Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Adam and Andy..."

I love James Asal's "Adam and Andy" strip
Married life really is like this.

"The Artist's Corner..."

"Concerto of Light"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

"In The News Today..."

US Supreme Court's Ruth Bader Ginsburg To Perform Gay Wedding

August 30, 2013

In June Mrs Ginsburg voted to overturn a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriages

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is poised to become the first judge on the country's highest court to perform a same-sex marriage.

Justice Ginsburg, 80, officiates this weekend at the wedding of Michael Kaiser, 59, president of the Kennedy Center performing arts space, and economist John Roberts, 32.

Mr Kaiser is a personal friend of hers.

In June, the Supreme Court overturned a law that banned recognition of same-sex marriages by the US government.

The ruling granted legally married gay men and women access to the same federal entitlements available to opposite-sex married couples.

Justice Ginsburg, who was appointed to the nine-member high court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, voted in the majority in that case.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 13 states and Washington DC, and since the court's decision, the federal government under President Barack Obama has taken several steps to grant same-sex marriage couples the same legal status as opposite-sex couples.

The ceremony will take place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, the Associated Press reports.

Justice Ginsburg told the Washington Post newspaper she believed none of the Supreme Court justices had been asked previously to conduct a same-sex ceremony for fear it would compromise their ability to hear a case on the issue.


I have to admit that while this is a wonderful endorsement of marriage equality by Justice Ginsburg, since the court only addressed the issue in part, I can already hear the anti-gay christianist calling for her to recuse herself when the next marriage equality case arrives at the Supreme Court.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Truth About Canada..."

Canada, like the US is known as a bastion of freedom around the world... Unlike the US, Canada actually strives to live up to her promises of freedom and equality for all and this one of the reasons why I've always loved and admired our neighbor to the South.* My husband and I were married in Canada in 2011. Canada was one of the first nations in the world to adopt full marriage equality nationwide.

Comment: Canada Is Embracing Gay Muslims
by Barry Dennison
30 August 2013

Journalist Barry Dennison explores how a group of gay Muslims practice their faith during Ramadan in Canada.

After seeing numerous internet pictures of gay men being hung by the neck in Iran, it raised questions: How is Islam practiced in western society? Does the Canadian Government truly give everyone equal opportunity to believe as they choose?

Yet it appears the first breach of human rights law doesn’t come from government, instead Mosques refuse to accept homosexuals, as well as deny women the right to pray beside men.

This is an “accepted” discrimination (transferred from other countries) that won’t change for the majority of believers of Islam in Canada, Britain, Australia and the US.

So, I was heartened to learn of a Canadian gay Muslim who organised a group called, “Salaam” that hosts a “Jum’ah” (noon prayers) and an Itfar (a community gathering in the evening) during Ramadan, and who welcomed others in to observe their services.

As a journalist, I wanted to go see for myself why this religion was so important to those who have faced such discrimination.

My first question upon meeting immigration lawyer, El Farouk Khaki, was to ask: “Why does this religion mean so much to you after being viciously shunned by Mosques?”

Mr Khaki’s viewpoint saw passed this ill-treatment from others and explained the single most important thing is to have “… a relationship with Allah, one that will be defined by me and Allah. Not by other men.”

Ramadan involves fasting for 30 days, as instructed in the Quran, the Muslim holy book. The purpose of fasting is reportedly “to learn what poor people experience” and believers are encouraged to help disadvantaged people in their own communities.

As I discover, an Iftar can be a small intimate gathering of around 2-4 in a home, a park or larger community gatherings as this one in a Toronto community centre, “The 519” (gay Toronto’s ‘command central’ to various gay/lesbian social groups).

The estimated 250 attendees was comprised of other non-Muslim people as politicians and journalists, Arab and South Asian youth groups, NGO staff who help refugees settle, to lobbyists who travel to refugee camps helping gays immigrate to safety. Others were Canadian and American women groups, even a gay Iman from Washington DC.

The gathering was timed for just before the sun sets, prayers started for a short time, then attendees are served with “dates” as this fruit is the first item a Muslim eats when ending a fast.

Calling their prayer meeting to order with a large voiced guttural sound that one might expect from an Aboriginal tribal ritual or as in this Arab custom, an “Adhan” … I knew this was going to be something different from my Christian background.

This Muslim service is uniquely Arabic and old world in its own right, as the ceremony involved the group bowing in unison from a stand up, then from a kneeling position, whilst a member of a group says prayers aloud, reportedly quotes from the Quran in Arabic.

Watching this group of people, I felt honoured to witness gay men and women kneeling to pray together. I sensed their dignity as well as a tremendous respect for the rituals they learned in earlier years from family and home countries.

As the evening’s Itfar progressed, a representative from Canada’s first peoples, Aboriginal/Native Indian and a member from the Sikh religion were invited to speak. Also among this group of Muslims was a man wearing a “yarmulke”, the small cloth skull-caps Jewish men wear.

“We are reaching out to others.” explained El-Farouk Khaki, who added: “We all believe in the same one God.”

Wow, Jews and Muslims praying together! Surprise!

Soon each of the 30 tables were invited one by one to line up for a meal catered by a women of East African decent.

Waiting for my table’s turn to go get some food, I chatted with a refugee from Iran – a country where families offer up their own children (seen to be gay/effeminate) to the government for death by hanging. Alternatively, gay men in Iran are forced to have gender confirmation treatment, as young as 16-years-old.

“Iran is a great place for strong men, not for small frail people like me. I have been in Canada for 6 weeks, arriving only with a citizenship from a refugee camp in Turkey.”, said the refugee, proudly showing me his new Canadian passport.

Speaking of his experience in a Turkish refugee camp, he said: “Many other refugees went to Finland and Norway. But I was happy the United Nations Refugee Agency chose Canada for me because there is so much tension in Europe between Muslims and westerners.”

This man’s commentary over the course of the evening was priceless to my limited experience at Iftars.

As tables of anxious hungry people were called to line up for this delicious food we could smell wafting in the air, hearing this new fellow Canadian’s experience made me happy to learn the Canadian Government is willing to help “accused homosexuals” in countries as Uganda, Iraq, Iran where killing homosexuals is a cruel sport.

Learning that Canada will reportedly help gay Muslims reach freedom from oppressive regimes is awesome, especially complete with citizenship, short-term accommodation, $2,500 for living expenses, with time to learn English and get a job.

This makes me proud of Canada. Yes dammit’, this liberal is gratefully conceding that Prime Minister Steven Harper and his Immigration Minister, John Baird, has shown compassion for fellow human beings, including homosexuals.

Not something anyone expected from a Conservative Government, but certainly welcomed.

With more prayers after dinner, the service was led by a female, Dr Amina Wadud of California, concluded: “My work has always been on gender issues. It was only a couple of years ago did I pray to find it in myself to love and accept those with a different sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“Now I do so with an open heart.”

Soon lemon meringue desserts and coffee arrived which was as tasty as your Grandma used to make at our own church’s turkey suppers! Local entertainers, dancers and singers presented their talent and supported with cheers from the crowd.

All in all, I came away from this Muslim event thinking well of my fellow (wo)man and my country, calm in the knowledge that there are Muslims here who do exercise their “right to assembly” to carry on with the religious ceremonies they value, and to share the lessons of their religion with like-minded people.

Clearly, these Muslim folks just want to live peacefully, with the simple message for us all to have an open mind and heart – to stop treating each other as “the other”.

Now, that is one one bottom line we all can agree on as humans no matter where we call ‘home’!

Barry Dennison is a 25-year veteran journalist who specialises in legal affairs and human rights law.


"Fear Eats the Soul"

* Yes, I know Canada is America's neighbor to the North, but from Detroit, to get to Canada you travel due South (don't believe me, look at this map).

"The GIFt Of Love..."

"Kisses reveal the secrets of the heart..."

"In Memoriam..."

Darren Manzella in Iraq
Darren Manzella - War Hero And Civil Rights Activist Dead

From SLDN:
"The Iraq war veteran was the first openly gay active duty service member to speak with the media while serving inside a war zone....Manzella, 30, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 and was twice deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While under fire on the streets of Baghdad, he provided medical care to his fellow soldiers, Iraqi National Guardsmen and civilians. He was awarded the Combat Medical Badge, and also received several other awards recognizing his courage and service."
Darren tirelessly and boldly spoke out against DADT.  As a result of his activism, he was discharged from the Army when on national television, Manzella challenged the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, becoming the face of gay servicemen and women before being discharged in 2008 for publicly discussing his sexual identity.

Darren, who married in July of this year and had recently joined the Army Reserve, was killed in a highway traffic accident in Pittsford, NY on Thursday.

"Fear Eats The Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1446"

"Love Is About 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.

"We Were Always There..."

"This photo was a brave declaration of our love..."

"The Truth Is Sane Advice..."

Denzil Douglas
“If you condemn that person as being a homosexual, that person will be afraid and be reluctant to go and get tested. If he doesn’t get tested and does not get the care and treatment and advice that he should get if he is positive, and he is positive but does not know because he is afraid to go and get tested because of the discrimination, the virus spreads. That’s why we are saying be light on those who may be engaged in such activities... Discuss the issue, stop the discrimination, stop the stigmatisation and let us therefore discuss this matter in an open, matured and frank way so that we can deal seriously and comprehensively with the spread of HIV/AIDS...”

- The Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"This Made Me Smile..."

"I think every little gay boy recognized that there was more to the story of 
Batman and Robin than met the eye..."

"The Truth About Love..."

Friday, August 30, 2013

"Adam and Andy..."

I love James Asal's "Adam and Andy" strip
Married life really is like this.

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

"Love Is Revealed In A Touch... Live Fearlessly"

"The GIFt Of Love..."

"Our passions reveal the truth of our love..."

"This Made Me Smile..."

"The joy and freedom of youth..."

"We Were Always There..."

"If we weren't a couple, why else would we chose this scene for our photo..."

"The Truth About Love..."

"Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all."

- G. K. Chesterton

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1445"

"Summer Is For Love And Togetherness..."

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

"The Poet's Corner..."

A Love Letter To Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Trans People Living In Russia
‘To LGBT Russia With Love’
'It might remind you that you are not alone, brothers and sisters your struggle is known'
Dean Atta

They create hate
To separate
And scapegoat us
Wherever we are
From Russia to Nigeria
The Kremlin
To the National Assembly
The law denies us equality
To be attacked
Or beaten in the street
Is a part of our reality
Even here in the UK
That has happened to me
Where there are laws to protect
Doesn't make us free to express
Who we were born to be
Whether you are L, G, B or T
We are a community, by necessity
When any one of us is persecuted
We should all take it personally
We are a family
Dysfunctional like all the rest
Not the worst and not the best
Not cursed and not blessed
Just people
Who deserve to be equal
Because we all are
Just people
Teachers, doctors, engineers
Athletes, actors, not puffs and queers
Not trannies, not faggots, not dykes
Just human beings
With human rights
If I say your country
Would be poorer without you
And your life
Would be richer elsewhere
Is that fair?
Because if your country
Has your heart
Who am I to tell you to leave?
We have to be
The change we want to see
Not hide or run but overcome
And yes it's easy for me to say
Here in the UK
I don't have to live in fear everyday
So I wouldn't blame you
If you didn't stay
From Moscow, Russia to Kingston, JA
I don't know what I'd do
In your position
All I've done here is sign a petition
Write a poem and tweet about it
It's not enough
How will this keep you going
When it gets so tough
You consider taking your own life?
Looking at a gun, a rope or a knife
Like an exit sign
Out of this hell that you’re living in
What would my words mean then
When you’re so close to giving in?
Because of tireless hate
Abuse and rejection
This poem
Cannot provide you any protection
But it might
Remind you that you are not alone
Brothers and sisters
Your struggle is known
All over the world
This family is growing
With straight allies too
Until one day
Those you fight will stand by you.

Dean Atta is a gay poet, described as one of the ‘leading lights in London’s poetry scene.’

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Artist's Corner..."

"The Opening Line"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"The Truth Is Hard To Hide..."

Just in case you missed it... Here is the clip that CBN doesn't want you to see.  They've successfully had it removed from YouTube and DailyMotion.

Here, the leader of the multi-million dollar quasi-religious broadcasting network appearing on their flagship program, "The 700 Club."  The one-time presidential candidate and senile insane christianist makes his now infamous and ludicrous claim that gays in San Francisco wear special rings designed to cut you when you shake hands and thereby transmit HIV.

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Truth About Love..."

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

Jane Hirshfield

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1444

"Love Overcomes All..."

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..."

"Are not all loves secretly the same? A hundred flowers sprung from a single root."

- Tanith Lee

"The GIFt Of Love..."

"True love will endure all things..."

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

"Stardom Means Nothing Without Love... Live Fearlessly"

"The Surprising Truth About Gay Pakistan..."

Gay Pakistan: Where Sex Is Available And Relationships Are Difficult

BBC World Service, Karachi
By Mobeen Azhar
August 26, 2013

Pakistan is not the kind of place that most people would associate with gay liberation. But some say the country is a great place to be gay - even describing the port city of Karachi as "a gay man's paradise".

Underground parties, group sex at shrines and "marriages of convenience" to members of the opposite sex are just some of the surprises that gay Pakistan has to offer. Under its veneer of strict social conformity, the country is bustling with same-sex activity.

Danyaal, as he's asked to be known, is a 50-something businessman who lives in an affluent part of Karachi, and uses his smartphone to organise Karachi's gay party scene.

"One of the first things I did online, maybe 12 years ago, was type in G - A - Y and hit search. Back then I found a group and made contact with 12 people in this city," he says.

After getting married, gay men will treat their wives well but they will continue to have sex with other men”

"These days there are smartphone apps that use GPS to tell you how close you are to another gay person with an online profile. There are thousands of gay men online in Pakistan at any one time."
The party scene is big - so big, he jokes, that he rarely gets time to himself.

"If you want sex too, it's a gay man's paradise. If you want a relationship, that may be more difficult."

These invitation-only parties are a rare opportunity for gay men to be open about their sexuality.

Pakistani society is fiercely patriarchal. Pakistanis are expected to marry a member of the opposite sex, and the vast majority do.

The result is a culture of dishonesty and double lives, says researcher Qasim Iqbal.

"Gay men will make every effort to stop any investment in a same-sex relationship because they know that one day they will have to get married to a woman," he says.

"After getting married they will treat their wives well but they will continue to have sex with other men."

Sex between men occurs in some very public places - including, surprisingly, Karachi's busiest shrine.

Families go to the Abdullah Shah-Ghazi shrine to honour the holy man buried there and to ask for God's blessings, but it is also Karachi's biggest cruising ground.

Every Thursday evening, as the sun sets, men from across the city gather there. A tightly packed circle is formed and those in the centre of the circle are groped by those on the periphery.

We get important people - police, army officers and ministers too”

To outsiders it looks like a writhing mass of men huddling around one another. Some even describe it as a "mysterious religious ceremony". For participants, it's anonymous group sex.

This kind of behaviour is, of course, not condoned by Pakistan's religious authorities.

Most Pakistanis view homosexuality as sinful. The vast majority of clerics interpret the Qoranic story of Lot as a clear indication that God condemns homosexual men. Some scholars go even further and recommend Sharia-based punishment for "men who have sex with men".

The shrine is far from the only place in Karachi where gay sex is freely available.

It is, for example, easy to buy from a malchi walah - a masseur who offers massage and "extras" for the equivalent of £5, or $7.80.

"We get important people - police, army officers and ministers too," says one masseur, Ahmed.

He claims to have slept with more than 3,000 men during his working life - despite having two wives and eight children.

One of his wives, Sumera, wears a burka and the niqab, but she has no objection to her husband's chosen profession and wishes more people would keep an open mind.

"I know he has sex. No problem. If he doesn't work how will the kids eat? I get angry when people call them names. People are stuck in their ways."

Sumera's position may appear surprising, but in fact it's not hard to understand, says Qasim Iqbal.

"In Pakistan men are discouraged from having girlfriends and so often, their first sexual experiences will be with male friends or cousins. This is often seen as a part of growing up and it can be overlooked by families - it's the idea that 'boys will be boys'," he says.

"Sex between men will be overlooked as long as no-one feels that tradition or religion are being challenged. At the end of it all, everyone gets married to a member of the opposite sex and nothing is spoken about."

At the end of the night Ali's mother goes to her room and Ali and I will retire to our room”

Technically, homosexual acts are illegal in Pakistan. The British introduced laws criminalising what is described as sex "against the order of nature" in the colonial era. Sharia-based laws dating from the 1980s also lay down punishments for same-sex sexual activity.

In practice, though, these laws are rarely enforced, and the issue tends to be dealt with inside the family.

"There was an instance where two boys were caught having sex in a field," says Iqbal.

"The family tried to bribe the police with money because they didn't want the story going public. When the police wouldn't back down the family asked for one detail to be changed - they wanted their son to be presented as the active sexual partner. For them, their son being passive would be even more shameful."

In almost all cases charges will be dropped, Iqbal says, but the boys will be forced to get married by their families.

Just occasionally, though, Pakistani parents do reconcile themselves to children entering a long-term gay relationship.

Akbar and Ali are one such couple who have made things work, against the odds.

"Ali's family was run by a matriarch," recalls Akbar.

"His grandmother was the head of the house so I knew that winning her over would mean everything else would fall into place. I took the time to talk to her and convince her that I was a good person. That was first and foremost. It wasn't about 'coming out' in a formal sense. It's more important to convince Ali's family that I'm a good human being.

"She once gave me a hand-embroidered decorative cloth that she had made as a teenager. She said she was giving it to me because she knew I 'take care of things'. It was a kind gesture and a very personal kind of acceptance."

Akbar and Ali have now set up home together with the support of their families. Akbar has a good relationship with Ali's mother.

"She comes to stay with us and I love watching soaps with her. At the end of the night she goes to her room and Ali and I will retire to our room. Two men sleeping in the same bed? Sure she knows what is going on. We don't have to have a big discussion about it."

Stories like this are, however, exceptionally rare. For many gay men in Pakistan, a heterosexual marriage and a life of anonymous groping is the long-term reality.

But life can be even more difficult for gay women. Expressions of female sexuality are shunned in the public sphere, even among heterosexuals. So how do gay women make their lives work?

In Lahore, twenty-something lesbian couple Beena and Fatima have come up with an inventive way to stay together.

Beena, although not publicly "out", says she is optimistic about the future. "I think we'll have a marriage of convenience. I know some gay guys and maybe we'll do a deal so we put in money together and they have one portion of the house and we'll have another portion. We may as well do that."

Fatima, who contributes to an invitation-only online gay support group, believes it's only "a matter of time" before Pakistan begins to debate gay rights openly, and people declare their homosexuality with pride.

"You can't stay in the closet forever. You have to come out. It's inevitable," she says.

Beena is less hopeful.

"Gay rights in America came after women had basic rights. You don't see that in Pakistan. You are not allowed a difference of opinion here. My father is a gentleman but I wouldn't put it past him to put a bullet through my head. I'm all for being 'true to myself' but I don't want to die young," she says.

"I think it's selfish for me to come out and campaign for gay rights now. It's selfish to the women in my family who are fighting for education and the right to marry the man of their dreams, or not to marry at all."

It may take a generation for any real change to occur - even liberal Pakistanis tend to regard sectarian violence and economic instability as more pressing issues. But there will still be private spaces where gay Pakistanis can express their sexuality openly.

Some of the names of the contributors have been changed to protect their identities.


You can hear more on this story on BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents, from Thursday 29 August at 11:00am or on Assignment on the World Service on the same day

"The Artist's Corner..."

"The Color Purple"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"The Truth Of Freedom Is Ever Nearer..."

50 Years Ago Today
August 28, 1963

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Same Gender Loving People - No. 1443"

"Love And Family Too..."

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...?"

New Jersey's Cory Booker Thinks 'it's wonderful' If People Think He's Gay
Candidate For US Senate Seat Says He Loves Challenging People On Their Homophobia

By Greg Hernandez
August 28, 2013

Rising political star Cory Booker, currently the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, knows all about the gay rumors.

The 44 year old, who has never been married, says he is not bothered by the speculation and does not seem eager to clear it up one way or another.

'...People who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia,' he tells the Washington Post.

'I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, "So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight."'

Booker does say that it is to his 'great dismay' that 'I have not settled down with a life partner.'

He is trying to become New Jersey's first African-American senator. He faces Republican Steve Lonegan in a special election on 16 October to fill the seat left vacant by the late senator Frank Lautenberg.


"Fear Eats the Soul"

"Gay PDA Is Okay!"

"Overcoming Your Fears Is The Hardest Part Of Love... Live Fearlessly"

"A Thought To Ponder..."

Comment: Why The Term ‘Gay Lifestyle’ Offends And Is Hurtful

By Shah Salimat
August 28, 2013

The phrase "gay lifestyle" gets thrown around a lot.

Its often-negative usage in the lexicon of the religious right has been so pervasive that media monitoring organisation GLAAD has stepped in, calling the term offensive as it is used to suggest that the orientation of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people (LGBTs) "is a choice and therefore can and should be "cured"".

A recent survey conducted as part of the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) concluded that Singapore society generally does not accept gay lifestyles and same-sex marriage. The bulk of disapproval came from older and less-educated Singaporeans.

62 per cent of Singaporeans with no formal education rejected the idea of gay lifestyles, while only 26 per cent and 29 per cent of polytechnic and university graduates could not accept a "gay lifestyle".

More importantly, the neither-here-nor-there "gay lifestyle" phrase seems to suggest two things: that the barometer is really about LGBT acceptance -- not a way of life that is as varied among LGBTs as a straight person -- and that the term itself needs to stop being used improperly.

Not just one lifestyle

The "LGBT lifestyle" seems to indicate that there is only one particular lifestyle that gays lead. DUH.
Saying it sounds obvious but every person -- yes even gays -- is different, based on their world view and set of morals and beliefs. Each leads a different lifestyle -- it could be based on sexuality or the type of durians one eats. Some gays double up as drag queens but others would prefer to geek out over calculus.

Gays go through daily struggles just like a straight person would in their day-to-day life: they squeeze in the train while on their way to work or school, worry about acing exams or putting food on the table and have the right to love the person of their choice.

The only thing a gay faces differently is the prejudice and judgment he or she consistently receives from conservatives and the religious right.

So when senior research fellow Leong Chan Hoong, one of the survey's researchers from the Institute of Policy Studies, told gay website Fridae that the "gay lifestyles" term was used to allow respondents to use "a lens they are normally used to", one must wonder if such actions are as discriminatory as they come.

Treasuring the value of life and love

The term "gay lifestyle" does nothing more than institute an "us against them" mentality. The best part? The term is thrown around so loosely that those who are unaware of its hostile tone and history will co-opt it too.
Semantics is no child's play. Stoking the flames of conflict by associating oneself with the history behind such hate speech is no way to progress as a mature society.

This is not a matter of who's lifestyle is more "correct". This is a matter of seeing the misguided fundamentalism that is at play and realising the actual issue stems from the freedom to love.

This freedom does not interfere with anyone else's. If being gay does corrupt the minds of others, surely straight people can turn gay since ex-gay therapy allows for the opposite to happen? Immutable or not, being gay is an existence and not a method of spreading perversion, unlike what the religious right argues.

If that LGBT person is your son or daughter, how could they be blamed for leading a lifestyle that is almost similar to yours? They ate the same food, lived in the same house and attained knowledge on life and love from you.

Let us learn not to divide ourselves as a society

If the total is the sum of its parts, surely we as a society can begin removing barriers preventing us from truly understanding one another. That begins with getting rid of terms like "gay lifestyle".


Shah Salimat is the editor-in-chief of Popspoken, an entertainment and lifestyle newsblog with a tinge of spice, covering everything Singaporean and international.

"The GIFt Of Love..."

"The discovery that it's love you're feeling is like this..."

"The Truth About Ignorant Ass Bullshit..."

Bob Woodson - RNC Puppet
From Towleroad:
RNC Speaker Says Gay, Immigrant Issues Have Pushed Blacks To the Back Of The Bus
By Christian Walters
The Republican National Committee celebrated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech this past Monday with a luncheon. One of the speakers was Center for Neighborhood Enterprises head Bob Woodson, who is unhappy that gay, immigrant, women, and environmental issues have moved to "the front of the bus" ahead of issues facing poor black Americans. According to Woodson, “You never hear any talk about the conditions confronting poor blacks and poor people in general,” which is demonstrably untrue with a five-second Google News search.
Woodson also takes issue with those he calls "moral traitors," Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in particular for their fierce condemnation of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, but tepid response to the murder of Chris Lane in Oklahoma.
We should pray for the families of these people just as we do the family of Trayvon Martin. We should not wait for a white face before we get outraged. Evil is evil, whether it wears a white face or not. I’m sorry to be the skunk at the garden party, but I think if Dr. King were alive today, he would step on some of these sacred issues.
Woodson received a standing ovation for his speech.

I make it a point to maintain a high degree of civility here on "The Unbearable Truth..." But today I just had to call it as it is... I believe that if Dr. King were with us today, he would call Bob Woodson's tripe, ignorant ass bullshit!

"Fear Eats the Soul"

"The Artist's Corner..."

"Rise Again"
Acrylic on canvas
Steve Walker

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"The Truth Of Love In Letters..."

 "While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die."
- Leonardo da Vinci

An Allegory:  For a great long while, even for virtually the whole of his life, he had been depressed and sad about his lot. It seemed that he would never be “unalone.”  And so it was on that night, as he sat in another cold and lonely hotel room, this time in Riverside, California, that he made up his mind that it was time for the pain to end… This was not the first time he’d ever made such a decision.  As recently as on Father’s Day, just the year before, while suffering in the depths of misery about what “love” really means, he made a desperate attempt to finally give the one he loved no excuse to continue hurting his long tortured heart.  But when the beloved one, said to him, “Don’t go…” - from his hospital bed, he obeyed and turned back yet again.

But this time was different.  It was much more like the first time he sought his relief in the “Arms of the Angels.”  He was twelve or thirteen years old then, and now some thirty years later, he felt the same cold resolve to follow through on his plans to end it all, just as he did as a mere boy.  As he thought about the plans he’d worked out in his mind for at least the last seven months of his tortured existence, he knew he couldn’t go on much further, certainly not another day like the last.  When he’d last talked to the beloved one, after so many bitter disappointments, the cruelty in the voice he had once lived to hear, stretched to the breaking point the last threads of hope left in the tattered fabric of dreams that had kept him alive (but not living) for the last thirty years.

He’d written his own obituary several years ago when he was sure that this was how it would eventually end. This night, he revised it, added a few lines here and there mentioning his great love for the one who’d become a faded love turned memory. The difference this time was that he printed and neatly folded twenty copies and placed them carefully in an envelope he’d addressed to his sister back in Detroit.  He wrote her a note explaining the contents of this unexpected package:
Dear Lisa, I am sorry to presume that you will do these things for me, but I have no one else to ask.  I hope and pray that you will be strong for me and help me with these last concerns of my time here on earth.  I give you my eternal love and thanks for your willingness to see to these things for me…  Thank you.
He went on in his note to explain how he’d prearranged and paid for his funeral and where his important papers were located and how he hoped his family would remember him… He asked his sister to hold a brief memorial gathering at his home and that was what the obituaries were for.   And in the final wish of a broken heart, he asked his sister to give his ashes to that "beloved one," for he longed only to be kept under "his" bed and that would be heaven enough for him, but that if he didn’t want them, then to spread his ashes over his mother’s grave - the most sacred place they'd ever been together.

Though that night he was in the throes of his great and terrible decision, it was actually before leaving home that week that he’d set the wheels in motion for what he had in mind.   That weekend before he went to California, he’d prepared a number of notes… “Give this to William…” “I bought this for Stephen in Los Angeles, please give it to him.” “If I am dead, give everything in this drawer to ...” “My will, insurance, and bank accounts are in this file.”  He cleaned the house that in his dreams he thought would someday be "their" home, and as he wandered from room to room, he left his neatly printed notes everywhere signifying the disposition of things that had once been his treasured possessions.

Just before he left for the airport that Sunday evening, he walked through each room of the house taking a last look at all he had worked for, now labeled and cast to the realm of memories. And as he walked though the lonely house recalling through tear strained eyes the first, the few and the only happy moments of his life, he realized that they had all come in those last few years.  He remembered those moments when a lifetime of dreams seemed to come true, almost… And just then he heard the horn of his taxi in the street and as he walked towards the front door, he called out to the empty house, “I’m leaving now, Dear” even though the beloved one had not been there to hear it for many months.

During the taxi ride, the same driver who took him to the airport every week could tell something was different that day. His passenger that sunny Sunday afternoon was quieter than he usually was... he didn't talk about where he was headed to this week.  And as the driver peered into the mirror he thought he saw a tear or two fall from behind his passenger’s eyeglasses.  “Are you alright, my friend?” he asked of his regular Sunday afternoon fare… “Yes, I’m fine,” he lied, as even then he wondered if the next five days in California would finally end with the event he’d planned for so long as the sure remedy for the unbearable pain of a broken heart.

The ride to the airport somehow seemed much longer than usual, and as he looked from the window of the cab he thought of how the things he saw on this last ride would never be seen by him again.  Finally, as the cab pulled into the departures lane, he thanked his driver as he’d done every week for months. But today, he gave the driver a particularly generous tip as he wished him, "Have a good life..."  Then as he turned to enter the terminal, he thought to himself, “This is the last time I’ll do this too.”   Once aboard the plane, as it climbed into the sky turning to the west, he looked down at the city that had always been home, and knowing that he wouldn't see it again if he and cruel fate had their way in less than a week, he thought somehow the gritty, ragged city that had contained him and his pain somehow looked kinder and gentler than he'd ever seen it before.

During the long flight to the coast, he passed the time by thinking through all the details of his plans for the next five days in California - the last five days of his life... He thought a great deal about his work. Work had always sustained him. He would be completing the project he had been working on all month and that had helped him to hold on to life for as long as he had. As he saw the mountains passing silently below the window he gazed out of, his head was swimming with a million thoughts as he felt the deep despair that had been closing in on him since New Year's tighten its grip on his troubled heart.  It had been just after New Years Day when he had last seen the beloved one at DTW where he cried in his arms at the gate as he left the beloved one in Detroit to join this project in California that this week would end and with it, his last reasons for remaining in a life so unbearable.

Although he had tried to drift off to sleep, he felt ill and so he stood up to go to the restroom at the front of the plane.  When he got there, someone was already waiting and as he leaned against the bulkhead, suddenly he felt heavy and dizzy.  The next sound that he heard was that of the flight attendants asking him, "What's your name Sir?, are you okay?" But the only thing he could say was the beloved one's name, "Stephen." And it was then that he realized that his 200 pound frame was lying limp on the floor of the cabin as he drifted in and out of consciousness. Suddenly he was startled to life again by the pungent odor of an ammonia ampule being held under his nose by a fellow passenger, a female doctor.  She said, "You'll be ok, Stephen" "Just lay here for a moment, you passed out."  As he nodded his head in understanding, he didn't feel the strength to correct the doctor and the flight attendants about who he was, and who Stephen was.

After a few moments, he felt stronger and wanted to get up from the cabin floor.  The doctor and two of the male flight attendants helped him up and back to his seat in first class.  The doctor came and sat next to him and asked him some questions about his health history and took his pulse. She said, "I'm sure it was nothing, but you should go to an emergency room and get checked out as soon as we land in L.A."  He said he would as he thanked her for rendering aid, even though he knew he wouldn't follow her advice and was even then silently hoping that perhaps he'd just had a heart attack or some other complication that would take him away from his pain. After a few minutes, the kind doctor returned to her own seat and after a while, he began to feel better, at least physically, if not mentally.

When the flight landed at LAX and the plane rolled to a stop at the gate, as the doors were being opened, one of the flight attendants came over to him and told him there was an airport attendant with a wheelchair on the jetway waiting to take him to the hospital. But he told her that wouldn't be necessary and he walked off the plane and past the the attendant and the wheelchair with his briefcase clutched at his side.  Although he was a little unsteady on his feet, when he finally reached the luggage claim, several of the passengers from his flight came over and asked if he was ok and if he needed any help.  He thanked them all and insisted that he was fine.  As he watched the bags going by on the carousel he felt slightly disoriented and light-headed again, but somehow he managed to collect his luggage and he made his way to the rental cars to begin his drive into the Inland Empire and sunny Riverside, California.

On the sixty mile drive out to the Inland Empire, he didn't really notice the sunny warm weather which was quite a change from the cold frosty winter snow he'd left behind in Detroit. Instead he noticed every time he saw a Jeep Cherokee. When he did, in his mind he spoke to the beloved one as that make and model reminded him of the Jeep the beloved one had driven and of the many times that the beloved one held his hand as they together drove along.  In a short while, he had arrived in Riverside at the hotel that had been his workweek home for last month. The clerk at the counter welcomed him back, but that day, he was somber and simply took his key and walked to the elevator without even taking note of the floor he was going to. Once inside the elevator when the door closed behind him, a tear fell from his eye as he looked to see the room number written on the key card jacket, for even that reminded him of the beloved one - it was his birthday - 1004.

The next morning, somehow he'd gotten through the night and managed to stir himself from a fitful sleep, shaved and dressed for the short ride to the client site.  As he walked to the lobby to meet up with his colleague, it all seemed so meaningless to him. Life without the beloved one seemed unbearable, even for just a few more days. In those last few weeks as he worked with the client and their employees on the project, he found it harder to maintain the fa├žade of “normalcy” that he’d struggled to hold together for the many months since the Beloved One had gone. Being a management consultant was a dream job he’d have loved once upon a time, but now that it was his reality, the adventure of travel and the challenges that went with it were little more than a distraction from the pain and the deep anguish that grew within him with each day and every lonely night that passed.

For weeks on end, every night upon returning to his empty hotel room, and again each morning before leaving it, on his knees he'd pray... He’d remember the promises of the Beloved One, the promises that had given him so much hope for a happy life and he'd ask God to help those promises be real. Yet it was those same unfulfilled promises that had ultimately destroyed him and his dreams. But each day between the morning and the night, he worked hard to be an “agent for change” in his client's company… And as he saw his efforts have an effect on the people he was working with, he couldn’t help but question in his heart why it was that he could not change the bitter, lonely darkness that dwelled and churned deep within his own soul.  Yet despite all his prayers and heartache, there were times that it seemed to him that his plight was going unseen and unheard by God, and so thus began the last week of his life.

On that following morning as he stirred from another restless night’s sleep, he wondered how he’d drag himself from bed again and put a smile on his deeply drawn face before reaching the hotel lobby.  He followed all his routines, though nothing seemed routine anymore… As he shaved and dressed, he spoke aloud to the grim reflection of the broken-hearted man that stared back at him from the mirror…  As he looked into the reflection of his gaunt face, he seemed to hear himself saying, “Just a few more days and then you can go home.”  Then he'd question himself again, “Which home?”  Yet, even as he spoke to himself, looking deeply into his own eyes, he could also hear the silent screams stirring from deep within, and the intense pain in his heart helped him know that it was his home in heaven that he was thinking of.  Nevertheless, he was determined to complete his last project, so again he fell to his knees to pray and then he dried his eyes and stepped into the light of one more day.  It was his last Tuesday to endure.

Wednesday came and went and was very much like Monday and Tuesday. And it was on Thursday morning as he stood before the mirror yet again that he saw the horror of the pain that he felt deep in his heart and it was also then that he knew with certainty that he’d follow through with his plan to bring his life and his pain to an end. The absence of the Beloved One had left him with no hope and because he loved this man with all his heart, he knew he could no longer bear living without him…  Up to that point, there had been nothing that he would not do for the Beloved One.  And so as he sat in silence, he thought of the Beloved One, and in a haze of pain and irrational thought, he said to himself, “Surely he must be feeling similar pain being apart from me; If I am dead, then his pain will end too.”  And thus he finally had a reason strong enough to overcome his own fears of death and dying.

By late Thursday afternoon as he and his colleague finished the last of their work, conducted their exit interviews and said their last goodbyes to the client and their employees, He decided not only in his heart, but also in his mind and in his soul that that next day, Friday, the 1st of February would be his last day in his long tortured world…

Later that Thursday evening, he thought to himself, “The last few days have passed quickly.”  He’d worked hard and he was satisfied that he’d done the best he could do as the consulting project he’d worked on all month came to a close that afternoon.  As the painful memories of his life streamed past his mind’s eye, it was all he could do to hold back the tears that wanted so badly to flow in great streams.  As they left the clients, he was unusually quiet as he drove his colleague to the Ontario airport.   Sensing something was very different this day, as he got out of the car, his colleague asked if he was alright… He said, “I’m okay, I’ll be much better tomorrow” and with that he bid him a safe flight home to the joys of love and family that he himself was now convinced would never be his own.

Finally alone, the tears flowed freely as he drove back to the hotel in Riverside.   He was utterly distracted by his thoughts and plans for that last night.  More than once, as he found himself in the midst of Southern California rush hour traffic, he was nearly involved in a “fender-bender.”  But when these near misses occurred he lamented that even if they had happened, there was not enough speed involved to even hope for being killed.  Thankfully for the other drivers on the highway, he got to his destination without incident.

Thursday night seemed a strange night indeed. He was surprised to find that as he got to the hotel, he was actually hungry. He’d not had a real appetite for weeks… food and eating was just a mind numbing distraction, a necessity. But when alone in his world, it was little more than “something to do.”  But this night, as he sat in his lonely hotel room, he found that he truly savored the burger and fries he'd bought at the restaurant next door.  As he enjoyed every French fry and even the crumbs at the bottom of the bag, he thought to himself, “It must be true, condemned men do enjoy their last meal.”  He finished his last supper, and then he went to work making the preparations for his last day.  As he cleared the desk and set up his laptop and portable printer, he noted to himself that virtually everything he was doing, he was doing for the last time in his life.

With a deep breath, he began to type... he was writing to his beloved the final "love letter," the last thoughts of his troubled mind and tortured heart...  That next day, he would be seeking the angels at 37,000 feet.

"The gods conceal from man the happiness of death, that they may endure life."

- Lucan

"Fear Eats the Soul"

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