Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The Things That Love Says..."

A Lover's Moon

The day was done, the sun had set
As the night slowly crept upon us
The sky darkened to a deep velvet blue
Slowly the stars burst forth to sparkle

Now the mother of the night we saw
As she climbed slowly in the sky
Casting her pale and enchanting beams
Upon all lovers walking beneath her

Those strolling below may know it not
But the moon happily aids all lovers
She listens to their intimate whispers
Then smiles at their evident pleasure

Couples strolling in the moonlight
Speak of love as they plan the future
No longer are they just two
For the moon has turned them into lovers


"Lover's moon is high on the sky, 143"

Stephen Christopher Harris, July 21, 2008 4:38 AM

"In The News Today..."

Malawi Court Orders 'Newly-wed' Gays to Stay in Jail

Wed Dec 30, 2009

BLANTYRE (AFP) – A Malawian court Wednesday ordered a gay couple arrested at the weekend for holding the country's first same-sex public wedding ceremony to stay in jail for a further police probe.

"I want the two to remain in custody for police to make thorough investigations," police prosecutor Dickens Mwambazi told the court.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, the first Malawian gays to publicly wed in a symbolic ceremony on Saturday appeared before a magistrate in a packed courtroom in the commercial capital Blantyre.

The couple is facing three counts bordering on "indecent practices" and they both pleaded not guilty.

Mawiya Msuku, one of the two lawyers who represent the couple, argued that there was no justification for police to continue holding them in custody.

"On humanitarian grounds we ask the court to give the two persons bail," he said.

However the magistrate ordered that the two remain in custody to allow police conclude investigations into a five-month love affair that has shocked the conservative nation where homosexuality is banned.

Sex topics are still largely taboo in the southern African country.

The two arrived handcuffed at the court amid heavy police security as an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 500 people, with some waving branches, jostled with police and scores of journalists and photographers to enter the tiny courtroom in the centre of town.

Chimbalanga appeared relaxed and calm, waving to the crowd. Monjeza appeared dejected and his face crestfallen.

A commotion continued as the couple was led out of the court by six police officers to waiting vehicles.

Some, who appeared to be supporters of the couple, waved tree branches and chanted "Woyera! woyera!"--meaning "white wedding", "white wedding." The hearing will continue on January 4, the magistrate said.

If convicted, the couple face up to a maximum of 14 years in jail as Malawi's penal code outlaws homosexuality and sodomy.

The government does however recognise the existence of gays in Malawi and often calls on them to come out in order to help in the fight against the AIDS pandemic.
"A lifed in fear is a life half-lived..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 207"

"Love Is Never Afraid"

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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"A Truth Shared..."

In today's encore excerpt - three kinds of love; attachment love, caregiver's love, and sex:

"In the terrain of the human heart, scientists tell us, at least three independent but interrelated brain systems are at play, all moving us in their own way. To untangle love's mysteries, neuroscience distinguishes between neural networks for attachment, for caregiving, and for sex. Each is fueled by a differing set of brain chemicals and hormones, and each runs through a disparate neuronal circuit. Each adds its own chemical spice to the many varieties of love.

"Attachment determines who we turn to for succor; these are the people we miss the most when they are absent. Caregiving gives us the urge to nurture the people for whom we feel most concern. When we are attached, we cling; when we are caregiving we provide. And sex is, well, sex. ...

"The forces of affection that bind us to each other preceded the rise of the rational brain. Love's reasons have always been subcortical, though love's execution may require careful plotting. ... The three major systems for loving - attachment, caregiving, and sexuality - all follow their own complex rules. At a given moment any one of these three can be ascendant - say, as a couple feels a warm togetherness, or when they cuddle their own baby, or while they make love. When all three of these love systems are operating, they feed romance at its richest: a relaxed, affectionate, and sensual connection where rapport blossoms. ...

"Neuroscientist Jaak Pansepp ... finds a neural corollary between the dynamics of opiate addiction and the dependence on the people for whom we feel our strongest attachments. All positive interactions with people, he proposes, owe [at least] part of their pleasure to the opioid system, the very circuitry that links with heroin and other addictive substances. ... Even animals, he finds, prefer to spend time with those in whose presence they have secreted oxytocin and natural opioids, which induce a relaxed serenity - suggesting that these brain chemicals cement our family ties and friendships as well as our love relationships."

Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence, Bantam, Copyright 2006 by Daniel Goleman, pp. 189-193.

"In The News Today..."

Malawi Men Risk Arrest to Become First Homosexual Couple to Wed

Two Malawian men became the first gay couple to publicly tie the knot, the Nation newspaper reported on Monday, risking arrest in the conservative southern African state where homosexuality is illegal.

28 Dec 2009

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were married in a traditional ceremony in southern Malawi on Saturday, attracting hundreds of curious onlookers.

"We met at church where we both pray and we have been together for the last five months ... I have never been interested in a woman," Mr Monjeza told The Nation newspaper.

"I have just read about it (the marriage) in the press and the law in Malawi does not allow such practice and therefore the law will have to take its course," Jane Ansah, Malawi's attorney general, told Reuters.

Three years ago, the Anglican Church sent pro-homosexual rights Bishop Nick Henderson to head a diocese in rural Malawi. The congregation did not accept him and protests led to the death of a church member.

But the fight against HIV and Aids is slowly changing the official position against homosexuals and the government made its first public comment on homosexuality in September, when it said gay rights needed to be recognised to help fight Aids.

The Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), a local organisation working with homosexuals, estimates that 25 per cent of the country's gay men are HIV positive. Malawi's health ministry says the overall rate of HIV infection is 12 per cent.

Aids has killed more than 800,000 people in Malawi since the first case was reported in 1985 and left more than a million orphans.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 206"

"With This Ring, I Thee Wed..."

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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"In The News Today..."

Senate Confirms First Openly Gay U.S. Marshal

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis assistant police Chief Sharon Lubinski has become the first openly gay U.S. marshal.

The U.S. Senate confirmed the Green Bay, Wis. native to be the U.S. marshal for the Minnesota district. Last week's confirmation also makes her the first female marshal in the state.

Lubinski has served a number of roles with the Minneapolis Police. She was also a sheriff's deputy in Wisconsin.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar recommended Lubinski to President Barack Obama, who formally nominated her to the marshal post in October.

The Democratic senator said Monday that Lubinski's breadth of experience makes her a highly qualified candidate.

U.S. marshals oversee federal courthouse security, witness protection and the apprehension of federal fugitives.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 205"

"United by 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.

"In The News Today..."

Argentina Officiates First Gay Marriage in Latin America
Mon Dec 28, 2009

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Two men Tuesday became the first homosexual couple to legally marry in Latin America, after the governor of Ushuaia, Argentina's southernmost province, granted their request, the couple and a witness said.

"We got married today in Ushuaia," an exultant Alex Freyre told the Todos Noticias news channel in Buenos Aires by telephone.

"This is a historic occasion," said national anti-discrimination institute president Claudio Morgano, who witnessed the civil marriage.

Freyre, 39, and Jose Maria Di Bello, 41, were legally married Tuesday after Governor Fabiana Rios overruled a civil registrar who initially refused to wed the couple.

"We knew the governor was a person who sympathized with this cause," said Di Bello. "It's a step forward toward judicial equality for every man and woman" in Argentina.

Freyre and Di Bello first tried to get married earlier this month after a November 18 court ruling that ordered civil officials in Buenos Aires to recognize their union.

A ceremony had been planned for December 2, but on the eve of the wedding a second judge put the ceremony on hold pending the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal.

The couple said they decided to marry in Ushuaia, where they travelled recently to work for the anti-discrimination institute.

No Latin American country currently recognizes gay marriage but Buenos Aires, known for its active if low-key gay movement, became Latin America's first city to approve civil unions in 2002. The city grants gay couples some, but not all rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

The president of a leading national gay rights group, Maria Rachid, recently said she hoped Argentina's legislature would take up a measure in 2010 that would change the civil code -- which currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman -- to being the union of two consenting adults.

"There is sufficient consensus to pass the law at the beginning of the coming year," she said.


"A life lived in fear is a life half-lived"

Monday, December 28, 2009

"A Truth Shared..."

In today's encore excerpt - the neural and chemical basis of love. Why doesn't passionate love last? - because we develop a chemical tolerance:

"Anthropologist Helen Fisher ... has devoted much of her career to studying the biochemical pathways of love in all its manifestations: lust, romance, attachment, the way they wax and wane ... [In her studies] when each subject looked at his or her loved one, the parts of the brain linked to reward and pleasure - the ventral tegmental area and the caudate nucleus - lit up. ... Love lights up the caudate nucleus because it is home to a dense spread of receptors for a neurotransmitter called dopamine ... which creates intense energy, exhiliration, focused attention ... [thus] love makes you bold, makes you bright, makes you run real risks, which you sometimes survive, and sometimes you don't. ...

"Researchers have long hypothesized that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have a serotonin 'imbalance.' Drugs like Prozac seem to alleviate OCD by increasing the amount of this neurotransmitter available at the juncture between neurons. [Researchers] compared the lover's serotonin levels with those from the OCD group and another group who were free from both passion and mental illness. Levels of serotonin in both the obsessives' blood and the lovers' blood were 40 percent lower than those in normal subjects. ... Translation: Love and mental illness may be difficult to tell apart. ...

"Why doesn't passionate love last? ... Biologically speaking, the reasons romantic love fades may be found in the way our brains respond to the surge and pulse of dopamine ... cocaine users describe the phenomenon of tolerance: the brain adapts to the excessive input of the drug ... From a physiological point of view, [couples move] from the dopamine-drenched state of romantic love to the relative quiet of the oxytocin-induced attachment. Oxytocin is a hormone that promotes a feeling of connection, bonding."

Lauren Slater, "Love: The Chemical Reaction," National Geographic, February 2006, pp. 35-45

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 204"

"Our Engagement Dinner..."

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.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"It Can Be Like This..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 203"

"Life is for 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.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

"The Poet's Corner"

Oil on Canvas
Steve Walker

"The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 202"

"The Uncertainty 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.

"It's A New Day..."

"A life lived in fear is a life half-lived..."

Friday, December 25, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 201"

"Happy at Christmas..."

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.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"In The News Today..."

'Don't ask, Don't tell' -- Don't Call Home?

By Ed Hornick, CNN

Washington -- There's a constant fear that hangs over some service members deployed to a war zone -- and it's not necessarily the threat from insurgents or roadside bombs.

One Marine serving in Afghanistan said suppressing the truth about his sexual orientation is gut-wrenching.

"I do worry a lot about being outed and kicked out," he said in an e-mail to CNN. "So far the military has been my livelihood and my source of work/income for the past six years. I don't want that all taken away from me and me being discharged anything but honorably."

The Marine requested anonymity because of the military's 1993 congressionally mandated "don't ask, don't tell" law prohibiting gay, lesbian and bisexual service members from coming out.

Being homosexual in the military was grounds for discharge before "don't ask, don't tell." The argument against gays in the military was that they would cause a breakdown of unit cohesion and morale.

Others argue that those concerns are unfounded, pointing to other U.S. allies such as Great Britain and Israel which have openly gay and lesbian members serving in the military.

"[I'm concerned] all the time, especially on the phone," the Marine said. "If I call with him, it's brief and just yes/no answers. When I am on Facebook, I'll view my gay friends' pages but most of them are supporters and have a lot of don't ask, don't tell headlines so I quickly scroll or minimize the page in case anyone next to me happens to peep."

Even in his e-mail correspondence to CNN, the Marine said that he was using an extra small font in case someone peeking over his shoulder could see the words on the screen.

And for other gay and lesbian service members, the burden of trying to communicate with a partner back home-- and also having to lie to their fellow troops about their sexuality -- weighs heavily on their psyche.

"I always joke around with people, but it's true: When you're in the military and you're gay -- deployed or not deployed -- it's like you're basically living a double life," said another Marine, who also requested anonymity. "When you're overseas, that double life really comes out."

The Marine, who has a partner, is back in the United States and on active duty.

Part of the double life can especially be seen in phone calls and e-mails.

Alex Nicholson, executive director for the nonprofit organization Servicemembers United said every day is a challenge for troops simply trying to keep in touch with their partners.

"It becomes a fact of life for gay and lesbian troops, especially on deployment. There are a whole set of concerns surrounding keeping your private life private when you're home. But those sort of exponentially increase when you're on deployment," said Nicholson, a former Army human intelligence collector who was honorably discharged in 2002 under don't ask, don't tell.

Nicholson added that the pressure of hiding a same-sex relationship while concentrating on a mission "becomes a nightmare for a lot of them."

The Marine back home said that while deployed, he would use initials or a nickname like "Cookie."

It's a similar story for Army National Guard Lt. Dan Choi, a 2003 West Point graduate and an Arab linguist who was recommended for discharge earlier this year after he came out publicly. Yet Lt. Choi remains active in the Guard while his case is under review.

"For me, I had to say 'my girlfriend' (when asked by fellow soldiers about his love life). That's what I was doing during the time I was on active duty," said Choi, who spent 15 months in Iraq.

"I wanted to tell my best friends about it and get advice from them. I referred to Matthew [his partner] as 'Martha' and I told all the right details ... so they were imagining a vivid picture but they could never see an actual picture of her or meet her."

The U.S. military's policy is that correspondence such as e-mails and phone calls are all subject to being monitored.

Army Maj. Dennis Swanson, a CENTCOM spokesman, said troops -- even before being deployed -- understand that anything could be monitored because of operational security fears.

"They are given a security briefing (before being deployed)," Swanson said. "So they can pretty much say what they want on certain things. We don't censor what they say, but they know that they can't say certain things that will give away troop numbers, locations."

Swanson said that the military doesn't necessarily monitor social networking sites, but does at times monitor calls and e-mails.

And the service members in the war zone are warned.

"When you turn the computer on it tells you 'hey, you are on a government computer and you're liable to be monitored at any given time,' he said.

But a large part of the fear for service members doesn't just come from being found out electronically or on a call, but from someone trying to get back at them.

Aaron Tax, legal director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said many of his clients have been outed by anonymous e-mails sent to higher-ups simply out of vengeance.

"That's primarily how we see don't ask, don't tell being used. Someone's angry at someone else and they have this information and they use it to out the service member," he said.

Since 1994, more than 13,000 gay and lesbian military men and women have been discharged under the don't ask, don't tell law, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's says on its Web site.

According to military statistics, between 1997 and 2008, more than 10,500 service members have been discharged because of the policy.

The nonpartisan Urban Institute in a 2004 report estimated there were nearly 65,000 gays and lesbians in the military, about 2.8 percent of those serving. The organization based its findings on the 2000 Census.

Choi recently received an e-mail from a lesbian service member who was targeted by an anonymous person.

"[She was told] that somebody looked through her computer and put the evidence together and slipped it under the superior's door," Choi said. "She became paranoid after that and she contacted me through a made-up Facebook account."

Civilian partners of those in Iraq and Afghanistan face some unique challenges, too.

"It's definitely one of the most difficult things I've ever been through. There really is no support. You feel all alone," said Brad, a partner of a service member who asked that his full name not be used because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Brad contributes to Servicemembers United's "Soldier's Husband" blog, which details what civilian partners face, including not being notified if a partner is killed in action.

"No news for a straight couple is good news because if something happens you'll be notified," he said. "For a gay couple, no news means nothing at all because if something were to happen, you're not on anyone's list to contact."

For his part, Servicemembers United's Nicholson has spearheaded a new initiative geared toward civilian partners and the struggles they face.

The organization's campaign reaches out to civilian partners and connects them with others in the same situation.

In addition to its "Soldier's Husband" blog, Nicholson's organization has begun to set up a Military Partners Advisory Group to help partners -- and the GLB military community -- "do a better job of including and incorporating civilian military partners, especially when their active duty counterparts are deployed," according to SU's Web site.

"I didn't realize when I set up this initiative to help the civilian partners of gay and lesbian troops that there was going to be such a need for it," he said. "But since the word has been filtering out about this, we've gotten a number of partners involved in helping develop it and lead it."


"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 200"

"Love at Christmas..."

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 Story to Share..."

In today's encore excerpt - at the end of the 19th century, Charles Dickens' short novel, A Christmas Carol, had readership second only to the Bible's:

"If only Ebenezer Scrooge had not, in the excitement of his transformation from miser to humanitarian, diverged from the traditional Christmas goose to surprise Bob Cratchit with a turkey 'twice the size of Tiny Tim.' But alas - he did, and as A Christmas Carol approaches its 165th birthday, a Google search answers the plaint 'leftover turkey' with more than 300,000 promises of recipes to dispatch it. As for England's goose-raising industry, it tanked. ...

"The public's extraordinary and lasting embrace of Dickens's short novel is but one evidence of the 19th century's changing attitude toward Christmas. In 1819, Washington Irving's immensely popular 'Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent' had 'glorified' the 'social rites' of the season. Clement Moore's 1823 poem 'The Night Before Christmas' introduced a fat and jolly St. Nick whose obvious attractions eclipsed what had been a 'foreboding figure of judgment' as likely to distribute canings as gifts. Queen Victoria and her Bavarian husband, Albert, 'great boosters of the season,' had installed a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle each year since 1840, encouraging a fad that spread overseas to America by 1848. ...

"What is true is that Christmas, more than any other holiday, offered a means for the adult Dickens to redeem the despair and terrors of his childhood. In 1824, after a series of financial embarrassments drove his family to exchange what he remembered as a pleasant country existence for a 'mean, small tenement' in London, the 12-year-old Dickens, his schooling interrupted - ended, for all he knew - was sent to work 10-hour days at a shoe blacking factory in a quixotic attempt to remedy his family's insolvency. Not even a week later, his father was incarcerated in the infamous Marshalsea prison for a failure to pay a small debt to a baker. At this, Dickens's 'grief and humiliation' overwhelmed him so thoroughly that it retained the power to overshadow his adult accomplishments, calling him to 'wander desolately back' to the scene of his mortification. And because Dickens's tribulations were not particular to him but emblematic of the Industrial Revolution - armies of neglected, unschooled children forced into labor - the concerns that inform his fiction were shared by millions of potential readers. ...

"Replacing the slippery Holy Ghost with anthropomorphized spirits, the infant Christ with a crippled child whose salvation waits on man's - not God's - generosity, Dickens laid claim to a religious festival, handing it over to the gathering forces of secular humanism. If a single night's crash course in man's power to redress his mistakes and redeem his future without appealing to an invisible and silent deity could rehabilitate even so apparently lost a cause as Ebenezer Scrooge, imagine what it might do for the rest of us!"

Kathryn Harrison, "Father Christmas," The New York Times Review of Books, December 7, 2008, p. 14.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"It Can Be Like This..."

"A life lived in fear is a life half-lived"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 199"

"Preparing for Christmas, Together..."

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.

"In The News Today..."

For Gays and Lesbians,
Holidays Can Be a Time of Added Stress
At family gatherings, many keep their lives
and personality locked away

By Rex W. Huppke
Chicago Tribune reporter

December 23, 2009

Even after he turned 20, Justin Herren viewed Christmas with childlike wonderment. Back at his family's home in Tennessee, he and his brother and sister -- all three grown up -- would rise before dawn to open presents, just like they did as kids.

The family would sing carols around their mother's piano, soak in a tree trimmed with long-familiar ornaments and reconnect over an elaborate feast.

But when Herren was 22, he sat his family down and told them he is gay. At that moment, the holiday he loves was forever altered.

Five years on, he and his father still barely speak. His mother doesn't want to hear about his life in Chicago. Instead of a four- or five-night Christmas stay, he flies in for a night and leaves the next day.

"We're able to be around each other, but it's just tense," said Herren, now 27. "To be honest, I'd rather be in a place with people who are happy to have me around, rather than just tolerating me."

While many view the holidays with a certain amount of familial anxiety, people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender often face a wide array of additional stressors. Some aren't out of the closet -- or have told only a sibling or two -- and spend the holiday keeping a whole part of their life and personality locked away. Others must manage parents who don't approve of their sexuality. And some must be apart from their partner because of unaccepting relatives.

"You have all the built-up family expectations and the mythology of the holidays, you have the regular family drama, plus this," said Lisa Gilmore, a counselor at the Center on Halsted, a GLBT community center in Lakeview. "There's this added tension relating to a family member's identity, there's anxiety over secret-keeping."

Gilmore said about half of the GLBT people she sees experience stress over their sexuality around the holidays, facing situations ranging from concerns about acceptance to fears of domestic violence.

"The holidays are a lot about fantasy," Gilmore said. "For some, there can be a deep grief and sense of loss over the shattering of that fantasy. For others, it's knowing that the holidays are always going to be this hard, thinking, 'Something about my identity is always going to be a problem.' "

That's what it's like for Ben Gannon, 24, of Chicago, who still returns to his family's home in rural Washington state every Christmas. His father is a conservative Christian minister who, along with his mother, has been unable to accept that Gannon is gay, even though he came out at age 19.

"I was informed of the impact I'd had on the family by coming out," Gannon said. "So at Christmas, it's a bit of a Cold War. I don't talk about my sexuality, I don't talk specifically about my life. It's a part of my life they just can't handle."

He loves his parents and still hopes they may one day recognize him for who he is. Over Christmas he finds himself "re-enacting that time before I came out," savoring the moments when he forgets himself and the way his parents view him: "Sometimes I get lost in the performance, and it's great. But it doesn't last."

Germaine McGlun was born and raised in Chicago. She's 54, and this Christmas she'll surround herself with friends at a celebration the Center on Halsted is hosting. She has vivid memories of Christmastime growing up, from the smell of home cooking to the excitement of being surrounded by loved ones.

She spent last year with her family, and while they're largely accepting of her sexuality, she felt like she didn't fit it. People kept asking if she was married, talking about their kids, asking her if she wanted to have kids. McGlun didn't take any of it as mean-spirited, but rather just a lack of understanding of her life.

"This holiday, it's just about having that joy and that connection with people," she said. "I really love the connections that exist among people in the GLBT community. I feel safe, comfortable and close in this community."

While many like Herren, Gannon and McGlun navigate awkward complications, there are certainly families who don't give a second thought about a relative's sexual orientation.

Courtney Reid, director of programs at the Center on Halsted, has three children -- 4-year-old twins and a 6-year-old -- with her partner, Pam Palmentera. Their two families live in Texas and Virginia, and Reid said both sides embrace her and Pam, as well as the children.

"We really have no holiday anxiety, beyond the basic stuff everyone deals with," Reid said. "And it's wonderful, because we're able to -- with each of our families -- help our girls form these traditions and sense of family. We're considered very much a part of the family, as it should be."

Which isn't to say there wasn't a period of transition.

"For both sets of families, when we first came out, it was very much of a challenge," Reid said. "But I think at the end of the day, my parents' love for me won out."

Hope for a similar result is what many like Gannon and Herren cling to, that and memories of good holidays past.

"They're my family, I love them," Gannon said. "Ideally, I would love to spend Christmas with them as myself. But right now, I just can't do that."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"In The News Today..."

Mexican Lawmakers Legalize Gay Marriage

Mexico City lawmakers on Monday made the city the first in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, a change that will give homosexual couples more rights, including allowing them to adopt children.

The bill passed the capital's local assembly 39-20 to the cheers of supporters who yelled: "Yes, we could! Yes, we could!"

Leftist Mayor Marcelo Ebrard of the Democratic Revolution Party was widely expected to sign the measure into law.

Mexico City's left-led assembly has made several decisions unpopular elsewhere in this deeply Roman Catholic country, including legalizing abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. That decision sparked a backlash, with the majority of Mexico's other 32 states enacting legislation declaring life begins at conception.

The conservative Nation Action Party of President Felipe Calderon has vowed to challenge the gay marriage law in the courts. However, homosexuality is increasingly accepted in Mexico, with gay couples openly holding hands in parts of the capital and the annual gay pride parade drawing tens of thousands.

The bill calls for changing the definition of marriage in the city's civil code. Marriage is currently defined as the union of a man and a woman. The new definition will be "the free uniting of two people."

The change would allow same-sex couples to adopt children, apply for bank loans together, inherit wealth and be included in the insurance policies of their spouse, rights they were denied under civil unions allowed in the city.

"We are so happy," said Temistocles Villanueva, a 23-year-old film student who celebrated by passionately kissing his boyfriend outside the city's assembly.

Only seven countries allow gay marriages: Canada, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium. U.S. states that permit same-sex marriage are Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

Argentina's capital became the first Latin American city to legalize same-sex civil unions in 2002 for gay and lesbian couples. Four other Argentine cities later did the same, and as did Mexico City in 2007 and some Mexican and Brazilian states. Uruguay alone has legalized civil unions nationwide.

Buenos Aires lawmakers introduced a bill for legalizing gay marriage in the national Congress in October but it has stalled without a vote, and officials in the South American city have blocked same-sex wedding because of conflicting judicial rulings.

Many people in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America remain opposed to gay marriage, and the dominant Roman Catholic Church has announced its opposition.

"They have given Mexicans the most bitter Christmas," said Armando Martinez, the president of the College of Catholic Attorneys. "They are permitting adoption (by gay couples) and in one stroke of the pen have erased the term 'mother' and 'father."'

City lawmaker Victor Romo, a member of the mayor's leftist party, called it a historic day.

"For centuries unjust laws banned marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans," he said. "Today all barriers have disappeared."


"Tell you what, we coulda had a good life together! F-ckin’ real good life! Had us a place of our own. But you didn’t want it, Ennis! So what we got now is Brokeback Mountain! Everything’s built on that! That’s all we got, boy, f-ckin’ all. So I hope you know that, even if you don’t never know the rest! You count the damn few times we have been together in nearly twenty years and you measure the short f-cking leash you keep me on – and then you ask me about Mexico and tell me you’ll kill me for needing somethin’ I don’t hardly never get. You have no idea how bad it gets! I’m not you… I can’t make it on a coupla high-altitude f-cks once or twice a year! You are too much for me Ennis, you sonofawhoreson bitch! I wish I knew how to quit you..."

Lamentations 1:22 - Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them, as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint.

"A life lived in fear is a life half-lived"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 198"

"Love, Just 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.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"A Love Story..."

From: GayUganda

Sunday, December 20, 2009
A Gay Wedding In Uganda!

Reckless Courage

If you are not aware, in the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda is a bill, designed to ‘wipe out homosexuality’ from the country.

The bill has huge, terrible punishments for the homosexual Ugandan. They are life imprisonment, and the death penalty, for any acts that are deemed to be ‘homosexual’, ranging from simple touch, to lovely, consensual sex.

The mood amongst the gay community at the moment?

Well, we have been demonized, for years. But this year has been special. More than usual. Our lives hang in balance, yet we cannot defend ourselves. We have been branded traitors to the country, un-African, un-Ugandan, we are under attack as ‘recruiters’ working under the aegis of ‘foreign homosexuals’. The bill in parliament is a vicious attack on the human rights in the country, yet those who would have dared to speak up are also cowed. They fear being labeled homosexuals. Or, supporters. Recruiters.

Yet, this is an account of a Gay Wedding in Uganda. It happened yesterday.

We are a multi-ethnic country. Our marriage ceremonies differ from tribe to tribe. We are proud of them. They define us, define the start of a new generation, the final flight of the nestlings from the home. They are usually a big community event.

For most of us, the basic traditional wedding ceremony is when the girl introduces the boy to her parents. The Introduction Ceremony. With the coming of formal religion, this is taken as the first, before a Church or mosque wedding, or whatever.

The ‘Introduction’ Ceremony is a must. Many don’t go beyond that, for various reasons. But, once the Introduction is done, the man and woman are one, family, in the eyes of the community. It is our most important ceremony.

This is December marriage season, when students are back from school, holidays are in for office workers, and such. It is the season of weddings and introduction ceremonies. The season of parties.

Two guys, two kuchus wanted to cerebrate their love. And, they did it yesterday.

Of course they are aware of the bill in parliament. They are aware of the current climate of hostility and homophobia, frank violence in the country. But, they still wanted to cerebrate the joining.

They did come out to their parents. An amazing thing indeed, because, for most of us kuchus, it never, ever happens. Too dangerous. We risk being thrown out of our clan, tribe. Everything.

And, with their parents permission, they planned and did the wedding. A gay wedding in Uganda, at this particular time.

Plans have been on for most of the year. Despite all the impediments, the fear, the risks. They were determined to do it.

They gathered the money. Traditionally here, the whole community pitches in, to fundraise for the couple. These guys couldn’t risk that. They did it on their own.

They informed their parents. Who acceded. I wish I was there in that particular meeting. Hon. Bahati has a son, and, he is always telling audiences his worst nightmare- his son introducing another man as his partner. It’s a punch-line, bringing a gasp of incredulous laughter to the audience in Uganda. Unfailing.

They informed a few other kuchus, who fell into the preparations whole heartedly.

Let it be known all over the world that, we kuchus are always, unfailingly good in the party organizing business. Increadibly, the secret still held. That is another impossibility. Kuchus are notoriously bad at keeping secrets. Don’t know why…!

Came a week to the wedding, invitations were given out. No, no cards. Face to face.

Was interesting. I, and my partner were informed by one of the grooms. He was being introduced. He wanted us to grace his ceremony with our presence, at the ceremony as those who have come in from the groom’s side. He insisted we be there. I couldn’t. Prior commitments. My partner could, and he reluctantly decided to attend without me. But, we are used to kuchus being introduced, by women. It is part of kuchu life here in Uganda. There comes a time that the family, the clan demands that a man gets married. And, we do get married, to women.

Oh, we are African men. Marriage has never meant marital faithfulness. That is a foreign concept. Polygamy is part of a man’s heritage. For a kuchu man in Uganda to be married to a woman, well, we take it as part of life. A necessary rite, even when we know we are different. It is necessary.

That is what me and my partner assumed. That it was a conventional wedding ceremony that we were invited to. The prospective groom didn’t bother to tell us otherwise.

Came the day, I was at work, my partner attended.

My partner tells me what happened

An enclosed compound, which was secured. Two armed policemen at the gate. Well, we can hire the police, like all other Ugandans. The details of the ceremony is our damned business. As long as they keep out inquisitive others. And, they did try to.

Guys arrived in their ‘introduction ceremony’ specials. Traditionally, it is traditional wear. It is a traditional ceremony. ‘Kanzus’ for the men, ankle length shirt like dress, white, with a jacket over them. A little tuck in at the waist, to expose the ankles, discreetly, to allow the man to walk without impendiment. The best, the most expensive are silk. Very smart. Women in ‘gomesis’, another very Ugandan piece of wear.

My partner arrived at the compound, and was let in.

On time, the ceremony started. It is long, with lots of gift giving, hyperbole, laughter. The grooms are not on show. Not at all. It is an elaborate ritual of give and take, laughter, noise, story telling. Introductions, rules of ceremony. With a master of ceremony on both sides (groom and groom), whose job is to make it as lively, as interesting as possible. The two compete to out do the other.

It is at the end, when the shy bride is brought out of the house. The one who is introducing her man to the prospective parents.

That is when my partner realized that, it was a groom introducing a groom. A gay introduction ceremony. In Uganda, at this particular moment.

Fact is, the secret had been so well kept that, well, a number of people didn’t know!

My partner, well, his anxiety levels shot into the stratosphere. The buzz was, strong.

People were peeping in at the fence, and, the secret was out. A crowd was gathering, and the policemen were overwhelmed. A gay introductory ceremony was taking place, and, that was news indeed.

Music, talking, ritualized counseling. They happened, the kuchus now happy that the secret was out. They were delirious with joy. Two of their number were actually coming out and making their partnership official. In the traditional way.

Such gossip has wings. Crowd at the gate grew big. They wanted to know what was happening inside, in the compound. The rumours were too tantalizing. The music, the atmosphere of gaiety too tempting. They wanted to know.

Pure, absolute madness. Reckless, foolish, wonderful courage.

My partner decided it was time to leave, before it got violent. Signs were that it would.

Later, those kuchus who stayed told us that they started sneaking out, one by one. Cameras, that was the first fear. In all our finery, photos in the local tabloids can be damning. They left the food, drinks on the tables.

Getting out, for most it was evening. And, hearing the buzz of the crowd, many decided to disguise the fact that they had been at the wedding. Off the kanzus, for the guys. Too identifying. They took them off, mingled with the crowd outside, slipped away.

Sadly, one of us was attacked. He was foolish enough to remain in his kanzu. It was torn off his body by the crowd outside.

How are the grooms? Fine, for now.

Pure madness. Absolute, shrieking madness, to have such a ceremony in Uganda at this moment. No amount of security can keep such a happening secret. Never. It was madness.

Pure, sweet madness, that I identify with. I know, I am also mad. Raving.

We kuchus, we gay Ugandans, we are also human beings. Seeking the simple, the wonderful small pleasures that all other Ugandans have. And, nothing shows that like our desire to be known, in the eyes of our parents, as a couple. Acknowledged, in the ultimate way. Groom and groom, husband and husband, wife and wife.

They were stupid. They were human. I love their stupidity and humanity.

Err, the punishment for this ‘gay marriage’ in the Bahati/Benson Anti-Homosexuality Bill in parliament now?

Life imprisonment for the Happy Couple. For us the celebrants, 3 years in prison if we fail to reveal the marriage to police within 24 hours.

If we are not lynched by the enraged crowd.

Sadly, now we have to deal with the backlash.

It was an exceedingly stupid, incredibly foolish thing to do.

It was, and is, human. Poignantly, absolutely, completely human.

"The Truth Today..."

"It's Just Love at Christmas"


"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 197"

"We Are A Happy Family..."

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.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 196"

"In Love and Unafraid..."

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.

"In The News Today..."

Ex-Lion Thomas Reveals He Is Gay
Former Wales and Lions captain Gareth Thomas has broken one of the major taboos that surround sport by revealing he is gay.

The 35-year-old joins stars like basketball's John Amaechi and hurling's Donal Og Cusack who have come out.

"Just because you are gay, it doesn't mean you fancy every man who walks the planet," Thomas told the Daily Mail.

"I don't want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player first and foremost. I am a man."

Cardiff Blues utility back Thomas said he had been through "all sorts of emotions" over the issue, since first knowing he was gay in his late teens.

He revealed that he was "anxious about people's reactions" to him being gay and that he felt he could not have come out earlier in his rugby career.

"It is the toughest, most macho of male sports, and with that comes an image," Thomas said.

"In many ways, it is barbaric, and I could never have come out without first establishing myself and earning respect as a player.

"Rugby was my passion, my whole life, and I wasn't prepared to risk losing everything I loved."

Thomas went on to win 100 caps for Wales and three for the Lions, and has played for Bridgend and Cardiff and spent three years in France with Toulouse, before returning to south Wales in 2007.

He feels attitudes have changed and the time is right for sport to start accepting openly gay people in the same way other professions have in recent years.

"I just happen to be gay," he added. "It's irrelevant.

"What I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby.

"It's pretty tough for me being the only international rugby player prepared to break the taboo.

"Statistically I can't be the only one, but I'm not aware of any other gay player still in the game.

"I'd love for it, in 10 years' time, not to even be an issue in sport, and for people to say: 'So what?'"

Thomas retired from international duty after captaining Wales' exit from the 2007 World Cup.

But he admitted it was on Wales duty at an earlier time when he first broke the news to former Wales caretaker coach Scott Johnson over his sexuality and the break-up of his marriage to his wife Jemma.

"My life seemed to be falling apart," he added. "Jemma and I were splitting up, and I was scared of the future and being single again as a gay man.

"Somehow, the coach had guessed," said Thomas. "He took me out of the team room to the medical room, locked the door and I told him everything.

"After keeping it secret for so long, I felt a huge rush of relief.

"Scott said: 'Right, I've got to speak now to three or four players in the Welsh team because you need the boys to surround you and support you. You can't cope with this on your own,' and he was right.

"He told two of my team-mates, Stephen Jones and Martyn Williams, and as I sat in the bar waiting for them, I was absolutely terrified, wondering what they were going to say.

There's still a bit of stigma from some people but as far as the rugby community goes as a whole, I'm sure he'll be very pleasantly surprised like I was
Top rugby referee Nigel Owens, who came out in 2007
"But they came in, patted me on the back and said: 'We don't care. Why didn't you tell us before?'

"Two of my best mates in rugby didn't even blink an eyelid."

But Thomas said one of his lowest points was cheating on Jemma, which drove him to the edge.

"Sometimes I felt so alone and depressed," he added.

"I used to go to the cliffs overlooking the beach near our cottage in St Brides Major and just think about jumping off and ending it all."

Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens, who came out in 2007, told BBC Radio 5 live that he thought Thomas would receive a positive reaction from the public.

"There's still a bit of stigma from some people but as far as the rugby community goes as a whole, I'm sure he'll be very pleasantly surprised like I was," he said.

"You'll get some issues from some individuals but that's the same across society as a whole.

"I think people will respect him as a person and as a player - he's a person just like anybody else, who just happens to be one of the great players Wales have had over the years and who just happens to be gay."

The Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive, Roger Lewis, said: "Gareth Thomas is one of Welsh rugby's outstanding players, a former captain, he holds the national appearance record (100 caps) and has scored 40 tries for his country.

"He was at the helm for the 2005 RBS Six Nations Grand Slam, Wales' first clean sweep in the annual competition since 1978, and also captained the British and Irish Lions during their summer tour of New Zealand earlier that year.

"Gareth is a rugby leader and also a man of great humour. He is most probably one of the most popular players amongst his peers.

"He has been an inspiration to generations of rugby followers and continues to play at the top level of the game with the Cardiff Blues.

"Just as we support Gareth at this time that stance will remain consistent for any player.

"Whilst Gareth's private life is entirely irrelevant to his career as an international sportsman it would be remiss of the WRU not to remind him of the high esteem in which he is held in the game in Wales at a time when he has decided to bring such personal reflections to public notice."

Cardiff Blues chief executive Robert Norster added: "Gareth Thomas is a credit to Cardiff Blues who has truly brought honour to the jersey as a formidable player and a strong leader.

"His private life is his own concern and we will continue to acknowledge him for the qualities he brings to the squad as a player and an individual who exemplifies the values of commitment, determination and fair play we expect from our team.

"Gareth will always be revered for his achievements as a player and he deserves his place of honour in Welsh rugby history.

"Our teams are selected on merit and we will always choose players with the talent and ability to achieve the demanding standards we now set."


A man who knows... "A life lived in fear is a life half-lived..."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 195"

"We Took Our Little One to See Santa..."

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.

"In The News Today..."

Corvino: A Story of Comfort and Joy

By John Corvino, columnist,

Allow me to share a favorite holiday story.

It was late-November 1989, a year after I first came out. I had been dating a guy named Michael for over a month, which made him (in my mind, at least) my first “real” boyfriend. I was twenty and he was turning twenty-two, and we decided to drive into the city to celebrate his birthday.

“The city” was Manhattan. I was living with my parents on Long Island while going to college; Michael lived nearby. Together with his cousin and his cousin’s boyfriend, we piled into my 1985 Camry and made the trek west along the Long Island Expressway, crossing the Williamsburg Bridge into the Big Apple.

Dinner, then drinks, then dancing—or more accurately, sitting in the corner flirting while other people danced. It was the kind of young love (lust?) that makes one largely oblivious to one’s surroundings.

So perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised, upon exiting the club, to discover that it had been snowing for several hours—hard. No one had predicted a blizzard that night, and it wasn’t as if we could check the weather on our iPhones. (Remember, it was 1989.)

We rushed back to the car and headed slowly home. About a third of the way across the Williamsburg Bridge, traffic stopped.

We waited a minute, then five, then ten—and still no movement. The snow around us was blinding. Meanwhile, the cousin and his boyfriend were soundly asleep in the back seat.

So Michael and I did what any two young lovebirds would do in such a situation: we started making out in the car.

We kissed; we caressed; we cuddled. It felt like we were there for an hour, though again, we were largely oblivious to time and space. It was joyous.

Eventually the traffic flow resumed and we made it home okay.

Michael dumped me a few weeks later (Merry Christmas, indeed) and what remained of our relationship was more disastrous than that night’s weather. But twenty years and numerous boyfriends later, I still count that bridge experience as one of the magical moments of my life.

It wasn’t just because it was new and exciting, or because of the Frank Capra setting (Snow on a bridge? Seriously?).

It was because, at a time in my life when I still struggled to make sense of being “different,” the experience sent a powerful, visceral message: gay is good.

The message didn’t arrive by means of a philosophical argument or through someone else’s testimony. It came through direct experience. Those once-scary feelings were suddenly a font of great beauty, and intimacy, and comfort. I had previously figured it out in my head. Finally, I knew it in my heart.

In this column I have often extolled the virtues of long-term relationships. I believe in those virtues—and am ever grateful for my eight-year partnership with Mark, the love of my life.

But I don’t believe (and indeed, have never believed) that homosexuality has moral value ONLY in the context of long-term relationships—any more than heterosexuality does. That quick flirtatious glance across a crowded room; that awkward kiss with the cute stranger at the party—such moments make life joyful, and there is great moral value in joy.

And so, this holiday, I wish my readers joy.

It has been an incredible, fast-paced year on the gay-rights front. We gained marriage equality in several states only to lose it again in Maine; we had ballot victories in Washington State and Kalamazoo, MI; we elected a lesbian mayor in Houston and a gay City-Council President in Detroit.

There are reasons to be hopeful, and there is much work left to be done. We will keep fighting the good fight.

Yet let us also step back and enjoy the simple yet profound joy that is part and parcel of why we’re fighting. Kiss someone under the mistletoe, and remember: life is good.

Wishing you all the best in 2010.


John Corvino, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, and philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. His column “The Gay Moralist” appears Fridays on

For more about John Corvino, or to see clips from his “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” DVD, visit

Friday, December 18, 2009

"The Poet's Corner"

"The opposite of loneliness, it's not togetherness. It is intimacy..."

Richard Bach, The Bridge Across Forever: A Lovestory (1989), p. 184.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 194"

"We're Family Too..."

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.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"The Truth Today..."

"Love, It's Beautiful..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 193"

"With Love Comes True Passion..."

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.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"This Made Me Smile..."

"Laughter really is the best medicine..."

"The Poet's Corner"

"Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source."

Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace (1865-1869)

"In The News Today..."

D.C. City Council Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage
Supporters of gay rights win victory after string of recent defeats

Tues., Dec . 15, 2009

WASHINGTON - The District of Columbia City Council voted Tuesday to legalize gay marriage, giving supporters a victory after a string of recent defeats elsewhere and sending the issue to Congress, which has final say over laws in the nation's capital.

Mayor Adrian Fenty has promised to sign the bill, which passed 11-2, and gay couples could begin marrying as early as March if Congress allows it to become law. Democratic congressional leaders have suggested they are reluctant to get involved, though gay marriage opponents say they will try to get it overturned either in Congress or at the polls.

Federal lawmakers declined to weigh in the last time they had a chance, after the council voted in May to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. Congress let that bill become law without taking any action, avoiding what could have amounted to a referendum on gay marriage.

The bill that passed Tuesday had overwhelming support among council members and the outcome was no surprise. Two members said "I do" when their turn came to vote, and a packed chamber erupted into cheers and clapping when the bill passed.

"Make no mistake, 2009 has been one hell of a year for marriage equality," said David Catania, who introduced the bill and is one of two openly gay council members.

The "no" votes included former mayor Marion Barry, who said, "I don't," when it was his turn.

If the bill becomes law, the district will join Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. They will be able to wed in New Hampshire starting in January.

Gay marriage supporters have had less success elsewhere recently. Maine voters overturned the state's same-sex marriage law last month. Earlier this month, the New York state Senate rejected a bill that would have allowed gay couples to marry. And New Jersey's legislature, which had been working on a same-sex marriage bill, postponed a recent vote when the measure appeared headed for defeat.

Tuesday's vote in the district came after several months of discussion, including two marathon council hearings at which some 250 witnesses testified.

Opponents included the Archdiocese of Washington, which said it might have to stop providing adoptions and other services because the law would force it to extend benefits to same-sex couples.

"Today the District of Columbia joined a handful of states where legislatures or courts have redefined marriage to include persons of the same sex," the archdiocese said in a statement after the vote.

The law will likely take effect around St. Patrick's Day in this city of 600,000, which is about 1/17th the size of Rhode Island. Congress has 30 working days to reject it, but that has happened with similar legislation just three times in the past 25 years.

Still, opponents plan to try. Members of a group called Stand4Marriage, led by local pastor Bishop Harry Jackson, have met with members of Congress to urge them to oppose the bill.

Attorney Cleta Mitchell said that after Fenty signs the bill, the group will ask a district elections board to put a referendum on the ballot asking voters to overturn it. She said in a statement before the vote that the law is a "decision for the people, not a dozen people at city hall.

The group Mitchell represents made a similar request this summer, when the city passed a law recognizing gay marriages legally performed in other states. The board declined to put the issue on the ballot, saying that would violate a city human rights law.

Jackson said Tuesday he believed that the group had an "airtight legal case" and that "if it gets to the vote, we win."

The group also has a lawsuit pending from earlier this year, when it tried to get an initiative on the ballot asking voters to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The elections board again cited the human rights law in saying no. A hearing in that case is scheduled for January.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 192"

"Life Is Joyous Because We Love Each Other..."

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.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"The Poet's Corner"

"Give in to love, or live in fear..."

Jonathan Larson, "Another Day", Rent (1996)

"A life lived in fear is a life half-lived..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 191"

"Me and My Dads... We're a Happy Family"

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.

"Whatever Happened to Ennis Delmar...?"

View more news videos at:

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Monday, December 14, 2009

"The Artist's Corner"

"Dashing Through The Snow"
Oil on canvas
Michael Breyette

"In The News Today..."

Annise Parker Elected Houston's Next Mayor...

Nation watches as city becomes the largest in U.S. to choose an openly gay leader

By Bradley Olson
Dec. 13, 2009

Annise Parker, current city controller, defeated former City Attorney Gene Locke in Saturday's tight runoff election.
Annise Danette Parker was elected mayor of Houston on Saturday, winning her seventh consecutive city election and becoming both the first contender in a generation to defeat the hand-picked candidate of Houston's business establishment and the first openly gay person to lead a major U.S. city.

Parker, Houston's current city controller who first emerged in the public arena as a gay rights activist in the 1980s, defeated former City Attorney Gene Locke on an austere platform, convincing voters that her financial bona fides and restrained promises would be best suited in trying financial times. Parker, 53, will replace the term-limited Mayor Bill White on Jan. 1.

Her victory capped an unorthodox election season that lacked a strong conservative mayoral contender and saw her coalition of inside-the-Loop Democrats and moderate conservatives, backed by an army of ardent volunteers, win the day over Locke, a former civil rights activist who attempted to unite African-American voters and Republicans.

In complete but unofficial returns, Parker coasted to a comfortable victory with 52.8 percent of the vote to 47.2 percent for Locke. Turnout was 16.5 percent.

When Parker finally appeared at 10:30 p.m., resplendent in a gold pantsuit and pearl necklace, the room at the George R. Brown Convention Center jammed elbow-to-elbow with supporters erupted with a deafening cheer. Some were newcomers to political waters. Some had been with her a dozen years ago when she claimed her first City Council seat.

“Tonight the voters of Houston have opened the doors to history,” she said. “I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who thought we could never achieve high office. I know what it means. I understand, because I feel it, too. But now, from this moment, let us join as one community. We are united in one goal in making this city the city that it can be, should be, might be, will be.”

Parker harkened back to her earliest days of involvement in civic issues, when she served as president of Neartown Association, saying that work gave her the insight she needed as she headed into public office, and especially an understanding of the human repercussion of politics.

“Hear me: The city is on your side,” she said. “I learned about the problems and the needs and hopes of our city at the neighborhood level. I understand what needs to be done to move us forward.”

After introducing her family, including her partner, Kathy Hubbard, their three children and her mother, Kay Parker, she made a post-campaign promise to those who live in Houston.

“I promise to give to citizens an administration of honesty, integrity and transparency,” she said. “The only special interest will be the public. We are in this together. We rise or fall together.”

Locke conceded at the Hyatt Regency shortly after 10 p.m., celebrating the diverse coalition of ethnic groups, unions, business leaders and political heavyweights represented in his campaign.

In a short and gracious speech, he congratulated Parker and called on supporters to get behind the mayor-elect.

“Don't let past disappointments, past anger, past frustrations guide us into the future,” he said. “Let's unite and work together.”

In many ways, the race was framed by the financial anxieties voters have experienced over the past 18 months. At the polls, voter after voter cited Parker's experience watching over the city's $4 billion budget as a primary consideration in their choice.

Instead of being turned off by a politician reluctant to promise the world, voters responded to Parker's straight talk about all that might not be possible in the coming years.

Dozens of Houstonians interviewed by the Houston Chronicle said they appreciated her often blunt answers that made Locke's proposals seem vague.

She attacked his past as a general counsel to unpopular local governmental agencies and their debt problems, painting him as a “lawyer-lobbyist” in broad strokes that sought to cast doubt in the very arenas in which voters perceived Parker to have strengths.

Although the general election heated up toward the end, Parker's sexuality never emerged until the field had been narrowed to two candidates. The race was also unusual for the relatively even split among four contenders in the first round of voting Nov. 3. To win, Parker and Locke had to earn the support of 70,000 voters — slightly more than 40 percent of those who cast their ballots in the general election.

Less than two weeks into the five-week runoff, social conservatives mounted a campaign to turn voters against Parker because of her sexual orientation, sending out mailers and e-mail blasts that cast the election as a referendum on gay rights.

While some voters acknowledged it was a matter of concern, many saw no problem voting for a gay candidate, especially given Parker's assurances that she did not intend to expand gay rights through her position as mayor.

Ray Hill, the dean of Houston's gay activists, saw victory in more ways than one.

“For me, it means 43 years of hard work has finally paid off,” Hill said. “For Houston, it means we have finally reached the point where being gay cannot be used as a wedge issue to divide the community and prevent us from reaching our aspirations. Annise Parker is not our mayor — she is the city's mayor.”

Chronicle reporters Moises Mendoza, Joe Holley, Mike Snyder and Mike Tolson contributed to this report.


"A life lived in fear is a life half-lived"

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