Monday, February 28, 2011

"A Love Story..."

"The Truth About Love..."


"You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love."

- Henry Drummond

"The Artist's Corner"

"The Jet Set"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 584"

"Half The Joy Of Love Is In Finding It..."

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, February 27, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 583"

"Love And Togetherness, Our Formula For Success..."

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

"In The News Today..."


Gay Man Can Inherit His Husband's Estate, Court Decides In Landmark Ruling


THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Friday, February 25th 2011

In a landmark decision, a state appeals court upheld a ruling yesterday that a Manhattan man can inherit his husband's estate.

While same-sex couples can't wed in the state, J. Craig Leiby and H. Kenneth Ranftle were legally married in Canada, so Leiby is entitled to recognition as the surviving spouse in a dispute over Ranftle's estate, the appellate judges said.

Ranftle died Nov. 1, 2008. His brother Richard contested the will and challenged the legitimacy of the marriage, saying it violated state policy.

But the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division wrote, "New York's long-settled marriage recognition rule affords [recognition] to out-of-state marriages" that are valid where they are made.

Gov. David Paterson ordered state agencies in 2008 to respect out-of-state gay marriages, and New York court decisions have recognized such marriages in cases arising in other contexts, such as health benefits.

"The Truth Is In The Scriptures"


South African Muhsin Hendricks Is An Islamic Cleric And A Gay Man





He runs a foundation called The Inner Circle, which helps Muslims, who are struggling to accept their sexuality. He has come to the Netherlands to spread a simple message: “It’s okay to be Muslim and gay!”

It’s a message not everyone agrees with and the reason why Mr Hendricks is no longer officially a cleric.

Muhsin Hendricks looks a little tired. He is in the Netherlands at the invitation of the Amsterdam branch of gay rights organisation COC and he’s on a punishing schedule. There is enormous public interest in the “pink imam”, as he’s been dubbed.

But every trace of fatigue vanishes as Mushin Hendricks talks about his faith and his sexuality.

“Being Muslim and being gay are both strong identities. And I think that they are both innate identities for me. So somewhere along the line I had to reconcile the two.”

This was far from easy for Muhsin Hendricks. He was born into an orthodox Muslim family in South Africa. His grandfather was a cleric in one of Cape Town’s most prominent mosques. Mushin discovered at an early age that he was different. He played with dolls rather than cars. He was seen as being feminine and was teased as a result. All this was long before he even knew there was such a thing as homosexuality.

Mushin Hendricks took comfort in his faith, in spite of the fact that many Muslims believe it offers no place to homosexual feelings. Sexual love between two men or two women is prohibited. It is seen as one of the worst possible sins, punishable in some Islamic countries by death.

But Muhsin Hendricks decided to discover for himself what the Qur’an has to say about homosexuality. He pursued his Islamic studies in Pakistan. “It didn’t seem fair for a very merciful and compassionate God to condemn me for something that I didn’t choose.”

Muhsin Hendricks drew a striking conclusion from his studies: nowhere does the Qur’an state that homosexuality is forbidden. Not even in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mushin refutes the interpretation that God destroyed the cities because men had sex with one another. He argues that the cities’ residents were punished for rape, not for consensual sex between men.

The controversial cleric argues that there are even one or two Qur’an verses in which Allah acknowledges the existence of homosexuals. One example is in sura 24, verse 31. “It says that women have to put on extra clothing when they go out in public ... But not in front of those men who have no attraction for women. They must be the gay people,” he laughs.

Despite these discoveries, Mushin still did not feel able to acknowledge and openly express his own homosexual feelings. He married, and he and his wife had three children. Mushin’s wife was aware of his homosexuality but still tried to make the relationship work.

Mushin Hendricks’ knowledge of Islam and Arabic earned him respect in the mosques of Cape Town. But his feelings did not go away. After six years, his marriage ended in divorce and that was the moment when he officially came out of the closet.

His mother fainted when she heard the news that her son Mushin was gay. But little by little she is beginning to understand. Some members of the family want nothing more to do with him.

Now Mushin Hendricks has met the love of his life. His partner follows another faith – Hinduism – and has not yet come out of the closet.

Mushin’s work at the mosque came to an abrupt end. His take on the relationship between homosexuality and Islam does not rhyme with the official doctrine. He has been branded a Satanist. Although he has never been physically threatened, he has to endure much abuse and criticism.

“Imams see me as a threat to their worldview and the way they see Islam. I don’t feel they should be threatened. It’s just another view that I would invite them to look at. My view allows queer Muslims to continue being Muslim but also to accept themselves for who they are.”

Muhsin Hendricks still sees himself as an Islamic cleric. With his foundation The Inner Circle he tries to help Muslims with their coming out. He gives empowerment workshops to make young people more self-aware. He will also give one here in the Netherlands: over sixty people have already signed up for it.



*******


"Fear Eats the Soul"

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 582"

"We Are A Family That Love Keeps 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.

"The Truth Today..."



"Fear Eats the Soul"

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Sometimes In Advertising..." France

"The day is fast approaching..."

"A Love Story..."



"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 581"

"Love Is Worth Every Battle..."


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, February 24, 2011

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


Congratulations to gay twin brothers, Gary and Larry Lane who were the $50,000 winners on tonite's episode of ABC TV's "Winter Wipeout"


"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Sometimes In Advertising..." England


"Didn't this make you smile...?"

"The Truth About Love..."


"A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years. "

- Rupert Brooke

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 580"

"Love Is Worth Every Battle..."

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, February 23, 2011

"A Truth Shared..."


I called the Whitehouse this afternoon to the thank the President
for doing the right thing...


"DOMA is Unconstitutional"


"Separate is never equal!"


"Fear Eats the Soul"

"In The News Today..."

Sam Hall (right) and husband, William Burley

Kessler, Tennant Tout 'Sexual Orientation' In Rights Speech


By Mannix Porterfield
Feb 21, 2011

CHARLESTON — Two Democratic rivals for governor lent support Monday to legislation outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation, illustrating their cause with an ex-coal miner claiming he was harassed over his homosexual lifestyle.

Sam Hall told chanting supporters outside the Senate chamber he was victimized by verbal abuse, physical threats, vandalism and harassing messages spray-painted on his belongings at two Massey Energy mines in Kanawha County.

“I have endured some of the most difficult circumstances at my former job,” Hall said at a news conference.

“The more hatred we let happen now is the more hatred we will have to endue in our future and that is just not acceptable.”

Afterward, he refused to identify the mines, saying his complaints are in litigation against Massey and his attorney wasn’t there with him.

Immediately, Kevin McCoy, president of the West Virginia Family Foundation, said some lawmakers were putting a seal of approval on an abomination contrary to God’s laws and that his Christian group would seek their defeat in the next election.

Acting Senate President Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, blasted discrimination against homosexuals in an emotion-charged speech before chanting members of West Virginia Fairness.

“It is time to recognize clearly, once and for all in West Virginia, that all men and all women are created equal,” he said.

“These are individuals who are who they are. They have no more ability to change their orientation than they do the color of their skin. They have no more ability to change their orientation than they do to change the color of their eyes.”

Kessler held up a copy of the Constitution and said it applies to all.

“It is high time in this state that no one can be denied the right to work or where they live based upon their gender, their age, the color of their skin, the god they love or the person they love,” he said.

Kessler quoted Jesus’ much-quoted response to the Pharisees and scribes when asked about the greatest commandment.

The first, he said, is to love God with all one’s heart and mind, and the second is to love one’s neighbor as oneself, the senator said.

“That second commandment, that Golden Rule, means nothing more than reaching out and treating people with dignity, fairness and respect, and even when, and more importantly because, when they’re different,” he said.

“That’s the strength of that Golden Rule as well.”

Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, took a shot at Christian groups opposed to expanding the Human Rights Act to embrace homosexuality.

She said the Bible has been used to justify slavery, control over women by their husbands, even to the point of beating them, and discrimination.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is on the May 14 primary ballot with Kessler, didn’t attend as planned, but sent a statement read to Hall’s supporters.

“Discrimination is bad for our economy and bad for our community,” she said.

“We can no longer afford to have biases of the past dictate our future. It is time for a new approach. It’s time for West Virginia to move forward.”

McCoy was incensed over the support of SB226 and HB2045, given the opposition by Kessler and Fleischauer the past few years a Christian-led effort to let voters decide if the Constitution should be amended to define marriage as a union of “one man and one woman.”

Kessler and Fleischauer displayed “the audacity to stand before people today and basically use the word of God as a tool to promote an abomination,” McCoy said.

“These people have no sense of morality,” he continued. “They are morally bankrupt. The only way to deal with it is to get them voted out of office. And that’s what we plan on doing. We’re going after them.”

McCoy warned that passage of the bill would sound the death knell for the traditional family by letting homosexual activists “force their decadent and destructive lifestyle on all West Virginians.”

“The clear agenda behind these bills is to legitimize homosexual behavior and cross-dressing in West Virginia as normal, acceptable behavior and worthy of being singled out for special recognition as an inborn trait, despite the Bible’s clear condemnation of this chosen behavior as sinful and wrong,” he added.

*******

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 579"

"Love, Marriage and Happiness..."


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 Thought To Ponder..."

Verterano: Why I should have come out to my mother

By Jake Veterano, 365gay.com
02.21.2011

My mother passed away on October 28, 2010, at age 57. She had ovarian cancer. It’s something that has been very difficult for myself and the rest of my family to get over. She was the focal point of our family and a beautiful woman.

I feel guilty about my mom’s passing. Why? Because I never talked with her about being gay. She knew I was gay – sort of – but she didn’t hear it directly from me.

I had written an article for our college newspaper about gay rights. I remember sitting in class and my phone kept going off because she was calling me. I knew right away she had read the article. I had never been more nervous to talk.

When I answered the call, she read me an excerpt from the article where I said “As a gay man…”
I froze. I had no idea what to say to her.

I just said “I’m not sure, Mom. I might be gay.” She told me she wanted me to see a psychiatrist. I hung up and avoided her calls for a week. If any of you have an Italian mother, you know this is NOT easy to do.

We never talked about a psychiatrist again. But that’s because we never had a real conversation about me being gay.

Yet I think my mom always knew I was gay. When I was in first grade, I had asked for a My Sized Barbie for Christmas. I got the Barbie and Mom told everyone I wanted a “dancing partner.”

This was different, though. This was the first time my mom had actually said something about it. I didn’t know what to do. Her voice just sounded so…disappointed. After a week I called her back. She said “You’re not gay, are you?”

I lied. I told her “no” and we dropped it.

But she knew. A mother always knows.


Last year on the night of my 22nd birthday my mom and I got into a screaming match over cleaning out our fish tanks (yes, seriously). Frustrated and angry, she said to me: “GO RUN TO YOUR BOYFRIEND!”

I burst into tears and drove out of the house, ripping down Christmas decorations in the process. She had been keeping tabs on me. I had been dating someone for over a year and she knew. I called my best friend crying and she calmed me down and convinced me to return home.

I did and it wasn’t brought up again. But I regret not telling my mom about my boyfriend. I think she felt hurt I hadn’t shared my life with her. I was living my life in hiding. I was in this wonderful, happy relationship and she had no idea who this person was that I was with every night. He was a stranger to her.

I should have let her in my life. I should have been upfront the second my mom asked me if I was gay, but I ran away.

The night before my mother passed away, her best friend pulled me aside in the hospital hallway.
“Jake, she got you,” she said. “She understands you and she loves you. She wanted you to be happy with whoever you are with. We all love you and we all accept you.”

We stood there in the hallway for at least a half hour holding each other and crying.

I feel my mother’s presence every day – and every day, I regret not being upfront with her about who I am and how happy I am. I think she would have loved to see me holding hands with someone I care about, would have loved to see me celebrate my wedding and watch me raise a family with a man I love.

She deserved to be let into my happiness. That’s what we do when we love people. We let them in to our lives.



*********

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

"The Artist's Corner"

"Why...?"
Acrylic on canvas
David Thompson

"Never Be Ashamed Of Who You Are..."



H/T: sglcafe.com

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"In The News Today..."

Former coal miner Sam Hall (right) says in a lawsuit against a Massey Energy subsidiary that he faced harassment at work because he is gay. He and partner Burley Williams say they hope their efforts help other gay people.

Gay Ex-miner Pushes for Anti-discrimination Bills
By Alison Knezevich
The Charleston Gazette
Charleston, W.Va.

Sam Hall says he never told the other men he was gay.

"I tried to play the manly man," said Hall, a lean 28-year-old who worked five years in Southern West Virginia coal mines. "It didn't work."

The other miners found out anyway.

And then, according to a lawsuit Hall filed in December against his former employer, the harassment started. Hall says he faced homophobic taunts, threats of violence and vandalism to his car.

Now, Hall is pushing for state legislation to protect West Virginians from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

On Monday, he's set to appear at a Capitol news conference with the group Fairness West Virginia to endorse two bills (SB226 and HB2045) that would add sexual orientation to the state's existing civil-rights laws, which already cover race, gender, religion and other characteristics.

The legislation is meant to prevent discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations such as hotels and restaurants.

Hall grew up in Clay County, where "[being gay] is something you never put out there because you've got a lot of country boys," he said

In 2005, he went to work for Mammoth Coal, a Massey Energy subsidiary. It was good money, he said. He worked 10- to 12-hour shifts, sometimes six days a week.

In the mines, "I never came out," he said. "I didn't want to be perceived as someone who was out there flaunting my sexuality."

Hall's lawsuit alleges that managers did not stop miners from harassing him. Sometimes, supervisors took part.

Co-workers shook their penises at Hall underground and in the bathhouse, according to the lawsuit. They scrawled slurs on his locker and dinner bucket, wrote "faggot" on his car, and stuck a cardboard sign on the vehicle that said "I like little boys."

"We're told underground all the time: You look after the next guy. Well, even though these guys were doing this, I still looked after them," Hall said. "You're supposed to be your brother's keeper underground."

Massey General Counsel Shane Harvey said the company is investigating Hall's allegations.

"We're not going to discuss the investigation while it's ongoing, for Mr. Hall's sake and for everyone else's sake," Harvey said, "but I can say that, as a corporation generally, we certainly don't approve of harassment of anyone because of sexual orientation."

According to court papers, the mining company suspended one of Hall's alleged harassers for three days "for unprofessional behavior."

Mammoth Coal also says in legal filings that Hall was transferred to another mine at his request and that he met with Mammoth managers, "but denies that his complaints were about sexual or any other type of unlawful harassment."

Hall's lawsuit alleges that he got especially worried when the harassment escalated to threats of violence, such as "I would like to see all faggots die."

His partner, Burley Williams, said he constantly worried when Hall was at work. If Hall was late getting home, Williams jumped in his car. "I'd just get up and go looking for him," said Williams, a 37-year-old state worker.

The couple married last July in Washington, D.C., and live near Elkview.

Hall left the mines two months after he filed his lawsuit.

"The abuse continued and it became a very unsafe work environment," said Charleston attorney Roger Forman, who filed Hall's lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Forman said Hall is standing up for all victims of harassment and discrimination. In many sexual harassment cases, people "don't immediately complain because they're scared," he said.

Hall doesn't know what he'll do next, but says he's always preferred manual labor to office work. Before he mined coal, he worked in a lumberyard and roofed houses.

"Not all of us are hairstylists," he joked.

At Monday's news conference, two candidates in the special gubernatorial election are scheduled to appear in support of Hall - acting Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

The state Senate passed similar bills adding sexual orientation to state civil-rights laws in 2008 and 2009, but the legislation has not had success in the House of Delegates.

"We need to see some leadership in the House to work on solving this problem, and we need it now," said Stephen Skinner, president of Fairness West Virginia, which advocates for gays and lesbians. "Most people don't understand that people can be fired from their jobs or kicked out of their hotel rooms simply because they're gay."

Opponents of the legislation include the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, whose president, Jeremy Dys, said the legislation "insults the civil-rights pioneers."

"This is a time for the state to be encouraging strong marriages," Dys said. "They shouldn't be pursuing helping special-interest groups achieve a political agenda that does an end around [to] the social and moral convictions of West Virginians."

Hall said he's nervous about appearing at a news conference, but that nothing could be as difficult as coming out to his family when he was 16.

"If I can do that," he said, "I can do anything."



********

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

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 577"

Freedom to 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.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"This Made Me Smile..."

"This Is The Face Of Bravery..."



"Fear Eats the Soul"

"There Are Still Heroes Among Us..."

Former U.S. Marine, and admitted conservative Craig Stowell is a man who says he takes “freedom and liberty very seriously.” He had this to say about efforts to "take away marriage from loving gay and lesbian couples" in a full-page ad which ran last Wednesday in New Hampshire’s conservative Union Leader.



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

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 576"

"Home Is Where The Heart Is..."


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, February 19, 2011

"A Thought To Ponder..."

Corvino: Should We Care If We Were ‘Born This Way?’

By John Corvino, columnist, 365gay.com
02.18.2011


I am about to commit an act of gay heresy.

It wouldn’t be my first time. But it is the first time I will be challenging, not just an Article of Faith, but also a High Priestess. I’m referring, of course, to Lady Gaga, whose hit single “Born This Way” is being touted as a new gay anthem.

But I can’t help it. So here goes:

I neither know, nor care, whether I was “born this way.”

Before you react, let me be very clear on what I’m saying, and what I’m not saying.

By “born this way,” I mean “genetically hardwired to be gay,” and by “gay,” I mean having the disposition to be predominantly sexually attracted to other men. I am not saying that I was NOT born gay. I’m actually agnostic on the question.

There has been a good bit of scientific research in recent decades suggesting a strong genetic component in sexual orientation. I am all for such research.

But the evidence, while solid and growing, is still inconclusive. (Edward Stein’s 1999 book The Mismeasure of Desire remains an excellent argument as to why.) There may be intermediate environmental factors that also play a key role. Human sexuality is complex, and not well captured in terms of simple unidirectional hardwiring.

Moreover, such research—which almost always focuses on men—does not claim to show that the same factors are operative in every case. Thus, even if most gays are “born this way,” it doesn’t follow that *I* was born this way.

That’s what I mean when I say I don’t know. Now here’s what I mean when I say I don’t care.

Science teaches us about how we come to have the traits that we do. It does not tell us whether such traits are good to have. It does not tell us whether acting on them would be worthy or unworthy of respect, or perhaps morally indifferent.

In short, science answers scientific questions, which are relevant to, but not the same as, moral questions. In my view, respect for gays should no more hinge upon the biological causes of homosexuality than respect for the left-handed should hinge on the biological causes of left-handedness.

Why then, the insistence that we’re born this way?

I think it’s partly because people mistakenly think that one must be born with a trait in order for it to be (a) deep, (b) important, and (c) immutable. But none of these claims is true.

Consider depth. My comprehension of English runs deep. It is (I’m ashamed to admit) the only language I can speak even passably, and I’ve been speaking it for four decades. No other language will ever have the same resonance for me. But—obviously—I wasn’t born wired for this particular tongue.

Now consider importance. Some congenital traits are important for some purposes; others—such as birthmarks—are less so. Some acquired traits, such as religion, are more important to many people than many congenital traits. You don’t have to be born with a trait for it to be deep and important.

Finally, consider mutability. This, I think, is the real issue driving people when they fix on the etiological research. But such fixation is misdirected: how we came to have our sexual desires is a different question from whether we can change them.

The evidence is actually much clearer on the “change” question than on the “cause” question. Sexual orientation in most males seems relatively fixed from an early age (which does not necessarily mean “birth”). For women, it is somewhat more fluid but not arbitrarily so. In both cases, efforts to “fix” or “cure” homosexuals are generally unsuccessful and often quite harmful, which is why they have been roundly criticized by mainstream professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association.

In other words, whether or not we’re born this way, most of us are going to stay this way.

More to the point, whether we can change a trait is a different question from whether we ought to do so. (I can convert to Palinism or join the Tea Party, but I shouldn’t and I won’t.) There are also constitutional implications to mutability, which I leave aside here.

Of course, saying that something shouldn’t matter in theory is not the same as saying that it doesn’t matter in practice. And I don’t mean to diminish the positive social message that Lady Gaga and others aim to spread when they beat the “born this way” drum.

I may neither know nor care whether anyone is born gay. But I know that there’s nothing wrong with us, and I care very much that we be treated with respect.


*******


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

"This Made Me Smile..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 575"

"To Be Happy... Live, Love and Play 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.

"There Are Still Heroes Among Us..."

Friday, February 18, 2011

"The Truth About Love..."



In today's excerpt - Where to we find enduring love? Answer: Oxytocin. Infidelity? Testosterone. Heartbreak? Low serotonin and endorphins. In fact, our loved ones are actually present in our brains - neurochemically - and when lost it results in chemical trauma for the brain:

"An American study of over four thousand men found that husbands with high testosterone levels were 43 percent more likely to get divorced and 38 percent more likely to have extramarital affairs than men with lower levels. They were also 50 percent less likely to get married at all. Men with the least amounts of
testosterone were more likely to get married and to stay married, maybe because low testosterone levels make men calmer, less aggressive, less intense, and more cooperative.

"The desire to commit to someone is strongly linked to ... oxytocin. ... Oxytocin is released by the pituitary gland and acts on the ovaries and testes to regulate reproduction. Researchers suspect that this hormone is important for forming close social bonds. The levels of this chemical rise when couples watch romantic movies, hug, or hold hands. Prairie voles, when injected with oxytocin, pair much faster than normally. Blocking oxytocin prevents them from bonding in a normal way. This is similar in humans, because couples bond to certain characteristics in each other. This is why you are attracted to the same type of man or woman repeatedly. In general, levels of oxytocin are lower in men, except after an orgasm, where they are raised more than 500 percent. This may explain why men feel very sleepy after an orgasm. This is the same hormone released in babies during breast-feeding, which makes them sleepy as well.

"Oxytocin is also related to the feelings of closeness and being 'in love' when you have regular sex for several reasons. First, the skin is sensitized by oxytocin, encouraging affection and touching behavior. Then, oxytocin levels rise during subsequent touching and eventually even with the anticipation of being touched. Oxytocin increases during sexual activity, peaks at orgasm, and stays elevated for a period of time after intercourse. ... In addition, there is an amnesic effect created by oxytocin during sex and orgasm that blocks negative memories people have about each other for a period of time. The same amnesic effect occurs from the release of oxytocin during childbirth, while
a mother is nursing to help her forget the labor pain, and during long, stressful nights spent with a newborn so that she can bond to her baby with positive feelings and love.

"Higher oxytocin levels are also associated with an increased feeling of trust. In a landmark study by Michael Kosfeld and colleagues from Switzerland published in the journal Nature, intranasal oxytocin was found to increase trust. Men who inhale a nasal spray spiked with oxytocin give more money to partners in a risky investment game than do men who sniff a spray containing a placebo. This substance fosters the trust needed for friendship, love, families, economic transactions, and political networks. According to the study's authors, 'Oxytocin specifically affects an individual's willingness to accept social risks arising through interpersonal interactions.' ...

"What happens in the brain when you lose someone you love? Why do we hurt, long, even obsess about the other person? When we love someone, they come to live in the emotional or limbic centers of our brains. He or she actually occupies nerve-cell pathways and physically lives in the neurons and synapses of the brain. When we lose someone, either through death, divorce, moves, or
breakups, our brain starts to get confused and disoriented. Since the person lives in the neuronal connections, we expect to see her, hear her, feel her, and touch her. When we cannot hold her or talk to her as we usually do, the brain centers where she lives becomes inflamed looking for her. Overactivity in the limbic brain has been associated with depression and low serotonin levels, which is why we have trouble sleeping, feel obsessed, lose our appetites, want to isolate ourselves, and lose the joy we have about life. A deficit in endorphins, which modulate pain and pleasure pathways in the brain, also occurs, which may be responsible for the physical pain we feel during a breakup."

Author: Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
Title: The Brain in Love
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Date: Copyright 2007 by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
Pages: 64-68

"In The News Today..."


David Kato Kisule, A Gay Campaigner in Uganda, Died on January 26th, aged 46



Obituaries
Feb 10th 2011



To the 935 pupils at St Herman Nkoni primary school, on the Masaka-Mbarara road, the slight, bookish-looking, soft-voiced man with the thick-lensed glasses was a pretty good head teacher. But to Uganda’s tabloid magazines, such as Red Pepper and Rolling Stone, he was a monster: a “bum-driller”, ever seeking “shaftmates” for “romping sessions”. To the sponsors of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill of 2009, which required witnesses to report homosexual activity within 24 hours, and which proposed the death sentence for repeat offending, he was a deviant and a corrupter of innocent boys. In the sermons of the evangelical Christian pastors who toured round Uganda’s towns, he was a dog, a pig, possessed by devils. Even the Anglican priest who conducted his funeral broke off to shout that he was worse than a beast, because animals at least knew the difference between a male and a female.

David Kato was one of a group so tiny, hated and hounded—indeed, illegal—that most Ugandans had never knowingly met one. Gays like him called themselves kuchus, meaning “same”, as in “same-sex”. He was not the same in any way ordinary Ugandans cared to recognise.

His neighbours in Nansana and Mukono, the districts near Kampala where he lived at various times, admitted that he could be generous and kind. He paid for electricity wires to be put up locally, settled people’s hospital bills, took drifters in when they were homeless. But this, they told the tabloids, was because he was “filthy loaded” with foreign dime, most of it donated to him for spreading a Western evil in Uganda, and a lot of the money was used as bribes for sexual favours. It was dangerous to get too close to him, because of his love for bums. His cleaning woman (who observed which young men came and went, and who stayed the night) noticed that he was tired on the day he was killed, and put it down to AIDS. A doctor took the false story on: Mr Kato was HIV-positive, and spreading it around, despite the government’s campaign to keep AIDS in check. An ex-homosexual called Paul Kagaba claimed that he had been irreparably seduced into evil in Mr Kato’s white house with the columns along Villa Road, after a couple of Guinnesses and a takeaway meal. He implied he was one of many.

In Mr Kato’s mind there were only two ways to deal with being gay in Uganda. The first was to hide, to seek the dark. This was how he had first encountered the gay scene in Kampala in the late 1990s, after hearing rumours of a night party in some gardens outside the city and deciding he had to gatecrash. The party hosts, suspicious of his eagerness, gave him the wrong address; they did not want him to find this secret, illegal gathering among the trees. When he gave interviews to Western media it was often in dark alleys or deserted bars, face shadowy and close to the camera, or on some red-dirt road out of town, while he kept nervously walking.

Fighting talk

The second way of being gay, however, was to be out and proud. This was what he preferred, despite the risks. In 1998, just back from a few years of teaching in South Africa—where he had seen apartheid fall, and the old anti-sodomy laws with it, and had decided at last to admit his homosexuality—he held a televised press conference to start the push for gay rights in his own country. The police beat him up afterwards, the first of several beatings (he would show the scars on his head, where bottles had been broken on him), and arrested him, the first of three arrests. Not deterred, in 2004 he co-founded Sexual Minorities Uganda to campaign against the anti-homosexuality bill and general prejudice. He was the group’s litigation officer, partly because he knew his way round the mazes of the law, but mostly because he was loud, impatient, demanding, angry (too much so, when the beer got to him), and didn’t care that his face was now “Gay Uganda” for the tabloids.

When, last October, Rolling Stone ran a front-page article on “homos” recruiting in the schools, promising to expose 100 of them and calling for them to be hanged, Mr Kato was one of three who sued the magazine. He was the only one who went to court to state his case that homosexuals were born, not made, and therefore could not be recruited. He had known he was different as a child growing up in Nakawala, his ancestral village; his twin brother, John, had noticed it too, and simply laughed when, after years, he came out to him.

The new year looked propitious. On January 3rd a judge ruled against Rolling Stone; Mr Kato received compensation of 1.5m Ugandan shillings, or $640. It was not much, but it was the principle that mattered. Meanwhile, debate was suspended on the anti-homosexuality bill, partly as a result of world pressure that he had helped to stir.

Young men continued to mill around his house. One of them was a thief well known in the area: a rough part of town, with 15 iron-bar attacks in two months. Police assumed that when Mr Kato was bludgeoned to death with a hammer, on the afternoon of January 26th, he was just another victim in the series. Gay groups blamed the tabloids for incitement. Neighbours, hanging about, noticed with surprise that his blood on the walls looked much the same as theirs.

********


"Fear Eats the Soul"

"This Is The Face Of Bravery..."


My Involvement with an HIV Vaccine Trail
by Robert W. Williams, III

It was 2004, when a few people from the San Francisco Health Department came to the Sexual Minority Alliance of Alameda County (SMAAC) Youth Center where I worked to do a presentation on an HIV vaccine trial they were conducting.

After listening to the presentation I thought to myself, “I am an out and proud black gay man who has had the great fortune not be infected with HIV after living my adult gay life for over 20 years. So why not use my body as a vessel to stop the spread of HIV, by getting involved in this trial?”

The next week, I made an appointment and went to a meeting where they gave me the consent form for the trial, a long, 50-page document. I read it and thought, “Wow, this is a lot.” I took it home and talked to family and friends about getting involved in the study. No one was encouraging me to do it, but I looked at it as an opportunity to give something back. They said things like, “Someone has to get infected in order to test the efficacy of the vaccine.” And to be honest I had not thought about this. But the counselors at the San Francisco Health Department made it clear that they didn’t want any volunteers to become infected and provided me with safe sex counseling as well as condoms.

I still wanted to be involved and did get injections. I thought to myself at the time that I did get vaccine and not a placebo. It just made me feel sluggish for a couple of days. After the study was unblinded a couple of years later, I found out that I had received the vaccine.

I must admit that going into the study; I did not know how it would affect me. But once I got in and started going to my appointments, the trial staff made me feel very good that I had done it. I received safer sex counseling that really made me think about the behavioral risks I had been taking. As a result, I also took a more proactive role in my health. I requested HIV testing every 3 months, even though the protocol only called for testing every 6 months. I also started having them test me for other STDs—not just HIV.

In 2009 the STEP Study came to an abrupt end because early results showed the vaccine tested did not prevent HIV infection. Needless to say, I was sad that the study I had been a part of did not find a vaccine to prevent HIV. But I learned from the trial folks that we had learned a lot from doing this study and that the results would affect the design of future studies. That is some small consolation.

Looking back now, I would do it all over again. It was a chance to somehow change the world, to leave it a little bit better than the way I found it.

Robert W. Williams, III, works at the Center for AIDS Prevention Services at the University of California, San Francisco, where he assists with research on HIV Prevention Interventions that save the lives of young gay men every day.



**********

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 574"

"A Kiss Before We Leave For Work Keeps You In My Mind..."


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, February 17, 2011

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



"Fear Eats the Soul"

"In The News Today..."


Harvard Law Review Elects First Openly Gay President



By Caroline M. Mckay, Crimson Staff Writer
February 08, 2011

Second-year student Mitchell Reich was elected the 125th president of the Harvard Law Review.

Mitchell Reich, a second year at Harvard Law School, was elected the first openly gay president of the Harvard Law Review. Reich, a Yale College and Dalton School graduate and Manhattan native, is the 125th president of the esteemed publication.

BREAKING GROUND

Reich says that being gay is a non-issue for the Harvard Law Review community, but that he recognizes the significance of the election. He says that while he was in high school, before coming out of the closet, he found it hard to picture achieving his dreams and be gay at the same time.

“If I had seen someone who was the president of the Harvard Law Review and [also] openly gay, that would have been helpful to me,” Reich says.

Ryan C. Reich, Mitchell’s older brother and a sixth year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D in the math department at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said that while his brother is certainly an advocate for gay rights, his sexual orientation is “not a cause” for the second year law student.

“I don’t think it affects his approach to work or his legal mind,” says Reich. “He does certainly have a certain affinity for gay rights issues ... but I think, first, that this is part of a larger affinity for liberal thought.”

SETTLING IN

The office of the president of the Harvard Law Review is not as grandiose as the elite status of the title might suggest. On the third floor of the Georgian-style Gannett House—up two flights of steep, winding stairs covered in faded grey carpet—the office is barely more than an alcove, away from the bustle of activity in the common quarters. Red volumes of past issues are stacked around the room, and a few posters and phone numbers are tacked onto the wall around the desk. The only noise is the ticking of the black clock hung on the wall to the left of the desk.

One week into his tenure as president, Reich has yet to make the coveted office his own. He says he might as well—mentioning he plans to put up pictures, including one of his baby half-sister Haley—considering the amount of time he will spend in the room. Every day in the past week, he has arrived at Gannett between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. and left no earlier than 10 p.m., leaving for pockets of time to attend class.

As president, Reich will play the role of the editor-in-chief—overseeing the publication of both in-house and scholarly articles in the review—and of managing the staff and external relations. He says that, as president, he intends to continue the expansion of the web edition of the law review, transforming the web version into a valuable tool for scholars and an online mecca for scholarly discourse and debate. Reich also says he wants to be more conscientious about the length of legal articles—keeping articles at around 25,000 and below 30,000 words. But above all, Reich says he wanted to continue to produce a first-rate publication.

“My predecessor and the class before is a tough act to follow,” Reich says, going on to explain that he hoped to keep the tradition of excellence alive in the eight issues he would oversee as president.

AUTHOR AT AGE THREE

Family and friends note that Reich’s election as president is a reflection of another tradition of excellence—his own. Reich has been articulate, passionate, and an exemplary leader since an early age, they say.

“When Mitch was in Kindergarten, he was writing books,” says his mother, Diane Cohen, referring to short picture books with plots and drawings her son started making from age three. “His teacher excused him from naptime, saying he was an author and had more important things to do than nap.”

Reich was student body president his senior year at Dalton, and has worked for the gubernatorial and presidential campaigns of Eliot L. Spitzer and Barack Obama respectively, in addition to interning with New York Senator Charles E. Schumer.

Reich’s college roommates of four years Brent Lowry said that Reich’s election was exciting news, but not at all surprising.

“Mitch is absolutely accessible, engaging, and knows how to challenge you on an intellectual level,” says Lowry.

********


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

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 573"

"A Kiss Always Says, I Love You..."


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, February 16, 2011

"The Artist's Corner"

"Michael Writing"
Watercolor
Peter Samuelson

"The Truth About Love..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 572"

"Love Brings Happiness..."


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, February 15, 2011

"The Truth About Love..."


"Love is the flower of life, and blossoms unexpectedly and without law, and must be plucked where it is found, and enjoyed for the brief hour of its duration. "

- D. H. Lawrence

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 571"

"Home Is Where Love Lives..."


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, February 14, 2011

"Remembering Dad"



This morning, I am ending my week of mourning for my father who died a week ago yesterday. Although I'm the youngest man in our family, I am the patriarch none the less and this has been true for most of my life. And so, having been an ordained minister, it fell to me to conduct my father's funeral on Saturday morning.

Since I knew his death was coming soon, I started thinking of what I'd say even beforehand. He lived an incredible life and I believe I did a good job of illustrating that for everyone who gathered for his final farewell. It surprised me that I was able to maintain my composure as well as I could... It wasn't until the rendering of military honors and trumpeting of "Taps" that my tears began to flow. Here is what I said about my father:
Eulogy of My Father - Mr. William B. Flournoy

When I began the daunting task of sharing with you the memories of my father and his incredible life, I was struck by how many times he had overcome the odds, by how many times he had come back from behind, by how many times he never gave up and pressed on to the end and to his goals.

One of my father’s goals as a young man was to get the best education he possibly could… Education was important to him, I know, I got many a whipping from him for not wanting to go to school myself… And so he had a goal, and he realized it, in 1935 it was a very rare thing for a young black man to be attending Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, but that was his goal. And if you turn through the pages of the “1939 Triangle” (Cass’ yearbook) you’ll find my father’s photo as an honors graduate of the class of ’39. Was it a struggle; was it hard to do…? It had to be! But he overcame the odds, never gave up, and pressed on to the end.

And it was on the strength of his impressive academic scholarship at Cass Tech that my father set his eyes on another seemingly unattainable prize… It was the middle of the great depression, the nation had been languishing in the depths of the worst economic downturn in history for nearly a decade, when “the” Henry Ford, Henry Ford, the elder, the founder of The Ford Motor Company visited Cass Tech to recruit the best of the best young men in Detroit to join the ranks of his company. And my father thought, surely in the enlightened days of 1939, he might fit the bill.

You see, Mr. Henry Ford came to Cass that fall with a shopping list, and on that list he had a need for 6 apprentice tool and die makers. The principal selected for him the 6 top graduates from the machinist curriculum and Henry said to send them along to the Rouge Hiring Office. Against all the odds, my father’s name was on that list.

Over the years, hearing the story, I could always imagine the pride my father must have felt walking home to 53rd Street and telling his dad (A Ford $5-a-day man himself) that he was going to be a tool and die maker! For you see, at the time, there were no Negro tool and die makers at Ford, or GM, or Chrysler, or Packard… it just wasn’t a job a man of color could have in the Detroit of 1939.

It was about three years ago that my father last told me the story of his being hired in at the Rouge… It was a crisp fall day, October 13th 1939, the appointed day for he and the five other men (all white) to report to the Rouge Hiring Office. He said they all traveled together, walking the entire way from Cass Tech to Dearborn. As they got near Miller Road, they could see the throngs of men numbering in the hundreds, being herded along by Dearborn Police on horseback, slowly working their way towards the gates and a 30 second chance to impress a hiring manager. To the end of this sea of men desperate for an opportunity, my father and his classmates tried to join the line.

As they arrived, the police and the Ford “detectives” were stopping anyone else from joining the line, but the leader of that intrepid group of young men which included my father protested loudly, “But we have a letter from Mr. Ford telling us to report today!” Indeed, they did have a letter from Mr. Ford, it had been given to them by the principal stating that they had been selected as tool and die apprentices. Upon reading it, they were told, “You’re supposed to be up there!” and the officer on horseback escorted them past hundreds of waiting men to the gate and the head of the line.

At the gate, the letter was presented again, read again and five were admitted… But as my dad stepped forward, a Ford “Detective” stood in his way, but Dad’s comrades said, “He’s with us… that’s Flournoy” and that was enough to get him through the gate. Once in the building in the huge hiring room, when the five got to the front of the line, the letter was presented, and in turn each of the five was processed and given directions on reporting to work. Smiles were wide, and then my father stepped forward, the letter still visible on the counter behind the grille…

“Wrong window, boy.” “But I’m Flournoy!” “Wrong window, boy!” and with that, two Ford “Detectives” quite literally picked up my father by the elbows and carried him to the Negro hiring window. Accepting the realities of the day, my father explained to the man on the other side how it was that he was standing there. The man on the other side said, “I don’t need to know that, report to the foundry tomorrow.” “But I’m here to become a tool and die maker!” “I’m in charge of hiring all Negros for Mr. Ford and all Negros go to the foundry, do you want the job or not!” My father swallowed hard and said, “Yes, I want the job.”

The next day, my dad reported to the foundry, a place at the time so oppressively hot, dusty and dangerous, most white men refused the work. A place where most except the hardiest of black men lasted no more than 6 months. A couple of years ago, Dad told me of his first task in the foundry… He was to work at a de-molding station. A giant, gyrating and jumping table onto which still hot, iron engine block castings were dropped and bounced and shaken to remove the sand they had been casted in. “Reach out and grab it” the foreman told him. My father said it was the most terrifying thing he’d ever done. He said he thought surely some had lost life and limb in doing so and he later learned he was right.

Some men might have accepted the foundry as their fate, grateful for a job, any job, but not my father. No, he believed he could overcome any odds, he had never given up before, and so he pressed on…

Everyday for weeks on end, he waited outside the hiring office for the Negro hiring manager, and whenever he saw him, he’d reminded him that he had been sent from Cass Tech to be a tool and die maker and that his name had been on that letter signed by Mr. Ford. It all seemed to no avail as every time he saw him, the manager told him, “All Negros work in foundry!” And so my father toiled on day after day working in terrible heat… in a place where dust and grime settled on everything including him so thickly that the only time work came to a halt was once every hour to drag it off of the hot pipes that ran overhead to prevent an explosion. But he never gave up on his dream of being a tool and die maker.

Months had passed, and my dad was a familiar site lurking in shadows outside the hiring office. Finally, he was asked by one of the white hiring managers, “Why are you always out here?” (For you see the Negro Hiring Manager was a Negro himself). My dad told the story of how he’d been selected from his class and sent with the five other men to become tool and die makers. As he spoke humbly but with great passion, my father said he saw the moment when that man was moved by a sense of “what is right.” The gentleman promised to look into it and told my dad to come back the next day.

The following day, my father waited patiently for the man to appear and when he did, to his surprise he was told that indeed he was going to be admitted to the tool and die training program, but with one caveat, he’d have to continue in the foundry while going to the second shift classes as well.

Despite knowing that his classmates and friends had been receiving a salary and only attending classes and were near completing their studies, my father was not bitter, but was instead overjoyed… he said that he knew then that his dream was within reach. He pressed on in the foundry, never shirking away from even the most dangerous of tasks. He worked hard and every evening, he worked just as hard to excel in his classes, the first Negro being trained as a tool and die maker at Ford.

To make a long story short, he led his class and graduated with honors again. And he won his transfer from the foundry to the tool and die department. My father knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he never gave up, he was always pressing on to his goals. His first day in the department was a memorable one, he was greeted by taunts and racial slurs and even the five who had called him comrade at the gate dared not defend his presence. By the end of the day, the white men in the department had banded together agreeing to a walk out rather than accept a Negro in their ranks. Although he was crestfallen, he took it in his stride and everyday he came to work prepared to show all that he was as good as anyone. Even in the face of hatred, rejection and aggression, he refused to give up, even though for weeks his only work was sweeping up after the other men.

Though he was subjected to many humiliations, he never gave up, but instead searched for opportunities to prove his worth. Whenever a project was left unfinished, while others were on a break or eating at the canteen, he’d work on that project. When his work would be discovered, he’d humbly confess that it had been him, and they couldn’t help but praise what he’d done. Slowly he won them over and eventually, befriended all but the hardest hearted of this group of men who feared him because of the color of skin. Dad went on to work side by side with them as the only Negro in the department until he went off to war.

It was during the early war years, before Dad went off to war that the arrival of collective bargaining came to Ford and I needn’t tell you the story of the resistance and battles that ensued at the Rouge and at other Ford facilities. My father found himself in the midst of the violence, and on more than one occasion when the plant was rocked by unrest, had to climb a fence or two to escape the Ford “detectives.” But none of that changed his love for his job and indeed his love for the company that had given him an opportunity to show what determination could do.

When he was called up to serve, based on his machinist skills, he was inducted into the Navy. Although the Navy and the other services were still segregated at the time, so valuable and essential were the skill he brought with him, not only did he work beside white men in the same uniform, he was asked to teach and train others which he did at the wartime “University of the Marianas.”

He told me only a few stories about what he witnessed during the war, but the two that I most remember because they speak to his core belief that there is a basic good in all people are these. He was stationed on the Island of Guam for some months and he and his detail of colored sailors were responsible for guarding a supply depot. The Japanese had been pushed off the island just weeks before, but some of their men had been left behind and were surviving in the jungles that surrounded the base.

Each night as the sentries would walk their post, gun fire would ring out as the abandoned Japanese tried to steal food that for the Americans was so plentiful that rations were stacked outside on pallets. My father told me that whenever he was in charge of the watch, he instructed his men not to shoot at the Japanese, but instead to keep walking and just let off a shot or two so the officers know we're on our posts. He told me that those were his instructions to the men, because he said, “No man should have to die because he’s hungry!”

Another time he told me of leading a patrol through the perimeter jungle and coming on a group of armed Japanese. Guns were leveled and a standoff ensued. The leader of the Japanese motioned to my father’s feet and looking at his foe, my father knew how to end the standoff. He instructed all his men to lower their weapons and take off their shoes as he did the same thing. The Japanese were barefooted and their feet were covered in bleeding sores. The jungle is no place to be without shoes.

My father told his men to step back from their shoes, but some protested… And it was then that my father said, “These men have no shoes and we have them by the crate load on the base, give them your shoes!” Everyone took two steps back and the Japanese ran forward, snatched up the shoes and backed away into the jungle brush from which they had appeared. My father and his men finished their patrol and marched back to base as barefooted as the Japanese had been, but no man from either side had perished. Not a shot rang out in anger, for my father realized that these were men just as he was.

Though there are other stories I could tell you of the war years for my father, these tell the important part of the story, that he was a patriot, a thinker, and a believer in the humanity of all men and women. And so, with the end of the war, my father came immediately back to Detroit, clutching in his hand the leave of absence slip from Ford Motor Company, that I held in my hand just yesterday. It promised him his job back on his return, and he reported for work the next day.

As it did for most men returning from the war, the future seemed bright and full of possibilities, my father was no different. He sought a better life for himself and succeeding at his job was part and parcel of that dream. My father poured himself into his work, always seeking new and better ways to do things. He was a prolific contributor to Ford’s process improvement suggestion program, winning the implementation of countless productivity, safety and process improvements over the years. Yet, there was still something missing from his life… Eventually, love and marriage and family would bloom in the garden of my father’s life.

And here I can recall many memorable moments from our family life. My father was a sometimes stern, but always a loving and kind parent. I can say of him, without hesitation, that I know he did the very best that he could for us. He and our mother taught us the most valuable of lessons… they taught us the value of love, the value of hard work, the value of dedication and devotion and service, and in the end, the value of forgiveness and redemption.

It was with great pride that after the many other struggles that I haven’t the time to tell you here, I witnessed my father’s moment of glory and achievement as he sat listening to his colleagues and friends at the celebration of his 65 years of service to Ford Motor Company. I listened in astonishment to the impassioned accolades of scores of people whose lives he had touched and made a difference in while being the man that everyone knew and respected as “Bill Flournoy,” but whom I had only ever known as “Dad.” And then came the moment that I will never forget, and that I’m sure those of you who were there remember well.

The time had come for his farewell speech. I know that he hadn’t prepared anything to say in advance but he simply got up and delivered from the cuff the most eloquent speech I’ve ever heard where he summed up his life in these few words at the end, “I just wanted to do a good job…” If you knew my father, then you know this, in everything that he did, son, student, worker, soldier, husband, boss, friend, father, in everything, he just tried to always “do a good job.” I thank God that I had a father such as this man and more than that there’s no need to say.

And I bear this as my witness and testimony of him in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
**********

"Fear Eats the Soul"






Monday, February 7, 2011

"A Song For My Father..."

William Burnette Flournoy, Sr.
1917 - 2011


So We'll Go no More a Roving
George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824)


So we'll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And Love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.





Sunday, February 6, 2011

"A Story to Share..."


Corvino: Help A Hero
By John Corvino, columnist, 365gay.com
02.04.2011

You may not know his name. You should.

Frank Kameny has sometimes been called the “Rosa Parks” of the gay movement. Like most analogies, this one is imperfect. Parks’ civil disobedience was backed by an organized movement; Kameny had to forge a movement. Parks is in the history books; Kameny—like LGBT history more generally—is still largely overlooked.

And while Parks retreated to a quieter life not long after her iconic bus ride, Kameny’s vocal leadership has spanned a half-century.

When Dr. Franklin Kameny was fired from his government job in 1957 for being gay, there was no national gay civil rights movement. It took pioneers like him to make it happen. Before pride parades, before Harvey Milk, before Stonewall, there was Frank.

I’ve known Frank for many years, mostly via e-mail. He’s been to my home for dinner (incidentally, he likes peach schnapps). Regrettably, I’ve never been to his, though it was designated a D.C. historic landmark in 2009 in recognition of its—and Frank’s—tremendous role in civil rights history.

The house and its indomitable owner need help. More on that in a moment.

First, a few highlights of his amazing life.


A Harvard-trained Ph.D. and World War II veteran, Frank was fired in 1957 from his job as an Army Map Service astronomer for being a homosexual. Unsure of his future employability and outraged by the injustice, he fought back, petitioning his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1961. (They declined to hear it.)

That year he co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington—a “homophile organization,” based on the original society in San Francisco. Soon thereafter, in 1963, he began a decades-long campaign to revoke D.C.’s sodomy law. He personally drafted the repeal bill that was passed 30 years later. Frank would likely correct me here: it was “30 years, one month, four days, and 11 hours.”

He has that sort of relentless eye for detail.

In 1965, he picketed in front of the White House for gay rights. Signs from that demonstration, stored in his attic for decades, are now in the Smithsonian’s collection.

In 1968, he coined the slogan “Gay is Good,” an achievement of which he is particularly proud—probably because it captures his moral vision so simply and powerfully.

In 1971, he became the first openly gay person to run for Congress (he lost). He was instrumental in the battle that led to the declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973. He has continued to fight over the years against employment discrimination, sodomy laws, the military ban—injustice in all forms. And he has served as a moral elder for generations of movement leaders.

The astronomer-turned-activist is now 85 and as spirited as ever. Thankfully, he has lived to see some of the fruits of his labor. In 2009, when President Obama signed a memorandum extending certain benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, he handed his pen to Kameny.

That same year, the Federal Office of Personnel Management issued an apology to Kameny on behalf of the U.S. government. Without missing a beat, Kameny promptly sent a letter stating that he was expecting five decades of back pay. (He received no reply.)

Frank continues to send off pointed letters in pursuit of justice. He is fond of reminding me and other “young” activists, whenever he hears us complaining amongst ourselves, “Don’t tell us. Tell them. Contact the people who can do something about it.”

And that’s what I’m doing right now.

To put it simply, Frank needs financial help. His modest Social Security check—his only income—is inadequate to cover his needs. An organization called Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS) has intervened on his behalf.

From their website http://www.helpingourbrothersandsisters.com/donate.html:

“HOBS has worked with Dr. Kameny for more than a year, insuring that his basic life needs are met.

“To honor our greatest living gay rights activist, HOBS provides Frank with taxi vouchers. We work to ensure that his utilities are paid (phone, electric, water). We have worked with many other fine organizations in coordinating his needs.

“We are in constant communication with DC Government Officials, attempting to make sure city services are available to Dr. Kameny. We also gathered the donations in 2010 to pay Frank’s real estate taxes, of $2,000+.”

All donations to HOBS this month go to Frank. Meanwhile, a Facebook page has launched in conjunction with this effort, entitled “Buy Frank a Drink.” The idea is not literally to buy him drinks, but to spare $10 (or whatever you can afford) for him.

Frank has worked tirelessly for decades to make our lives better. It is simply not right that he should spend his twilight years in financial need.

I’m asking you to visit the HOBS website now and buy Frank a (figurative) drink—or 10, or whatever you can—to thank him for his monumental efforts. And I’m asking our national organizations to get behind this campaign, for a man who made their work possible.

He surely deserves that, and much more.

John Corvino, Ph.D. is a writer, speaker, and philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. His column “The Gay Moralist” appears Fridays at 365gay.com. He will be speaking on February 9 at Washington and Lee University in Virginia; read more at http://www.johncorvino.com/.


*********

I've known about the contributions of Dr. Kameny for some time now... He was fighting for our rights even before I was born, and so I've sent my contribution, have you sent yours?

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Linkwithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...