Brought me to tears, this. Especially since the company that produced this ad, Kodak, has been such a big part of my life and they’re struggling now to hold on in this digital age (note that the filmmaker shot this in 35mm). They could have just kept silent but not only did they not do that, they went far beyond simply making a boilerplate statement of diversity: they showed us all a film about love. And now…when so many people need it so very much.
I think this may just be the best Christmas present ever. Thank you so much Kodak: from a gay guy who’s been an amateur/sometimes professional photographer since he was a teenager back in the 1960s-70s (who still loves his film cameras very much). I wish I could have grown up in the world your filmmaker shows us here…but I am glad that other gay kids will now…thanks to folks like you.
Back from another much needed Walt Disney World vacation. Guess which Mickey pin you can’t find at Walt Disney World anymore…
And no, they’re not gone because I bought every one…although it may look like that here. After the Pulse shootings they were everywhere around Walt Disney World. They had a giant sized one near the entrance to the pin trader’s hutch in Disney Springs last July, but you couldn’t find any of the pins. I figured they were just out of stock. But no, they’re not selling them anymore.
Granted, this isn’t the gay rights movement rainbow. That’s a different set of colors. I knew that when I first set eyes on one of these. It’s called the Peace Rainbow. But it’s close enough that many of us just started wearing it, particularly around Gay Days. Nobody expected Disney, in it’s nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean, relationship with its LGBT guests to actually produce a rainbow flag Mickey. But it was close enough that if you wore one, everyone pretty much knew what it meant. I wore mine back in July, after Pulse, and got a lot of sympathetic comments from the cast members.
This time around I mostly wore my Tomorrowland pin (and got some friendly comments about that too). But on my last day I wore a rainbow Mickey and as I was being checked into Epcot the security lady who went through my camera bag said “I like your pin…I have one at home”. This is how we wave to each other.
So…the reason I have so many of these is I would go to Walt Disney World and forget my rainbow Mickey and just buy a new one while I was there. They were that ubiquitous. Now that they’re not selling them anymore (I asked, and was told I might be able to find one on eBay…(sigh)) I might have some collectibles now. I’m guessing the reason is ever since Pulse and the sudden explosions of rainbow Mickey’s all over the parks the jig was up and now Disney can’t sell them anymore because…well…
And it’s not even the LGBT rainbow. Be nice if they actually did produce an actual rainbow flag Mickey. They make them for other nations and ethnic groups after all. But you can just hear people bellyaching about Disney bringing sex into a Family Friendly theme park, sexualizing Mickey, a children’s cartoon character forever ruined, if they did. That relentless dehumanization of gay people is another topic, for another day. It’s the reason why you can see images of Disney lovers everywhere in the parks, in all the shops and character meets…and they’re all exclusively opposite sex pairs. Opposite sex coupling is love. Aren’t they so adorable?
A rainbow Mickey couldn’t be about all the colors of love. Because homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.
by Bruce |
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August 23rd, 2016
Please Walk A Mile In Our “Social Stigma”
A blogger I gained some measure of unexpected respect for, when he turned around from being a supporter of forcing teenagers into ex-gay therapy to being in opposition when confronted by the evidence of what it was actually doing to those kids, wrote a brief-ish blog post critical of this new paper (he called it a study that isn’t a study and you may notice I’m not calling it a study either because it isn’t) asserting that there is no scientific evidence that gay folk are born not made, but seemingly agreeing, or at least he quotes someone who agrees with, the conclusion that “social stigma” is an insufficient cause for the higher than average mental health issues gay people in general experience.
I would like anyone who thinks you can bundle the stresses imposed on gay people, and in particular on gay kids, into a tidy little package labeled “social stigma” to take a step back and appreciate just how hard it is to grow up gay, even these days, let alone try to live a whole and happy life as a gay adult. It isn’t just “social”, it’s “family”. The stories I’ve heard from other gay people about growing up in a unsupportive family environment, let alone a hostile one, would make a brick cry, if not a fundamentalist. Here’s one from my own past I’ve posted about before…
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.
I ended that one with these words…please pay attention: 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.
You can’t write “social stigma” on that knife to the heart and say you understand anything about how deeply it cuts.
by Bruce |
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August 8th, 2016
Some Of Us Will Always Be Living In A Time Of AIDS
Time passes, the universe expands, science does its thing, and where once a diagnosis of AIDS was a death sentence, now it is a largely manageable illness. Treatments are out there that can reduce a person’s viral load to undetectable levels. And there is even PrEP, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis…a little blue pill that us HIV negative folk can take if we’re still sexually active, that can reduce the risk of HIV infection by over 90 percent.
But AIDS still has the power to make me cry, even now, so many years after it first began taking people away from me, so many years after the worst of it. Friends I’d made on the GLIB BBS (the Gay and Lesbian Information Bureau), gay folk I’d come to know in other settings, artists, musicians, people who made life beautiful. I used to have nightmares of walking among the Names Project quilt panels and suddenly coming upon a name I really, really didn’t want to see there. It seemed like it would never stop. And it hasn’t really. Just yesterday I learned a classmate from high school, Rocky, had been taken, back in the late ’80s.
I’d had no idea. We weren’t friends back in Class of 1971-72, but he was in the Drama Seminar and as student newspaper photographer I got to watch him in rehearsals, and capture something of him on stage. And Rocky just came to life on the stage. I still vividly recall a moment when, during a rehearsal of “Beggar on Horseback”, after one of the characters delivered a dark, melodramatic line, Rocky suddenly ad libbed running across the stage laughing maniacally, flapping his cape behind him. Everyone laughed. The director said, “Keep it.” And that was how they performed that scene.
When I got my film developed I showed him some of the shots and he asked for copies. These two of him on stage below, are my favorites of him. And all these years later I’m still kinda proud he liked them. He was really something special on stage, and when another artist like that gives your art some respect it lifts you up.
In retrospect I should have seen it, but it’s testimony to how naive and clueless I was back then (years later at a class reunion I was clued into some student gossip of who was doing who back then and you should have seen my jaw dropping). I was posting to the Woodward 1970s Alumni Facebook group the other day, I began to remember, and wonder, and I asked if anyone knew what had become of him. And yes, I asked with a touch of apprehension. You had to have lived through it to understand how reflexive that flinch is. And…I was told.
And it all comes back…all the misery. It just keeps on happening. He was a sweetheart, and so very talented and alive. Way more than I ever was or could be. Here’s to you Rocky…and to everyone who loved and was loved by you. If I could have one hour of time to go back to, I would spend it back then on the Woodward stage with my camera, being the student newspaper photographer, watching you and all my other classmates in the Drama Seminar. We had so much fun and we didn’t even know how much.
by Bruce |
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June 16th, 2016
We Sought Shelter From The Storm, And Gathered Within, We Discovered Ourselves…
What I found in Paradise—what I found at Sidetrack, Little Jim’s, the Loading Dock, Berlin, Christopher Street—was the truth. It was a truth my parents, my church, the media, and the medical establishment all conspired to hide from me. I had been told that being gay meant being alone, that being homosexual meant being miserable, that being queer meant being loveless, friendless, and joyless.
Then I walked into a gay bar where I saw men with their friends and men with their lovers. I saw men dancing and I saw men laughing. I found a community that I had been told didn’t exist. I found love, I lost love, and I found love again.
My discovery of this truth wasn’t in the bar scene. Being raised in a Baptist household I had an ingrained reluctance to walk into a bar that lasted well into middle age. But my first Pride Day festival in Washington D.C. (I grew up in the D.C. suburbs), in 1977 on the street where Deacon Maccubbin’s Lambda Rising bookstore was first located, was a joy and a revelation. Later I found it in the first primitive computer bulletin board systems and FidoNet, the world wide computer network created by amature computer geeks before the Internet was opened to commercial use.
Before that first Pride Day, and the books and newspapers I found at Lambda Rising, everything I knew about gay people and what it was to be gay I had learned from the pop culture I’d grown up in, the vantage point of the heterosexual majority. It was like listening in to people talking past me, about me. A conversation that was about me but very little of it spoke to me. It’s hard to not think of yourself as some sort of damaged goods or tragic mistake of nature, even if logically you know that isn’t true, when that’s all you’re hearing about you from every direction. What I saw at that Pride Day, and later on the first BBSs was that we no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore. We could see each other. We could see ourselves. Finally.
And that’s why those spaces were so important, and still are. We needed to be able to do that, to see ourselves as we are, as people, before others could see us as we are too, past the myths, lies and stereotypes. So we could be people. So we could be Neighbors.
by Bruce |
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June 4th, 2016
“I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me,” the 35-year-old singer wrote in a letter to his fans that was first published by Religion News Service on Tuesday. “But if this honesty with myself about who I am, and who I was made by God to be, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom.”
-Trey Pearson Christian musician comes out, in moving letter to fans
I have seen so much of this in my life, heard so many stories like this and not only from the Evangelicals. And it is heartbreaking, not only for the pain caused to the gay person, their spouses, their children, and their families, but also for the abuse toward him that you just know is coming. And it makes me more angry than I can describe to know many of those who will now begin hurling that abuse at him, and at anyone willing to stand with him, were active participants in building and nurturing the environment of hate that led him and so many others like him to see marriage as a cure, or at least a refuge. But I suppose they do it so they don’t have to see the the bottomless pit of guilt and shame waiting for them at the end of Pretense Road.
Here’s the full letter from Trey Pearson to his fans and friends:
To my fans and friends:
Most of us reach at least one pivotal moment in our lives that better defines who we are.
These last several months have been the hardest – but have also ended up being the most freeing months – of my life.
To make an extremely long story short, I have come to be able to admit to myself, and to my family, that I am gay.
I grew up in a very conservative Christian home where I was taught that my sexual orientation was a matter of choice, and had put all my faith into that. I had never before admitted to myself that I was gay, let alone to anyone else. I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me; so it never was an option for me. I have been suppressing these attractions and feelings since adolescence. I’ve tried my whole life to be straight. I married a girl, and I even have two beautiful little kids. My daughter, Liv, is six and my son, Beckham, is two.
I had always romanticized the idea of falling in love with a woman; and having a family had always been my dream. In many ways, that dream has come true. But I have also come to realize a lot of time has passed in my life pushing away, blocking out and not dealing with real feelings going on inside of me. I have tried not to be gay for more than 20 years of my life. I found so much comfort as a teen in 1 Samuel 18-20 and the intimacy of Jonathan and David. I thought and hoped that such male intimacy could fulfill that void I felt in my desire for male companionship. I always thought if I could find these intimate friendships, then that would be enough.
Then I thought everything would come naturally on my wedding night. I honestly had never even made out with a girl before I got married. Of course, it felt anything but natural for me. Trying not to be gay, has only led to a desire for intimacy in friendships which pushed friends away, and it has resulted in a marriage where I couldn’t love or satisfy my wife in a way that she needed. Still, I tried to convince myself that this was what God wanted and that this would work. I thought all of those other feelings would stay away if I could just do this right.
When Lauren and I got married, I committed to loving her to the best of my ability, and I had the full intention of spending the rest of my life with her. Despite our best efforts, however, I have come to accept that there is nothing that is going to change who I am.
I have intensely mixed feelings about the changes that have resulted in my life. While I regret the way I was taught to handle this growing up, how much it has hurt me and the unintentional pain I have brought Lauren, I wouldn’t have the friendship I now have with her, and we wouldn’t have our two amazing, beautiful children. But if I keep trying to push this down it will end up hurting her even more.
I am never going to be able to change how I am, and no matter how healthy our relationship becomes, it’s never going to change what I know deep down: that I am gay. Lauren has been the most supportive, understanding, loving and gracious person I could ever ask for, as I have come to face this. And now I am trying to figure out how to co-parent while being her friend, and how to raise our children.
I have progressed so much in my faith over these last several years. I think I needed to be able to affirm other gay people before I could ever accept it for myself. Likewise, I couldn’t expect others to accept me how I am until I could come to terms with it first.
I know I have a long way to go. But if this honesty with myself about who I am, and who I was made by God to be, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom. In sharing this publicly I’m taking another step into health and wholeness by accepting myself, and every part of me. It’s not only an idea for me that I’m gay; It’s my life. This is me being authentic and real with myself and other people. This is a part of who I am.
I hope people will hear my heart, and that I will still be loved. I’m still the same guy, with the same heart, who wants to love God and love people with everything I have. This is a part of me I have come to be able to accept, and now it is a part of me that you know as well. I trust God to help love do the rest.
Of all the commercial tributes to Prince, this IMO is the best…
Note that they didn’t put one of their current models in it, as if it were nothing more than cheap advertising. Look closely at that back window. Only one year had that split rear window and it was the first year of the new Stingray body style. That 1963 Corvette is legendary and highly prized by collectors. Check the prices they fetch when in good condition.
A neighbor in an apartment complex mom and I lived in bought a ’63 Vette…but not the coupe. His was a yellow convertible with chrome side exhaust (“lake”) pipes and mag wheels and I lusted after that car, as only a tween-age boy whose bedroom was full of model cars and hot rod magazines could. I knew the sound of it, and every time I heard that engine come to life I was out on the balcony like a shot, just to stand and watch it pull away, and arrogantly take charge of the the road.
The pleasures of adulthood are richer, but in their complexity not as pure. Little Red Corvette expresses it perfectly. I guess I should’ve closed my eyes, when you drove me to the place where your horses run free, ’cause I felt a little ill when I saw all the pictures of the jockeys that were there before me… I was much too young to have understood what Prince was singing about back in those days. But every time I hear that song it takes me back to that first early boyhood thrill at the sight of power and beauty combined.
by Bruce |
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March 12th, 2016
Madam Calico and me hanging out on the front porch.
It’s taken me five or six years to gain this level of trust out of her.
Few things in life make pampering yourself more sensible than hostility from your high school crush. So my last vacation day I went to the Brown Derby to hang out with the other stars and have drinks and five star food and stuff…
I love this place. Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World is one of my favorite theme parks for the way part of it tries to be like the Hollywood of the 1930s/40s. I love the art deco main street, at the end of which is a reproduction of the last of the three Brown Derby incarnations. You walk in and you feel like you’re there. Well…except for all the other guests making it painfully obvious this isn’t 1930s Hollywood.
It took almost 45 years for my first high school crush and I to have our breakup fight. The advantage to waiting so long is at this age I can handle the emotional swings of it better, plus having some real life experience under your belt gives you better aim when you’re throwing shit back in someone’s face. So for this special occasion I went and ordered the Good Steak…
You’re looking there at the most expensive dinner I’ve ever had, or ever will have, because it’s not bloody likely I’m ever spending that kind of money again on dining out. (100+) But as it was a special occasion it was worth it. How does a steak dinner get so expensive? Simple. You add the 25 dollar Kobe beef option to the already expensive Brown Derby steak dinner.
It was Delicious! Everyone should have steak this good once in their lives. Well…if you eat meat anyway…
It was almost exactly when my server set this down in front of me my phone buzzed and I saw I got another lying harangue from das Submissive complaining about how unruly I am, (just for you hon!) and that we shouldn’t speak anymore because a closet needs peace and quiet. Time was I’d have canceled my vacation and gone back home in tears. This time I settled down to a nice steak dinner.
“Corpse food”…I think the vegetarians call it. Yes. Quite.
by Bruce |
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February 29th, 2016
I just woke up from what was probably the most wonderful dream I’ve ever had. And no, I wasn’t having sex. Actually, since I hit 30 I’ve almost never had dream sex,
I was asked out on a date. That’s never happened to me in real life. Never. I’ve always had to be the one who asked. And usually I got the you’re a nice guy Bruce but it just wouldn’t work answer back.
I won’t go into the details, but me and the object of my affections were both teenagers in this dream, and he was someone I was madly crushing on (and still am…but I said I wouldn’t go into details…). What made the dream even more enchanting was some fairly old fashioned family members were watching all this go down and gave me a signal they approved of the nice boy asking me out, once they’d had a chance to size him up.
It was like a slice of life from a better world, a better life. I woke up feeling Wonderful.
I’m 62, going on 63 now. I’ve had my three strikes. I know it will never be. I think this must be how acceptance feels. I’m okay with the dream I just had. Better than okay. Some dreams don’t have to come true after all. They can just be dreams.
It was the following passage, right at the beginning of the linked article. I read stories like these and they make me really angry about what has been done to gay people…not only in the name of religion to be sure, but a certain sort of fundamentalist religion bears a lot of the blame…
On my first full-day at the Gay Christian Network annual conference, meeting in Houston, Texas, January 2016, I met a gay man, my age mate, who told me that for the past twenty years he has lived his gay Christian life committed to celibacy, but no more. Relatively recently, a pastor of a Southern Baptist church from his home state told him he could fully embrace his sexual orientation as a gift from God and enter into a same-sex marriage if he so desired. The man was, to use the expression, bursting with joy as he told me this…
…and I just want to go grab both sides A and B and yell in their faces while trying to shake some life back into them: get that goddamned cult leader off your back, whoever they are, however sincere they seem to be…Especially if they are sincere…You Do Not Need Third Party Permission To Be a Human Being!
And no, this isn’t about my being an atheist getting all holier than thou about religion. I have always had this reflex toward religiosity, or any politics for that matter, that is controlling. And that’s what this is all about; not denial of sex but denial of the heart within. There is no meaningful distance between I Give You Permission To Have That Intimate Heart-To-Heart Body And Soul Companionship and Permission Denied But Feel Free To Ache For It Until You Die Or Else God Won’t Love You And Neither Will We. None. Zero.
Listen to me, it isn’t Jesus you need to know better…it’s yourself. Love and desire are wonderful beautiful things. Finding it in another is one of this life’s perfect joys. The philosopher Lao Tzu said that being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Shame can only corrupt it, turn it against itself, lock you inside an insidious barbed wire fence. And the loveless soul soon becomes the empty shell for others to live vicariously in. If your faith isn’t a light within you, then it is a shroud someone’s wrapped you in. Unwrap yourself Lazarus, and go live life.
And love God if that’s where you are, or love an amazing and sublime godless cosmos if that’s where you find yourself, and especially find someone to share it all with and love each other wholeheartedly, and don’t ask Anyone’s permission!
by Bruce |
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October 12th, 2015
“If we took just five minutes to recognize each other’s beauty instead of attacking each other for our differences—that’s not hard, it’s really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately, it saves lives. Then again, it can be the hardest thing—because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. And I know many of you have struggled with this, and I draw upon your strength and your support in ways that you will never know.
“And I am here today because I am gay. And because maybe I can make a difference to help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility. I also do it selfishly, because I’m tired of hiding. And I’m tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of that pain. And I am young, yes. But what I have learned is that love—the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes, even the pain of it—is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame, and without compromise. There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection, or simply being mistreated because of who they are.
Full text of her speech at The Human Rights Foundation conference Here.
by Bruce |
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“There comes a day when something inside you snaps, and you can’t go on. If I had been alone I would have lived the nightmare of a denied homosexuality, but God never leaves us alone. And I think He has helped me take this important existential step. It’s important because of its consequences, but it’s also the premise for living honestly, which should be natural for every homosexual.”
There are times you wonder if the reason we can’t be allowed to live our lives honestly is because some people hate seeing in others what they cannot manage for themselves.
This came across my Facebook stream the other day…
“I pray that the church will no longer be segregated,” he [pastor Danny Cortez] explained. “I pray that those who have been marginalized would feel safe in our churches. I pray that we as the church would set aside our difference and learn what it means to be the body of Christ.”
Well good luck with that. Your congregation, save for the few who’ve decided to walk out on it for your loving your son more than the Southern Baptist Convention, understands. And something Baptists understand, if not the SBC, is the local congregation is the community that matters when it comes to church business.
The convention’s Constitution states that “churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”
Homosexual behavior. Homosexual behavior. Homosexual behavior. That same-sex couples experience a wholeness of body and soul, love and desire, completely escapes them. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. That really is the thinking here. They are utterly incapable of seeing the son for the homosexual, the father for the Endorser Of Homosexual Behavior, the congregation for the Church Not In Cooperation.
Cortez’s letter comes just days before the the Southern Baptist Convention could vote to exclude New Heart Community Church at its scheduled in Baltimore later this week.
My poor city. Hasn’t it had enough bad publicity? I can see it now…The Southern Baptist Convention votes to exclude yet another Baptist church for being hospitable to its gay family and neighbors…in a state whose citizens voted For allow same-sex marriage…just days after Ireland did the same…
Beauty Is Only Heart Deep (To Whom It May Concern)…
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
What is doubly so dehumanizing about “people who look like that want people who look like that”: it not only denies the humanity of the person you are calling ugly, it is denying that humanity to the person you think is more beautiful than they are.
But of course, it depends doesn’t it, on what it is you think people “want”.
by Bruce |
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