Sunday, February 1, 2015

"A Few Thoughts To Ponder On A Sunday Afternoon..."


If Our Founding Fathers Were All Christians, Why Did They Say This?





Nobody can deny the fact that Christianity has played a huge role in our history. From the first Thanksgiving to the ideas of Jesus Christ that are embroidered in our culture today, Christianity and the Bible is responsible a big part of our heritage.

However, many conservatives will take this fact way out of context. They'll think that you have to be a Christian to be patriotic, which is simply not true. Following the more secular teachings of Jesus Christ (being charitable, loving one another, treating strangers with kindness) is what the men who founded this country were for.

I don't want to waste my time listing all these obscurant far-right arguments, so instead I'll list the facts straight from our forefathers.

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”

- George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia (1789)

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”

- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr (1787)

"In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind.”

- Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)

“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”

- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791)

“Congress has no power to make any religious establishments.”

- Roger Sherman, Congress (1789)

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."

- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack (1758)

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people build a wall of separation between Church & State."

- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Danbury Baptists (1802)

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead."

- Thomas Paine, The American Crisis No. V (1776)

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”

- Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779)

"Christian establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects."

- James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr. (1774)

"There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."

- George Washington, address to Congress (1790)

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

- James Madison, General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia (1785)


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"Fear Eats the Soul"



Saturday, January 31, 2015

"The Truth About The Source Of True Happiness..."


MICHAEL SAM TALKS ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA HATERS IN COCA-COLA SUPER BOWL WEEK SPOT: VIDEO

Andy Towle
January 30, 2015

In advance of the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola has released a new video spot in its #MakeItHappy campaign featuring NFL free agent Michael Sam. The ad features clips of Sam with his fiancé Vito Cammisano as he receives the ESPY Arthur Ashe award as well as images of the couple on social media together.


In the spot, Sam talks about the role social media plays in his life because he's in the spotlight, and the way he turns the hate messages and death wishes he sees every day into a positive thing.

Says Sam:
"One nasty email she pretty much told me that we don't belong - that we're evil. She is really the only hate message that I replied to. And what I said was, 'I am sorry that you feel that way, but even though you hate me so much I still love you, and I wish you have a great day.' She never replied back."

He adds:
"All the negativity that comes to me I channel to positivity. I have to prove the haters wrong. If I can use social media to make somebody understand and accept people I will do so. I'm not doing it for me. I'm doing it for them."

Watch the touching spot, below



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"Fear Eats the Soul"



"We Were Always There..."


"We were celebrating our first home together..."



"The Truth About Who We Are..."

photo by Kevin TruongJon and Lucas, Filmmaker and Graphic Designer, Buenos Aires, Argentina

by thegaymenproject
photos by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photos by Kevin Truong
Jon, in his own words:."Ser gay no significa nada mas que ser yo mismo, ser fiel a lo que siento sin importarme cuan solo me siento. Gracias a “Dios” o a las “Energias” no me senti solo nunca, familias y amigos me acompañan siempre.-
Tengo desafíos todo el tiempo, el pensar que nací para hacer algo y querer lograrlo es mi mayor desafío, quiero crear historias, hacer películas y que la gente las mire. Actualmente estoy en el proceso de mi primera película llamada EQUILÁTERO, donde pensé que nunca iba a encontrar gente que me apoye en el proyecto y acá estamos armandola sin ningún apoyo económico.
Exitos, mis cortos llamados ENLACES que co-dirigi con Lucas, mi novio sin ningun sustento económico, siempre me sorprenden, han estado en diferentes partes del mundo, como Chile, Ecuador, Colombia y Argentina por supuesto.
what's your coming out story?
A la primera persona que se lo conté fue a mi mejor amigo, a los meses de venirme a estudiar (soy de Pehuajó, Provincia de Buenos Aires, y allá ser gay es dificil) descubri que algo me pasaba, que los chicos me gustaban y se lo conté a él, con culpa, lo gracioso es que él me respondio “Tranqui, yo tambien soy gay”. Despues vino mi mamá que lloro por dias pero ahora es muy “friendly” y me encanta. Cuando me visita trata a Lucas como un hijo más.
Buenos Aires es a veces muy friendly, justamente leí en Facebook que en los proximos días hay una manifestacion en un local de pizas porque a una pareja de lesbianas les prohibieron besarse al ser un comercio “familiar”, ellas comentaron los que les paso y la comunidad gay está dispuesta a hacer una besada, ir a local y besarse todos para visibilizarnos, lo gracioso es que tambien en días es la marcha del orgullo acá.
what advice would you give to your younger self?
Que no tenga miedo de nada, que sea más fuerte y que haga lo que le gusta hacer sin ningún freno."
In English:
"Being gay does not mean anything but to be myself, to be true to what I feel no matter how lonely I feel. Thanks to "God" or "Energies" I do not feel alone anymore, families and friends are with me.
I was challenged all the time, thinking that I was born to do something and wanting to achieve this is my biggest challenge, wanting to create stories and make movies that people will watch. I am currently in the process of my first movie called EQUILATERAL, where I thought I was never going to find people who supported me in the project and here we are arming it without any financial support.
My shorts called LINKS which is co-headed by Lucas, my boyfriend, without any financial support, always surprises me, we have been in different parts of the world such as Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina of course.
The first person I (came out to) was my best friend, after months having been gone for study (I'm from Pehuajó, aa province of Buenos Aires, and there being gay is hard) he discovered something different with me, the guys that I liked and I told him, guilty, and the funny thing is that he told me "Calm down, I'm also gay". Then came my mom and with that she cried for days but now she is very "friendly" and loves it. When I visit she treats Lucas like a son.
Buenos Aires is sometimes very friendly, I just read on Facebook that in the coming days there will be a demonstration at a local pizza shop because a lesbian couple was banned from kissing so the business could be a "family" trade, they commented on what happened to them and gay community is willing kiss, go home and kiss everyone to create visibility, the funny thing is that also these days the pride march is here.
(Advice I'd give my younger self) Do not be afraid of anything, which is stronger and do what you want to do without restraint."
Lucas, in his own words: "Ser gay es entender una parte de tu vida. Es comprender y amarse a uno mismo por sobre todo.
Se lo dije a mis amigos cuando terminé el colegio, pero el momento crucial fue cuando tuve que decirle a mis padres… fue la noche de fin de año, después de mucho descubrimiento personal, luego de esa nostalgia de las fiestas, se lo confesé a mi padre y luego a mi madre. Lo entendieron y lo respetaron. Y es ahí cuando empezamos a tener una relación mucha mas estrecha y amorosa. Empezamos a entendernos y a educarnos juntos.
La comunidad LGBTQ es un mundo hermoso. Es divertido, aburrido, desesperante. Es como todo un mundo junto y revuelto. Hay de todo, hay personas maravillosas y hay personas detestables. De todas maneras creo que es imporante estar todos juntos, reforzar todo lo que hemos ganado, y seguir luchando por el respeto.
No tengas miedo."
In English:
"Being gay is to understand a part of your life. You understand and love yourself above all.
I told my friends when I finished school, but the turning point was when I had to tell my parents ... it was the last night of the year, after much personal discovery, after the nostalgia of the holidays, I confessed to my father and then my mother. They understood and respected it. And that's when we started to have a lot more closer and loving relationship. We began to understand and to educate together.
The LGBTQ community is a beautiful world. It's fun, boring, frustrating. It's like a whole world together and stirred. There is everything, there are wonderful people and there are obnoxious people. Anyway I think it is important to be together, reinforce all that we have gained, and continue to fight for respect.
(Advice I'd give my younger self) Do not be afraid."


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"Fear Eats the Soul"



"And The Truth Shall Set You Free..."

John Browne in 2010 | Reuters/Paul Hackett

Former BP CEO John Browne: Why Coming Out is Good Business

In an excerpt from his new book, a former oil executive explains why he kept his gay identity a secret for decades.



John Browne
September 24, 2014

At 5 p.m., on May 1, 2007, just a few hours after resigning as chief executive of BP, I stepped into the elevator on the 5th floor of the London headquarters and began my descent. When the doors opened I had two options. I could make my way to an underground parking garage without being noticed. Alternatively, I could simply walk through the lobby and out of the main entrance overlooking leafy St. James’s Square, where about 30 press photographers had spent the day waiting like vultures for their prey.

My overwhelming desire to conceal my sexual orientation over four decades in the oil industry had culminated in this terrible juncture. My long-kept secret was about to be exposed, and I was not going to hide any longer. I decided I would leave through the front door.

Protecting a Secret to Save a Career

In 1969 I accepted a job with BP. I wanted to go to the United States, and BP decided to send me to Alaska. It was not what I had in mind. But I accepted the offer and started my career in the frozen tundra, above the Arctic Circle, 650 miles north of Anchorage. I learned my trade as a petroleum engineer as part of a team that drilled exploration wells. I was the lowest of the low. Over time my responsibilities grew as I was promoted through various jobs in New York, San Francisco, London, and Calgary.

As my career progressed and my hours became longer, I channeled any personal frustration about my identity into my work. I saw absolutely no purpose being served by coming out. My career was going in the right direction and the line between my private and public lives was clear.

By 1981 I had been with BP for 12 years. I was 33 years old when I moved to Aberdeen, the Scottish city known for its granite buildings and extraordinarily rare beautiful summer days. I had been appointed manager of Forties Field, the largest oil field in the North Sea and one of BP’s most important production assets. Twice a month I spent my weekends on our massive offshore platforms. Staff jokingly referred to the dozen platform managers as the “college of cardinals” and to me as the “pope.”


One weekend evening when I was onshore I went into the only gay club in town. I had been to gay venues elsewhere, but this was my first time in Aberdeen. I was absolutely terrified, but I had calculated that the risk of seeing anyone from BP was slim to none. I met someone, and we went home together. We did not reveal much personal information about ourselves, but he was clearly an educated professional of some kind.

Two days later I was in the office and I saw him walking toward me in a corridor. In a split second I could feel my temperature rise and scanned the area to make sure no one else could see whatever reaction I was about to have. I had hundreds of people working for me at that point. How many of them would now
 joke that the pope had sinned?

As my career progressed and my hours became longer, I channeled any personal frustration about my identity into my work. I saw absolutely no purpose being served by coming out.
It was a fleeting moment of monumental internal crisis, but it passed without incident. As it turned out, the man I had met worked for another division of the company. It was obvious that he was in the same situation as I was. Later, on the rare occasions we spotted each other, we acted as complete strangers. It was naïve of me to think that I was the only one trying to keep a secret. Pursuing a long-term relationship never crossed my mind. The practical barriers were simply too high. The corporate ladder is slippery enough on its own. Why complicate your ascent by throwing oil on the rungs? By 1981, the AIDS epidemic was fueling homophobia across the world, bringing with it another reason to suppress any thoughts of a homosexual relationship.

My paranoia went up in 1995 after I became chief executive. When I was traveling abroad, I was often a government guest and there were security people around. After BP acquired Amoco in 1998, my profile grew in the United States, so I also had personal security there around the clock. Security personnel would stay in rooms adjacent to mine, and the moment the door opened they would be awakened. The closet door was now nailed shut.

My fear of being discovered arose from my belief that I could not do business as an openly gay person in a country that criminalized homosexuality. This was true in places as far apart as the Middle East, Angola, and Nigeria. I viewed being in the closet as a practical business decision.

From 1995 to 2005, I served as a trustee of the British Museum. The keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities unveiled a piece of silverwork depicting two male lovers. I wanted to sink into the ground. It was thought to have been made about 2,000 years ago, and was said to have been unearthed near Jerusalem. It was a truly enticing masterpiece with an extraordinary history. Yet I could not bring myself to speak in favor of the museum purchasing the object because of its homosexual imagery. I thought that praising the work would be tantamount to coming out of the closet.

In 2013, I was having lunch with the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom in his residence. My long-standing business acquaintance, Russia’s former energy minister Yuri Shafranik, was the guest of honor. The ambassador recounted in vivid detail how, in 1989, I had met Shafranik when I was leading BP’s exploration and production division. “We treated you very well at the time because our intelligence showed that you were going to be the next CEO of BP,” he said. “Our agents picked that up.” I wondered what else was in their files.

Others Had to Tread Carefully

For decades I believed that it would be socially unacceptable to come out. I worried that the negative stereotype of a gay person would overshadow the reality of who I am. I am sure that staying in the closet did prevent some people from forming unflattering opinions about me. However, I am no longer 
convinced that they matter.

By avoiding one stereotype I conformed to another: that of a gay man in the closet. I had a dominant mother and a high-powered job. I associated almost exclusively with straight people, and I worked more than I lived. Every moment of my day was scheduled, often months in advance. Observant people, and there are many at BP, would have seen me for what I was: a gay man too fearful to come out, a man who poured himself into work to escape personal frustration and loneliness. In retrospect, I know that the people who do matter to me did not care whether I was gay. But they felt for me for carrying such a heavy burden, even if they did not always know precisely what it was.


During a recent business trip to San Francisco, I spoke with Gini Savage, a long-standing friend who sensed my inner turmoil decades ago. “You were an incredibly reserved person,” she remembers. “No one knew where they could put a foot down with you because you were very private.” She and others had to tread carefully. We danced around the subject of my sexual orientation without ever confronting it. It was tiring, and not just for me.

As chief executive of BP there was so much to do. But you can only divert the tension and anxiety for so long. Toward the end of my 
tenure I felt those negative feelings turning back on me. Had I stayed in the closet I think I would have remained an incomplete and unfulfilled person. Since coming out, my friendships, both old and new, have flourished. And so has the relationship with my partner who I respect and admire.


Coming out does not mean your life will be peace and serenity. You will still encounter people who make you uncomfortable. You will still have to make difficult decisions. However, as I have learned since coming out, you will be better able to 
cope with all of them.

Are Workplaces Becoming More LGBT Friendly?

More than 90% of Fortune 500 companies have policies that are designed to prevent discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation. In spite of the progress, it is estimated that 41% of LGBT employees in the United States remain in the closet at work, as do 34% of their counterparts in the United Kingdom.

These closeted employees certainly lack role models: At the end of 2013, there was no openly gay CEO in the Fortune 500. I do not think that is due to a dearth of talent among gay executives. Rather, the lack of representation in the upper echelons of business seems to stem from the issue of self-selection and inclusion. Anxiety still grips LGBT employees from the factory floor all the way to the chief executive’s office.

The paranoia is present even among employees who work at firms known for embracing LGBT inclusion.

At one of them, every year, employees must submit a list of people who are able to assess their performance. At the same time, managers seek unsolicited comments from employees who are not named on the list, which is common practice at large banks. The results of these reviews determine how much employees are paid, whether they will be promoted, and essentially their long-term viability in the firm.

“While you think there is a 99% chance coming out will be fine, the consequences of that 1% are terrifying,” says George, an investment banker for the firm.

Among headhunters, there is debate about whether the situation is actually improving. Anna Mann, a headhunter of choice for board appointments to many FTSE 100 companies, says that sexual orientation is not a consideration during the selection process. “I have never come across any form of prejudice against gay people at board level,” she says. However, another distinguished headhunter, who wishes to remain anonymous, sees plenty of scope for prejudice. “The point of recruiting people to boards is people want kindred spirits,” she says. “That may well exclude people who are not identical to people who are recruiting them.”

This is not proof of discrimination; the reality is much more complex. Corporate boards are the product of established social and professional networks, and are tasked with the stewardship of a company. It is therefore unsurprising that they tend to be conservative and risk averse, and that they have behaved in ways that reinforce the division between insiders and outsiders.

For example, I have seen male directors attempt to close deals or argue a point while standing at a urinal, thereby excluding female members of the board. I believe that for executives making high-level decisions, homosexuality might raise a conscious and unconscious red flag, since someone who does not fit the board’s mold brings with them risk and uncertainty. This may explain why, at the end of 2013, there were no openly gay executives among FTSE 100 corporations. (Since then, one board has appointed an openly gay chief executive. Christopher Bailey took up the position at Burberry in May 2014.) If we were to assume that 5% of the population is gay, there should be five gay chief executives among FTSE 100 companies, and some 25 in the Fortune 500.

The Business Argument for Diversity

In 2008, the Campbell Soup Company hoped to target the LGBT population by placing an advertisement in The Advocate, the highest circulation gay magazine in the United States. First printed in December of that year, the advertisement featured a lesbian couple and their son preparing dinner with Swanson Chicken Broth, one of Campbell’s products. The right-wing American Family Association, an organization that promotes fundamentalist Christian 
values, objected strongly. The group contacted its list of more than three million email subscribers to ask them to write to Campbell’s CEO to express their outrage. “Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda,” the message read.


Douglas Conant, the company’s CEO at the time, sought the view of Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale, his chief diversity officer. She recalls giving him two pieces of advice. “The first,” she remembers, was “‘know that this too shall pass. It’s a two- to four-week issue, and at the end of that they will go on to annoy someone else. Ride it out.”

Her second point emphasized the business case for placing the advertisement in the first place. “We advertise in The Advocate because we sell soup to gay people, and we want LGBT people to buy soup and crackers and all of our other products. Explain to them that we advertise in Hispanic and Latino publications, in African American publications, and in women’s publications. It’s
 about advertising in publications where our consumers are.” The company stood by its action, thousands of consumers wrote in to thank them, and the protest eventually stopped.


A marketing strategy aimed at a diverse population is essential for any business: In order to grow it needs to reach as many new consumers as it can. The LGBT population, traditionally under-served by marketers, presents a meaningful and often sizeable opportunity. Discretionary spending by gay men and lesbians is growing. The overall buying power of the LGBT market in the United States is estimated to have reached roughly $830 billion in 2013, up from $743 billion 
in 2010. In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that the gay market is worth at least $90.4 billion (£70 
billion). Allan Gilmour, the former chief financial officer at Ford Motor Company, has famously described his company’s marketing push to gay people in these terms: “I know a lot of lesbians and gay men buy automobiles. I just want my unfair share.”

Buying a billboard and plastering it with images of apparently gay men will not make a lasting impact. The gay consumer is increasingly wary of gimmicks, and instead seeks a sustained, sincere commitment to LGBT issues. That is one reason why the Human Rights Campaign launched its popular “Buying for Workplace Equality Guide” in 2006, which scores companies on, among other issues, its policies toward LGBT employees. “We get letters all the time from people letting us know how they use the Buyer’s Guide to make their own purchasing decisions,” says Deena Fidas, the director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Workplace Equality Program.


However, positive stories and encouraging examples are not enough. All those concerned with change must emphasize the business case for diversity. Relating LGBT diversity and inclusion to economic gain is ultimately the biggest driver of change.

Excerpted from The Glass Closet by John Browne, published by HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. John Browne, knighted in 1998, was a Sloan Fellow at Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1981 and CEO of BP from 1995 - 2007. Currently, he is a managing partner and managing director at Riverstone Holdings LLC.



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The fears that John Browne faced in his journey to truth were real, but like 
all of us, he discovered that truth is freedom...


"Fear Eats the Soul"



"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1916"


"Love And Comfort Are The Same..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.



"A Little Sane Advice..."


Gay Relationships: Yes, Committed Relationships Are Possible!

from Gaytwogether

I heard from a friend recently who told me about a recent conversation with a young friend over dinner. Seems the young guy had recently split with a boyfriend after finding out that his man had been sleeping around. The conversation turned to gay men and sex. Why is it so hard to find a gay man who is interested in monogamy?

Why is it so hard to find intimacy and sexual connection in the same person? My friend told me he was stumped and found the questions a bit haunting. What is it about gay men and sex? Are all gay men promiscuous? We may wince at the word “promiscuity,” but research and personal experience both indicate that gay men have more sexual partners than heterosexual men. It’s reasonable to question why that might be, and to think about the costs and benefits of our sexual choices.

Sex is important to gay men.  In addition to the obvious reason – sex is highly pleasurable – until recently sex between men was illegal, disapproved of and marginalized in most parts of our country; and the gay male culture tends to be both sexy and sexualized. Ellen DeGeneres tells a joke about looking in the gay yellow pages when she first came out and remarking, “Wow! Look at the abs on that mortician!”

Gay men have always had long-term, committed and monogamous relationships, of course. That’s quite an accomplishment when you consider all the obstacles placed in the way of such relationships’ success: lack of legal recognition, frequent lack of family support, etc. But gay men don’t always assume that sexuality can only be healthy in the context of a committed relationship. (Contrast this with the situation of heterosexuals, where sex is supposed to be only within marriage, yet sex outside of marriage isn’t at all uncommon.)

Pleasure makes the sexual urge very strong, but that doesn’t mean our reasons for having sex aren’t complex. Sex can be lovemaking – celebrating the passion and connection with a partner we love. But there are all sorts of other reasons why people choose to have sex: maybe they’re horny or lonely. Maybe they’re drunk or just bored. And some men have learned to use sex as a way to escape from stress.

Sex can be a deep expression of intimacy, but pursuing many sexual partners can reflect just the opposite – a fear of real intimacy. Casual sex can allow us to scratch our itch to physically connect with another person without requiring us to do the hard work involved in having a healthy relationship. Over time that can decrease our ability to have those sorts of committed, fulfilling relationships.

Does the gay community encourage gay men to have a large number of sex partners, particularly outside of relationships? The sexual infrastructure of our community includes cruisy bars, circuit parties, bathhouses, sex clubs and Internet hook-up sites with names like Manhunt or Cruisingforsex. Sex is instantly available to anyone with a car or Internet connection. It’s not that recreational sex is a bad thing, but sex can become compulsive and unhealthy if it becomes the source of our identity or if it becomes compulsive. When we become preoccupied with sexuality or anything else, life loses its balance.

Back to my friend’s dinner conversation. Is it difficult to find gay men who are ready for committed relationships?  I don’t think so. Our community presents lots of alternatives, though, and guys who spend a lot of time in the hypersexual parts of the gay community aren’t good candidates for monogamous life.

Chalk up another reason why it’s good to take plenty of time to get to know the person you’re dating before you imagine giving your heart to him.

John R. Ballew, M.S.an author and contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality. If you have any questions or comments you can submit them directly to GAYTWOGETHER or John R. Ballew, M.S. - www.bodymindsoul.org.


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"Fear Eats the Soul"



"The Artist's Corner..."


"Selfie"
Oil on canvas
Joseph Kaminski



Friday, January 30, 2015

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"


"Love Is Life's Only Reason... Live Fearlessly"




"The Imitation Of Life..."





"Fear Eats the Soul"



"And The Truth Shall Set You Free..."


Christian Musician Comes Out as Gay and HIV-Positive Folk Singer

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Byron Rice is both reinvented and still the same sentimental musician his fans fell in love with.



Diane Anderson-Minshall
January 26, 2015


For nearly a decade, Byron Keith was a star in the contemporary Christian music scene — during the industry’s heyday in Nashville — with tens of thousands of fans in the U.S. and abroad. He toured the world, released eight albums, got married, had children, and then came a public divorce and outing as a gay man. He disappeared in 2005, but to the excitement of his die-hard fans, he reappeared in 2012 with new music — this time in the Americana folk fusion genre — and a new moniker, Byron Rice. We chat with Rice about his life, his new album (out early this year), and being a poz performer.

Tell me about going on hiatus.

My wife and I had been working through the process of [divorce] and my obligations as a Christian country artist. Unfortunately, my accountability pastor decided to spread the word, and so it was a hard last year between us. So, between being told I wasn’t a man of God anymore, and that I wasn’t welcome at a lot of churches because I’d gotten divorced — they didn’t even know I was also dealing with the fact that I was gay, and we were trying to deal with that issue as well — it was definitely a hard time. I just basically didn’t have anything relevant to say anymore, because I’d been beaten down by so many people.

That must have been tough for your wife as well.

Yeah. We spent two years really going through the process of making sure that was what we wanted. We have two daughters, so we wanted to make sure that they were of the appropriate age too, for us to separate — so that they could understand what was going on. She and I are good friends, so that helps the process a lot.

You acted while on hiatus, but, ironically, when you did the musical Rent, which is about HIV and AIDS, a costar found out you were HIV-positive and had some objections to touching you.

Correct. That kind of put me back in a spiral. I felt basically, right back in the same place I was when I left the Christian music industry. I felt I didn’t have a place to fit now in the acting community. Through that, I kind of started to write a lot more. And then I met my best friend, good friend, Kevin Garrett, who also is my manager. He had a studio and wanted to start putting an album together. I had already written a few songs, so we started putting some songs together and it wound up becoming an album.

You’ve been working through Kevin’s label and now you’re signing with a major label, Warner Nashville, to re-release Lost in the Woods. Does the title allude to how you felt?

For me, Lost in the Woods is about [when] I had to go and find my space, my spiritual space, and my own personal space. My friend had invited me out to an event in the woods here in Tennessee with a group of very loving hippies. And through that experience and sharing music and all of that, it was the beginning steps of me starting to come back to realizing that I had a lot more to say. That I was relevant and that I did have something that was about my life experience that would help other people.


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Good Luck Bryan


"Fear Eats the Soul"



"The Views To Love..."


This is love...



"The Truth About Religious Liberty..."


Ypsilanti Man Says Comment Stating His Anti-Homosexual Beliefs Led To His Firing From Ford

Matt Durr
January 29, 2015

An Ypsilanti man has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Ford Motor Company alleging he was fired for making comments regarding his religious beliefs about homosexuality.

The complaint was filed Wednesday on Thomas Banks' behalf by the Liberty Institute, a Texas-based Christian legal advocacy organization.

Banks alleges that in July 2014 he received an online newsletter from Ford sharing the company's support to promote pro-homosexual ideas and Ford GLOBE, an employee resource group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered employees.

GLOBE has been in existence for 20 years and, according to its website, has a mission to "foster an inclusive and supportive atmosphere within Ford for GLBT persons."

After receiving the email, Banks submitted a comment in the feedback section of the newsletter.

"For this Ford Motor should be thoroughly ashamed. Endorsing and promoting sodomy is of benefit to no one. This topic is disruptive to the workplace and is an assault on Christians and morality, as well as antithetical to our design and our survival," Banks wrote in the comment. "Immoral sexual conduct should not be a topic for an automotive manufacturer to endorse or promote.

"And yes this is historic but not in a good way. Never in the history of mankind has a culture survived that promotes sodomy. Heterosexual behavior creates life - homosexual behavior leads to death."

Banks says he was contacted by a Ford human resources representative and was called to a meeting a few days later informing him he violated the company's anti-harassment policy.

Later that same day, Banks says he was fired despite having a clean personnel record.

"I was stunned to realize that I was fired over expressing my faith in a single comment. It felt like Ford was saying, 'even if you are respectful, your faith, and you as a Christian, are unwelcome at Ford,' " Banks said in a press release.

He had been a contract employee of the company as a product engineer since 2011, according to the EEOC intake questionnaire. Banks was not available Wednesday to comment further on the complaint, according to the Liberty Institute.

"We are shocked that Ford Motor Company would terminate one of their employees simply because he expressed his faith," said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute director of litigation. "If Ford is allowed to get away with firing Mr. Banks over this comment, we fear that every person of faith will be punished for talking about his or her faith in the workplace. At Ford, if you speak about your faith as it relates to the company, even to the company, you may be terminated."

Ford did not return calls from The Ann Arbor News seeking comment on the complaint. Rapid Global Business Solutions Inc. - a Troy-based engineering design and staffing service company - was also named in the complaint.

Both companies released statements to WXYZ Detroit Wednesday evening.


RGBSI also terminated Banks following the incident, citing a harassment violation in the company's handbook, however Banks alleges the handbook does not have a clear policy regarding harassment.

In his complaint, Banks indicated he was working for Ford as a product engineer at 20000 Rotunda Dr. Building 2 in Dearborn.

The EEOC is a federal law enforcement agency that enforces laws on discrimination against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

"This is not just a case of Ford discriminating against people of faith. They broke multiple federal laws, from the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and they must be held accountable," Sasser said.


*********


Now I'm going to quickly call bulls*it on this guy's claim that Ford is discriminating against his religious freedoms.  Ford didn't tell him... you can't be a 'christian,' you can't go to the church of your choosing, you can't personally dislike who you want... but the message was clear that at Ford, the company values diversity and accepts people for who they are. And in doing that, Ford has decided they won't condone or tolerate language that borders on hate speech and that flies in the face of the company's own values, especially on their own platform.  

I hope Ford fights this to the bitter end... there has got to be a stand taken against these "christ-o-fascist" who think their rights to freedom of religion trump everyone else's right to exist and live in peace and harmony.

As a descendant of American slaves, I can easily give you a standard to judge this case by... Thomas Banks says his opinions come from the bible, would he consider his firing an unjust infringement of his religious rights if he'd claimed blacks should live in slavery? Afterall, the bible specifically condones and approves of slavery and a litany of other repugnant practices and beliefs founded in ignorance and superstition.



"Fear Eats the Soul"



"The GIFt of Love..."





"Ain't love grand...!"



"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1915"


"The Look Of Love..."

Positive images of people like me... The truth of the matter is that we all need to see people like ourselves. So everyday, I'll post a photo, drawing or some other artwork that depicts Same Gender Loving People as what we are... Only Human.



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"Kiss No. 7"
Oil on canvas
Joseph Kaminski



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