Thursday, September 30, 2010

"This Is The Face of Self Hatred..."

I sincerely believe that this man is so deeply self loathing of his own sexuality that he has become fixated on this young man as a way of wounding his own demons... As I have noted many times, the most strident homophobes are closeted gays deep in self denial. I am sure that Chris Armstrong will emerge from this a stronger, and better person, but as for Mr. Shirvell, I suspect that he has irrevocably set himself on a road to eventual self-destruction.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 445"

"Love Is Like Dancing, It Takes Two To Tango..."

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, September 29, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 444"

"Love Is Always Worth Fighting For..."

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, September 28, 2010

"A Love Song..."

"Trick of Fate"
Valerie Pinkston

Trick OST - 1999

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 443"

"Reflecting On Life 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.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 442"

"The Celebration Of Love..."

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 441"

"This Is The Color Of Love..."

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

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 440"

"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.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"In The News Today..."

Florida Court Strikes Down Gay Adoption Ban

By Jane Sutton Jane Sutton
September 22, 2010

MIAMI – There is no rational reason to prohibit all homosexuals from adopting children, a Florida appeals court said on Wednesday in a ruling that upheld a gay man's adoption of two young boys.

Florida was the only remaining U.S. state to expressly ban adoption by gay men and women, and state officials said after the court ruling the ban would no longer be enforced. They have 30 days to decide whether to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

A lower court found in 2008 that the ban violated the state constitution's guarantee of equal treatment. It allowed the plaintiff, a gay man named Frank Martin Gill, to adopt two boys -- half-brothers he had been raising as foster children since 2004.

The Florida Department of Children and Families said the lower court erred and the adoption was illegal under the state's 33-year-old ban on adoption by gays.

But the state's Third District Court of Appeal in Miami on Wednesday upheld the lower court's finding that "there is no rational basis for the statute."

Gill said he was thrilled the court recognized that the ban did a disservice to children most in need.

"This is a giant step toward being able to give our sons the stability and permanency that they are being denied," Gill said in a statement issued by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Department of Children and Families was weighing whether to appeal Wednesday's ruling to the Florida Supreme Court. The appellate ruling applies directly only to the Gill family, and a decision from the state's highest court would provide a clear resolution in all jurisdictions.

"We are currently not enforcing the ban," department spokesman Joe Follick told Reuters in reaction to the ruling.

"The primary consideration on whether to appeal is finding the balance between the value of a final ruling from the Florida Supreme Court versus the impact on the Gill family."

The children were removed from their home because of abuse and neglect when one was 4 years old and the other 4 months old. A court terminated their crack-addicted parents' rights to the boys.

When they were placed with Gill, the older boy did not speak and the younger one had an untreated ear infection. Both had ringworm and other medical problems, the court documents said.

Both sides in the case, including state officials, agreed the children were thriving in the care of Gill and his male partner. The parties in the case also agreed "that gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents," the appellate ruling noted.

"Given a total ban on adoption by homosexual persons, one might expect that this reflected a legislative judgment that homosexual persons are, as a group, unfit to be parents," the opinion states. "No one in this case has made, or even hinted at, any such argument."

During the original trial, psychologists, social workers, family experts and a clergyman gave conflicting testimony about the development of children raised by gays.

The court found such children were no more likely to be homosexuals themselves, engage in early sexual experimentation, suffer mental illness or domestic violence, or abuse drugs than children raised by heterosexuals.

The Department of Children and Families argued that children would have better role models and face less discrimination if they were placed in non-homosexual households, preferably with a husband and wife as the parents.

But the court said the statute did not accomplish that goal since it allowed single people to adopt and allowed gays to serve as foster parents.

"It is difficult to see any rational basis in utilizing homosexual persons as foster parents or guardians on a temporary or permanent basis, while imposing a blanket prohibition on adoption by those same persons," the court said.

Florida also allows people with criminal histories or histories of substance abuse to be considered as adoptive parents on a case-by-case basis, the ruling noted.

On average, there are about 850 children in state custody and available for adoption on any given day, Follick said.

The case is No. 3D08-3044, Florida Department of Children and Families versus In re: Matter of Adoption of X.X.G. and N.R.G.


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

"The Artist's Corner"

Acrylic on canvas
Rick Chris

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 439"

"To Be In Love Is To Be In The World 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.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"It's About Equal Rights..."

I'm not at all sure this will win us equality, but on a depressing day following the DADT debacle, it did make me smile. It's good to be young and free to be yourself.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 438"

"It's A Sunny Honeymoon..."

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..."

"The fight for the freedom to fight goes on..."

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Truth Shared..."

Gay Service Members Discuss ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By Stephen Farrell

The New York Times
September 20, 2010

Opponents of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay people serving in the American military hope that they will move one step closer to repeal this week. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, has indicated that the Senate would take up the annual Pentagon policy bill, which includes a provision that would allow the Defense Department to end the policy.

A judicial opinion issued earlier this month by Virginia A. Phillips, a federal judge in California, ruled that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional.

But the policy remains in force, 16 years after it was enacted.

Personal Stories From Service Members

Seven current and former members of the United States military – men and women, gay and lesbian – discuss their reasons for going into the services and why they have stayed in, despite all the difficulties, or why they left.

Four of the seven are still serving and have asked that their names not be published because it could mean an immediate end to their careers. The three who are no longer in the military write under their own names.

Here are their accounts, in their own words:

A Healthy Relationship, or the Career You Love

The author is a combat engineer lieutenant and West Point graduate. An airborne-qualified officer, she planned and executed numerous construction projects in Iraq, logging more than 40 combat patrols. She is currently preparing her unit for its next combat deployment, to Afghanistan.

The magnitude of the decision to attend West Point and ultimately serve as an Army officer had not yet hit me as a 17-year-old eagerly signing the paperwork that would forever change my life.

By my sophomore year I had come to the realization that I was a lesbian — quite a revelation on top of everything else I was dealing with as a young cadet. I had never fathomed having to choose between becoming an officer or compromising my personal integrity by having to serve in shame and silence because of who I am.

I had the choice to walk away from the academy with no commitment or obligation before my junior year, but I (and many other gay cadets) made the decision to stay and dedicate the next 10 years of my life serving in an Army that deliberately and openly discriminated against me because of my sexuality.

The popular adage at West Point among cadets and graduates is that we might have come for the wrong reasons, but we stayed for the right ones.

At some crucial moment, each service member realizes that he or she has volunteered for an organization with a mission far greater in scope and gravity than one’s self, and that from the second you are commissioned, you are, consciously or not, subjugating most all of your personal desires, comforts and your lifestyle to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.

Anyone in the Army can tell you: the Army isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. And it’s a lifestyle that an estimated 60,000 lesbian and gay service members — currently serving in silence — continue to pursue despite blatant discrimination.

Along the way I have worked with numerous gay and lesbian noncommissioned officers, commissioned officers and soldiers who come from all walks of life.

The problems encountered are endless. How does a young gay N.C.O. live with his partner when he is forced to live in the barracks because the Army does not recognize his marriage?

How can a soldier receive emergency leave for a spouse who does not exist, according to the Army? How is it possible to incorporate your partner into family readiness groups while deployed?

At a fundamental level, the Army is built around the team, whether it’s a squad, platoon, or even a family readiness group. It’s not a job meant to be done alone. Yet any of these soldiers can tell you that life as a gay service member is a lonely and foreign endeavor in which the typical choice is between having a healthy relationship or family, or pursuing the career you love.

D.A.D.T. is a policy that must end. Open and honest service is always the right answer — not only for the gay and lesbian service members, but also for the Army and nation that we serve.


The Pronoun Game

The author is temporarily medically retired from active duty in the Army. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant through an Army R.O.T.C. program where he graduated college with honors. He also received numerous Congressional nominations to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. He is employed as a Department of the Army civilian. At the author’s request, his identity is not being released to protect his rights under “don’t ask don’t tell,” in the event that he is returned to active duty pending a medical re-evaluation. His views do not express an opinion or endorsement of the Army or the Department of Defense.

In a way, I have been writing this article for nearly two years now. My story is similar to countless others. I served in the United States military as an Army officer. I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 2007. Fifteen months later, I left active duty. Indirectly, I was a casualty of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

No one ever asked, and I never told. So what happened?

“I played what I called the ‘pronoun game’, substituting the pronoun “he” with “she” whenever I discussed my relationship.”

At the time of my commissioning, the policy seemed reasonable. I was not completely comfortable with my sexuality. Over the following months, I slowly came to terms with my homosexuality, but I kept it a secret because I was ashamed of myself. Eventually, I began to tell my family and some of my closest friends in late 2007. I was fortunate. Surprisingly, none of them cared. They seemed more surprised that I even felt it was necessary to tell them.

To them, it was not necessary to know. They felt it was part of my personal life and it was none of their business. However, it was important to me. Many gay individuals struggle with their identity. I was no different. I went through periods where I questioned my sexuality, denied it to myself, hated myself for it, denied it to others and eventually accepted it. It was not easy. It was even more difficult in the military.

The military teaches you what “right looks like.” On the outside, I met those standards. I passed routine Army standards such as its physical fitness test, weapons qualifications and other benchmarks. However, it was a different story on the inside. The military stresses the importance of the “whole person.” As a result, on the inside, I felt the military had told me that I was not right, that I did not meet its standards.

At work, I continued to keep my secret. I played what I called the ‘pronoun game’, substituting the pronoun ‘he’ with ’she’ whenever I discussed my relationship. I found excuses to avoid situations that would require me to be in a setting with military couples. The military prides itself on its commitment to its families. Ironically, I could not include my family because it could have ended our careers.

Serving in the military is not like other careers. You are not a soldier for eight hours a day. There is no punching the clock. Your commitment to your job, the defense of your nation and your fellow soldiers begins the moment you raise your right hand and swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States….”

I took that commissioning oath because I wanted to give back to my country as a leader; I admired the traits of honor and integrity.

My personal and professional lives were separate as a college student. However, that changed as I began to understand what it truly meant to be a soldier; that understanding created a conflict. I was an officer in the Army 24 hours a day. I could not live the Army values of honor or integrity if I pretended to be heterosexual. I expected honor and integrity from myself and my fellow soldiers. I could not hold them to this standard if I was unable to do it myself.

As I said, no one in my unit ever asked me, and I never told anyone in my unit. However, I consider myself a casualty of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I struggled with living the lie. I struggled with worrying whether I would accidentally disclose my cryptic, secret and closely guarded relationship. I struggled with not being me. To paraphrase the title of Capt. Jonathan Hopkins’s Sept. 13 essay, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Be All You Can Be,” I struggled not being me.

Eventually, I broke under the pressure. It took a toll on my health. I became severely withdrawn from my platoon. I sat alone in my room. I frequently cried. I lost interest in simple pleasures. I had become severely depressed and anxious.

At the time, I did not realize the extent of my crisis. My chain of command was not aware of the problem either. Months passed before I was eventually referred for mental health help. Several more months elapsed before I was stable enough to be medically retired from the military for depression and anxiety. It has been almost 18 months since I left active duty. Since I left the military, I have continued my recovery. I am fortunate. Not everyone survives. I could have lost more than my career; I could have lost my life.

Like it did for other casualties of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military spent thousands of dollars on my education and training. Later, the policy cost the military thousands of additional dollars and man hours through counseling, therapy and medication. However, no amount of counseling, therapy or medication would change the fact that I am gay. I am a man who volunteered to serve his country and risk his life. I never expected that I would fight for my own survival as a result of a government-mandated lie.

I am not the only service member who faced this decision, and I will not be the last. Midshipman Joseph Steffan was expelled from the United States Naval Academy after he revealed his homosexuality. He explained his decision in his autobiography, “Honor Bound,” when he said:

But like many gay men and lesbians, I discovered that there is no hiding from yourself. Homosexuality is simply not a choice; it is an identity. The only real choice we have is whether to continue fighting, evading and denying that identity or to finally accept it, heal and get on with our lives.

I was no different from the book’s author. I struggled with my homosexuality. I needed to heal and live my entire life.

Earlier, I said I had been working on this article for almost two years now. I wrote pieces of it when I was struggling with my lifestyle and career. At the time, I put it aside because I thought I had closed a chapter in my life.

Today, I am reopening that chapter by sharing my story. It is something that countless service members are unable to do because they risk losing their careers for being themselves. It is easy to try to assign a number to a problem to try to assess the magnitude of the problem.

According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to ending “don’t ask, don’t tell,” more than 13,500 service members have been fired by the military for simply being themselves since 1994. It is harder to know how many service members continue to try to keep their secret because they want to serve their country. Not everyone is able to keep that secret.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” costs brave Americans more than their military careers. It costs them their dignity. It could have cost me my life.


D.A.D.T. and Death

The author graduated from the United States Air Force Academy. He is currently serving as an active-duty Air Force lieutenant and preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. He is a member of OutServe, the underground network of active-duty gay and lesbian service members.

I was recently selected to deploy to Afghanistan for a full 365 days next year. This was really hard at first. When I first received the paperwork to sign, I took a step back, a deep breath and signed on the dotted line.

“Even if I kept my sexuality private during my service, couldn’t the military at least honor the person I loved at my death?”

Even though the reality was setting in that I would be away from my loved ones for a full year, it was what I had signed up for. I would have to find a place for my dog to live for a year, someone to rent my house and most importantly, set up all my legal issues if something were to happen to me while deployed. It is a scary thought, but very possible with the rising intensity of the Afghanistan war.

If a soldier were to pass away during war, the normal procedures in the military would be to notify the individual identified by the soldier. At the burial ceremony a spouse or child would receive a flag on behalf on the government, to honor the sacrifice.

What if you are gay, or lesbian? Well, in my case the person I love would be out of luck. He would not be notified of my death first, and he won’t receive a flag at my burial. Even if I kept my sexuality private during my service, couldn’t the military at least honor the person I loved at my death?

When I signed up to defend this country I knew that I would live under the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I agreed to keep my personal life completely secret. I knew that if I died, the Air Force would not show me the respect of presenting the flag of this country — my flag — to the person I loved. They would not even show me the courtesy of giving him the news of my death.

The irony of this whole mess is that I would turn to my straight comrades for the support to make sure word got back to my boyfriend.

Even though our leadership may not give me the dignity to notify the person I love to tell him of my death, I know my straight brothers and sisters in arms would. There is something wrong with this picture.

I ask myself every day why I still stay in the military, and a lot of the time that answer is about the honor of serving my country.

I love my job and the people I serve with, and they love me back even though I’m gay. I stay in the military because everyone I have told in the military doesn’t care that I’m gay. It’s just an older generation of leaders.


Why I Got Out
By Bridget Altenburg

Ms. Altenburg, a West Point graduate and former Army engineer officer, deployed twice to Bosnia, where she and her soldiers built bridges and roads. During the war in Kosovo, she served as aide-de-camp to the V Corps commanding general. After leaving the military, she graduated from Columbia Business School in May 2002 and currently works for the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit teacher training and school turnaround organization. Ms. Altenburg was also a founding member of Knights Out, an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender West Point graduates and their allies. She lives in Chicago with her partner, Colleen. They just had their first child this month.

CHICAGO — More than 14,000 otherwise qualified service members have been kicked out since 1993 under “don’t ask don’t tell.” I represent the tens of thousands more who were lucky or closeted enough not to get kicked out, but who chose to leave the service voluntarily.

I was born into an Army family. My father deployed for Operation Desert Shield during my senior year. Since we were stationed in Germany, the entire Army base felt like a ghost town.

Fellow students at my high school were forced to become the guardians of their younger siblings because Mom, Dad or both parents were deployed. The community changed, but people found strength they didn’t know they had.

That experience confirmed my desire to be an Army officer, to be a part of this community that overcame challenges together. Once I made that decision, accepting an offer at the United States Military Academy at West Point was an easy choice.

I graduated from West Point in 1995 as an engineer officer. I chose engineers because it was the closest a woman could come to combat. I was immediately deployed to Bosnia for Operation Joint Endeavor, the first of three deployments to the Balkans between 1996 and 1999.

During that final deployment, I left behind my first girlfriend. When I returned I walked past the celebrating families, got in my car and drove home to celebrate my return privately with her.

I think it was at this point that I decided living in the closet as a soldier under “don’t ask, don’t tell” was something I could no longer do.

Many people, including my father (an Army general) and brother (another West Pointer and career officer), wondered why I threw away a promising career. Like many soldiers who leave the service, I hated having no
control over my life — no idea when I would be deployed again, no control over my next promotion.

But, the biggest reason I left was that I hated living a lie. I hated playing the pronoun game. The conundrum of living a lie while serving my country became too much to bear, and I resigned from active duty in August 2000.

After I resigned I found out that many of my soldiers knew I was gay. My face is an open book, and falling in love for the first time must have been easy to read for soldiers I served with so closely. They never said a word during my service, but afterward senior N.C.O.s and officers told me of their support for ending “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I didn’t know it when I was on active duty, but I was truly a part of the Army family, a family that supports its members no matter whom they love. All that mattered to them was that I was a good officer who put soldiers and mission first.

I left the Army as a promising officer, rated the best of seven aides the general had in his 30-year military career. I left despite joining the Army with every intention of making it a career, a life. The Army is a tough place to make a living, but I was willing to make the sacrifices, to deploy three times in four years, to live in a tent with 10 men for nine months, to wade through hip-deep mud. But I was not willing to give up sharing a life with someone.


Why I Stayed In
By Jonathan Hopkins

Mr. Hopkins is a former United States Army captain who was honorably discharged in August 2010. Mr. Hopkins graduated fourth in his class at West Point. He was deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan, earning three Bronze Stars, including one for valor. He is now a graduate student at Georgetown University’s security studies program. He has written once before for At War; you can read that post here.

WASHINGTON — It was May 2006 when I was preparing to move from my duty station in Italy when a friend of mine asked me, “What are you planning to do next?”

I was only months short of my five-year minimum requirement in the Army. But my answer was, “Go to the captain’s course and then be a company commander.”

“Jon, I’d reconsider that if I were you. This D.A.D.T. stuff is no joke. It will really mess you up.”

He knew a lot about “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He had been in a nine-year relationship with a former United States Army officer. During three of those years his boyfriend was an Army captain stationed in Europe.

I brushed off his experience with my can-do conquer-any-obstacle mentality.

“Thanks, but I’ll figure it out. I can make it work. I got it.” In my hubris as a 27-year-old infantry captain, I thought I had figured out success in the Army up until this point; I should be able to figure this part out too.

I stayed in, and set myself up to learn the truth firsthand. D.A.D.T. is no joke. It does mess you up.

For anyone serving in the military, certain hardships come standard: long hours, too little family time, and yearlong deployments to name but a few. But because of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” my hardships seemed different from those faced by others.

Other soldiers don’t get enough time with their families; I’m prohibited from having a family. They spend a year of deployment isolated from their significant other; I was never allowed to have a significant other. They are obligated to never lie; I am told I must lie to keep my job. They work hard to “do the right thing, even when no one is looking;” I am fundamentally unacceptable to military service according to United States Code, and it feels like everyone is looking.

When people ask me why I stayed in, I tell them it’s for the same reason everyone else does: We are all dedicated to “taking care of soldiers.” There is no responsibility more serious than that, and also none more rewarding. Not only are we growing an effective Army that will keep people safe, but we also feel we are instilling soldiers with values and growing them into even better Americans.

But the explanation of why I remained goes even deeper. We are told in our formative years that “if you work hard, you can grow up to be anything you want.”

We also learn that this didn’t appear to apply if you were gay (a government-endorsed position under “don’t ask, don’t tell”). I wanted to be successful, felt my future promising, and perhaps even wanted to go to West Point, so I never allowed myself to admit I was gay.

It seemed it would suddenly take all those options off the table. “It’s just a phase,” is how I explained it away. The truth had a terrible stigma to it. Denial was the best option.

For me, that denial carried on through West Point, where anything short of their defined standards for perfection was “substandard.” It wasn’t until I was a 23-year-old lieutenant that the realist in me had to admit, “This phase has lasted an awfully long time — perhaps it is not a phase…”

I stayed in and served nine years, trying to escape this terrible conflict of my identity and my mission by focusing on my work and trying as always to exceed everyone’s expectations.

If I was one of the best leaders or most moral officers, then I could say to myself, “See, it doesn’t matter that I’m gay. They all believe I’m a great officer.”

So dedicated to what the Army was doing and pleased with my own apparent success in it, I pushed any thought about leaving out of my head.

I did not want to give up on the organization for what I then considered selfish personal reasons; I would feel like a quitter who had let down all those around me.

One of my (straight) West Point classmates told me as he was leaving the service in 2007, “Part of me feels better about leaving, because I know there are still people like you in the Army serving our soldiers.”

And so I remained, trying to be everything that everyone else wanted me to be. But there was one thing I couldn’t control.

Each passing day I found myself more alone, sad, and afraid than I was the day before. And there was no cure for that under “don’t ask, don’t tell.” No amount of trying to serve my country with distinction could make that go away.


I Owe It to Them to Fight

The author is a Coast Guard pilot who has more than 10 years of active-duty service. He has been stationed both ashore and afloat on the East and West Coasts. He participated in the Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts, as well as the Deepwater Horizon Recovery in the Gulf of Mexico.

The same situation has occurred regularly for over 10 years now — it’s a Monday morning and the men and women of this Coast Guard Air Station arrive to begin their workweek.

“I love my job as a helicopter pilot, so the only bad days are those when I am placed in the unwanted position of having to lie or deceive my coworkers because of D.A.D.T.”

As the focus on to-do lists begins to take form, so also erupts the jovial banter between my fellow Coasties reflecting on their activities over the weekend. Whether standing around the coffee maker, talking over particle board partitions separating desks, or walking out to the aircraft for an early morning training sortie — it all begins the same: “So what did you do over the weekend?”

After all these years, I’ve finally gotten over freezing-up at the mention of those eight words.

“Not much,” I’d respond and leave it at that.

As an aircraft commander and an active member of the air station’s wardroom I was caught off-guard one day when I was stopped and candidly asked why I was so aloof.

“Aloof?” I asked incredulously.

“Yeah,” came the response. “You never talk about your weekends or vacations; you come across as a real jerk sometimes.”

And then it hit me: all those times I avoided answering those innocuous questions — “Did you see the game over the weekend?” “Where did you spend the holidays?” “We missed you at happy hour” — I was in fact damaging the camaraderie I had worked so hard to establish.

After five years at my unit, I had nothing but respect and trust for my fellow Coasties. But since I’m a gay man, I’m put in a very tricky situation that prohibits me from discussing anything related to my sexuality.

No mention of the exasperating home-improvement projects that my partner and I have faced, no discussion about the surprise anniversary getaway he had planned for us, no sharing of the struggles I faced while he was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The very things that all of us share, gay or straight, that bring us closer together, I had to avoid. Rather than lie and make up a cover story, I damaged the vital esprit des corps inherent to military life. The very thing that supporters of “don’t ask, don’t tell” fear will be eroded by openly gay and lesbian service members is already jeopardized by the inherent aspects of not “asking” and not “telling.”

Over the years I have had good days and bad ones — not unlike any other job. I love my job as a helicopter pilot, so the only bad days are those when I am placed in the unwanted position of having to lie or deceive my coworkers because of D.A.D.T.

I’ve been asked why I put up with it all.

My reasoning for sticking with it, and what I reflect upon when I do get frustrated at the day’s end, is that I know I have done something for the greater good of humanity. Maybe I saved a life by pulling someone’s son from a sinking fishing boat. Maybe I prevented a terrible injury to someone’s mother by airlifting firefighting equipment to a burning sailboat.

Maybe I just made some kid on the beach look up, wave, and be excited that a big orange helicopter just flew over his head.

In the end I know that I have contributed to making the world a better place. That’s why I have stuck it out through all the hard times and the instances I have had to be untruthful to the men and women who accompany me on some of the most horrific rescue cases imaginable.

I also owe it to friends who endured often cruel investigations typically followed by heartbreaking separations from their Coast Guard, the profession they’ve come to know as a family.

These men and women risked their own lives, many for almost 20 years, answering calls for help only to be told that their service was no longer wanted because of their own sexuality.

I owe it to them to stay and fight as long as I can because I know they would do it for me.

I hope that in the end opponents who say that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is in the best interest of this country’s armed forces will be able to understand that selfless service to one’s country and fellow human beings is never exclusive. I have never asked the men and women I’ve rescued about their own sexuality — it’s irrelevant.

An act as noble as saving another person’s life shouldn’t come with strings — nor should the criteria upon which this nation’s guardians are chosen.


Why I Resigned
By Matthew Rowe

Mr. Rowe is a West Point graduate, class of 2004. He served in the Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany, and in the Second Infantry Division at Camp Casey, South Korea. He is currently working as a planner for a private aviation company in Long Beach, Calif., and he serves on the board of directors for the West Point Society of Orange County.

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — I resigned my commission as a captain in the United States Army last year. Like hundreds of young officers who resign every year, I felt that I had done my time and I was ready to go. I spent almost all of my time as an officer stationed overseas — three years in Europe, 15 months as a platoon leader in Iraq and a year in Korea.

I left the Army in the usual way. I filled out my resignation papers months in advance, as Army regulations require. I listed many of the same reasons as my peers: “I desire more freedom and control over my life. I want to decide where I’m going to live, whom to work for, and for how long. The army promotion system is too rigid, and it is overwhelmingly based on time in grade as opposed to quality of performance.”

One thing that I did not mention in my resignation papers was the fact that I am gay. When I left the Army at age 27, I had spent one-third of my life, or nine years, closeted in the military.

Having read that, you might think that I had no business entering the Army if I was gay in the first place.

Well, at that time, when I was in high school, I didn’t want to accept it, either.

I grew up in Orange County, Calif. I attended Catholic schools, and I worked as an intern in the district office of my Republican congressman. Every homosexual desire I ever had was supposedly a sin that I could have prevented if only I prayed harder or if I were just mentally and spiritually stronger.

But, after more than a decade of trying to change and trying to control my thoughts, frustration, self-loathing, shame, and depression, I finally accepted myself for who I am.

It’s kind of unexpected how I came into the Army. All I ever wanted to do was serve my country, but originally I planned to go into law or the Foreign Service, followed by politics.

At 15, I called up my local congressman’s office to ask if I could be an intern, so I could learn how things worked. In my junior year, one of my Congressman’s staffers asked if I would be interested in going to West Point. I had not considered it. Then, I received an invitation to attend the academy’s summer academic workshop.

I was immediately drawn to the place, its mark in United States history, the beauty of the Hudson Valley, the maturity and discipline of its cadets. I made up my mind that I wanted to go to West Point and become an Army officer. So, I did. I served on the honor committee, which upholds the academy’s honor code: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” I lived the honor code, and I took this obligation seriously.

I was very deft at brushing off questions about my personal life, or answering them just enough to move the conversation along and get to the next topic. I would test my ability to manage these situations without lying or compromising my integrity.

I lived a life of austerity — work, study and sports. When I became an officer it became work, study, sports, drink and drink some more.

Granted, those years were some of the best times of my life, but sometimes they could also be the worst. As a young lieutenant in my early 20s, I enjoyed driving my black Porsche on the Autobahn, hanging out with my friends for a weekend in Dublin, Barcelona, or Prague, drinking beer at Oktoberfest in Munich, skiing the Austrian Alps in the winter and traveling around the Mediterranean in the summer.

Conversely, my work days started at 5:30 a.m. with meetings, physical fitness training, followed by hours of e-mails, Excel sheets, and PowerPoint hell, which sometimes lasted until 8:00 p.m., depending on the day. We spent weeks, and sometimes months, at field training exercises in the snow and the mud, with about one shower per week, sleeping in freezing tents or in the backs of our metal vehicles, while the exhaust of diesel generators wafted in the air and put us to sleep.

I led about three dozen soldiers in combat for 15 months as a platoon leader in Baghdad. We protected the Army’s bomb squads, traveling around day and night to detonate or disarm the roadside bombs that littered the roadways and trash piles of the cradle of civilization.

I witnessed some amazing and terrible things that nobody could justify — a roadside bomb striking the vehicle in front of me and killing one of my soldiers while wounding two others, shootouts in the middle of rush-hour traffic with frantic civilians dodging cars to avoid the bullets, and headless bodies in piles of trash on the street, while neighborhood children cautiously walked past. Iraq was a crazier place in 2006 and 2007 than it is today. I was — and still am — tremendously proud of what my soldiers and I did to improve a terrible situation.

While I was in the military, I pushed my thoughts aside and denied myself the ability to have relationships. I was always single at unit functions like morale days, military balls and other unit functions. My battalion executive officer (chief of staff) even asked me if I was gay at one of these events because I never brought a date. I responded, dryly, that he would never know since he couldn’t ask, and I couldn’t tell. Then, he added that it wouldn’t matter to him if I were because he wanted to keep me on staff.

I would go out on the weekends with my friends and go through the motions of trying to pick up girls and go to clubs, but I would come home feeling more alone and isolated as a result. There were times that I came home after a long day at work, and I felt very alone, ashamed of myself because I couldn’t be “normal,” and depressed that my youth was slipping away and that I wouldn’t experience love while I remained in the Army.

I was not suicidal, but there were some dark days when I wondered what it would be like if I decided that I didn’t want to live any more. Being gay in the military under “don’t ask, don’t tell” really is a private hell. The psychological effect of feeling alone and depressed was more damaging to me than any emotional effect of being shot at or a bomb blast (both of which I have also experienced). The only thing worse for me was the loss of one of my soldiers.

By objective accounts, I was a pretty good officer. My commanders consistently rated me in the top 10 percent of my peers, always marked “among the best,” and “must promote.” I developed great working relationships with my soldiers and the noncommissioned officers in my unit, mutually respectful of each others’ contributions.

My last brigade commander stated that I must be promoted “Below the Zone” to major (meaning that I should be in the small percentage of officers who are promoted with those in the year group ahead of their own). Just the other day, one of my former soldiers asked me for an employment recommendation almost three years after we last served together. Of course, I wrote him a recommendation, like I had for several others.

I am now a civilian, but I still think of my former soldiers as my responsibility. I care about them; and, I still worry when they are in harm’s way. I was an officer in the United States Army, and that meant something to me. When I got out, I didn’t think I would regret it; but, the truth is that there are things that I miss about the Army more than I ever thought I would. But, there are also things that I wish I never had to endure.

"It's About Equal Rights..."

The U.S. Senate will vote today on repeal of DADT

Call your senator at (202) 224-3121

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 437"

"It's 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.

"This Made Me Smile..."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"The Imitation of Life..."

I really liked this show and I was quite literally "happy" when "Kenny" came out.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Artist's Corner"

Acyrlic on canvas
Hero Tolsma

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 436"

"Love, Marriage, 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.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 435"

"True Love Lasts A Lifetime..."

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, September 17, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 434"

"Happiness Is Being Loved..."

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 Tonight..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"A Love Song..."

The immortal Paul Robeson accompanied by pianist Harriet Wingreen.

"The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomand"

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me and my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon'.

O ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon'.

‘Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen
On the steep, steep sides o’ Ben Lomon'
Where in purple hue, the hielan hills we view
And the moon comin’ out in the gloamin’.

The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring
And in sunshine the waters are sleeping
But the broken heart, it kens nae second spring again
Tho' the world knows not how we are grieving)

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 433"

"Love Is Always Enough..."

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.

"This Is The Face Of Grief..."

This morning, while perusing blogs I like to read, I came across this photo and the article that accompanies it... It took me a moment or two to reconcile the feelings and emotions that this photograph evoked and awakened deep within my memories.

This is a photo that simply and eloquently describes a time in my own life when I was bullied and tormented by peers and even my own brother because I was "different" than the other boys. Like many before me and sadly many after me, I too sought an escape from a life that seemed to offer only unbearable pain, hatred and self-loathing. At thirteen years old, I tried to end the pain in the only way I could think of - suicide.

I survived it, and I am thankful that I did, for had I not, I would never have known the joys of love. And although love in my life has been bittersweet at best, there still lives in my heart the knowledge that all I endured during those fearful and confusing years of my young life was worth enduring to see the day that is so clearly dawning... a day when it will be okay to be as you are...

For those who today still struggle as I did those many years ago, I am thankful that there are resources they can turn to. And I am saddened that there are still so many who never find them and who lose the battle to be free to be who they are.

The lessons that I learned almost by accident were that truth and reality are never as bad as your fears... Indeed, as I almost learned too late, I was not alone and though my fears were in some ways very real, I learned that "a life lived in fear is a life half-lived."

Resources for GLBT youth and young adults:

The Trevor Project - Help for young people considering suicide
I Think I Might Be Gay... Now What Do I Do?

I Think I Might Be Lesbian... Now What Do I Do?
Violence & abuse in schools
Facts about gay students
When a student comes out to you...
Be Yourself - questions and answers for gay/bi youth
My Child is GAY! Now What Do I Do? - resources for parents
Report It! Harassment & violence in schools
Creating Safer Schools
Safe Schools
How Homophobia Hurts Teens
Famous Gay People

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 432"

"Love Is The Spark That Ignites Passion..."

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

"The Poet's Corner"

"The Artist's Corner"

"Bed and Breakfast"
Oil on canvas
David Perkins

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"A Letter About Love..."

This is a letter about love and about the freedom to love openly being denied...

August 27, 2010

Hon. Jeh C. Johnson
General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense
Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group

General Carter F. Ham
Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe
Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group

Dear Mr. Johnson and General Ham:

My name is Angela Trumbauer. I am an Air Force enlisted veteran. I was born and raised in a family of 8 children by my father, a retired Air Force officer (deceased 1979), and my widowed mother, a former Air Force officer, who just turned 78 years young this month. I am married to a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant. My stepson is an active-duty Air Force Technical Sergeant. My brother is Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, a highly decorated 19-year Air Force officer. I hail from the “military family” in every sense.

Over Victor’s military career, our family had limited opportunities to see and spend time with him. He came home to Ohio for visits once or twice a year, usually over the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. I took my kids to visit him at his assigned Air Force Bases a few times over the years. We prepared and sent him care packages when he was deployed to Iraq. Vic sent me care packages when I was stationed in Greece years ago, while he was still a high school student. Reflecting back, I never gave much thought to his short 2-3 day trips home or the seemingly strained nature of the visits. All that changed in May, 2009, however, when my brother was forced to reach out and seek our family’s support in the most difficult battle of his life – fighting against his discharge under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

The revelations that have come to light and emotions evoked throughout the past year have brought a great sense of loss and heartache to our family, not unlike that experienced in grief and death. It saddened me deeply to realize that my single, younger brother could never enjoy a close personal relationship, free from fear of persecution or harassment, throughout his near 20-years serving. His family back home was free to enjoy wonderful family relationships with their spouses and children, but Vic was never to experience that same freedom and privilege while in uniform. I often wonder how alone or lonely he must have felt all those years, especially when he couldn’t even share his personal struggles with his very own family.

I recently took the opportunity to ask my brother who he would like us to notify in the event of an emergency or upon his death, after I realized he had no one else to confide in. Most soldiers and airmen have a support system in place, where their spouses or immediate family members are aware of their dying wishes and will share urgent news or handle the appropriate notifications with those closest to their loved one. In my brother’s case, I just figured the military would let us know if something happened to him and that no one else aside from his family members needed to be notified, since he was single and has no children.

Under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the Fehrenbach family has been robbed of truly knowing and loving our brother for who he is for nearly two decades. He chose to serve in silence to protect his own family – the only family he can legally call his own – from potential exposure to investigation under DADT. We can never get those years back. Nor can we accept the damage to and destruction of our family’s long-standing military history that will result from Lt. Col. Fehrenbach’s discharge under this discriminatory and unjust law. Our family legacy goes back generations, in which our father, mother, grandfathers, spouses, children, uncles and cousins have all answered the call to serve.

Despite all the suffering that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has caused my brother and our family, we have reaped a benefit far greater than words can measure. Since I’ve come to know and understand my brother’s true identity, and because he no longer has to hide any part of himself from me, our relationship has become much closer and deeper, where we laugh and share more than ever before. Vic can now be completely open and honest with me – an element that was clearly missing in our lives and relationship in the past. I can’t express the immense pleasure I’ve experienced in getting to know my baby brother — “Uncle Baldy” as some of our 17 nieces and nephews call him.

In light of the infinite family gains that the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” will yield, I sincerely believe that allowing open service is necessary, right, and just in every sense. Each and every service member deserves the FULL love and support of their family and friends, without fear of persecution, discrimination and harassment. A strong sense of support and love is essential for our troops at all times. It only stands to reason that overall military performance is enhanced and the resolve to accomplish the mission is strengthened by complete and unhindered family bonds.


Angela Trumbauer

The letter above, written by Lt. Col. Fehrenbach's sister is part of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's (SLDN) letter writing campaign dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Having read many of them and having been moved to tears as I related them to my own life in the closet and my own service in the military, I found this letter to be perhaps the most moving, sincere and convincing statement of the facts of life in the closet...

When his sister says, "I often wonder how alone or lonely he must have felt all those years..." I could easily imagine his feelings, his struggles, his loneliness and moments of grief and sadness. But like many of us from his generation, we sometimes are forced to find the courage to face the revelation of truth and it's consequences. And I believe that in his case, as in mine, with truth there comes the blessing of freedom - the freedom of the heart.

I don't know what the future holds in store for Lt. Col. Fehrenbach, but I am hopeful that perhaps he will win his momentous battle to continue his good and faithful service to our nation. But even more than this, I pray that now he can freely seek out what we all in the depths of our hearts desire -- true love, a companion and a partner to complete us, someone to fulfill us, and someone to share the joys and the sorrows of the world with us, because "a life lived in fear is a life half-lived..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"In The News Today..."

Saudi Diplomat Seeking Asylum: 'My life is in danger'
Envoy says he fears persecution if he leaves the U.S. and returns home

By Michael Isikoff
National investigative correspondent

NBC News

A ranking Saudi diplomat told NBC News that he has asked for political asylum in the United States, saying he fears for his life if he is forced to return to his native country.

The diplomat, Ali Ahmad Asseri, the first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, has informed U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials that Saudi officials have refused to renew his diplomatic passport and effectively terminated his job after discovering he was gay and was close friends with a Jewish woman.

In a recent letter that he posted on a Saudi website, Asseri angrily criticized his country’s “backwardness” as well as the role of “militant imams” in Saudi society who have “defaced the tolerance of Islam.” Perhaps most provocatively of all, he has threatened to expose what he describes as politically embarrassing information about members of the Saudi royal family living in luxury in the U.S.

If he is forced to go back to Saudi Arabia — as Saudi officials are demanding — Asseri says he could face political persecution and even death.

“My life is in a great danger here and if I go back to Saudi Arabia, they will kill me openly in broad daylight,” Asseri said Saturday in an email to NBC.

In a recent interview, Asseri and his lawyer said that the Saudi diplomat was questioned by a Department of Homeland Security official in Los Angeles on Aug. 30 after formally applying for asylum on the grounds that he is a member of a “particular social group” — gays — that would subject him to persecution if he returns to his home country.

Officials at DHS in Washington as well as the Saudi Embassy in Washington and the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles did not respond to requests for comment.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 431"

" Where There Is Love Nothing Is Unforgiveable..."

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 Love Song..."

"The Water Is Wide"

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Monday, September 13, 2010

"The Poet's Corner"

The Waters Of Love
Herbert Nehrlich

Love can flow gently
Trickling around the heart,
Grassing bare patches of hurt
With moistest of words, well meant.

But love can cascade
Drenching the unwary soul
And setting strong traps
In which many wholy
Are caught, and alive, drown

Yet the gentlest of
Spring's afternoon rain sends
Refreshment onto bowed heads
With gestures of kindness, gained

From waters of Love.
Seen by some as hot heavy
Tears of God's angels
Cleaning heart's forests with green
Showered lovingly from above.

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 430"

" 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, September 12, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 429"

"The Joy 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.

"The Truth About Love..."

Being Gay is a Gift From God
By Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker

Gay-affirming congregations understand the Gospel of inclusiveness that puts all of us in the same tent for worship and ministry.

To be able to love another person is a gift from God! As human beings we have the capacity to love another person, putting that other personís feelings and interests ahead of our own. This is agapao in the Greek and is the word Jesus uses when He commands His disciples to love others.

Yet, in addition to agapao, there is also eros and phileo. Eros is love based upon pleasure and phileo is love based upon reciprocity of feelings and actions. In other words, phileo occurs when one loves the other if that love is reciprocated and doesnít love the other when that love is not reciprocated. Most of the world operates on eros and phileo! Christians are called upon to exercise agapao!

However, in our intimate relations, eros is also very important! It is the bonding of two souls and bodies in love that is faithful and enduring. The Gay couple well understands this bonding!

Troy Perry was a Pentecostal-Baptist minister at a very young age. He knew he was gay and tried to smother his feelings. He even attempted suicide! Fortunately, he was found after slashing his wrists, taken to a hospital and survived. He then realized that God doesnít create someone whom He can sit around and hate. God created Troy Perry, just like He created all of His gay and lesbian children! Troy Perry went on to start the Metropolitan Community Churches which particularly ministers to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. They are world wide and have an Internet site.

The Bible doesnít condemn same-sex love! In a previous article I wrote in the “Sacramento Valley Mirror” in which I have a weekly column entitled, “Christianity and Society,” I elucidated the passages traditionally used to condemn Gay people and showed that they dealt in a context of the need to propagate, with idolatry and exploitation, as well as with acts against nature where heterosexuals engage in homosexual acts undoubtedly to various pagan deities. Nowhere in the Bible is same-sex committed love condemned!

The last bastion of the civil rights movement is the stigma and exclusion of Gay people from our churches and from our secular society. Yet, they can be seen to be a gift to us from God in that, despite their terrible persecution, many remain steadfast in their loving relationships. Despite all of the barriers set up by Christians and non-Christians alike, many remain in committed relationships.

Being constitutionally Gay is not a disorder any more than having brown eyes is a disorder! Most Gay people have been born that way and like the old Sunday School saying goes, “God doesn’t create junk!”

If you’re Gay, you have been blessed by God in that you are capable of loving another human being. The most dangerous people in the world are those who either have nothing to lose or who are incapable of loving others. There is no reason not to assume that God blesses the monogamous Gay couple every bit as much as He blesses the heterosexually married couple!

As Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees, we make void the Word of God by our traditions (Matthew 15:3,6,9) Mere fallible human beings interpreted the Bible to condemn same-sex unions! Mere human beings call being Gay an “affliction” and Gay sex as “intrinsically evil.”

Many Gay people walk around with guilt and shame because they think that they are condemned before God and their fellow man. Read the Bible with new eyes, taking account of the most recent biblical scholarship (See, for example, The New Oxford Annotated Bible), and see for yourself that God created you just as you are and He affirms and loves you just as you are. God shows far more grace than do mere human beings!

If you’re Gay, you have been given the gift of the capacity to love by God, your creator. Don’t take that gift lightly and don’t deny it as a gift from God.

You have the capacity to love another human being, and nothing is more sacred or godly than that.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

"The Artist's Corner"

Acrylic on canvas
Michael Breyette

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 428"

"Love Changes The Scope of Things..."

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, September 9, 2010

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 427"

"The World Is Meant To Be Shared With One You 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.

"The Truth About Love..."

"Love is always worth fighting for..."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"The Power of Truth..."

Corvino: A good (gay) teacher

By John Corvino, columnist,

It’s the first day of class, and I enter my lecture hall as I usually do, skirting the periphery until I reach the door that leads me discreetly backstage. The room is a “teaching theater,” and while I could walk right up to the stage, I’m enough of a drama queen to prefer emerging onstage from the wings just before class starts.

I step out onto the stage for a brief moment, fiddling with the computer to boot up the powerpoint. As the huge screen behind me comes alive, I feel a bit like the Wizard of Oz without his curtain. Then I dart back offstage to collect my thoughts.

11:45 am. I emerge finally and walk briskly out to center stage. 150 new faces. “Good morning!”

I enjoy the first day of class, probably because I enjoy what I do for a living so much. I wouldn’t say that I get nervous, but there is a certain tension, invigorating and familiar. What will this class’s “personality” be? (Every class has one, just as surely as each student does.) How will they react to me and to one another?

My university is wonderfully diverse, and my classes reflect that. I scan the room and see students of all colors, of various ages, dressed every which way. There are nerds and jocks, preppies and punks. I spot a number of women in Muslim headscarves—some wearing all black, others in striking colors. I see at least one man wearing an Indian turban.

Last semester’s class included a Buddhist monk, his deep orange robes making him easy to find in the crowd.

It’s not until later in the day that I think about “the gay thing,” when I pass a former student walking across campus and he gives me a bright “Hello.”

“Peter” had set off my “gaydar” when he took my class, but he was shy—almost painfully so—and from a culture where such things are seldom discussed. He visited my office once to discuss his work, but he didn’t bring up personal matters and I didn’t pry. Today, he seems far more comfortable with himself, and I wonder about his journey.

I respond to Peter’s greeting, but we both seem hurried. Maybe next time we’ll talk more.

I’m openly gay on my campus, as in my life more generally. I’m the faculty co-advisor of our GLBTA, and any student who Googles my name will find my column and other gay-themed material.

But what about the students who don’t? I want them, too, to know that I’m gay. Maybe some of them are gay themselves, and need to know that they’re not alone. (This I imagine to be Peter’s situation.) Maybe they have gay family members, or maybe they just need their assumptions challenged. How do I bring it up?

I’m not going to put it on the syllabus. (“Dr. Corvino, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Open Homosexual; Office Hours…)

In some classes it comes up more naturally than others: Contemporary Moral Issues, for instance. Still, it has to be handled right. “Not only do I write about gay issues, I’m also gay” feels a bit like “Not only am I the Hair Club president, I’m also a client,” except without the before-and-after photos. (“My goodness, his homosexuality looks so natural…virtually undetectable!”)

I want sexual orientation to be a “non-issue,” but I also recognize that in many parts of society—including parts of my campus—we are not there yet. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to get us there, which means that, paradoxically, my “non-issue” is very much an issue.

Suppose that my coming out during a given lecture means that I “lose” 25% of the class for the next five minutes as they chew on this new bit of information. (Judging from their facial expressions when I do come out, I think 25% lost is a fair estimate.)

I want to be a good gay role model, but I also want to be a good teacher. A lecturer’s effectiveness depends in part on audience reaction. In this respect teaching is like many other professions: think of salesmen, actors, or writers. When personal characteristics get in an audience’s way — in this instance, by distracting from course content — they become relevant to job performance.

At the same time, part of my job as a philosophy teacher is to push people to challenge their presuppositions. As Socrates taught us, education isn’t always about making people comfortable—often, it requires just the opposite.

So I come out in class, but I choose carefully when and how. I’ll use examples that make my orientation clear, without making gayness the point of the example. I’ll bring up the subject with a casual, matter-of-fact tone, even while my words are painstakingly selected.

Am I overthinking this? Perhaps so. But I’m a philosophy professor, after all. And I love what I do.

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 To learn more or see clips from his DVD, visit

I really understand and appreciate John Corvino's approach to the necessity of being "out and open" about the realities of our hearts. I too approach my interactions with the people I meet and work with in the same way. I am truthful about who I love, how I live, what I believe in and what my dreams are... this is the only way to change the world and the only way to free oneself and perhaps others from the fear that eats the soul...

"The Truth About Love..."

"There are only a few truly important lessons to be learned in life and the greatest of these is this... Never be afraid of love, never be afraid of who you are."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 426"

"The Sweetest Moments In Life Are Always Celebrations of Love..."

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