Friday, November 30, 2012

"Coming Out - A Call From A Friend..."

"A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?"
- Kahlil Gibran

One Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, I got a call from an old friend.  This old friend of mine was a good and dear friend from my days in the Navy.  I met my friend Keith when we were in service school together at Great Lakes Naval Station nearly 25 years ago.  And interestingly, he is one of two close friends made in those days that I've kept in touch with over the years.  When we were attending Service School together, I was Keith's Class Leader, which made me his immediate superior in the chain of command while we were attending our rate training for our naval career specialty.  We were training to be Gunner's Mates.

I think back to those school days often, and I recall that it was a struggle at times to keep the two dozen or so men in the class I was responsible for in-line.  But I remember well, that Keith was never a problem sailor or student for that matter, and in-fact he was a unique ally for my leadership amonst the men.  And as we talked, I fondly remembered how as we neared graduation and departing to our first duty stations, Keith and I developed a friendship of mutual respect and admiration.  I was a bit older than many of the men in my charge (one of the reasons I was selected to be the class leader) and many of them looked up to me, assuming that the 5 or so years older that I was than many of them meant I was somehow wiser.  Keith always seemed to look up to me in that way and asked for advice many times in the course of our friendship then and through the years.  I remembered as we talked, how I took my responsibility to look out for him and the other men quite seriously.

Over the many years that have since passed, Keith and I had managed to keep in touch.  At first, the old fashioned way, through infrequent but lengthy hand written letters, and later through occasional phone calls.  So over the years, we'd kept up with each other's progress in life.  In my case, although I always counted him as a dear friend, during those dark years of my life when I lived in fear of allowing my heart to dictate my conscience, I was always careful not to let our conversations turn to why I was still alone in the world, even as I shared in the joy of his good news about women he'd met and events that were significant in his life.  And so it went for nearly 20 years after we'd met.  We kept in touch.  We'd shared the milestones of our lives, but there was always that part of mine that I had yet to acknowledge to myself and that kept me from sharing the truth of my heart with him.

In 2004, when my mother died and the realization of how incredibly alone I really was in the world finally forced me to look deep into my soul to reconcile my life with the reality of my same gender loving heart, the fear of my further rejection would profoundly affect my friendship with Keith and another Navy friend, Ray.  When I came out to myself and then to others that were important to me, I was rejected by some, even shunned and shamed by many... And I can remember hearing from Keith around that same time, at a very low point in my life.  I remember quite well, reasoning with myself that I needn't come out to Keith or Ray.  I convinced myself that I'd be needlessly risking their friendship which was and still is very dear to me.  I foolishly believed that since we were separated by so much time and distance, It would be okay to continue the false narrative of my life that was completely devoid of the truth of my heart.  

And so, in the calls that came in the year that I rediscovered and accepted the truth of my own heart, I decided to willfully omit (lie) the facts of my new freedom and my newly found hopes for life.  And of course, choosing to do so affected me in ways I still struggle to grasp.  It was as if in my mind, I wanted to freeze the status of my friendships with Keith and Ray, and I reasoned that I was doing it as much for me as for them.    But when those calls did come, what did I have to talk about with them?  I had decided that the most significant aspect of my life, and the decision that I had made about it, which had freed me from a self-imposed prison of fear and loneliness was a topic I could not risk sharing with the dearests and oldest friends I knew.  I eased my conscience by rationalizing that since I had openly and willfully lied about the truth of my heart from the earliest days of our friendships, it would be a hurtful thing for them to realize that I had never trusted them and trusted their friendship enough to tell them that I was gay.

But an interesting thing happened, because the truth of my heart was still a secret I kept from my two dear friends, my fear of that truth made it easy for me to shut down my communications with them... Since I didn't want to lie to anyone anymore, on some strange subconscious level, I had decided that if I couldn't tell them the truth, then I shouldn't tell them anything at all.  And although momentous life changing events were occurring in my world, I decided not to share them with my oldest friends.  And so it became easy for me to fondly read the letters and listen to the messages left on my answering machine and yet not respond.  And although I eventually came out to the world, came out to my family, came out at work, and came out on these pages and others... I was still afraid to be out to these two friends who are some of my oldest and best mates in the world.  And so, gradually I allowed us to fall out of touch... the un-returned calls stopped and the letters and cards I didn't reply to didn't come as often either.  In fact, even as I write this, a last letter from Ray languishes on my desk where it has been waiting for more than a year for my reply.

So when my friend Keith called, I thought as I listened to him say how happy he was to finally hear my voice after nearly 5 years of silence, I decided I would tell him the truth, despite my fears of perhaps being rejected and losing his friendship forever.  So in mid-sentence, I stopped him and said, "There's something I want to tell you Old Buddy... I'm gay and that's why you haven't heard from me in so long, I wasn't sure how you'd take it."  And after a moment of tense silence, and much to my surprise, he said, "I know...! I love you, Chris and as long as you're happy, that's all I care about."  And after a deep sigh of relief, I asked Keith, "How did you know...?" And he told me that a few years ago, when I had seemed to fall off the face of the Earth, he Googled me and his search brought him to these very pages of my blog.  He said he read my blog and then he understood the mysteries that had plagued our friendship over the years.  He said he understood why I hadn't kept in touch, he realized it was fear.  But he said that he never gave up on hearing from me and so he continued calling me from time to time, and had always kept me in his prayers because he wanted me to know that it didn't matter one bit to him... I was still his dear friend just the same as I'd always been.

As tears flooded my eyes, I shared with him some of the stories of the happenings in my life that I had thought I had to hide from him and as we talked and he listened, he told me he understood... And in that moment, I realized what a true friend he is and always was.  We talked for hours that afternoon and in the days afterwards too.  And now having shared my truth with Keith has given me the courage to tackle the final frontier of my coming out journey... sharing my truth with my friend Ray.  This Christmas, he will receive a reply to his last letter... and with that reply, my journey to truth will be that much closer to its end.

It is true... "Fear Eats the Soul."  

"The Poet's Corner..."

"Happiest time of youth and life, when love is first spoken and returned; when the dearest eyes are daily shining welcome, and the fondest lips never tire of whispering their sweet secrets; when the parting look that accompanies "Good night!" gives delightful warning of tomorrow."

- William Makepeace Thackeray

"The Artist's Corner..."

"Another Morning"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

“Love Is The Walk Of Life... Live Fearlessly"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1175"

"Love Is As Natural As The Birds In The Trees...”

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, November 29, 2012

"This Made Me Smile..."

A radical and amusing approach to hate...  

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1174"

"There Is A Season For All Things Including 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.

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

“Love Is Love... Live Fearlessly"

"The Truth About Hate..."

NFL Player Tank Carder: “Saying faggot doesn’t make me a homophobe, it’s just a word”

YES! It does...

In just the same way, I'm offended by the "N-word"* when someone uses the word faggot I find it hateful and demeaning too.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

* And just to be clear, it doesn't matter to me what color or race a person is who's using the "N-word."   In fact, I'm more offended when people of color use it as a part of their casual speech... because of its history, it has no place in a tolerant and civil society.

"Could It Be Love...?"

"There is a difference between love and lust..."
"Sometimes when you think you've found one, its the other that you've discovered..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"I Am Always Remembering..."

"Lover's moon is high on the sky...143"

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Truth About Hate..."

"I wouldn't give these hateful 'christians' "eye water to cry with..."
There are certainly many other more worthy charities to help who don't engage in divisive hatefulness.

"They Deserve To Die..." - Salvation Army spokesman on GLBT people

Just in case you had any doubt about whether the Salvation Army really thinks this about GLBT people, listen to this...

In the interview on Australian radio, an interviewer told Major Craibe of the Salvation Army that she had read the Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, published in London. She went on to point out several parts which she found disturbing including “The problem of evil” (page 28) which cites Romans 1:18-32 and its vitriolic condemnation of homosexuality.

“For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. . .

“They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them.”

Asked whether the Salvation Army took the wording literally, i.e. that practising homosexuals should be put to death, the Major Craibe replied in the affirmative. Truth Wins Out transcribed the resulting discussion

CRAIBE: Well, that’s a part of our belief system.

RYAN (cutting in): So we should die.

CRAIBE: You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.

RYAN: Wow. So we should die.

They then discussed the handbook’s section on sin (pages 61-63), which cites the same passage from Romans.

RYAN: It’s going into Romans again . . . I accept that you’re out there wanting to help people . . . I don’t accept that this sexuality that is part of my DNA is a choice. I also don’t accept the support of any religion in a financial sense, and this is what the gay community is up in arms about: that you’re proposing in your religious doctrine and the way that you train — this is part of your training of your soldiers — that because we’re gay, that — we must die. If you go to Romans, book 1, 18-32, it’s all there, mate. I mean, how can you stand by that? How is that Christian?

CRAIBE: Well, well, because that is part of our Christian doctrine –

RYAN (interrupting): But how is that Christian? Shouldn’t it be about love?

CRAIBE: — that’s our understanding of that. Well, the love that we would show is about that: consideration for all human beings to come to know salvation –

RYAN: Or die. . .

CRAIBE: Well, yes.

Ryan later asked Major Craibe again if he felt that LGBT deserved to die.

RYAN: Honestly, Andrew, tell me — as a human being, how can you qualify that?

CRAIBE: Well, I qualify by way of, that’s where my belief system is structured, you know? It’s what it comes to, that salvation story, and that we can be redeemed from that. That’s my belief.

While the Major did say when asked that if his children came out as gay, that he would continue to love them, he argued that being gay was a “choice” like consuming alcohol.


Yesterday on a visit to the grocery store, I had to run a gauntlet of bell ringers at the doors of the store... I'm seriously considering boycotting retailers who permit this hateful group to solicit on their premises.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

“Love Means Being Together In The World... Live Fearlessly"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1173"

"Love Brings Happiness To Our 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.

"And The Truth Shall Set You Free..."

Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’ Faces Test in Courts

By Erik Eckholm
November 28, 2012

Gay “conversion therapy,” which claims to help men overcome unwanted same-sex attractions but has been widely attacked as unscientific and harmful, is facing its first tests in the courtroom.

In New Jersey on Tuesday, four gay men who tried the therapy filed a civil suit against a prominent counseling group, charging it with deceptive practices under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act.

The former clients said they were emotionally scarred by false promises of inner transformation and humiliating techniques that included stripping naked in front of the counselor and beating effigies of their mothers. They paid thousands of dollars in fees over time, they said, only to be told that the lack of change in their sexual feelings was their own fault.

In California, so-called ex-gay therapists have gone to court to argue for the other side. They are seeking to block a new state law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September and celebrated as a milestone by advocates for gay rights, that bans conversion therapy for minors.

In Sacramento on Friday, a federal judge will hear the first of two legal challenges brought by conservative law groups claiming that the ban is an unconstitutional infringement on speech, religion and privacy.

Since the 1970s, when mainstream mental health associations stopped branding homosexuality as a disorder, a small network of renegade therapists, conservative religious leaders and self-identified “life coaches” has continued to argue that it is not inborn, but an aberration rooted in childhood trauma. Homosexuality is caused, these therapists say, by a stifling of normal masculine development, often by distant fathers and overbearing mothers or by early sexual abuse.

An industry of “reparative therapy” clinics and men’s weekend retreats has drawn thousands of teenagers and adults who hope to rid themselves of homosexual urges, whether because of religious beliefs or family pressures.

But leading scientific and medical groups say that the theories of sexuality are unfounded and that there is no evidence that core sexual urges can be changed. They also warn that the therapy can, in the words of the American Psychiatric Association, cause “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior” and “reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

Those conclusions will be at the center of the coming legal fights in the state and federal courts.

In the spotlight in New Jersey are a counseling center called Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or Jonah; its co-founder Arthur Goldberg; and an affiliated “life coach,” Alan Downing.

Mr. Goldberg helped found Jonah in 1999, after he finished serving a prison sentence and probation for financial fraud he committed in the 1980s. The group describes itself as “dedicated to educating the worldwide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors that lead to same-sex attractions,” and says it “works directly with those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions,” including non-Jews.

While many Orthodox Jews consider homosexual relations to be a violation of divine law, Mr. Goldberg’s group has no official standing within Judaism, and many Jews accept homosexuality.

Neither Mr. Goldberg nor Mr. Downing is licensed as a therapist, so they are not subject to censure by professional associations.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a rights group based in Montgomery, Ala., is bringing the suit on behalf of four former patients and two of their mothers, who say they paid thousands of dollars not only for useless therapy for their sons but also for more counseling to undo the damage.

“The defendants peddled antigay pseudoscience, defaming gay people as loathsome and deranged,” said Sam Wolfe, a lawyer with the group.

The suit, filed in Superior Court in Hudson County, calls for monetary compensation and for a shutdown of Jonah.

Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Downing did not respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment.

One former patient in the suit, Michael Ferguson, 30, who is now a doctoral candidate in neuroscience at the University of Utah, sought help from Jonah in 2008. He tried to battle his homosexuality, he said, when he was a practicing Mormon who believed that only those in a heterosexual marriage could achieve eternal bliss.

Mr. Ferguson attended a retreat called Journey Into Manhood, where he shared what he called his “dark secret” with 40 other men. To be accepted among men who were also struggling with homosexuality was euphoric, he said, but that temporary high was not the promised first step toward becoming heterosexual.

After months of $100 therapy sessions with Mr. Downing at Jonah’s offices in Jersey City, and after suffering from depression that led him to see a licensed psychotherapist elsewhere, Mr. Ferguson said, he realized that he was not changing.

“It becomes fraudulent, even cruel,” he said in an interview. “To say that if you really want to change you could — that’s an awful thing to tell somebody.”

“I was encouraged to develop anger and rage toward my parents,” he added. “The notion that your parents caused this is a horrible lie. They ask you to blame your mother for being loving and wonderful.”

Another former patient in the suit, Chaim Levin, 23, grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn where, he said, being gay seemed unthinkable.

Referred to Jonah by a rabbi when he was 18, Mr. Levin began attending weekend retreats at $650 each. For a year and a half, he had weekly private sessions with Mr. Downing as well as weekly group sessions. He quit, he said, after Mr. Downing had him remove his clothes and touch himself, saying it would help him reconnect with his masculinity. Mr. Goldberg has defended Mr. Downing’s methods as sometimes appropriate for men dealing with body image problems.

But Mr. Levin called the episode “degrading and humiliating.”

Mr. Levin said that he was sexually abused by a relative between the ages of 6 and 10 and that Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Downing blamed the abuse for his homosexual attractions. “Saying the abuse made you gay is terrible,” Mr. Levin said. “Once I accepted that I was gay, I was able to focus on the more serious problem of a history of sex abuse.”

Many of the same issues surrounding conversion therapy will be argued before federal judges in California as therapists, some represented by Liberty Counsel and others by the Pacific Justice Institute, seek to prevent the state ban from taking effect in January.

Responding to the accusations of constitutional violations, a brief by the California attorney general’s office cited the extensive professional literature that discredits conversion therapy and said the new law barred harmful conduct but not speech or religion. Since the ban applies only to licensed therapists, religious counselors will not be affected.

Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional expert and dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine, said, “The law is clear that the government can prohibit health care practices that are harmful or ineffective.”

If the court accepts the scientific evaluation put forward by the state, he said, “the government is likely to prevail in the end.”


"Fear Eats the Soul"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"An Anthem For Love..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"This Made Me Smile..."

"The Imitation Of Life..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1172"

"Only Love Brings This Peace...”

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.

"Sometimes In Advertising..."

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

“The Truth Of Love Is Spoken By A Kiss... Live Fearlessly"

"The Artist's Corner..."

Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Love Looks Like This..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Poet's Corner..."

"Invitation To Love"
Paul Laurance Dunbar

Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.

Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.

Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

“Learning About Life And Love Too... Live Fearlessly"

"The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Towards Justice..."

"Let Freedom Ring..."

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1171"

"To Love Is Not Hard, It Can Be A Walk In The Park...”

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, November 25, 2012

"The Truth About Hate..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"A Song For Sunday..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1170"

"To Be In Love, Be In The World Together...”

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

"The Truth About Islam And Homosexuality..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Truth About Love..."

"Yes, I'm longing for moments of everyday life to be made special with you at my side. So long I've waited for you... So deeply I've longed for a soul mate, a lover, a friend like no other... Now having found you, I see all my dreams coming true... I often dream of the joy of having a second dish to wash... two sides of the bed to make up... someone to stroke my fevered brow and ask me "how was your day?" All the things that I see so many take for granted, these will be precious and dear to me... Not because of what they are, but because of you... for I've waited a lifetime for you to come to me. I'll live to see the love in your eyes... to feel your gentle touch... to hear you whisper softly in my ear... these will be a glimpse of Heaven to me and the memories that will give me joy for all eternity."

- An excerpt from a love letter written by me

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Friday, November 23, 2012

"This Made Me Smile..."

When the boredom of war sets in, creative minds get to thinking...

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1168"

"The Color Of Love Is Beautiful...”

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.

"Sometimes In Advertising..."

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

“Love Can Take You Anywhere In The World... Live Fearlessly"

"Reflections On Married Life..."

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and although it got off to a rocky start, it ended well... my husband and I went to bed fully sated by our holiday feast of turkey, sage dressing, potato salad, green beans, dinner rolls, cake and pie and sparkling cider.  We enjoyed our guests and I think we were both surprised that things in the end turned out so well.

Our day started out badly... just like Black Friday creep, so too did we experience "Brown Friday" creep... let me explain, Brown Friday is a joking expression that plumbers use to refer to their busiest day of the year, the Friday after Thanksgiving.  As you can imagine, with all the cooking of extravagant and greasy foods, Thanksgiving is the one day of the year you are most likely to experience a seriously clogged kitchen drain.  Well, true to form, Wednesday night, my kitchen sink clogged terribly.  I was already frustrated, but that drain clog was the straw that broke my camel's back.  I had to work Wednesday and so I was already tired when I got home intending to finish prepping our Thanksgiving meal.

But when I got home Wednesday, I discovered tragedy had already struck in the kitchen... early Wednesday morning, I'd gotten up to bake our family's traditional holiday dessert, an Old Fashioned Raisin Pound Cake.  After spending more than an hour and half just preparing the batter, I got it into the oven just before I had to leave for work.  I put my husband Edward in charge of keeping an eye on it and taking it out when it was done.  Although I thought I did a good job of explaining how to test it for doneness, I guess I didn't.  When I walked into the kitchen and saw the cake, although he thought it looked done, I knew it was terribly under baked and I realized it was ruined.  Unfortunately, there was no time to make another as you must make it at least 30 to 40 hours before you want to serve it.  Against all hopes, I did try to bake it some more, but all I got was a cake burnt on the outside and still raw on the inside.  In the end, I threw it away and lamented the loss of the $10 worth of ingredients that had gone into its making.

But I didn't throw in the towel on Wednesday night until I went to make the potato salad and the sink clogged as I ground the peelings in the waste disposal.  At that point, I couldn't take anymore, it had been a long and difficult day at work and I was exhausted.  So I left everything alone, took a bath and went to bed, knowing job one on Thanksgiving morning would be unclogging that kitchen drain.  The funny and ironic thing about it was that earlier Wednesday, I had read an article online about "Brown Friday" and I realized as I went to bed that it had been an omen of things to come later that same day.

Clearing the clogged drain, proved to be very difficult.  It involved taking apart the drain line in the basement just to be able to maneuver the drain snake to the area of the clog, an awkward bend just beneath the basement floor where grease had built up in the pipe over time and where those potato peels had firmly lodged themselves.  In all, it took me nearly two hours yesterday morning to get the water flowing again so that I could prepare our meal.  During this time, my husband who is very inquisitive, inquired, "What are you doing?"  And the look of obvious frustration on my face said it all, he wisely stayed out of my way until he heard the water running again.

But despite the headaches, in the end, I got everything prepared and Edward for the first time, set our holiday table and created a lovely floral centerpiece for us to enjoy.  I made a batch of gourmet cupcakes to replace the Raisin Cake and as our home filled with the smells of wonderful and familiar holiday foods, and the sounds of family, I realized how thankful I am for my life and my husband who loves me and our freedoms and the acceptance of our families that we enjoy.  Thanksgiving was indeed just that, those few little frustrations I had endured helped me to remember how much I take for granted sometimes, and I realized how blessed I really am (and thankful I'm a good plumber :-).

It's better when your married...

"Fear Eats the Soul"

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1167"

"Love And Happiness Are The Same Thing...”

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

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