Monday, October 24, 2011


We two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going—North and South excursions making,
Power enjoying—elbows stretching—fingers clutching,
Arm’d and fearless—eating, drinking, sleeping, loving,
No law less than ourselves owning—sailing, soldiering, thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming—air breathing, water drinking, on the turf or the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking, feebleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicken of the See

I used to be a cantor for the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Joseph, in Columbus, Ohio. It was by far the most well-funded church music program in the city at that time, and employed many of the most talented classical singers in the area. I sang with them for several years, and really did enjoy much of it. I met some lifelong friends in that group, and got to perform some beautiful music (including the baritone solo for the Brahms "Requiem", with orchestra).

The monsignor of the Cathedral at that time was a very lovely man... CLEARLY gay... who showed me nothing but hospitality and kindness during my entire time there. Of course, as a relatively immature young man in my twenties, I had the luxury of being able to focus on the music and the not-insubstantial amount of money that I was making in that position, rather than the obvious conflict between my personal moral convictions and those of my employer.

I rather think that I would not be able to perform for such an organization again... as evidenced by my subsequent conscientious refusal to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Utah. But back then, I recall myself as a much less politicized person, and I recall our culture as being characterized by a much less polarized nature compared to the sociopolitical environment with which we are currently challenged. So when I think of the catholic church, St. Joseph's is the first thing that pops into my mind. It's a good memory. What follows that memory is not such a great image... the hypocrisy and homohatred that the church has shown throughout its history, most obviously exemplified by the many scandals associated with pedophilia and sexual predation among its priesthood.

The man pictured above is His Excellency Robert Finn, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City and Saint Joseph. He is the very first in what I hope will be a long string of high church officials to be indicted by a grand jury for his role in obstructing justice and covering up of evidence related to the sexual abuse of young people. He has been charged with withholding evidence, in this case lewd photographs of young girls taken by the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, a priest under his supervision. Bishop Finn delayed reporting the photographs to the police for six months, during which Ratigan allegedly abused yet another young girl.

Adding to the justifiable outrage is the knowledge that three years ago the very same Bishop Finn settled lawsuits with 47 local plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases for $10 million and agreed to a list of 19 preventive measures, among them to immediately report anyone suspected of being a pedophile to the law enforcement authorities. Finn has, not surprisingly, been described as a "staunch theological conservative" and a "polarizing figure in his diocese".

More information on the many-years-long history of priestly abuse can be found here.

This case illustrates the long history of absurdity among religious conservatives, which very much includes protestant and evangelical loudmouths as well. Those who are willing to demonize and dehumanize minority groups (like women, racial minorities, and GLBT people) using the literal "bully pulpit" afforded to them by organized religion are most likely hiding their own transgressions that are far more damaging to society than anything some gay guy could dream up. It's also important to remember that the catholic priests involved in this business cannot be considered part of the gay community... they aren't gay... they're pedophiles and sexual predators. These men are living illustrations of the very big difference between the two.

No, not all catholics are pedophiles, and not all christians are maniacal bible-thumping hatemongers. But it's the quiet parishoners and churchgoers who deserve the second-largest heaping helping of the blame. As long as we sit there quietly and do nothing, we are complicit in the injustice and crimes of the organization to which we belong. If one breathlessly protests "but but but... we're the GOOD Christians... ", one's protestations are moot if not followed by a full-throated public outcry against the unforgiveable and often-criminal actions of church leaders.

Quit sitting there and letting it happen. Complain. No matter how pretty the music is.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Separated at birth?

Hateful bigot Sally Kern continued her ride on the "victim" train the other day. Speaking on some random Christian radio station (of which there are legion in my home state of Oklahoma), the crazed state representative said this:

"I have to be honest with you Rick, when I was sitting there in my car that day and when she told me that those emails were coming from homosexuals, honestly, fear gripped my whole body, because I was very aware of the homosexual lobbyists and the power that they have. And people say, 'oh you're so brave, so heroic,' but I'm not, I'm just a sinner saved by grace and I was gripped with fear that day. I just said, 'Lord, what have I done?' It entered our mind but honestly, and I mentioned this in the book, the Saturday night when my husband and I sit down and really talked about this and prayed about it, when we asked ourselves the question, are we willing ot even lose our lives over this?"

The answer to your question, you revolting twat, is this: what you have done is what so many other Christian supremacists have done. You've made ridiculous accusations against whole swaths of people, all of which are demonstrably false to anyone interested in looking at the actual evidence rather than bitching and moaning about non-existend Christian persecution. Show me one Christian bigot who has been killed by a homosexual activist. There aren't any. But I can do a quick Google search and show you HUNDREDS of GLBT people, children and adults alike, who have been bullied, attacked, tortured, oppressed, and murdered by God's Gentle People (TM).

If there were any justice in the world, you'd lose what tiny bit of influence you have over the low-information bigoted population you represent, and continue your unwitting career as a lookalike for Aughra, the one-eyed seer from The Dark Crystal.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Like the little stream

Making its way

Through the mossy crevices

I, too, quietly

Turn clear and transparent.

Ryokan (1758-1831)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Working Late

A light is on in my father's study.
"Still up?" he says, and we are silent,
looking at the harbor lights,
listening to the surf
and the creak of coconut boughs.

He is working late on cases.
No impassioned speech! He argues from evidence,
actually pacing out and measuring,
while the fans revolving on the ceiling
winnow the true from the false.

Once he passed a brass curtain rod
through a head made out of plaster
and showed the jury the angle of fire--
where the murderer must have stood.
For years, all through my childhood,
if I opened a closet . . . bang!
There would be the dead man's head
with a black hole in the forehead.

All the arguing in the world
will not stay the moon.
She has come all the way from Russia
to gaze for a while in a mango tree
and light the wall of a veranda,
before resuming her interrupted journey
beyond the harbor and the lighthouse
at Port Royal, turning away
from land to the open sea.

Yet, nothing in nature changes, from that day to this,
she is still the mother of us all.
I can see the drifting offshore lights,
black posts where the pelicans brood.

And the light that used to shine
at night in my father's study
now shines as late in mine.

Louis Simpson

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm back.

Yeah, it's been a while. I'm like that loser boyfriend who drunk-dials you at 3 am just when you think I've lost your number. It's like that.

This picture shows several things that are indicative of my life at this point. First of all, I'm at the gym. I am doing crunches while maintaining a push-up position with my arms, and pulling my knees to my chest. This is while I am suspended from a bar using two TRX straps. TRX straps are these nylon ribbon-thingies that hang from a bar. They utilize your own bodyweight for resistance while you do various painful exercises. In this picture, I am pushing up in mid-air against one TRX strap, with my feet stuck into another TRX strap. What results is a complex crunch movement in what feels like zero gravity. Zero gravity should be easier. It is not.

Also in the picture are members of my workout group laughing at/with me while this occurs. My trainer is taking the picture and also laughing. Our workout group laughs a lot.

The small folded towel in the image is what I'll use to eventually wipe the river of sweat from my face before I almost throw up.

This is what gay guys are expected to do to maintain their appearance. Women have long bitched and moaned about unrealistic body-image expectations, and for good reason. They are complaining about images like this one:

Gay guys, on the other hand, are constantly bombarded with body images like this one:

Sure, there are guys who can look like this more easily than others. They are a tiny fraction of the gay population. I know a ton of gay men, the majority of whom do work out and take care of their bodies. Not one of them looks like this. Of course, this image has been retouched and photoshopped from here to Detroit and back. Same with the anorexic beauty above him. This creates unrealistic expectations of what is and isn't acceptable when it comes to one's own body habitus. The reaction against these expectations resulted in the fetishization of guys like this:

These are bears. More specifically, they are "muscle bears". The bear movement came into vogue during the AIDS bloodbath of the 1980s, during which the super-skinny look was a bit too reminiscent of the cachexia experienced by our dying brethren. Some in the community reacted to this by working the big, hairy, "masculine", truck-driver look. There are several sub-types of bears. There are cubs (younger bears seeking older), daddy bears (older bears seeking younger), chubs (plump gay guys who aren't hairy enough to be bears), muscle bears (hairy muscular guys often without a 6-pack), otters (skinnier hairy guys), panda bears (Asian bears), pocket bears (short bears), polar bears (bears with white hair), wolves (a muscle bear who's rugged and outdoorsy)... this list goes on and on. My favorite term is the one used for the women who love to hang out with bears. Instead of the well-known "fag hag", these women are referred to as "Goldilocks".

The initial idea was a good one, offering community and identity to those gay guys who aren't easily assimilated into the young, smooth, muscular, pretty-boy cultural milieu. But the maturation of the idea has resulted in a body habitus expectation that is often just as rigid as the one against which these men initially rebelled. It's frustrating for those of us who are somewhere in the middle. I love hanging with the bears, usually. But I'm neither muscular enough, nor hairy enough, nor dark enough, nor faux-butch enough, nor "whatever" enough to really fit in with them.

My goal for my own workouts is to be ME enough. I've never been much of a joiner. But it would be nice to be able to excape the self-judgement that these expectations subtly or not-so-subtly create in most of us.

Hottie of the Week: Carlos Friere

This man hasn't eaten anything but broccoli and boiled chicken breasts since 2004.