty far, far away from the parent units. His mother and mine were church friends. Every Sunday we gathered at the same church until in my teens I decided church was not for me and mom, while she never stopped trying to nudge me back, never demanded I go whether I wanted to or not. That’s actually a very Baptist approach…there’s a reason Baptists don’t baptize infants and small children. You have to come to God wholeheartedly, just as you are.

For a while I actually worked for his father, but it didn’t last. As a boss he had a very bad temper, and could not keep his harsh brand of fundamentalist religiosity, so different from my own mom’s, out of the workplace. Religious tracts were scattered liberally all over his employee lunch room, and he and a favorite employee would discuss the finer points of the Bible all throughout the day, interspersed with bitter complaints about how his customers were always trying to cheat him. I wondered what home life was like with him. Then during the holidays he leveled a particularly angry outburst at his employees for choosing to spend time the weekend before Christmas with our families instead of in his shop. He’d not told us to come in to work that weekend, only in his usual passive aggressive way said that he would like it very much if we did. The next Monday morning he was shouting at everyone who walked in the door, “I WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS SHOP COMES FIRST!!!” and after storming out to get breakfast all of us (except for the favorite) walked…no, ran…out on him.

Sometime shortly after that incident, the boss’s son came back from his tour of duty and made a beeline to my little apartment in a friend’s basement, and next thing I knew we were in the sack together. Apparently he’d figured me out before I’d even figured myself out. My heart seemed like to burst with joy. I was so very lonely then, broke, no job prospects, no car, living in a friend’s basement, and here comes this guy I’d known since we were both kids, decent, well mannered, with a sharp mind you almost didn’t see behind a very big heart. Everything you would expect in the Baptist boy next door, but without the stereotypical hyper religiosity. He had two eyes that just seemed to smile at everything they saw, and a smile that melted my heart every time I saw it.

He had spent years away from the family nest, and now he was back. Bravely I thought, he came out to them. He said later that his father hadn’t exploded, mom and dad said they still loved him, and it would be okay. I had a chilly feeling then, that I knew just what ‘it’ was. Within a week his visits dropped sharply off. One day he told me offhandedly that he was probably more of a bisexual than gay, and I saw it coming. Two weeks later, after no visits at all, we happened to cross paths at a local grocery store and he told me he was getting married to a lady at the church his folks had introduced him to. I think I just nodded my head and wished him well.

Time passes…the universe expands… Seven years later I get a phone call from him…now he’s living far from the family nest, and recently divorced. Can we see each other again sometime? Well of course. And so we began another brief little hopeless fling. Sometimes you really see how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Emotional closeness, if not physical intimacy, was still excruciatingly hard for him. Are we boyfriends, I would ask. He would never answer, just change the subject. He lived far from my own home, and I was in love, so I began to make arrangements to move closer to him. At the time I was making a living as a contract software developer, and I studied the job market near where he was living. When I told him about that he seemed to panic. Once more out visits dropped sharply off. Then came a day he told me, via AOL Instant Messenger, that he was seeing somebody else.

Perhaps we were just not right for each other after all. The hard lesson to learn about love is you can find someone who is just right for you, who seems to complete you in all the places you never even knew were empty, until you met that one person, saw them smile into your eyes. And yet even so you may not be right for them. They may have a completely opposite feeling about you. Ask me how I know this. Perhaps we were not right for each other.

Or perhaps it was something he told me one night as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice. About the day he came out to his parents. About how the next morning before dawn his father had gone into the household office, fired up the computer, and created a brochure filled with verses condemning homosexuality and what God does to nations that tolerate that which is an abomination in His eyes. About how his father printed up dozens and dozens of copies of the brochure and as the sun rose, walked around their neighborhood and put one in every door of every house, for blocks around. Then he told his son what he had done.

What gay people know is this: strangers can beat you, can take your life away from you, but only family can chew your heart up, and spit it back out. And what I know is this: when you take the ability to wholeheartedly love and accept love from another away from someone, you stick the knife into that person’s heart and also into the heart of the one who might have been loved by them.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

Do You Believe In Love?

This year instead of my usual Valentine’s Day Poster Contest I’ll just repost a few entries from the pre game countdown I put up last year.  Do you believe in love?  When I was younger I did, most definitely.  And I thought it was just a matter of letting fate cross my other half’s path with mine some day.  And perhaps that would have happened too, but for the fact that I’m a gay man, and lots of people have this religious belief that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.  Mind…it isn’t that they have a belief in god or Jesus or whatever…the religion is that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.  There are Christians who believe this, there are Jews who believe it, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists…it doesn’t matter what the avowed faith is.  The faith they’ll spend the significant amount of energy, money, and personal moral capital on is Homosexuals Don’t Love, They Just Have Sex.

You want to light a fire in these folks, be a homosexual who believes in love.  Be a homosexual who thinks you deserve the same chance at it they do.  Then watch, as that place in your heart where a love life might have taken root and grown, is systematically, methodically torn apart…

 I was in my twenties, not at all sure of what I was going to do with my life, but at least making ends meet working as a stock clerk at the warehouse of a small catalog retailer. They had two local stores and one, oddly, in Hilton Head, but like a lot of catalog retailers did most of their business around the holidays from the annual Christmas catalog they mailed out. I’d worked there by then for a couple years. Most of summer and autumn were spent bulking up the warehouse with goods for the Christmas rush. But the two local stores had to also be kept in supply. The Hilton Head store periodically got shipments from our warehouse. The two local stores were supplied by me and the company van.

One day, one of the clerks from the Montgomery Mall store came by to pick something up. My jaw probably made a mark in the concrete floor the moment I first laid eyes on him. About my height and age, thin but not scrawny, short reddish hair and geek glasses. His friendly smile as he asked me where the warehouse manager was seemed to lift me off the ground. I pointed in the boss’s direction and thought of that smile the rest of the day. No…the rest of that week.

Periodically he would return and I would walk over to greet him and our eyes would meet and we’d share a smile. My gaydar was never wonderful but it seemed written all over him. Problem was we were never left alone so I could strike up a casual chat with him. The warehouse was getting busy for the release of the new catalog and we had a bunch of new temporary hires running around. Whenever he came to the warehouse the warehouse supervisor always seemed to get to him first, and by the time he’d finished his business I was usually busy with something else.

Plus, it was the late 1970s. You just didn’t come out to people back then without a lot of careful preparation. By that time in my life I’d already been let go from a couple places after it became apparent that Bruce is gay. One supervisor had told me to my face that there was no place for homosexuals in his business. You had to be careful. If he was gay, and I was pretty sure he was simply by the way his eyes roved cheerfully over my body whenever he came around, he also knew he had to be careful. But after sharing several long lingering smiles with him I resolved to at least get a name and hopefully…somehow…a phone number.

One day as I was dropping off stock to the Montgomery Mall store, he came to the loading dock. He’d never done that before…it was usually one of the other clerks. His shift I’d assumed, was the late afternoon to closing one and I always made my deliveries in the morning before the stores opened. But that day, there he was, and he offered to help me unload. My heart leapt for joy. We began a casual chit-chat as we took the stock out of the van and into the store’s backroom. Then the store manager came out to the van…just as we were sharing another of those long lingering smiles. The look on her face could have frozen lava. She told him there was a customer he should take care of, glared at me, and left me to finish unloading.

The next day I was fired. Allegedly because some unspecified store manager complained my hair was too long. (yes, seriously) A couple days later I worked up the nerve to go to the Montgomery Mall store and of course there she was and I was told not to come back. I later learned he was let go as well. I never got his name. Never saw him again. But I can still see that last smile he tossed at me.

I’ve no idea if anything would have come of it, but a closer walk with him would have been nice. But someone else’s Closer Walk With Thee probably took precedence. And why buy your stairway to heaven when you can make it out of someone else’s dream.

Some years later I ran into the UPS driver who ran the route that serviced our warehouse…my job had me working closely with him getting our stuff out the door to our mail order customers, so when our paths crossed again we immediately recognized each other and started chatting.  Hey…what’s up…how are things…? As casually as I could manage I asked him if by any chance he remembered the guy who had made my heart sigh, if only for one brief moment out of my life.  There was a guy…I don’t know his name, but he worked at the Montgomery Mall store…came to the warehouse every now and then…remember him…? No, says he, he didn’t make runs to the Mall. But the warehouse manager who fired me he said, had ended up getting arrested and going to jail. The owners of the company had apparently caught him with his hands in the petty cash box.

No doubt he went to jail knowing that at least a thief’s chances for paradise were better than a sodomite’s.

 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 13th, 2014

A Coming Out Story – Episode 18

acos-18-sm

A Coming Out Story – Episode 18, now posted!  Wherein our young hero learns the Truth about homosexuality.  Sort-of…


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
February 12th, 2014

A Coming Out Story…[Citation Needed]?

Either tonight or tomorrow I’ll have episode 18 of A Coming Out Story posted. For those of you not following lately, I’m in the middle of a short, three-part story arc within the story that concerns the horrible sex ed class I had back in junior high school, back in 1968. This little story arc is meant to explain why I can’t seem to grasp the fact that I’m gay even while I’m crushing massively on “T.K.”

What I’m about to relate in episode 18 is what I was actually told about homosexuals and homosexuality at the end of this sex ed class.  Going over it all I’d begun to worry that people reading it would think I was hysterically exaggerating.  You were told What!?

But I needn’t have worried…

Gay Soldiers Undermine The Military Because They Have To Take Breaks In The Middle Of Combat To Change Their Diapers

You read that right. Go follow the link…it’s to an article about one of Gordon Klingenschmitt’s latest rants. I’m tempted to add him as a reference to the series, a kind of homophobia’s greatest hits appendix, for when someone tells me I’m exaggerating the level of ignorance and prejudice gay people faced around the time of Stonewall.  Actually, it’s still out there, alive and well.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
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