Wednesday, December 19, 2012

George Takei Will Help You Come Out For the Holidays (video)

Coming out to your family is always difficult, especially during the holidays. Conan O'Brien's sidekick, Andy Richter is offering to help you out this Christmas by coming to your home and outing you to your family, for just $99.95. For just $1.99 extra, uber-gay George Takei will personally welcome you to the world of gay.  If anyone gives you shit, Takei promises to come back and fuck their shit up!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We Got Hitched!

Well, gays and gals, we finally did it. As I wrote previously, Paul and I decided to head to DC and get gay married. With just three weeks to get it all organized and the much-appreciated help of family and friends, we pulled it off on Friday, the 14th in the city where I once lived, attended my first Pride at age 18, and marched in the streets on so many occasions for over the last three decades.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend that, in many ways, mirrored the the weekend we first met.

Was it love at first sight? Well it was something like that. I've always said, "when you don't have a plan, you better have good timing." We were both at the right place in our lives and the timing was just right. Suffice to say, that when I first laid eyes on Paul, I knew that his was the face I wanted to wake up to every morning.

Our first date lasted all weekend, culminating on my 40th birthday. Fast forward 13 years, three moves, 11 ducks, three cats, trips to L.A., NYC, DC, Florida and Paris (twice), uncountable ups and downs later and we decided it was time to make it legal in nine states and the district.

It was actually the Marriage Equality victories in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State this year that got us thinking seriously about jumping the broom. We made the announcement to my family at my niece's wedding in November. With only a few weeks to plan, it was amazing how quickly everything came together with the help of family and friends. Thank you all for your support.

Our dear friend, blogger and activist Bil Browning performed a beautiful, simple ceremony in a park at Judiciary Square next to the Courthouse. After filing the license at the courthouse, we attended a gathering of family at my nephew Andrew's condo near Logan Circle, where we were greeted by such an outpouring of love and acceptance. What an amazing afternoon.

Bil wrote a piece about it at The Bilerico Project, where he quoted my father, who said, "I never thought I'd see the day that Steve got married. Times have really changed and I'm so glad I've lived long enough to be here for today. My son got married and just a few years ago I'd have said that would be an impossibility."

It wasn't just a celebration of our wedding. It was a day of healing as my family welcomed their prodigal back into the fold, for which I am so grateful.

I have to admit that over the years, I got so caught up in the fight for equality that it became more about the fight, than my own relationship with Paul. To those who say "it's just a piece of paper", I say, you are so wrong. Marriage makes a difference. It's not just about sharing in the over 1,100 legal rights and responsibilities that straight folks are entitled to. It's about love. I have never loved my husband Paul more than I do now and that makes all the difference.

Friday, December 7, 2012

When Marriage Equality Becomes Personal: Off the Bench and into the Game

As I sit here at my computer, sipping my morning coffee, one week away from my wedding day, I am listening to CNN's Jeffery Toobin speculate on whether or not the US Supreme Court will decide today to take up two legal challenges to bans on marriage equality: The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the challenge to California's Prop 8. Both have been found by lower courts to violate the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Toobin explains the difference between the two laws. DOMA, the 1996 legislation signed into law by President Bill Clinton, bans federal recognition of legal same sex marriage and leaves it up to individual states to decide whether or not to recognize those marriages performed in other states.

Even if the Supremes overturn DOMA, it won't make marriage equality legal, but it will force the federal government to treat gay and lesbian couples equally to opposite-married couples. If they choose not to take the case, then the law can only be overturned legislatively by congress.

With the Prop 8 challenge, if the high court declines to hear the case, marriage equality immediately becomes legal again in California. Should they decide to hear the case, we hold our collective breath and wait for several more months. A victory overturns constitutional bans in all 50 states and we all win. A defeat maintains the status quo and we continue to slog it out, state by state, until all of us are treated equally under the law.

I've written about these and other marriage equality fights for several years. I've marched on Washington several times, organized rallies and protests for equality, attended Pride in different cities for over three decades and discussed the issues with family and friends all in an ongoing effort to educate and open hearts and minds. Thousands of LGBT activists, bloggers and ordinary people have done the same, each one contributing what they can to fight for equal rights.

As with any minority group struggling for equal treatment, the fight becomes the focus, while the goal seems increasingly elusive the longer the fight goes on. But now, as I work out the final details of our wedding next Friday, I am struck by how surreal it all feels to be off the sidelines and in the game.

Paul and I are from the generation that came out at a time when marriage wasn't even a consideration for gays and lesbians. Coming out, for us, meant, trying not to be seen going to gay bars, avoiding police harassment, accepting the reality of who we are, living honestly and openly as gay men and the cold, hard fact that certain milestones of life, like marriage and starting a family, were no longer options. We each, separately, got on with life, had relationships, created lives of our own, attended weddings of friends and family, all the while, watching from the sidelines.

Then we met and the connection was immediate. I knew at that moment that his was the face I wanted to wake up to every morning. When we finally moved in together after nearly a year, he got down on one knee and proposed, holding out a ring that didn't cost much and had one of its rainbow-colored stones missing. I accepted, happily, knowing all they while that in Virginia - in 2001 - the prospect of an actual wedding was a long way off.

Fast forward thirteen years and several several marriage equality victories later and it's all about to become a reality.

I find myself planning a small ceremony in Washington, DC on the rooftop deck at my nephew's condo. So many family members and friends are pitching in to make this happen. It's a seven hour drive to DC, so getting this put together has been a challenge. A big thanks goes out to my friends and family in and around DC who have been working to make our wedding day a reality.

It is now well into the afternoon as I have attempted to write this article in fits and starts, having written and deleted several paragraphs that one moment seemed perfect, then the next made no sense at all.

I have so many mixed emotions, it's difficult to express them. One minute I'm thrilled, the next terrified. I reflect on my own family relationships and the relationship I have forged with Paul's family and try to comprehend that when we are married, Paul and I will be merging the two. Up until fairly recently, our family consisted of the two of us, our three cats and the 11 ducks we raised back in Virginia at our little slice of heaven we called Morning Wood Acres.

Our lives are different now here in North Carolina than when we first started out together. After all the ups and downs that are the hallmark of all long-term relationships, we're in a great place in our life together. In many ways, after 13 years nothing will change, but at the same time, everything will change.

The knowledge that in one week we will be legally married, reaping the benefits of our labor and that of so many others is, at times, overwhelming. Next week I will marry my best friend and soul mate and I am both thrilled and terrified, just like every other groom in the history of marriage. If that's not equality, than what is?

Editor's note:
As I finish this piece, Talking Points Memo has posted that the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case of Windsor vs. The United States, which challenges the constitutionality of DOMA.

Via TPM:

Oral arguments will be next spring and a decision is expected by the end of June.
The Court agreed to hear the Windsor v. United States case, which was brought by a lesbian widow. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated DOMA in a 2-1 decision finding that the federal government did not have a legitimate interest in treating same sex couples differently.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wedding News: Bil Browning to Officiate

Bil, Steve and Jerame. (I just lost 20 lbs. Why do I still look fat?)
That's right, gays and gals, Bil Browning, long time LGBT rights activist and Editor in Chief of The Bilerico Project has agreed to officiate at our ceremony in DC next month.

Paul and I feel so honored. Bil has been great about posting articles I've submitted and has been so supportive of my writing. We finally got to meet here in Charlotte when he and his partner, Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Stonewall Democrats, were in town for the Democratic Convention.

We had a great afternoon of French pastries and conversation at Amelie's that day and laid the foundation for what I hope will be a long friendship.

I can't express how thrilled Paul and I are to finally be getting married after thirteen years together, on our anniversary date and in the city that I will always think of as my home town.

Still so many details to work out. Will post more as things develop.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Breaking Marriage Equality News: Mine! (with Music by ABBA)

...or more correctly, "ours". After nearly thirteen years together, my hubby Paul and I have decided to make it official and are planning to get gay married in DC next month. We're still working out the details, but one thing is definite, I want this song played at the ceremony. More details to come.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Wave Wednesday: Blondie, "One Way or Another" (Music Video)

This week's New Wave fave "One Way or Another", by Blondie comes to us from all the way back in 1978. In the pre-MTV era, there was a weekly TV show called "The Midnight Special", that featured live music by the top bands of the era. Given what's become of MTV, it may be time to bring it back.

Via Wikipedia:
Written by Debbie Harry and Nigel Harrison for the band's third studio album, Parallel Lines (1978), the song was inspired by one of Harry's ex-boyfriends who stalked her after their break up.[1] The song was released as a single in the US as the follow-up to "Heart of Glass". "One Way or Another" reached number twenty-four in the Billboard Hot 100. Although never officially released as a single in the United Kingdom and other countries, the song remains one of the group's most popular songs worldwide. Rolling Stone ranked the song #298 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[2]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Supremes Put Off Decision on Prop 8 and DOMA Challenges

Via The Washington Blade:

The U.S. Supreme Court has put off the decision on whether it will consider federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.
According to a report issued on Tuesday, justices during their conference on Monday decided to grant writs of certiorari, or take up, six pending cases, but neither the challenge to Proposition 8, known as Hollingsworth v. Perry, nor the one the legal challenges against Section 3 of DOMA, Windsor v. United States, appeared on the list of lawsuits on which decisions were made. It remains to be seen whether the court will take up them up.
Both cases were docketed during the conference on Monday. The conference was the first time justices met to consider which cases they will hear over the course of the term starting this fall.
The next conference for the Supreme Court is set October 5. But according to an email to supporters from the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is behind the Prop 8 lawsuit, justice meet nearly every week to determine the cases they will take up and the next time a decision could be announced is Monday at 9:30 am. At that time, the court is expected to release a list of cases it won’t hear this term.
If the Justices decide not to hear the Prop 8 case, the decision of The Ninth Circuit Court, which found Prop 8 unconstitutional, will stand and California's gay and lesbian couples will be able to marry immediately.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chick Fil A: "We still hate the gays, but it's nothing personal"

Okay, we knew it was too good to be true. Despite what's been reported in the news and on this here blog thingy, Chick Fil A wants to make it clear, that they haven't changed a thing about their corporate giving. And that even though some of the recipients of said corporate giving include anti-gay hate groups that actively work to destroy LGBT families and practice brainwashing to turn gays straight, they don't want to get all political and stuff.

The boycott continues.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gay Hollywood Has-been Rubert Everett Clarifies Anti-gay Parenting Remarks, Sticks Other Foot in Mouth

The Two Faces of Rupert Everett
Poor Rupert Everett hasn't worked much since he costarred with Madonna in the 2000 stinker "The Next Best Thing". In the dozen years since, Everett has become a bitter and bitchy old queen, blaming his inability to get a job in Hollywood on his decision to come out. A better explanation might be that his ill-advised nip-tucks have left him virtually unrecognizable from the gorgeous hunk he used to be.

Earlier this week the British actor made headlines for the first time in years for his comments made in an interview published in the Sunday Times where he expressed his views on gays raising children, saying, "I can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads."

Seriously, Rupert? Nothing worse?

Not even kids being raised by drug addicts in neighborhoods where they risk their lives every day just walking to and from school? What about kids whose hetero parents kick them out of the house for being LGBT, leaving them to fend for themselves on the streets? How about the kids who lost one or both parents in the 9/11 attacks or the millions of children in Sub-Saharan Africa who lost their parents to AIDS? Are all these kids better off than if they'd been raised by two loving gay or lesbian parents?

In an effort to smooth over the shit-storm that has brought him more publicity than he's had in over a decade -- and certainly more than he deserves -- the former movie star clarified his remarks on the UK chat show This Morning. "I have lots of gay friends with children," he said. "I have lots of gay friends who have got married, I've been to lots of gay weddings, but I'm not big into marriage straight or gay to be honest."

I am so appalled by this statement, I can hardly find the words. He speaks of gay people as if we are something foreign to him. How many times have you heard straight folks try to prove they're not homophobic by saying virtually the same thing? Substitute the word "gay" with the word "black", "Asian", or "Latino" and roll it around in your head for a minute. Now how does it sound to you?

Rupert Everett is the classic example of the self-loathing, archaic, gay stereotype that belongs on the trash heap of history. The decades of progress we have made in the struggle for self-acceptance, pride and equality seems to have gone unnoticed by Mr. Everett and I truly pity him for having such a joyless life. He'd have been better off had he never come out. Self-hatred is best done in the dark loneliness of the closet, not when being played out on the international stage.

Coming out is about loving yourself, celebrating who you are and standing up for yourself and your community, no matter what others have to say about it. I guess Rupert didn't get the memo.

I am truly glad that he will never have children, because I can't think of anything worse than a child being raised by Rupert Everett.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Wave Wednesday: "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On", by Robert Palmer (Music Video)

What can you say about Robert Palmer? In the mid-80's Palmer's smooth, sophisticated, pop-soul, edgy sound dominated the charts with top ten hits like "Addicted to Love", "She's Hyperactive" and today's pick, "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On", which peaked at #2 on the US charts in 1985.

Palmer later form the super group Power Station. Via Wikipedia:
"Duran Duran went on hiatus, and their guitarist Andy Taylor and bassist John Taylor joined former Chic drummer Tony Thompson and Palmer to form Power Station.[2] Their eponymous album, recorded mainly at the New York recording studio for which the band was named, with overdubs and mixing at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, reached the Top 20 in the UK and the Top 10 in the US. It spawned two hit singles with "Some Like It Hot" (US #6) and a cover of the T.Rex song "Get It On (Bang a Gong)", which peaked one position higher than the original at US #9. Palmer performed live with the band only once that year, on Saturday Night Live. The band toured, and played Live Aid, with singer Michael Des Barres after Palmer bowed out at the last moment to go back into the recording studio to further his solo career."
A heavy smoker, Palmer died of a heart attack in Paris in 2003 at age 54.

Has Chick-Fil-A Changed Its Ways?

Chick Fil A Kiss-In
Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who has fought against the expansion of Chick-Fil-A in  his city, has been in negotiations with the fast food chain, in an effort to get them to change their charitable giving to anti-gay hate groups.

On Tuesday, The Civil Rights Agenda sent out a press release, announcing the company has decided to change its ways, sort out:

 September 18, 2012 – Chicago, Illinois – The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois’ leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, has learned that Alderman Moreno has finalized his negotiations with Chick-Fil-A.  Alderman Moreno has confirmed that Chick-fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations and that they have clarified in an internal document that the company will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation. The Civil Rights Agenda worked closely with the Alderman in an advisory role as he negotiated these concessions with the executives at Chick-fil-A.  Additionally, members of TCRA spoke directly with executives at Chick-fil-A during negotiations to aid in educating their decision makers about anti-discrimination policies and issues affecting the LGBT community.
In a letter addressed to Alderman Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”  Winshape, a non-profit funded by Chick-fil-a, has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups, including some classified as hate groups, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.  In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations.
“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.  It has taken months of discussion, both with our organization and with the Alderman, for Chick-fil-A to come forward with these concessions and we feel this is a strong step forward for Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community, although it is only a step.”
Additionally, they have sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that states that as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.”  This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.”
“Although we are encouraged by their internal statement, we would still like for the company to adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level,” said Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda. “It is one thing for a company to say they respect everyone they serve and employ, it is quite another for them to put that into their policies and demand that all employees adhere to that behavior.  As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal. It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made.”
So the bottom line is that the Chicken folks have agreed to stop funding the anti-gays, but won't implement an LGBT-inclusive employee nondiscrimination policy.

The boycott continues.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Seattle Times Launches Campaign to Support Marriage Equality

The Seattle Times has joined the fight for Marriage Equality in Washington State by launching a social media campaign to pass Referendum 74, which would legalized same-sex marriage. The Times has posted a printable version of the sign you see here and challenged readers to join the campaign.

Do you support same-sex marriage? Join The Seattle Times editorial board's social media campaign to approve Referendum 74 on the Nov. 6 ballot. Take a photo of you, your partner or your family holding this sign and share it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #IDo74. You can also email the photo to Please include names of the people in the photo. By sharing your photo, you give The Seattle Times permission to publish the photo in print and online.
Want to show your support on Facebook? Go to our Seattle Times Opinion Facebook page and download a cover and profile picture to show your support on your Facebook page.
Print yours here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

As seen on the Internets: Lisa Lampanelli on Sally Struthers' DUI

Those of you under the age of 40 might not remember Sally Struthers, but once upon a time, back in the 70's, she was a hot, young, blonde actress starring on the groundbreaking sit-com, "All in the Family". The show spawned spin-offs, like "The Jeffersons", "Maude" and "Good Times". Struthers later became the spokesperson for Feed the Children.

USA Today reports the actress was charged on Wednesday with a DUI in Ogunquit, Maine, where she has been performing in a  stage production of "9 to 5: The Musical". Struthers also starred in the TV sit-com based on the 1980 movie, which starred Jane Fonda, Lily Thomlin and Dolly Parton.

Maher: ‘This is the week Mitt Romney lost the election’

       Because of his reaction to the crisis in the Middle East, Bill Maher said Friday, “I think this is the week Mitt Romney lost the election.” Romney’s much-derided remarks falsely criticizing the Obama administration made the GOP presidential candidate look “small,” Maher said, in much the…

The Kinsey Sicks Warn What Will Happen If You Don't Vote (Video)

The Kinsey Sicks

Acapella drag performers, The Kinsey Sicks warn LGBT's to Vote Girly, Vote Often... or hideous drag queens will come to your house to harass you!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stuff I'm Obsessed With: Why doesn't Dr. Who have an iPhone 5?

The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and his prehistoric phone. 
Yes, I'm still obsessed with the Time Lord from Gallifrey, who travels through all of time and space in a blue police phone box that's bigger on the inside, saving humanity from itself and all sorts of hostile aliens, that have a habit of attacking Earth just in time for the Christmas special.

Today is the day the iPhone 5 becomes available for  pre-order. The entire planet is pouncing on Apple stores everywhere and flooding the phone lines of Sprint, Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile and all the rest in a mad frenzy to get the new smart phone before everybody else.

So if I was a Time Lord and could get my hands on any communication device ever created or that ever will be created, why would I use the LG Slider and not the iPhone 5, or 5 bazillion, for that matter?

I know. I need a vacation.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Viking Zombie Boyfriend, By Jeremy Rizza (9-13-12)

Rorik and Dill are just your average, All-American, bearish, gay couple... except that Rorik is a 1,000-year-old, undead viking warrior.

Posted with permission.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sec. Clinton Issues Statement on the Death of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 12, 2012

It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the death of four American personnel in Benghazi, Libya yesterday. Among them were United States Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and Foreign Service Information Management Officer, Sean Smith. We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals. Our hearts go out to all their families and colleagues.

A 21 year veteran of the Foreign Service, Ambassador Stevens died last night from injuries he sustained in the attack on our office in Benghazi.

I had the privilege of swearing in Chris for his post in Libya only a few months ago. He spoke eloquently about his passion for service, for diplomacy and for the Libyan people. This assignment was only the latest in his more than two decades of dedication to advancing closer ties with the people of the Middle East and North Africa which began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. As the conflict in Libya unfolded, Chris was one of the first Americans on the ground in Benghazi. He risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation. He spent every day since helping to finish the work that he started. Chris was committed to advancing America’s values and interests, even when that meant putting himself in danger.

Sean Smith was a husband and a father of two, who joined the Department ten years ago. Like Chris, Sean was one of our best. Prior to arriving in Benghazi, he served in Baghdad, Pretoria, Montreal, and most recently The Hague.

All the Americans we lost in yesterday’s attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future.

America’s diplomats and development experts stand on the front lines every day for our country. We are honored by the service of each and every one of them.

New Wave Wednesday: "Miss Me Blind", by Culture Club (Music Video)

So you think drag queens in pop music started with RuPaul? Guess again.

During the early 80's, British New Wave band Culture Club, featuring the cross-dressing lead singer Boy George, soared to the top of the charts with hits like "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me", "It's a Miracle" and "Church of the Poison Mind".

This week's pick "Miss Me Blind", from the band's second album, "Colour by Numbers", reached #5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1984.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where were you on 9/11? (Repost)

The following is a repost of a piece I wrote back in 2009. Paul and I were living in in Floyd County, Va. just outside of Roanoke at the time. Rather than trying to write something new in remembrance of the day, I thought I'd repost it.

On September 11, 2001 my father was visiting from Seattle. My younger sister had gotten married just two days prior and my father had flown in from Seattle to attend. As he usually did, he spent time visiting with his seven kids scattered from Pennsylvania to Virginia during his trip east. Dad was staying with Paul and I at our old place on the Little River.

Paul owned two small cabins across the road from each other when we met and the first couple of years together were spent dividing our time between the two. When Dad came back with us from the wedding in in Northern Virginia, we set him up in the cabin Paul had named "Blue Moon" while we stayed stayed across the one-lane dirt road at "Key West". (I know, it's too gay for words.)

Paul had left for work when I got up to start the coffee and turned on the TV. As I watched Katie Couric reporting that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, I called Dad on the phone and told him to turn on the TV.

As I continued watching the coverage, a second plane shot past the back of Katie's head and into the second tower, exploding in a massive fireball. Like the rest of the world, Dad and I watched the morning's events unfold mostly in a stunned silence that was occasionally interrupted with speculation about who could have done this and why.

But we had more practical things to deal with that day. I was due back at work that night and Dad was supposed to fly from Roanoke to DC to meet another of my sisters, and continue his East Coast tour. All air traffic had been canceled and we needed to work out alternate transportation. No buses or trains were moving either that day as a precaution against further attacks.

I made several calls to car rental agencies and finally found one that had a few cars left. I drove Dad into Roanoke, MapQuest directions in hand. I handed him my cell phone and told him to stop frequently if he needed to. His fibromyalgia made it difficult for him to drive long distances and his designated driver, my stepmother, had already flown home. We alerted my sister of his alternate travel plans, said our goodbyes and I went home to get ready for work.

It seems trivial now, but I've heard that when you're going through a difficult time and everything is chaotic, doing something normal helps you to feel more normal. No one knew that day what an impact the 9/11 terrorist attack would have on the world. Addressing the immediate problem of getting my dad's visit back on track helped me to feel a sense of control on a day that the unthinkable happened.

What were you doing on September 11, 2001? Feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Study Shows DADT Repeal Has No Effect on Military Readiness

(Click to enlarge.)
You remember all the predictions of doom and gloom tossed about by old guard military brass about what would happen if President Obama repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell and allowed gays and lesbians to serve their country openly? They went something like this:

“Repeal… would undermine recruiting and retention, impact leadership at all levels, have adverse effects on the willingness of parents who lend their sons and daughters to military service, and eventually break the All-Volunteer Force.”
— March 2009 statement signed by
   1,167 retired admirals and generals
 “The flag and general officers for the military, 1,167 to date, 51 of them former four-stars, said that this law, if repealed, could indeed break the All-Volunteer Force. They chose that word very carefully. They have a lot of military experience… and they know what they’re talking about.”
—Elaine Donnelly, Center for Military Readiness, May 2010
Guess what? According to a study released by The Palm Center, an independent think tank, they were dead wrong. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Aaron Belkin, the founding director of the Palm Center and lead author of the study said, "For almost twenty years, experts predicted that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would harm the military. Now the evidence is in, and the conclusion is clear: repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' did not harm the military, and if anything made it easier for the Pentagon to pursue its mission."

The findings of the year-long study show:
1. The repeal of  DADT has had no overall negative impact  on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.
2. A comparison of 2011 pre-repeal and 2012 post-repeal survey data shows that service members reported the same level of military readiness after DADT repeal as before it.
3. Even in those units that included openly LGB service members, and that consequently should have been the most likely to experience a drop in cohesion as a result of repeal, cohesion did not decline after the new policy of open service was put into place. In fact, greater openness and honesty  resulting from repeal seem to  have promoted increased understanding, respect and acceptance.
4. Recruitment was unaffected by the repeal of DADT. In an era when enlistment standards are tightening, service-wide recruitment has remained robust.
5. Retention was unaffected by the repeal of DADT. There was no mass exodus of military members as a result of repeal, and there were only two verifiable resignations linked to the policy  change, both military chaplains. Service members were  as likely to say that they plan to re-enlist after DADT repeal as was the case pre-repeal.
6. DADT repeal has not been responsible for any new wave of violence or physical abuse among service members. The policy change appears to have enabled some LGB service members to resolve disputes around harassment and bias in ways that were not possible prior to repeal.
7. Service-wide data indicate that overall, force morale did not decrease as a result of the new policy, although repeal produced a decline in individual morale for some service members who personally opposed the policy change and boosted individual morale for others.

8. There was no wave of mass disclosures of sexual orientation after repeal, and a minority of heterosexual service members reported in an independent survey that, after repeal, someone in their unit disclosed being LGB or that an LGB service member joined their unit.
9. Some military members have complained of downsides that followed from the policy change, but others identified upsides, and in no case did negative consequences outweigh benefits. In balance, DADT repeal  has enhanced the military’s ability to pursue its mission.
10. The findings of this study are consistent with the reported assessments of repeal by military leadership including President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon 5 Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and Marine Corps Commandant James Amos.
You can see the full study results here. The only possible comment I could add to these findings is, "We told you so."

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Yeah, what Borowitz said.

Oh, Squeaky, Thou Art a Bitch Goddess!

Daddy's Girl, Squeaky.
You are 19 years old, deaf, nearly blind and you miss the litter box almost as often as you hit it. You hated me when I first started dating your daddy, but somehow, over the years, I managed to win you over, much to his annoyance.

Over the past nearly 13 years, you became my cat, especially when Max and Snowball showed up on our doorstep, hungry and hopeful of sharing the love you once had all to yourself.

Although you were declawed years before I came along and Max is twice your size and Snowball is a scrappy little barn cat with half a tail, each of your adopted siblings have all their claws and could easily hurt you if they wanted. Instead they scatter when when you come into the room and hiss your enduring disapproval at their interloping presence. You are the queen of your castle and your daddies will always love you best.

May I beg a favor of Your Highness? Won't you please let your daddy sleep? I know my work schedule has changed and I get home after 1am and I don't get to spend as much time with you as I used to. But it's been over two months now. I still feed you twice a day, when I get home and when I get up. You know that I go to bed between 2am and 3am. Yet, you still come into my room at the crack of dawn crying to be fed, even though you ate your special canned food that the other cats don't get, just a few hours before.

There is dry food out for everyone to share. Are you really hungry, or are you just fucking with me? Don't you know your daddy needs his sleep so he can function at work to make money to buy you that special food that the other cats don't get? You are wearing me out!!

I've played it your way, getting up early to feed you, then going back to bed. But 15 minutes later you are back on the bed crying for attention. Are you really unable to hear me when I tell you "No!", or are you just faking it because you're mad at me?

Three weeks ago, I came up with my master plan.

"I'm the daddy, dammit! She'll eat when I say so!", I thought.

"She's still on my old schedule. I just have to break her of that and get her used to my new schedule", I thought.

So I set up the air mattress in the spare bedroom in the basement and decided that's where I'd sleep for a while. Squeaky doesn't go down there. I figured two to three weeks should be enough to get her acclimated to her new schedule and I can get a much needed full night's sleep.

It seemed to be working well, so last night, for the first time in weeks, I returned to my own comfy bed. Squeaky got up on the bed for a cuddle and to sleep with me like she always used to. All seemed right with the world... until the sun came up.

"MMMYYYOOOOWWWW!!!! MMMMYYYYOOOOWWWW!!!!" Translation: "Bwaaahhh, haaa, haaa!! Stupid, puny human!!! You thought you could defeat me???!!!

Squeaky, you win this round, as always. Daddy loves you, but this is not over. It's back to the basement for me.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Post-DNC Meet Up with Bilerco's Bil Browning and Stonewall Democrats' Jerame Davis

(L-R) Bil Browning, Rev. Steve, Jerame Davis.
Every now and then, if you are very lucky, you get to meet someone whose work you admire and who inspires you to strive harder in your own work. Today I had such an opportunity when my hubby, Paul and I met up with Bil Browning, Editor-in-Chief of The Bilerco Project and his partner, Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Stonewall Democrats.

The guys were in Charlotte this week for the Democratic National Convention and stayed an extra day to decompress. The duo were the lucky house guests of Q-Notes Editor and Bilerico contributor Matt Comer this week, who, unfortunately, couldn't join us.

The four of us had a leisurely chat over Napoleons, raspberry tarts, chocolate moose and the signature Salted Caramel Brownie at Amelie's French Bakery in the NoDa section of Charlotte. Bil commented that this was his favorite stop in the Queen City.

Naturally we talked about the most LGBT-inclusive political convention ever and I wanted to know all about it. Jerame said the atmosphere was electric, despite the crush of people and the festival-style seating. Oh, to have been in that hall during all those inspiring speeches.

We also talked about Barney Frank's remarks yesterday, when he called Log Cabin Republicans "Uncle Toms". While I heartily agreed with with Uncle Barney, Jerame stuck to his official press statement, when his organization joined a chorus of others in distancing themselves from Frank's comments:
"It's definitely not the best language to use," executive director Jerame Davis said. "And I definitely wouldn't use that language myself. That is definitely not the position of Stonewall Democrats."
"The truth is that they do play a certain role of kowtowing to the Republican Party in a way that borders on inappropriate itself." 
Well said, Jerame. Personally, I love Barney's new "I'm-retiring-so-I'll-say-anything-I-want-and-fuck-you-if-you-don't-like-it" attitude. I wish there was more of it in DC.

As for Bil, it was such an honor to meet somebody who has built such an amazing career and who has been such an inspiration to me. He has posted several of my articles over the years ("What's in a Handshake?" and "What to Tell Your Kids About Gay Sex" for example). I can't express what a joy it was to finally meet him.

Thank you Bil and Jerame for taking the time to get together. Paul and I had a great time! Have a safe trip home.

Stuff I'm Obsessed With: "Dr. Who?" Dinosaurs on a Spaceship! (video)

What? You've never watched Dr. Who? The British Sci-Fi series that's been going for fifty years has never been better. It's cutting edge, timey-wimey, wibbly-wobby fun like you've never seen before. That last of the Time Lords travels through time and space in a police public call box that's bigger on the inside, picking up human companions along the way.

Catch it on BBC America, Saturday nights at 9pm Eastern.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"In The Life" profiles Truth Wins Out's exposure of Marcus Bachmann's Ex-gay Clinic (video)

This week I received an email from Truth Wins Out, the group headed by Wayne Besen, that focuses on exposing groups like Exodus International, who engage in fraudulent and psychologically damaging ex-gay therapy.

Last year, TWO's John Becker, who subjected himself to conversion therapy early in his young life, went undercover to expose the Bachmann Clinic, owned and operated by Marcus Bachmann, and his wife, failed presidential candidate and teabagger queen, Michele Bachmann. The couple had repeatedly denied engaging in such therapy. Becker documented what he experienced and exposed their lies.

Becker writes, "The PBS show In the Life is a monthly newsmagazine that exposes social injustice by chronicling the lives and experiences of LGBT people. An institution in our community, it’s the longest-running LGBT television program in history. And this month, as part of a show dedicated to the discussion of LGBT issues in the Midwest, it’s airing a segment that focuses on Truth Wins Out and the dangerous “ex-gay” industry, using my personal journey and my experience going undercover for TWO in the Bachmann clinic last year as a springboard from which to tell the story."

"Mad Men" Gets a Rickroll Mash-Up (video)

Okay, Rick-Rolling gave us all a couple of laughs for about 5 minutes back on 2008. You remember, you'd click on a YouTube video and instead of seeing what you'd expected, you'd be treated to the 1987 Rick Astley dance hit, "Never Gonna Give You Up".

Today's featured video, brought to my attention by my loving Hubby, isn't so much a Rickroll as it is a mash-up with the cast of "Mad Men". Enjoy.

Barney Frank Calls Log Cabin Republicans "Uncle Toms"

Rep. Barney Frank (R) and husband Jim Ready.
Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) will be speaking at the Democratic National Convention tonight here in Charlotte. Mike Signorile caught up with America's first out, gay member of congress on Wednesday for an interview on his radio show.

Frank touched on some of the topics he'll be talking about tonight, such as "Myth" Romney, how far the LGBT rights movement has come and the self-loathing gay GOP group, Log Cabin Republicans (via Huffington Post):
“They’re accepted on [the GOP's] terms,” he continued. “They’re willing to be accepted with no rights -- no right to marry, no right to serve in the military, no right to be protected against hate crimes, no right to be protected in employment. I’ll be honest: For 20 years now I’ve heard how the Log Cabins are going to make Republicans better, but they’ve only gotten worse. I now understand why they call themselves Log Cabin: their role model is Uncle Tom.”
More here.

Clinton Kills at DNC!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New Wave Wednesday: "Cruel Summer", by Bananarama

Sure, I know it's after Labor Day and the kids are starting school again, but I couldn't pass this one up.

With temps in triple digits across the country for three straight months, the economy stagnant and gas prices soaring again, it makes me long for the simpler days of 1984. Gas was cheap, Reagan was in the White House, the threat of nuclear war hung in the air like a death pall and prefab girl groups like Bananarama had bad hair, horrible clothes and way too much makeup.

Ah, the good old days.

Dems Drop "God" from Party Platform, GOP Goes Nuts

What's in a word? I guess it depends on the word, especially when you leave it out.

The official Democratic Party Platform, while expressing respect for the religious beliefs of all Americans, does not mention the word/name "God". The Republican platform mentions God about a dozen times. No big surprise there. They still haven't gotten the memo that we're not electing a pope this year. They also believe that the world is 6,000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs lived side by side, like on The Flintstones.

As usual, Obama adviser Robert Gibbs tap danced around the subject when asked about the omission by CNN. Via Huffington Post:

He said the platform mentions "faith and religion" and cited the "thousands of God-fearing Democrats in this building here tonight."
Since the platform was released, the lack of the word "God" has become a rallying cry among some conservatives, especially those who believe that the Obama administration is unfriendly to religion. The Republican platform, released last week, made at least a dozen references to God and included a section on religious liberty.
Did I buy the wrong calendar? Mine says 2012, not 1912. Ugghhhh!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nine Anti-Gay Preachers Arrested at Southern Decadence in New Orleans

So let me get this straight. God hates the gays so much that he sends hurricanes to destroy cities, displace families and cause hundreds of millions of dollars in collateral damage, just to stop a party that's been going on since 1972. At least that's what folks like Pat Robertson would have you believe. He blamed Hurricane Katrina on the gays and their evil Southern Decadence street party back in 2005. Last week, some other holy roller trying to make a name for himself did the same thing with Hurricane Isaac. So original.

So what exactly is Southern Decadence anyway? According to the event's website, it all started rather innocently, when a a group of roommates and their friends decided to throw a Labor Day weekend party:
And so it was, on a sultry August afternoon in 1972, that this band of friends decided to plan an amusement.  According to author James T. Spears, writing in Rebels, Rubyfruit and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South, this "motley crew of outcasts" began Southern Decadence as a going away party for a friend named Michael Evers, and to shut up a new "Belle Reve" tenant (from New York) who kept complaining about the New Orleans heat.  As a riff on the "Belle Reve" theme, the group named the event a "Southern Decadence Party: Come As Your Favorite Southern Decadent," requiring all participants to dress in costume as their favorite "decadent Southern" character.    According to Spears, "The party began late that Sunday afternoon, with the expectation that the next day (Labor Day) would allow for recovery. Forty or fifty people drank, smoked, and carried on near the big fig tree ... even though Maureen (the New Yorker) still complained about the heat."
So evil!!!

During the three decades since, the party has grown into an event that rivals Mardi Gras in it's scope and attendance and has become the gayest event since Pride. Naturally, whenever more than two gays congregate, the street preachers crawl out of the woodwork to condemn us all to Hell. It's sooo annoying.

Faced with the bigger problem of crowd control, the city of New Orleans did what so many Southern Baptists can't. They evolved. The Times-Picayune reports:
Nine preachers were arrested Saturday after police said they yelled anti-gay slurs over bullhorns during a demonstration at Southern Decadence, an annual celebration of gay culture in the French Quarter. Patrick O'Connell, 45, Rolando Igleasias, 31, Cesar Chavez, 22, Daniel Hoogerhuis, 26, Danny Guevera, 20, Larry Craft, 52, Montes Diego, 32 and Gary Brown, 33 were arrested on suspicion of aggressive solicitation, a city law passed last October.
The ordinance prohibits "any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise." Another man, Justin Craft, 31, was arrested on suspicion of battery, resisting an officer and interfering with a law enforcement investigation. Craft allegedly punched an officer when he attempted to confiscate his bullhorn. Witnesses said the incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. outside Tropical Isle.
New Orleans police spokesman Frank Robertson said the men were previously warned not to use bullhorns, but did not comply. Casey Kolosky, a bouncer at Tropical Isle, said the preachers were making slurs against gays and also mentioned Hurricane Katrina victims.

As my mother used to say, "Every party needs a pooper." Oddly, there were no other reported arrests associated with the event.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Queer Activists and DNC Delegates Party Down at LGBT Welcome Party

Photo Credit: Matt Comer, Q-Notes
The Democratic National Convention kicks off this week in Charlotte, NC and as usual, the gays show everybody how it's done. "Unity Through Community" was the theme at last night's welcome party held at the North Carolina Dance Theatre in Uptown Charlotte.

Q-Notes' Matt Comer reports:

Among the guests were recognizable names like former Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andy Tobias, National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis and his partner Bil Browning of Also present was Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer and several Human Rights Campaign board members including Meghan Stabler. And, according to blogger Joe Jervis, other big names in the LGBT community were also present, including former Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Brian Ellner and Clinton White House advisor Richard Socarides.
On the local front, openly gay Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield and openly gay Chapel Hill, N.C., Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt attended the party, as did openly gay North Carolina state Rep. Marcus Brandon and Charlotte City Councilmember Patsy Kinsey, who represents one of the most diverse and gayest districts in the city. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, popular with LGBT voters, welcomed those in attendance to the city.
Unfortunately, yours truly had to work. I'm not exactly at the top of anyone's guest list, but the good news is that I have been in touch with Bil Browning, Editor-in-Chief of The Bilerico Project. We're trying to schedule some time to meet up later in the week. Bill has been a big supporter of this here blog thingy and has posted several of my articles over the years. It will be a real thrill to finally meet Bil and Jerame. Talk about your gay power couple! Naturally, I'll tell you all about it right here.

Viking Zombie Boyfriend, By Jeremy Rizza (9-3-12)

Finally, the return of my favorite web comic ever, Viking Zombie Boyfriend, the ongoing saga of Dill and Rorik, your average, every day, bearish gay couple. Except that Rorik is an undead 1,000-year-old Viking warrior.

Be sure to check out the VZB website for back issues and cool stuff.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

March to Repeal NC Amendment One in Charlotte on Labor Day

All eyes are on Charlotte this week as the Democratic National Convention kicks off in what both parties see as a battleground state. But there are a few other events taking place on Labor Day that might not be on the national radar.

CarolinaFest 2012, the Queen City's annual Labor Day celebration will be taking place in Uptown to honor the contributions of America's workers with an all day festival of parades, food, art and music, featuring James Taylor. Check out the link above for schedules and venues.

It is against this backdrop that Charlotte's LGBT community will be turning out to call for the repeal of the anti-gay Amendment One, which bigoted North Carolinians gleefully passed in May, cementing homophobia in the state constitution by not only banning marriage equality, but endangering benefits for LGBT workers and their families.

Look, you've probably got the day off anyway, so take some time to stand up for your rights and show the bigots who run this state that we will not stop until all Americans enjoy equal protection under the law.

From the event's FaceBook Page:
Ok everyone!!! As this is a flash march, I wanted to wait until we got closer to the day. We will be marching on Monday, September 3rd at 2:00pm!! Go to this link for more information about CarolinaFest:
We will be meeting at Independence park at 1:00pm at the reflecting pool closest to the intersection of Hawthorne and 7th Street and start working our way into downtown at 2:00pm.
Parking in Independence Park will be very difficult so it is suggested you park in the Family Dollar parking lot (1332 Central Avenue, Charlotte, NC) and walk to the park.
We will stay on one sidewalk/one side of the street. There will be no chanting, no yelling, no confrontation. If someone asks you what you're doing you tell them that you're marching against Amendment One. Beyond that, just don't respond. If you do start a confrontation with someone you will no longer be backed by the group and will be on your own. This means that we need to keep an eye on each other as well so that we can make sure that if a confrontation arises it was not started on our end. Once we are in downtown, we will disperse into the crowd. This is the safest way to make our statement clearly without risking arrest and/or violence.
Be sure to bring water with you and check on the weather to see about possible rain. You may need to bring an umbrella or poncho.
Before this date and time, take time to think about how you can be a visual representation of the harms of Amendment One. Remember, anyone who is not married is affected, including children and those who are victims of domestic violence. Make signs, shirts, wear black veils, paint your face/body. Anything that will make sure that no one even has to ask what we're doing because we'll say it with our mere presence. If you aren't feeling the creative vibe, wear red and white to symbolize human rights and peace.
Thank you to everyone that has shown support for this! I can't wait to see you all on Labor Day and share our collective voices for repeal of this ignorant and incredibly harmful amendment!!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blog Reboot! or How the Rev. Got His Groove Back.

Trying to look pensive,
not constipated.
Well, gays and gals, it's been a long, hard year since moving to Charlotte, NC with the hubby and the three fur babies. Hardly seems possible.

So, you're thinking, WTF?, Where have you been? Whats going on? Well, kids, I allowed myself to get so caught up in the daily BS of life in a new city, learning to live next to the in-laws, disappointing jobs and intermittent unemployment, that I lost my mojo. I'll flesh out the details at a later date.

A few months ago, I tried to make a fresh start by launching a new blog (Steve 2.0), but it just didn't have the same vibe as this here original blog thingy and I got bored with it.

So after much thought, consideration and several weeks of mood stabilizing medications, I'm back, just in time for the DNC Convention in Charlotte. Tens of thousands of people of all orientations and gender variations are descending on "The Queen City" as we speak, ready to rock the rednecks to the core of their bigoted little souls. Sounds like my kind of fun!

In addition to the various delegates, news crews and assorted protesting Teabaggers and Westboro Baptist inbreds, will be an assortment of the who's who of the LGBT Blogosphere and I hope to be able to meet some of them. Folks like Joe Jervis, Bil Browning and Jerame Davis, Pam SpauldingAlvin McEwen and so
many others have been such inspirations to me over the years, it would be such a thrill to meet some or all of them in my new home town.

Meanwhile, I intend to pick up where I left off with some of the same features I used to post, like New Wave Wednesday, web comics, the latest LGBT news and my own smart-ass take on all things queer and/or queer-adjacent. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Where the %#@! have I Been?

In my last post (2 freakin' months ago!) I quoted Socrates -- "The unexamined life is not worth living." That quote is so much more than just something clever to post when there's nothing else to say. They are words that I've tried to live by as I've stumbled my way through this life.

So many people live their lives in absolute certainty, never questioning their beliefs or what motives them to say and do the things that define them. To my way of thinking, those people are fools.

So what have I been up to for the last several weeks? For the most part, I've been involved in moving to North Carolina, looking for work, training for the job I got and getting the house settled. There have also been the humdrum details on finding my way around town, meeting people and getting used to living next door to my in-laws, who are a never-ending source of self-induced drama.

All of this has left me a little too preoccupied to feel the creative muse, but has given me the opportunity to think about the direction I want to take with my online endeavors. I think it's healthy to take a step back now and then and try to look at things from a different perspective. What I began to see was my place in what's been called the LGBT Echo Chamber. My intent in writing this blog has always been to offer my own opinion on newsworthy topics that are relevant to the fight for equality.

I often butt heads with my fellow queer bloggers by taking the opposite side of issues after digging a little more deeply into the subject at hand. I think it's become way too easy to simply go with the flow and repost what other people have written and add my own remarks just for the sake of filling the blank space. Just spend an afternoon watching the news flow on Facebook to see what I mean. With a few exceptions, they're all saying the same thing.

While I think that there are lots of talented bloggers out there whose work is worth sharing, I've begun to think that I've become overly dependent on the copy and paste mentality that has become the norm in the LGBT blogosphere. I found that my creativity has suffered as a result.

The fight for equality has evolved so quickly over the last few years. The idea of marriage equality has become mainstream. Even mainstream conservatives and church leaders have come to accept that. Yet so much of what I've read on some of my favorite blogs sounds so much the same.

So, I've decided that it's time for a fresh start. I'm suspending Rev. Steve's Cyber-Pulpit and am working on launching a new site that I hope will be a fresh look at the fight for equality with an emphasis on what's happening in local efforts across the US and around the world, which is where I believe real change is happening from the ground up. I like to think of it as Steve 2.0, which, come to think of it, is not a bad name for a blog. Hmmm.

Stay tuned for more.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Subscribe in a reader