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February 12th, 2018

So Much Of My Own Life I See In The Stories Of Other Gay Lives

The Internet Tubes have been singing with Adam Rippon’s bronze medal win. Mostly the stories have been inspiring, uplifting, in ways many of us thought we’d never know back when we were his age, and younger. Adam’s own story of how coming out publicly made it possible for him to find his inner place of strength, unadulterated, which was necessary if he was going to have any chance of getting to the Olympics, let alone winning a medal, is especially soul satisfying.

What I didn’t expect reading these stories, was chancing across one that hit me in the gut, deep down in a place still so late in my life, very raw, very tender. This one…

The Bittersweet Beauty of Adam Rippon – How much an out gay Olympian could mean to a kid now—or to a 34-year-old who’s been waiting for it his whole life.

It’s from Vanity Fair, online but not in the current issue. I hope it makes it to the next, because there is something in it heterosexuals need, really need to understand about our lives, and the knife homophobia drives deep into gay hearts. The author, Richard Lawson, writes about his discovery of and fascination about Olympic figure skating with his sister, who was also into it but not in the same passionate way he was. But he had a close friend who was…

We spent what I remember being a whole winter deciding which skater was our favorite (only the women, never the men; even at that age, there was something perhaps too intriguing about them) and gliding around on his hardwood living-room floor in our socks—pretending to do triple axels and salchows, awkwardly mimicking Kerrigan’s beguiling spins—two silly little boys with an appreciation for the graceful things in this rough world.

Time passes…the universe expands…the friends separate as boyhood friends sometimes do…and the boy who loved figure skating grows into an out and proud gay man. Eventually he tracks down his boyhood friend, only to discover he has also come out and proud. I was surprised, and told him as much. He replied, “Surprised? Richard, we used to do figure-skating routines in my living room.”

Heh. It’s a sweet story, especially so in the context of how gay athletes competing openly as the people they actually are, not only makes them stronger as athletes, but how it changes how we all see ourselves, gives us a vision of the possible that lets us find our own places of inner strength. But there was more to it.

On a visit to his parent’s house with some friends, Lawson finds himself talking with his mom about this and that, and she asks about his boyhood friend, and did he ever get married. Lawson tells her his friend is gay. “You’re kidding,” she said. “He’s gay? And to think his father said you two couldn’t see each other anymore because he thought you were gay.”

So the friends hadn’t just drifted apart after all. They were separated, never knowing exactly why, just assuming it was random happenchance, and it wasn’t. It was deliberate.

I am certain nearly all of us, except for the very very lucky, have similar stories to tell of how homophobia took a wrecking ball to what might have become a beautiful thing if it had been left alone. Every Valentine’s Day week for the past several years, I’ve been telling mine. The boy I met in church. The guy I met working in a catalogue warehouse. The guy who helped me try to rescue an injured cat in Rock Creek Park. There may likely be many more that, like Lawson, I had no way of knowing about at the time…gay guys who passed into and out of my life before I even had a chance to notice them, because some hostile bigot noticed them noticing me first.

Most tormenting of all, the guy who was my first schoolboy crush, a thing that felt so wonderful when I finally admitted it to myself, that it allowed me to come out to myself without fear or shame. It was all so amazing…right up to the day we arranged to go on a photography hike together at Great Falls, and that I would call him that morning before I started over to his house. Someone else answered the phone, asked who was calling, and when he finally came to the phone he made it clear that we weren’t going anywhere together, and after that he kept me at arm’s length for the rest of the school year. Like Lawson and his friend, we drifted apart. At the time I was baffled. What had I done to make him angry? Now I understand it better. 

Someday…someday…the knife will lose its power to cut, and hearts won’t bleed anymore, and won’t be imprisoned by closets and loneliness, but will be free at last to sing out their joy, to each other, and to the world. Someday.

by Bruce | Link | React!


Openly

News is flashing all across the Internet tubes about Adam Rippon’s bronze medal at this year’s winter Olympics. And the news articles I’m seeing now are all very positive and hopeful that this represents the dawning of a new era, where athletes can be honest about themselves, not just to the world but more importantly to themselves. Because the closet is a ball and chain sapping them of their strength, limiting all they can be, and you can’t accept limits and expect to reach the Olympics. In a recent interview Adam Rippon put it this way…

“Being gay isn’t what defines me, but it’s a big part of who I am and I like to talk about my coming out because that’s when I started to own who I was as a person,” said Rippon, who spoke to TeamUSA.org on the topic in honor of June’s LGBTQ Pride Month. “That’s what’s important, not the being gay part but at some point — gay or straight — you need to own who you are. You can’t be afraid of who you are or else you’re afraid of your own potential, and if you don’t own who you are then you can’t grow.

“When I came out was when I was able to breathe. When everyone knew, I didn’t feel like I was hiding anything. I didn’t feel like I was putting on a show. I was being me and it was easy. It was a lot easier to be me than to be who I thought I was supposed to be.”

In another interview, which I can’t find again now, he relates how, having failed to qualify in prior Olympics, he became determined to seek out and deal with anything within himself that was holding him back, keeping him from finding and owning his place of strength. What he eventually figured out was it was the closet that was playing a big part in keeping him from getting there, and that when he came out, it was not only liberating, it allowed him to grow as an athlete, find his strength.  And he made it to the Olympics. And now he’s a medal winner.

All my life I have watched the closet suffocating people. Good people. Decent, loving, hard working, beautiful people. This is truth: the closet is no sanctuary. It is a prison. Maybe now is not the time for you to come out. But for you to be everything you can be, that time must eventually come. Find a way to make it happen. Don’t accept the half of a life in exchange for security. The security of the closet is an illusion, and we only get one life. 

They’re calling him and Gus Kenworthy the first openly gay U.S. athletes to compete.  Actually according to Smithsonian Magazine that honor belongs to Robert Dover representing the United States in 2004 in the equestrian events. The first out gay athlete to compete in the Olympics was English figure skater John Curry, and he did not come out voluntarily, but was cornered by a hostile press about his sexual orientation after his win.  He acknowledged it, and later gave the traditional victory performance, which allows the media to call him the first out Olympian.  But he operative word here is ‘openly’, as opposed to ‘outed’. In fact Lots of gay athletes have competed at the Olympics. But fear of hostility from officials and judges, both at the Olympics and in their home countries, kept them closeted.

And it still does for many. Already I’m hearing stories about closeted athletes confiding in Rippon and Kenworthy. So it goes. Yes, it’s progress. Yes, every tiny little inch of that progress, every tiny little baby step forward, comes with a torrent of pain stabbing at beautiful hearts that never deserved any of it.

Someday…someday…we will all shine…


Adam Rippon, photo by Rick Bowmer, AP

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 31st, 2018

When Your Brain Tells You That You Have No Life So Just Die Already

Yesterday I posted a link to a Salt Lake City Tribune article about a Mormon straight/gay couple who are divorcing. A Facebook friend linked me to their own blog post on the matter. It is stunning

Five-and-a-half years ago my wife, Lolly, and I sat together at a hotel in Las Vegas, nervously composing a coming out post that would, unbeknownst to us, change our lives in nearly every way imaginable. We were so, so nervous. But we were sweet and earnest, and we had been feeling the cosmic drive to do this for months . . . we knew, without a doubt, that it was what we were supposed to do, even though it felt totally out of left field, and we had no idea why. Our post went massively viral, and we were featured on shows and newspapers around the globe.

That act of authenticity brought many of you who will read this into our lives. Finally, we were able to live authentically, instead of this life of quiet struggle we had existed in for a decade. Finally we were able to be honest with our community, our friends, our colleagues, our families about our marriage, and about me—that I am a gay man, and that Lolly and I had gotten married knowing this about me. That I always have been gay. That it was not something I had chosen—it just was— but that I loved my wife and my life.

Finally, Lolly and I were out of the closet.

What is especially stunning for me, a gay man, raised in a Yankee Baptist (there is a difference) household, now an athiest, out to myself since I was 17, out to most everyone else by age 30, proud, and single his entire life, is that I see so much of my own internal struggle in this man’s story…

For me, though, it all came down to the people I met with–the actual human beings who were coming to my office. They would come and sit down with me, and they would tell me their stories. These were good people, former pastors, youth leaders, relief society presidents, missionaries, bishops, Elder’s Quorum presidents, and they were . . . there’s no other way to say this. They were dying. They were dying before my eyes. And they would weep in desperation—after years, decades, of trying to do just as they had been instructed: be obedient, live in faith, have hope. They would weep with me, and ask where the Lord was. They would sob. They would wonder where joy was. As a practitioner, it became increasingly obvious: the way the church handled this issue was not just inconvenient. It didn’t make things hard for LGBTQIA people. It became more and more clear to me that it was actually hurting them. It was killing them.

This is how I’ve felt almost my entire life since puberty. I have had my share of life’s joys, especially now in my later years, working for the space program; a dream I would not have dared to dream when I was a young boy. I have had a Good life. And yet I have always felt like I was dying inside. Slowly…bit by bit. A flower becoming a seed. This passage especially, hit me very, very hard the first time I read  it… 

Guys, my life was beautiful in every way. My children, my wife, my career, my friends. It was filled with so much joy. The things I talked about in my coming out post in 2012 weren’t false. The joy I felt was real! The love I felt was real, but something in me wanted to die.

It’s the thing that wants to die in all of us when we don’t have hope for attachment to a person we are oriented towards. It’s actually a standard part of human attachment: when we don’t have attachment—and have no hope of attachment–our brain tells us we need to die.

My suicidality was not connected to depression. That’s how my mind could hide it from me. With no context and no warning, I would occasionally be brushing my teeth or some such mundane task and then be broadsided with a gut-wrenching, vast emptiness I can’t put into words, that felt as deep as my marrow–and I would think in a panic “I’m only 37. I’m only 37. How can I last five more decades?” That thought—the thought of having to live five more decades, would fill me with terror. It was inconceivable for a few moments. And then it would pass.

That’s been me. Almost my entire life. The hopelessness would overwhelm me…and then it would pass and I’d go on with my life. As time passed, and I grew older and older, still never finding that Significant Other, waiting for those sudden bottomless pits of hopelessness to pass became a reflex. I knew they would, because they always did. But I also knew that there was probably one time waiting for me out there, when it would not pass, and I would simply fall in and not come back out again.

Go read the whole thing. These were two deeply devout people, who did everything they thought they had to do to stay right with their maker, and began to realize that they had to stop, for the sake of their lives.

In the end, the correct choice is obvious. We choose the option that makes sure people stay alive.

We should always choose the option that makes sure people stay alive.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 23rd, 2018

That Is Now, This Was Then…

The Boys in the Band stars Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, and Matt Bomer on bringing play to Broadway

Put this down, I reckon, in the same category as I’m trying to get used to hearing the word “queer” as something other than a homophobic slur. I absolutely detested this play. And yet, seeing this group of proud out gay actors taking it on and making it theirs made me want to go watch them do it. I hated everything about this play, and especially its overall tone that so it goes for such as us. “If only we could learn not to hate ourselves quite so very much.”

And here we are, decades later, and we can marry the one we love, and gay kids can grow up not hating themselves, and seeing happy and whole lives ahead of them. But that is now, this was then…

“What I like so much about Boys in the Band is how the play right now reads so much as, ‘Look at how things have changed and look at how they haven’t,’” Parsons, 44, explains in the above behind-the-scenes video.

“We’ve come so far in the last 5 years, just legislatively. And yet there’s been this explosion of backward thinking and harmful thinking and political ideology that swept our country,” says Quinto, 40. “We are responsible for standing up and being acknowledged and celebrating ourselves and celebrating our community in a way that shows these people that are trying to undo the progress that we’ve made that we are not going anywhere.”

Adds Crowley: “You just have to be reminded of how our freedom didn’t exist. We can’t lose it. We can’t go back. There is no good time to tell it except all times.”

I’ll accept that, and go watch this play not as an historical document so much as in full agreement with Crowley’s warning. This is what will happen to us all over again, if things go back, if the Franklin Grahams and Tony Perkins of the world have their way. Yes…now I can see the play in a different light, now I can see how important it is to keep this play alive.

I bought tickets for the May 12 afternoon performance. Get train tickets and a hotel room within walking distance of it later…make a New York City weekend of it and take one of my good film cameras because they love Manhattan island very much.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 21st, 2018

How To Fake A Smile Until The Day After Valentine’s Day

So what’s a lonely old gay guy supposed to do when another painful Valentine’s day approaches? A little whishful sexy drawing of course.

Many years ago I did a series of charcoal and ink drawings on a theme of first love, which I’m still really proud of…

…and which I probably need to get properly framed…and would if I had any wall space left in my little Baltimore rowhouse that wasn’t being occupied by my bookshelves. I’ve been contemplating since I got back from California of doing another series, only this time a little more of a follow up into the passionate stage of that first romance thing.

Oh yes, sadly enough these are going to be mostly wistful daydreams about something I missed out on. Luckily, I can draw my dreams and make them real on paper anyway. This is how I survive.

I don’t do pornography…pornography is obvious. This is about my speed when it comes to all that…

So yesterday afternoon I popped down to a favorite art supply store in the city and bought some good Strathmore 2 ply and I made an enlargement of this one that I’m going to spend the next several days copying it onto the board. I’m still deciding whether to stick to my charcoal and ink technique or try it just in graphite and charcoal. I have a storyline…I have storylines for all my drawings. This is a couple on their first vacation together down in Key West…they have a nice room at what used to be Big Ruby’s (sold off, sadly, since I last visited). The one has just walked into their room after lounging for a bit by the pool one lazy afternoon, and his boyfriend sneaks up behind him…

I need to find a good background image for this to work from. Something perhaps with a window glimpse of some lovely Key West scenery. When I’m done, which might take me weeks, I’ll find a place on my walls for it. If this kind of artwork bothers you I am not in the least bit sorry. This is a gay man’s life blog. Nobody says you have to come here.

by Bruce | Link | React!

December 20th, 2017

“A Generation Of Sociopaths”…And Other Lazy Ignorant Stereotypes…

I was raised, as I’ve said often, by a single divorced mother. I’m not relating this to wear it like a badge, but offering it as explanation. The attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors we express in our everyday lives may well have their biological roots…as in for example the fact that I’m gay…but they’re almost certainly flavored by our life experiences. Different metals behave differently in the fire, but still the fire changes us.

It makes throwing labels around at people problematic. I understand the human need to identify, categorize, sort, put a name on things the better to understand them. But what you must always keep in mind, what Jacob Bronowski clarified for me in his Science and Human Values essays, is the concepts by which we understand nature are always imprecise and imperfect. You have to treat them with humility. What is a planet?

By this stage of my life I suppose I should be used to having labels slapped on me, and all the baggage that comes with them. In grade school I got the problem child label simply for being raised in a “broken home”. Among various family members I was granted the label of being my father’s son, and dad having died robbing a bank that label came with its own lovely baggage set. My maternal grandmother’s favorite name for me (when mom couldn’t hear it) was Stinking Rotten Good For Nothing Garrett Just Like Your Pap…not exactly something that’ll fit on checks or credit cards.

For being a slight somewhat girlish kid in grade school I received a variety of labels. Mom and I lived a very low budget life…another set of labels. In my senior year I came out to myself and earned the gay label, and all the ancillary labels that came with it that Facebook would probably censor if I posted them here. Ever since I can remember I’ve had the urge, the need, to express myself in various forms of art and Artist is the only label I’d willingly apply to myself except it feels so damn pretentious. But there are others: Cartoonist, Painter, Photographer. Sometimes I wear one of those. I took up building my own computers and programming them…another set of labels. I read a lot. I pay attention to political events. I like to travel. I like to explore. Nerd. Geek. Tourist. Wonk. I’m in my 60s. There’s geezer. Old man. Computers have allowed me to suddenly, late in my life, earn a good income. There’s Yuppy. I drive a Mercedes-Benz. There’s Bourgeois. It’s a diesel. There’s nerd again. I should be used to it by now. But it’s not the labels, it’s the baggage that comes with them. You want me to stick the Ignorant label on you, apply a label to me and then expect me to wear the baggage that comes with it. Especially this one: Boomer.

I used to wear it without too much discomfort. That nerd label…I saw it as merely a statistical description. I was born in 1953, therefor I am part of the post war baby boom, therefor I am a boomer. My generation was the reason so many new schools had to be built. So far, so good. But where once I was a trailing edge boomer, benefiting from the struggles of the older kids ahead of me that allowed me to wear blue jeans and long hair in school, suddenly one day I realized I was being lumped in with kids born in the 60s as though we all had the same culture, the same life experiences. Boomer. Never mind the political baggage. Anyone with half a brain who walks through life with their eyes wide open and their mind still curious cannot help but see how generational labels are as superficial and misleading as any other. There’s a history here that separates us Kennedy era boomers from the Reagan era ones, and I can sum it up with the name of a country: Viet Nam.

Some years ago I’m quietly standing at the balcony rail of the outdoor smoker’s lounge of one of D.C.’s gay bars, puffing on one a mini-cigar. A cute young guy walks over to me and gives me a look…

Me: Hi.

He: Are you a throwback?

Me: Sorry?

He: You lived through the sixties?  You know…the hippies and that stuff…?

Me: Yeah…but I wasn’t a Hippy.  There were a lot of different things going on back then.  Most of us were just along for the ride.

He: I know…I’ve read all the books.

Me: Throwback?

He: You know…from back then…

Me: I don’t understand your use of the term.

He: You’re about my mother’s age…

Well I hope “all the books” weren’t published by the same people who make biology textbooks for Liberty University.

Perhaps Ezra Klein and Sean Illing read the same ones. Klein this morning retweeted gleefully this Vox article: “How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America” Subtitled: “The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it.”

So I go to look and right there at the top of the page is…Oh Goodness There They Are…


Screen cap of Klein’s tweet…this is the photo that leads the article

…The Dirty F*cking Hippies “…dancing during an anti-war demonstration staged by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam at Golden Gate Park’s Kezar Stadium on April 15, 1967.” I’ll just bet they’re all smoking acid too. You two have read all the books…right? I haven’t seen such lazy cheapshit stereotyping since the last time I read an article on The Federalist about Teh Gay.

Illing’s article promotes A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Gibney. “The boomers, according to Gibney, have committed “generational plunder,” pillaging the nation’s economy, repeatedly cutting their own taxes, financing two wars with deficits, ignoring climate change, presiding over the death of America’s manufacturing core, and leaving future generations to clean up the mess they created.”

The boomers. The boomers. The boomers. I was raised by a divorced single working mother. My dad died trying to rob a bank. I grew up in a series of small apartments, wearing mostly second-hand clothes and going to public school, where in the 1960s, because I was the product of a “broken home” I was treated like a problem child even though I was pretty well behaved. That didn’t change until high school. I was the first male in dad’s side of the family to finish grade school and get a diploma. I did three semesters of community college and then had to go to work to support mom and me. For most of my life I had no idea how I was going to earn a living and resigned myself to a low income life lived in rooms rented in other people’s houses. Before I started earning a good living as a software developer I had no car, and no prospects. Seen from within, the life I am living now seems an absolute miracle to me. And I look at what the republicans and their billionaire money teats are doing to All Of Us let alone the next generation with a dull horror, Because I Led That Life, I can imagine perfectly well what it could easily have become had I not had the lucky break that allowed me to escape it, and I don’t want it happening to Anyone Else.

But no…I’m a boomer. And a Dirty F*cking Hippy. Who was doing Manpower temp jobs and living with mom when I was the age Klein and Illing are now, and I am a sociopath who doesn’t care who he’s screwing out of a future.

Whatever. If playing Wall Street’s game of Blame The Other Guy We’re Screwing Too works for Vox, Klein, Illing et. al. then fine. Enjoy the cheap thrills of the blame game while I watch people who wish to bury the past, and people who’ve read all the books, keep on grimly repeating it. And…pay attention now…I don’t particularly care if people who don’t know me from Adam hate me for being something I can’t help being. I was fine with that even before I knew that I am gay. I learned how not to give a flying f*ck about that even before my grade school teachers told me I was a problem child because my mother was divorced. I learned how not to care long before all that, while being hated, or at best patronized, by members of my own family for being my father’s son. And I will not wear your goddamned labels, and I will not carry your goddamned baggage. Go to hell.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on “A Generation Of Sociopaths”…And Other Lazy Ignorant Stereotypes…

October 9th, 2017

The Power Of Stories

I posted a short cartoon below about how it was being a gay teenager growing up in the late 60s to early 70s. How, no matter which direction you turned, the message was you don’t exist, or if you did, you should not. At best you were invisible…something not spoken of in polite company. At worst…well…you probably don’t want to hear it here.

Now at least we are visable. We can’t be arrested simply for being visible. Before Stonewall that was a fact of life. The riot happened you may recall, when the police came to raid one of our few bars in New York City. Now we can live our lives openly. Now we can tell our stories in our own words. And now we are, tentatively, becoming part of the audience. Stories are being told, not just about us, but To us.

That’s a problem for some people, who would rather the old rules still applied…

“Black”, “Homo” And “Freaking Females”: Heated Scenes As Retailers Turn On Each Other At Marvel NYCC Q&A

This was about the recent trend in comics to include, or even reimagine characters as women, black and gay. A recent storyline in the X-Men series had younger versions of the team being transported in time to meet their adult selves. One of them, Bobby Drake aka Iceman, is forced to come to terms with his sexual orientation that his adult self relentlessly denied. It made for some amazing and heartfelt drama, of the sort you didn’t use to see in the comics, especially of the super hero kind, and yet which you could have only have found within that genre…

Marvel Comics – Uncanny X-Men #60

This was just amazing, absolutely amazing storytelling. It took the gay generation gap and played it at an angle only this, or a science fiction tale could do, and in doing it made plain the horrible burden the older generation lived under due to the prejudices of their day. What do you do when the kid you once were, comes face to face with you and asks why he should have to live his life in the closet? It’s one thing to tell how it was to the new generation that doesn’t have to live it the way you did, doesn’t have to make the bargains with hate that you did. They need to know this history, if only to keep their watch against it all coming back. But how do you justify it to the kid you once were? What do you say to him?

This is what those retailers, and the readers they speak for, were protesting. And what you reliably hear is something along the lines of hey I don’t have anything against the gays, I just don’t want it shoved in my face. ‘It’ being the fact of our existence. Yes, you don’t have anything against the gays…so long as you don’t have to know we’re there among you. But it’s more than that.

Stories have power. Stories are how we pass down knowledge of what it is to be human. How are we supposed to grow and mature and live our lives as fully realized human beings if we are not allowed to know the stories of the lives of others like us. How are we supposed to grow as decent people if we cannot hear the stories of others who are not like us. How do we see the common human heart we all share. The myths, the legends. The hero’s journey.

The answer of course, is we’re not supposed to grow at all. Black…homo…freaking females. We have to stay where we’re told. In our place.

Marvel Comics – All-New X-Men #17

No we don’t…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Power Of Stories


I Don’t Want To Hate The World…I Really Don’t….

Facebook helpfully sends you these little notices to look back on your Facebook past. You click on the link and get a feed of every post you’ve made on that particular day, going back through the years. Often it’s fun and enlightening. Sometimes it reminds you of things you’d rather forget. Like the day the best cat to ever come into my life got run over by a car in front of my house.

Today it was this, from October 9, 2011…

Of all the life experiences I’ve had that I could absolutely have done without, getting lectured by a guy I loved very much and thought of very fondly for 40 years about how I need to look elsewhere because life in the closet has damaged him too much is probably right at the top of that list.

When I told you that it was falling in love with you when we were both young that freed me forever from any possibility of living in the closet, I thought you’d feel proud. But I was twisting the knife in your heart wasn’t I?

I don’t want to hate the world. I really don’t. But some days I really do.

Further down in Facebook memory lane, there was this on October 9, 2008…

[Bruce Garrett] …is still reeling from a conversation he had yesterday with his first crush…

That would have been the “It’ll happen…things are better than you know…” conversation. Wow…full circle, almost, on October 9.

Here on the blog, but not Facebook, on October 6 2006 it was this

So for years now…34 years to be exact…I’ve been throwing these little messages in a bottle out into the world, where, hopefully, they would eventually find there way to a certain someone.  So what happened between us back when we were both teenagers is pretty central to who I am today.  So I finally got a reply.  After 34 years of searching for him I finally found him.  So we talked.  For just over an hour we talked.  You have to expect that 34 years is a lot of time for things to happen.  And things did happen.  Many things he told me about.  And many things I can only guess at from what he would only allude to.  He sounds just like he always did.  It was like picking up the phone and talking to him back in 1972.  It was eerie.  It was wonderful.  It was thrilling.  It was disturbing.  He’s the same guy he was back then.  And he’s different.  And things have happened in 34 years.  Many things. 

And I feel like…a gently whirling dust devil just suddenly smacked into me and threw parts of me that no one has ever touched or disturbed in 34 years reeling into the air, scattered across the sky, and now I’m just standing here becalmed, watching it all lazily settle back down, and I know it will still be me when it does, but different, and I don’t know what will happen next because those parts of me ran so old and so deep and so still…

It’s all there, gathered by these quick little online notes across the years of October.  It was December of 1971 he first put his arm around me and my heart shot into the stratosphere and later that evening, that I was able to finally come out to myself because of it. It was March of 2016 we spoke our final, angry words at each other. 

Life goes on…you take your hits and you get back up, dust yourself off, move on and get back to work. Because there is no growing up, there is only growing. And the opposite of that is dying. And dying isn’t something you want to waste your life doing. Yeah it hurts. Sometimes it hurts like a sonofabitch. You can let it beat you down, or you can take it as proof that you’re still alive, still growing, still moving forward. Eventually you get use to it. Eventually you move beyond it. Eventually.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Don’t Want To Hate The World…I Really Don’t….

August 4th, 2017

That Empty Place Where A Heartbeat Should Be But Isn’t

I came out to myself in December of 1971. I’ve been in this struggle ever since. When I got my first dial up Internet account in the early 1990s, I discovered Usenet newsgroups and for almost a decade engaged a spectrum of homophobic bigots and just very confused individuals on topics of gay people and our place in this world. There are very predictable patterns that keep emerging, certain expressions, mindsets, tautologies, circumlocutions that you just come to expect to see when some event, some pop culture thing suddenly takes hold, and gay people are seen for a brief moment as fully realized human beings complete with recognizable human emotions and motivations. For a brief moment the gutter seems a bit stunned and speechless.

But not for long. And then the usual tropes, the usual slogans, usual bile comes pouring out. And in the bedrock there is always this one, absolutely unmovable conviction, that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.

My new exhibit ‘A’ is In A Heartbeat. For most of the week since its Monday general release on Vimeo and YouTube the gutter was amazingly silent. I say amazingly because the howls of outrage usually come pretty fast and furious whenever something positive about gay people takes hold in the pop culture. But for almost the entire week the gutter was mostly silent. But it’s finding its voice now. Just this morning an article on the film from the Facebook page of People Magazine showed up in my newsfeed. Clicking on the link took you to the Facebook post complete with all the comments on it. I’d been expecting this sort of thing ever since Monday…

 

people magazine IAH comments-6

people magazine IAH comments-7

Produce a sweet little film about that first romantic crush, something that would provoke a torrent of how sweets how cutes how adorables if it was an opposite sex couple, but make it about a same sex couple, and the criticisms immediately fixate on sex, and a floodgate of sewage straight from the human gutter opens up.

Why are you introducing sex into a children’s cartoon? Why are you pushing sex on children? Stop trying to sexualize our children! The only thing about this routine that I’ve seen change over the decades, is nowadays it’s occasionally bundled with a Some Of My Best Friends Are disclaimer. We really have nothing against gays we just don’t want them flaunting it in front of the children. ‘It’ being sex.

What…you say there wasn’t any sex in that film? Yes there was. It was about gays, so it was about sex.

That’s the mindset. They can’t or won’t see the people for the homosexuals. And there’s a word for someone like that. Bigot. It’s not an ad hominem, it’s not an insult hurled at people for disagreeing, it’s a good old fashion English word and it means something. And a bigot’s mind is like an eye: the more light you shine on it, the tighter it closes. This sweet little film shines a light on gay hearts. Now see the eyes close tightly…tightly…more tightly…

So much, so obvious. But I’m not sharing this so you can go read the comments and stare into Nietzsche’s abyss. There’s actually some lovely sunlight in there. Because not everyone is a bigot, this sweet little film is getting all the how sweets how cutes how adorables from a lot of heterosexuals, many of whom are just now encountering that immovable denial of the humanity of gay people, and more specifically gay kids, for the first time and they are stunned.

I came out to myself in December 1971. I’ve lived under the cold icy gaze of that denial of my humanity ever since. Glad to see some of the rest of you are noticing it now. Oh…And you’re seeing it in people you might have otherwise thought were decent moral human beings too! Surprised? Appalled? Don’t take it too much to heart. If the human race was made of people like that there would be no civilization.

This is actually good. Let the gutter howl at this film. This is how things get better.

At the end of The Wonder Years the narrator, little Kevin Arnold all grown up now, says…

“Once upon a time, there was a girl I knew, who lived across the street. Brown hair, brown eyes. When she smiled, I smiled. When she cried, I cried. Every single thing that ever happened to me that mattered, in some way had to do with her. That day, Winnie and I promised each other that no matter what, that we’d always be together. It was a promise full of passion and truth and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that can only come from the hearts of the very young.”

There are people who will never see, no matter how often it gets in front of their noses, that this is something gay kids feel too, for the one that stole their heart. There’s a word for people like that. It isn’t an insult, it’s a description.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Empty Place Where A Heartbeat Should Be But Isn’t

July 17th, 2017

Having The Prom You Never Had

Wow…so many conflicting feelings about this…

At prom for gay adults, a second chance at a night worth remembering

Leland Gray, a 30-year-old manager at a local HVAC company, dreamed up the event and organized it in his spare time. So many of his gay friends had shared similar stories of regretting prom, just like he had. They’d been scared or confused or trying to be something they weren’t to please their parents.

“Doing it our way this time around.” That’s what Leland had written on the online page he created to promote the event a couple months ago.

He’d expected a few dozen people to come.

He had to cut off ticket sales at 250.

I’m not conflicted for the grownups still aching for their inner teenager to finally have their prom night. I’m happy for them. But who would I have asked…who would have gone with me…those are deep waters I might not want to disturb.

Had I lived in a time when gay kids could be open about it and figure out amongst ourselves who was a good match for whom, the dates we would have actually taken to a prom might surprise the adults we later became. But we did not grow up in that world, and my school was a small one. We had to hide, often even from ourselves because knowing could be fatal. It was survival. And that meant you couldn’t date, couldn’t even talk about it among your friends let alone your family, and couldn’t tell who was right for you, and who was not.

In a different world it might more likely have been some kid from another school that I met at the church Coffee Shop in Rockville, or elsewhere…maybe some gay teen social event organized by some caring supervising adults who just want to make sure that every kid gets a chance at that first magical romance. When you are few you have to network in ways others don’t. And it’s something else that grieves me to think about, so I try not to very much, that in that other imaginary better world I might have met that one special teenage heart that I never got a chance to meet in the world I that did grow up in, and now will never know.

There was no prom for me, and I don’t think there ever will be. But it’s good that some of us are reclaiming that ground now, while there is still time left. If you lucked out and settled in with The One, and the two of you didn’t have your prom, you should go organize one. It’s never too late to dance that one magical night.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Having The Prom You Never Had

June 6th, 2017

Spared The Frying Pan…Fire…You’re Up Next!

Scott Lively will not stand trial in the United States for his crimes against humanity after all

Lively had faced a crimes against humanity lawsuit from Ugandan LGBT activists, who allege he has acted in violation of international law, by seeking to promote the persecution of gay people.

However, the lawsuit was dismissed this week by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which ruled that there was no jurisdiction for the case.

There’s a line from poem going through my head as I read the entire article over at Pink News. It’s in the Penguin Greek Anthology, by the poet Palladas of Alexandria who was, “A Pagan in the age of the rise of Christianity, his verse is imbued with a deep-rooted, bitter pessimism and melancholy…” In the poem a murderer is spared sudden death by a dream from the god Serapis, warning him to jump for his life before a crumbling wall crashed upon his bed. The murderer thanks the god for saving his life. But the next night he gets another dream from Serapis who tells him that saving his life wasn’t exactly the plan…

Don’t think the gods have let you go
and connive at homicide.
We’ve spared you that quick crushing, so
we can get you crucified.

One can hope that’s the case here for Lively, because this was emphatically not exoneration. The judge’s decision should scare the hell out of him.

To summarize Lively: for decades he has made it his life’s work to actively incite violent passions toward gay people in other parts of the world. He does this, by visiting places where people have suffered horrific war crimes, mass murders, acts of genocide, and tells that that the agents of their suffering were homosexuals, that homosexuality was the evil that befell them. And then he basically stands back and lets the rage of the mob run its course, later denying that he ever meant any actual violence toward homosexuals to come of it.

It begins with his first book on the subject, “The Pink Swastika”, in which he asserts that German fascism was an almost exclusively homosexual creation, that the Nazi party was basically a homosexual network, and that the horrifically violent crimes perpetrated toward jews, slavs and others was the inevitable outcome of homosexual mental pathology. The book has become the go-to piece of propaganda for the religious right, whenever gay civil rights activists point to the horrors of the Third Reich, the death camps and the pink triangles. And it’s instructive. Lively makes a good example of the sort of “fake news” and “junk science” your gay neighbors have had thrown at us by the religious and political right for decades. What we’re seeing now in the age of Donald Trump is nothing new to us. Lively’s book has been denounced over and over again as a near total fabrication by actual historians of world war two and the rise and fall of the Nazis, but it is regarded as holy writ in the pews of the evangelical right and the republican gutter, where it does not matter that Lively is spreading lies so long as the lies are useful.

Not getting enough traction for his ideas beyond the U.S. bible belt, and failing abysmally in western Europe where the history of the Third Reich is perfectly well understood, he began in the 1990s to take his show to places elsewhere in the world, to where his campaign of hate mongering might have more success: to places where horrific war crimes were committed and memories were still raw. Places such as eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa, but also, and critically, where actual knowledge of those events is either sparse, or kept under tight government control for political uses. There he holds rallies with local political and religious leaders and he tells the people who gather that the dead they mourn, their murdered parents, grandparents, all the loved ones they lost, or never even got to know, died at the hands of the homosexual menace. And he tells them that if they let homosexuality take root in their communities it will all happen again.

And unsurprisingly, after he leaves, laws are passed, gay people are arrested, tortured by police, disappeared, or killed at the hands of mobs. See Scott Lively’s hand in Russian persecution of gay people, and in Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, the list goes on and on. Wherever he goes, he gives the festering grief and anger over past war crimes, murder and genocide a scapegoat: homosexuals. It happened because of the homosexuals. It happened because of the homosexuals.

You know what to do…

So the case against Lively, brought by Ugandan LGBT activists who accused him of crimes against humanity by seeking to spread a legal and extra-legal reign of terror against homosexual people was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The crimes he was accused of did not occur on U.S. soil, and so could not be addressed in the U.S. courts. But this decision should scare the hell out of Lively, if he in fact has anything remotely resembling a conscience capable of fear left within him, because in it the judge gives a ringing affirmation that Lively did in fact commit crimes against humanity by the standards of international law…and conceivably could be prosecuted in an international court:

The question before the court is not whether Defendant’s actions in aiding and abetting efforts to demonize, intimidate, and injure LGBTI people in Uganda constitute violations of international law. They do…

…Discovery confirmed the nature of Defendant’s, on the one hand, vicious and, on the other hand, ludicrously extreme animus against LGBTI people and his determination to assist in persecuting them wherever they are, including Uganda.

The evidence of record demonstrates that Defendant aided and abetted efforts (1) to restrict freedom of expression by members of the LBGTI community in Uganda, (2) to suppress their civil rights, and (3) to make the very existence of LGBTI people in Uganda a crime.

 

Don’t think the gods have let you go and connive at homicide…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Spared The Frying Pan…Fire…You’re Up Next!

March 13th, 2017

Mourn For The Dead. Mourn Also, For The Living…

A survivor recounts…

Why I’ll Mourn Joe Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy Icon

Reparative therapy led me off course for many years, and it deepened my shame rather than alleviating it, but he was not intentionally cruel. I can blame Nicolosi for misdirecting people, but not for mistreating them.

His intention, however, does not excuse the damage reparative therapy has inflicted on so many LGBTQ people. Reparative and conversion therapies have caused gay people to feel fundamentally broken and irrecoverably sinful. This kind of therapy has shattered not only people’s self-worth but their spiritual connection to God. Those whose lost faith might call themselves lucky, for others lost even the will to live. These people took their own lives. And so we must ask ourselves: What good is a therapy that purports to save some lives if it takes others?

So many hearts this man destroyed. So much love that could have been, so many smiles that never were, because this man walked among us. One reason, not the main one but an important one, that I am not a Christian is I know what Jesus of Nazareth would tell me now, that I have to forgive him. And I can’t.

I do not bring forgiveness with me, nor forgetfulness.
The only ones who can forgive are dead;
the living have no right to forget. -Chaim Herzog

Read the whole thing Here

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mourn For The Dead. Mourn Also, For The Living…

November 10th, 2016

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

A little something I just posted to my Facebook page…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go away! Just go away!

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

November 9th, 2016

Just Keep Walking – Try Not To Be Afraid

Cartoon I did back in 2002 when the republicans got control of all three branches seems appropriate today…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Just Keep Walking – Try Not To Be Afraid


No.

Considered wearing my pink triangle button to work today because I know exactly what lay ahead for people like me. Instead I put on my Tomorrowland pin because fuck the bastards.

me_tomorrowland_pin

If you want to live in a cesspool go right ahead, but I won’t live there with you. This country, and this good earth, is big enough, and richer enough in human spirit that I don’t have to.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No.

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