Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gay teachers less likely to challenge homophobia?

Despite the ever-present challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students face at school, a new study finds that gay teachers are actually less likely to challenge bullying in the classroom than their straight counterparts out of fear for their own jobs.

As TES Magazine reports, the study comprised interviews with more than 350 teachers and school principals over how they deal with anti-gay incidents at school. The bulk of the interviewees who identified as LGBT said that not only did they not feel safe coming out at school, but they had rarely intervened when they witnessed homophobic remarks being made.

Over one-third of the teachers interviewed for the survey said they were worried their jobs would be at risk if they came out to their colleagues, while 62 percent were worried about losing their jobs if they came out to their students, according to the report.

As a gay teacher myself, I understand how other LGBT teachers might feel. Whereas, some teachers might not stand up to homophobic incidents, I do not allow any bullying or any disparaging remarks in my presence.  I attempt to teach my students the golden rule.  Though I might fear that it might out me to my students or that my students might perceive me as gay because of it, I don't worry too much.  Parents and students alike know that I am the one liberal teacher at the school, and so they think it is just one of my liberal diatribes when I challenge bullying in the classroom. I also tend to give them a mini sermon on the golden rule in the process.

That being said, it does not mean that my job would not be in jeopardy if my sexuality did come out.  I have allies on the school board, so I might not lose my job, but it is also quite likely that I would.  We can hope that one day, the sexuality of teachers will not be an issue.  Currently, it is a very real threat.  News of the TES Magazine report follows the case of Carla Hale, a longtime teacher at Ohio's Bishop Watterson High School who was reportedly fired after her partner's name, Julie, was listed among the survivors in a public obituary for Hale's mother.  In February, Purcell Marian High School Assistant Principal Mike Moroski was fired by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati after endorsing gay marriage in a personal blog post, while in 2012, music teacher Al Fischer was dismissed from his job at St. Ann Catholic School in north St. Louis County, Mo., after archdiocese officials learned he was planning on marrying his longtime partner.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What's the railroad to me?

What's the railroad to me? 
by Henry David Thoreau
What's the railroad to me? 
I never go to see 
Where it ends. 
It fills a few hollows, 
And makes banks for the swallows, 
It sets the sand a-blowing, 
And the blackberries a-growing.

About This Poem
Henry David Thoreau was cautious about the effect of technological progress on mankind, feeling that it often could be a distraction from the inner life. In his book Walden he famously writes, "We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us."

About This Poet
Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on July 12, 1817. He is perhaps best known for his works Walden, which touches upon the virtues of nature and simple living, and Civil Disobedience, which promotes peaceful resistance to acts by an unjust government. Thoreau died in 1862.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Defying Gravity

Because you didn't know she felt the same way about you... or if she did, for some reason it wasn't okay... thought that people wouldn't like it. And one day, after months, years, it's just another day, nothing special, just the two of you. For some reason everyone's out of the house. You can't turn back, you can't let go, you can't stop - as if you were one person, defying gravity, together.
--John 'Griff' Griffith, Defying Gravity

I came across an article the other day about the MPAA creating a new website so that people can find legitimate and legal movies for download.  I noticed that one of the websites was Wolfe Video.  If you've ever watched a fair amount of gay cinema, you have no doubt come across Wolfe Video, the oldest and largest exclusive distributor of gay and lesbian films in North America.  As I was looking through WolfeOnDemand, I came across one of my all time favorite LGBT movies, Defying Gravity.

Defying Gravity was filmed in just 13 days using a cast largely of first-time actors, the film played the gay and lesbian film festival circuit in 1997 and 1998.  It is an earnest, heart-felt movie. While its edges are rough, both in terms of the performances and the filmmaking, it's these rough edges that actually make the movie feel more real in a way that polished Hollywood acting and production values would undermine. One could complain that it is yet another coming out story, and in many ways it is, but it's an effective one.

John 'Griff' Griffith (Daniel Chilson) is a college student who lives in a frat house with your typical college guys. Everyone is assumed to be straight, and the majority of brothers are. Griff wants to belong, but as a young gay man, he feels a certain amount of isolation. Because of his wanting to fit in, he remains in the closet despite the efforts of his boyfriend Pete (Don Handfield) to help him come to terms with his identity. Finally, a crisis forces Griff to take a stand for himself and for Pete. Yes, anyone who has seen more than a few gay-themed movies or TV shows will have seen this plot. But it is handled in such an honest and affecting way that you will forgive it.

What sets this movie apart are the character relationships. Griff's interesting relationships with best friend Todd (Niklaus Lange), with Todd's girlfriend Heather (Leslie Tesh), with fellow student Denetra (Linna Carter), and with Pete's father are what helps us to forgive the cliched elements of the plot. Of particular note are the relationships with Todd and with Pete's father. Their reactions to Griff's relationship with Pete are not what you have come to expect from coming out films. It makes for a refreshing change of pace, and writer/director John Keitel deserves credit for putting new spins on these stock characters.

The acting never really rises above college drama student level, but that works for a movie about college students. Chilson, Lange, Tesh, and Carter all act earnestly and come across as believable college kids in ways that technically-trained performers might not.  There is one particular scene when Griff goes to see Pete in the hospital.  Griff utters one word, "Man...."  He utters it in a long drawn out way, that melted my heart.  Any flaws in the film were forgotten for me when I heard that line.

I hope you will give this little movie a chance.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Patience Is Suffering

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

James 5:7-12

So many of the situations that we find in life are endurable because we know what their end will be.  We need to be patient, patient for the Lord.  As a gay Christian this is not something that is going to be easy.  We get persecuted for what we believe, some places we are ridiculed for our beliefs, and others, heterosexual Christians or LGBT non-believers reject us for our beliefs.   But, we must stand firm!

Waiting is hard.

In the black nights of suffering, when ominous clouds come in from the west, it's hard to know whether those clouds bring nourishing rain or devastating tornado that destroys a all in its path. We have no way of  knowing how long we'll be suffering from a disaster or how long our heart will ache.

Some might question why Job is given to us as a second example of patience since he did impatiently demand that God explain his sufferings to him (for example, Job 6). But Job is an excellent paradigm for us because though he questioned God, he never gave up his faith. Also, if Job is our example we can see that even the most patient of God's servants will not be perfect until they are glorified. Finally, because Job was one of the first to anticipate the final judgment, he serves as an example for us who also await that day (Job 19:25–26).

We need to love one another, stop talking negatively about one another.  Watch our tongues because what we say usually is what is in our hearts.  We shouldn't be speaking with hate, condemnation, gossiping just to tear some one else down.

We need to stand for the Lord, let others see Him in us!  No matter what the consequences we need to be bringing others to Him and not making others start thinking that if that is what a 'Christian' is like then what's the point?

Just do our best to remember that we shouldn't have to 'swear' about these things...simply say Yes or No.  That we are followers of Jesus because He has died for our sins and if we believe and have repented for our sins He will give us eternal life!  This is why we follow.  No arguing with others about it, no 'swearing' about it.  Just let it be...Yes or No. 

P.S. I apologize for the late post.  It's been an incredibly busy weekend, and I did not have computer access until just now.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Remembering Rock

On July 25, 1985, HIV/AIDS was given a global spotlight when it was announced that screen icon Rock Hudson was suffering from the disease.
Looking gaunt and almost unrecognizable, rumors began to circulate about his health earlier in the summer when the actor had made a public appearance to promote a new cable series of his friend and former co-star Doris Day.
After collapsing in Paris in July 1985, he was diagnosed with AIDS and given treatment with the drug HPA-23, which at the time was unavailable in the United States. It was while he was in the hospital that it was announced to the public that Hudson had AIDS:
"According to publicist Yanou Collart, who acted as his spokeswoman in Paris, the decision was Hudson's. 'The hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was to walk into his room and read him the press release,' says Collart. "I'll never forget the look on his face. How can I explain it? Very few people knew he was gay. In his eyes was the realization that he was destroying his own image. After I read it, he said simply, 'That's it, it has to be done.' "
Hudson passed away at the age of 59, on October 2, 1985, less than three months after the announcement, in his Beverly Hills home. In his last weeks he was visited by many famous friends such as Carol Burnett, Roddy McDowell and Elizabeth Taylor, who upon his death was reported as saying "Please God, he did not die in vain."
Hudson's AIDS diagnosis put the disease into the headlines and changed the way the public thought of AIDS patients, as well as gay stereotypes. Before his death he created the Rock Hudson AIDS Foundation, donating the $250,000 he received from an advance of a biography to the foundation.
Hudson's death is also credited with jumpstarting Elizabeth Taylor's fundraising crusade to fight AIDS and Chairman of California's AIDS Advisory Board Committee Bruce Decker said upon Hudson's death: "His illness and death have moved the fight against AIDS ahead more in three months than anything in the past three years."
Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin was quoted as saying: "I'm sure Rock's coming out will stand as a landmark in the gay community."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Greg Herren's New "Page Turner"

My favorite author Greg Herren has a new set of mystery novellas that are quick reads and a hell of a lot of fun. I just finished reading the first one last night, and if from reading my reviews of his books, you've become a Herren fan as well, then how can you resist this e-book for just 99 cents? It's worth every penny and then some.

Paige Tourneur (Please! Is that really her name?) is the former Times-Picayune reporter and best friend of Herren's gay detective Chanse McLeod. To hear her buddy Chanse tell it, Paige is rotund, cute as a button, a truly bad driver, and the best friend a gay P.I. could possibly have.

Now Paige gets a chance to tell it herself in her own witty and worldly-wise way. Seems like she has quite a past and in Fashion Victim, it's starting to haunt her. Though it helps to be familiar with Paige from the Chance McLeod series, this novella works well as a stand alone mystery. It just adds a little bit of a thrill for the readers, if you already know Paige.

Since his first novel, I've wanted Paige to be a more developed character. She's still the same hard-drinking, hard-bitten, smart-mouthed red-headed reporter with the heart of gold and the unlikely name. I've also always wanted to know more about the his crime fighting NOPD duo Venus and Blaine, but we will have to wait and see if they get books of their own as well. They remain to be the characters that connect his Chanse McLeod and Scotty Bradley mysteries. Of course, the city of New Orleans connects them as well.  And it would be a dream if Chance and Scotty would have a crossover mystery.

In her first solo outing, Paige has long since left the Times-Picayune, played out a stint on television, and has now landed a job at Crescent City Magazine, which sends her out to do a personality piece on bitchy fashion designer Marigny Mercereau. Only Marigny ends up dead fifteen minutes before her fifteen minutes of fame.

Twisting through Marigny's creepy past, Paige is accompanied, as always, by best friend Chanse, her cop buddies Venus Casanova and Blaine Tujague, and (finally!) by the perfect man: her new boyfriend, Blaine's brother Ryan. So what happens when a woman meets the perfect man and her past comes calling?

Fashion Victim is the first in a series of interconnected novellas in the "Paige Tourneur Missing Husband Series." The second volume, Dead Housewives of New Orleans, is already out and is on my next to read list.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Arin and Katie: A Cute Couple With a Bit of a Twist

A pair of teenagers from Oklahoma might seem like your typical young couple, but their love story is unlike many others. The transgender couple actually transitioned together.
Just two years ago, Arin Andrews and Katie Hill hadn't transitioned yet. The two had struggled with their identities throughout childhood; Hill had struggled with bullying. Then one day they met at a trans support group, after each had begun the transitioning process, and they fell in love. Today, Andrews, 17, and Hill, 19, are content.
"I hated my breasts, I always felt like they didn't belong. Now I finally feel comfortable in my own body," Andrews explained to British tabloid The Sun about surgically removing his breasts last month. "Now when I'm out in a public pool or lifting weights, no one raises an eyebrow. They just think I'm a guy. ... I can wear a tank top, which I couldn't before, and I can go swimming shirtless. I can just be a regular guy. And I'm so lucky to have my family and Katie to rely on."

"Being transgender myself, I understand Arin better than anybody else -- how good he feels and how complete he feels," Hill added, per The Sun.
The brunette teen from Bixby did not always feel so complete. In a segment for "Inside Edition" last year, she said that as a young child she was "[b]ullied and abused. Ridiculed. Ashamed and embarrassed."
She was depressed for several years before she realized she was transgender, Tulsa World previously reported. Around her 15th birthday she told her mother and asked for help becoming Katie.
"Knowing what Katie went through for eight-plus years -- there's nothing worse than watching your child suffer," Hill's mom, Jazzlyn, told Tulsa World. "It's still my baby -- male or female, she's still my child. And I don't have to kneel at her grave."
Andrews' mom feels the same.
"Seeing Katie go through her surgery was helpful to Arin," she said, according to British tabloid The Mirror. "It was being around it and seeing her getting to transform. And being a couple at the time was I think just the cherry on the cake. Every transgender person would love to have the transformation physically because it just completes them as a person."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pea Picking

Pea Picking
By Bruce Beaver

To realise the futility of pea-picking,
its broken-backed and bruised-kneed endurance
tested up and down the crowded rows
of squat, green, sparsely bearing bushes;
the side-of-the-finger-splitting ritual,
left and right forefingers and thumbs
cut and bruised bloody, the neck breaking
under the bludgeoning sun, the eyes, ears, nose
and lips crawling with stickybeaking flies;
the stink or perfume (sometimes vaguely both)
of your fellow pickers beside and ahead of you;
to understand why you are doing this at all
day after blistering day for four shillings
a bushel or two kerosene tins full you had to be
either seventeen and desperately
in need of more than two pounds to buy the Collected
Letters of John Keats (that is ten bushels
when you were averaging four bushels a day
for the several days allotted to the picking).
Or perhaps you had to be Aboriginal
and aged from fifteen to sixty-five (male or female)
and be able to knock off ten bushels a day,
bushes and all, when you were supposed to pick
selectively, that is to leave the younger,
smaller pods for a second picking. Or you
might have even needed to be the farmer
himself. Too busy to supervise; keeping up
with most of the Aboriginals, only picking
selectively. Up five chains of bushes
and down five chains of bushes for about
five or six aching hours a day. I say
"futility" for I was too tired each day
to read the book when I had it; the Aboriginals
spent most of their pay on headache engendering wine;
and the farmer, my uncle, always seemed to time
his pickings to coincide with a glutted market.
The whole thing was an exercise in futility.
The old hands had pads of cloth or soft leather tied
to their knees and kept their backs fairly straight.
But if you were seventeen as I was then
and uninstructed you simply agonised
on sore knees shuffling forward boustrophedon
in a more or less literal way, knee-nudging over
soft and lumpy strips of bare earth
getting to feel a tiny twig or pebble,
even the compressed soil's own modifications
and innate consistencies of texture. The bushes
themselves becoming flayers of raw thumb
and finger-pad, splitters and groovers of nails,
the plump pods' contents edible but eventually
uninviting. Something like a vestigial
competitive spirit drove one to try and at least
keep up. The dust of earth and leaf-dust crimping
the nostrils, the heat of days turning the tongue
into a strap of hide cleaving to white paste.
The crazy fantasies: would Toulouse-Lautrec
have walked on his half-length legs and have merely plucked
the bushes' burdens without even looking down?
Would the Aboriginal girl in front have underwear
beneath her sack-like skirt, or a brassiere under
the off-white shirt? No, you saw small breasts
and purple-brown nipples once, and when she saw
you looking she smiled but not invitingly.
The black folk smelt of wood smoke and leaf mould.
I had been told I would smell to them of sour milk
and rancid butter. There were several deodorants
on sale even then but none of us thought to use them.
The girls had thin legs, thin thighs, and almost all
were waistless. But their faces were like a friendly
fruit, large, dark, with rounded features full
and ripe until the faces of my own kind
soured and flattened out to thin diminished
creases, cracks and bumps. At day's end I
would go to wash and eat and sleep at the farmhouse.
The Aboriginal pickers lolled or squatted
in the big barn's earth floored musty gloom, gathering
beside the several loaned hurricane lanterns
and about the central fire of sticks on which
a frying pan sputtered blessings on eggs and bacon
and later the communal billy black
as the brew it smokily and sweetly boiled.
Aperitifs of muscat and sweet sherry
were passed from hand to hand in the habitual
surreptitious manner, and the pouches
or battered tins lay open between crossed legs,
rice paper stuck to bottom lips as coarse
tobacco was reduced to fragrant shreds
in hands still acrid with the bushes' juices.
Then soft guitar accompanied song and softer
talk and sudden swallowed shouts as someone
gulped who should have sipped. And I awake
upon a sheeted bed two hundred feet
away, aware would lie and wonder if
the younger ones would go into the night
and love, as I would have given Keats's Letters
so to do. And out across the back
verandah of the farm I'd peer into
the starlit dark—so large the distant stars—
while through the barn's gapped timber walls the lanterns
and the dull glow of the compact cooking fire
showed, even the spark-sized crimson points
of hand-rolled cigarettes would wink and almost
beckon. Now I think the only ones
to leave the barn a while went to excrete.
More privacy was needed than a darkened
cow-bail or a tree's wide bole to lure
those shyest lovers out. They slept together
in a tribal dream of tiresome work and welcome
food and memoried rest. No taboos but
commonsense and something like distaste
to elevate a white farm to the statute
of home-ground. The elder ones, perhaps, while partly
drunk may have partly scored, but when the last
birds had quietened and the only sound
was cattle foraging about the dry lawn's
dew-soaked chaff, both barn and farmhouse turned
lights down and out. And then across the cooling
fields came mistily and fragrantly
sleep to all and Alchera's dreams to some.

Bruce Beaver (1928 – 2004)

Bruce Beaver was born in the Sydney seaside suburb of Manly on 14 February 1928. His childhood and adolescence were unhappy. He wrote his first poem at 17 – a response to the bombing of Hiroshima – and at the same age he began to suffer from what became a life-long problem, manic-depressive illness. He worked in various occupations, travelled in New South Wales and New Zealand, married, and returned to Manly to live and write for most of his life. His first book, Under the Bridge, was published in 1961, and his fourth, a breakthrough volume, Letters to Live Poets, in 1969. In all, he published more than a dozen volumes of poems and ten novels, as well as the autobiographical As It Was (1979).

Rising to prominence in the 1960s, Beaver's work had a considerable influence on the development on the 'Generation of 1968' and the 'New Australian Poetry' of the 1970s. Over the course of his career, he won several major Australian literary awards, including the Grace Leven Poetry Prize (1970, for Letters to Live Poets), the C. J. Dennis Prize (1995, for Anima and Other Poems), the Fellowship of Australian Writers Christopher Brennan Award (1982), and the Patrick White Award (1982). In 1991, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia, for service to literature. He died on 17 February 2004.

* * * * *

I decided to use this poem today because I spent yesterday afternoon helping my neighbor pick peas.  We picked what we could before the rain started.  My share was the equivalent to two messes of peas.  If your unfamiliar with what a "mess of peas" is, it's the amount of peas needed for a meal.  Also, these were pink-eye purple hull peas; probably the most delicious peas ever.  I can't wait to cook them along with some pork chops, and fried cornbread.  Served with some sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions.  I might even fry some green tomatoes.  It will be delicious.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Cream cheese, cucumber juice and a touch of onion may sound like an unlikely combination for some people, but it sounds delicious to me. The dish is known as Benedictine and is a Kentucky favorite. It's a recipe that I have never tried, but is one I'd like to try.  I came across this recipe in my weekly email from NPR about their most emailed stories of the week. After reading it I felt compelled to share this recipe with my readers because it seems like a cool and refreshing accompaniment to any summer party.

From the article, it appears that Benedictine is not well known outside of Louisville, Kentucky.  I'd never heard of it before reading this article, had you?  But this creamy, cool cucumber spread has persisted in Kentucky ever since Jennie Benedict, a famous Louisville caterer, invented it around the turn of the 20th century.

Benedict opened a tearoom on downtown Louisville's South Fourth Street in 1911. Back then, that was the city's bustling commercial center, packed with stores, cafes, theaters and hotels. Today, it's a few boutiques and several wig shops.

Susan Reigler, a former restaurant critic for Louisville's newspaper, The Courier-Journal, wrote the introduction to the re-release of Benedict's Blue Ribbon Cook Book in 2008. Reigler says Benedict's role in the city's culinary history was huge and that the roots of many of the city's flavors can be traced back to her recipes.

Of course, some of Benedict's concoctions have fallen out of favor — like calf brains and peptonized oysters for the sick. But Reigler says Benedictine has endured.

"I think it's just very different. It's very refreshing. It's a light spread," she says. "What could be more light and delicate than cucumber juice?"

One source of contention among Louisville chefs is whether to include the two drops of green food coloring that Benedict used in her recipe. The dye lets people know that it's not just a plain cream cheese spread, but the practice is no longer popular with chefs like Kathy Cary, who prefer more natural ingredients.

Cary has owned Lilly's, a restaurant that specializes in Kentucky cuisine, for the past 25 years. For her, the dish is truly a way to showcase both local cucumbers and local traditions.

"Mine is really about ... celebrating the cucumbers," Cary says. "Obviously, no dye, no food coloring. And it's filled with texture, and sort of the crunch of the cucumbers."

Some cooks serve Benedictine as a dip, others as tea sandwiches with the crusts cut off. But Cary usually puts hers into a hearty sandwich with homemade mayonnaise, bacon, bibb lettuce and sprouts.

Recipe: Jennie Benedict's Benedictine

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons cucumber juice
1 tablespoon onion juice
1 teaspoon salt
A few grains of cayenne pepper
2 drops green food coloring

To get the cucumber juice, peel and grate a cucumber, then wrap in a clean dish towel and squeeze juice into a dish. Discard pulp.

Do the same for the onion.

Mix all ingredients with a fork until well-blended (using a blender will make the spread too runny). Serve as a dip or as a sandwich filling.

Recipe: Lilly's Benedictine

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill

Combine ingredients and mix well.

With plenty of cucumbers and onions around, you can be sure that I will be. Making this dip.  Most likely, I will do a slightly modified version of the second recipe since I like the idea of the chopped cucumber in the dip.  Do you think you will try it?  Or have you already had Benedictine?
Sent from my iPad

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Warning to the Wealthy

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
James 5:1-6

The greatest commands are to Love God and love your neighbor.  These cannot be separated; they go together and impact each other.  Whatever God blesses us with, He intends for us to share it with others.  If we are blessed with wealth, it is for the purpose of blessing others with our resources.  If we are blessed with talent, we should use that talent to benefit others, If we chose to hoard our wealth or other blessings from God, then God becomes very displeased.

James has already chastised the “rich” of looking down on the poor, and he had rebuked them for the arrogance of making plans without considering what God wants them to do.  James attacks this issue from two different angles at once.  first, the issue of hoarding, which means that we are not sharing God’s blessing with others who need it much more than we do, and second, on the Day of Judgment, all things with be made right, justice will be done regarding all inequities.  By not sharing God's blessings, this is interpreted as pure defiance towards God.

To me this is saying that those that do not help others, that always worry about themselves, making sure they are taken care of and treating the ones that are ‘below them’ with hatred, harshness, callousness, and like they are trash.  They try there best to cheat people so they won’t have to pay the full price for what they truly deserve.  Like they are nothing and not worth the time.  They hired them so they should pay them fully.  They are defying God's wishes. 

James is not just speaking of monetary wealth but also the wealth of God's blessing.  There are also those Christians who look down on LGBT Christians, not making sure that LGBT Christians are met with loving embrace within the church and instead treating   LGBT Christians like they are ‘below them’ with hatred, harshness, callousness, and like we are trash, undeserving of God's love because we love someone of the same sex.  Christians who reject other Christians for whatever reason believe themselves to be rich in God's love, but they are hoarding God's love all for themselves.

Christians should stop hoarding God's blessings and start giving it to some that need it, such as charities, children’s hospitals, etc.  When we die, none of this will go with us, and we will be judged on the things we did, or did not do, while on this earth.  Only God's record of our good works and faith in his love will follow us to the afterlife.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Moment of Zen: HRH

With my headaches these last few days, my moments of Zen have all included my cat, HRH.  She is a wonderful companion who knows how to comfort me in my time of pain.  There are few things as comfortable as cuddling with a kitty, unless it it cuddling with a cute guy like in these photos.

All photos in this post are from Cute Boys with Cats

Friday, July 19, 2013


I tend to have a high tolerance for pain.  Mainly, it's because I've suffered with headaches my entire life.  Rarely does a day go by when I don't have a headache at some point.  I've learned to deal with it and suffer through the pain.  Most of the time a pain reliever helps; sometimes nothing does.  I've have taken numerous medicines throughout my life to try and prevent having headaches, but nothing has ever been effective.  Some have had bad aide effects, such as when a doctor prescribed Elavil (amitriptyline).  It gave me night terrors.  Another was Ativan (lorazepam) is supposed to be a short term drug; usually its recommended that someone should not for longer than 3-6 months.  If used for long periods of time, it causes severe depression.  I was a teenager when I took this drug and was on it for over a year.  Some of the severe side effects include confusion, depressed mood, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;.  Not only did it not help my headaches, but it also caused severe depression.  Combine the side effects of Ativan and a teenager confused about his sexuality, and you have a dangerous mix.  It was during this time that I attempted suicide.  I was 16 at the time.  

I'm writing this because I was thinking last night of my problems with headaches.  Sinus headaches, tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines all have afflicted me through my life.  What I take for my headaches depends on what type it is.  Sometimes nothing helps. Medicine may lessen the pain, but not make it go away.  Beginning Wednesday night before I went to bed, my head began to hurt.  I took something and went to sleep.  I woke with a headache the next morning, and I knew it would be a bad one.  It was one of those that hurt all over, especially behind my eyes and the back of my head.  This was also a headache that came with nausea, photophobia, phonophobia, and lightheadedness.  Thankfully, these types of headaches, which is generally a mixture of migraine and tension headaches, only happen 2-3 days out of a year.  However, when they do occur, they are quite incapacitating.  I stayed in bed most of the day yesterday and took the strongest pain medicine I had.  It barely fazed it. My headache finally seemed to ease some last night as I went to bed, but came back with a vengeance around 4:30 am.  I'm hoping that it gets better as the day goes on.

HRH, my cat, gave me some comfort.  She has been lying down beside me and keeps patting my head with her paw.  After 15 years, she knows when I have a headache.  I'm sure there is a mixture of genetic, physical, and psychological reasons for my headaches.  I've had them for as long as I can remember.  Maybe one day, they will either stop or they will find some kind of preventive measure that works.  I hope each of you are some of the blessed people who never suffer from headaches, and if you do suffer from headaches, I hope that it is infrequently.  I assume that most people who have some type of chronic condition learns to deal with it in the best way they can, as I have learned to deal with my headaches.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

EAT! DRINK! BE MARY!: TMI Questions from Sean

I am not a huge drinker. I am a social drinker more than anything, but my friends tend to consume two or three drinks for each of mine. I especially don't drink around people who I'm not out to or feel comfortable around because I tend to lose my inhibitions and am a lot gayer. However, when I saw this post from Sean at Just A Jeep Guy, I couldn't resist adding my two cents. I love these TMI questions when it's something I can relate to. So here goes:

1. Cocktails at brunch: Bloody Mary or Mimosa? Bloody Mary during cold weather, and Mimosas if it is hot outside. Both are pretty fantastic drinks if made right, but too cheap of a champagne can ruin a Mimosa and its easy to make a bad Bloody Mary if you don't know what you're doing.

 2. Do you have a favorite food/drink pairing? A good Pinot Grigio with Veal Scallopini (or Scaloppini al Vino) or linguini with clams in a white wine sauce. Of course, you can never go wrong with beer and pizza. Also a favorite is Lazy Magnolia's (a Mississippi brewery) Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale with pecan crusted chicken is a great pairing.

 3. Beer? Wine? or Cocktails? Why? Beer or Mike's Hard Lemonade on a hot day hanging out with friends. White wine when it's a more formal event. Cocktails, particularly a margarita or cape cod when out at a bar, unless I don't want to spend much money, then it's then it's Bud Light.

 4. Red wine or white wine? White wine. I can't stand red wine.

 5. Tell me about the hard stuff. Nothing beats Tito's Handmade Vodka. It's a wonderful smooth tasting vodka, and it always gives me lovely dreams.

 6. Cigars? No, I've tried to smoke them, but I hate them for two reasons: 1) they smell like burning dog shit, and 2) I can't get the taste out of my mouth the next day.

 7. When was the last time you were hungover? Worst hangover? It's been several months since I've had a hangover, but the worst lasted about 3 days. I do my best not to drink enough to have a hangover. It was due to mixing alcohols. I keep with one type of alcohol a night, so that I want get sick. I can't mix liquor and beer or change the beer I am drinking or drink more than one type of liquor.

 8. Best hangover cure. Before I go to bed, I take three-four ibuprofen (depending on how much I had to drink) and a full glass of water. I usually don't have a hangover if I do this.

 9. Craziest/baddest thing you did when you had too much? Did you remember it or did your friends inform you? Make it a fun one! Ok, this might break some illusions some of you have about me, but several years ago, I got really drunk in New Orleans and gave a go-go dancer a blowjob while he was dancing on the bar. I remember it quite well. I am cursed/blessed with remembering everything when I've been drinking. It was slutty and a hell of a lot of fun at the time. And yes, I'd do it again if given the chance, lol.

BONUS Are you a cheap date? How many drinks does it take you get you into bed? Yep, I'm probably a cheap date, especially if tequila is involved. Tequila makes me horny, and I am not one to drink a whole lot, so yeah, I'm a cheap date. If on a date I am unlikely to drink more than two or three drinks. If out with friends, I rarely drink more than the equivalent to a six pack of beer.

 So there you have it. My TMI questions about booze.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Travels and Travails

I had mentioned on Monday that I would blog about my weekend trip.  This was not one of my best vacations, but it wasn't a vacation for me.  I was going as the driver.  My aunt, who is near my age and, incidentally, my roommate (she's more like a big sister thank an aunt).  Anyway, a few months ago, we got tickets to see Luke Bryan in concert in Birmingham.  That was how the plan for this trip started.  We were going to take my aunt's former foster daughter (aka M) to the concert. (My aunt was given custody of her for about two years because the girls parents had major drug problems, but when they got mostly straitened out, the courts gave her back to her parents.  My aunt is still a very important part of her life, and they, hopefully, will always be part of each others lives.)

M rarely ever gets to go anywhere or do anything unless my aunt takes her.  Sadly since going back with her parents several years ago, she is the grown-up in the household, even though she is 15.  So my aunt does her best to make sure she has what she needs and is able to have some sort of a normal life. This is why we were taking her to the concert.  She loves Luke Bryan.

There is a fair amount of backstory to this trip, so stay with me.

Add to this that my aunt is a big fan of "Duck Dynasty" on A&E, especially of Jace Roberts.  The shows funny, but I don't get her obsession.  Anyway, Jace was scheduled to be in Huntsville at a hunting and fishing expo Friday.  Since we were going to be in Birmingham on Thursday and Huntsville is only an hour and a half to two hours away, my aunt wanted to go see him.  So a trip to Huntsville was added on to the Thursday night concert. 

Well, Huntsville is only two hours from Nashville.  My aunt has wanted to go back to Nashville, and it was an opportunity to take M on a short vacation to a place her parents would never take her, so two days in Nashville were added to the trip.  My aunt took me to Nashville when I was a kid, so I was game to go back. We had not gone to the Parthenon when we had gone before, and this was somewhere I wanted to go.  Also, the Country Music Hall of Fame had moved to a new home and it would also be nice to tour.

To say the least, M was extremely excited about going, and even though I didn't have the money to go, my aunt convinced me that it would cost very little.  She was paying for the hotels and gas, if I would drive. All I had to pay for was food (and we were planning on picnicking as much as possible) and admission to museums that we went to visit (they were relatively inexpensive).  I figured I could afford this.  However, some unexpected expenses came up, and my money was gone.  Since I am a teacher who makes very little money, and in January 2013, I lost my second job that supplemented my income, I am struggling financially.  Being poor sucks.  In this current economy, keeping one job is hard enough, finding a second is nearly impossible.  So when some unexpected expense comes up, it can be a big problem.  It seems like, I can no longer keep my head above water.  My "guardian accountant," and he know who he is, says that it will take time for things to get better.  I hope that's true.  Anyway, I'm off topic.  With M's excitement, I couldn't back out and disappoint her, I would just have to make the best of it.

I knew things were not going to be good when a deposit I made into my account did not post like it should have.  Next, I got a speeding ticket going through Montgomery on the way to the concert.  I don't understand how, since my cruise control was set on 65 mph, the speed limit, and the state trooper, aka officer asshole, said he clocked me going 85 mph in a 65 mph speed zone.  What he clocked was the gray Ford Fusion that was passing me, or one of the other dozens of cars passing me, instead of my gray Ford Focus.  I tried to explain this to him, but he called me a liar.  I made the mistake of putting on my brakes and trying to move over when I saw an emergency vehicle (just as the law in Alabama says to do).  Now add to no money, I now have a speeding ticket to pay for.  Things were not starting out well.

The concert was outdoors at the Oak Mountain Amphitheater, and it was hotter than Hell, as Alabama summers are wont to be.  Florida-Georgia Line performed first, and were not very good in concert.  Thompson Square, however, was far better than I had expected.  Luke Bryan was smokin' hot, a lot of fun to watch, and put on a great concert.  So that was at least one thing that went well.

On to Huntsville.  First let me say, I am not big on hunting and fishing expos, so I was not looking forward to this.  We waited over an hour to get in and then the line to see Jace Robertson was quite long and he was not even going to start sign autographs for two more hours.  I left M and my aunt in line while I went to to check out the expo. Compared to the Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery, where I have taken my niece several times to see the guys from Swamp People (she's 5, and it's her favorite show), the fishing and hunting expo in Huntsville was pretty crappy.  I was able to go around the whole thing four times in two hours.  After which I decided to take a seat and wait to hear Jace's seminar.  I knew it would be partly about hunting and partly about his faith.  The Robertsons are members of the Churches of Christ, most of them are ordained ministers.  I figured it would be an I greeting talk, and I got a fantastic seat.  My aunt and M got their autographs and came over to where I was.  Since my aunt is such a big fan of Jace, I gave her my seat and took M to show her around the Expo.

Once all of that was over with, we headed to Nashville.  Apparently, the reviews of our Nashville hotel were all lies.  The place was comfortable, but it sat behind a liquor store and there was a big ugly black drag queen screaming in the parking lot.  First appearances what they are, the hotel didn't turn out so badly.  We had a pretty good day in Nashville, and things started looking up.  We went to Music Row, the Country Music Hall of Fame, saw the Parthenon and Centennial Park, then went to the Opry Mills Mall that used to be Opryland.  We had planned on touring the Opryland Hotel, but they now charge $20 for parking, so we opted out of that.  At Opry Mills, we ate at the Aquarium Restaurant, which has great food and great atmosphere.  I had eaten at one in Houston before.  M loved it.  It was like going to an aquarium and a nice restaurant all in one for her.  Two things she's never gotten to do before. It was a trip of firsts for her.

On the way home on Sunday, we had to more stops we decided to make, because we would be driving by them and since M had never seen them, it seemed like a good idea.    The first stop was the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama.  Known as "Jerusalem in Miniature," Ave Maria Grotto is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park designed to provide a natural setting for the 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world. The masterpieces of stone and concrete are the lifetime work of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Begun as a hobby, with various materials he could find, and infinite patience and a remarkable sense of symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph re-created some of the greatest edifices of all time.  It is definitely something that if you have the chance, you should see, even if it is like a little tacky roadside attraction.

The next stop was in Birmingham at the Vulcan.  The Vulcan statue is the largest cast iron statue in the world, and is the city symbol of Birmingham, Alabama, reflecting its roots in the iron and steel industry. The 56-foot tall statue depicts the Roman god Vulcan, god of the fire and forge.  I had not seen the statue up close in years.  Since I had last seen it, the statue had been restored to its original condition.  The restoration and the new visitors center are really nice.

With the exception of the lack of funds and the speeding ticket, the trip actually turned out to be very nice.  The only thing I regret, and I just didn't have the finances for it, was that I would have loved to enjoy some of e famous nightlife in Nashville.  Oh well, that will have to be for another trip.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


by Walt Whitman

Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther,
And who has been just? for I would be the most just person of the
And who most cautious? for I would be more cautious,
And who has been happiest? O I think it is I--I think no one was ever
   happier than I,
And who has lavish'd all? for I lavish constantly the best I have,
And who proudest? for I think I have reason to be the proudest son
   alive--for I am the son of the brawny and tall-topt city,
And who has been bold and true? for I would be the boldest and truest
   being of the universe,
And who benevolent? for I would show more benevolence than all the
And who has receiv'd the love of the most friends? for I know what it
      is to receive the passionate love of many friends,
And who possesses a perfect and enamour'd body? for I do not believe
   any one possesses a more perfect or enamour'd body than mine,
And who thinks the amplest thoughts? for I would surround those
And who has made hymns fit for the earth? for I am mad with 

About This Poem

Excelsior is a Latin term meaning "ever upward"; it is the official motto of the State of New York. A slightly different version of this poem first appeared as "Poem of the Heart of the Son of Manhattan Island" in the second edition of Leaves of Grass.

Walt Whitman was born in Huntington, New York, on May 31, 1819. He is best known for Leaves of Grass, a prodigious collection of poetry that he continually revised for most of his life. Whitman died in 1892.  He is one of America's most celebrated gay poets.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bigotry, Biscuits and Gravy: Being Queer Below The Mason-Dixon Line | Thought Catalog

I had planned on giving you guys an update on my weekend and how my quick trip to Nashville with my aunt and her former foster daughter went, but by the time I got home, I was exhausted, especially since I had done all of the driving.  So that will have to wait until Wednesday's post.

Anyway, I came across this on Thought Catalog and wanted to share it with you guys.  I found it pretty interesting.  The post was originally published on Gay Voices at the Huffington Post.  "Bigotry, Biscuits and Gravy: Being Queer Below The Mason-Dixon Line" was written by Sarah Beauchamp, a writer, editor, and drag queen enthusiast living in Brooklyn. While her full-time job is being an editor at PCMA Convene, an international publication for event professionals, she blogs about queer culture and entertainment at her website Her work has also appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine.

Bigotry, Biscuits and Gravy: Being Queer Below The Mason-Dixon Line

When my friend, Cincinnati-based photographer Christian Hendricks, said he'd heard from several queer people in small cities along the Bible Belt — like Starkville, Miss., and Murfreesboro, Tenn. — who were eager to be involved in his upcoming project, South of the Ohio: A Queer Photo Documentary, a piece that will capture gay life in the American South, I immediately assumed that they wanted to air their grievances through his lens.
Photo: Christian Hendricks
Credit: Christian Hendricks
"It's funny: You would think that that's the response," Hendricks said. "Actually, a lot of people were like, 'Gay culture is thriving down here. We're not this completely marginalized group of people. We have our own sense of pride. It's just a different region. We're not any different from gays in L.A. or New York just because we don't have a city.'"
Caption: Christian Hendricks
Credit: Christian Hendricks
Though I'm not so ignorant to believe that one absolutely needs an urban area to be comfortably queer, it does make me wonder what LGBT pride looks like in areas that are so heavily influenced by religion, or areas that are so isolated from queer culture that the nearest gay bar is two-plus hours away.
Credit: Christian Hendricks
Credit: Christian Hendricks
These are the same questions that will take Hendricks below the Mason-Dixon Line for a six-week journey this August. After raising funds on Kickstarter, he'll head south with his camera to discover where the stereotypes of intolerance are true (one person he's already spoken with in northeast Mississippi said that nearly every gay person in his town is in the closet) and where acceptance and Southern hospitality prevail. But more importantly, being a portrait photographer, he wants to get to know these people as individuals and show that the South is more than just bigotry, biscuits and gravy.
Credit: Christian Hendricks
Credit: Christian Hendricks
He'll begin his journey in Cincinnati, just north of the Ohio River — a gateway to the American South — and head toward New Orleans. Along the way, he'll visit major cities like Nashville and Atlanta, but he would like to focus more on the smaller, more rural towns. He's been using the gay-dating app Grindr to find gay men in more isolated, and seemingly less tolerant, areas who'd like to be involved in the documentary. "I focused on northeastern Mississippi," he said, "because that's where the largest cluster of Southern Baptist churches is in the South, so I took that as a signifier that that would be one of the most conservative areas that I could visit."
Credit: Christian Hendricks
Credit: Christian Hendricks
He was originally curious about gay culture in the South after living for a few months in 2009 in Gallatin, Tenn., where he was rebuilding houses with Aid for the World. "My experiences there were definitely part of what triggered me wanting to go back to the South," he said. "Seeing Bible quotes written on minivans — it's a little bit different from being in the North. The effect of religion down there is stronger."
Caption: Christian Hendricks
Caption: Christian Hendricks
Hendricks wants his photographs to capture people in their own environments, their homes and neighborhoods. If they are (or were raised) religious, he'd like to photograph them at the place where they were baptized, to "display the tension between religion and sexuality and identity." And for those of you who are frustrated by mainstream media often portraying "LGBT" as "white homosexual males," Hendricks will give just as much attention to lesbians and transgender people as he does gay men.
Credit: Christian Hendricks
Credit: Christian Hendricks
In addition to portraits, Hendricks, who also works with video — including for the AIDS/LifeCycle fundraiser — plans to film interviews with his subjects. He'd also like to plan his trip so that he can arrive in New Orleans during Southern Decadence, "the big gay Mardi Gras." When he's all finished, he's going to head home to compile a book of his photographs for publication.
Credit: Christian Hendricks
Credit: Christian Hendricks
Despite all his preliminary research and having spent some time in the South himself, Hendricks still doesn't know what to expect. "That's what's exciting for me," he said. "I don't' know what I'm going to get. And I don't really want to know either. It's going to be completely about exploration and watching how these photographs will manifest into a series."