Monday, August 31, 2009

Meet Nathan

Nathan Treanor is the voice and writer behind Nathan OUTloud, a regular podcast and blog that deals with issues currently facing the LGBT community. After spending the past 5+ years working as a volunteer for the Human Right Campaign and a member of the Board of Governors since October 2008 - Nathan decided it was time to get back in touch with his broadcasting roots and start the podcast and blog. With a focus on coming out stories and also political advocacy and activism, there is something for everyone in every episode.

After growing up in Utah, Nathan moved to Southern California and has since then been living in Arizona for the past 5 years.

You can follow Nathan on:

twitter.com/NathanOutLoud
facebook.com/NathanOutLoudFans
NathanOutLoud.com
I got to know Nathan through Twitter after we followed each other and I noticed that he lives near a brewpub of which I have fond memories. Beer is always the best social lubricant, even in long-distance acquaintances. He kindly agreed to be a face of the day. Thanks Nathan!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Meet Billie


BILLIE MYERS 11 INTERESTING FACTS

1. I suck my thumb when I’m stressed

2. The first time I found myself on a stage was at a Grace Jones concert in London when she pulled a few fans on stage... thousands in the audience. The first time I actually went on stage and sang “Kiss The Rain”, it was to an audience of 2- both of whom were friends

3. Most humiliating moment was following a chicken hypnotist on live TV in Portugal.

4. The artwork for Tea and Sympathy literally reflects the title! ...Sad, but pathetically true; Armed with some sort of skinny double Starbucks concoction, I decided to surprise my then lover. So I popped around early in the morning, only to walk in, hug the person and smell cheap perfume (ok...so I’m a little bitchy) that was clearly not mine on them! As “the how could you think that” denials were flying, I spotted a cup on the bedside table which had a rather undisputedly guilty looking sluttish shade of red lipstick on the lip of the cup and luke warm tea in it ...thus the Artwork/ title.

5.
Named my record label, Fruitloop Records after the “happy pills” I take everyday.

6. I was informed that Universal Records had dropped me whilst I was having a colonic.

7. I am without a doubt a dreadful guitar player. Favorite chord is Dm7 it just sounds so depressingly sad. One of the real guitarists who played on the album is Marcy Detroit who wrote Lay Down Sally for Eric Clapton.

8. I’ve got dreadful eyesight—I once asked Sheryl Crow what she did for a living

9. I am currently listening to Paolo Nutini's “Sunny Side Up”, Kings of Leon's “Only By The Night,” Lily Allen's “It’s Not Me, It's You.” Favorite songs of all time are Joan Armatrading's “Love and Affection,” Sinead O'Connor's “Jealous,” Madame X's “Cherries in the Snow,” and Grace Jones' “Private Life.”

10. In regards to my sexuality, I like to refer to the term “gender non-specific”

11. My guilty pleasure is tabloid Thursdays


It was just another day in LA for British native, Billie Myers; trying to jump start a diet, she was lying on a colonic table, wishing her therapist would stop giving a blow-by-blow description of the so called ‘release’, when her cell phone rang. “I don’t know why I answered”, says Myers,” but taking that call was life changing”. She was informed that Universal Records had dropped her.

Naively, she had thought that being personally signed by Doug Morris (Chairman of the Universal Music Group), having a global hit (Kiss The Rain), and an album that sold more than a million copies worldwide (Growing, Pains) would outweigh the fact her sophomore album Vertigo had sold poorly, despite across the board media acclaim.

Described as reassuringly long on singer-songwriting talent” by The London Times, her uncanny ability to seamlessly sculpt poetic narratives out her life experiences, not only inspired comparisons to Chrissie Hyde, Tracy Chapman and Joan Armatrading, but resulted in Billboard heralding her as “One of the most gifted of this year's new pop crop”.

However, despite, all of the above praise, the next few years proved emotionally turbulent. A managerial dispute embroiled her in a costly, drawn-out lawsuit, nearly bankrupting her along the way, her personal life went to pieces and all attempts to get signed proved fruitless. “Honestly, at that point I would have had more chance sleeping with the Pope, than getting signed”, says Myers, in her usual off beat way.

Worn down, she gave up, and as she bluntly puts it “wasting another three years wallowed in self pity”. Flipping between sadness, anger, indifference, fear and self-pity Myers hid out at home, killing time by sleeping the days away. “I didn’t socialize because I didn’t want people to ask how my non-existent new album was coming along, I alienated good friends and I couldn’t write, which of course completed the circle and sent me back to be bed”. In short, she was a walking depression checklist.

Crisis point hit when she started talking about how great it would be not to wake up. The friends she had left did an intervention of sorts. “They actually took my car away, because I’d spoken about playing chicken in my Miata” With tongue firmly in cheek Myers laughingly laments that the worst thing about the whole period was “ my compulsion, to clean and reorganize...any useless junk had to go and in my mind, stage clothes, musical equipment and awards were just that!”

Getting diagnosed and treated for depression was the turning point for Myers. She began writing again and it wasn’t long before she returned with a pulsating and provocative new record, Just Sex. Described by Billboard as having delicious verses that gambol across a melodic carnival imprint topped only by a chorus so intuitive that one would swear this is a remake of a song heard a thousand times before.” Myers explored sexuality with her renowned, often-controversial directness. “Just Sex” became an instant top 10 smash on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart. The popularity of which brought Myers back on stage, where as always, she both stunned and delighted audiences in venues across the U.S. and abroad. “A dance diva, I’m not,” says Myers “ But that remix not only gave me a confidence boost, it also gave me the financial flexibility to do own thing”

Slowly, but surely she decided it was time to try again, and this time Myers wasn’t waiting around for a record label to get on board. “The advent of computers and the internet has, to some degree leveled the playing field for artists...you can make records for less and you can be heard even, if you don’t have a major behind you”. Forming FruitLoop Records, her nickname for the pills she takes each day, she began writing with such highly acclaimed songwriters as Peter Vale, (Lemar, Beverly Knight) Marcella Detroit, (Shakespeare’s Sister, Eric Clapton) and Kristen Hall, (Sugarland).

Returning to her roots, Myers went to the UK, to record “I wanted a fresh start, working with people who I knew would let me be me, but at same time push me forward in a way that complemented, not detracted from my style”

While staying true to the expressive vocals and incisive lyrics that have earned her a loyal fan base and ongoing critical acclaim, Myers has broken new ground musically. Working with UK producer Dee Adam, she has fashioned a collage of sound that intertwines electronica, trip-hop beats, and bluesy guitars around her live acoustic/rock roots.

Honest to the point of painful, Myers pulls no punches as she lays bare, bruising portrayals of her struggles with self worth (“Anonymous”). Midnight losses of faith (“Send Me An Angel ...Is God Dead?”). Infidelity (“You Send Me Flying”). Defeated Hollywood dreams (“Lady Jane”).

The first single, “I Hope You’re Happy Now is a cathartic ode to an ex- lover. Hitting you where it hurts, lines such as “Another lover in my bed, wishing you were here insteadexpress the lonely frustration of an unwanted break- up. Luring the listener with its infectious hook and melancholy melody, its universal relatability ensures the listener feels that they are part of a highly intimate conversation.

Ever self- deprecating, Myers says “there’s even one moment of misguided optimistic romanticism (“Wonderful”) where I wonder what a lover, so seemingly perfect, sees in me but don’t be fooled - on Not Another Love Song” (written about the same person), the answer becomes clear, NOT A LOT!”


Notes from your friendly fanboy chronicler:

In early 1998 I took a business trip to a big Marriott in Denver, Colorado. One night I went to a party there at the hotel. I stood there, sad and alone behind a bell jar constructed of my own crippling self-consciousness, all the while wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. This wasn't unusual for me at the time; if that had been all there was to it, I imagine I'd hardly remember the trip at all. As it is, I can reach back and touch how I felt at that time, and Billie is the reason why. She happened to be singing there that night, and when she began it was like her voice pierced that bell jar, reached into my chest, and touched my heart. She's got an honesty of emotion that travels down the channel of her voice like an electric charge, and it transfixed me. The ache in her voice didn't bring me out of my depression, but it made me feel connected again.

After Billie finished her last song, I noticed that she was standing at the back of the stage talking to her crew, and that there was no security preventing me from going back there. I felt that I had to take the opportunity, so I walked back, shook her hand, and told her how her voice had touched me. She seemed not to know quite what to make of this person approaching her, but she thanked me graciously. I walked away satisfied, and
very soon after I got back from the trip I bought a copy of Growing, Pains. I must have listened to it hundreds of times over the next year or two. Years later I enjoyed her second album, Vertigo.

In July I featured Michelle, of gay-friendly.org.uk. I noticed that she featured Billie on her site, so I began to wonder if Billie was, ah, eligible for "Meet Adam and Steve". Thanks to Michelle, I got talking to Billie on Twitter, and soon found out that she was indeed "not entirely straight". To say that I'm thrilled to have Billie as a face of the day is a huge understatement. We're talking
major squee here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Meet Ifa

I am Ifa Bumi...

Poet, Lesbian Erotica Writer, Music Artist. Born L. Benjamin on January 4, 1974. Works written under the pseudonym, Ifa Bumi, a name derived in parts from IFAism, a Yorùbá religion and traditional African languages, which means ”someone who is giving with God-like characteristics”. Considered her spirit name in which others call her by. In her early youth, the eldest daughter of a Florida lower-middle-class family distinguished herself by her zeal and devotion to music and dance.

In the early 1990s, Ifa Bumi attended Palm Beach Business College and studied Computer Programming, though she did not receive a degree.

During the 1990’s, Ifa Bumi was ambitiously driven to succeed and she began honing her creative talents. She formed a Hip Hop/House dance group called “Image” that performed behind local music artist in various performance venues across Florida for a few years. In 1994 she moved to Georgia to embrace new opportunities in music. From 1997 to 2002 Ifa Bumi became a self-taught guitarist and vocalist. Her music style was based around alternative, rock, blues with the influences of Jimmi Hendrix and Prince.

She performed around Atlanta, Georgia known by the artist name of “Greasy Rib” in venues like the Backdrop Gallery, Shark Bar, Continent II and the Red Light Café, just to name a few. She was giving the name “The Renaissance Woman” by loyal fans during that time for her eccentric music and unusual yet entertaining stage performances with props.

Largely self-educated, in 2003 Ifa Bumi put her music on hiatus and pursued a business career. She maintains a design company of four years, established in November of 2004.

In 2007 Ifa Bumi opened her world to creative writing from poetry to short stories. She contributes to the genre of Lesbian Erotica. She creates verse that has been described as compelling, insightful, and gripping. In her first works, Liquid Toffee (2008), Ifa Bumi freely shares her most intimate thoughts on such commonly shared human experiences as love, relationships and deepest passions being a lover of Women. This also led to her music resurfacing with her Spoken Word to music album, Musoetry (2008). Her first collection of sound recordings released to the public.

About her work, Donna Allard, POEMATA Editor said, "Authentic to the core... a must 'listen too' for every women! Your pulse will beat with every word".

Ifa Bumi has become internationally recognized as a very skilled, yet perceptive author who pulls the reader into her poetry and shares the poetic experience equally with her audience through her music.

She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia where she is studying Hebrew and the Yoruba language as well as furthering both her writing and music careers.

The biography above comes from Ifa's website. I met her when she tweeted about the AsburyPop event which will occur not too far from my neck of the woods in New Jersey. Here is a description of the installation she will be showing there.

Join Lesbian Erotica Author/Poet Ifa Bumi, creator of the Liquid Toffee Project, as she unveils an installation from her I Am the Masterpiece Self-Art collection, "Engineering Chaos" at Asbury Pop on Friday, November 6, 2009 in Asbury Park, NJ. Using an arresting visual, she boldly states, "Identity does not exist in the pools of raving chaos. Suffocate its reasons with love. Enslave its tongue with passion. Stone its very core with seeds of advantage. Quicken its death by taking its life in reverse."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Meet Joe

I became a documentary filmmaker in 2004, but my first film, OUT IN THE SILENCE, is not a film I set out to make.

And while OUT IN THE SILENCE is about the struggle for visibility, fairness and equality for GLBT people in rural and small town America, it’s not a story of the God-hates-fags or the kids-who-get-indoctrinated-at-Jesus-camp type. It’s not about attention-seeking hate mongers, angry protesters, or the extremes of any side.

It’s at once more troubling and more hopeful than that. It emerged out of a firestorm of controversy, and the realization that if I didn’t shine a light on and try to understand and illuminate the basis for the controversy, it would simply pass away into history’s ether … and silence would settle once again over my hometown in the faded hills of northwestern Pennsylvania, affirming and perpetuating the fear and isolation that I knew too well as a young gay boy in a stiflingly anti-gay world.

The approach to the film is aimed at breaking the mold of the traditional documentary. It is not solely observational. As filmmaker, as protagonist, as insider and outsider, I use the camera to empower, to challenge, to confront, and to look beneath the veneer of the fragile balance of order in my small hometown. It is a deeply personal social issue documentary that dramatically illustrates the challenges of being different in small towns and rural communities and the transformation that is possible when those who have long been constrained by a traditional code of silence summon the courage to break it.

Check out the film’s trailer here: http://outinthesilence.com/index.html

Most of the film’s action is based on intimate verite footage of my own interactions with the residents of the town. The camera captures the rawness of emotions that occur when I go face-to-face with those who have used the publication of my own same-sex wedding announcement in the local paper to publicly denounce and denigrate gay and lesbian people. I engage these folks in public parks and on city streets, in churches and schools, kitchens and living rooms, at community parades and government hearings to try to get at the core of the misunderstandings. In most cases, there is no room to maneuver, but in a few, something else begins to happen. Hatred’s illogic begins to crumble and transformation occurs.

A unique element of the film is the inclusion of footage shot by CJ, the tormented gay teen, on the camcorder I gave him. CJ’s footage provides a painful glimpse into his very private suffering as well as needed comic relief as he also records the wild and crazy lengths to which he and his small group of friends go to entertain themselves in a boring small town.

This verite footage is juxtaposed with images of beautiful pastoral scenes and abandoned factories, old family pictures and home movies, graphics of newspaper text and radio program sound bites, and the hauntingly raw music of transgender singer/songwriter Namoli Brennet to create a dynamic and compelling audio visual landscape of a small town as it struggles with its own identity.

Through this experience, I have come to believe that by seeking out, witnessing, telling and retelling the stories of those who break the silence when it is most difficult and perilous to do so we increase the possibility that others will do so as well. And through this process, we also help to close the gaps that seem to divide us. I hope that this film will do the same for all who see it in towns like Oil City, small and large, across the country.

I found out about Joe through a Tweet about "Out in the Silence". I watched the trailer, and it grabbed me immediately. Here was someone who did, with a film, what I aspire to do: the kind of community outreach that actually touches people. I look forward to interviewing Joe for a future entry.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meet Jason

I'm a 37 yr old freelance graphic designer in Sydney.
I'm gay ...and a bit of an activist.
My partner and I have been together for 11 years, with our son, Murdoch - Designer Cat.

I can be found:

www.71.com.au
www.jasoncupitt.com
twitter.com/jasoncupitt
twitter.com/OUTspokenAU
ww.facebook.com/jasoncupitt

I met Jason through Twitter after I sent out a link to my Kiss-In posts. Thanks for being a face of the day, Jason!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Kiss-In at Battery Park

The sun was blazing yesterday, making Battery Park more or less oven-like. Thankfully most of us gathering near Castle Clinton for the Kiss-In stayed relatively cool, thanks to the small tree we co-opted for the day's gay agenda. Natural perspirers like me were still glistening, though, as was organizer David Badash, who stood out in sun with the bullhorn to coordinate and comment.

Watching the videos will give you a good idea of what happened. But they may not capture the peaceful, reflective, and comradely air of celebration that carried the day. David did a great job of keeping the core of the event in focus: that we were there for celebration and affirmation. Kissing is not only to be tolerated as harmless; it's a joyously human act that defines and strengthens our relationships.

And, not for nothin', watchin' chicks kiss is hot as hell. Come on, throw me a bone here. My honey couldn't make it to the event, so I had no one to kiss. You can't blame me for taking what enjoyment I could from it.

After the kissing, David said a few more words and then passed around the bullhorn. What struck me about the impromptu speeches was that two of them formed accidental bookends: they illustrated how far we've come, and how far we still have to go. The third video shows a man telling a simple, touching, and heartening story about how far we've come. He's been out for thirty years, and during that time he's seen the progress that's allowed folks like him to stand there in public and say "I'm gay", and share a kiss. The second video shows a young woman telling about how, just the previous night, her and her friends were verbally and physically assaulted in Union Station, just for being gay.

I stood under that little tree and swapped stories with the gentleman in the third video, and before he left we kissed each other on the cheek. It's been about twenty-four hours now, and as near as I can tell, I still ain't gay. Not even a little bit. And I seem to have suffered no ill effects from being in close proximity to a big gay kiss.

Kiss-In Video from Battery Park, NYC

I'm glad that I had the opportunity to attend today's Kiss-In at Battery Park. I got the opportunity to meet some fine people and see some fine kissing. More later, but for now, enjoy the videos. Unfortunately the resolution from my old four megapixel camera is pretty lousy, but you get the idea.











Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Worries of a Straight Ally

I assume that most straight guys would feel about like I feel right now, a few hours before attending a big gay event, but I don't know how much they'd actually talk about it. So here's what the topography of my mind looks like from helicopter level.

It's sort of like a lot of the landscapes I've canoed past in the Adirondacks: a mass of light green deciduous leaves blending together into a canopy, with here and there the striking dark green of a conifer poking its way up over the top.

The light green deciduous layer is this fairly lush mass of "Hey, I just want'cha ta know I'm straight, so I ain't kissin' any guys. I'm so happy about the event that I'm here in support, but don't none o' you guys try to kiss me!"

And then there are the conifers: little eruptions of "But... what if no guy tries to kiss me?? Does that mean I'm getting old and unattractive?"

'Cause I'm a guy, folks. And that's the way we roll. We tend to take umbrage at not being wanted.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Meet Bill

Partnered, gay professional with a sense of humor and sincerity! Die-hard country music fan! Soapmaking & DairyGoat Guru www.matrixsoaps.com billhanks@live.com
Bill is another Twitter follower who graciously agreed to be a face of the day. Check him out on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn. Thanks Bill!

The word from the NYPD on tomorrow's Kiss-In

After getting the memo from NYC Council Speaker Quinn's Office about the LGBT Advisory Committe, I contacted the LGBT Community Liaison, NYPD Detective Tim Duffy, about tomorrow's Great Nationwide Kiss-In event at Battery Park. Given the way that anti-gay websites are stirring up anger by portraying the event as public sex and a danger to children, I wanted to know if the NYPD has made any special preparations. Here is his response.


Hugh,

The event is occurring in the confines of the 1st Precinct inside Battery Park. We are not expecting any anti protestors at this time. The Parks Department and 1st Precinct are aware of the event and will monitor it.

You can let everyone know that anyone observed harassing/assaulting anyone will be dealt with by the NYPD to the fullest extent of the law.

Also inform all that anyone that is the victim of any such incident should report it to the NYPD immediately or dial 911 as soon as possible.

If you become aware of any protest or further info you think I can help with please feel free to contact me asap.

Detective
Tim Duffy
(646) 610-6017

From the Office of Speaker Quinn

NYPD to Reactivate LGBT Advisory Committee

As a media contact for New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's office, I received the following message today

August 14, 2009

Dear New Yorker, 

This week I spoke with Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly about re-constituting an LGBT advisory committee to the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  Commissioner Kelly agreed that this committee is of vital importance to the NYPD, the City and the continued safety of LGBT New Yorkers across the five boroughs.  Commissioner Kelly directed the police officer assigned to his office as LGBT liaison to reactivate the committee. 

This important step taken by the Commissioner will allow for the public safety concerns of LGBT New Yorkers to be registered fairly and thoroughly at the highest levels of the Department.  The NYPD LGBT advisory committee will discuss public safety issues that affect our community throughout the city.  Working with the NYPD's LGBT Community Liaison, I believe that this committee will help strengthen the working relationship between the NYPD and the LGBT community and help ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.

I encourage you to raise any concerns you may have about the safety of a particular individual or members of the LGBT community with the LGBT advisory committee or the LGBT Community Liaison.

To communicate any comments or concerns to the LGBT advisory committee, please contact the NYPD's LGBT Community Liaison Tim Duffy at (646) 610-6017 or timothy.duffy@nypd.org.  You may also contact my LGBT Community Liaison, Erik Bottcher, at (212) 788-5646 or ebottcher@council.nyc.gov

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Christine C. Quinn
Speaker
New York City Council 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Words, words, words.

I wrote the following in response to Ben Finzel's article in Echelon, "Say What? - Eight Words and Phrases to Avoid in LGBT Communications". But I'm not picking on Ben, nor do I disagree with most of the points he made. His post simply acted as an attractor around which thoughts coalesced that I've been wanting to blog about anyway.

The only real problem I have with the article is this point:
Homosexual – as I’ve written before, the term “homosexual” is often used by anti-gay people and organizations to refer to our community with an “accepted” term. In fact, the term has been so abused that its usage now seems more clinical than contemporary and it is, to most people, a way to slyly denigrate our community. By referring to “the homosexual community” or the “homosexual agenda,” anti-gay people and organizations attempt to make LGBT people sound like some odd/strange/uncomfortable “other” that is neither good nor acceptable.
I don't like the idea of allowing our opponents to dictate our behavior simply by their use of a word. It seems to me untenably (not to mention embarrassingly) sycophantic to run around with a magic marker, striking a term from our Allowed Word List just because the other side used it.

Beyond that, I have a problem that's more a reflection of my own experiences than of Ben's intent: I worry about how this list will be used. I worry about self-righteous LGBT activists waving their approved wording list in the faces of middle America and, in doing so, harming the cause. Here's why.

I already wrote about the unpleasantly truncated conversation I had about abortion in the Cornell dorm. To summarize: I expressed an opinion that deviated from the liberal talking points du jour, and the obstreperous feminist with whom I was speaking verbally squashed me before I could even get to the point that I agreed with her. Here are some other examples along the same lines.

For a while I was in a group called Racial Awareness Pilot Project. I'm not sure that I have the perspective to say why RAPP fizzled, but from my point of view it had a lot to do with the unfortunate combination of angry black people and guilty white people. I had to have been the guiltiest white person there, and I swallowed the party line that was fed to me. I'd start a sentence about black men's complexion, and the angriest black person would say "Dont say that!" I'd start a sentence about girls and she'd cut me off with the admonition "women!". And I stood corrected, chastened like a good little PC white boy. I didn't have the wherewithal to shout "Can we stop arguing about fucking semantics and talk about something relevant?!" I wish I had.

After college I dated a woman whose feminist fulminations were just part of her broad arsenal of techniques for browbeating anyone within reach. Once we were watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and I made a joke about the gratuitous spandex boob shot. Well, I didn't hear the end of that one for a while. Somehow I was now responsible for girls growing up with low self-esteem. Never mind that my joke was actually poking fun at the very objectification that she disliked. I had noticed a woman's breasts, so I had to be verbally subdued.

Once I was reading in bed with this same woman. I was making my way through the first issue of Dirty Pair: Fatal But Not Serious, a fantastic American-manga comic by Adam Warren. In it, an anti-genetic-upgrade terrorist calls our genetically upgraded protagonist a "miscegenated whore". My bedmate saw this and began berating me, doing her level best to force me to stop reading with the force of her invective. Never mind that the character was a bad guy who was clearly saying bad things. I was looking at a word she didn't like, so I had to be verbally subdued.

I'm not as stupid and gullible as I used to be. I don't parrot back every bit of PC lingo I hear. On the contrary, the pleasure I take in being politically incorrect arises directly from my anger at myself for being stupid enough to let those self-satisfied PC mind-controllers get away with their bullshit. But it's all relative. I'm still somewhat of a pushover. If you're strident enough you'll probably get me to toe your party line - at least until I get a chance to think it through, at which point you've lost me. But even if you don't lose me, ask yourself what you've gained. Aside from the sense of self-righteous satisfaction you got from lording it over some lefty white guy with an overdeveloped guilt complex, you've blunted your purpose by one-upping a person who probably agreed with you in the first place. And not for nothin', you've pulled the emergency brake on the conversation before it could move past semantics. Congratulations.

We often ask questions like "Why do religious zealots focus on the bits of Leviticus that condemn homosexuals, while ignoring the bits about shellfish and menstruating women?". These are rhetorical questions designed to puff ourselves up with our own moral immaculateness. To that question, the obvious answer is "They're not truly concerned about carrying out scriptural doctrines; they're using the Bible to justify a preexisting hatred." I submit that the answer to the following question is just as obvious.
Why do liberals constantly tell people what words they should and shouldn't use?
I think that the equally obvious answer is "Because they like feeling morally superior. They like winning arguments. They like feeling the surge of power that comes from getting someone to go along with what they say."

Note that "things that help the cause at all" appears nowhere in the preceding list. That is because browbeating folks about the words they choose is counter-productive. It represents the exercise of vital powers not along lines of excellence, but along paths of least resistance, and such a life will not afford you scope. I say this from firsthand experience. All that browbeating ever did to me was make me give up the attempt to engage. Every time, I walked away muttering "Well fuck it, if I can't say a goddamn word right then what's the point?"

Please, please, please let's not argue semantics. When we do that, we never reach the dialectical main course. Instead we're stuck forever at onanistic brain salad surgery.

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In: Update and Videos

There are 50 confirmed events for the Great Nationwide Kiss-In this Saturday, along with others that are entering the final planning stages. This is an international LGBT rights event, and has already found coverage through the AP, the Advocate, and a number of local publications. Please support it by getting the word around to everyone you know. Please see the press release, which includes a link to the national Facebook group page. This provides additional information, as well as a full list of cities and towns that are involved.

Check out the Kiss-In promotional videos from organizer David Mailloux's site.

"Kiss Me" (See David's original post.)



"This Kiss" (See David's original post.)


"I Love You" (See David's original post.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Building Bridges


This was tough for me to write about because, being so new to advocacy and activism and ally...ness... I feel like the bridge-building I do is insignificant compared to that which I need to learn how to do. But here goes.

Three ways in which I think I'm a bridge-builder:

  1. I strive for empathy. I analyze my feelings to help shed light on the behavior of those who disagree with me. I'm a scared, vicious monkey just like those people on the other side of the fence. Were circumstances different, I could have been them, and they could have been me. To pretend that they are incomprehensible serves no purpose aside from stroking my own ego. There is no other. The other is me.

  2. I strive for rational discourse. I have a long way to go before I can claim that my anger never gets the better of me, but over the last fifteen years I've worked to make my relationships more functional while divesting myself of anger, and I'll continue to do so. I do not argue to score points. If there's a talking point for my side that I think is irrelevant, fatuous, or just plain wrong, I'll say that, even if it means sacrificing that point. It's not about scoring points, or being right, or winning the argument. It's about dialectic.

  3. I am working toward outreach. This scares the living shit out of me because I'm still not good at conflict and confrontation. I've barely made a dent in stage one: preaching to the choir. But with every bit of energy I expend on this stage, I remain focused on stages two and three: virtual outreach, and then bona fide community outreach like the Triangle Speakers do. I must stay focused on this end goal, because preaching to the choir for its own sake is nothing but masturbation.


My nomination for Bridge Builder:

Jude (GeekGirl) of JaySays.com

Jude's writing is compassionate and crystal-clear: kindness without glurge, firmness without hostility. I love the line she walks.

I wish I had more than one, but it's taken so much of my time just trying to get this blog off the ground that I haven't been able to follow all the wonderful blogs I've discovered. I don't think it would be fair to give any more nominations.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In
is Now A 50-City, Worldwide Event!

Thousands of supporters of equality for same-sex couples are joining together in more than 50 U.S. and Canadian cities and towns to take part in the Great Nationwide Kiss-In. This event will take place at exactly 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, on Saturday, August 15, 2009 in large cities like New York, Boston and Houston, as well as smaller cities and towns like Erie, Pennsylvania, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Today, gay-rights bloggers David Badash (of The New Civil Rights Movement and The Bilerico Project), and David Mailloux (of DYM SUM), along with Willow Witte, the Director and Co-Founder of the grassroots LGBT organization Join The Impact, announced the addition of two Canadian cities – Edmonton, Alberta and Toronto, Ontario – alongside another planned event on the island of Saipan, part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Great Nationwide Kiss-In not only extends beyond the borders of the United States and its territories, but beyond the North American continent as well, making this event a truly international gay rights phenomenon.

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In was formed in response to recent events in three different U.S. cities, where gay or lesbian couples have been harassed, detained or arrested for the simple act of kissing in a public place. Badash, Mailloux, and Witte created this event as a peaceful celebration of everyone’s right to publicly acknowledge their loved ones – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or straight – with a kiss.

LGBT activists and bloggers throughout the country, as well as the couples involved, have said the recent incidents involving gay and lesbian couples kissing in San Antonio, and El Paso, TX, as well as Salt Lake City, UT were entirely related to their sexual orientation. After all charges were dropped against the gay couple arrested in Salt Lake City, Badash said, “That all charges were dropped is a win for the LGBT community, and for equality. But the fact that this incident not only occurred, and went as far as it did, shows the need for greater understanding. The Great Nationwide Kiss-In can help everyone see that simple signs of affection hurt no one, and strengthen the bonds we all have with our communities.”

While other local Kiss-In events in Salt Lake City or San Diego have taken place on or near Mormon property, Badash, Mailloux, and Witte all agree that the Great Nationwide Kiss-In should be as non-controversial as possible. None of the events will be held on or even near Mormon church property.

Each event will be specific to the community organizing it. Some will feature music and dancing, some will feature slam poets or other performers, and others will have guest speakers, including local politicians and community leaders who support the simple act of publicly kissing the one you love.

For more information about the Great Nationwide Kiss-In, please contact David Mailloux at greatnationwidekissin@gmail.com, or call him at (617) 213.0433. You can also visit their website: http://www.greatnationwidekissin.com.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wasn't there supposed to be a windmill around here?

So I went to the wedding of my cousin's daughter today. It was a big disappointment: all happiness and focusing on the couple and amicable chatting with relatives. Feh. Not once did the minister take the opportunity to turn the proceedings into a political forum. I was hoping that he'd be a leftist who picked that moment to deliver his anti-homophobia screed, and then, even though I agreed with him, I would have been so offended at his hijacking of the ceremony that I would've felt compelled to protest. I would have been inspired to start a pro-homophobe blog, and then I could've started flame wars with myself between the two blogs.

That would've been cool.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Meet Tyler

Progressing further into my twenty third year of life, I'm discovering more features of this crazy sphere we call 'the World'. This wouldn’t be a bad application idea to have on your iPhone, ‘The World in the Palm of Your Hands’. A ‘tell all’, one touch, preventions and precautions of the world we live in.

Now, I’m not a self-righteous cutting Emo child lost amongst the multitudes of generation ‘Y’, nor am I a self proclaimed martyr for the blog. As a matter of fact, I’m a blog virgin, ready to bare my inner privates between the silky smooth rayon fabric sheets of the World Wide Web.

In the preceding twelve months, I had encountered the many intricate periods of what some may metaphorically label as ‘that’s life’, ‘one door closes, another opens’ and my personal favorite ‘it’s just meant to be’.

Aside the ups and downs of unemployment, personal loss/gains and other related instances I personally compare with the inevitable final seconds of a moths existence, whilst gliding into an unknown florescent glow and gazing with an amazed God like aw embroidered on its face, I had also discovered a heroine like substance. The label displayed visibly on the tightly concealed prepackaged body? ‘Love’.

The love I encompass for my partner is greater than any mislaid episode in life, the same trivial elements everyone shall experience, from being made redundant to a blunt and bitter ending of friendships, this love with such strength drowns all animosity towards the past and sutures the present.

Recently a proposal of ‘marriage’ was pitched. As the batter slugged hard with all his might, it was caught with accuracy and acceptance by distant center field, number eight.

Unfortunately this pre-packaged substance came with a socially pre-packaged bitter tinge. Comparable to an inquisitive child, consequently testing a 9v Duracell Alkaline battery with their tongue. The tinge? Legislation opposing the legal entitlement for same sex marriage.

My capacity to protest in opposition to an unjust issue was merely limited towards the local grocer overcharging or a minor noise complaint at three in the morning. At no point in the present future, would I have expected to be advocating and promoting equality within the Australian community. Picturing myself several years ago, and thoughts towards what I may say to my 'future self' (present self) would be along the slandering lines as such, “Get off the cross we need the wood!”.

Several months ago, the opening of public submissions to the senate inquiry into the marriage equality amendment bill had been publicized (the Bill seeks to amend the federal Marriage Act so that same-sex partners are able to marry in Australia, and to recognise same-sex marriages legally entered into overseas). Due to the previous inquiry, in 2004, it had received more submissions than any other Senate inquiry in history, 13,000 against same-sex marriage and 3000 in favor.

(https://secure4.ilisys.com.au/austroj/onlinesubmission.htm)

I felt the unwarranted slap of tyranny, the first time being a gay man, and the weight of a one ton bell welded tightly to shackles and clamped shut at the base of my ankle. No numeric label engraved on the face, defining its weight, only one word crossed by a red line… ‘liberty’.

Determined to get back on the wood and preserver, with people to make their submissions and support this bill, I had set up a facebook group ‘Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009’ with it’s sibling site www.twitter.com/equal_rights, to use social networking for a national/international gain. The groups have began to grow in numbers, and supporters are following the groups every move/post/twitter, and offering their own support and stories.

Understandably this sounds like another personal advocate’s ‘all access’ masturbatory session, but in reality it’s not. Collectively the human race has/is (progressively and slowly) abolishing social oppressions such as, interracial marriages, female/racial/same sex/disability discrimination, slavery and more.

Being a member of this exclusive ‘human race’, I feel obliged to ‘stand up’ for equality. I feel obliged to ‘stand up’ for my equality. Obliged for your equality, and if the tables were turned and heterosexual couples had their liberties banished. I will ‘stand up’ for their equality.

The world is in the palm of our hands.

I met Tyler when he followed me on Twitter and I asked if he wanted to be a face of the day. Thanks Tyler!

Shower thoughts

Yesterday morning some thoughts came together as I was sleepily getting into the shower. That seems to happen a lot.

This hasn't been a fun week, mainly because of a certain young man I love who is flushing his life down the toilet with alcohol. I'm very close to his whole family, and he's sort of like a younger brother to me. For years I've fretted and worried about him, and now I'm coming to terms with the fact that I can't stop what's happening to him. I can't fix it. I can't control it. In accepting that, I've felt the full pain of it, and it's almost enough to double me over. I said to Grace, "Is this pain what makes people become control freaks?" and she said "Hell yeah!" I can well imagine going to any lengths not to admit that there's nothing I can do.

Two nights ago I wrote that we're hard-wired to be uncomfortable with that which is unusual, such as homosexuality. The next morning, as those shower thoughts were coalescing, I remembered that I wrote those words just a few hours after picking up Invincible Iron Man #16 at the comic shop. That's when it all clicked into place. I realized that it's all about control.

In the comic book, protagonist Maria Hill flashes back to when the supervillain Controller sunk his electronic control device into the back of her neck. As he was doing so he intoned the word "Control". And it seemed to me that the writing carried a psychological dimension that wouldn't have been present in the halcyon days of moustache-twirling super-villains. The writer seemed to be presenting The Controller as the ultimate control freak: someone who controls people not just as a means to an end, but as a sick end in itself.

Why would a writer add that sense of perversion to an established character? Well, obviously the darker the better these days. But beyond that generality I think that it taps into a specific fixation with control. I think that, as the twentieth century's chickens came home to roost, people in the U.S. started to realize how little control they had over the world, and it fractured us even more than before. September 11 shone as the new pole star in our constellation of uncontrol. President Bush helped us turn away from that light and toward fractionation. He told us the great lie that we could be safe, and many swallowed it gladly. Anything to believe that someone had the world under control - that someone ever could.

So this week seems to be all about control for me. I'm thinking of how much it hurts not to have control, and the response to that pain: to try to gain contol, or at least the feeling of it. I want to kidnap that young man I love and lock him in a cage until he detoxes. But even if I did that, it wouldn't fix him.

You may want to put a cage around the lives and rights of people whose sexuality you don't like, but there are even more problems with that. First of all, they ain't broken, so you shouldn't be trying to fix them. Believe me. Just three nights ago I spent an hour talking to a gay reverend, and there was absolutely nothing out of place with this guy. He was kind and articulate and funny, and a pleasure to talk to. He was a whole human being, with no need or desire to be fixed. If you want to help him, to fix him... well, that's got nothing to do with him. It's about your need for control.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So You Think Gay Sex Is Weird?

Fine. I get that. Seems a bit weird to me, too. Like I said before, though: if it seems weird to me, that's my problem; and if it seems weird to you, that's your problem. But I do understand. I believe that we're programmed to be uncomfortable with the unusual, and something that only ten per cent of the population does is fair game. However, if you could just put a pin in that for a second, I'd like to tell you about something that may alter your perspective.

Have you ever looked at a spider very closely, or seen macro shots like this one? Some spiders look like they're wearing boxing gloves. That little fifth set of legs is called the pedipalps, and if they're swollen like that, it means the spider is a male.

What are the pedipalps for, you ask? Well. Get ready, 'cause this shit's gonna blow your mind. The following is from the article ON SPERMATIC TRANSMISSION IN SPIDERS by J. W. abalos and E. C. Baez.
In 1843, Menge described the construction by the mature male of a nuptial web into which (or directly into the web of the female) he deposits a drop of semen. The semen is produced in his abdominal reproductive organs, a pair of gonads with their respective deferent ducts meeting to form a terminal duct, opening at the midline of the body into a seminal vesicle in the epigastric furrow. This drop of semen is then taken up by the copulatory apparatus situated in the male palpi, which are transformed for this purpose into more or less complex organs, according to the spider family. Once the palpi are filled with sperm, the male is ready for mating.

Copulation is preceded by a courtship typical for each species and described by various authors. The male introduces the embolus of one palpus into the female epigynum, transferring the sperm into the seminal receptacle; immediately afterwards he repeats the operation with the other palpus. The deposition of the sperm in the nuptial web as described by Menge was later observed by various authors, among whom Montgomery (1903) suggested the term "sperm induction".
Read the entire PDF for more fun. And seriously, if you can manage it, find a copy of the following article.
Studies on the Habits of Spiders, Particularly Those of the Mating Period
by Montgomery, T. H., Jr.
Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Vol. 55 (1903), pp. 59- 149
Published by: Academy of Natural Sciences
It's nothing short of a mind-altering experience: page after page of descriptions of male spiders who, if they're very lucky, manage to mate without dying at all. The merely lucky males manage to get eaten by the female only after finishing a regime of spectacularly acrobatic sex. The unlucky ones get killed as soon as they touch her web.

Makes gay sex seem kinda boring, yeah?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bananasmacking

Last Wednesday I noticed two very similar local stories on a Syracuse, NY news website. The first was about some kids who rigged a playground with razor blades, and the second was about a group of kids who set fire to a playground.

The thought of concealed razor blades sinking into small hands made me shudder. But I wasn't particularly surprised. This is par for the course for our species. We're not going to hell. We've always been there. This is what we are: vicious, sadistic little monkeys.

Years ago I came up with a theory about why people seem hard-wired to engage in vandalism. I think that it's a manifestation of the second law of thermodynamics. In attempting to gain a reproductive advantage over its peers, an organism has two basic choices: work to build up its own resources, or work to destroy the resources of others. Since the entropy of any system always increases, it's always far easier to reduce order than to increase it by the same amount; tearing something down is much easier than building it up. It seems clear to me that an evolutionary process could select for vandalism, disturbing though the results may be.

It's useful to make those kids' behavior explicable because the alternative is to throw our hands up and start that letter to the editor about the kids today with the hair, and the music, and how our society is going down the tubes. But if instead we understand the behavior as symptomatic of humanity, I think a pattern emerges.

For the most part, I don't think that people grow up. They just get better and better at presenting their childhood behavior as rational. If you peel back that thick, shiny veneer of logic and rationality, you'll expose a small, mean core that contains the same posturing, bullying and one-upsmanship that you can see on any playground.

Believe it or not, this post is not an exercise in cynicism and nihilism. It's a call for empathy. Just because we're vicious little monkeys doesn't mean we don't have nobler selves. We can choose to aspire to our better natures. And we can occasionally bootstrap ourselves into being what we think we are, rather than just what we are.

But while we're yanking furiously on those bootstraps, let's not forget our baser selves, and how much we share with those kids who could not abide an untainted playground. Were you really that surprised? Methinks thou dost protest too much. Look at your own childhood. Look at most of the adults you know. Look at people in any time, and any place, throughout human history. On a good day we think that smacking the banana out of the other monkey's hand is the definition of a Good Idea. So don't waste your time being surprised at Proposition 8 or the myriad examples of bananasmacking that limn the daily headlines. We can instead choose to respond with a clarity and determination that will be more effective for being suffused with love.