Thursday, March 31, 2011

"In The News Today..."

Gay Navy Man Faces Discharge

Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011

Craig Kohlruss

Despite the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Derek Morado, a sailor stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station will undergo a hearing today regarding his potential discharge from the military.

Morado said he's heard that no one has been discharged from the military for being gay since October. He hopes not to be the first since then, because he wants to make the Navy his career. "It's all I really know," he said. "I've done it since high school. I just want to keep doing it." A gay rights group has publicized Morado's case, putting out a call for signatures from supporters that he can take to today's hearing.

"At least they'll know people are watching and he has supporters in the community who won't let it just happen," said Robin McGehee of Fresno, a director of GetEQUAL. "The fact that the Navy is trying to slide one more discharge in under the wire is disgusting, and must be called out for what it is -- blatant discrimination and bullying."

Morado said Wednesday he knew he had to hide his homosexuality when he enlisted in 2003 after graduating from a Sacramento high school. But his sexual orientation became public after he posted a photo of himself on his MySpace page kissing another man.

"He was just a friend, not a romantic interest," Morado said.

A senior enlisted man in his ordnance and weapons unit turned him in, he said, and an admiral signed off on discharge proceedings. Once that happens, Morado said, "they have to go through with it."

However, no members of the Navy will be discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" without approval of the secretary of the Navy, Lt. Myers Vasquez, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, said Wednesday.

Morado said that after he was outed, his job duties changed from making bombs to managing barracks.

Other sailors have told him they are on his side, he said.

"All I've gotten is support and shock that this is happening -- nothing negative," Morado said. Morado said the hearing will be overseen by an administrative board of two officers and a senior petty officer.

He said he is being represented by a Navy lawyer.


And now the rest of the story...

Gay Sailor Says Panel Recommends No Discharge

Thursday, Mar. 31, 2011

A gay sailor at Lemoore Naval Air Station said today that a three-man panel voted to let him stay in the Navy instead of being recommended for discharge under the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.

Derek Morado, 26, who is originally from Sacramento, said the hearing lasted several hours.

"I'm ecstatic," Morado said afterward.

He said that his lawyer told the panel that the upcoming repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell as mandated by law made it unnecessary for him to be ordered to leave the Navy.

The panel of two officers and one senior petty officer voted unanimously in his favor after meeting behind closed doors for 25 minutes. He said the decision will be reviewed by the Navy Personnel Command to make sure the paperwork was done correctly, and that he expects no problems will be found.


I'm sure this young sailor will be able to sleep well tonight... I was proud to be one of the signers of the petition he took to his hearing today. Although the repeal is yet to be certified and actually take effect, it looks as though the nightmare of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is over.

"The Things That Love Says..."

Believe me if all those endearing young charms,

Which I gaze on so fondly today,

Were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms,

Like fairy gifts fading away!

Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,

Let thy loveliness fade as it will

And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart

Would entwine itself verdantly still.

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,

And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,

That the fervor and faith of a soul may be known,

To which time will but make thee more dear!

Oh the heart that has truly loved never forgets,

But as truly loves on to the close,

As the sunflower turns to her god when he sets

The same look which she turned when he rose!

Thomas Moore

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 613"

"It Wasn't Easy To Be In Love Back Then..."

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

"The Artist's Corner"

"Hidden Glances"

Acrylic on canvas

David Thompson

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"In The News Today..."

Gay Forrest County Deputy To Be Reinstated

Hattiesburg American

March 28, 2011

The Forrest County Sheriff’s Department will reinstate Andre Cooley as a deputy corrections officer as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Mississippi, in which Cooley alleged that he was fired because he is gay.

As part of the settlement agreement reached today, the sheriff’s department will also update its written non-discrimination policy to make explicit that the sheriff’s department does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

“I am looking forward to returning to a job that I loved in the sheriff’s department,” Cooley said. “I’m very happy that the sheriff’s department has clarified in writing that they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation. Everyone should be judged by their ability to do the job, not by their sexual orientation.”

“We are happy to have Mr. Cooley return to work in the department. His sexual orientation has no bearing on his ability to perform the duties of a corrections officer,” said Sheriff Billy McGee.

“The Forrest County Sheriff’s Department is an equal opportunity employer, and we do not discriminate based on sexual orientation. Our new written policy will make this position clear to every employee in our department.” “Andre Cooley is a fine officer who never should have endured this experience.

The sheriff’s department has done the right thing by making it clear that the department will not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Bear Atwood, Legal Director at the ACLU of Mississippi.

“All employers in Mississippi should follow the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department’s lead and include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies. Discrimination is degrading and dehumanizing, creates a negative and unproductive work environment and robs employers and society of highly qualified employees.” The settlement agreement, which also includes a monetary amount, does not constitute an admission of liability by the sheriff’s department or its employees.

“This is a great outcome for Andre, and for the residents of Mississippi,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney at the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Project.

“Unfortunately, Mississippi residents who work for private employers do not have protections from sexual orientation discrimination. Andre’s case highlights the need for state and federal legislation, like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to ensure that all Mississippi residents have the same anti-discrimination protections as employees of the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department.”


And with this, another small part of Dr. King's dream is realized, "But not only that: Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"A Thought To Ponder..."

"All men, even the most surly are influenced by affection."

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 612"

"Romance And Love... Not Just In Dreams"

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, March 29, 2011

"The Artist's Corner"

"Balcony on the canal"

Acrylic on canvas

David Thompson

"The Look Of Love..."

"A moment to reflect on love..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 611"

"Live and Love Fearlessly..."

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, March 28, 2011

"The Artist's Corner"


Graphite on paper

Todd Yeager

"This Is The Face Of Bravery..."

He knows... "Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 610"

"When You Love Someone, You're Happier..."

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, March 27, 2011

"In The News Today..."

Drew Call's stake president would not renew temple recommend based on
Call's association with gay people.

Man Fired from LDS Church For Refusing to Give Up Gay Friends

By Jesse Fruhwirth

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ official policy is to accept gay people as members of the church so long as they take what is, in essence, a vow of chastity. But one Salt Lake City man, a church employee for more than a decade, is surprised and angered that he lost his temple recommend—a prerequisite for employment in the church—after he refused to give up his gay friends and was fired.

Drew Call, 32, a returned missionary who is gay, was a supervisor in the church’s printing department until March 7. At a February private meeting with his Salt Lake City stake president—who declined to be interviewed—Call says he was asked to abandon his gay friends as a condition for renewal of his temple recommend. Surprised and fearing people may not believe him, Call surreptitiously made an audio recording of the follow-up meeting in March so there could be no doubt about what happened.

“I want people to know that [the LDS Church] is targeting people unfairly,” Call says. “I do believe they wronged me.”

Hoping to avoid the situation he now faces, Call had been looking for a new job for more than a year anyway. In this tough economy, however, it’s been difficult. The divorced father of two wanted to stay in the church’s good graces long enough that he could resign with dignity and financial security. The recording makes clear that Call’s association with gay people was the problem.

Call served a mission in Massachusetts from 1997 to 1999 and got married at 24 to a high school classmate even though he wasn’t attracted to women. Raised in Layton, he wanted children and felt being gay was evil. “I thought getting married would fix it and this tendency to like men would go away, but it never did,” he says.

He chatted online with gay men occasionally starting in 2008 as his marriage started to fall apart over financial issues and growing distrust. He was too afraid of sexually transmitted infections—and passing them on to his wife—to actually have sex with a man, he says.

In April 2009, he filed for divorce. Unbeknownst to his stake president, he started secretly dating men. In October 2009, he started swimming with QUAC, the Queer Utah Aquatic Club, after meeting a coach at the gym. Still not completely honest even with himself about his homosexuality, he went to a party where he was “warned” the attendees would be mostly gay men. When he arrived, the host asked Call if he is gay or straight. Call said he was gay. “That was the first time I admitted it,” he says.

In April 2010, the already-strained relationship with his parents grew more painful when they were told—not by Call—that he was gay. They were not accepting of it. He felt shunned at church and was still unsure if rumors were spreading about his sexuality or if it was just that he was divorced. His job was in jeopardy because of his small, secret steps toward living openly as a gay man. His only strong allies with whom he could be totally honest during a painful divorce, crisis of faith and job insecurity were his gay friends, many of whom had had similar experiences. “I had no idea how many great people are in the gay community,” he says. “I have better friends than I’ve ever had in my life and I’m happier.”

That made his stake president’s demand that he abandon those friends inconceivable.

On the recording, the stake president expresses concerns that Call recently had taken his daughters to “gay bingo,” a monthly charitable fundraiser hosted by the Utah Pride Center and the drag/comedy troupe Utah Cyber Sluts. “I think it’s inappropriate to take children, and I really think it’s inappropriate for you to go, myself, to this gay bingo,” the stake president says on the recording. Later, the stake president says of the gay community, “They are conducting themselves in a manner that is definitely in opposition to teaching and practices of the gospel. I’ve talked to you about this, about your association with [gay people]. Last time you left here, you were willing to give up your four, or so, individuals.” Call responded that he’d thought about it, but wasn’t willing to give up his gay friends after all.

To receive or maintain a temple recommend, Mormons must answer certain standardized questions. The stake president says on the recording that the question Call could not answer honestly asks, “do you support, affiliate with or agree with any group or individuals whose teaching or practices are contrary to or opposed to those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” The stake president goes on to say that that question applies to Call’s gay friends “because of the moral decay that is going in the world and that’s part of it. The church opposes the relationship between a man and a man and a woman and a woman, and you’re associating with those individuals. I don’t know how to get around that.”

“So what are you going to do?” Call asked.

“You’re going to have to look for a job,” the stake president replied.

In an e-mailed statement, LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said, “All church employees are required to have a current temple recommend. Worthiness to hold a temple recommend is determined between each individual member and his or her local ecclesiastical leaders.”

That’s the problem, says Dave Melson, president of Affirmation, a group for queer Mormons. The Maryland-based president of the national organization complains that LDS Church discipline in regards to homosexuality is inconsistent and often unfair. “You can go to one ward where you can be openly gay and your husband can hold a church calling [but] you go to the next ward over where you can be excommunicated simply for being gay. I’ve seen that literally,” Melson says.

Melson’s group is working with the LDS Church to develop training manuals for ecclesiastical leaders on how to respond to gay issues.

In 2008, the LDS Church supported passage of an employment nondiscrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City that—if it did not contain a religious exemption—would have made Call’s firing illegal. Brandie Balken of Equality Utah said Salt Lake City’s employment nondiscrimination ordinance—now duplicated in 11 Utah municipalities—protects workers from being fired for being gay, being perceived as gay or even just for associating with gay people. Balken said virtually all nondiscrimination laws across the country exempt religious organizations and that Equality Utah has not worked to change that. “The religious exemptions have consistently been in deference to the First Amendment of our Constitution,” she says.

“It came as a big surprise that I couldn’t have gay friends and have a temple recommend,” Call says, stating there’s no explicit rule in LDS doctrine that you can’t associate with gay people. He’s not planning to fight the decision, however. Instead, he’s focusing his energy on finding a new job so that he doesn’t fall too far behind on his child support.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Artist's Corner"

"Sailor Dance"
Acrylic on canvas
Michael Stennett

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 609"

"Love 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.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 608"

"Love Allows Forgiveness..."

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.

"Unintentionally Gay...?"

Where are the wives...?

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 607"

"Love, Happiness, 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.

"This Is The Face Of Bravery..."

Openly Gay NASCAR Driver Evan Darling

By John Billow
Thursday Mar 24, 2011

If there is a less gay friendly sport than nasCar driving, I don’t know what it could be. It could be argued of course, that there aren’t ANY sports that are totally gay friendly, with the obvious exception of figure skating. Still, of the "Big 4" sports, Basketball, Football, Baseball, and Hockey, how many openly gay players can you name? Oh sure, there are a few here and there who have come out once they retired, but for the most part the locker room closet door remains tightly locked.

Now, let’s take a look at the auto sports. We can express the expected number of out gay race car drivers in the following mathematical formula:

Homophobia in most sports = rednecks + beer/brain cells to number of missing teeth. Once you plug in real numbers we can expect one that is somewhere south of zero. Surpris- ingly, in the car racing category this isn’t the case, because there is at least one openly gay professional driver out there.

Evan Darling, 42, has been a racer for 16 years and has won multiple divisional titles and has competed in both sprint and endurance races. As a kid he raced BMX bikes, moving up to motorcycles, then graduating to cars, eventually joining the racing body known as the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). His impressive record includes wins at Daytona, Sebring, and a top 10 placement at the Koni Grand Am Challenge. Darling isn’t just a driver like pretty boy Jeff Gordon, he’s also an ASE certified master technician.

Although he has never made a big issue of his sexual- ity, Darling has been out since he was 18 years old. It was a difficult time for him, his conservative parents sent him to psychological counseling in order to fix him. At the same time, his brother joined anti-gay organizations while at college and continues to oppose LGBT rights as a leader in the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation.

The reaction from his family was tough for him. "I felt disowned and decided to move to New York with the person I was dating. I enrolled in Architecture and Art classes at Parsons School of Design, but I couldn’t afford to work and go to school and had to drop out."

Eventually Darling found his way back to his love of cars and racing. He landed a job at Ferrari, and entered the field of professional racing. It was a tough transition for him because, even though NASCAR is the largest and fastest growing sport in the country, it isn’t exactly known for the progressive attitude of the drivers or the fans.

Being openly gay has been a challenge in his relation- ships with fans and sponsors alike. In an interview last year he said: "It’s a good old boy network and the last couple of years it’s been tough to get cars and sponsors. I’m hoping that by telling my story, some folks in the gay community will step up and support my team. I’m the gay Danica Patrick looking for his David Letterman."

Despite the challenges he faces, Darling continues to do what he loves, and perhaps makes a difference in the lives of people who may not have any other LGBT role models. It’s very possible that kids who grow up in NASCAR-loving families, may not have access to cable networks like LOGO. He’s quite aware of the potential impact he may have as a role model for LGBT kids and teens, that’s why The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organiza- tion targeting LGBT youth, has been one of his sponsors.

Will professional racing pass the likes of figure skating and softball to become the LGBT commu- nity’s favorite sport? Probably not anytime soon, but in the meantime it’s good that kids and adults in NASCAR homes everywhere have a positive role model to look up to and to make them realize that being gay doesn’t have to mean that everyone wears rainbow thongs and feather boas.


"Fear Eats the Soul"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Sometimes In Advertising..." England

"Because Fear Eats the Soul..."

In my work, I sometimes have to deal with crazy and occasionally even violent people who are upset and infuriated about various things. I admit that on more than a few occasions, I've been afraid for life and limb, but I've always handled such situations just as this fellow does... Be calm, collected and fearless and stand your ground while being mindful, watchful and ready to react if the need should arise. In my experience, blowhards like this angry man will just vent until they get tired of hearing themselves and realize how foolish they look.

Read what happened next here

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 606"

"The Joys of Life Are Found In 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..."

Above: Our handmade wedding announcements created by Eddie

My journey in this life has been filled with surprisingly tragic and at times comical events leading up to the day I've dreamed of since I was a little boy. I can quite clearly remember being just 6 or 7 years old and telling my parents and anyone else within ear shod that I was going to grow up, fall in love, get married and have a big family. The funny-tragic part of this is that I was aware even at that early age that I was different and I would over the course of the many years that followed come to believe that that childhood dream could never be.

For most of my life, I lived in denial of the truth of my heart. I realized as early as 5 years old that I felt different than the other little boys and I learned just as early to hide that fact as best I could. Nevertheless, I was terrorized and bullied during my school years. So much so that I dropped out of school in the ninth grade. Although I found my way in the world and eventually got the education that I needed to have many successful careers, until recently, I never stopped trying to hide the fact that I was different.

At 32, I married a woman on the strength of a false hope that it would make me "not gay." That ended terribly and I resigned myself to being "alone in the world" (to quote someone I would later love.) When my mother, who was my best friend left for heaven, I knew then that I could not long bear the loneliness of the path I had chosen for myself. It was then that I finally acknowledged what I had known about myself for decades and I decided to try to find true love... for me, the love of a man.

I've met relatively few men, but fell in love with several including Stephen Christopher Harris, who I perhaps loved far more than even myself. And although Stephen was not alone in making me the promises that spoke to my dreams as a little boy, he was the one who convinced me that those dreams could come true. Alas, although he was right about those dreams being able to come true, he was the greatest liar of them all and his demons and fears nearly killed me.

And yet, after waiting for Stephen for more than a thousand and one days, on the urging of my dear friend, Mark, I decided to try one more time to meet someone true and honest who wanted the same dreams I'd held onto for a lifetime... a relationship based in love and trust and mutual respect for each other.

Much to my surprise, I found him over a year ago. I've mentioned him here just three other times. I call him Eddie and he loves me in the way that I always dreamed of being loved - honestly. It's funny in that he's nothing like the other men that I've fallen in love with. He's eclectic, artistic, sometimes brutally frank, but also kind, forgiving, thoughtful, and loving. When I realized that I was falling in love with him, while still carrying with me all the feelings that I felt for Stephen Christopher Harris, I was quite shaken and confused.

But with the passing of time and the sharing of hearts and dreams, Eddie has displaced the feelings for Stephen Christopher Harris that had been for so long immovably lodged in my heart. I love him in a completely different way to the ways that I loved the few others before him and I recognize that it's in "the right way" as my friend, Mark would point out. We support one another, we care about one another, and we love each other. What's important to me is important to him and his dreams are mine and mine are his.

We took a short vacation to Chicago last year and it was there that I knew he was the one that I'd spend the rest of my life with. I proposed to him and he accepted. We'd planned to get married sooner, but work and life and death and other issues kept getting in the way. But finally, everything fell into place and we're getting married in about two weeks. We'll be travelling across the river to Windsor, Ontario, Canada for a civil ceremony in Council Chambers at City Hall. My friend Mark will be my best man and we're having a reception on this side of the border so our friends and family can celebrate with us.

I'll be slowly introducing you to Eddie and to our life together as time goes on. I think I haven't before because I didn't want to "jinx" what we have... I've always been very superstitious and I guess I didn't want to take any chances. But I can say that I have no doubts about Eddie... He's been there for me and proved his love: doctor's visits, work functions, sharing in the sorrows of death and the joys of life. I know he loves me, and though my heart's been wounded, battered and crushed by others, I trust him with it and I love him.

I had to overcome many fears along the way to arrive at the day soon to be at hand, and I was able to do it because I know...

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"A Dear Departed Friend..."

“I call upon you to draw from the depths of your being — to prove that we are a human race, to prove that our love outweighs our need to hate, that our compassion is more compelling than our need to blame.”

- Elizabeth Taylor

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 605"

"Happiness Is Love..."

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

Adam and Andy No. 5

Find more postings of this great comic at:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"This Made Me Smile..."

"In These Shoes?"
Kirsty MacColl
From her album "Tropical Brainstorm"

I once met a man with a sense of adventure
He was dressed to thrill wherever he went
He said "Let's make love on a mountain top
Under the stars, on a big hard rock."
I said "In these shoes? I don't think so."
I said "Honey, let's do it here."

So I'm sitting at a bar in Guadalajara
In walks a guy with a faraway look in his eyes
He said "I've got a powerful horse outside
Climb on the back, I'll take you for a ride
I know a little place; we can get there for the break of day."
I said "In these shoes? No way, Jose."
I said "Honey, let's stay right here."

No le gusta caminar
No puede montar la caballo
¿Como se puede bailar?
Es un escandolo

Then I met an Englishman, "Oh," he said
"Won't you walk up and down my spine?
It makes me feel strangely alive."
I said "In these shoes? I doubt you'd survive."
I said "Honey, let's do it."
Let's stay right here

No le gusta caminar
No puede montar la caballo
¿Como se puede bailar?
Es un escandolo

No le gusta caminar
No puede montar la caballo
¿Como se puede bailar?
Es un escandolo

No le gusta caminar
No puede montar la caballo
¿Como se puede bailar?
Es un escandolo

Let's stay right here...

No le gusta caminar
No puede montar la caballo
¿Como se puede bailar?

"A Thought To Ponder..."

"My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away."
Bible - Song of Solomon

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 604"

"Just Being Together Makes Us 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.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"The Artist's Corner"

"The Message"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

"A Thought To Ponder..."

"A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous."

- Ingrid Bergman

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 603"

"To Feel His Heart, Hold His Hand..."

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, March 19, 2011

"Unintentionally Gay...?"

" This is a hold I've never heard of..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 601"

"True Love Is Sweet..."

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, March 18, 2011

"The Artist's Corner"

Ink on paper
Frederick Nunley

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 600"

"Let Love Choose Its Own Time and Place..."

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, March 17, 2011

"In The News Today..."

Ireland Could Elect First Openly Gay President

By Patrick Cooper, Staff Writer
February 22, 2010

A major effort is underway to elect Senator David Norris, the Dublin-based politician, as the first openly gay president of Ireland.

Norris, 65, a former Trinity College Dublin lecturer who has led the campaign for gay rights in Ireland for a generation, is a highly respected figure in both literary and political circles known equally for his Joycean expertise as his advocacy of liberal causes.

The Irish presidential election is scheduled for 2011, when current occupant Mary McAleese steps down after two terms.

The Irish President does not play a role in party politics, which is left to the Prime Minister, but has a powerful symbolic and legal oversight function. Occupants such as McAleese and former President Mary Robinson have greatly increased the visibility and importance of the job

A group of influential liberal supporters have now begun circulating a petition and forming a Facebook site for Norris to run for president.

The online petition states in part:

"In 2011 we will have the opportunity to change Ireland again. We accomplished great feats and broke long-standing barriers with Election of President Mary Robinson in 1990. We believe it is time to make history again, We believe it is time to put real vision and passion back into the role of the president, and to reignite national debate on Ireland's future.

“We believe that Senator Norris is an individual of principle, pride and social justice and that his values reflect those of a changing Ireland.

We only ask for you signature, a small part in ensuring that the best Candidate becomes Ireland's next Head of State.”

Norris may well have good prospects for the job. The negative attitude towards party politicians in the current recession means he may be in a position to capitalize as an independent voice.

Norris is also a skilled campaigner and debater and would appeal to the more upscale Dublin electorate who voted heavily for Mary Robinson when she ran.

Last year Norris acknowledged that he has macular degeneration in his eyes, a progressive condition that could eventually blind him.

However, he stated that so far the condition has not affected him appreciably apart from giving up night driving.


"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 599"

"First Love, Then Marriage, Now 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.

"Erin Go Bragh..."

As debate rages over whether Ireland's civil partnership laws mean true equality, one Dublin couple take the chance to say ‘I do’

By Niamh Walsh
27th February 2011

It is a picture that will delight the gay community in Ireland and shock some religious conservatives; the photograph of the first gay couple in Ireland to publicly tie the knot.

These exclusive pictures by the Irish Mail on Sunday show Danny Ryan and Fergal Johnston as they registered their civil union in the Bracken Court Hotel in Balbriggan.

Even a few years ago, a same-sex union was unthinkable in Ireland. But thanks to the Civil Partnership Act that came into force last month, the union of gay couples is now recognised under Irish law.

And Danny and Fergal celebrated that landmark with a moving ceremony on Friday, walking hand-in-hand down the aisle wearing matching Hugo Boss suits, ivory waistcoats and ties donated by Louis Copeland for the day.
The strains of classical violins filled the room as close family members and friends looked on. Danny’s younger brother, Shane and Fergal’s best friend, Louise Byrne, acted as witnesses while registrar Caroline Hamill called those gathered to ‘celebrate… a civil partnership of love and commitment’.

After establishing that there was no legal reason why either man could not enter into a civil partnership, the couple then exchanged vows – which differed only slightly from those uttered in a traditional marriage ceremony.

‘I do solemnly swear that I know not of any lawful impediment why I may not register as a civil partner,’ Fergal pledged. ‘I declare my intention to live with you and support you and I will accept you as my civil partner in accordance with the law.’

Nervous, he fluffed his lines – prompting ripples of laughter from onlookers before Danny pledged his own love. As he vowed eternal loyalty, Danny was overcome by the significance of the occasion – and the tears started to flow. His mother passed him a tissue and he was able to continue, albeit with an emotion-choked voice.

‘I promise to share my life with you and I promise to love and honour and support you. I will respect you and be true to you in good times and through bad times. To these promises I give my word,’ he said.

The pair then exchanged rings, matching white gold bands encrusted with four diamonds which they had bought in New York.

They signed the register and were officially pronounced civil partners – and when the registrar invited the newlyweds to kiss, their joy was evident. They shared the moment with hugs all around from family and friends, as well as a glass or two of champagne, before going for their first meal as a married couple.

After the ceremony, Danny said he now felt complete. ‘You grow up thinking that you will never be able to get married so it feels weird but wonderful that I now have,’ he said. ‘Personally I feel complete and accepted by society.’

Fergal said the wedding helped him discover a new sense of self. ‘I feel equal now. I have more of an identity.’

Although Danny and Fergal are happy that they can at last be recognised as a couple, they feel that there is still a long way to go.

‘I think the new Bill is the first step, given how far behind Ireland is,’ said Danny. ‘But I think there should be full rights as regards adoption and other issues. Why shouldn’t we have the same rights as everyone else? I think it’s the next step and is moving ahead with the times, it’s the start of the norm.’

Londoner Danny and Fergal, from Drumcondra in Dublin, met seven years ago when Fergal was working as a flight attendant with BMI and Danny happened to be a passenger on his flight.

Danny was returning from celebrating his sister’s 21st birthday party in Dublin. As soon as the flight landed, legal secretary Danny handed one of the other attendants a note to give to Fergal with his phone number. Fergal called a few days later.

‘I said, “I’m very flattered but it won’t work – we live in different countries”,’ he recalls.

However, fate intervened as a few months later he was transferred to London and they started going out together as a couple.

A year later, Danny’s employers opened an office in Dublin and, with his family by now living in Laois, and Fergal deciding to leave BMI and get an office job, the pair moved to Carlow where they were made feel welcome.

‘Carlow was great. There was only one club and everyone was in it, gay straight, black white so people were forced to mix. It was very accepting as a town.’

After spending a year commuting to Dublin the couple bought their first house together in north Co. Dublin but they had to get a mortgage as two friends, not as a couple.

‘It didn’t matter at the time as we just wanted to buy a house, but it would have been nice to have something official that recognised us as a couple.’

The pair are nonchalant about the necessity of buying the home as ‘just friends’, but it is a striking example of why proponents of gay rights have been so adamant in their struggle to have civil unions recognised.

In 2009 Danny proposed to Fergal by sending him a bouquet of multi-coloured foil balloons to his office with a note attached saying, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you I do. Just make this day special and say you “do” too. Will you marry me?’

Luckily, the answer was a strident ‘Yes yes yes’.

‘I was mortified,’ said Fergal. ‘But then I read the note and I was shocked and delighted so I texted him straight away.’

Initially they planned to get married in the British embassy in Dublin on February 25.

But when the law changed, providing legal recognition for a same-sex union, staff at the embassy told them they could no longer provide the service.

So Fergal and Danny then applied to the courts to get married on that date.

While gay civil partnerships are not recognised by religious organisations, the new law extends marriage-like benefits to gay couples in the areas of property, social welfare, succession rights, maintenance, pensions and tax.

Fergal is a practising Catholic while Danny is Church of England. Both are critical of the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage.

‘With everything that has gone on in the Catholic Church, I think it makes a mockery of them to say they don’t accept gay marriages or that we can’t get married in a church,’ they both said.

Danny was 17 when ‘came out’ to parents who were ‘fine about it’. As he acknowledges, ‘London was a different place than Dublin’, and he never encountered prejudice socially or in a work environment.

‘I was probably most nervous telling my dad but he was fine,’ explains Danny. ‘And my younger brother grew up knowing that I dated guys and it was quite normal and he’s the next generation.’

Things weren’t as easy for Fergal, however. He spent years being ‘terrified’ of admitting he was gay to family and friends, although he now believes everyone knew his sexuality but never spoke about it. Fergal came out seven years ago, at the age of 23, when he met Danny.

‘I was sick of people saying that Danny was my mate so I sat my parents down and told them.’ Like Danny’s parents, they readily accepted the fact that their son was gay: all they wanted was for him to be happy.

Union: The moment when Danny and Fergal sealed their commitment to one another
‘I was dreading coming out but it’s the best thing I ever did, Once it’s out in the open it’s so much easier,’ said Fergal. But he is still the more reserved of the couple, finding it a bit more difficult to be open about his past and sexuality.

His struggle to come to the point of admitting he was gay grew out of lingering stereotypes in Irish society or a type of conservatism, when compared with places such as London where a gay lifestyle is no longer out of the ordinary.

While finding the Dublin gay scene small after living in London, the couple say they have never encountered any anti-gay prejudice here.

‘That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen,’ points out Danny. ‘I wouldn’t say Ireland is the safest place to come out. The gay circuit is very small and there are always gay bars closing down which can cause insecurity. But in saying that we have a great social life and have never had any problems in gay or straight bars,’ said Danny.

Danny and Fergal are the third gay couple to enter into a civil union since the new law came in.

The first two couples opted to get hitched in private after fast-tracking their application. Danny and Fergal were determined, however to celebrate their union publicly.

Next week they will fly to Benalmadena in Spain for a blessing, surrounded by some 50 friends and workmates before their honeymoon. But before all that, there’s the joint stag night in Swords’ Wright Venue.

‘We believe it is important to say to others, “This is normal, guys, and if you are gay you can have still have a legal union with the person you love”.’

They also feel it is important to send a strong message to other young men who may be struggling with their sexuality.

As Danny points out, ‘Hopefully by us going public it may help other people.’


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