Archive for October, 2007

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How Big is Your God?

October 31, 2007

Once again the fundies are claiming that a natural disaster is God’s judgment against this country for tolerating gays.  That’s right, California is burning because gays are allowed to wiggle their wienies where they shouldn’t be wiggled!  Here’s one report:  Matt Trewhella Email  Trewhella claims that the California Bill SB777 signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on October 13, 2007 is the direct cause of the San Diego fires that started on October 20, 2007.

The bill, SB777 is a hate crimes bill that prevents describing groups of people in negative terms. 

Existing law prohibits a teacher from giving instruction, and a school district from sponsoring any activity, that reflects adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry. This bill would revise the list of prohibited bases of discrimination and the kinds of prohibited instruction and activities and, instead, would refer to disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic contained in the definition of hate crimes that is contained in the Penal Code. The bill would define disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation for this purpose.

We all know how much God hates that “love thy neighbor” stuff. 

The point is, the bill that was signed by Ahnold is basically a hate crimes/anti-bullying bill.   A few, homophobic fundies see it as just another liberal attempt to legalize the “gay lifestyle” and force it on our children.  This time though, God isn’t taking it lying down.  God has sent a fire!

Ummmm, aren’t there a lot of non-gay people being punished for this bill?  I mean, if the gays are the problem, couldn’t God just find a way to take them out?  Perhaps God could start a fire at a gay bar.  Maybe there could be a power outage at a gym frequented by gay men and as they scramble to replace the weights, they could crush each other under the heavy iron plates they’ve been lifting.  God could cause electrical shorts in the blow dryers of homosexual hairstylists.  There could be lead in the paint used by interior designers, or automotive jacks could fail crushing hundreds of gay mechanics.  Really, if the gays, and their acceptance by heterosexuals is pissing off the Great Almighty, surely the Big Guy has enough power to rid the earth of gay guys and the ‘ros that love them.

Evidently not.  The fundie God is weak. He has to use massive and ineffective natural disasters that take out large numbers of heterosexuals and their habitats.  Think “Katrina” with its devastating loss of life and property, but no significant reduction in the number of homosexuals.  Think of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, or the Pentagon, with high numbers of casualties but relatively few flamers actually killed.  The fundie God seems to be kind of an oaf. 

The God I’ve come to know is loving and kind, and certainly very powerful.  It seems to me that if the God I’ve learned to love would decide that something, or someone should need to “go” then it would happen in decisive manner.  No hurricanes, no fires, no floods to take out large numbers of people, both gay and straight.  If “the gays” are the major affront to our most holy supreme being that some would have us believe, then that Omnipotent One should be able to remove the gay offenders, and their straight allies, with surgical precision.  A fire?  really?  Hundreds of square miles, vegetation, animal life, illegal aliens, the homes of God-fearing heteros, businesses, infrastructure are all destroyed because this weak, fundie God can’t target the ten percent of the population that likes to play “hide the hot dog” with some other hot dog vendor. 

God spoke the word and a universe fell into space.  A few days later, another word and humans are frolicking in the garden. Am I to believe this same God can’t find a few queers and turn them to stone, or salt, or ashes?  No, we’ve either got a pansy posing as our Almighty Counselor, or the gay issue isn’t as important to the Prince of Peace, the Alpha and Omega, the Everlasting Father, as we’ve been lead to believe.

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Sisters of the Divine Scandal

October 16, 2007

Who is allowed to go to church?  Who is permitted to attend mass and receive the sacraments?  Who are we to make that judgment of others? 

It seems there are a few folks in California who feel they have the power to make these kinds of decisions.  This news story, if you can call it that, is floating around out there in some biased sources, but so far I haven’t been able find a reputable media outlet that is willing to create and report a balanced account of the events at Most Holy Redeemer Church, San Francisco. I suppose I should mention that Bill O’Reilly mentioned it on Fox News.

Here’s the story as near as I can piece it together.  It seems that two members of the activist/charity group known as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence  attended the 10:00am Mass at MHRC on October 7, 2007.  The Sisters are not a legitimate religious organization, nor are they an extension of the Roman Catholic Church.  I should also add that the sisters are also not women. 

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence appear to do two things judging from their website and the scant few news articles I can find.  They raise money to fund their grant program.  The grants are awarded to small under-funded non-profit organizations that serve the LGBT community. 

Since our founding in 1979, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have raised and distributed over a million dollars to non-profit organizations that serve the queer and sex positive community. Each year, we raise thousands more. The next time you see a Sister with a collection bucket, drop a couple of bucks in. The money goes right back to the community.

Historically, The Sisters have given grants to under-funded, smaller organizations and projects providing direct services to our communities. The majority of these organizations and projects receive little, if any, government or main-stream funding and may be in the early stages of development. Our grants are typically $250 to $1,000.

We are especially attracted to progressive projects that promote wellness, identity, tolerance and diversity within our communities. We have a vision that encompasses diverse communities and groups that have a common interest in human rights, people of every gender, gender identity, race, class, age and sexual orientation.

The second mission they perform appears to be calling the church to some kind of responsibility for the ways in which they have traditionally treated gay and lesbian people. The history section of the sisters’ website is a long list of gay positive fund-raising, and political/social activism, including criticism of the Catholic church. 

So back to our story:  two Sisters attend mass, and of all the scandalous things they could do, they go forward for communion!  Archbishop George H. Niederauer was the celebrant for this particular mass.  The video I have seen of the service shows the 2 men, dressed in nun’s habits with brightly colored additions, and white face makeup, approach the Archbishop for communion.  The Archbishop does not appear surprised by their appearance and serves them the Eucharist.  Now is a good time to note that no one else in the congregation appears disturbed by the appearance of the men in drag, posing as nuns. 

Accusations have been flying about as to the intentions and motivations of the 2 men, who are members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  Some say they were there to mock the church. Others say they were there to protest, but the subject of the protest is somewhat vague.  A few are claiming that the men “invaded” the church with the intention of disrupting the mass.  It’s clear from the video that none of those things were accomplished.  So perhaps, none of them were intended. 

Sister Delta Goodhand

The Archbishop claims he had no idea that these two were members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  He even issued an apology explaining his version of the events of the morning.  I agree that it is difficult to believe that Archbishop Niederauer did not know these men were part of the group that mocks and criticizes the church.  Yet, I’m not sure denying them communion is the answer.  Whom did Jesus turn away? 

So now it becomes a matter of determining the legitimacy of the individuals worthy of receiving communion. Will we require priests to quickly scan parishioners for appropriate attire and make an on-the-spot decision as to the whether an individual will receive communion?  Should people be turned away from the Eucharist based on their ability to dress appropriately for a worship service?  How about their ability to resist temptation?  Will we turn people away from Christ because they didn’t follow all the tenets of the faith, thus causing them to be in less than full communion with the church?  Where is the line?  Can a person be divorced, but not at fault in the divorce, and continue to receive the sacraments?  Can someone disagree with the church’s teachings about birth control, or abortion, or confession, and still be deemed worthy of taking communion?  Again, I have to wonder how Jesus would have handled the situation.  I know of his anger as he flipped the tables in the synagogue, but I also know of his penchant for hanging out with the most despicable, depraved members of his community. 

As if I haven’t been stating my own opinion here, I want to add just a bit more of it.  I don’t know that I support every aspect of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  They are “out there” pushing the envelope.  I think I’d be uncomfortable doing what they do.  However, I’m glad they do it.  It takes someone out in the front-lines, pushing the envelope to achieve something great for civil rights, social change, political change.  The Sisters are doing that.  Because of their actions, we all benefit.   In the back of my mind, do I think there was an agenda in the actions of these two men that Sunday morning?  I sure do!  Is it worthy of the verbal crucifixion that’s taking place in certain media outlets?  Absolutely not! 

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A Reflection on National Coming Out Day

October 10, 2007

NCODIn honor of National Coming Out Day, I have decided to reflect on my coming out story.  It seems that enough time has passed, 4 years, that I can look back and try to interpret the events that surround my declaration, my acceptance of myself, as a gay man. 

My actual date is October 13, 2003.  I had been in a long, straight marriage, left the marriage in September of that year.  I had been in a long depression, suffering from an eating disorder, and had finally found the courage to leave the marriage that was not only beyond repair, but perhaps not right in the first place.   In those five or six weeks since I had left the house, I would return early in the morning to help with the kids.  I would show up just in time for my wife to leave for work.  There were a few tense moments, but in general the transition went smoothly, and I had the opportunity to visit with my children. 

The morning of October 13th was to be no different, but this time, my wife had a few questions for me,  Then a confrontational statement designed to provoke.  She mentioned that “even the Pastor thinks you’re gay.”  I think I had hit a point in life where I was just so tired of hiding that I admitted to her that I am gay, stumbled through some kind of “I never meant to hurt you” statement, then I went into shock.  In the coming weeks, the wife, now my ex-wife, would do everything she could to hurt me, get me fired, discredit me in the community, and guilt me into doing things I should not have done. 

There is a minor detail in the story that I have missed.  That is until today.  I always felt like I didn’t own my coming out story because my ex-wife got to tell it.  I’ve often told my story as the unwilling participant, being outted by a vengeful ex.  She got to question and confront, I stumbled through an admission, she told everyone she could, and I, like a coward, out myself to a handful of key people.  The detail I overlooked is this:  I am the one who grew weary of hiding and answered frankly her question about my orientation.  I did have control, at least of that first step of coming out and repairing my life.  As far as whom she told, no, there was nothing I could control there.

There were some other people that I came out to that day; an online friend, my pastor, my therapist, and a close friend from church.  There would be more in the coming weeks, and as I discovered, all of them were supportive of me, of people claiming their orientation, and living a full and healthy life.  There were also many other people that had heard about me through gossip, and one woman who at least had the balls to come and ask me directly after she had heard the rumors. 

So now, 4 years later, I can see how my coming out is my own story, and I’m not the victim.  I’m the hero.  I had control that morning.  I could have lied again.  I didn’t; I stepped forward and proclaimed who I truly am.  Life has been so much sweeter because of that. 

These are our stories, our heritage, for our families, whether biological, blended or created.  I’m glad I can tell mine, and doubly glad that I can finally claim it as my own. 

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I Fought For You Today

October 7, 2007

This morning, when I woke up, and you weren’t beside me, I went looking for you.  I found you in the living room.  I knew right away that you were sick.  I had felt the heat of the fever before you left our bed.  I didn’t wake you as you slept in the chair, at least not right away.  Eventually, I needed to know that you were all right.  Breakfast for me was an english muffin with homemade jam and a cup of coffee.  As I checked email, you came to see me.  You were sick.  My plans for the day changed, which I knew in the night, when you were burning with fever. 

I set out for the football game, over an hour’s drive from our house.  Kids come first.  Our first rule, but not always the easiest.  This time, I’ve chosen to take care of my daughter at college while my love lies sick and sleeping.  I watch the game with feigned interest.  I take notice of my daughter as she performs her duties at the game.  She is an amazing child to have reached this position of leadership in the band.  I wasn’t fully invested in this day with my child, because you, my love, were sick. 

I texted you.  No response.  I texted you again.  Finally the answer came that you did not feel well at all.  Your words were “I feel like shit.”  I did my best from where I was to take care of you.  I suggested that you go to the emergency room.  Your response led me to believe you just might do that when I got home.  So I fulfilled my obligation to my daughter, and explained that I needed to get back to you. 

You could barely talk.  Breathing was difficult.  You had chills, a fever, and sweats.  You refused to go to the emergency room and I fought for you.  I gathered your clothes.  I put them on you while you protested.  I walked out of the room to fight back my tears.  Then I returned to fight again.  I feared this wasn’t a common infection.  I knew it would take more than a day or two of rest to rid you of the symptoms. 

I dragged you to the emergency room and I spoke the first words to the triage nurse, as though I were the father worried about my child.  I sat with you while you were examined, medicated, and questioned about every symptom and your medical history.  My cell phone was my entertainment while you went for a chest x-ray.  When the family in the bed next to us discovered the gay couple and paced past our cubicle repeatedly, I closed the curtain.  I worked hard for you today. 

You needed nourishment, so I bought chicken soup and fed you.  I put you to bed.  We went to sleep, and I could still feel the heat of the fever, but I was happy knowing that I fought hard to keep you with me today.  Were you in serious danger?  I think.  At least, danger was a few steps away;  bronchitis now, pneumonia later?  I could not let it take that next step. 

We were awakened by the phone call.  The police asked you to come pick up your son.  My heart sank again.  I feel once more that I must fight for you.  Kids come first. Will this one take you from me for good?  Within minutes you returned, kid with you.  The fight erupted only moments later and I feared for your safety.  I had my cell phone in my hand, ready to dial the number.  No physical violence happened.  I put down my phone. 

We both know what is going through my mind.  There’s no need to say it again, not at this moment.  I’ve fought for you all day.  Will this one child be the contender?  Will he be the one to drive us apart?  Not today.  I will fight for you again.  Those who think they can divide us, to you I say, bring your best game.  I’ve been fighting a long time. 

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Occasional Curve Balls

October 1, 2007

Life tends to throw them at us, curve balls that is.  We like to think there is a regular rhythm to our lives, and I agree with that to the point that having a regular job and a set schedule for that job tends to build that into our lives. Today, we’ve got a curve ball, a change in the agenda, a wrench thrown into the works.  Scott has a doctor’s appointment, so both of us have taken the day off from work.  There’s a chance that this is something serious and the doctor advised that a procedure could be performed in the office today. 

So we get in the car and make small talk about the neighbors noticing that we didn’t go to work, which is possible because Olga, across the street from us, doesn’t miss anything that happens in the neighborhood.  She’s never spoken to us in the year that we’ve lived here, but she has reported to other neighbors about us.  That’s ok.  Olga is in her 90’s and if it keeps her entertained to watch what’s going on, that’s fine with me. 

We arrive at the doctor’s office and Scott checks in and is asked to fill out some forms.  This is new to us in that we debate about putting my name down as “next of kin” and listing my name and phone number on the privacy form as someone entitled to information from the doctor and other healthcare professionals involved.  We don’t have the powers of attorney signed and notarized yet.  This visit, and the anxiety that it’s producing, is forcing us to deal with those issues.  We talk about this at lunch.  It will be completed soon. 

Scott is quickly taken to the examination room, and returns much sooner than I expect.  We walk to the car and discuss just what happened.  I was afraid that it was the worst, that the procedure was not performed, and that there would be more tests, as in looking for the big “C”.  Fortunately, it was exactly what we were expecting, and the doctor was very quick about performing the procedure, and Scott was now in mild discomfort.   Not only is he a pain in the ass, he has one as well.  Got the hint?  Here’s another:  Preparation H wouldn’t have touched these ones;  they’re way too deep.  So it is good news.  After a month or so, Scott is to schedule a colonoscopy to make sure there’s nothing else happening that shouldn’t be. 

So today was one of those curve ball days.  Our schedules were disrupted, our lives were momentarily stressed.  We shared a nice lunch, which seemed to be an unstated celebration of our relief that it’s not the “C” word.  We made a commitment to getting our paperwork together so we can properly care for each other, when the time comes. 

The pain in the ass is resting now.