Friday, July 31, 2009

"Friends and Lovers..."

Stephen Christopher Harris and "Leon"
Stephen still has the matching bracelet (look on his right arm) and necklace with your name on it, Leon... Do you still have your's with his name on it? He never wore the bracelet I gave him for his birthday last year, he didn't even put it in the same drawer as yours.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Truth Tonight..."

Exodus 20:7

"You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name."

AT&T Yahoo!

Re: Why

Friday, July 31, 2009 7:12 PM

From: "Stephen Harris"

To: "Christopher Flournoy"

You are really hurting me. I can barely function...for the love of God.


"Does he expect me to exhibit the qualities of mercy that are so visibly absent in him...?
If he paused to think about that, then he would realize that I already have."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Truth Is In The Scriptures"


1 Samuel 18:3 (KJV)

"Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul."


Proverbs 18:5 (KJV)

"It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment."


Isaiah 30:15 (KJV)

"For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not."

Here now, as slumber beckons me, I'm thinking of Stephen Christopher Harris...

Because he is so lost in fear, he knows not what is true, even about himself.

I'm remembering when we'd pray... Stephen prays in a very strange way, a least strange to me. He hides his face in his open palms. When I first saw him do this, I didn't know what to make of it, but tonight, I know why. When he does that he's trying to hide from God, which no man can do. But because of love, now he knows this.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"What It's Like To Be Gay..."

A Christmas gift for Stephen Christopher Harris' brothers and sister...

This is what it's like to live in the "closet..."
This is what's wrong with your brother.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"A Truth Shared..."

by Alfred Rethel

It hadn't occured to me until today that Stephen Christopher Harris' attitudes and behaviors can be defined in a single word...


Hubris (/hjuːbrɪs/) (ancient Greek ὕβρις) is a term used in modern English to indicate overweening pride, superciliousness, or arrogance, often resulting in fatal retribution or Nemesis. In ancient Greece, hubris referred to actions which, intentionally or not, shamed and humiliated the victim, and frequently the perpetrator as well. It was most evident in the public and private actions of the powerful and rich. The word was also used to describe actions of those who challenged the gods or their laws, especially in Greek tragedy, resulting in the protagonist's downfall.

Hubris, though not specifically defined, was a legal term and was considered a crime in classical Athens. It was also considered the greatest sin of the ancient Greek world. That was so because it was not only proof of excessive pride, but also resulted in violent acts by or to those involved. The category of acts constituting hubris for the ancient Greeks apparently broadened from the original specific reference to mutilation of a corpse, or a humiliation of a defeated foe, or irreverent "outrageous treatment" in general.

The meaning was eventually further generalized in its modern English usage to apply to any outrageous act or exhibition of pride or disregard for basic moral laws. Such an act may be referred to as an "act of hubris", or the person committing the act may be said to be hubristic. AteAtë, ancient Greek for "ruin, folly, delusion," is the action performed by the hero, usually because of his/her hubris, or great pride, that leads to his/her death or downfall.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Who Knew...?"

It's surprising how popular Stephen Christopher Harris is...

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"A Family Christmas..."

"Welcome Morlon, Walter, Crystal..."

AT&T Yahoo!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009 5:55 PM

From: "Stephen Harris" ""

To: "Christopher Flournoy"

I am scheduled to have surgery to remove a bone fragment and torn rotator cuff in my shoulder I substained from an injury that occured on January 13.

My sister and brothers called to tell me what you ar doing to me.

I need to talk to you and I am not sure if you will be receptive to what I need to say.


I'm reminded of the time Stephen told me he once took a boyfriend home to his family at Thanksgiving without revealing to his family the true nature of their "friendship." He said they carried on their tryst right under his family's noses, but didn't get caught... Stephen seemed proud of what he'd done. When he told me the story, I was dismayed. - I told him I could never do such a thing... that's why Stephen reneged on the promised trip to Disney World. When he first promised me the trip, he said we might run into his brother Walter and family while we were there and he wanted to introduce me as a "friend."

"A Life Lived In Fear Is A Life Half Lived"

"The Truth Today..."

AT&T Yahoo!

Please take my call

Sunday, July 26, 2009 4:35 PM

From: "Stephen Harris" ""

To: "Christopher Flournoy"

Please take my call tomorrow for I am in deep distress and despair.

The truth is unbearable.


Stephen did call yesterday evening at 7:42 PM... He didn't say much - "How are you?" "I need to talk to you." "Can I call you tomorrow?" - Strangely... No mention of him needing surgery yesterday or in this email he sent Sunday. I find it interesting that Stephen Christopher Harris finds that "The truth is unbearable." It's a positive development, now it seems he knows the truth when he sees it.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Monday, July 27, 2009

"194 Days of Silence"

Conversation kɒn vərˈseɪ ʃən/ –noun
informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.
an instance of this.
association or social intercourse; intimate acquaintance.
criminal conversation.
the ability to talk socially with others: She writes well but has no conversation.

Communication  /kəˌmyu nɪˈkeɪ ʃən/ –noun
the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated.
the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.
something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted.
a document or message imparting news, views, information, etc.
passage, or an opportunity or means of passage, between places.

Repentance /rɪˈpɛn tns, -ˈpɛn təns/ –noun
deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like.
regret for any past action.

Restitution /ˌrɛs tɪˈtu ʃən, -ˈtyu-/ –noun
reparation made by giving an equivalent or compensation for loss, damage, or injury caused; indemnification.
the restoration of property or rights previously taken away, conveyed, or surrendered.
restoration to the former or original state or position.
Physics. the return to an original physical condition, esp. after elastic deformation.

Honesty /ˈɒn ə sti/ –noun, plural -ties.
the quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and fairness.
truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness.
freedom from deceit or fraud.
Botany. a plant, Lunaria annua, of the mustard family, having clusters of purple flowers and semitransparent, satiny pods.
Obsolete. chastity.

Truth /truðz/ -noun
the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
the state or character of being true.
actuality or actual existence.
an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
honesty; integrity; truthfulness.
(often initial capital letter ) ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.
agreement with a standard or original.
accuracy, as of position or adjustment.
Archaic. fidelity or constancy.

Love lʌv –noun
a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
sexual passion or desire.
a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
(used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?
a love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
sexual intercourse; copulation.
(initial capital letter ) a personification of sexual affection, as Eros or Cupid.
affectionate concern for the well-being of others: the love of one's neighbor.
strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything: her love of books.
the object or thing so liked: The theater was her great love.
the benevolent affection of God for His creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.
Chiefly Tennis. a score of zero; nothing.
a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter L.

Love –verb (used with object)
to have love or affection for: All her pupils love her.
to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).
to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in: to love music.
to need or require; benefit greatly from: Plants love sunlight.
to embrace and kiss (someone), as a lover.
to have sexual intercourse with.

Love –verb (used without object)
to have love or affection for another person; be in love.

Love —Verb phrase
love up, to hug and cuddle: She loves him up every chance she gets.
for love,
out of affection or liking; for pleasure.
without compensation; gratuitously: He took care of the poor for love.
for the love of, in consideration of; for the sake of: For the love of mercy, stop that noise.
in love, infused with or feeling deep affection or passion: a youth always in love.
in love with, feeling deep affection or passion for (a person, idea, occupation, etc.); enamored of: in love with the girl next door; in love with one's work.
make love,
to embrace and kiss as lovers.
to engage in sexual activity.
no love lost, dislike; animosity: There was no love lost between the two brothers.

For Stephen Christopher Harris

7:42 PM, EST 27 July 2009

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"The Truth Tonight..."

"Well Stephen, the bird's flightless, not going anywhere..."

"A Life Lived In Fear Is A Life Half-lived"

"Six Degrees of Separation..."

"I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. I find it: a) extremely comforting that we're so close; and b) like Chinese water torture that we're so close because you have to find the right six people to make the right connection... I am bound to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people"

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Christmas in July - Part 6"

The morning after Christmas, I woke up around 5 a.m. I was still being held in Stephen’s arms and I didn’t want to wake him, so I just lay still, somewhat enjoying the moment, but thinking about what the day might have in store for us… would the magic of Christmas come to an end today? When he finally began to stir, I asked if he’d mind if I went for a run. He said no and I eased out of his arms and out of bed, got dressed in my running gear and gave him a kiss saying I’d be back soon. He said he’d be waiting for me. I went downstairs, said my prayers, did a few exercises to stretch, and off I went for a three mile run. When I got back, I crept up the stairs and gazed at Stephen from the bedroom door. He looked asleep, so I whispered, “I’m back, Dear.” When he said nothing, I went to have a shower.

When I got back to the bedroom after my quick shower, Stephen was still tucked under the covers, so I got back in bed with him and he pulled me close and just held me tight while whispering, “I love you, Christopher” in my ear. I turned to face him as I asked, “How much do you love me?” He said, “With all my heart, Dear.” And I believed that he meant it, at least in that moment. We shared passionate kisses as we made love and then fell asleep in each other’s arms with me listening to the sound of his heart beating, believing that perhaps love was enough.

We finally stirred from our loving slumber around noon. After we showered and dressed, we went downstairs and I made brunch for us. As we ate and enjoyed each other’s company, we talked about what we wanted to do with the rest of the day. Stephen said he wanted to go to the after Christmas sales at the stores. I said I’d like that, and I suggested that we could go to the Lightfest later that evening; he said we would do that too. I did the dishes and we went shopping. We didn’t go to many places, but the one place I remember distinctly was to Best Buy. It stands out in my recollection because of something that happened. While we were there, Stephen bought a TVonDVD of “The 4400,” a show he said he liked, but that I’d never seen.

When we got to the checkout, the clerk asked Stephen if he belonged to Best Buy’s “Reward Zone” loyalty program. Stephen said he did but that he didn’t have his card. The clerk said she could look up his number, so Stephen gave his name, and the clerk asked for his address. Stephen said, “150 West Boston, Detroit.” The clerk couldn’t find his number and asked if there could be any other address and Stephen asked what addresses she had… when the clerk got to Carnarti Drive, Charlotte,” Stephen said, “That’s it.” As I listened, it struck me as strange that he’d have registered an address in another city, so when we got to the car, I asked him about it.

When I asked about the Charlotte address, Stephen was visibly shaken… I wondered why? Eventually, he said it was just an address he used when he was there on a project. As he said that, for the first time, I was able to instantly perceive that he was lying to me. I pointed out to him that he’d never mentioned it, although we’d talked at length about the different places he’d been. As I looked at him, I could see that his face was painted with the color of “fear.” Then suddenly a flash of anger came across his face as he said, “Why are you questioning me?” I told him I was sorry, and that I didn’t mean to upset him, and I let it drop. As Stephen drove us home, he held my hand for most of the way, as I pondered in silence, why he was lying to me and why did it upset him for me to ask about Charlotte.

By the time we got back home, I had put the troubling lie out of my mind completely. As we walked through the door, Stephen said he was getting hungry so I prepared dinner while he watched television and made some phone calls. By the time we finished with our dinner nightfall had arrived. I suggested that we should visit my family to take my gifts to them. At first Stephen said he didn’t want to go, but would instead wait for me to go and return. I told him that no one in my family would mind him coming along and that my sisters were anxious to meet him. I told him he had nothing to fear, and when I asked him to come along for my sake, he gave in and said he would. I gathered the gifts and Stephen offered to drive.

When we got to my younger sister’s home, Stephen said he didn’t want to intrude on them… I reminded him that Lisa and her husband and children were very accepting and would graciously welcome us as a couple. He looked afraid and so I decided not to insist. I left him in the car parked on the street as I went in and made my apologies for Stephen not joining me. I didn’t want to leave Stephen by himself out in the cold, so I quickly gave my gifts and expressed my love for my sister and her family and then I left. When I got back to the car, Stephen still had a frightened look on his face and as we drove across town to my older sister’s home, I wondered why?

When we got to Jean’s home, the same thing happened… Stephen didn’t want to go in. I accepted that maybe he just wasn’t ready to meet my family and be openly acknowledged as my “significant other.” Stephen had earlier that year expressed that fear about me meeting any of his family when he said we were going to Disneyworld. So again, I left him in the car as I hurriedly went in to give my gifts and to say hello to everyone. When I came back out, Stephen still had that same nervous and frightened look on his face, so I said, “Let’s go back home now, I’ll take my brother and father their gifts tomorrow…” Stephen looked relieved and that made me feel better. I found that his happiness meant far more to me than my own.

When we got back home, we decided to cut the cake that Lisa had given me while I was visiting with her and her family. Stephen asked me for ice cream with his, and as we enjoyed it, I asked him why he was so uncomfortable about meeting my family. At first he didn’t say anything, but when he finished his dessert, he finally said, “I just don’t want to upset anyone.” I told him he wouldn’t have because my family would accept and love him because I loved him. With that said, I suggested that maybe we could cap our evening by going to the Lightfest as he’d promised. Stephen said he was tired and we could go later in the week since it ran through New Year’s Day. Although I was deeply disappointed, I said, “Okay,” but, strangely, I didn’t believe him, I knew he was lying… but I let it go and we settled into each other’s arms to watch television.

Stephen stayed with me again that night, and from that day onward, he more or less stayed every night. By the second week of January 2007 (when we were supposed to have married), Stephen was for all intents and purposes living with me… We ate all our meals together; we slept together, and did almost everything else together. As the intimacy and intertwining of our lives progressed, although there was at times great joy and happiness, almost every day brought a new reason for concern about just exactly what Stephen Christopher Harris’ intentions truly were. Nevertheless, I loved him with all my heart and I shared with him all that I had. I loved him more with every passing day even as more lies were revealed and I struggled to believe in him and trust his heart…

But despite all that has happened since that fateful day, now more than 3 years ago, when Stephen Christopher Harris first came into my life; more peace, more joy, and more happiness than I’d ever known before had come at Christmas 2006.
“Fear Eats the Soul”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Christmas in July - Part 5"

Although I had prepped most of the Christmas meal the day before, there was still quite a bit to do. I still had to sear the steaks, make the filling for and assemble the Beef Wellingtons; so when I got to the kitchen, I started with that. While I was sautéing the mushrooms, the phone rang and it was my sister, Lisa. She was calling to wish me a merry Christmas and to again invite me to her family’s Christmas dinner. I thanked my sister and told her that I was busy cooking a meal for Stephen and I, but that if it was okay, we’d (Stephen and I) stop by later to bring them a gift. My sister said, “Of course you can come by, we’d love to meet Stephen.” Hearing my sister say that was like another dream come true… finally, I could share my love for another with my family.

While I was wrapping the Wellingtons, my older sister called… Like Lisa, Jean wished me a merry Christmas and I mentioned that I might stop by later to bring her a gift. She said that would be wonderful… I told her that I might not be alone, and it took her a moment to figure out what I meant, then with a very verbal “ohhhh,” she too said, “Okay.” I thanked her and told her I loved her and that I appreciated her willingness to be accepting of who I love. I went back to work in the kitchen, and just as I was finishing the deviled eggs, another phone call… it was Billy, he wished me “Happy Christmas” and asked if I’d gotten his gift in the mail. I told him that I had received his package, but that I hadn’t opened it yet… I had been waiting for Christmas Day. He informed me that as it was now Christmas, I could open it, but I told him I would later in the day as I thanked him for it and for his continued love and friendship.

The whole time I was talking to Billy, I felt very uncomfortable… it felt wrong to be talking to him, although our conversation was only that of “friends.” I’d told Stephen a great deal about Billy and what a wonderful man I’ve thought him to be. I knew that I’d tell Stephen that I’d talked to him, but I was afraid it might somehow ruin the mood of the day. I thought perhaps Stephen might be jealous. As I put the finishing touches on the desserts and seasoned the soup, I pondered when and how I’d tell Stephen about the call and also about the gift that had come a few days before. When Stephen and I “committed” ourselves to each other and were planning our marriage, I knew that soon I’d have to end my friendship with Billy.

I was truly afraid that the innocent phone call from Billy, combined with the as yet unknown gift might upset Stephen. As I ironed the table clothes and napkins I recalled the letter that I wrote for Billy, but never sent… it was how I was going to tell him about Stephen and our being married. Once the table was set and everything in the kitchen was in readiness, I sat down at my laptop and re-read the letter that I still hoped I’d “need” to someday send to Billy…

January 15, 2007

Dear Billy,

I hope your holidays were happy and that you’ve made your move to Virginia successfully. I am doing well; my health and mindset are both much improved. I think of you and Barbara often and I hope that both of you are doing well.

I’m writing to first thank you for the years of friendship that we’ve shared. You of course know that you are and have been much more than a friend… I truly have loved you and I care for you still. There will always be a special place in my heart for you.

I often wonder if you have been reading my blog on Yahoo! 360. If so, then what I want to share with you here won’t be much of a surprise. I wanted to write today to tell you about someone very special that I’ve met. His name is Stephen, and he is a wonderful man who in many ways reminds me of you. Like you, he is a warm and caring person who loves me genuinely and who also loves God.

Stephen and I met six months ago and have been seeing each other for the last four months. We both realized immediately that there would be more between us than just friendship… We are very close to one another and very much in love and we have joined our lives together. We were legally married in Canada today.

Stephen is employed in the internal audit field and we’ll soon both be relocating from the Detroit area to his next assignment location, probably somewhere in the south. As you can imagine, I am very deeply in love with Stephen to be willing to so drastically change my life in this way. I am happy and I am thankful that God has brought Stephen and I together.

I am also very thankful that you and I had the time together which we did. You were and still are very precious to me Billy. As you might imagine, having now joined my life to Stephen’s it would be difficult for you and I to continue the friendship that we’ve had. Nevertheless, you’ve been a wonderful friend and it is not lightly that I tell you that I won’t be able to write again. Although I still love you as my friend and I will always pray for your well being, I don’t want to give Stephen any cause to doubt my love and fidelity. Because I know you to be a kind, caring, and generous man, I know you’ll understand this.

I thank you my dear friend, you brought joy to my life and have brought me happiness with every card, letter, message and call since that wonderful and painful summer when we met. Billy, I will never forget you, not ever. I hope you’ll be happy for me and know that if it is the desire of your heart, I hope that you’ll meet that special someone who can bring you the happiness that I’ve found with Stephen.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that you too will find your own pleasant tide of life. Perhaps we will meet again someday and I will have the pleasure of introducing to each other the two men who have truly made me happy and brought me joy. Please pray for Stephen and I and know that God hears your name in my prayers always.

In fond remembrance,


As I was pondering my letter to Billy, I was impressed by how unique and how much more intense my love for Stephen felt, even as I wondered to myself, “How is it that Stephen could hurt me as he has and yet I loved him even more each day?” I was stirred from that deep thought by Stephen calling, it was 4:30 and he said he was on his way back… I told him dinner would be waiting and that I loved him with all my heart – Stephen said he loved me too, and with that I put on some Christmas music and began the last minute preparations for his requested meal.

I was watching from the window when Stephen pulled up in front of the house. I watched him as he took his overnight bag from the back seat along with a lime green gift bag that I knew would be my Christmas gift from him. As he came up the walk, I met him at the front door. When he stepped in from the snow and the winter chill, as I leaned in to kiss him, he put his arms around my waist and pulled me in close to a tight embrace. He gave me a long and deep kiss and I imagined that paradise could not be any more wonderful than that moment.

As we broke our embrace, I looked intently at his face… He had a calm smile on his lips, and his eyes burned with a passionate glow. He said he’d missed me, and that dinner smelled wonderful. I said, “I missed you too – I love you, Stephen.” He dropped his bag in the hallway and I took his hand to lead him to the dining room and I seated him at the head of my table… Indeed, in my mind, I had seated him as the head of my life. I brought the appetizers out while he opened the wine. And as we sat together, the light from the setting sun shining through the stained glass doors behind him bathed the dining room in surreal multicolored hues that seemed to say, “This is Love at Christmas.”

As we laughed and talked, I brought out our meal in courses, first the soup and then the entrée. We ate and we were full – filled with love for each other and what looked like true happiness as I gazed at his face and listened to him speak from his heart. We retired to the Florida room and I left him so that I could clear the table and set out the desserts. When I came back to him, he asked if I was ready for my present… I said I was, and that I wanted to open my other gifts with his. I went to the living room and brought my gift to him and the handful of gifts from my family and Billy’s package as well.

As we sat together in anticipation of revealing our gifts to each other, I told him that Billy had called me while he was away and I showed him the package from Billy. He asked what I thought it was, and I said I really didn’t know, as I explained how Billy had sent me a Christmas gift every year since we’d met. I told him I wouldn’t open it and I’d return it to Billy if he wanted me to, but he said, “No, I don’t mind it.” I told Stephen I wanted us to exchange our gifts first because he was, “first in my life…” And with that, we exchanged our gifts and explained to each other why we’d picked what we did.

Although I opened the other gifts, the ones from my family, I left Billy’s package unopened. After a little while, Stephen and I settled into each other arms to watch television. As Stephen lay in my arms holding me close, he’d look up at me and tell me he loved me, and each time he said it, it seemed truer than the time before. I told him he made me very happy and that, “I could only be happier if we were getting married in three weeks.” He gave me a disapproving look and said, “Don’t talk about that, don’t think about it…” And so, not wanting to spoil what had been the most perfect day of my life, I said no more about it.

We enjoyed our desserts and then I asked if we could go to take my gifts to my family. Stephen said it was too late in the day for that, although I explained that in my family, our tradition has always been to not exchange and open gifts until late in the evening on Christmas Day. But he complained that he was tired and just wanted to be alone with me. Hearing that was enough for me and we settled back on the sofa, Stephen in my arms, me happier than I’d ever been before in the whole of my life.

Hours had passed without notice or care… when eleven o’clock arrived; I asked Stephen if he was ready to go to bed. Stephen had not said he was planning to stay, but when he came back that afternoon with his overnight bag, I knew he would. He said he was ready, but then he asked why I hadn’t opened Billy’s gift. I asked if he really wanted me to and he said, yes. I opened it and it was a CD along with a note explaining why he’d picked it for me. I let Stephen read the note and the lovely Christmas card that was also in the package. Stephen set the card and note down without saying anything and I put the CD in the coffee table drawer, as I asked again if he was ready to go up to bed.

Stephen smiled as I stood up and extended him my hand… As we made our way through the house, I picked up his bag in the hallway and still holding his hand, I led him up the stairs while telling him how happy I was that he was there with me. He simply smiled, as he said, “I love you,” the whole while still holding my hand tightly. In the bedroom, as we undressed and then as we washed up and brushed our teeth, we both knew that it had been a day we’d both remember.

Finally, we both knelt at the side of the bed to say our prayers silently… My prayer was simply one of thanksgiving for the day for which I’d waited a lifetime… Then we climbed between the cool sheets and under the comforter. And as we pressed our warm nakedness together, Stephen held me tightly in his arms and whispered in my ear, “Good night, Christopher ‘Harris’ Flournoy, I love you.” I fell asleep happy and safe in the arms of the one I loved, and who at least in that moment, I believe loved me… As I began to drift off, my last thought was of finally knowing beyond any doubt, what “Joy at Christmas” was all about…

“Fear Eats the Soul”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 111"

"Because of Love, He's My Reason..."

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.

"The Artist's Corner"

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Michael Breyette
Acrylic on Canvas

"In The News Today..."

Gay Marriage and the Constitution
Why Ted Olson and I are working to overturn California's Proposition 8.

By David Boies
July 20, 2009

When I got married in California in 1959 there were almost 20 states where marriage was limited to two people of different sexes and the same race. Eight years later the Supreme Court unanimously declared state bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional.

Recently, Ted Olson and I brought a lawsuit asking the courts to now declare unconstitutional California's Proposition 8 limitation of marriage to people of the opposite sex. We acted together because of our mutual commitment to the importance of this cause, and to emphasize that this is not a Republican or Democratic issue, not a liberal or conservative issue, but an issue of enforcing our Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process to all citizens.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the right to marry the person you love is so fundamental that states cannot abridge it. In 1978 the Court (8 to 1, Zablocki v. Redhail) overturned as unconstitutional a Wisconsin law preventing child-support scofflaws from getting married. The Court emphasized, "decisions of this Court confirm that the right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals." In 1987 the Supreme Court unanimously struck down as unconstitutional a Missouri law preventing imprisoned felons from marrying.

There were legitimate state policies that supported the Wisconsin and Missouri restrictions held unconstitutional. By contrast, there is no legitimate state policy underlying Proposition 8. The occasional suggestion that marriages between people of different sexes may somehow be threatened by marriages of people of the same sex does not withstand discussion. It is difficult to the point of impossibility to envision two love-struck heterosexuals contemplating marriage to decide against it because gays and lesbians also have the right to marry; it is equally hard to envision a couple whose marriage is troubled basing the decision of whether to divorce on whether their gay neighbors are married or living in a domestic partnership. And even if depriving lesbians of the right to marry each other could force them into marrying someone they do not love but who happens to be of the opposite sex, it is impossible to see how that could be thought to be as likely to lead to a stable, loving relationship as a marriage to the person they do love.

Moreover, there is no longer any credible contention that depriving gays and lesbians of basic rights will cause them to change their sexual orientation. Even if there was, the attempt would be constitutionally defective. But, in fact, the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians is as much a God-given characteristic as the color of their skin or the sexual orientation of their straight brothers and sisters. It is also a condition that, like race, has historically been subject to abusive and often violent discrimination. It is precisely where a minority's basic human rights are abridged that our Constitution's promise of due process and equal protection is most vital.

Countries as Catholic as Spain, as different as Sweden and South Africa, and as near as Canada have embraced gay and lesbian marriage without any noticeable effect -- except the increase in human happiness and social stability that comes from permitting people to marry for love. Several states -- including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont -- have individually repealed their bans on same-sex marriage as inconsistent with a decent respect for human rights and a rational view of the communal value of marriage for all individuals. But basic constitutional rights cannot depend on the willingness of the electorate in any given state to end discrimination. If we were prepared to consign minority rights to a majority vote, there would be no need for a constitution.

The ban on same-sex marriages written into the California Constitution by a 52% vote in favor of Proposition 8 is the residue of centuries of figurative and literal gay-bashing. California allows same-sex domestic partnerships that, as interpreted by the California Supreme Court, provide virtually all of the economic rights of marriage. So the ban on permitting gay and lesbian couples to actually marry is simply an attempt by the state to stigmatize a segment of its population that commits no offense other than falling in love with a disapproved partner, and asks no more of the state than to be treated equally with all other citizens. In 2003 the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas held that states could not constitutionally outlaw consensual homosexual activity. As Justice Anthony Kennedy elegantly wrote rejecting the notion that a history of discrimination might trump constitutional rights, "Times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom."

There are those who sincerely believe that homosexuality is inconsistent with their religion -- and the First Amendment guarantees their freedom of belief. However, the same First Amendment, as well as the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, preclude the enshrinement of their religious-based disapproval in state law.

Gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters, our teachers and doctors, our friends and neighbors, our parents and children. It is time, indeed past time, that we accord them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It is time, indeed past time, that our Constitution fulfill its promise of equal protection and due process for all citizens by now eliminating the last remnant of centuries of misguided state discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The argument in favor of Proposition 8 ultimately comes down to no more than the tautological assertion that a marriage is between a man and a woman. But a slogan is not a substitute for constitutional analysis. Law is about justice, not bumper stickers.

Mr. Boies is the chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"A Truth Shared..."

"Lie not, neither to thyself nor men nor God. Let mouth and heart be one — beat and speak together, and make both felt in action. It is for cowards to lie."

-George Herbert

For Stephen Christopher Harris

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 110"

"Christmas Is A Time 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.

"July 20th 1969..."

I can remember this day forty years ago quite well... All that week, my father and I, and to a lesser degree my mother, older brothers and my sisters were all following the news of the mankind's greatest exploration -- "The Journey to the Moon."

Some years ago, I wrote about my recollections of July 20, 1969* on the BBC's website. Surprisingly, since then, what I wrote has been widely quoted on other websites and even in an elementary school textbook. Most recently, it was excerpted on the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum blog commemorating the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.

The moon landing is one of a very few significant events that I can remember from the earliest years of my life... That summer of 1969, my mother was getting me ready to start school in the fall. It was just a few months after starting school, in kindergarten that I would begin my own "great exploration" with the significant discovery that I was gay (although at the time I had no idea what it meant or what to call it).

From the BBC website:

Although I had only recently celebrated my fifth birthday, I have a very vivid memory of that day.

We were all glued to the television at our kitchen table.

My brothers and sister and I were gathered around our parents. I was the smallest boy, so I got the privilege of sitting on Dad's lap.

I remember, my father being very quiet and mindful of what was being described on TV.

Then when Neil Armstrong started down the ladder, I felt a tremor run through my Dad. When he made his famous speech, I felt something wet drop onto the top of my head - I turned to see profuse tears streaming from my father's eyes and rolling over his cheeks.

My father would later say, "Even serving in the war (WWII) paled in comparison." He was never more proud of being an American than on the day our flag flew on the moon.

*Although the Lunar Module touched down at 4:17 P.M. EST on 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong did not depart the spacecraft until about 6 hours later. So in Europe and Africa, the moon walk occurred during the early morning hours of July 21st due to the time difference.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"It's Not So Funny..."

"The Truth Today..."

"I smile when I'm angry, I cheat and I lie. I do what I have to do to get by. But I know what is wrong and I know what is right, and I'd die for the truth in my secret life..."

Leonard Cohen in In my Secret Life


"A good description of Stephen Christopher Harris..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 109"

"Christmas Is a Time to be 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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"The Artist's Corner"

"The Sailor"
Cody Furguson
Acrylic on Canvas

"The Poet's Corner"

"There is no formula for generating the authentic warmth of love. It cannot be copied. You cannot talk yourself into it or rouse it by straining at the emotions or by dedicating yourself solemnly to the service of mankind. Everyone has love, but it can only come out when he is convinced of the impossibility and the frustration of trying to love himself. This conviction will not come through condemnations, through hating oneself, through calling self love bad names in the universe. It comes only in the awareness that one has no self to love..."

Alan Watts in The Wisdom of Insecurity

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 108"

"Christmas Brings Out the Little Kid In All of Us..."

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, July 16, 2009

"Christmas in July - Part 4"

When I woke late that Christmas morning, I was in Stephen's arms… I slowly turned to face him trying not to wake him. I lay there with his arm draped loosely over me as I gazed into the face that had brought me both incredible joy and undeniable sorrow and I realized that a dream was coming true… One of the long-held, precious desires of my heart was after many, many years finally being fulfilled. For the first time in my life, I was not alone on Christmas. I savored the moment as I wondered if Stephen could be right, that we could be one even without the promises and commitments of marriage.

As the late morning sun began to beam brightly through the window, Stephen began to stir from his slumber… Finally, I dared to kiss him and as he opened his eyes, he smiled a kind of smile that I’ve only rarely seen from him. He looked truly happy and I know that in that moment I was happy too. “Merry Christmas, Dearest,” was the first thing I said to him, and then I asked if he was ready for breakfast. He said he was hungry and that he wanted coffee as well. Leaving him with a parting kiss, I went to make our Christmas breakfast and his coffee. A few minutes later, I came back with his coffee on a tray. I found him still in bed with a wistful look on his face and when I asked what he was thinking about, he simply said, “How happy you make me.” I kissed him and told him breakfast would be ready in about 15 minutes.

I wasn’t quite done cooking when I heard Stephen coming down the steps with the coffee tray. He brought it into the kitchen and set it on the counter and then he kissed the back of my neck and went into the Florida room to wait for breakfast. Just as I was placing the food on the warmed plates, he came back to the kitchen doorway saying how drafty it was because of the boarded up window. He carried my plate and I carried his to the dining room table and he insisted that I sit at the head of the table that morning (a privilege I’d allowed him and no one else).

As we enjoyed our breakfast of steak and eggs, from where I was sitting, I could see the beautiful Christmas lights decorating the home of the neighbor at the corner. The beautiful scene of the lights blanketed in fluffy snow brought the joy of a White Christmas to life for the first time. With a beautiful holiday scene just outside the window and my beloved at my right hand, all seemed right with the world… it was a precious moment that I’ll never forget.

As I told Stephen of what I could see from the window, I told him of how I’d always wanted to see the Wayne County Lightfest in Hines Park, he promised we’d go together to see it. I was thrilled. As we ate and talked, I was truly happy… I told him of what it had felt like to be alone on all those Christmases past and how his being there with me made me truly happy. I shared with him some of my fondest recollections of Christmas when I was a boy. I told him about my favorite toy – “Grippity Gravity,” and how I’d been searching for one most of my adult life.

When we finished breakfast, I went and got some old towels and used them to insulate the gaps around the board in the window then I left him to watch television while I washed the dishes. When I returned in a few minutes, Stephen said the towels had really helped and I took my usual spot behind him on the sofa as he lay in my arms, his head upon my breast as we watched television. After a short while, Stephen stirred to say he was going to have to leave for a while… He said he had to change his clothes and then exchange Christmas gifts with Mike Fisher. Although my heart sank to hear him say that he was going, I didn’t let it show and I didn’t protest, I just asked what time he wanted to have our dinner. He said around 5, and though I hoped he’d be back sooner, I said, okay.

I got my coat and his, and I went out to brush the snow off of our cars and to shovel the walkways. He came out just as I got his car windows cleared and he paused in the street with me, saying he loved me and would be back as soon as he could. Though I could sense he wanted to kiss me, I could also tell he was afraid to though there was no one else on street. I said, “I love you, hurry back to me, Dearest… You’re my reason,” and with that said, Stephen jumped in his car and drove away as I waved to him. As I shoveled the snow from the walkways, I reflected on how happy I felt. In my mind, I could hear my own voice offering God my thanks for having heard my prayers for someone to love… Already, this Christmas was different from all the rest.

When I came in from the snow, I lit the fireplace and I sat down next to the little Christmas tree where Stephen had been sitting the night before when the police were there. The glow of the fire seemed to cast a magic light on the room, and it was then that I realized just how different the world looked through the eyes of love… despite all that had happened the night before, everything seemed beautiful… all was right with the world. Then, the sound of a text message arriving stirred me from my happy daydream.

The text was from Stephen, it said, “I love you, Dear Heart. I’ll be back soon.” I quickly replied, “143-2” and then I went to finish preparing the special meal he asked for…

"In The News Today..."

"A good sign...?"

"The Poet's Corner"

"Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs
Being purged, the fire in lovers' eyes,
Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers' tears.
What is it? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet."

William Shakespeare - "Romeo" from Romeo and Juliet (act 1, sc. 1)

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 107"

"His Love Keeps Me Warm..."

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, July 15, 2009

"The Poet's Corner"

"There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 106"

"Celebrating Love and the Joy of the Season..."

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, July 14, 2009

"The Artist's Corner"

"The Visitation"
Steve Walker
Acrylic on Canvas

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 105"

"Happy Together 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.

"The Truth Today..."

delanceyplace header

"The Risk of Being Loved..."

In today's excerpt - the risk inherent in positive
emotions: observations from the psychiatrist George
Vaillant, who has long been the chief curator of the
Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the
longest-running - and probably the most
exhaustive - longitudinal studies of mental and
physical well-being in history. Begun in 1937 as a
study of healthy, well-adjusted Harvard sophomores
(all male), it has followed its subjects for more than 70

"As Freud was displaced by biological psychiatry and
cognitive psychology - and the massive data sets and
double-blind trials that became the industry
standard - Vaillant's work risked obsolescence. But in
the late 1990s, a tide called 'positive psychology'
came in, and lifted his boat. Driven by a savvy, brilliant
psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania named
Martin Seligman, the movement to create a scientific
study of the good life has spread wildly through
academia and popular culture (dozens of books, a
cover story in Time, attention from Oprah,

"Vaillant became a kind of godfather to the field, and a
champion of its message that psychology can
improve ordinary lives, not just treat disease. But in
many ways, his role in the movement is as
provocateur. Last October, I watched him give a
lecture to Seligman's graduate students on the power
of positive emotions - awe, love, compassion,
gratitude, forgiveness, joy, hope, and trust (or
faith). 'The happiness books say, 'Try happiness.
You'll like it a lot more than misery' - which is perfectly
true,' he told them. But why, he asked, do people tell
psychologists they'd cross the street to avoid
someone who had given them a compliment the
previous day?

"In fact, Vaillant went on, positive emotions make us
more vulnerable than negative ones. One reason is
that they're future-oriented. Fear and sadness have
immediate payoffs - protecting us from attack or
attracting resources at times of distress. Gratitude
and joy, over time, will yield better health and deeper
connections - but in the short term actually put us at
risk. That's because, while negative emotions tend to
be insulating, positive emotions expose us to the
common elements of rejection and

"To illustrate his point, he told a story about one of
his 'prize' [Harvard] Study men, a doctor and
well-loved husband. 'On his 70th birthday,' Vaillant
said, 'when he retired from the faculty of medicine, his
wife got hold of his patient list and secretly wrote to
many of his longest-running patients, 'Would you write
a letter of appreciation?' And back came 100
single-spaced, desperately loving letters - often with
pictures attached. And she put them in a lovely
presentation box covered with Thai silk, and gave it to
him.' Eight years later, Vaillant interviewed the man,
who proudly pulled the box down from his
shelf. 'George, I don't know what you're going to make
of this,' the man said, as he began to cry, 'but I've
never read it.' 'It's very hard,' Vaillant said, 'for most of
us to tolerate being loved.'

Joshua Wolf Shenk, "What Makes Us Happy?" The
, June 2009, pp. 47-48.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 104"

"Our First Christmas With The Baby..."

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..."

Isreali Army Maj. Yoni Schoenfeld and Noam, his partner

Gays In Military Not An Issue For Many
Foes says U.S. service is unique, shouldn't look at what other countries do

The Associated Press
Sunday, July 12, 2009

NEW YORK - When it comes to dealing with gay personnel in the ranks, the contrasts are stark among some of the world's proudest, toughest militaries — and these differing approaches are invoked by both sides as Americans renew debate over the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

In the United States, more than 12,000 service members — including dozens of highly trained Arabic linguists — have been dismissed since 1994 because it became known they were gay. Current targets for discharge include a West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran, Army National Guard Lt. Dan Choi, and a veteran of combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan, Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach.

In Britain, on the other hand, gay and lesbian service members marched in crisp uniforms in the annual Pride London parade July 4. Gay Australian soldiers and sailors had their own float in Sydney's Gay Mardi Gras parade. In Israel, the army magazine earlier this year featured two male soldiers on the cover, hugging one another.

America's "don't ask, don't tell" policy — which prohibits gays from serving openly in the armed forces — is the target of intensifying opposition, and President Barack Obama says he favors lifting the ban. But he wants to win over skeptics in Congress and the Pentagon, and a fierce debate lies ahead that will inevitably touch on the experiences of allied nations that have no bans.

Serve-openly policy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Penn., the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress, has just launched a campaign for a bill to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." He observed British troops in Iraq operating smoothly with a serve-openly policy and bristles at the contention that America's armed forces would suffer morale and recruiting problems if they followed suit.

"I take it as a personal affront to our warriors," said the Pennsylvania Democrat. "To say that other countries' soldiers are professional enough to handle this and American soldiers aren't is really a slap in the face."

Those seeking to preserve the U.S. ban question whether the allies' experiences have been as smooth as advertised and depict America's military as so unique that lessons from overseas should be ignored anyway.

"We are the military leaders in the world — everybody wants to be like us," said Brian Jones, a retired sergeant major who served in the Army Rangers. "Why in the world would we try to adjust our military model to be like them?"

With such polarized views as a backdrop, Associated Press reporters took an in-depth look at how the militaries of Israel, Britain and Australia have managed with serve-openly policies, and interviewed partisans on both sides of the debate in the United States about the relevance of those experiences.

Israel recognizes partners of gay officers
A nation in a constant state of combat readiness, Israel has had no restrictions on military service by gays since 1993 — a policy now considered thoroughly uncontroversial.

Gays were permitted to serve even before then, but not in certain intelligence positions where, at the time, they were deemed possible security risks vulnerable to blackmail. Now, gays and lesbians — among them several senior officers — serve in all branches of the military, including combat duty.

"In this regard, Israel has one of the most liberal armies in the world," said Yagil Levy, a sociologist from the Open University of Israel.

The army recognizes the partners of gay officers as their bereaved next-of-kin after their deaths, eligible for benefits. Gay officers at promotions and other ceremonies often have their partners by their sides.

Maj. Yoni Schoenfeld, a gay officer who is the editor of the military magazine, Bamahane, said there was very little friction in the ranks related to gay soldiers.

He served as a combat soldier and as commander of a paratrooper company, and said his sexual orientation — though known to fellow soldiers — was never an issue. Gay jokes would sometimes surface, unusually not malicious, he said, while receptiveness to gays in combat units could vary.

"If you're gay and live in the 'manly' world, there are no problems," he said. "Those who are more feminine in their speech and appearance have a harder time fitting in."

'There shouldn't be a problem with it'
He sympathized with gays in the U.S. military who don't enjoy the same liberty he did.

"There shouldn't be a problem with it," he said. "It's the nature of man, and when you allow it to happen (serving openly), it's not a problem anymore."

Schoenfeld's magazine has reflected the evolving attitudes. In 2001, it was shut down briefly after featuring an interview with a retired colonel who had come out of the closet. Yet this year, there was no adverse reaction to the cover picture of two male soldiers embracing.

A gay magazine, meanwhile, named a major as its "man of a year" a few years ago; he continues to serve without harm to his career.

The military also provided the backdrop for Israel's precursor to "Brokeback Mountain" — the 2002 movie "Yossi & Jagger" about two Israeli combat soldiers who fall in love on the front lines. It was a hit with critics and the public, and was even screened on military bases.

Skepticism lingers in Australia
Back in 1992, Anita Van Der Meer was threatened with discharge from the Australian navy for being a lesbian. She denied the charge to save her job — and later that year the military's ban on gays and lesbians was lifted.

This spring, Van Der Meer marched proudly with more than 100 other service members in Sydney's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade under an Australian Defense Force banner. Even a general joined the march.

Now a chief petty officer, Van Der Meer was a junior sailor in 1992 when someone reported she was engaged in a same-sex relationship.

"It was very traumatic for me, but I still had the cooperation of my supervisors and my peers," said Van Der Meer, 41. "In the end, I had more support than I expected."

Chief Petty Officer Stuart O'Brien, who joined the navy 19 years ago, said being openly gay has not been an issue, even when working alongside U.S. military personnel in Baghdad in 2006.

"They valued the work that I did and that's all that it comes down to at the end of the day," O'Brien said. "Sexuality has nothing to do with anything any more within the services."

The lifting of the ban on gays was preceded by years of heated debate, yet the change itself was relatively uneventful aside from a few unexpected coming-outs of high-profile commanders.

"Everyone said, 'Good heavens, that's a bit of a surprise' and after five minutes the conversation reverted back to football," said Neil James of the Australian Defense Association, a security think tank. "After a while, it was met with a collective yawn."

Among opponents of the change at the time was Australia's main veterans group, the Returned and Services League, which has now withdrawn its objections.

The league's president, retired Maj. Gen. Bill Crews, said concerns about lowered morale and HIV transmission on the battlefield had proved ill-founded.

"I was there in the early days of it. ... I thought there'd be a continuing problem because of prejudice that exists in parts of the community," Crews said. "I don't see any evidence now that homosexuals are in any way discriminated against. ... A homosexual can be just as effective a soldier as a heterosexual."

Some skepticism lingers, however.

Brig. Jim Wallace, who commanded an elite Special Air Service mechanized brigade until retiring in 2000, argues that gays and women should be barred from combat roles.

"Do you want an army which is already likely to be outnumbered wherever it fights to be fighting at its most effective or its least effective?" Wallace asks. "If you want to sacrifice fighting effectiveness for political correctness, then all right, go ahead."

He referred to the traditional 10-soldier units commonly deployed in Australian combat forces.

"Now if you introduce into that 10 men a love or lust relationship, you immediately damage the phenomenon of mateship," he said. "There is some discrimination that has to be done to maintain the effectiveness of society or the effectiveness of fighting units."

Lifting of ban has had ‘no damaging effects’ in Britain
British policymakers had been wrestling for years with whether to scrap a long-standing ban on gays in the military — but the pivotal decision was made abroad, by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

The court ruled in 1999 that Britain had violated the rights of four former service members who were dismissed from the military for being gay and lesbian.

King's College professor Christopher Dandeker said there had been significant opposition to the change among military officers. There were predictions — not borne out — that unit cohesion would suffer and that large numbers of personnel would leave the military if gays could serve.

Once the ban was lifted, Dandeker said, the opposition dwindled, and the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair embraced the chance to be seen as a beacon of tolerance.

Lord Alan West, former head of the Royal Navy and now Britain's terrorism minister, served before and after the ban was lifted.

"It's much better where we are now," West said in an interview at the House of Lords. "For countries that don't do that — I don't believe it's got anything to do with how efficient or capable their forces will be. It's to do with other prejudices, I'm afraid."

As for Britain's trans-Atlantic ally: "I think the Americans really need to make the move," West said.

Peter Tatchell, a London-based gay-rights activist often critical of the government, praises the military's handling of the change.

"Since the ban has been lifted, there hasn't been a word of complaint from senior military staff," he said. "They've said that having gay and lesbian people in the services has had no damaging effect at all."

Mandy McBain joined the Royal Navy at age 19, in 1986, at the most junior rank possible. Now a lieutenant commander, she remembers what it was like to serve when being a lesbian had to be a secret.

"It's exhausting," she said. "It's quite incredible to look back and see how much time and energy I spent leading a double life."

In one past assignment, she processed the paperwork of comrades being dismissed because of their sexuality. "That," she said quietly, "I found very difficult."

Military expert Amyas Godfrey of the Royal United Services Institute, a London think tank, was serving with the British Army in Northern Ireland when the policy changed.

"I remember our commanding officer at the time called the entire battalion together and said, 'This is how it is going to be now. We are not going to discriminate. We are not going to bully. If someone in your group says that he is gay, you treat them as normal,'" Godfrey recalled.

"And that, really, was the implementation of it. For all the years I served after that, it was never an issue."

Lifting ban in U.S. brings strong opinions
For those in the U.S. military community who oppose letting gays serve openly, there's a widely shared sentiment that America has nothing to learn from the roughly two-dozen nations that have no bans.

"Who's the only superpower military out there?" argued Maj. Brian Maue, a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, in a debate in June at the McCormick Freedom Museum in Chicago. "This is hardly convincing to say, 'Ah, the others are doing it. We should too.'"

Maue — who says he's been speaking out on his own, not as a military spokesman — suggests that repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" would prompt straight service members to complain of privacy violations and "dignity infractions."

"An openly gay military would be the heterosexual equivalent to forcing women to constantly share bathrooms, locker rooms and bedrooms with men," he wrote in a New York Times online forum.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, another supporter of the ban, contends that some field commanders in nations that allow gays to serve openly have resorted to "tacit discrimination" — excluding them from front-line units for fear that problems would surface in rugged, close-quarters living conditions.

Maginnis also cited America's multiple overseas missions.

"You have a large part of the world with no tolerance for open homosexuality, and if we were to deploy there, it would be a serious problem," he said.

Repealing the ban would trigger the departure of some career service members who object to homosexuality and deter some people from enlisting, said Maginnis. "It doesn't matter what general population thinks — it's what the young people who have a propensity to enlist think."

Prominent advocates of open service for gays and lesbians acknowledge there would be some hitches, but predict the overall change would be smooth and professional.

"There's been very little trouble in the nations that lifted their ban on gays," said professor David Segal, director of the University of Maryland's Center for Research on Military Organization. "My guess is there will be slightly more in the U.S. — we have a somewhat higher level of intolerance."

Would it spur an exodus from military?
However, Segal doubted the change would spur a large exodus from the military or hamper recruitment.

"There will be some gay bashing at the unit level, and that will be a problem in the short run for NCOs and junior officers," he said. "But they will deal with it, just as they dealt with racial integration and gender integration."

Nathaniel Frank, a research fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara's Palm Center and author of a book on "don't ask, don't tell," says his studies of allied nations suggest that lifting the ban in the U.S. would not impair overall military effectiveness.

"There will be some forms of de facto discrimination and prejudice — a policy change is not going to wipe that out of people's hearts and minds overnight," he said. "But more and more people in the military are seeing it doesn't serve them to have this policy in place."

There's no question, Frank said, that the U.S. military is unique — the most powerful in the world. But he said it should be embarrassing that "our allies can tell the truth about gay soldiers and the U.S. stands with China, Iran, North Korea among the nations that can't."

The key to a smooth transition, Frank added, is emphatic direction from top commanders and the adoption of a code of conduct that would deter disciplinary problems by spelling out unacceptable behavior.

Dan Choi, the gay lieutenant facing dismissal from the Army, says the current "don't ask" policy is disruptive — forcing the gays who are serving to be furtive and dishonest.

"Closeting is what causes instability," he said. "It's the most toxic poison."

As for the U.S. being different from its allies, Choi agrees.

"We are exceptional — because we take the lead on things," he said. "To me, it's an insult to the idea of American exceptionalism to say we're somehow scared of gays."

"The Things That Love Says..."

"Dear Heart, you and I are connected in ways that transcend anything we might have ever imagined."

- Stephen Christopher Harris, December 3, 2006

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 103"

"Christmas Is A Time To Share Memories of Childhood Joy..."

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.

"Fear Eats the Soul..."

A surprise in today's email:

A "gift" for Stephen Christopher Harris...

AT&T Yahoo!

Removal of Picture and Name from Blog
Sunday, July 12, 2009 7:54 AM

Hello Christopher Flournoy,

I have thought about this for a while now; I have read your blogs and I have tried to understand your journey not only with "Stephen", but with life. I feel like I know you through your writings and my heart goes out to you in "Agape Love" for healing and understanding. However, I would like to request that you remove my image and my name from your blog.

I have never met you, but I feel your pain and frustrations. Please continue to express yourself in the way that works best for you, but again I request that all references to me "Charles Kelly" be avoided and not used in context of your blog.

I also again request that all images of "Charles Kelly" be removed and I request that all other photos and images of "Charles Kelly" be refrained from being posted in relationship with your blog the "The Unbearable Truth....Fear Eats the Soul" now and in the future.

Your relationship with "Stephen Christopher Harris" and my experience with him are very similar in many ways, but I prefer not to express my pain in public any longer, either through your blog or my own. I have decided to leave that part of my past in the past.

I appeal to your sense of dignity and honor in this matter. I know you do not have to honor my wishes and that you may even add these comments to your blog, but I had to ask for your consideration in this matter because of your keen sense of understanding and your quest for truth and honesty.

I wish you God's Speed in getting to a place of Peace in your experience with him. Your expressions of honesty, pain and understanding are admirable in your quest to understand the Truth. However, at this point in your journey and probably long before it ever started.... "You Knew The Truth...."

Charles Kelly

704-634-2962 cell

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