Friday, July 31, 2009

Meet Shenna

Approaching 27 years of existence, I've realized love has never rescued me like a knight in shining armour. Yet, I still believe in fairy tales. I'm a writer. (Period) Currently residing in NY, I'll always be a southern girl at heart. I often escape there to smell peace. I'm hoping 2010 grants me permanent residency there again. The next step for me would be Grad school. My biggest accomplishment this year has been the official launch of my website www.shennananette.com. When it comes to my writing, I'm my own worse critic even when I receive the most amazing compliments. I'm currently working on a BookUmentary for "out" women of color. My purpose? I haven't discovered it yet. My mission? To create unity and positive progression in the LGBTQ community. One word to describe me? Humanitarian! If I can inspire and change one person's life, I'll know I made a difference. I just wanna be someone who leaves positive footprints in the world.
I met Shenna when she followed me on Twitter. As I told her, I loved her site at first, um... sight... because I'm a sucker for paisley and wild colors. I'm also impressed as heck with her enthusiasm and optimism. Thanks Shenna!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Meet Lara

I'm 25 years old and I live in the most beautiful city in the world (Cape Town, South Africa). I used to be very shy and very deep in the closet, until I realised that I can't expect others to be comfortable with me if I'm not comfortable with myself. Coming out was probably the best experience I've ever had. It taught me to look beyond my own prejudices, and it gave me confidence and the courage to face anything that might cross my path. This process inspired me so much, that I decided to start doing my bit for the LGBT community. As a student, I ran our campus Lesbian and Gay organisation. And I later became involved with Cape Town Pride, of which I am still one of the directors. And I now also run a group called Cape Town Lesbians, which is focussed on building a community through regular events. I also recently launched a website with a blog written by the local girls of Cape Town www.capetownlesbians.co.za
Lara followed me on Twitter, which called Cape Town Lesbians to my attention. Thanks for being the face of the day, Lara!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meet Aryka

My name is Aryka (its pronounced erica). Im 23 years old and I'm after a degree in Information Technology - Project management with a minor in web design. I have a website called www.the-femme.com that I am working really hard on. Its a positive site for LGBT youth to go and learn about news and important events in their community. Aside from that I'm just a regular college student.
I met Aryka when she followed me on Twitter, and when I found that we were both working on LGBT blogs I contacted her. Thanks for being a face of the day, Aryka!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Straight Ally Seeks Christian Ally For Friendship, Activism

I've been obsessing over my blog to the detriment of the rest of my life, including my health. So during the last few days I've made a conscious effort to return to my historical pursuits. I've spent some pleasant hikes listening to The History of Rome podcasts, picking up where I left off with Marius and Sulla. This morning I picked up another dropped thread: an actual honest-to-goodness paper book about my favorite subject, the Spanish Armada of 1588. I hadn't gotten three pages when, on the train this evening, I found something that practically screamed "Meet Adam and Steve!" Here's the excerpt, from pages 60-62 of Felipe Fernández-Armesto's The Spanish Armada: The Experience of War in 1588.
Not every army chaplain exhaled pure Counter-Reformation spirit. The Franciscan Fray Antonio de Granata, for instance, who had done six years in the job by 1588, was an unregenerate pre-Tridentine figure, who sang profane songs to the sound of his lute, conducted bogus and prurient visitations of convents, extorted gifts, wore furs and gold chains, and battered his denouncers. He claimed at his trial for these offences to be a martyr who spoke the truth and converted sinners. His persecution, he suggested, was 'to force me out, and my Franciscan brothers with me and replace us with Jesuits. But St Francis will punish the persecutors of his order.' He may have been voicing a genuine Franciscan anxiety. Certainly, the Jesuit mission in the army was growing more important, as the need for a more active evangelization of the men became increasingly felt among their commanders. The new, evangelically aware orders of the Counter-Reformation, of whom the Jesuits were the most conspicuous and dynamic, were attracted to the army for the same reason as they felt drawn to the slum-ringed boom towns like Seville and to the dense, servile native populations of the New World. Rootless masses were at once an easy and urgent target for their ministry. Commanders interested in the spiritual welfare--or, at least, concerned for the dogmatic instruction--of their men seem to have recognized the Jesuits' special gifts. In 1587, Parma's call for a central Jesuit mission to the Army of Flanders was answered by his personal confessor, Thomas Sailly. Within a generation, the Jesuits could claim to have enhanced the morals and galvanized the strength of the corps of chaplains as a whole.
Reminded of how the Jesuits were successful because they focused on the "rootless masses", anxiety welled up in me at the thought of all the evangelical Christians currently peddling hatred to folks full of fear and despair and anger. That's a high-yield operation; how can I ever compete with that? Answer: I can't--at least not just by blogging. I need to keep my eye on my ultimate goal: to move on to outreach. That scares the crap out of me for several reasons: I have no idea how to do it; I'm not great at confrontation; and I'm an agnostic!

Speaking of despair, I felt my mind inclining in that direction as I made my way west through Manhattan for a walk along the Hudson. But as my feet got going, my mind got going too. (I love how that works.) I thought of the websites that Grace found for me when I was looking for Biblical quotes about nature for my letter to the editor about the Link Trail. In particular, Fund for Christian Ecology came to mind. I'd been impressed with their expressed goal of "...reaching the Evangelical and Conservative Christian churches with a scriptural message of environmental stewardship." That sort of outreach can't be easy, and I admire anyone with the courage to do it. When I thought of this in the context of Meet Adam and Steve, I realized that these are the type of people I need to be talking to! After all, I doubt I'll be very effective at outreach by myself; can you imagine me walking into a church and saying "Well, you should know I don't believe in God, but listen, I still think... where are you going?" To do Christian outreach, I'd better enlist the help of Christians. To be an ally, I need... allies!

So I called and left a message with Bernard Daley Zaleha, President of the Fund for Christian Ecology. A long, rambling message. Bugger. I need to get better at dealing with answering machines. That's OK, though; it felt good to make a start. and it got me rolling. Now that I'd recognized my need for Christian advice and Christian allies, a plan started to coalesce. I thought back to some potential resources I'd skipped right past in my frenzy to get daily faces, such as The Church of St. Luke in the Fields and the Society for Ethical Culture. Then there are the gay and gay-friendly Christian bloggers I've met through Twitter such as @Tahlib and @strt_notnarrow. And let's not forget Steve, who is a Triangle Speaker. I need to talk to all these people to get advice and help in strategizing.

I can't pursue all these contacts in one night, but I did get started: I left a message with the Reverend Caroline Stacey, Rector of St. Luke's. This message was a bit less rambling than the previous one, I'm happy to say. Then I sent her an e-mail. So hopefully I can get rolling with the Christian connection soon, so that I can hit the ground running on the day when I feel ready to start outreach.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Meet Tanya

Tanya Dodd-Hise:
What to say about myself. Hmmm. It seems complicated, but now that I think about it, I guess I'm not all THAT complicated. I am 38 years old, soon to be 39. I was born in Dallas and grew up in North Texas, where I still live today with my new wife (Erikka) and our nine year old son (Noah); I also have a seventeen year old son (Nicholas) who lives with his dad. I attended Texas Woman's University and received a Bachelor of Science in History, and have nearly completed the requirements for a Master of Arts in History/Government. During grad school I worked at the university as a graduate assistant to history & government professors, then left to accept a teaching position for a local private school for a year. That was an experience, to say the least! I also spent a year teaching history in Washington, D.C. on-site to student groups from schools all over the country. That was the most amazing job I have ever had, but a LOT of work. I have also had my own photography business since 2001, and currently am building it from a part-time venture into a full-time one. As a business owner, I am a member in several business networking groups, as well as my local Chamber of Commerce and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. It is very rewarding to be able to work with so many wonderful men and women business owners within the gay/lesbian communities.
We have a pretty busy and full life, but it is one that I cherish and enjoy every day, and wouldn't trade it for anything! We just returned home from a wonderful ten day trip for our wedding & honeymoon to Connecticut, New York, and Washington, D.C. We hope to have a baby next year, and are looking forward to adding to our little family; and our dream is to someday move to the Northeast, back to the D.C. or surrounding area. While on our recent trip, we discovered that the people were so much nicer and more accepting of us as a couple, which is very different from here at home in the Bible belt. My biggest challenge each day is to withstand the ignorance and intolerance that surrounds us, reminding myself how blessed I am in everything that I do and everyone that I know.

I met Tanya through Twitter. I'm grateful to her and her wife for agreeing to be daily faces, and happy to feature the newlyweds on the same day!

Meet Erikka

Erikka Hise:
I was born on a Naval base in Virginia and grew up in a small Texas town called Glen Rose. I was diagnosed with cancer in my senior year of high school. After seven months of chemotherapy and radiation, I was given a clean bill of health and have been clear ever since. I lost all my hair, gave the valedictory speech at graduation in a wig, and learned a lot about priorities that year. I went on to get my undergrad degree in Government and Politics from the University of Texas at Dallas and a law degree from the University of Texas. After law school, I returned to Dallas to join a major Texas energy company. The gas piece of the company was sold to and merged with the largest pure play natural gas company in the United States, and I have worked for them ever since. Over the course of my career it became clear that working as in-house counsel for a major corporation was just as much about having a solid foundation in business so I returned to school once again and got an MBA from Texas Woman's University. I'd really like to get a PhD. Honestly, I would stay in school indefinitely if it were financially sustainable. I now live in The Colony, just north of Dallas, with my wife and son. In my "spare" time, I teach business law courses for an MBA program and help with the business half of my wife's photography studio. I love to travel and write, but don't get to do nearly enough of either. I have a thing for shoes. Although I'm still searching for myself career-wise, I've never been happier with my personal life.

I met Erikka's wife Tanya through Twitter. I'm grateful to them for agreeing to be daily faces, and happy to feature the newlyweds on the same day!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meet James

I am James Taylor, Jr... a singer/songwriter currently residing in Ypsilanti, Michigan, although it's hard to call anyplace my home. I find home in my music, my work, my friends, my lover, and my family. I find home whenever "God" and my spiritual guiders are with me, guiding me, helping me, loving me. I am a student of Electronic Media & Film aka Telecommunications, so Television, Film, Radio, Audio, it's what I do.

I am simply a student, a songwriter, a friend, a boyfriend/lover/partner, a son, a brother, and a hard worker. I am just one person trying hard to be everything he can be and hope that everyone else is doing the same.

I currently write a music blog that can be found at JamesTaylorJrMusic.blogspot.com! I even wrote about my wonderful experience auditioning for Sho-TownTV.com!

I am open to any questions, simply message/email me!

I can also be found at MySpace.com/ldtaylor, twitter.com/james_taylor_jr , and YouTube.com/tjamesk!

Last night James contacted me on Twitter, mentioning that he'd found my blog and that he might want to be a face of the day. Tonight he answered my plea for another face of the day. Thanks James!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Meet Carol

This is Carol with 211 GLBT Resource on twitter.

I am a 59 years old. Currently in school, I will finish my Masters degree in Counseling in December.

I have a daughter and 3 grandchildren with whom I'm very close. I have also been foster parent to children who have disabilities. I volunteer with Youth at Openarms Youth Project, I enjoy very much working with them.

Carol's Twitter bio reads "A lesbian gradate student in psychology whose research is devoted to correcting the facts about LGBT people and families!!!" Glad to have someone with those credentials following me, I asked her to be a face of the day. She kindly replied that same night. Thanks Carol!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Meet Michelle

I've always known I've been gay and always been proud of it, but it is only in more recent years that I have realised the importance of making this proudness a more public than private thing - not in a showing off gay way but in a way that shows those more uncertain about their sexuality, and without the support that I have been so lucky to have that being gay is not a bad thing, it is a beautiful thing that defines you and makes you the gorgeous person you are.

Part of my public way of showing this has been through the Gay and Lesbian online lifestyle magazine I write for. Whilst this features entertainment articles and lifestyle articles, it is the news section for me that I enjoy writing the most.

The reason why is down to the focus on the content. Instead of being on the depressing discrimination that we as gay people can all face (though there are cases when I feel so strongly that I can't ignore it), I instead spend a long time looking for the good news stories of what we as a community have achieved both together and as individuals.

The website in it's current form hasn't been running long but the support I've got from the gay community in this short time as been amazing, and has thought me a lot about the power of social media, as thanks to the power of both Twitter and Facebook lead to some great contacts for the website. However what is most important to me is how setting up the website has lead to discussing amazing people from the gay community who I'm sure are going to be friends for life.

And I'm still looking to meet more of you, so if you're on Twitter, I'm @gayfriendly, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/michellepen or of course you can get in touch with me through the Gay Friendly site.

I met Michelle when she followed me on Twitter. I got in touch with her, and she came through for me with her face and her story just hours later. Thanks Michelle!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Meet Wendy

Why is the picture of me in this post grainy, out of focus? It is because even as I write this brief bio I am ever in the process of sharpening my own focus of who I am and what my place in this world is. See, in a world where I am both a Christian and gay there are so many filters that others view me through it can be hard to see oneself clearly at times.

I was born on Wednesday and in church on Sunday. I ran down the isle to ask Jesus into my heart at the tender age of 4 1/2. I always attended Christian schools, Sunday school, VBS, Bible camp--the whole Christian enchilada.

The first recollection I have that something inside me may be a little fuzzy was in junior high. I preferred the company of, and felt safer with, my best friend than my boyfriend. That was swept under the rug for a decade or so with the business of high school and the weighty expectations to be a good Christian young woman. I dated a fair amount in high school, but remained virtuous motivated by the fear of being cast out to a "girls home" if I didn't walk the straight and narrow. No pun intended there, but it was my reality.

Off to Christian college. I dated a few guys, one in particular I always ended back with throughout the four years. There was one female friend in college that I felt very close to, and again I felt safer--more alive--in her arms than in my boyfriend's arms. There is more to that story, but suffice it to say--fear kept me from acting on what I felt for that friend and instead led me to finally accept that boyfriend's persistent proposals of marriage. After a 4-year history, I figured this was the right thing to do. It is not that I didn't love him; it is more that I was still really fuzzy on what I wanted for my life. What I did know was what would not be "allowed" for my life. Again, I sketched out the vision of my life more motivated by fear than love.

More swept under the rug for another decade or so. Marriage had its ups and downs. Who's doesn't? It wasn't strife that turned my gaze from my husband inward toward what my latent and lingering desires had remained. It was his ongoing negligence to attend to what he needed to as a husband--as a man of character, and conversely his hypervigilance in attending to superfluous issues of power and control over me (I would later come to know this as emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse). This coupled with some skeletons in his closet coming out at a particularly vulnerable time for me, and--BOOM--I was unwilling to wait any longer for God to either "change my husband" or remove the desires inside of me to be with a woman. (It came to me much later, of course, that my praying for God to mess with someone else's freewill may not have been that productive.)

Fade to present, for the last decade I have been gratefully partnered to a very special woman. Has it been easy? No. Has it been worth it? Yes. What is my life like? What manner of "lifestyle" do I live? Well, I get up and make coffee for my partner, get the kids off to school, attend to the home and business duties of the day. Donate to the "Boys & Girls Club." Take kids to their sporting events. Grocery shop. Visit with friends. Cook dinner and watch TV with the family. Do laundry, network in my town for my business, pay the bills, sing, laugh, and maintain an attitude of prayer and gratitude throughout my days. Hmm... sounds pretty "normal" doesn’t it? That is why I say that it is not a lifestyle--it is my life.
Has there been much fine-tuning that has needed to happen within myself, within my relationship and surrounding my spirituality through the years? Yes. Do I see everything clearly at this point? Not fully. I am still in the process of coming into focus, becoming who I am.

I met Wendy through Twitter, and she was very kind and supportive to me. She helped me find other faces, and yesterday when I was looking for someone to schedule for tonight when I would be away at camp, she came through for me with her own face and story. Thanks, Wendy!

Musings of a Novitiate Ally, Part 4: In Praise of Silliness

So there was this BBC show called "The Making of Me" about John Barrowman trying to determine why he's gay. I think it's fantastic; I liked it so much that I wanted to put all six of the YouTube segments right here for your viewing pleasure, but unfortunately the embedding for those particular videos is disabled. Here are the links, though.

The Making of Me, Part 1
The Making of Me, Part 2
The Making of Me, Part 3
The Making of Me, Part 4
The Making of Me, Part 5
The Making of Me, Part 6

If I remember correctly it was HomoPolitico who linked to the YouTube videos above. I went to the first one, and beneath the video I noticed this comment.
Lastly the truth is that sexuality is an infinitely more complex & varied phenomenon that this glib 'tabloid' type nonsense provides us with.Sexuality exists on a continuum ; often shifts back & forth in quantity & ratio ; some people are 80/20% some 65/35% etc.etc.etc. & even THAT can change ; some folk feel theyre gay since they can remember & some say they felt it first in their 20s, 30s, even later.Granted many people feel COMLETELY straight or COMPLETELY gay & NEVER change so bla bla bla
I'm just enough of a wannabe intellectual snob that this derisive and dismissive statement swayed me a bit; it sounded like the type of thing I wouldn't want to watch. But I gave it a try, and ended up watching all six parts and loving them all.

The funny thing is that I don't disagree with most of what the reviewer says. Sure, it's ham-fisted. Sure, it's overly simplified. But you know what? Sometimes we need things to be oversimplified, because let's face it, at one point or another each one of us is a dumbass.

Sometime around 1999 I sat in the Barnes & Noble in Syracuse and read Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization. I loved it. I was proud of myself for having read it, because I'd never had a head for history; it was a real effort to broaden my horizons.

A few years ago I took a hard look at my own ignorance and decided to change it. I committed to reading only history. At first it was like slogging uphill through molasses. Then I read Garrett Mattingly's The Armada and the scales fell from my eyes; it was the first time I'd realized that history could be exciting. Since then I've developed a passion for history as I've read books and listened to various history podcasts and Teaching Company lectures.

One day I was hiking along listening to one of Professor Kenneth Harl's lectures, and my ears perked up as he mentioned How the Irish Saved Civilization. He dismissed it as a silly book, and I felt a wave of embarrassment at having enjoyed it. But the more I thought about it, the more I came back around to my old opinion. I no longer think of it as a great piece of historical research, but I do think it's a great book - because it got me interested. It was what I was ready for at the time.

I've come to see history as a fractal; formulating a historical truth is like trying to measure the length of a coastline. If you take a satellite photo, trace the coast with a piece of string, and measure the string, you'll get one number. Paddle along every bay and estuary measuring with rods, though, and you'll get another, much larger number. Walk the coastline with a ruler and the number increases again. Walk the coastline with a caliper, sticking it into every crevice in every rock, and the number increases still more. Eventually you're down to measuring the average (and very much theoretical) distance between quarks and your number is expressed in terms of astronomical distances. It's not that the zoomed-out view is incorrect, but rather that, no matter at what level you look at a fractal, you end up making approximations. As you zoom in, the scale of the approximations change, but it seems like there's always more zooming to be done.

There are a whole lot of people out there with a whole lot of misconceptions about LGBT folks. They need an entry-level vehicle to the subject: they're not ready for Simon Schama; they need a story on the level of How the Irish Saved Civilization. I don't think "The Making of Me" is inaccurate, so much as it shows a satellite view of the gay coastline. People need that view.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Meet Brian

Here is Brian's bio...

Brian Finnegan has been the editor of Ireland’s gay magazine, Gay Community News (GCN) since March 2003. His remit of as editor of GCN is to educate and inform the magazine’s readers about political issues, to entertain them, speak about gay culture, and give them access to a greater sense of community.

Brian began his career in London, working for the listings magazine City Limits in the early 1990s, before moving to Ireland to work for GCN in its original formation. In 1994 he edited a book of short stories for Attic Press called Quare Fellas, and in 1995 published a non-fiction comedy book called Camp as Knickers (Marino Books, Ireland).

From there he went on to become the ‘Gay Editor’ at In Dublin magazine, and then to create and edit GI magazine, an Irish fashion and lifestyle magazine for gay men.

Since 1997 he has been a regular contributor to many of Ireland’s newspapers, magazines, radio and TV channels, writing and broadcasting on gay politics and culture.

He has just finished ghostwriting the autobiography of a major Irish celebrity, which will be published in October and is putting the finishing touches on a musical he’s written with partner in crime, Orla Howard.


...and here is a Q&A that he did for a travel magazine.
  • What's your favourite Dublin restaurant?
    Il Primo on Montague Street, Dublin 2. Risotto to die for, and so much more.

  • What is the ultimate Dublin Must-Do?
    Dublin Pride, of course. Thousands of gorgeous Irish queers take over the city the second last weekend of every June.

  • What is the best thing about living in Dublin?
    It’s getting more and more cosmopolitan and busy by the day, but you can still bump into a friend every time you walk down the main streets.

  • What is the worst thing about living in Dublin?
    It needs a big clean up and strict anti-litter enforcement.

  • What is your favourite Dublin Cultural Experience?
    GAZE: The Dublin Lesbian & Gay Film Festival the first weekend of every August. It’s the best social and cultural five days on the city’s gay calendar.

  • What is your favourite daytrip?
    A little known beach on the shores of Lough Dan in Wicklow. With it’s snow white sand and eucalyptus-like trees, on a hot summer’s day it’s like being on a Greek island.

  • What is the one reason you'd never leave Dublin?
    I have always felt at home in Dublin. It’s a warm, friendly city.

  • What is your best city memory?
    My most recent highlight was belting one out at the big Dublin Lesbian & Gay Film Festival musical singalong.

  • Where is the best place to drink with the locals?
    Grogan’s on South William Street, Dublin 2. Quintessentially bohemian, Dublin style.

  • Where is the best view?
    Back to Lough Dan. Looking over its vista is, in a word, heavenly.

Yesterday I heard about GCN through Twitter. Last night I contacted them through their website, and when I woke up this morning I had a message from Brian, the Editor, in my Inbox. Thanks Brian!

Something by Vivaldi

Brian's love of Dublin reminded me of my favorite poem. When I heard Garrison Keillor read it on Writer's Almanac it became the first poem to make me cry.
Something By Vivaldi
by Richard Tillinghast

There's a word—there has to be, there always is,
But today I can't locate it—for how the quotidian
Errand-running self gives legs to the leafy
Glistening part of us that now and again surfaces,
Transporting that breezelike something with a pen
And notebook from a snug seat at the Norseman
One street back from the rain-bothered Liffey,
To a caneback rocker on the porch at Sewanee

Where oakleaf and birdsong stipple down breeze-blown
Onto the page you fill—to a sunwarmed rock beside
The Big Lost River where you set your fly rod down
And write. Or your improvised niche is this brick arcade
In Seattle, discovered not by design
And not exactly by chance, where a classical busker
Rosins up and tunes up and delights the air
With a dazzle of sixteenth notes under arches of rain.

The music scaffolds its ascent up an invisible
Peak, bouncing on swells like a yacht, cloud-bound—
Elaborating story-lines around an allegorical
Citadel, sky-blue roads cutting up a spiral
Up the angle of Paradise, like an apple
Being peeled by an exacting and pleasure-loving hand,
By a hand that is itself no more than smoke.
Then it swings and plunges, and barrels along like a truck.

And all of us gasp and hum and sway
To this lightness that builds a room beyond
The bricks of the arcade, the fire in the pub grate,
The masonry, timber and commerce that build a street,
The force that cut the Big Lost River into granite
Or that puts a chair out on the porch in Tennessee.
All of us: lunching merchants, students, a blonde
Hippie in a Disneyland T-shirt, two out-of-whiskey
Greybeards on a bench; and your reporter,
Brought here for no other purpose than to get it on paper
And get it right—Tennessee sunlight,
Something by Vivaldi, rain on a Dublin street.
All these, and the self that carries the other around
And situates him for the work of his transported hand.
Let us sing, let us sing in Latin, let us stand
Up on elated feet and sing "Magnificat!"
The more I thought about the poem, the more appropriate it seemed for this blog. After all, what's more representative of the "quotidian, errand-running self" than driving thirteen hours to Michigan to attend the wedding of my fiancée's friend and classmate? And, as I mentioned on Tuesday, it certainly did seem like circumstances situated me for the work of my transported hand. And this does feel like the leafy Glistening part of me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Meet Alisha

I'm Alisha. I'm a 26 year old Lesbian, and mother of two (so far). I'm the girl behind Lesbanim Mom (http://lesbanim-mom.blogspot.com)

I've always been gay, but not always out. I realized I was attracted to girls when I was 13.

At thirteen though, I didn't have a clue what that really meant, except to know that if I told my family, I would be beaten within an inch of my life at the very least, disowned and out on the street at the very worst. So I hid it. I hid it from my friends, my family and from myself too. I threw myself into liking boys, because that was "normal". Being a slut was better than being Gay.

I spent the next three years binge drinking, smoking and screwing myself into a black hole of self-loathing and despair. Then I saw the light.

Her name was Jessica, and she was this unbelievably beautiful, confident and strong girl. She saw me for what I really was, even though I didn't see it. She loved me, and I loved her. I loved her in a way that I didn't know I could love anyone. I started to contemplate that maybe I was strong enough to be like Jessica and come out. Admit that I was gay and live a real life.
Then after only a few weeks of being with Jessica, I found out I was a few months pregnant. All of my contemplations ended, and I was dropped right back where I had started. Forcing myself to live the way that was accepted by my family because it was "easier".

The boyfriend and I moved in together, had our baby and lived the best life that we could. We were happy for our daughter, and were trying to be happy for each other. We spent six years trying to be happy, and trying to love each other...but eventually it just stopped working.

After our breakup, I started looking for what was going to make me happy. I tried to find a man that would make me happy, but all I got was pregnant again. I realized that I couldn't live like that anymore. I knew what I really was and it was time to move on and find out what that really meant for me.

So I uprooted (while preggo with #2) and moved to another state. I started getting my life back together, without the pressure from my family or old friends.

I met my Girlfriend, and realized what had been missing from my life. REAL LOVE.I have now been in a committed relationship for just over a year, and have “officially” come out to the world.

Coming out at my age has come with its own set of complications, but I feel like I have finally begun to really live and now I can really set an example for my daughters, being strong and secure in who I am and with who I love.

I met Alisha through Twitter, and she kindly agreed to share her picture and her story. Thanks Alisha.

An Open Letter to Headmaster Neville Powles

This is the letter I mailed today after reading the Queers United article about the Catholic school in Albury, Australia that published an anti-gay piece by a former student in its alumni newsletter.

Headmaster Neville Powles
Xavier High School
PO Box 518
ALBURY, NSW 2640

July 16, 2009

Dear Headmaster Powles,

I am troubled to hear of the anti-gay letter that you allowed to be published in your school newsletter. In an interview you said “We live in a country where free speech is available to all,” and that is true enough. I believe that politically correct attempts to control peoples’ minds and words are deeply misguided, and ultimately self-defeating. But the letter you published goes beyond free speech and into the realm of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. In calling to eliminate gay people from society, it incited young minds to hatred and violent oppression. It was wrong to publish it, and I believe that the public is justified in expecting a full apology.

Sincerely,

Hugh Yeman

Musings of a Novitiate Ally, Part 3: Pointing Out Hypocrisy

On the day after the argument with my sister, Grace and I were driving back from my family's place. As you can imagine, the LGBT movement was on my mind; when the Ensign affair came up, I thought of the recent Dan Savage column. A reader had written that we should all "deflate the drama on extramarital affairs a little". Dan agreed, and took it further: he called for honesty in recognizing that humans aren't wired for complete monogamy. He showed our culture, which wags its collective finger at a form of hypocrisy that's as common as dirt, to be hypocritical in its own right.

I've been thinking about how people on the left expend their energy. It seems to me like a whole lot of it gets dumped into the sink beyond the point of diminishing returns. We Twitter and blog and Facebook the hell out of events like the announcement of Ensign's infidelity. And it makes us feel good. But, as I asked Grace, what's the point? Sure, we get to squirm as that warm fuzzy of righteous indignation crawls up and down our spines. We get a bunch of cohorts agreeing with us. We've proven that those who denounce us are just as flawed as we. But what's the point?

Grace said "Well isn't it a good thing to point out hypocrisy?" Sure, I said, but what does it do? Have we convinced any of the folks on the other side who liked that guy before his hypocrisy was pointed out? I don't know, but I doubt it. I think that, like anyone else, they tend to forgive their guy, explaining away the few of his transgressions that remain after their pundits have painted him as a victim.

At the end of the day, what have we accomplished?

And then it hit me: I don't need to speculate. Just days before, I'd spoken on the phone with someone who's supremely well-qualified to answer the question "Does pointing out hypocrisy do any good?" It's somebody big - somebody who asked me if there was any way he could help me with the blog.

Oh boy. I hope he'll agree to a Q&A. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Meet Nick

I'm Nick, an 18-year-old from New Hampshire and I'm obsessed with zombie movies and Diet Coke. I graduated high school in June, and by the end of August 2009 I'll have moved to New York City to pursue Film and Television Production at NYU. There are a lot of things I don't know much about, but if nothing else I'm sure that in this life we only get what we give. I feel it's necessary to try and approach every situation with positive energy and courtesy towards other people. Not only does this attitude tend to make things work out more favorably, but I think it allows me to spend less time worrying and more time smiling. Life really is too short to do anything without smiling.

Another huge aspect of my life is music. I recently produced my own CD and I really enjoy hearing listeners' reactions to my songs. I try hard to take some of the challenges growing up in this world can present us with and discuss them with a bright sounding, upbeat electric feel and a unique sense of humor.

I think balance is really important. I try to stay as healthy by not drinking any beverage with calories (water, crystal light and diet soda for me) and getting enough protein and moving around as much as possible. I'm also obsessed with naps! I try to take one every day, because it helps me to stay up later. I'm kind of a night owl like that. I like to go to dance clubs, but never more than once a week. I think the jumping around in a dark room makes for a really good stress reliever. What I can do without, however, is all of the fighting that can go on between people in environments like that. It's all meant to be fun, so why bring any bad energy into the situation?

I really like making new friends and laughing. I think those are two of the best things in life and it's amazing to me that they're absolutely free.

I'm also gay, but that's usually the least important thing to say about myself. It makes up a large part of who I am, obviously, but that doesn't make it something I feel I have to explain or force down the throat of everyone I talk to. There are a lot of negative stereotypes for the GLBT community, but I find that overall it's all about love and friendship. I think those are two very important things.

At the end of the day, life is SO good. And I'm really grateful to be here.

I met Nick through Twitter, and he enthusiastically agreed to be a face of the day. Check him out at www.NickDeeMusic.com. Thank you, Nick!

Musings of a Novitiate Ally, Part 2: In which certain words are said

OK, so I got defensive. Of course I got defensive. This is my sister we're talking about.

She had that tone in her voice. Most people with siblings probably know the one I'm talking about: the one like a hot wind of disapproval that makes your skin tighten, and before you know it you've shifted into a fighting stance because that's the only alternative to hanging your head in shame at whatever they're about to tell you you did wrong.

Essentially she told me that, since I'm straight, this isn't my fight; and that anyway, gay people may not want my help. It wasn't just the disapproval in her voice that got me, either. She seemed sure I'd never thought of this concept, when in fact it was one of the first concerns I had about the blog, and the one I'd spent the most hours thinking about.

So I told her how, since the very first, I've kept in mind the black civil rights leaders who said that their communities must accomplish their own goals without the help of white people. I told her about the article "Gays are the new niggers". I said that, so far, I'd gotten the impression that there was little of that "no help from outsiders" stance in the GLBT community, and that I think there are two main reasons for this: first, there are gay people of every ethnic, religious and political stripe, so exclusionist attitudes would seem contradictory; and second, gays only represent ten percent of the population -- they need our help! I told her that I was keenly aware of this question and would continue to keep it in mind as I learn how to be an effective ally.

I got more frustrated a few minutes later when the conversation resumed, and my sister said "I still don't agree with you." It seemed like she had already reached her conclusion, and all my logical refutations were bouncing off her emotional blast doors.

At some point I used the word "Helpless". Yeah, I know, poor choice of words, right? When I get defensive I tend to overstate my case. Anyway, Grace then jumped into the fray; in retrospect it's not fair to say that she was on my sister's side, but it sure felt at that moment like they were ganging up on me. I got more and more defensive, and more and more strident. I felt like I was being called to task for doing something that seemed to carry an a priori morality - never mind the fact that we're talking about defending the rights of people I know and love. Here's a hint, gentle reader: you know it's on when I start invoking the Battle of Cannae.

In 316 B.C. Hannibal achieved what's usually though of as one of the most tactically brilliant and overwhelmingly odds-defying victories in history when his army, outnumbered three to two, suckered the Romans into a full envelopment. Think of a cow being attacked by a constricting ring of meat grinders. Polybius writes that of the Roman and allied infantry, 70,000 were killed, 10,000 captured, and "perhaps" 3,000 survived. Historians have been pissing themselves over the thought of this victory for over two millennia. Don't believe me? Just wait until a historian friend of yours is distracted, then sneak up behind him and whisper in his ear "...316 B.C.... Cannae... double envelopment..." and watch his crotchal region for a dark, spreading stain.

As far as sheer numbers go, there are lots of victories more impressive than Hannibal's at Cannae. Consider the Battle of Issus where "the invading troops led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, outnumbered more than 2:1, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Achaemenid Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia." Or look at the Battle of Marathon, where around 9,000 Athenians defeated a Persian force somewhere around 25,000 strong. These are some of most anomalous battles in recorded history. And we're only talking about 5:2 odds at the outside.

Homosexuals compose about ten percent of the population. That's 9:1 odds. And that, my friends, is why I think it's important to be an ally. But. I need to work on not going all defensively hyperbolic. Grace is right: nobody would take kindly to being called "helpless".

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hope from a single face?

Since the wedding I've thought many times of how that weekend was a perfect storm. My sinus infection was peaking, making me about as miserable as I could possibly be while still standing up. And then the minister came out with that golden oldie "It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve". If I believed in God I'd say that this blog was part of His plan; after all, it's unlikely that I'd be doing it if circumstances hadn't come together just so.

I got angry. And I got angrier. And I went back to the motel and spent the whole night alternating between soaking the bed with sweat in the midst of a quasi-sleeping delirium, and getting up to pee six times. I had nothing to think on but rage; my mind was like a dog gnashing, furiously and impotently, at everything beyond its chain. Clearly my body went to redline to burn out the infection. Eventually my mind, seeking to burn out the anger, went to redline as well.

Twelve years before, I'd taken hate into my heart because I'd felt like it was all I had to hold onto. It scored, pitted, and blackened my insides. Eventually it became clear that I hated myself for embracing hate. Later that year I forgave myself, and let go of it. For a week it felt like I was dying and being reborn. Since then I'd been working to divest myself of stupid, useless anger. No way in hell was I going to swallow this new bolus.

So I moved in the only direction I could go: back. I went to my childhood and found something useful. I found a way to understand that horse's ass of a minister just a bit, and hopefully understand his congregation better. I found empathy. And I came up with an idea for a way to transform my anger into something loving and constructive.

And my idea was...

A blog?

A blog where I show the face of a non-straight person every day?

And I said to myself, "Self... let me get this straight. In order to show people that gays and lesbians and whatnot are just like everyone else, you're going to single them out?? All that mental effort, with the grand emotional hero's journey, and that's what you have to show for it???"

"Dipshit."

Well, I bulled ahead anyway. For the first time in my life I cared about an idea enough to go forward regardless of whether it succeeded or failed. I figured it had already been done a hundred times. I figured I'd never get it off the ground, even if I did manage to sell the idea. But I didn't give a shit. And I still don't. It's my ball, and I'm going to run with it. I have to. I have to transform this.

Of course, it's always nice to have a bit of serendipitous encouragement. Last Thursday I ran across a New York Times article about how people seem hard-wired to empathize with a single person much more than with several people, or millions of people. It made me think of my core concept for this blog: a single human face that people can connect with. And I smiled, thinking this wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Meet Nicholas

I am a 25 year old coach, retired athlete, and boyfriend who strives to make a difference in every way attainable. Having grown up in a small town in Central Massachusetts I was the youngest of 5 children in a middle class family, but had dreams of being so much more. I was that awkward boy on the baseball team who would run from the ball instead of catching it, would do cartwheels and pick flowers in the outfield instead of paying attention, and of course the one who.... well yes, liked to play with Barbie's instead of a GI Joe's.

Growing up sports didn't seem to be the proper place for me. As I look back now I could see myself maybe sitting in a basket weaving class, or a full time scrap booker but God bless my parents they kept me going. Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, Swimming I tried them all, and of course the one thing that I was actually good at, something that kept my attention, and made me happy..... Figure Skating. Now ok I know your initial thought is well yes from what you described above he would like that. He can wear really tight pants, and Swarovski crystals, and do twirly birds and whoop - dee - doo's around the ice but that was nothing close to the satisfaction I would get from achieving something so incredibly difficult on a centimeter of a piece of steel.

Figure skating became my niche and I went on to compete in 11 National Championships, claiming 4 National Medals, a National Title, and being named to a World Team. Having had so many experiences in the sport I learned many of my life's lessons through success, failure and even injuries but nothing would ever give me the preparation for the murder suicide of my parents in 2008.

Losing both my parents changed my outlook on life and instead of striving for what I wanted, I turned it around and started helping people achieve what they wanted. I became a full time figure skating coach in the Los Angeles area and started my own non - profit organization called the US Athletic Foundation (www.USAthleticfoundation.org) to help give back to athletes in need. I know I am still young at 25, but I have found there is nothing more rewarding then putting a smile on peoples faces, helping one achieve a long time goal, or even buying someone a simple cup of coffee which makes my daily routine something to look forward to day in or day out. Letting other's enjoy the "true you" is something my mom taught me no matter if I was gay or straight and I keep her proud as I carry on with her philosophy each day.

I met Nicholas through Sarah Brannen, a fellow Twitterer. She showed me this story by way of telling me about Nicholas. Wow. Hangin' with Adam Lambert, all "It ain't nothin' but a thang." Just a few minutes later, Nicholas contacted me. A few hours after that, he sent me what you see above*. The only thing more impressive than his accomplishments is his generosity.

Thank you, Nicholas.

*He also sent me this adorable picture of him and his boyfriend Eric. I only use head shots for the blog, but it pained me not to use it at all, and this gave me the idea to start a Picasa web album. That way I can link to all the shots that people send me that I don't use here!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Meet Hersband

I am a 56 year old lesbian, mother, and wife (or Hersband as I like to call the title). I pay taxes, donate to and volunteer for charities I feel are important(clean earth, childhood homelessness and equality for all). I share my children with my legal spouse, "Wife". Our children are honor students who march in their school's marching band. Our son wants to be a K9 police officer when he grows up, while our daughter wants to be a professional humanitarian. We have raised children who notice a need in someone around them and take action, sometimes even doing without themselves to give to others. I love my life, my mother loves me and accepts me, my father (God rest his soul) loves me and accepted me. I have a brother, a sister-in-law, a nephew and twin nieces, who all accept me and my life as no different than their own. I am a woman who lived through the days when being a lesbian would get me a trip straight to the padded cell and electric shock treatment. Thank goodness I had parents who loved the child they bore and realized that by hating me they hated a portion of themselves.

I have worked as an electrician, a hair dresser and an actress on Broadway. I was educated at both the University of Connecticut and New York University in Theater Arts. In all of my life experiences I have learned the most important lesson of all. If you speak hate out loud or even allow it to enter your being then you are creating a ripple of hate that is stronger than 100 smiles can ever break. That is why I am part of the solution rather than the problem, and have helped my wife raise our children to be the same.
I met Hersband through Twitter, and she very kindly spoke to Wife about contributing their faces and stories to this blog. Check out www.Hersbandandwife.com to find out about their show, their Vlogs, and their road tour: 50 weddings, 50 states, 50 weeks!

Meet Wife

If I had to tell someone about me who had never met me I would tell them that I am someone who lives large, loves deep, can be hurt to the deepest fiber of my being, all while believing in the best in humanity. I have always been told that I have a special magical way of seeing the silveriest of linings in the darkest of clouds. I have been the person who has been kicked when down, living as a homeless youth and raised to the top of the world. (when my children were born.) I have learned some of life's hardest lessons, there are no money trees in any of my back yards past present or future and if I want love I have to be willing to give more love than I receive. I have been legally wed to my wife (or as she calls it Hersband) for 3 of both the hardest and best years of my life. We have two wonderful children who are caring, considerate and extremely bright.

Our lives are filled every day with activities in different causes we believe in the most. (Clean Earth, Equality, Keeping children off the streets.) My days are filled being mom, wife, counselor, student and so much more it would take me days to explain. I only wish that my time spent on this earth will be a time well spent making someone else's world a better place to live.

I believe in the Golden Rule as corny as that sounds and no matter what someone else does to me I will always and always have turned the other way and done my very best to do something nice in return. I also believe in the rule of "do no harm" this not only means to someone else it also means to myself. I believe that if everyone would live like that, though it is a hard way to live always thinking of what harm your actions may cause another and yourself, it is a way that makes life simpler than any other lesson I have learned.

The largest lesson I have learned in life is that there is cause and effect in everything we do, and we have to choose the positive of any option we have before us.

I have only met Wife indirectly, through Hersband. Check out www.Hersbandandwife.com to find out about their show, their Vlogs, and their Marriage Equality road tour: 50 weddings, 50 States, 50 Weeks!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Meet Rebecca

My name is Rebecca Campbell and I am a mother of two teenage sons, an LGBT equality advocate, Christian, blogger, full time college student, and I create the on-line library cards for many of the Arizona County libraries.

Just over 4 years ago, I realized I needed to find out who I really was and why I never felt "normal" or "whole" as a human being or as a woman. I had been married for 16 years, had two children and had tried to do all the things that, as a child I was told, would make me happy. I found myself instead, profoundly unhappy. It wasn't any one thing I could put my finger on, my marriage was not going well, true, but I knew that wasn't what was causing such deep despair. It was the feeling I had that somehow, I wasn't "right" at all. I am a deeply spiritual person and the more I prayed the more the feelings of not being right increased. No, the feeling that increased was that I was living a lie.

It wasn't until I watched a movie called "When Night Is Falling" that I started to realize that what I thought was something to be denied in myself, was really who I was meant to be. I suddenly understood what lie I had been living most of my life. I was attracted to women. The feelings I had so long dismissed as aberrations were real. Once I admitted this to myself, I could for the first time, believe Psalm 139 "for you formed my inward parts: you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" Living THE LIE was wrong, how I was made, was not!

I knew I couldn't stay married to my husband any longer. He would not have allowed an open marriage, even if I only saw other women. I only told him I wanted a divorce, not the reason why. He agreed and I filed a week later. Living in Nevada, the divorce decree came 6 days later. Several months later I came out to him and he was not surprised! He said he had suspected it for many years. I didn't know it then, but I had just taken the truest step in my adult life.

Two months later I would meet the woman who I knew was my soul mate from the moment I laid eyes on her! We have now been seeing each other for three years, and everyday of those two years our love has only deepened, and loving each other is the easiest and most natural thing in the world....

I met Rebecca through Twitter, and was very grateful when she responded in mere minutes to my desperate plea for a face of the day. Thanks Rebecca!

Check out Rebecca's blog, Truth and Love After 40.

Musings of a Novitiate Ally, Part 1: In Praise of Discomfort

Two weeks ago I was hanging out at Blind Tiger waxing enthusiastic about my new blog. Seth took a look at my flier, saw the words "GAY / LESBIAN / BISEXUAL / TRANSGENDER" and said "I'm not comfortable with transgender people." I shot back "Well, who would be?"

This was an exaggeration. I know that many people are comfortable with transsexuals. The point I was trying to make was "Dude. You get to be uncomfortable." This assertion was high in my constellation of mental talking points for several reasons.

Just a few nights previously I'd hung out at the Ramrod, and you'd damned well better believe I was uncomfortable. Why? Not because I was in a room full of gay guys on the gayest street in the gayest neighborhood I knew of. I was uncomfortable because the bartender was being a big drama queen, loudly telling the customer next to me about his sexual exploits. But I was beginning to realize something else: that I would have been just as uncomfortable with a straight woman saying the same things. Or a straight man - heck, that probably would have made me more uncomfortable because of the misogyny with which such exhortations are almost inevitably marbled. It wasn't that he was gay; it was that he was airing his musky laundry, and that bugs the shit out of me.

So you see, I learned that I'm never really uncomfortable with LGBT folks; I'm uncomfortable with behaviors that I may associate with them, but are actually found throughout humanity. And if I can shed my false discomfort, so can everyone else.

No. Fuck that.

I'm not that much of a happy-happy marginalizing Kumbaya-singin' Pollyanna. That ain't me, babe. Y'know why? Because I believe that we are, as a species, psychotic about discomfort. I mean, for gosh sake, does no one remember the land of the Lotus Eaters? There's a reason why Homer thought that those lazy fuckers missed the existential boat, and it's the same reason James T. Kirk would puke in his mouth at the thought of shunning discomfort. Our discomfort is made of our demons, and facing our demons makes us mighty. Our discomfort is exactly that which does not kill us, and we all know what that does.

Why is discomfort so important to me? Well..

I went to Cornell from the fall of 1988 until the spring of 1992. During those four years I grew to loathe knee-jerk political correctness, which I later came to see as Nazi mind control. The best way to describe the atmosphere is to recount a short conversation in the dorm lounge. Folks were talking about abortion, and I was trying to articulate my view that the whole question of when a fetus becomes a baby seemed pointless to me: the point was that it was a potential human life, and the thought of cutting that off saddened me, even though I was pro-choice. I never got to that last bit, though. The girl arguing the feminist talking points cut me off with the big liberal conversation-ender du jour: she dismissed me as a man who would never have to make the decision. That I was on her side didn't matter. I wasn't toeing the party line, so I had to be shut up and shut down.

I thought about this for the umpteenth time. Then I thought of the 2004 elections, when some people voted for Bush because their religious leaders said that the liberals wanted to force people into gay marriages. And for the first time, I saw the small kernel of plausibility in those stories. I still say that the people who believed them were gullible fools, but when I think back to the PC mind-control attempts of the early ninetes it becomes understandable.

We are complicit in the backlashes that hurt our movement. We have to own that. We have to be smart: learn from our mistakes, choose our battles, and not try to control peoples' minds! People get to be uncomfortable with abortion. People get to be uncomfortable with homosexuals. I get to be uncomfortable with transsexuals, and if you disagree, then let's reframe this. Here's a short list of people who make me uncomfortable, in no particular order. If I were to sort the list and put transsexuals in, I doubt they would be near the top.

  • Football players and gym rats
  • People with lots of piercings
  • Really fat people (I was really fat)
  • Orange ladies who are supposed to look tanned
  • Women with lots of makeup
  • Young girls trying to look sexy
  • Inconsiderate people, e.g. cell shouters and people who talk in movies or don't make room for others on the train
  • People who disguise hate or a desire to win an argument as logic
  • Ignorant people
  • Myself, when I see my own ignorance

Being uncomfortable with other humans, not to mention our own inner workings, is part of the design specs of a human. We get to be uncomfortable. So to all you conservatives and religious folks out there: if anyone tells you that you're not allowed to be uncomfortable with homosexuals, you tell them from me - a liberal, fag-loving unbeliever - that they can go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut. No one gets to control your mind.

Last year, when I was going through some bad times, a good friend told me something that his mother had told him as a child: "If someone has a problem with you, it's their problem." This stuck with me, because I know that I worry way too much about what other people think of me. I wouldn't want to go too far in the opposite direction, because I find people who spend their lives proudly exclaiming "I don't give a shit what anyone thinks of me" to be particularly odious. But I could stand a good, heaping dose of "It's their problem." And it works both ways.

If I am uncomfortable with transsexuals it's my problem. If you're uncomfortable with the thought of homosexuality, it's your problem. I ain't a victim by a damn sight, and neither are you; they didn't make us uncomfortable; we just are uncomfortable. And our state of being gives us no more right to reduce another person to a second-class citizen than would an aversion to russet tones justify us in taking a razor to every redhead we saw on the street.

So. You get to be uncomfortable, and the operative word here is "be". Discomfort is a state if being - your being. You get to have your reactions. What you don't get to do is abrogate another person's rights because of your discomfort. You have an immensely powerful processor squelching about in your skull. You are capable of parsing your inner discomforts from your outer sanctions. Figure it out.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Meet Jonathan


Here is Jonathan's personal statement...

I live in Kyle, Texas with my husband, Danton Bankay and our eight year old dog, Kolby. Prior to moving to Texas in 2008 we lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Danton and I met while I was conductor of a gay men's choir in Manhattan (The Empire City Men's Chorus) and he was a chorister in 2000. We had a commitment ceremony in July of 2001. Both the meteorological and political climates are quite different in Texas than they are in New York, but we really enjoy the change. With me working at a University, Danton and I feel very strongly that part of our calling here is to prove to young people that gay people are no different than others. We love our lives together and wouldn't change a thing.

...and here is his bio from the Texas State University site.

Dr. Jonathan Babcock is a respected choral musician, educator and clinician throughout the United States. He has been privileged to work with such artists as Stephanie Blythe, Carol Meyer, Matthew Garrett, Anton Belov and recent Tony Award winner Victoria Clark, in such esteemed venues as The Tilles Center, Symphony Space, Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. Working as an advocate for contemporary choral music, he has overseen the commissioning of new works by composers such as Paul Moravec, David Del Tredici, Mark Miller and Stephen Paulus.

Dr. Babcock is an assistant professor at Texas State University where he conducts the University Singers and Men’s Choir. In addition he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in choral conducting, literature and pedagogy. Prior to coming to Texas State, Dr. Babcock served on the faculty of the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. Under his direction the Conservatory Chamber Choir performed at the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Winter Conference in 2005 and performed a concert tour of China as part of the opening celebration of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Dr. Babcock received his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees from The Crane School of Music, State University of New York at Potsdam where he studied conducting with Brock MacElheran and voice with Patricia Misslin; and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The Hartt School, University of Hartford where he studied conducting with Paul Oakley and Edward Bolkovac.

I met Jonathan through a mutual friend who sent him a link to this blog. He e-mailed me, and came through on my plea for a picture and bio in a flash. Thank you Jonathan!

Dangerous Emotions Over Emancipation

Two hours ago I was at the New York Historical Society standing in front of an original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Lincoln. Seth Kaller, Inc. has an article with a good image of what I saw. Here's the text.


By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.


The placard had this to say.

This copy of the Emancipation Proclamation is one of only twenty four signed by Lincoln known to exist. It originally sold for $10 at the Great Central Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia, one of a series of fundraisers the proceeds of which went to care for sick and wounded soldiers. The Philadelphia fair at which this document was sold in June 1864 was the only event of its kind that President Lincoln actually attended. The emotional response of his audience that day persuaded his advisors it would be too dangerous for Lincoln to attend another.

Emotional response. Too dangerous. It all sounds familiar, doesn't it? What kind of emotional response would you have if President Obama decreed that homosexuals would no longer be denied the 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal law?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Meet Sherry

My name is Sherry Roberts and at this time I am running for Commissioner of Miami Beach. I find campaigning exciting, energizing and exhausting. I have been in community service for most of my adult life, but this is my first campaign. I spend 30 or more hours a week walking the neighborhoods and meeting residents. I find their stories inspiring and love this diverse city. I have always been in community service and currently serve on the Board of Adjustment. For the past 6 years I have been President of the Decoplage Condominium Association and prior to that, I held the position of Treasurer. I served on the Beach Preservation Committee for a two-year term. The second year I served as the Chair.

I am also a businesswoman having started a search firm when I was 29 years old. We established Psychological Transitions in 1993 and I serve as COO. Psychological Transitions is a mental health practice specializing in geropsychology. In 2007 we opened South Beach Boutique realty, a real estate agency dedicated to individual service to clients. I was the anniversary sponsor of the Mayor’s First Miami Beach Women’s’ Conference in March 26, 2009. The theme was empowerment.

I have been in a relationship with Alice Randolph, a geropsychologist, since 1983. We have raised our three sons together living first in Burton Ohio a rural Ohio historical village, then in suburbs of Cleveland. My son David, 38, is gay and in a relationship with a man whom we love. He is Entertainment Director at a prominent New York City theme restaurant. Alice’s sons, Matthew, a 39-year-old veterinarian and Lance a 34-year-old CPA are married and we share the 3 grandchildren.

We lived openly and were very active in the communities and we were often the only openly gay family. Our children and their friends called us “The Moms”. At the time we did not consider ourselves trailblazers or role models because we were just trying to be the moms but as we look back we are very proud. I like to think it might be a little easier for other “moms” to live openly because we did.

I found out about Sherry from Steve Rothaus's article about the Victory Fund's endorsement of her and another openly gay candidate for Miami Beach Commission. I e-mailed her and she very graciously agreed to be today's face of the day. Thanks, Sherry! I liked your picture so much that I uploaded the full-sized version.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Meet Jay

I am an LGBT equality advocate, blogger, atheist and humorist - but otherwise, I conform completely to societal expectations.

When my partner of nearly 12 years proposed to me several years ago, it wasn't your traditional proposal. Although he presented a ring and asked me to marry him, there was a caveat - we had to go to Canada or some other jurisdiction where marriage equality exists.

Since that time, marriage laws throughout the United States have been equalizing in some states, but in our home state, Texas, not much has changed. People often wonder why I don't just move away. Although the real reason may be my fear of change, I like to say it's because Texas needs all the liberals it can get.

One day, I woke up and decided that I was tired of being afraid and more tired of waiting for someone else to make a difference. I began the blog jaysays.com with hopes of educating, inspiring and even recruiting new allies and friends. It's been a life changing event and I find myself often challenging my own beliefs and opinions. One day I may consider myself to be a progressive, liberal atheist; the next day, I'm more of a liberal, progressive atheist.

Last night was a particularly good night for spreading the word about Meet Adam and Steve, and Jay was one of my acquisitions.

Did that sound gay?

Thanks, Jay.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Meet Tahlib

As a gay married Catholic, I believe we are all called to find a way to help others bridge the divides in their lives. In fact, that is why I Twitter on marriage, religion and museums (http://www.godsartmuseum.blogspot.com)
I met Tahlib through Twitter, and after he kindly agreed to be a face of the day, I found out that he's a Program Director at Freedom To Marry! As someone who recently donated to his organization, you can imagine my pleasure in making his acquaintance.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Meet Steve

Last year, I married my partner of 23 years, we have a 6 year old daughter, two dogs, and live pretty simple. I garden, cook, read, write, blog (AdamantSun.blogspot.com), watch too many reality shows and try to keep the house running as smoothly as possible.

For the last 10 years, I have been a web project manager but became unemployed in March. I'm currently spending the summer as a 'manny' to several kids our daughter's age, while I work toward a career transition to professional writing.

I am a Triangle Speaker (www.TriangleSpeakers.org) traveling to churches, schools and colleges telling my life story to help eliminate prejudice. My family is active in the local equality group and its efforts to bring a diversity/resource center to town.

All of this keeps me pretty busy, but it's all my interests, so it keeps me pretty happy as well.

I found Steve on Twitter and his blog not only impressed me, but filled me with hope. His accomplishments make me more hopeful that I can reach people and make a difference.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Meet Jenn


I am a preschool teacher, thats right I get paid to play! I spend my days up to my elbows in fingerpaints and hugs - how lucky am I? I have awesome family and friends as well as two adorable furdaughters Abbie and Gracie. I am lucky enough to have a smart, supportive, and wonderful girlfriend Kristen. We should all be so lucky to find love in this crazy world. I can only see life getting better from here!
Jenn is the ex of a friend of mine. We met last fall when Grace and I met a group of people at the Great Pumpkin Blaze.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Meet Waymon

I am just your average technogeek. I use new media and technology as a blogger and political consultant, focusing on social networking and youth outreach.

I’ve been happily partnered for over 7 years with my husband Anthony Niedwiecki, who as recently elected as a City Commissioner in Oakland Park, FL. We recently married in San Francisco, CA and have also received our civil union from Vermont and are registered domestic partners in Broward County, where we now live with our two wonderful dogs. We are also proud foster parents of a now college-aged son.

I’ve had lots of interesting jobs in the past: performer at Disney World, lounge singer, flight attendant, and personal trainer. All of these jobs helped prepare me for my current life in politics, which is the biggest three-ring circus of all.

I found Waymon through Twitter and he graciously agreed to be today's face. Thanks Waymon!

Check out Waymon's blog, THE HOMO POLITICO.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Meet Steve

Miami Herald staff writer Steve Rothaus covers gay and lesbian issues in South Florida. Steve joined The Herald in 1985, while a journalism major at Florida International University. He came out at work in 1987 and served five years as a board member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA). He founded the association's Newsroom Outreach Project and traveled the country visiting newspapers, television stations and college campuses to discuss gay news coverage and workplace issues. Steve won the 1998 GLAAD Media Award for outstanding newspaper columnist.

Steve and public relations executive Ric Katz, partners since 1985, live in Miami.

Last night I contacted Steve after reading his article about gay Mennonites protesting at the Mennonite Church USA conference in Columbus, Ohio. Less than twelve hours later he graciously gave me permission to make him a face of the day. Thanks Steve! Hmmmm... that's my second Steve. Any Adams?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A teacher's perspective on bullying, and a political question

I have a good friend who's a teacher in a New York City school, so I asked him for his thoughts on the NYCLU article that I wrote about yesterday. Here is his response.
Hey Hugh,

I see a lot of bullying in my high school though it is often not because of bias. The students at [my school] are surprisingly open to students of different backgrounds (though these are somewhat of a minority). The problems in our school often revolve around gang activity and bullying that stems from that, in many cases it is hard to gather a real motivation for the bullying. I report many cases to the Dean's office and the school safety agents though as the article points out not much is done. The environment at [the school] is a unique one, with nearly total male environment, which seems to trigger a lot of this behavior. Unfortunately the administration has failed to make efforts to prevent problems, though I do believe at one time they had a student intervention office that handled things of this nature, and the staff has had professional development session that addressed bullying, though only briefly.

The worst effect I have observed to be when good students start skipping school out of fear, and that is unacceptable. The article is right; the DOE needs to do more!
This crystallized something that was bugging me about the white paper: it focuses on minority groups to the extent that one might interpret those groups as wanting special treatment. I picture a father in Brooklyn whose kid is in the hospital for no other reason than a gang at school decided to kick the crap out of him. He gets wind of that white paper and says to himself "Great, they're giving special protection to the fags but my kid gets fuck all." I wouldn't agree with that man's assumptions, because I recognize the need to protect minority groups who are riper targets for bullying. But that doesn't change the fact that we're going to lose that guy. From that moment on, that guy will not give LGBT concerns a second thought in his voting choices, and if there are enough of those guys out there, the result will be less protection for LGBT youths. Right or wrong, we have to consider that guy, and make it painfully clear that we're concerned for his kid as well as our own target group.

The last paragraph is nothing but the gut reaction of a guy who knows almost nothing about politics. But my question that arises from it seems worth asking: Is there a formula for all this? Do political operatives have the demographic knowledge to say that if we spend X amount of energy protecting minority groups, we will lose the votes of Y people, which will have Z deleterious effect on those same minority groups? If so, then are we making damned sure that Z never exceeds X?

An Open Letter to Sally Kern, from Philip II of Spain

My dear Representative Kern,

My most felicitous salutations to you. Would that I could speak truly of my hope that this letter finds you happy and healthy, but alas I know all too well your current sorrow. Forgive me my presumption, but I feel I cannot but know your heart, and its heaviness in the face of God's inscrutable trials. After all, your recent public statement of faith exactly mirrored my own exhortations given during one of my greatest trials.

In the beginning of 1588 I sent to inquire of the Marquis of Santa Cruz why my Enterprise had not already delivered God's wrath unto the heretic astride England's throne. The news was far worse than I feared: not only was the Armada a hopeless shambles, but Santa Cruz himself was feebly directing operations from his death bed! Knowing myself to be the instrument of God's will on earth, I never wavered. Upon the poor Marquis' demise I appointed the Duke of Medina Sidonia to lead the Enterprise.

I remember well that, even at this stage, my ministrations echoed your recent statement of faith. Time and again the Duke implored me to appoint someone more appropriate. More appropriate! As though there were any man better suited to leading my Enterprise than one accustomed to administering great swaths of Andalusian countryside, and having blood noble enough to arouse piety in even the roughest seaman! For it was not wooden timbers or iron and brass guns that formed the heart of my great Armada, my dear Representative Kern. It was piety.

Many times I sighed upon opening another thick missive from Medina Sidonia. But each time I smiled, because I knew that this limited man was one of God's instruments in my hands. In response to his endless complaints of logistical conundrums I patiently repeated the simple truth: that, if the men of the Enterprise were pious, God would not allow it to fail. As I wrote to him in the spring of that year,
In the first place, as all victories are the gifts of God Almighty, and the cause we champion is so exclusively His, we may fairly look for His aid and favour, unless by our sins we render ourselves unworthy thereof. You will therefore have to exercise special care that such cause of offence shall be avoided on the Armada, and especially that there shall be no sort of blasphemy. This must be severely enforced, with heavy penalties, in order that the punishment for toleration of such sin may not fall upon all of us. You are going to fight for the cause of our Lord, and for the glory of His Name, and, consequently, He must be worshipped by all, so that His favour may be deserved. This favour is being so fervently besought in all parts that you may go full of encouragement that, by the mercy of God, His forces will be added to your own.
The eyes of the world looked to me on that day. That autumn, when the first of the tattered remnants of my Armada limped back to Santander, those same eyes rolled in derision. And the eyes of history look upon my trials and see nothing but irony. But even when that first messenger spoke to me of the Armada's ruination, I did not falter. For I knew that I was His most Holy Catholic Servant, and if he allowed this Enterprise to fail it was only to make His future victories all the more glorious. And in you, Representative Kern, I see that final, long-awaited glorification of His Name.

I drained the Spanish treasury in my attempts to extirpate the Protestant scourge from God's earth, yet even after my Enterprise was smashed and scattered, Flanders remained in heretical hands. I did not despair, and today I find my faith renewed. I see now that God, in His wisdom, stayed his hand in anticipation of a greater victory: the extirpation of the homosexual menace. God, in His wisdom, will work through you to expunge all Sodomites from your lands, which will blossom into a new Catholic Kingdom that shall surely not suffer the Protestant menace to stand.

In the confident hope of a miracle,

The King