Thursday, October 19, 2017

Guilty Pleasure



I have to admit something. I have a new guilty pleasure. I’m really loving the new remake of Dynasty on The CW. It’s just a fun catty show to watch. I never watched the original Dynasty, but I like the new one.


The reboot updates several factors from the 1980s original, including moving the setting from Denver, Colorado to Atlanta, Georgia; making Steven's homosexuality a nonissue to Blake; and changing gold digger Sammy Jo from a woman to a gay man. Patrick said, "We knew in our version—2017—we wanted Steven's conflict with Blake to be not about him being gay, but about him being liberal." Additionally, in the new series, Blake's fiancée is Hispanic, and both chauffeur Michael Culhane and the Colby family are African-American.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Headache



Most of yesterday, I had a bad headache. I even went home early from work, which I never do. After taking my headache medication and getting some sleep, it seemed to go away, but sadly it came back a few hours later. So I went to bed early last night.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Little Ghost



The Little Ghost
 By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I knew her for a little ghost
     That in my garden walked;
The wall is high—higher than most—
     And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
     Till after she was gone—
I knew her by the broad white hat,
     All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
     By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
     Her gown’s white folds among.

I watched to see if she would stay,
     What she would do—and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
     I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favourite mint
     With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled—there was no hint
     Of sadness in her face.

She held her gown on either side
     To let her slippers show,
And up the walk she went with pride,
     The way great ladies go.

And where the wall is built in new
     And is of ivy bare
She paused—then opened and passed through
     A gate that once was there.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Another Monday



By Monday, I’ve mentally planned out what I’m going to wear for the week. By Monday morning I have my week’s wardrobe basically planned out. I may change my mind throughout the week, but I pretty much know what I’m going to wear.

Mondays are always difficult for me. It means the work week begins again and the weekend is over. It means I can’t sleep in, no matter how badly I want to. As you might be able to tell, Mondays are not my favorite day. I just don’t do Mondays well. But, I’ll get up this morning, put on my happy face and head to work. It all gets a little better after I’ve had my first cup of coffee.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

5 Psalms about the Future



By Nicholas Hemming

When you fear the future, the struggle often feels all-consuming. “What ifs” seem to run wild in your mind. You strive to focus on the task at hand—but without fail, you surrender to a fear that feels insurmountable. What does tomorrow hold? What if the future feels hopeless?

While submitting your latest rent payment, you may fear living paycheck to paycheck for the rest of your life. As you prepare for another move, you may fear loneliness or isolation. After an unsuccessful dating relationship, you may fear life as a single person, without a spouse to love and cherish.

Regardless of the circumstance, it seems impossible to move away from this fear. The future makes you freeze; thoughts of tomorrow, and the next day, unearth unmanageable anxiety. You want to have a hopeful, confident outlook, though at this point, you only feel grief and uncertainty. You wonder if your anxiety about the future will ever pass.

In these moments, turn to God’s Word for encouragement, comfort and hope. Depend on the Lord as you wrestle with anxiety about the future. And continually seek him through prayer as you work to overcome your fear. These five Psalms will get you started:

Psalm 23:4 (GNTD)
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
I will not be afraid, Lord,
for you are with me.
Your shepherd's rod and staff protect me.

Psalm 34:4 (GNTD)
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me;
he freed me from all my fears.

Psalm 55:22 (GNTD)
Leave your troubles with the Lord,
and he will defend you;
he never lets honest people be defeated.

Psalm 94:19 (GNTD)
Whenever I am anxious and worried,
you comfort me and make me glad.

Psalm 121:1-2 (GNTD)
I look to the mountains;
where will my help come from?
My help will come from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Nicholas Hemming serves as a Content Specialist with American Bible Society. As a child of Southern New Hampshire, he grew up exploring hidden towns along the rocky New England coast. Though he now resides in Philadelphia, PA, he continues to curiously explore his home—and the towns, cities and countries that lay beyond his home.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tired



I was so tired when I got home. It was a long drive back from southern Connecticut. After eating dinner, Isabella and I basically went to bed. Whenever I am gone overnight, Isabella just can’t get enough of me. She likes to snuggle when I get home, and it’s usually at least a day before she lets me out of her sight. She did leave me long enough to let me watch The Orville last night, but then we turned out the lights and went to bed. She’ll roam around some of the night but she won’t be too far away from me.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Heading Back


First of all, yesterday was quite successful. I accomplished everything in Connecticut that I set out to. That being said, no one ever told me that southern Connecticut was such a sketchy place. While searching for a place for dinner, I didn't want to stop because no where looked safe. At one point, I was even approached by a prostitute, to which I promptly drove off. I finally did decide on a decent looking Mexican place, which had the cutest little Mexican gay waiter with a nice little bubble butt. The food was also delicious. I had sopa de mariscos, which is a seafood soup, and a carne asada steak. both were beyond delicious. This is the best Mexican food I've had since I left the South.

Now, I am headed back to Vermont.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Chicago and Connecticut



The other day, I applied for a job in Chicago. It would be a step up from my current job and would be at a prestigious library and museum. The only thing is that I only know two things about Chicago: I've seen the musical and my mother says it's the murder capital of America. Actually, I know a few more things, such as the gay section is known as Boystown, and Chicago sits on Lake Michigan. Also, I read Boy Culture which takes place in Chicago not that I remember that much about Chicago from the book. I've also never lived in a big city before. So help me out here. What should I know about Chicago?

Also, I'm back in Connecticut today. Travel arrangements were a pain in the ass without a director, but I finally got them finalized. I'll be driving much of tomorrow, but I will be spending the night in Connecticut before I drive home on Thursday. It's going to be a long two days. I don't mind driving, but I really don't like driving by myself, especially early in the morning. I like to have someone to talk to as I drive. But being by myself, I'll probably either listen to an audiobook or listen to NPR.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fragment: Questions



Fragment: Questions

 By Percy Bysshe Shelley


Is it that in some brighter sphere

We part from friends we meet with here?

Or do we see the Future pass

Over the Present’s dusky glass?

Or what is that that makes us seem

To patch up fragments of a dream,

Part of which comes true, and part

Beats and trembles in the heart?


Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday



Another Monday...What that entails, I'm not sure. I know it's another day at work, but we are still without a director. I know that I have to plan a trip to Connecticut. It's not as easy as it used to be when we had a director. I have to go through more people. I hope it all goes smoothly.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Prayer for Safety



Our world is filled with events and situations that can cause great fear and anxiety. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and live imprisoned by fear.  We are promised in God’s Word that he is faithful and will protect us (2 Thessalonians 3:3).  God wants us to let go of fear and to live life to the fullest! (John 10:10) My family is in the path of Hurricane Nate, so I offer this prayer for safety.


Lord, I pray Your emotional, physical, and spiritual protection over my family. Keep evil far from them, and help them to trust You as their refuge and strength. I pray You will guard their minds from harmful instruction, and grant them discernment to recognize truth. I pray You will make them strong and courageous in the presence of danger, recognizing that You have overcome and will set right all injustice and wrong one day. Help them to find rest in Your shadow, as they live in the spiritual shelter You provide for them. Let them know that the only safe place is in Jesus, and that their home on earth is only temporary.

Friday, October 6, 2017

TGIF



It's been quite a week, and today is going to be a busy day. I have a plumber coming at 9am to fix the leak that I thought was fixed. Hopefully, he won't take long. I have a class at 11. I've been taking a meditation class this week. It's been pretty interesting. Once that s over with, I will probably be at the museum by myself the rest of the day.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Good News



Finally, I heard some good news yesterday. The provost told me yesterday that she'd write a new grant to fund my job, or talk to the CFO about making it part of the Museum budget. This is wonderful news as it means it is quite likely I will keep my job even after my grant is over. I've become an integral part of the Museum and they seem to have realized what an important role I play. I was very happy with the news.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Another Day



Some of your wrote to me yesterday concerned because of my"Judgement Day" post. Well the short answer is that I'm okay. I went into HR, and they asked me about ten questions. Of the ten, I could answer four of them without saying, "No, not that I know of." I was simply just kept out of the loop on whatever went on. I know three things now that I didn't know before, but I had suspected these three things. It has to do with our audit. It has to do with money. And, I was never a part of it. HR may just think that I am a clueless dope now, but I really didn't know anything they asked. I had not observed anything they asked about. Now we are expected to go on with business as usual. Well, without a boss, nothing is business as usual. One person commented that it was like a death in the family. In a way it is, but it's a death no one wants to talk about. So I'm still largely clueless on specifics, but I have a general idea of what happened. Now we wait and see how it will be resolved.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Wings of Daylight



The Wings of Daylight
by W. S. Merwin

Brightness appears showing us everything
it reveals the splendors it calls everything
but shows it to each of us alone
and only once and only to look at
not to touch or hold in our shadows
what we see is never what we touch
what we take turns out to be something else
what we see that one time departs untouched
while other shadows gather around us
the world’s shadows mingle with our own
we had forgotten them but they know us
they remember us as we always were
they were at home here before the first came
everything will leave us except the shadows
but the shadows carry the whole story
at first daybreak they open their long wings

Monday, October 2, 2017

Judgement Day



At least it feels like the Judgement Day. I have to go before HR today and answer questions. I have no idea what the questions will be because I have no idea what this whole matter is about. I hope I will find out this afternoon during my appointment. I want answers. I need answers. Whether I will get them or not is up to HR. There is too much up in the air for me. I like to know what's going on.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Rejoice





Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:4-7


It's been a difficult week. I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post with these Bible verses. It reminded me that God is with me. He will guide me through the troubled waters ahead. I just have to trust in him. I have to rejoice that he is with me always. Reading these verses brought a certain peace that I haven't felt in a long time. This week has made things tougher, but I hope the week to come brings answers and resolutions to my problems/issues. I pray that the Lord will stand by me in this time of need.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Drama



There is too much drama in my life right now. I'm ready for things to settle down. I don't foresee the drama going away anytime soon. Last night though was a doozy. I wish I could go into it, but I can't. It's just too fucking complicated. As I am writing this, I'm just ready to go to bed and try and get some sleep. At least I only have to work two hours today.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

In the Dark



We are still in the dark about things at work. We all know that we have to meet with HR on Monday, and we know what time each of our meetings is. We have no idea what any of this is about though. This whole thing makes me nervous. I have no idea what to expect on Monday. I merely know that I have a meeting. This is very frustrating.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Rough Day


Yesterday was a rough day at work. While no one was arrested, it was almost as bad. For now, my boss is no longer my boss and I don't know why. Hopefully, the mysterious matter will be solved, and we can get back to the way things were. Yesterday, everything started out good. It looked like it would be a fantastic day. I had really high hopes for things to come. Then at the end of the day, the shit hit the fan, so to speak. My head is still spinning, things happened so fast. Now we just wait and see. I try to be patient, but oftentimes I fail. I'm afraid that my patience is worn thin at this point. I don't like not having the answers. We may get some answers on Monday, but I suspect that we won't ever know the full story.

To make matters worse and add insult to injury, Roy Moore defeated Luther Strange for the Republican nomination for US Senate. While the Democrat in the race, Doug Jones, has a great reputation and is widely admired, it's doubtful a Democrat can win the General Election. Maybe Doug Jones can prove me wrong.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

After Apple-Picking



After Apple-Picking

Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963


My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree

Toward heaven still,

And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill

Beside it, and there may be two or three

Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.

But I am done with apple-picking now.

Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.

I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight

I got from looking through a pane of glass

I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough

And held against the world of hoary grass.

It melted, and I let it fall and break.

But I was well

Upon my way to sleep before it fell,

And I could tell

What form my dreaming was about to take.

Magnified apples appear and disappear,

Stem end and blossom end,

And every fleck of russet showing clear.

My instep arch not only keeps the ache,

It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.

I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin

The rumbling sound

Of load on load of apples coming in.

For I have had too much

Of apple-picking: I am overtired

Of the great harvest I myself desired.

There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,

Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.

For all

That struck the earth,

No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,

Went surely to the cider-apple heap

As of no worth.

One can see what will trouble

This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.

Were he not gone,

The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his

Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,

Or just some human sleep.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Swimmer's Ear



I have a bad case of swimmer's ear, and I didn't even get to go swimming.  I'm not sure what caused it, but it started on Thursday. Friday and Saturday I didn't have time in my schedule to go to the doctor, but I finally got to go yesterday. I had to go to one of those urgent care places. I hate those places. They never give the greatest care. They just get you in and get you out. If I was still in Alabama, I'd have waited two or three hours, but this is Vermont where the wait was luckily only 15 minutes. Let me tell you, swimmer's ear is quite painful, but do you think they'd give me anything for pain? No. Vemont must be the stingiest state for pain relief. They always suggest over the counter medication. It may help, but it doesn't work completely. There is still pain. Ugh, Vermont and their weird ways and hippie-dippie lifestyles drives me insane. At least it's a liberal state, but they are not liberal when it comes to health care.

Did anybody see the new Star Trek? It was fabulous. I can't wait for more.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Real Questions For Real Bisexuals!


by Believe Out Loud

Pictured clockwise: Ashley DeTar Birt, Hannah Soldner, Angélique Gravely, Alison Amyx, Keisha E. McKenzie, Beth Sherouse

No one human being expresses their sexuality nor their gender in the exact same way as another. Yet we are all a part of God’s grand creation and blessed under God’s love. 

This is why, for #BiWeek, we wanted to know a little bit more about the different ways that folks of all genders experience their sexuality, and how they shared this part of their identity with the larger world. So, we gathered some questions and went in search of some of our favorite bisexual and bisexual-adjacent BOL’ers (check out their bios at the end!).

This is the result of a conversation we’ve started: 

What term or terms do you use to describe your sexual orientation?

Hannah Soldner: I like queer, but I use bisexual because of visibility (and accuracy) and Lesbian (because it forces people to acknowledge my gender.)

Ashley DeTar Birt: Bisexual, Queer

Keisha McKenzie: I describe my orientation as fluid. I’m on the bi-spectrum and part of the bi community. 

Angélique Gravely: I use bisexual or bi as the most specific description of my orientation and the term queer as a broad description.

Beth Sherouse: Bisexual or queer.

Alison Amyx: My primary label for myself is "queer." More recently, I've started to realize how much internalized biphobia has impacted my journey to accept and understand myself. This realization has made me rethink my relationship with the label "bisexual."

How did you first discover your bisexual identity, or the bisexual community?

AG: Although I knew that bisexual people existed long before I considered that I might be bisexual, I didn't know there was a community with thought leaders, researchers, activists, etc. until I created a Tumblr account not long after I came out. I owe most of my initial knowledge of the bi+ community and bi+ history to Tumblr. 

ADB: For me, I always knew I liked boys, but I figured I just wanted to be really, REALLY good friends with girls. I had a crush on my best friend in high school, but I figured that was a one-time thing. When I got to college and fell for another friend, I started to realize that maybe it wasn't just the boys I was interested in.

AA: It took me a long time to take my attraction to women seriously because I didn't see bisexuality as a serious option. I discovered the Kinsey scale in college, decided I was a 1.5, and called myself "straight" for the next five years. 

KM: Sometimes a trivial question cuts through the angst. I was on holiday with some friends on a lazy fall afternoon in Florida and one of them asked me, “If you could have ten of your celebrity crushes in a hot tub, who would they be?” My answer surprised me because three of the people I mentioned were women. I think that was the first time I’d ever acknowledged it, and because the question was silly and my friends were safe, it didn’t feel like a thing I had to dodge. I could take my time and figure out what, if anything, it was all about. When I started looking back, a lot more started making sense!

BS: I always had crushes on girls and boys, but didn't know that was an option. I learned about bisexuality at some point in my early teens and immediately realized that was me.

How does your experience of bisexuality relate to your gender? 

HS: Um, well I think it is safer for women to be out as bisexual. As a trans bisexual person, I just don't have a lot of partner preferences. I like all the kinds of people.

BS: My gender expression has always been pretty queer, partly because a person's gender isn't all that important to me in terms of attraction or even friendship. 

ADB: A lot of people make assumptions about my bisexuality based on my gender.  Because I'm cisgender, people think I support the gender binary or am only attracted to men and women but not non-binary or genderqueer folk. Neither of those things is true.

AA: I think that I was able to dismiss my attraction to other women for so long because female sexuality, in general, is seen as a performance for men, or as frivolous. On the flip side, it seems that men who experience any hint of same-sex attraction are immediately labeled as "gay." At both extremes, bisexuality is erased as a valid experience or identity. 

KM: For me, both my gender and orientation are fluid. Expecting shifts, however small, helps me not to put limits on how I perceive other people or what I expect from myself.  

How does your experience of bisexuality inform your experience of your religion or faith?

HS: I think that sometimes there are hard rules for how love works, but I don't have a lot of those rules. This permeability of love works with how I think about a God of love. 

AG: One of the biggest ways bisexuality has informed my faith is by making me more mindful of who is being included and excluded in religious spaces. American Christianity often relies on dichotomous thinking that leaves large swaths of people and their experiences out of church conversations. Experiencing this erasure in regards to my bisexuality helped me put words to the other forms of erasure or avoidance I've seen in Christian contexts and be more intentional about making space, even in my language, for people who don't fit either/or categories the church uses.

ADB: In SO many ways! I think I wrote a piece for Believe Out Loud a while ago about bisexuality being like the full humanity and divinity of Christ (an idea that belongs to a bisexual former student of mine). I still love the idea that the experience of bisexuality can connect me with Jesus. I love waking up proud to live and love and just exist exactly as I am, knowing that God made me. I love that I don't have to choose between any genders, nor do I have to choose between my orientation and my faith. They're all me.

BS: I'm pretty agnostic, but as a child, my family was very religious, so it was difficult to reconcile my sexuality and come out

Has your understanding of bisexuality shifted since you first learned about it?

ADB: Definitely. I used to see bisexuality with the older definition—attracted to men and women—but I don't really define it or myself that way anymore. I'm attracted to folks with the same gender identity as me and different gender identities. The "bi" in bisexual doesn't stand for binary and neither do I.

AA: My understanding of bisexuality shifted when I realized that internalized biphobia had kept me, for many years, from exploring the nuances of my attraction to different genders. Romantic attraction is different from physical attraction, for example, and experiencing one type of attraction to women doesn't invalidate the ways I'm attracted to men. The lesson of bisexuality, to me, is that I don't have to be defined by only one experience. I can be a multiplicity of things.

BS: I now have an understanding of biphobia and its effects on my life and the disparities bi people face. I also learned about non-binary people and that bisexuality isn't binary.

What’s one thing about bisexuality you wish people understood better? 

HS: A lot of people think of bisexuality as a mixture of heterosexuality and homosexuality, but to me it feels like a freedom from rules.

ADB: We are not a monolith! There are as many ways to be bisexual as there are bisexual people. We are different genders, we're attracted to different people in different ways, and we’re attracted to people in varying degrees. We all do our sexuality differently, as do mono-sexual folks. That should be lifted up.

BS: All of it. 

What’s one thing you love about being bisexual, or part of the bisexual community? 

AG: I love how expansive and diverse our community is. 

ADB: We are INSANELY good at coming up with "bi" based puns!

BS: We're resilient! I can love people regardless of their gender or sex.

KM: I love that my orientation gives me a really concrete way of seeing more than one possibility at a time. I think that’s a gift. 

HS: My bisexuality can be entirely different from another person's yet we are both bisexual—there are less hard and fast rules it feels like!

And finally—who’s your bisexual superhero?

HS: OMG! Um...Some mix of Xena [Xena Warrior Princess], Wonder Woman, and Korra [The Legend of Korra]!

AG: I have so, so many! Today, I'll name Eliot Sutler, co-founder of Bi Women of Color Collaborative and BiNet USA board member. They are one of the best models of what showing up for your communities and owning who you are looks like.

BS: Sara Ramirez

ADB: Dr. Calliope Iphegenia Torres! I feel like I should say Sara Ramirez, since she's the actress who PLAYS Callie Torres and she's ALSO bisexual, but her character is the one who I grew up with and taught me how to be who I am.

KM: ABilly Jones Hennin is an epic human being and our community’s bisexual grandpa! He’s an advocate, a family man, and a ball of light. Google him!

Now it's your turn—tell us your answers in the comments below!

Meet the contributors: 

Hannah Rachel Soldner is an Actual Transgender Christian who attends three churches.
Ashley DeTar Birt is the Director of Christian Education at Rutgers Presbyterian Church.
Keisha E. McKenzie is the Program Director of Believe Out Loud.
Angélique Gravely is a Philadelphia-based bisexual speaker, writer, and activist.
Beth Sherouse, Ph.D. is an activist, southerner, historian, queer, feminist, writer.
Alison Amyx is the Senior Communications Strategist at Believe Out Loud. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another



If my week wasn't busy enough, yesterday morning, my downstairs neighbor stops me to tell me that my shower is leaking into her kitchen. So they landlord had to come fix it, which he couldn't, so he's having to come back tomorrow. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Out Late



I was out late last night with a dinner guest.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Crazy Week



Sometimes I feel like running away, but I don't. This is one of those weeks that I wish was just over. It's homecoming. My busiest time of year because I'm constantly trying to get interviews and I do get several over the course of the weekend. I have a funeral today. Dinner plans with a special guest of the museum tonight. Then tomorrow night is a lecture. Friday we have a big unveiling of a recent acquisition of the museum. We've been working months on this. It's the research I've been traveling so much for. Then Saturday is a full day of schmoozing and trying to get alumni to do oral histories. It's going to be a busy couple of days.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Quest



Quest
By Georgia Douglas Johnson

The phantom happiness I sought
O’er every crag and moor;
I paused at every postern gate,
And knocked at every door;

In vain I searched the land and sea,
E’en to the inmost core,
The curtains of eternal night
Descend—my search is o’er.

Georgia Douglas Johnson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1880. A member of the Harlem Renaissance, her collections of poetry include The Heart of a Woman (The Cornhill Company, 1918) and Share My World (Halfway House, 1962). She died in 1966.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Weekend



On Saturday, I had to work, which wasn't too bad. I mostly worked on a project for my boss. If this project proves successful, it will be a success for me too. Here's to hoping it all works out.

On Sunday, I took it easy. In other words, I did nothing. I had a good reason though, I had a headache, and I really didn't feel,like doing anything. I accomplished exactly two things on Sunday. One, I got caught up on Project Runway, and two, I watched The Orville on Fox.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ruth: A Loyal Love Story


Naomi entreating Ruth and Orpah to return to the land of Moab by William Blake, 1795

In our home growing up, photographs were often stored in shoeboxes that fit under the bed or up in the closet. Now and then, those boxes would come out, and we would begin our trip down memory lane. Scenes in black and white took me back to my roots, rekindling bygone feelings and reminding me of precious stories. Pictures and the memories they evoke help us to keep our story alive.

In the 85 verses of the book of Ruth we follow one family and a foreign woman named Ruth as they eek out a living during the difficult days of the judges - a time of moral chaos and national instability, described in the last verse of Judges by the frightening words, everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). The story takes unexpected twists and turns that fire the imagination and soothe the soul.

Ruth is for people who wonder where God is when one tragedy after another pounds their faith. It is for people who wonder whether a life of integrity in tough times is worth it. And it is a story for people who can't imagine that anything great could ever come of their ordinary lives.

The book tells of Ruth's accepting the God of the Israelites as her God and the Israelite people as her own. In Ruth 1:16-17, Ruth tells Naomi, her Israelite mother-in-law, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me."

Ruth 1:16-17 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It shows the loyalty and love that one woman has for another. I was reminded of this verse the other day when I was watching Fried Green Tomatoes, my favorite movie. Idgie initially resists Ruth's attempts at friendship, but gradually a deep attachment develops between them. Ruth leaves Whistle Stop to marry Frank Bennett and moves to Valdosta, Georgia. Idgie tries to forget her but later, after receiving a letter with the Bible verses Ruth 1:16-17 included in it, visits her house to find her pregnant and subject to physical abuse from Frank. Against his wishes and violent attempts to stop her, she returns to Whistle Stop with Idgie, where her baby, a boy whom she names Buddy, Jr., is born. 

Both the story of the biblical Ruth and the story of Idgie and Ruth in Fried Green Tomatoes are powerful stories of women. They give us a lesson of love and loyalty that we can't forget. If you've never seen Fried Green Tomatoes, you should. It's a lovely movie.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Forbidden Love in a Time of War

While on military training during World War Two, Gilbert Bradley was in love. He exchanged hundreds of letters with his sweetheart - who merely signed with the initial "G". But more than 70 years later, it was discovered that G stood for Gordon, and Gilbert had been in love with a man.

At the time, not only was homosexuality illegal, but those in the armed forces could be shot for having gay sex.

The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley's death in 2008, are therefore unusual and shed an important light on homosexual relationships during the war.

What do we know about this forbidden love affair?

Wednesday January 24th 1939

My darling,

... I lie awake all night waiting for the postman in the early morning, and then when he does not bring anything from you I just exist, a mass of nerves...

All my love forever,

G.

Information gleaned from the letters indicate Mr Bradley was a reluctant soldier. He did not want to be in the Army, and even pretended to have epilepsy to avoid it.

His ruse did not work, though, and in 1939 he was stationed at Park Hall Camp in Oswestry, Shropshire, to train as an anti-aircraft gunner.

He was already in love with Gordon Bowsher. The pair had met on a houseboat holiday in Devon in 1938 when Mr Bowsher was in a relationship with Mr Bradley's nephew.

Mr Bowsher was from a well-to-do family. His father ran a shipping company, and the Bowshers also owned tea plantations.

When war broke out a year later he trained as an infantryman and was stationed at locations across the country.

February 12 1940, Park Grange

My own darling boy,

There is nothing more than I desire in life but to have you with me constantly...

...I can see or I imagine I can see, what your mother and father's reaction would be... the rest of the world have no conception of what our love is - they do not know that it is love...

But life as a homosexual in the 1940s was incredibly difficult. Gay activity was a court-martial offence, jail sentences for so-called "gross indecency" were common, and much of society strongly disapproved of same-sex relationships.

It was not until the Sexual Offences Act 1967 that consenting men aged 21 and over were legally allowed to have gay relationships - and being openly gay in the armed services was not allowed until 2000.

The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley's death in 2008, are rare because most homosexual couples would get rid of anything so incriminating, says gay rights activist Peter Roscoe.

In one letter Mr Bowsher urges his lover to "do one thing for me in deadly seriousness. I want all my letters destroyed. Please darling do this for me. Til then and forever I worship you."

Mr Roscoe says the letters are inspiring in their positivity.

"There is a gay history and it isn't always negative and tearful," he says. "So many stories are about arrests - Oscar Wilde, Reading Gaol and all those awful, awful stories.

"But despite all the awful circumstances, gay men and lesbians managed to rise above it all and have fascinating and good lives despite everything."

February 1st, 1941 K . C. Gloucester Regiment, Priors Road, Cheltenham

My darling boy,

For years I had it drummed into me that no love could last for life...

I want you darling seriously to delve into your own mind, and to look for once in to the future.

Imagine the time when the war is over and we are living together... would it not be better to live on from now on the memory of our life together when it was at its most golden pitch.

Your own G.

But was this a love story with a happy ending?

Probably not. At one point, Mr Bradley was sent to Scotland on a mission to defend the Forth Bridge. He met and fell in love with two other men. Rather surprisingly, he wrote and told Mr Bowsher all about his romances north of the border. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Mr Bowsher took it all in his stride, writing that he "understood why they fell in love with you. After all, so did I".

Although the couple wrote throughout the war, the letters stopped in 1945.

However, both went on to enjoy interesting lives.

Mr Bowsher moved to California and became a well-known horse trainer. In a strange twist, he employed Sirhan Sirhan, who would go on to be convicted of assassinating Robert Kennedy.

Mr Bradley was briefly entangled with the MP Sir Paul Latham, who was imprisoned in 1941 following a court martial for "improper conduct" with three gunners and a civilian. Sir Paul was exposed after some "indiscreet letters" were discovered.

Mr Bradley moved to Brighton and died in 2008. A house clearance company found the letters and sold them to a dealer specialising in military mail.

The letters were finally bought by Oswestry Town Museum, when curator Mark Hignett was searching on eBay for items connected with the town.

He bought just three at first, and says the content led him to believe a fond girlfriend or fiancé was the sender. There were queries about bed sheets, living conditions - and their dreams for their future life together.

When he spotted there were more for sale, he snapped them up too - and on transcribing the letters for a display in the museum, Mr Hignett and his colleagues discovered the truth. The "girlfriend" was a boyfriend.

The revelation piqued Mr Hignett's interest - he describes his experience as being similar to reading a book and finding the last page ripped out: "I just had to keep buying the letters to find out what happened next."

Although he's spent "thousands of pounds" on the collection of more than 600 letters, he believes in terms of historical worth the correspondence is "invaluable".

"Such letters are extremely rare because they were incriminating - gay men faced years in prison with or without hard labour," he says. "There was even the possibility that gay soldiers could have been shot."

Work on a book is already under way at the museum, where the letters will also go on display.

Perhaps most poignantly, one of the letters contains the lines:

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are."