Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 341"


"Love Is Togetherness..."

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, May 28, 2010

"Fear Eats the Soul..."

video


The Camera in the Closet: Gay Service Members Speak Out to ABC News About Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Bob Woodruff Speaks to Gay Service Members Who Are Still Hiding in the Shadows and One Who is Speaking Out

By Mary Kathryn Burke
May 25, 2010

An estimated 65,000 closeted gay service members are currently serving in the U.S. military. And a few of them, together with photographer Jeff Sheng, are leaving that closet door ajar as part of Sheng's project "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a portrait series of military personnel affected by the law banning homosexual men and women from serving openly in the U.S. military.

In each of the images, the subject's identities are obscured. Shadows obfuscate. Hands cover faces. Backs face the onlooker.

A door frame covers a profile.

Each photograph is titled by a first name -- a pseudonym -- and a location significant to the framed figure. They are themselves -- in hiding.

ABC New's Bob Woodruff sat down exclusively with Sheng and four of his subjects, two of whom appear in Sheng's book "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Vol. 1." The other two will appear in the subsequent edition of the book, due out this fall, following an exhibition at the Kaycee Olsen Gallery in Culver City, Calif.

They all love the military. They all serve the United States. They all want to take a stand. And one, known as "Matt," has decided to speak out to ABC News, leaving the military -- and the closet -- behind him.

'Am I Going to Get Outed?'

"Samuel" had a surprising experience when he joined the service. He found a niche with other soldiers where he felt comfortable being himself. Samuel wasn't scared, at first.

"Initially it was really easy," he said. "There were a lot of openly gay people. And the entire chain of command knew it and nobody cared. I knew the rest of the military wasn't like that and I was just lucky that one time, my first time."

Samuel has been on two deployments, and now back at a base in the U.S., he fears discovery by his current colleagues. If detected, Samuel could be discharged, forced to repay educational costs, and could lose his health insurance.

Health insurance is particularly important for Samuel.

He is HIV positive.

"I think about it every day," he said. "I mean, am I going to get in trouble? Am I going to get outed? Is somebody going to find something or interpret something? And the next thing you know I am going to have to give explanations and lose everything? I think about it all the time. It's worse than being in high school."

Samuel said he does not worry about himself as much as he worries about generations to come.

"They need to not live in fear the way that I do every day," he said. "If one person changes their mind based on this project, it will be worth it."

Samuel says he loves his work. He believes in his work. The only aspect of military life Samuel does not believe in is the current law.

"I believe in putting on this uniform every day," he said.

Unlike Samuel, "Rae" has never let a fellow soldier know she is gay. In a committed relationship for several years, Rae wears a "promise ring" on her left ring finger.

Rae says she often gets asked about her personal life.

"They ask questions: 'Where's your husband?' 'Do you have a boyfriend?' And sometimes I just really want to say, 'I have a partner who is a woman.' And I really want to be able to take her to different functions that we have on base."

Rae, who joined the service after having already come out of the closet to family and friends, found it particularly difficult to be forced back in because of her career. She said this added to the isolation of experiencing life in the military as a minority twice over: as a black service member, and as a black female service member.

"I know the consequences of being out, being gay, and being a person of color in the military," she said. "I think you are definitely scrutinized a little bit more when you are a black woman in the military. You stand out as a black person and then as a woman."

'Someone Has to Speak Out, Even if Your Face is Hidden'

Rae said her participation in the project came from a desire to speak out in some way while still protecting the military life she loves.

"I can't be completely out," she said. "I can't show my face. I can't reveal a lot of information. But I can say that I am a black woman. I am a young black woman. And I love the military and I love serving in the military and I hope to continue to do so. Someone has to speak out even if your face is hidden. Even if you take a photograph and the only thing we see are the rank insignias. The fact that you see someone from the Air Force or the Army or the Marines who is willing to be a part of this project says a lot and it makes you feel that you are not the only one."

Rae decided to reach out to Sheng when she spotted his book on a colleague's desk.

"I looked at the cover first and I opened it and I said 'Oh my God. That's me. The person on the cover is the same rank as I am.' And that picture just spoke volumes. Because that is how you feel when you are not able to be who you are."

The person on that cover was "Jess."

'What's the Big Deal?'

The cover image shows Jess in an airman uniform and combat boots. An all-American, chiseled Midwestern type sitting on the edge of a dark hotel room, curtains drawn. Sandy blond-red hair peeks out from his right hand, shielding his face. He is at once a paparazzi-chased celebrity, a scolded school boy sent to his room, and a modern Rodin's "Thinker."

He is alone.

Rae said she felt that the man on the cover was not just alone, but lonely.

"There was a sense of isolation," she said. "That you are the only one who is gay in the military. It definitely is frustration, isolation."

Jess, whose hidden visage, in person, glows with warmth and familiarity, said he too sees that sense of seclusion in his image ... an image which has gotten more attention than he bargained for.

"I think it represents loneliness. I think it represents a very lonely person who just wants to be open and honest ... there is nobody else there. Because we all have to hide it we can't tell each other. We can't support each other. It is not like the civilian world where somewhat of a gay and lesbian community comes around and helps everybody. It's not like that. We are all independent. We all stand on our own I guess... I think it feels dirty, more so than anything, like I am doing something wrong by being here or by getting my picture taken in a hotel room."

Jess says he is proud of the photo. He says he has no regrets.

But at first, Jess did not bank on being the "cover boy," as Samuel puts it, or on having his photo in TIME magazine or in the New York Times, both of which have featured Jess' image.

Jess, or at least the photo of him, has become something of an icon for the life gay soldiers lead under the current policy. And his emerging iconic status has been noticed by some with the power to take away his military life.

"I got a call the other day," Jess said, "from my Chief. They didn't directly say that they knew about everything that has been going on in the past few months. But they indirectly reminded me to um ... look at a few regulations."

DADT

Jess was directed to review the policy, mandated in 1993 under President Bill Clinton, that bars anyone who demonstrates "a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts" from serving in the armed forces.

According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, more than 14,000 service members have been discharged under the law since 1994. And the Williams Institute, a gay advocacy think tank affiliated with UCLA Law, issued a study estimating 65,000 closeted service members continue to serve under "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT).

Jess likens the fight to repeal DADT to the civil rights movement.

"In the military you have to learn tolerance. In the military there is no middle ground. I mean, we serve with everybody... When Truman put African Americans into the military and said it was ok for Adrican Americans to serve, people brought up the exact same issues that they do now. You know, unit cohesion: is a white guy going to go save a black soldier or or is a black soldier going to go save his white counterpart? It is the exact same argument that they made in the sixties that they are making now. Obviously, we have African Americans; we have everyone serving in the military. What's the big deal?"

Despite the current climate, though, Jess loves military life. His only complaint, he says, is having to hide who he is.

"I feel like it's a very conservative America. If you don't talk about it then it's okay. As long as no one knows."

In fact,a 2010 ABC News/Washington Post Poll shows that "even conservatives and Republicans widely accept homosexuals serving in the armed forces even if they 'tell'." And 75 percent say gays who do disclose their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve, unchanged from 2008, but up from 44 percent 17 years ago.

Asked what he would say to someone who refuses to hide anymore?

"I wish I were you," Jess said. "I wish I had that much courage because that is hard. I have a lot of admiration for somebody if they are willing to do that."

"Matt" was willing.

Matt's real name is Sergeant Anthony Bustos.

Anthony is a native Texan. Anthony is 24. Anthony is an eight year service member. Anthony has done two tours in Iraq.

Anthony watched his two best friends in the army die when an IED hit their Humvee in 2005.

Anthony is gay.

Out of the Closet and Out of the Service

"I think about them very day," Bustos said, remembering his friends who did not come home. "I feel like I might have cheated them of knowing the real me because I was afraid to come out to them and they died not knowing the real me, who I was completely. And I feel every day that I should have told them. I know they know now. I still talk to them and I still pray for them and everything, I just feel like we didn't get to talk about a part of me that was an essential part."

Bustos, like all the service members Sheng has photographed, says he loves the military. He is leaving because of "don't ask, don't tell."

"If the policy was changed, I would like to re-enlist into the military," he said. "I like the core structure of it. I like the core values. I think they are great values. I love the structure of everything, how everything has a set time, the uniformity of everything. I am very much a military brat and I thrive under stress and under pressure and all that and I love it. I love the physical aspect, the mental aspect, everything. But right now, as far as my conscience goes I cannot continue to serve under this policy."

He says he has no hard feelings toward his fellow soldiers or his superiors.

"When you get injured over there you don't get injured because you are gay or because you are straight or because you are white or you're black or you're Hispanic. It is because you are a U.S. soldier, or an airman, or U.S. Navy personnel. Everybody is doing their service over there and they are doing it very, very well and I have the utmost respect for everyone over there."

Bustos says he understands he is taking a chance by openly violating the policy and coming out on national television. He is willing to take that chance.

"I am violating 'don't ask, don't tell,'" he said, "And I understand if [my Commander] has to, he has to take the proceedings he does, because it is something he has to do. I am willing to take responsibility for this, I am willing to take anything that comes my way through this ... it will be for a better cause and hopefully it might change or be something in the process to change the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy."

Bustos felt compelled to come out to the military and to the world, but he had not yet come out to his own mother.

"I believe my mom will be shocked," Bustos said."But she loves me unconditionally. I trust her... but I also love her so much that I will give her space to react emotionally in whatever way she needs to. "

Anthony said he does not seek fame, or a place in history. He wants people to see the face of gay soldiers. "I am here to give a voice and a face and to humanize something that seems so inhuman," he said. "I want this subject to be important right now."

Right after his interview, Bustos called his mom in Texas.

"She was very supportive," he said. "She was great."

His Camera, Their Closet

Jeff Sheng started his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" project at the direct behest of service members who contacted him after "Fearless," his series featuring out, gay student athletes gained national attention.

At 29, Sheng recalls his experience coming out of the closet as an undergraduate at Harvard. As hard as approaching his family was for Sheng, he knows it is in some ways more difficult for the subjects in this series. Sheng says the project has kept him up some nights.

"I realized it was a risk," he said. "I thought long and hard about working on a project like this."

Sheng says he hopes the images he creates will in some way highlight not just the differences between closeted service members and their straight counterparts, but also will emphasize their commonality.

"I think photographs have the power to move people that sometimes words don't," Sheng said. "And you look at these images and what you see is that people who are gay or lesbian who are closeted look very similar, the same, as people you would assume to be straight. And that's a powerful message."

Sheng said the reaction to the project has moved him. He describes many of the e-mails he receives as "heartbreaking."

Sheng has shot over 40 subjects. He hopes to produce about 20 more images in the coming months and perhaps many more after that. He says although he is an artist, his first priority for the series is trust.

The photos are taken digitally. And subjects have full veto power.

Sheng says Jess' experience in particular gives him pause.

"I know that photograph has put him at risk," Sheng said. "I know that people in the military know that it is him. I don't know how I feel about that. I am incredibly bothered at times that that is part of the situation."

But any apprehensions Sheng has are overwhelmed by a feeling of hope.

"There has also been a sense of pride," Sheng said. "There is this sense of, 'I am standing up. I am being who I am in this image.'"

Jeff Sheng is currently working on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Volume 2." His photographs will be featured in the Kaycee Olsen Gallery in Culver City, California in September.


Copyright © 2010 ABC News Internet Ventures





********

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 340"

"Happy Because We're Together... This Is 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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 339"

"Love And Marriage Made Our Happy Family Complete..."

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, May 26, 2010

"The Things That Love Says..."


“I don't pretend to know what love is for everyone, but I can tell you what it is for me; love is knowing all about someone, and still wanting to be with them more than any other person, love is trusting them enough to tell them everything about yourself, including the things you might be ashamed of, love is feeling comfortable and safe with someone, but still getting weak knees when they walk into a room and smile at you.”

- Unknown

"The Artist's Corner"

"Quantae"
Oil on canvas
Elizabeth McGhee


"Same Gender Loving People - No. 338"

"Love... It Makes Everything Better"

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, May 25, 2010

"The Poet's Corner"



“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.”

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 337"

"What God Hath Joined Together, Let No Man Put Asunder..."

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, May 24, 2010

"The Artist's Corner"

"Jazz"
Pastel on canvas
Jeff Spicer

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 336"

"The Essence Of Love Is Togetherness..."

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, May 23, 2010

"The Truth Is In The Scriptures"


David and Jonathan


Passages in 1 Samuel & 2 Samuel describe, among other events, a extremely close bond between David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the son of King Saul, and next in line for the throne. But Samuel anointed David to be the next king. This produced a strong conflict in the mind of Saul.

Interpretation: Religious conservatives generally view the friendship of David and Jonathan as totally non-sexual. They find it inconceivable that God would allow a famous king of Israel to be a homosexual.

Some religious liberals believe that David and Jonathan had a consensual homosexual relationship - in many ways, a prototype of many of today's gay partnerships. 7 Some important verses which describe their relationship are: 1 Samuel 18:1
"...Jonathan became one in spirit with David and he loved him as himself." (NIV)

"...the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (KJV)

Most translations use the term "soul" rather than "spirit" to describe the bond. They speak of an "immediate bond of love", their souls being "in unison," their souls being "knit" etc. Genesis 2:7, as written in the original Hebrew, describes how God blew the spirit into the body of Adam that God had formed from earth, so that Adam became a living soul. This means that "soul", in the ancient Israelite times, represents a combination of body and spirit. Thus the two men appear to have loved each other both physically and emotionally.


1 Samuel 18:2
"From that day, Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house." (NIV)

David left his parent's home and moved to Saul's where he would be with Jonathan. This is a strong indication that the relationship was extremely close. It echoes the passage marriage passage in Genesis 2:24: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."


1 Samuel 18:3-4
"And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt." (NIV)

Since people in those days did not wear underwear, Jonathan stripped himself naked in front of David. That would be considered extremely unusual behavior (then and now) unless their relationship was sexual in nature.


1 Samuel 18:20-21
"Now Saul's daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 'I will give her to him', he thought, 'so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him'. Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law" (NIV)

In the King James Version, the end of Verse 21 reads:

"Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law, in the one of the twain." (KJV)

Saul's belief was that David would be so distracted by a wife that he would not be an effective fighter and would be killed by the Philistines. He offered first his daughter Merab, but that was rejected, presumably by her. Then he offered Michal. There is an interesting phrase used at the end of verse 21. In both the NIV and KJV, it would seem that David's first opportunity to be a son-in-law was with the older daughter Merab, and his second was with the younger daughter Michal. The KJV preserves the original text in its clearest form; it implies that David would become Saul's son-in-law through "one of the twain." "Twain" means "two", so the verse seems to refer to one of Saul's two daughters. Unfortunately, this is a mistranslation. The underlined phrase "the one of" does not exist in the Hebrew original. The words are shown in italics in the King James Version; this is an admission by the translators that they made the words up. Thus, if the KJV translators had been truly honest, they would have written:

"Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law, in the twain."

In modern English, this might be written: "Today, you are son-in-law with two of my children" That would refer to both his son Jonathan and his daughter Michal. The Hebrew original would appear to recognize David and Jonathan's homosexual relationship as equivalent to David and Michal's heterosexual marriage. Saul may have approved or disapproved of the same-sex relationship; but at least he appears to have recognized it. The KJV highlight their re-writing of the Hebrew original by placing the three words in italics; the NIV translation is clearly deceptive.


1 Samuel 20:41
"After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with is face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together - but David wept the most." (NIV)

Other translations have a different ending to the verse: "...and they kissed one another and wept with one another, until David exceeded." (KJV)
"...and they kissed one another and wept with one another until David got control of himself." (Amplified Bible)
"and they sadly shook hands, tears running down their cheeks until David could weep no more." (Living Bible)
"They kissed each other and wept together until David got control of himself." (Modern Language)
"They kissed each other and wept aloud together." (New American Bible)
"Then David and Jonathan kissed each other. They cried together, but David cried the most." (New Century Version)
"Then they kissed one another and shed tears together, until David's grief was even greater than Jonathan's." (Revised English Bible)
"...and they kissed one another and wept with one another until David recovered himself." (Revised Standard Version)


The translators of the Living Bible apparently could not handle the thought of two adult men kissing, so they mistranslated the passage by saying that the two men shook hands! This is somewhat less than honest. The original Hebrew text says that they kissed each other and wept together until David became great. The word which means "great" in this passage is "gadal" in the original Hebrew. The same word is used elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures to refer to King Solomon being greater than all other kings. Some theologians interpret "gadal" in this verse as indicating that David had an erection. However, the thoughts of David becoming sexually aroused after kissing Jonathan may have been too threatening for Bible translators. They either deleted the ending entirely or created one of their own.


2 Samuel 1:26
"I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women."

In the society of ancient Israel, it was not considered proper for a man and woman to have a platonic relationship. Men and women rarely spoke to each other in public. Since David's only relationships with women would have been sexual in nature, then he must be referring to sexual love here. It would not make sense in this verse to compare platonic love for a man with sexual love for a woman; they are two completely different phenomena. It would appear that David is referring to his sexual love for Jonathan.

********

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Truth Is Eloquent..."


From the Huffington Post:

'Ex-Gays' and the Ninth Circle of Hell


By Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D.
Theologian, Seminary Professor, and Ordained Minister
Posted: May 20, 2010


Who are the worst sinners of all? The answer may surprise you. According to the fourteenth-century writer Dante Alighieri, the most egregious sinners are traitors, or those people who have betrayed their families, nations, guests, and leaders. As punishment, these individuals are frozen in ice and are condemned to the ninth, or lowest, circle of hell, where Satan himself resides. All this is vividly described in cantos XXXI through XXXIV of Dante's Inferno.

Theologically speaking, betrayal is the worst of all sins (according to Dante, anyway) because not only does it involve the infliction of violence -- physical or spiritual -- upon others, but it also involves the active use of the faculties of the intellect in order to turn against those very individuals who have trusted and relied upon you for help. Indeed, as John Milton describes in the first book of Paradise Lost, Satan himself was a fallen angel who had committed betrayal by rebelling against God.

The recent fall of George Alan Rekers, the virulently anti-gay Baptist minister and long-time advocate of reparative therapy, has highlighted the ways in which the "ex-gay" movement has profoundly betrayed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Rekers, a founding board member of the anti-gay Family Research Council and a former officer of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH), was photographed in April by the Miami New Times returning from a ten-day trip to Europe with a 20-year-old gay escort who had advertised his very explicit services and physical attributes on Rentboy.com.

Rekers, a married man and father, has denied the fact that any sexual activity had occurred between him and the escort. He also denied that he has ever been gay. Specifically, Rekers claims that he hired the escort to be his "travel assistant" for purposes of handling luggage due to a back injury (despite the fact that Rekers was photographed handling own his luggage at the Miami airport while the escort looked on), and that he used the trip as an occasion to bring the gospel to such escort.

The escort, on the other hand, has told the Miami New Times that his duties during the all-expense paid European vacation (and twice before the vacation) included giving Rekers daily nude massages with provocative names such as the "long stroke." He also said that Rekers instructed him to "just say no" to the press about the allegations. In fact, reporters from the Miami New Times were physically present at a post-vacation speakerphone conversation between the escort and Rekers, during which Rekers asked the escort several times not to speak to the press, and the reporters have documented the conversation.

The Rekers scandal would simply be a humorous occasion for schadenfreude but for the sad fact that Rekers has made a career of making life a living hell for numerous LGBT people who have been told that they can and must change their sexual orientations and gender identities. As early as the 1970s, Rekers conducted Pavlovian-like experiments to encourage gender non-conforming children to abandon their behaviors. One such experiment involved directing the father of "Kraig," a four-year-old "effeminate" boy, to "swat" or spank the boy after he had engaged in gender non-conforming behaviors. Sadly, "Kraig" tried to commit suicide at the age of 18.

Just recently, Rekers was paid over $120,000 by the attorney general of Florida to testify in favor of upholding the State of Florida's categorical ban against adoption by LGBT people. (Ironically, Rekers is himself an adoptive father of a young man who is around the same age as the "travel assistant" that he had hired.) Rekers had testified as an expert witness in a similar lawsuit in Arkansas. And just before leaving on his European vacation with his "travel assistant," Rekers was involved in a mass mailing to school superintendents across the country about the purported effectiveness of reparative therapy for LGBT youth.

Rekers is not the only fallen angel of the "ex-gay" movement to have betrayed his family, clients, benefactors, and the LGBT community. A few years ago, John Paulk, a self-proclaimed "former" gay man and drag queen, was caught in another "ex-gay" scandal. Paulk, along with his "ex-lesbian" wife Anne, had proclaimed to the world in the late 1990s that he had been cured of his homosexuality. The Paulks appeared in full-page ads and on the cover of Newsweek as part of the "Truth in Love" campaign sponsored by Focus on the Family. Unfortunately for Focus on the Family, Paulk was photographed while cruising gay men at Mr. P's, a well-known gay bar in Washington D.C.'s very gay Dupont Circle neighborhood, which ultimately led to his forced departure from the "ex-gay" movement.

Ironically, the "ex-gay" movement has been quick to cannibalize its own. The movement has rapidly turned on people like Rekers and Paulk, causing such anti-gay groups to fall even deeper into the sin of betrayal. For example, Rekers' name already has been scrubbed from the websites of a number of organizations with which he was formerly associated, despite his decades of work with such organizations. And yet these groups continue to spread their toxic "ex-gay" propaganda that results in the spiritual -- if not physical -- deaths of numerous LGBT people. Wayne Besen, in his book Anything But Straight, and his organization, Truth Wins Out, have documented many of these examples of betrayal by the "ex-gay" movement.

The good news, however, is that Christian theology teaches us that it is never too late to repent. Michael Bussee and Wayne Cooper, the two founders of Exodus International, one of the earliest and most prominent "ex-gay" organizations, ended up falling in love with each other. They have acknowledged that, as a result of their "ex-gay" ministries, many of their former clients had become "suicidal" or resorted to "self-mutilation." They repudiated their views publicly, separated from their wives, and abandoned Exodus International. They exchanged vows and remained together for another nine years until Cooper passed away.

I have written elsewhere about the sin of the closet and the grace of coming out. For me, it is high time that the leaders of the "ex-gay" movement come out of the closet -- both metaphorically and literally -- and repent of their sins of betrayal. It is time that they publicly acknowledge the incredible harm that they have inflicted on numerous LGBT people and their families and loved ones. It is time that they publicly repudiate the junk science and dubious theology upon which the entire "ex-gay" movement is based.

Nobody knows for sure if traitors are in fact consigned to the lowest circle of hell, as Dante vividly described in the Inferno. I am certain, however, that the grace of God is available even to those who have betrayed their loved ones, the LGBT community, and even themselves through the "ex-gay" movement. It is time for people involved in the "ex-gay" movement to repent of their sinful ways and to proclaim the real "truth in love," which is that all authentic love between people -- queer, straight, or in-between -- should be supported and encouraged as a wonderful blessing and unmerited gift from God.

The gospel teaches us that true repentance and conversion is always possible through God's grace. I believe that this holds true even for the most hardened of sinners, including those deeply closeted and self-loathing people who have betrayed so many people through their involvement in the "ex-gay" movement.


*******

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 335"

"Where There Is Love, There Is No Fear..."

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, May 22, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 334"

"Our Wedding Day... Our 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.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"In The News Today..."

Above: A proud Israeli Soldier marches during Gay Pride

U.S. Allies Say Integrating Gays In Military Was Non-issue


From Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Producer

Washington, D.C. (CNN) -- The U.S. and its military allies agree on many things, from the size of bullets for their rifles to the design of future fighter jets. But on the issue of gays in the military, the United States stands alone among its Western allies.

Representatives from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Israel and the Netherlands gathered Wednesday at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, to describe how the militaries in those countries handled allowing homosexuals to serve openly. The consensus was that, in spite of concerns before the change, it became a non-issue once gays and lesbians were allowed to serve.

"I did not see one case at any level when homosexuals did not get along with other soldiers. The problems are among men and women," said Maj. Gen. Walter Semianiw, an infantry officer in the Canadian military. "This is not an issue for our country."

"We know the U.S. as a country that favors the individual rights, freedom, giving the people the opportunity to flourish in their life," said Col. Kees Matthijssen of the Royal Dutch Army. "From that perspective it's still very strange the U.S. is still having a kind of ban on openly having gays and lesbians in the military."

"There were concerns in the late '90s of gay men walking across the gangplank in feather boas and high heels," said retired Lt. Cmdr. Craig Jones of the British Royal Navy. "That just did not happen."

Jones said British military officials saw an unexpected benefit of allowing gays to serve openly -- better retention of qualified soldiers and sailors in key positions. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the British military had a 6 percent to 8 percent gap in unfilled positions. Now it's down to the 2 percent to 3 percent range.

Jones said one reason for that is the new policy allowing gays to serve.

Now that gays are able to serve, military recruiters in the United Kingdom have more volunteers to choose from, Jones said. Also, having children is often cited by British troops as one reason why they leave the military in their late 20s or 30s. Jones said because gays and lesbians are less likely to become parents, they tend to stay in the military longer.

During a recent congressional hearing on the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell," policy, retired NATO Commander Gen. John Sheehan testified that he believed the Dutch military's policy of allowing gays to serve was in part to blame for the Dutch military's failure to halt the massacre of Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.

Sheehan later backtracked on his testimony, but Matthijssen of the Dutch army addressed the comments.

"I was in Srebrenica myself, I was a company commander, I was there. I had a full professional company," Matthijssen said.

"The homosexual, sexuality that he suggested would have affected that unit, that is absolutely not the case."

Matthijssen said, "There was good cohesion within the unit, the unit was effective. But the unit was put in a place -- based on political decisions within the U.N., within the international community -- with too [few] troops, too few means, not the mandate to really fight and overwhelm ... That's what really happened."

Matthijssen said allowing gays to serve openly has made the Royal Dutch Army better.

"We're much more effective because we have an organizational culture and climate that people know that they can tell about who they are, and that's what we encourage," he said.

"For The Sake Of Love..."



Malawi Gay Couple Get Maximum Sentence of 14 Years


Thursday, 20 May 2010

The pair were arrested after holding an engagement ceremony last December A judge in Malawi has imposed a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison with hard labour on a gay couple convicted of gross indecency and unnatural acts.

The judge said he wanted to protect the public from "people like you".

Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, have been in jail since they were arrested in December after holding an engagement ceremony.

The case has sparked international condemnation and a debate about homosexuality in the country.

The British government, Malawi's largest donor, expressed its "dismay" at the sentences, but has not withdrawn aid.

"Horrendous example"

The US state department, meanwhile, said the case was "a step backwards in the protection of human rights in Malawi".

Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa described the actions by Malawi's first openly gay couple as an affront on Malawi's moral code.

The courtroom was packed and hundreds more people stood outside, peering through windows.

The case has ignited debate over homosexuality in Malawi, a conservative country where religious leaders equate same-sex liaisons with Satanism.

But the impoverished southern African nation has come under pressure from Western donor nations and agencies. They have cautioned Malawi to tread carefully over rights of minority groups, such as homosexuals, or risk being black-listed on governance issues, which may have aid implications.

Some 40% of the development budget in Malawi is from donors.

But despite the outcry, the authorities won't budge. President Bingu wa Mutharika dismisses homosexuality as alien.

Handing down sentence in the commercial capital, Blantyre, Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa told the pair: "I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example."

The judge said the pair - whom he convicted on Tuesday - had shown no remorse.

"We are sitting here to represent the Malawi society, which I do not believe is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons or conducting engagement ceremonies," said the judge.

The BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says Monjeza, who is unemployed, broke down in tears while Chimbalanga remained calm.

"I am not worried," Chimbalanga, a hotel janitor, told reporters as he was led away.

Defence lawyer Mauya Msuku told the BBC that they would appeal.

The courtroom was packed, and hundreds of people gathered outside the building. Some shouted abuse as the couple were taken back to jail.

There were shouts of "You got what you deserve!" and "Fourteen years is not enough, they should get 50!"

Mr. Msuku had argued for a lighter sentence, pointing out that the pair's actions had not victimised anyone.

"Here are two consenting adults doing their thing in private. Nobody will be threatened or offended if they are released into society," he said on Tuesday.

Gift Trapence, from the Centre for Development of People (Cedep), a human rights group, described it as a sad day for Malawi.

"How can they get 14 years simply for loving one another?" he asked. "Even if they are jailed for 20 years you can't change their sexuality.

Michelle Kagari, deputy Africa director of Amnesty International, called the sentence "an outrage", reports the AP news agency.

She described the pair as "prisoners of conscience" and said Amnesty would continue to campaign for them to be freed.

UK gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell pointed out that the laws under which the pair were convicted were introduced during British colonial rule.

"These laws are a foreign imposition. They are not African," he said.

He described the sentence as "brutal" and more severe than for rapists, armed robbers and killers.

The men had denied the charges and their lawyers said their constitutional rights had been violated.

Cedep and the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) have been urging Malawi's authorities to relax the country's stance on homosexuals.

Our reporter says the government has come under pressure from Western donors over the issue.


*******


Indeed, it is true that you'll risk everything for the sake of love... Their bravery in the face of such fearmongering hatred speaks to the power of love and the precious desires of the human heart. The desire to live and love freely and openly is what makes us human.

You can write to Steven and Tiwonge to offer them your support. You can address your letters and post cards to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, Prisoners, Chichiri Prison, P.O.Box 30117, Blantyre 3, Malawi.



"Fear Eats the Soul"




video

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 333"

"Its He And Me And Our Happy Little 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.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 332"

"Its Just Love... Its Just Wonderful"

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, May 19, 2010

"The Artist's Corner"

"Lost and Found"
Acyrlic on Canvas
Steve Walker

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 331"

"He Means Everything To Me... I Love Him"

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, May 18, 2010

"In The News Today..."


Malawi Gay Couple Face 14 Years
May 15, 2010 by Jason Shaw

Malawi Gay Couple Would Rather Be Martyr’s!

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and his partner Steven Monjeza are facing an incredibly harsh possible 14 year prison sentence with hard labour for becoming the first gay couple in Malawi to declare their commitment in a public ceremony . As reported in The Guardian newspaper today, Tiwonge would rather become an martyr than give in to the homophobia surrounding their case.

Gay rights veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell, told the paper he’d maintained contact with the pair at the maximum security Chichiri prison in Blantyre as they get ready to stand trial next week in Malawi. He said he received a strongly defiant message from Tiwonge Chimbalanga that said: “I love Steven so much. If people or the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless.”

Tatchell, also quoted Monjeza, who appears unwell, thin and weak with jaundiced eyes, “We have come a long way and even if our family relatives are not happy, I will never stop loving Tiwonge.”

Chimbalanga, 20, and Monjeza, 26, made history when they committed to marriage at a symbolic ceremony last December, they are the very first gay couple to make such a move and bold statement of love in the southern African country, where homosexuality is illegal.

Two days after that amazing show of love and courage, they were arrested at their home. they appeared in court to facing three charges of unnatural practices between males and gross indecency. Obviously, it’s no surprise that they were denied bail and have been in jail ever since.

The couple are due back in court on Tuesday, when magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa will deliver his verdict, however according to many, they are most likely to be sentenced to the maximum 14 years.

Gay sex is still illegal in 37 countries in Africa, and according to recent research, some 98% of the people in Cameroon, Kenya and Zambia disapprove of homosexuality. South Africa, is seen as the most accepting nation on the African continent, with a range of legal advances for gays. Such advances in equality are inspiring a new breed of gay activist movements springing up in out countries. Including, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and a few other countries as well. Something that would have been impossible and unthinkable a few years ago.

*******

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

"The Truth Today..."


Those Who Want To "Cure" Gays Spread Poison


By Daniel Shoer Roth


Self-hatred promotes hatred of others and sows poison everywhere. It is an evil defense mechanism.

No group of humans is exempt from this malady. People who suffer from self-hatred are toxic, not only to their family and friends, but to the entire community. They are also a threat because they know how their victims think, are familiar with their fears and speak the same language.

In general, from the outside, it is hard to identify who they are. Among gays, however, one group stands out: the fundamentalists who preach a doctrine to ``cure'' homosexuality through so-called reparative or conversion therapy, which covers a range of methods aimed at changing sexual orientation of men and women.

The believers of this dreadful treatment often project an image of champions of family values and often are very devout -- until they get caught hiring sex workers as escorts, masseurs and...

When these cases come to light, it is a victory for the public, because you open your eyes to the veiled nature of these two-faced individuals. And, hopefully, you will better appreciate those who are honest with themselves and others.

That is the merit that I accord the psychologist and anti-gay activist George Rekers, who was paid $120,000 in taxpayers' money to demonize homosexuals in court with the goal of preventing them from becoming parents. Later, behind the scenes, he apparently took off his mask.

"I AM NOT GAY"

Rekers announced last week his resignation from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a bastion of reparative doctrine where he had been an officer. In a statement he said: ``I have not engaged in any homosexual behavior whatsoever. I am not gay and never have been.''

If he isn't, then why does he care what others believe and say? Why waste so much energy defending himself?

I don't have to talk to him to find the answers. Two weeks ago, leaving the movie theater I ran into a man about my age, well-educated and mature. I was stunned to hear that he had recently gone back to being gay after several years of activism in the ex-gay movement, where he had supposedly changed his sexual orientation to hetero.

He believed he could be "cured'' through adherence to the pastoral and secular programs. He tried to find the root of the problem, strengthen his masculine identity and, obviously, ended up marrying a woman. Finally he got divorced and accepted himself, although he lives in and out of the closet.

I've heard even more terrifying testimonials. A businessman from a wealthy family whose parents sent him to those who perform exorcisms to rid him of the demon of homosexuality. The appalling thing was that he agreed to go.

But the repression of sexual orientation, feelings and desire never ends well. Sometimes it results in depression, low self-esteem, drug and alcohol abuse, workaholism and compulsive sex.

DOUBLE LIVES

Sexual orientation cannot be changed, science tells us. By trying, many people lead two lives. On the outside they are like Rekers: they accuse gays of being immoral and incapable of love. On the inside, they are like him, too: escaping to Europe with a sex worker who is 40 years younger to feel loved.

Then come right-wing fanatics who use them as puppets in order to reduce the limited legal protections afforded the gay and lesbian community.

Take, for example, Florida Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum, who hired Rekers as an ``expert'' witness against gay adoption.

Yes, Rekers is an expert... in hypocrisy.

This issue is not only about gays, because those who are homophobic are bound to reject other minorities, as well. McCollum on Thursday expressed support for the anti-immigrant measures in Arizona. It brings to mind the famous phrase of the German pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller, an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist./ Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Trade Unionist./ Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Jew./ Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.


Read more: those-who-want-to-cure-gays




*******

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 330"

"He's My Happiness, He's My 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.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"This Made Me Smile..."

Some have condemned this video saying it fosters homophobic stereotypes, but I'm of the opinion that the participants are not haters but merely bored lonely soldiers far from home seeking a little fun... Poking fun at our political debates is a time honored tradition in our country...



"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Because Fear Eats the Soul..."



"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 329"

"The Innocence Of Love Is Sweetest In Our Youth..."

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, May 16, 2010

"The Artist's Corner"

"Once In A Lullabye"
Pastel on canvas
Michael Breyette

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 328"

"Love... Even In The Imitation of Life"

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 Day To Remember..."


May 16, 2004 - Kansas City, Missouri

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”



Thomas Merton

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"The Fight Against Evil..."



Pope Calls Abortion, Gay Marriage Insidious Threat


Fatima, Portugal
5.13.2010

Pope Benedict XVI has called abortion and same-sex marriage two of the most “insidious and dangerous” threats facing the world today.

Benedict made the comments Thursday to Catholic educators, social workers and others after celebrating Mass before an estimated 400,000 people in Fatima, one of the most important shrines in Christianity. He was interrupted by applause several times.

Benedict’s visit to Fatima was the spiritual centerpiece of his four-day visit to Portugal. It was cast by Vatican officials as evidence that Benedict had turned a page in weathering the clerical sex abuse scandal that has dogged him for months.

The pope returns to the Vatican on Friday after celebrating Mass in Porto, the country’s second-largest city.


*******

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"In The News Today..."

Corvino: The Danger of the Gay Closet

By John Corvino, columnist, 365gay.com
05.14.2010


When I was a high school sophomore, one of my classmates had the misfortune of popping an erection in the communal shower after gym class. I doubt “Paul” was gay. Most likely, it was a typical teenage case of Mr. Happy having a mind of its own. But fellow students at our all-boys Catholic school teased him mercilessly, calling him a fag, and I joined in.

That’s right: I joined in.

Please understand: at the time I was NOT GAY. Sure, I had “gay feelings,” which I kept mostly to myself. I also lacked any straight feelings, and I had a decent enough grasp of logic to know that people with “gay feelings” but no “straight feelings” are gay. It was denial, pure and simple, and my teasing Paul was a way to deflect attention away from myself.

When people ask me how I can even for a split second feel sadness for hypocrites like Reverend George “I hired him to carry my luggage” Rekers, the anti-gay crusader who was recently caught hiring an escort from rentboy.com for a European vacation, I answer: Because I know what denial feels like.

True, I came clean about my sexuality at 19, whereas Rekers is still dissembling at 61. True, I participated in some schoolboy teasing—the potential damage of which ought not to be underestimated—whereas Rekers has made a career out of spreading lies about gays, writing books with titles like Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality, and offering highly paid testimony in Florida and Arkansas against gay adoption. There’s a huge difference.

But part of preventing future cases like these is first to understand them, and I can understand them best by drawing on my own experience. The human capacity for keeping separate sets of “mental books” is as familiar as it is remarkable.

Why is Rekers’ case important? Because it provides yet another stunning example of what it looks like when someone tries to fight his internal demons by scapegoating openly gay and lesbian people. Rekers has spent his life attacking in others what he can’t control in himself, harming countless LGBT innocents in the process. This is the danger of the closet.

Rekers insists that he is not gay, and at one level, he’s right. The term “gay” often refers to a mode of self-understanding and public identity, and Rekers just isn’t there. On this reading, anyone can be a homosexual, but it takes courage to be gay. Sadly, like the Reverend Ted “I’m heterosexual with issues” Haggard before him, Reverend Rekers may never get there.

So let Rekers have his “I’m not gay but my rentboy is” t-shirt. I’ll even believe him when he says that there was no sex, strictly speaking. According to the rentboy, “Lucien” (aka Geo, aka Jo-Vanni), in interviews with the Miami New Times and blogger Joe.My.God, their sessions consisted of daily nude massages where Lucien stroked Rekers “across his penis, thigh… and his anus over the butt cheeks,” causing Rekers to become “rock hard.” (At 61, Rekers doesn’t have the same excuse for erections as my high school classmate.)

This is precisely what one would expect from a “Not Gay” deeply closeted homosexual who has spent his career denouncing the “unacceptable health risks of [homosexual] behavior.” Rekers can maintain this charade only by drawing the boundaries of “homosexual behavior” about as narrowly as Bill Clinton drew those of “sexual relations”—which, as you’ll recall, the president did not have with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. The claims are true on one level—the strained, self-serving, and possibly delusional one.

It’s when I imagine these mental contortions that I feel the split second of sympathy for Rekers. As David Link writes at the Independent Gay Forum, “If the glaringly obvious conclusion is true—that Rekers is, in fact, a frustrated homosexual who won’t allow himself to actually have sex with another man—then he has created for himself exactly the hell he and his colleagues believe homosexuals are headed for or deserve.”

However, it’s one thing to create demons for yourself, and quite another to project them onto innocent bystanders whom you then attack as “deviant” in books, articles, and courtroom testimony. Frankly, there aren’t enough rentboys in Miami to carry that kind of karmic baggage.

Rekers still insists that he sought out the young man because he wanted to share the Gospel. I recommend starting with the “Truth shall set you free” part, followed by some lessons on penance.


*******
John Corvino, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, and philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. His column “The Gay Moralist” appears Fridays at 365gay.com. Read more about him at www.johncorvino.com.

John will be a volunteer faculty member again this summer for Campus Pride’s LGBT Leadership Camp. For more about Campus Pride’s work, or to make a donation on John’s behalf to support this year’s program, visit http://www.campuspride.org/.

"This Made Me Smile..."




From Box Turtle Bulletin:

FAQ: Hiring Someone To Lift Your Luggage
Posted: 07 May 2010 01:00 AM PDT

Q. Wait! You mean I can hire someone to life my luggage?

A. Yes, apparently you can. Before this week when longtime anti-gay activist Dr. George Rekers was discovered having done that very thing, I didn’t know it was possible. But now I’ve learned that not only can you hire someone to lift your luggage, there’s an entire industry dedicated to it. Isn’t it amazing how well the free markets respond to meet every need?

Q. Why should I hire someone to lift my luggage when I can get someone to do it for free anytime I want?

A. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Who are you trying to kid? I don’t know about you but in my lifetime I’ve had to lift my own luggage much more often than I care to remember. So let’s be honest about this and act like grownups.

Sometimes when you’re single and you don’t have anyone available to lift your luggage, turning to a professional can be a very exciting option. This can be particularly true as you get older and the junk that’s in your trunk isn’t so hot. That’s when you’ll discover you can’t just pick up anyone to pick up your bags like you used to. Turning to a professional can be a very satisfying alternative. But even younger folks can discover that hiring someone can be a convenient alternative to the hassle of finding a volunteer, particularly when you’re traveling and there you are in a strange city all alone holding the bag.

But hiring someone to lift your luggage isn’t just for single people. It’s a sad fact that many married men also hire other men to lift their luggage. Reasons vary, but they often have to do with the fact that these married men haven’t resolved the conflict within themselves between who bests lifts their luggage and society’s expectations of who ought to lift their luggage. Men who haven’t adequately dealt with this conflict often find that hiring another man to lift their luggage is their only viable option. But it also appears that this option isn’t necessarily a bad one. Florida anti-gay adoption expert witnesses have found that the experience can even be quite therapeutic, particularly after surgery.

Q. Would my health insurance cover hiring someone to lift my luggage?

A. I don’t know, but this possibly former professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of South Carolina’s medical school may be able to answer that question.

Q. Where can I find a professional to lift my luggage?

A. Some people search personal ads from the back of alternative newspapers while others turn to Craigslist. But NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee members have learned that Rentboy.com is a particularly useful web site which specializes in providing a forum where professionals who will lift your luggage for a fee can advertise their services.

Q. What should I look for in selecting someone to lift my luggage?

A. That’s a deeply personal question, and there’s no stock answer that applies for everyone. For example, Family Research Council founders prefer smooth and skinny 20-year-olds to lift their luggage. I find that option appealing myself, but I sometimes tend to pack heavy. So my choice, if I were to go that route, might be a bit different (NSFW). Everyone’s luggage handling needs are unique, which is why it’s very important to evaluate the candidate’s profile to see if his services are a good fit for you. You might even want to interview a few before making your selection. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine who can lift your luggage the best.

Q. How much will it cost to hire someone to lift my luggage?

A. Rates vary by city. In Miami, for example, it looks like it runs about $200-300 per hour. Since most people can get their luggage lifted in under an hour, that’s probably the most common arrangement. But If you think you might need more than an hour to fully lift your luggage, most will charge a bit of a discount for the second and subsequent hours. If you need your luggage lifted overnight, that can run $1000 to $1500, depending on the lifter’s reputation and what the market will bear.

But if you think you need to bring someone to lift your luggage during an extended 10-day European vacation, then you’ll have to negotiate with your preferred professional as costs can vary widely. If it’s someone in high demand, he may charge a daily rate of a thousand dollars or more (plus airfare, meals, transportation and lodging), but he’ll be there day and night to schlep your satchel any time you want. A few of the younger ones just starting out might lift your luggage for free or for next to nothing in exchange for the free travel. And if that’s the case there are opportunities to economize a bit further. Bogus American College of Pediatricians members have learned that luggage lifters will always accept your offer to share your hotel room (as well as the Gospel) with them.

Q. What other services can I expect from a luggage lifter?

A. According to some of the profiles on rentboy.com, some of the other services include massage, nude modeling, stripping, dancing, and watersports. So don’t forget to pack your scuba gear and swimming trunks. One NARTH officer in particular prefers luggage lifters who excel in the long stroke.

Q. What about sex?

A. “Any money exchanged is exclusively for time and companionship. If anything else should occur, that is a matter of personal mutual choice between two or more consenting adults of legal age, and is not contracted for, nor is it requested to be contracted for, or compensated for in any manner whatsoever.”
So yes, of course. Sex too.

And one final note: there are many options when it comes to lifting your luggage, but it’s a regrettable reality in today’s society that hiring a professional carries a huge stigma, both for the professional luggage lifter and his client. This, I think, is grossly unfair. The few luggage lifters I have spoken to (and in full disclosure, I haven’t hired one myself) are invariably kind, engaging, attractive, friendly, and exceptionally smart. In fact, many have paid for college by lifting strangers’ luggage. I find it hard to imagine a more difficult job, and they tell me that it’s not as glamorous as it might sound, even if they do get to travel.

But the better ones take great pride in their work. They are very attentive to their clients’ needs, and those needs often go beyond merely lifting a sack here and there. Sometimes time and companionship really are the most important services they offer. So while we may snicker at what they do, they’re still people with heart and soul, and they deserve a great deal of respect just like anyone else.

So if you do hire someone, please remember that you’re not just hiring a pair of sure hands, strong arms, sturdy thighs, powerful chest and a set of well-developed shoulders. You’re hiring a real live person. Talk to him. Get to know him a little. If you do, you’ll find your experience to be much more satisfying than if you just ordered him to lift your bags and was done with it.

And if you’re as satisfied with the results as I suspect you will be, don’t forget to leave him a tip. And be sure to pass along your recommendations to me because after having done all that research on Rentboy.com for this piece, my bags are starting to feel really heavy.



*******

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 327"

"Its Love That Makes You Happy..."

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, May 14, 2010

"The Truth Today..."


The president and Secretary Gates have said they want to hear from the ranks before implementing the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Well, our hetero comrades in arms have spoken...


Joint Statement From Military Bloggers
12 May 2010

We consider the US military the greatest institution for good that has ever existed. No other organization has freed more people from oppression, done more humanitarian work or rescued more from natural disasters. We want that to continue.

Today, it appears inevitable to us that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and law restricting those displaying open homosexual behavior from serving will be changed. And yet, very little will actually change. Homosexuals have always served in the US Military, and there have been no real problems caused by that.

The service chiefs are currently studying the impact and consequences of changing the DADT policy, and how to implement it without compromising the morale, order and discipline necessary for the military to function. The study is due to be completed on Dec. 1st. We ask Congress to withhold action until this is finished, but no longer. We urge Congress to listen to the service chiefs and act in accordance with the recommendations of that study.

The US Military is professional and ready to adapt to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell without compromising its mission. Echoing Sec. Def. Gates and ADM Mullen, we welcome open and honorable service, regardless of sexual orientation.

Matt Burden
Warrior Legacy Foundation & BLACKFIVE

Jim Hanson
Warrior Legacy Foundation & BLACKFIVE

Blake Powers
BLACKFIVE

Fred Schoenman
BLACKFIVE

David Bellavia
House to House

Bruce McQuain
Q&O

JD Johannes
Outside the Wire

Diane Frances McInnis Miller
Boston Maggie

Mark Seavey
This Ain’t Hell

Michael St. Jacques
The Sniper

Mary Ripley
US Naval Institute Blog

John Donovan
Castle Argghhh!

"The Artist's Corner"

"Friendship"
Oil on board
Robert Oliver Jones

"In The News Today..."


Closeted Anti-gays Are The Enemy Within

By LZ Granderson
May 12, 2010

Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) -- I sat on my friend's couch trying my best not to laugh.

He was an associate pastor of the church I was attending, and he had taken it upon himself to introduce me to the ex-gay movement. I was in the early stages of coming out, and let's just say he wasn't very happy for me.

On this particular night, my friend and spiritual adviser decided to show me a video featuring the keynote speaker at an ex-gay conference in one final attempt to "save my soul."

Mission accomplished -- just not in the way he had hoped. That's because when the guy on the tape opened his mouth, I thought Big Gay Al from "South Park" had taken the stage.

Now normally, I'm not one who generally buys into stereotypes, but when he said he couldn't wait to get home to make love to his wife, I had a difficult time keeping a straight face. Pun intended.

It was then I knew it was better for me to join my brethren outside of the closet than soullessly antagonize them from inside, like the dude on TV.

Seems like there's always a dude on TV, doesn't it? You know, the anti-gay activist who is secretly involved in pro-gay activity?

Seems like there's always a dude on TV, doesn't it? You know, the anti-gay activist who is secretly involved in an apparent pro-gay activity? Last week, it was discovered the Family Research Council's George Rekers recently hired a gay male escort to carry his luggage around Europe. The escort says Rekers wanted him to give him erotic massages. (Rekers denies he is gay). But Rekers' story is very similar to that of pastor Ted Haggard, whose story was like Sen. Mark Foley's, whose story was like Gov. Jim McGreevy's, whose story was like ... well, you get the picture. It's as if being anti-gay is the new coming out.

When I was younger, I used to jokingly dismiss the salacious "gotcha" moments Rekers, who recently resigned from the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, now finds himself in. But when you consider the political, judicial and economic influence that he and those of his ilk have, and how they use that influence to selfishly impede social progress, derail justice and vilify an entire group of people, you understand why Kirby Dick named his documentary chronicling the double lives of folks like Haggard and Foley "Outrage."

When you really think about it, anger -- not laughter -- should be the reaction.

In the black community, one of the worst things another black person can call you is an Uncle Tom. Based on the 1852 novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin," the name is given to black people who consciously turn their back on or undermine their own community in an attempt to appease and gain acceptance from the white community.

One of my favorite rap groups, Public Enemy, summed it up on their 1991 song "Nighttrain" this way: "Disgracin' the race/ Blowin' up the whole crew /Wit' some of them lookin' /Just like you."

The gay and lesbian community has plenty of Uncle Toms trying to blow us up from inside, but what we don't have is our own word or phrase to identify them. Some call them "closet cases," but there is a difference between someone who is unwilling to live openly and honestly, and someone who takes that a step further and hurts those who do.

People in the closet warrant a level of sympathy because we all know how difficult it can be to embrace one's truth. And I do not believe in outing people who are simply living in hiding. But I do believe in revealing the identities of these gay Uncle Toms.

People like Rekers, a Baptist minister who was paid to testify against gay adoption and travel the globe preaching that therapy can "cure" gay people, do not deserve the same sympathy given to those who are afraid of losing their jobs. Not when they consciously morph from being victims of homophobia to attack dogs eating their young.

Some of my Facebook friends suggested calling folks like Rekers and Foley "Aunt Anita," a play on infamous 1970s anti-gay figurehead Anita Bryant. But she was never accused of soliciting sex from a same-sex police officer in an airport bathroom like Sen. Larry Craig was.

A few on Twitter thought "Uncle Roy" could work. Roy Cohn was a prominent lawyer who joined Sen. Joseph McCarthy in targeting gays during the Communist scare of the 1950s. Despite being gay himself, he continued to oppose gay rights until his AIDS-related death in 1986.

That's a good option, but the truth is, I really do not like linking this viral form of self-hate to warm and fuzzy names like "Aunt Anita" and "Uncle Roy." I don't want to call them anything that appears cute and harmless, because they are not.

And they are more than just late-night punch lines. They are extremely dangerous individuals who are instrumental in the manipulation of religion, the legislating of discrimination and the overturning of equality. Sorry if I don't sound very forgiving, but I've never been big on coddling those who wish to use my neck as a stepladder.

I prefer to see them as they are: the enemy within. I hope we all stop laughing at (and covering for) them--and start calling them all out for what they truly are.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

Editor's note: LZ Granderson is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, and has contributed to ESPN's Sports Center, Outside the Lines and First Take. He is a 2010 nominee and the 2009 winner of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) award for online journalism as well as the 2008 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) winner for column writing.

******

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Linkwithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...