Friday, December 31, 2010

The Death of the Old Year

Caio-Cesar01“The Death of the Old Year” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1842)
Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
    Old year you must not die;
    You came to us so readily,
    You lived with us so steadily,
    Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take ’em away.
    Old year you must not go;
    So long you have been with us,
    Such joy as you have seen with us,
    Old year, you shall not go.

Dec20 (20)He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
    Old year, you shall not die;
    We did so laugh and cry with you,
    I’ve half a mind to die with you,
    Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o’er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he’ll be dead before.
    Every one for his own.
    The night is starry and cold, my friend,
    And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
    Comes up to take his own.

tumblr_kxt79sHs8i1qauc1to1_500How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
’Tis nearly twelve o’clock.
    Shake hands, before you die.
    Old year, we’ll dearly rue for you:
    What is it we can do for you?
    Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
    And waiteth at the door.
    There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,
    And a new face at the door, my friend,
    A new face at the door.

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

The Carpenters - What Are You Doing New Years Eve?

If you would rather hear Diana Krall’s version of this song, click over to Cocks, Asses, and More.  I couldn’t decide between the crooning voice of Diana Krall or The Carpenters, so I decided to do simultaneous posts of both.

 

So what are you doing New Year’s Eve?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Checkum Campaign

The Checkum Campaign aids to educate men of testicular cancer - diagnosing, testing, treatments by using famous celebs in the nude!  I hope they get your attention like they got mine.  Besides, give yourself (or better yet, if you have a partner, let him give you a testicular exam).  It can be very nice fondling your balls, and you can save them by catching testicular cancer early.
Do you know how to perform a Testicular Self Exam?  If you don’t here is a quick guide:

Testicular self examination (TSE)

Testicular cancer is usually curable. It’s also easier to treat when it’s found early.
From puberty onwards it’s important that men check their testicles regularly (once a month) for anything unusual like a lump or swelling. When you do this you’ll soon get to know what feels normal for you.
The best time to check your testicles is during or right after a warm bath or shower, when the scrotal skin is relaxed. Hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand and use your fingers and thumb to examine each testicle. Feel for lumps, anything unusual, or differences between your testicles. It’s normal for the testicles to be slightly different in size and for one to hang lower than the other.
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Testicular self examination
A normal testicle should feel smooth and firm (not hard). The epididymis (tube that carries sperm) lies at the top of the back part of each testicle. It feels like a soft coiled tube. It’s not uncommon to get harmless cysts or benign lumps in the epididymis.
 

What to do if you notice a lump or something different

Lumps or swellings can be caused by other conditions, and most lumps aren’t cancer. But it’s very important that you have anything unusual checked by your doctor as soon as possible. Doctors are used to dealing with problems like this on a regular basis. Remember that testicular cancer is nearly always curable, particularly when it’s found and treated early.
 

Symptoms of testicular cancer

The most common symptom is a lump in a testicle. But there may also be other symptoms depending on whether the cancer has spread outside the testicle.
Symptoms can include:
  • swelling or a lump in a testicle, which is usually painless – occasionally the swelling may suddenly increase in size and become painful
  • pain or heaviness in the scrotum.
If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body there may be some of the following symptoms:
  • pain in the back, groin, or lower abdomen – this can be caused by the spread of the cancer to lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen
  • a cough or breathlessness if lymph nodes in the chest area are affected, or rarely if the cancer has spread to the lungs
  • nipple/breast tenderness or breast swelling (gynaecomastia) – this isn’t common but can be caused by hormones produced by the cancer.
If you have any of these symptoms it’s important to have them checked by your doctor – but remember, they can be caused by other conditions.
Go to the second part of the post to see the naked celebrities used by Checkum in their testicular cancer awareness campaign.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Last Judgment

An Italian art historian claims some of the images depicted in Michelangelo's "Last Judgment"—the fresco on the wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel—were inspired by acts the artist witnessed in homosexual bathhouses. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Elena Lazzarini, the author of a new book about the work, explains, "The virile male bodies are inspired by the physiology of laborers engaged in physical exertion, with taut muscles, strenuous exertion and pain etched into the expression on their faces." (That is the most polite description of man-on-man intercourse we've ever heard.) Lazzarini goes on to say that Michelangelo drew inspiration from his fellow gays and the muscular prostitutes who regularly worked in the saunas.

The colossal work, which took the Renaissance master four years to paint and graces the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, is a depiction of judgment day, with the virtuous being called to heaven and sinners being dragged into hell. The full work was scoured for the queerest images, and boy were some doozies found.

The Gayest Images from Michelangelo's Most Famous Painting
This pile of men headed to heaven is a virtual orgy. Check out the two hunks on the left in a deep embrace, the two blond twinks making out in the center, and the bearded daddies next to them who are about to make out. Yup, this sure looks like heaven.

The Gayest Images from Michelangelo's Most Famous Painting
Here are a bunch of naked guys walking somewhere together and checking out the hot stud just out of view. (It's hunky Jesus in this case.) Where do you think they're going? Probably to get more lube.

The Gayest Images from Michelangelo's Most Famous Painting
One guy on his back with his legs in the air is getting reamed with a giant pole by a line of gorgeous muscle studs. Nope, nothing gay happening here.

The Gayest Images from Michelangelo's Most Famous Painting
Speaking of pass-around party bottoms, here is a gentleman bending over in a receptive position with another man's hand—well, we'll leave that to your imagination. But the line of boys behind him sure have a good view.

The Gayest Images from Michelangelo's Most Famous Painting
Someone is being dragged to hell by his testicles. This doesn't look so much like torture, but more like your average Saturday night at a leather bar.

The Gayest Images from Michelangelo's Most Famous Painting
A group of men blowing. Yup, that's what this is. They're also showing off some sort of book. We imagine they are the world's last remaining copies of Honcho magazine. For bonus points, check out the dude who just scored himself a bottom in the lower right quadrant.

The Gayest Images from Michelangelo's Most Famous Painting
Those angels and demons are so mean. They're obviously breaking up a three-way between these two naked guys and their robed friend. This must be hell, because group sex is definitely allowed in heaven.

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And one more bonus image to use your imagination on.

The Last Judgment is a fresco by Michelangelo on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. It took four years to complete and was executed from 1537 to 1541. Michelangelo began working on it three decades after having finished the ceiling of the chapel.
 

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The work is massive and spans the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. It is a depiction of the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse. The souls of humans rise and descend to their fates, as judged by Christ surrounded by his saints.

The Last Judgment was an object of a heavy dispute between Cardinal Carafa and Michelangelo: the artist was accused of immorality and intolerable obscenity, having depicted naked figures, with genitals in evidence, inside the most important church of Christianity, so a censorship campaign (known as the "Fig-Leaf Campaign") was organized by Carafa and Monsignor Sernini (Mantua's ambassador) to remove the frescoes. When the Pope's own Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, said "it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully," and that it was no work for a papal chapel but rather "for the public baths and taverns," Michelangelo worked Cesena's face into the scene as Minos, judge of the underworld (far bottom-right corner of the painting) with Donkey ears {i.e.foolishness} while his nudity is covered by a coiled snake. It is said that when Cesena complained to the Pope, the pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell, so the portrait would have to remain.
The genitalia in the fresco were covered 24 years later (when the Council of Trent condemned nudity in religious art) by the artist Daniele da Volterra, whom history remembers by the derogatory nickname "Il Braghettone" ("the breeches-painter"). In the painting, Michelangelo does a self portrait depicting himself as St. Bartholomew after he had been flayed (skinned alive). This is reflective of the feelings of contempt Michelangelo had for being commissioned to paint "The Last Judgement". The figure of St. Bartholomew depicts the satirist and erotic writer Pietro Aretino who had tried to extort a valuable drawing from Michelangelo. He holds the painter's flayed skin as a symbol of attempted victimization.

Much of this post was borrowed from Gawker.com and was originally written by Brian Moylan.

After the jump you can see QueerClick.com’s very irreverent take on this masterpiece by Michelangelo.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Review: A Sticky End by James Lear

Though I have been posting poetry each Tuesday, I chose to do so on Friday this week for a special reason.  Instead of a wintery poem today, I have decided to post a book review.
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Best friends and sometimes lovers Edward "Mitch" Mitchell and Harry "Boy" Morgan have been in terrible jams before — their adventures of murder, mystery, and unstoppable sex have made The Back Passage and The Secret Tunnel international bestsellers. In A Sticky End, Mitch must face the possibility that Boy is involved in the chain of events that led to the suicide of his own colleague and secret paramour, Frank Bartlett. To absolve Boy, Mitch races around London finding clues while bedding the many men eager to lend a hand — or more. The policemen, working class gigolos, steam room bathers, embezzlers, and blackmailers that Mitch comes across create a tasty mystery and satisfying erotic romp.

If you are not familiar with the horny detective Edward "Mitch" Mitchell, then I suggest beginning with The Back Passage and The Secret Tunnel before reading A Sticky End.  However, here are a few quotes from the book that should tantalize you enough to want to read these books by James Lear.
Mitch Mitchel on his detecting method:
Holmes has his fiddle, Poirot his liqueurs—I have cock.  We all have our methods.
His libido:
I had to stop groping in the dark.  He who gropes in the dark tends to find things he wasn’t looking for—and, looking back over the last 36 hours, I’d found more cocks, asses, and mouths than was altogether plausible.  The one thing most likely  to distract me from a case is, of course, sex—and sex seemed to rear its head at every corner.  Was this a coincidence?  It often seems to me, when I reflect on my experiences, that whenever I am close in proximity to crime, to murder, sexual opportunities arise with far greater frequency.  Why is this?  Is my libido suddenly exaggerated by the nearness of death?  Is it, as the Freudians would have us believe, evidence of the close relationship between Eros and Thanatos? Or is it simply that criminals know exactly how to keep me occupied by throwing sexually attractive men in my way whenever I get too close for comfort?  Whatever, the reason, my three encounters with suspicious death have coincided with peaks in sexual activity.  I will leave further analysis to the experts.
On bottoming:
My friends and regular readers will know that, on the whole, I tend to take the active role in these encounters—partly, I suppose, through personal preference, but also because most men, in my experience, are so eager to take what they’re not used to being given that I have very little choice in the matter.  Nature has equipped me for the job—I’ve got plenty to go around, and enough stamina to keep up with demand, even when, in the last 24 hours, men were lining up with their asses open.  But there comes a time in every man’s life when he wants nothing more than to lie on his back with his legs in the air and take an enormous hard prick up his rectum, and that time had come for me.

Lear’s erotic fiction is a joy to read, whether it is the Mitch Mitchell Mysteries, or any of his other novels.  One thing to remember though, unless you have a Kindle or other e-reader, these are probably books that you would not want to take out in public to read (at least in most places), because nearly every one of Lear’s novels has a naked man on the cover.  But nobody does a book cover like James Lear.
JAMES LEAR is the nom de plume of prolific and acclaimed novelist, Rupert Smith. He lives in London and is the 2008 Winner of Erotic Awards "Best Writer".

Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Christmas (Sort of….)

I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm–Billie Holiday

The snow is snowing, the wind is blowing
But I can weather the storm!
What do I care how much it may storm?
But sadly, I don’t have a love to keep me warm.

Believe it or not, much of the Southern United States had a white Christmas.  Atlanta, (Birmingham—first time in recorded history), Montgomery (first time since 1918), all had a white Christmas, (or at least it snowed on Christmas Day).  I was a little further South, but we had snow with a mix of rain last night.  Right now it is really snowing, though very little of it is sticking to the ground.  The sun is supposed to come out in just a few minutes and the snow will stop.  But this has been a really nice Christmas.  I got to build castles with my niece, we had a tea party, we played doctor with her little toy medical kit (we did not “play doctor” so get your minds out of the gutter), and we played in the snow.  What a great time we had!  Three year olds can be so much fun.  Now if the rest of my family could learn to be as much fun, it wouldn’t have only been a wonderful Christmas, but a Christmas Miracle, LOL.

I was told there would be 12-18 inches of snow in the northeast today through Monday.  I would love to be snuggled up to someone as it snows outside, but I am here with my coffee and just relaxing by myself instead.  Though my cat just drank some of my coffee, she will probably be bouncing off the walls soon.  I’ve never known of a cat that loved coffee like she does.

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas.  What did you do this Christmas? Is there anything that made it particularly special for you?  Is it snowing where you are? 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

THE DIGITAL STORY OF THE NATIVITY

THE DIGITAL STORY OF THE NATIVITY

How social media, web and mobile tell the story of the Nativity.
Christmas story told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon...


Times change, the feeling remains the same.

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men

The Story of the Birth of Christ
 
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Matthew 1:18-2:12

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.  But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.   And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.  Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,  “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”  Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:  And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

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Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.  Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.  When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.  And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Luke 2:1-20

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And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.   And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.   And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

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I was never a huge Peanuts (Charlie Brown) fan, but since I was a child, when I hear Luke Chapter 2 read, I always hear it in Linus’s voice.  So here is Linus explaining the meaning of Christmas.
 
Linus Explains Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thank You All and Merry Christmas

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In an effort to thank all of those who read and support my blog, I am going to endeavor to give each of you a special Christmas song.  The other day, I was discussing with Bobby of My Big Fat Greek Gay Blog about what to get my sister and brother-in-law for Christmas.  He suggested the best gift of all, “My undying love and dedication.”  It’s a beautiful sentiment, but I think I will give them a gift card instead.  However, I want you all to know that you have my undying love and dedication.  Thank you all for reading and for your friendship.
 
For Bobby, Καλά Χριστούγεννα! and here is Bruce Springsteen & E.-Street Band singing “Merry Christmas Baby” Live on Conan Dec 12, 2002:
 
Bruce Springsteen & E.-Street Band ** Merry Christmas Baby ** Live
 
For Fan of Casey, Mele Kalikimaka:
 
Bing Crosby - Mele Kalikimaka
 
For Mike, Mark, and Jayson who are on the west coast, I present “White Christmas” which had this as the original first verse (One story is that Irving Berlin wrote it in 1940, poolside at the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.):
The sun is shining, the grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway.
There's never been such a day
in Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it's December the twenty-fourth,—
And I am longing to be up North—
Diana Krall - White Christmas
 
For Jay in VA, Justin, Crotchdiver, Uncutplus and all of my blog friends in the South, it wouldn’t be Christmas without “Christmas in Dixie”:
 
Christmas in Dixie
 
For Denis and Doug in the Great White North (AKA Canada), I want to present you with Enrico Caruso’s O Holy Night (1916 in original French):
 
Enrico Caruso - O Holy Night (1916 in original French)
 
I also want to wish Buon Natale to (In)consapevole. And a Merry Christmas to my favorite storyman Jay and to bignate.

 

If I left anyone out, I am truly sorry because the sentiment goes for all of my readers, those who comment and those who don’t.  These were just the ones I knew off the top of my head where they are.
 
Merry Christmas to all!
 
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year; Geseënde Kersfees en 'n gelukkige nuwe jaar; Mahigugmaon nga Bag-ong Dag-on kinyo tanan!; Gëzuar Krishtlindjet e Vitin e Ri Aleut Kamgan Ukudigaa; E güeti Wïnâchte un e gleckichs Nej Johr; መልካም ገና; መልካም አዲስ አመት ; Gozhqq Keshmish; أجمل التهاني بمناسبة الميلاد و حلول السنة الجديدة; Շնորհավոր Ամանոր և Սուրբ Ծնունդ; Շնորհաւոր Նոր Տարի եւ Սուրբ Ծնունդ:; Բարի կաղանդ և ամանոր; Bones Navidaes y Gayoleru añu nuevu!; Zorionak eta urte berri on; Божым нараджэннем ; শুভ বড়দিন ; Sretan Bozic i sretna nova godina; Nedeleg laouen ha bloavezh mat; Честита Коледа ; Bon Nadal i feliç any nou ; ᏓᏂᏍᏔᏲᎯᎲ & ᎠᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎢᏤ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᎠᏌᏗᏒ; 聖誕節同新年快樂; Sèng-tàn-chiat Khòai-lo̍k (聖誕節快樂; Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito; Afvcke Nettvcakorakko; Sretan Božić!; Sretna Nova godina!; Veselé vánoce a šťastný nový rok; Glædelig jul og godt nytår; Prettige kerstdagen en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!; Maligayang pasko at manigong bagong taon!; Hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta; Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar; Noflike Krystdagen en folle lok en seine; Joyeux Noël et bonne année ; Bon Nadâl e Biel An Gnûv!; Bo Nadal e próspero aninovo; გილოცავთ შობა-ახალ წელს; Froue Weihnåcht'n, und a guad's nei's Joah; Frohe Weihnachte unn ein gudes neus Jahr; Καλά Χριστούγεννα!; Juullimi Ukiortaassamilu Pilluarit; Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou; חג מולד שמח ושנה טובה; शुभ क्रिसमस; Kellemes karácsonyt és boldog új évet; Gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár; Selamat hari natal dan tahun baru Inonhan Malipayon nga Paskwa kag Masadya nga Bag-ong Tuig sa inyo tanan; Nollaig shona duit; Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo; メリークリスマス; QISmaS DatIvjaj 'ej DIS chu' DatIvjaj; 즐거운 성탄절 보내시고 새해 복 많이 받으세요; Natale hilare et annum faustum ; كریسمس مبارک; Feliz Natal e próspero ano novo; С наступающим Новым Годом; God jul och gott nytt år; Maligayang Pasko, Manigong bagong taon

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Coming Out at Christmas

Coming Out at Christmas - London Gay Men's Chorus
When I came out (albeit, under duress) to my parents, it was a Christmastime.  It was not my choice, and I would have either chosen a better time or never told them at all.  I can’t say that coming out at Christmas is the best time, but it is up to you.  There is always drama to coming out, even if your family is very accepting, it is still dramatic to you.  If you are going home to spend time with your family, or seeing family you don’t see often, then the holidays are full of drama as well.  Needless to say, that Christmas 6 years ago today when my parents found out I was gay was dramatic.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

‘Tis the Season

I like your Christ,

I do not like your Christians.

Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

~Mohandas Gandhi

At the beginning of October, Artistry of Male, one of my favorite blogs, not only for it’s beautiful pictures of men, but also for his words of inspiration, wrote a post about his faith, titled, “Another Disclosure - My Religion: AOM SoulFood.”  I hope you will read his statement.  It is very close to my own philosophy on religion.  I may lose some readers for my religious leanings in the following posts, but please remember that I am not proselytizing, merely stating my faith and showing that someone can be devoutly Christian and be gay.  Not all people see Christianity and homosexuality as two things that can coexist, but I am here to tell you that they can.  In this season of giving, fellowship, and peace, please remember what the angels said to the shepherds as they watched their flock on the day of Christ’s birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)

I am a devout Christian.  Some of you may recognize the following as the Nicene Creed:



I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages;
Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father through Whom all things were made.
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;
And He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father;
And He will come again with glory to judge the living and dead. His kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke through the prophets.
In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the age to come.
Amen
This is a profession of faith.  My particular “denomination” of Christianity does not recite the Nicene Creed.  We simply have our faith in the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  For me, I believe that if you follow the basic tenements of all faiths Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you, then you will be rewarded in the next life, whether that life is a an eternity in Heaven, reincarnation, reaching moksha or other form of enlightenment, or being forever remembered by your ancestors.  In America we are blessed to live in a country where we are all free to worship our own faith, or no faith at all.

I am writing this post because often I am irreverent (sometimes borderline sacrilegious), especially in my other blog, but I have no doubt about my faith in God.  I strive everyday to treat those around me the way in which I would like to be treated.  I teach my students that intolerance is unacceptable in any form.

What I am about to say is not because I believe I am a messenger from God, merely his humble servant.  When God has sent messengers to earth, he has used some of the most humble of humans.  The young man Joseph sold into slavery in Egypt, who God sent to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh.  The shepherds who in the fields as they watched their sheep who were told of the birth of Christ.  There are many more examples, just remember that messages can come from the most unlikely places.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1864)

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During the American Civil War, Longfellow's oldest son Charles Appleton Longfellow joined the Union cause as a soldier without his father's blessing. imageLongfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. "I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer," he wrote. "I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good". Charles soon got an appointment as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church (in Virginia) during the Mine Run Campaign. Coupled with the recent loss of his wife Frances, who died as a result of an accidental fire, Longfellow was inspired to write "Christmas Bells".

He wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1864. "Christmas Bells" was first published in February 1865 in Our Young Folks, a juvenile magazine published by Ticknor and Fields. It was not until 1872 that the poem is known to have been set to music. The English organist, John Baptiste Calkin, used the poem in a processional accompanied with a melody he previously used as early as 1848.

imageI heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


imageAnd thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


imageTill ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


imageThen from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


imageIt was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


imageAnd in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”


imageThen pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Ode to the West Wind

Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1820)
I
autumn5O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!

II
  Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky’s commotion,
Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine aëry surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

autumnalOf some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith’s height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh hear!

III
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lull’d by the coil of his crystàlline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave’s intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers

6a00e54f0a235a88340134879471c7970c-800wiCleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear!

IV
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seem’d a vision; I would ne’er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

autumnal4A heavy weight of hours has chain’d and bow’d
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

V
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
autumn6
tumblr_laqlc4t1DA1qbjtnoo1_500
Since today is the first day of Winter, this will conclude the Autumn poetry series and I will begin the Winter poetry series.  I hope you enjoy these.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Green Feather Tree

image

I saw this at Pier 1 Imports the other day while doing some Christmas shopping and just stood mesmerized.  Not only because it was made of feathers, but it had a sign under it that said it was $4. I looked again and realized that the sign was for another merchandise, but for a second, I actually considered buying it.  Then I thought, “How gay can you be?  It’s like a feather boa and a Christmas tree all in one.”  The only thing gayer, may just be the trees below (no offense to anyone who has either of these items, because we all know there is nothing wrong with being gay).

2245409_f496

Something a little more traditional: The White House Christmas Tree.

The Official White House Christmas Tree stands in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)<br /><br />This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Nice Surprise

Allen Walker (26)

On a post I did last week, “A Wonderful New Blog,” I introduced you guys to a new blog of erotic fiction written by storyman Jay.  Several of you commented that the story that I mentioned, “Snow Globe,” should have a sequel.  Well, Jay read your comments and has come through for us.  In an email to me the other day, he wrote:

Well, I am happy to say, I just finished ‘Snow Globe II’. It will be posted Sunday at noon Eastern time USA. I really want to know what you think of this story. So enter your reaction to the story at the end of the post. If you want to place more detail comments, please enter them below the post of the story.

Now comes the exciting news. My Christmas gift to you will be posted starting with the Sunday post of ‘Snow Globe II’, on Monday the post will be ‘Snow Globe III’, and Tuesday the post will be Snow Globe IV.

On a separate note, Wednesday will be ‘Pool Game’, which was inspired by Joe Blow of cocksandassesonly.blogspot.com

Thursday will be the posting of ‘The Mall’ and finally on Friday, the posting of ‘Hitchhiker Series – Christmas’.

I am very excited to say the least. Not just one, but three more segments of Snow Globe, and just in time to celebrate the repeal of DADT (if you remember, it is a story about a military man).  I am also very excited about “Pool Game” which was inspired by a post I did on CAM and suggestion by me.  I am also excited about the return of the Hitchhiker Series, my favorite of the serial stories on the Horny Fiction blog.

Why DADT's Repeal is Not the Brown v Board of Ed for Gay Rights

The following is a blog entry by by Ben Adler on December 18, 2010, for Newsweek’s Blog.  After reading it, I really have to agree with Adler.  Yes, the repeal of DADT is a victory.  Yes, it was a long time in coming.  However, it is only a step in the right direction.  We still have to continue to fight for our rights.  One day, we won’t have to hide who we are.  We can be open and honest to everyone, but that day is still a work in progress.
 
image
Michael Reynolds / EPA-Landov
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (C) of New York delivers remarks during a press conference after the Senate passed a bill to repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) policy

With the timely reversal of a handful of Senate Republicans, a bill to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces passed the super-majority threshold to defeat a filibuster. The measure then passed the Senate by a 65-31 vote. Having already passed the House of Representatives by a 250-175 and President Obama is certain to sign it.

Gay rights supporters are, naturally, elated. The National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce issued a statement saying, "We celebrate this important victory and thank all the senators who supported fairness today. We are on the brink of making history."

It will indeed be historic when Obama signs the bill. But it probably won't be a watershed moment for gay rights like the Civil Rights Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tweeted, "Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will be a civil rights milestone. This may be the Brown v. Board of gay rights." In Brown, in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled racial segregation in schools to be unconstitutional.

Unfortunately for gay rights activists, this development is no equivalent of that. Brown was a unanimous decision that overturned the infamous Plessy v Ferguson precedent which had found "separate but equal" facilities to be constitutionally permissible. Thus, the Court imposed integration in the most sensitive sphere in the public realm -- elementary schools -- and offered no dissenting opinion to justify opposition. By contrast, this bill passed with significant opposition from Republicans. (Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia who had said he opposes letting gays serve openly skipped the vote, but all other Democrats voted for it). It does not establish a constitutional or legal principle that all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unacceptable which can be applied in court rulings to other venues. And it does not allow transgendered individuals to serve.

None of that should diminish the drama or importance of Saturday's vote: had Democrats failed to pass this measure before the end of the session it would have been doomed by the ascension of Republicans to the majority in the House and a larger caucus in the Senate in the next Congress. Many observers, present company included, had not expected Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal to happen in this Congress. And the perennially dissatisfied liberals who fretted that Obama's refusal to integrate gays and lesbians into the military through an executive order or a choice not to appeal a recent federal court decision that Don't Ask Don't Tell is unconstitutional should recognize that Obama has been vindicated. The policy change he promised is coming, and it is coming through the democratic process, so Republicans cannot carp about "activist judges making law."

And that distinction -- judicial versus legislative action -- is the reason that today is simultaneously a bigger and smaller victory for civil rights than the day Brown was decided. Bigger in that it shows social progress can be made by the people's elected representatives, and smaller in that such progress is necessarily more incremental.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Breaking News: Senate repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Rainbow-flag_370x278By Ed O'Keefe
Saturday, December 18, 2010; 4:36 PM

The Senate voted decisively Saturday to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law, beginning the process of ending a 17-year ban on gays serving openly in the military and reversing decades of official military policy.

cartoonIn the end, the contentious bill passed by a lopsided 65 to 31as 57 members of the Senate Democratic caucus and eight Republicans voted to end the ban.

In a statement, President Obama praised the procedural vote earlier in the day that allowed for Saturday's historic passage: "I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known."

The president will sign the bill next week, the White House said after the final vote.

As recently as this morning, Obama was calling wavering senators to ensure the bill's passage, a White House official said. Saturday's successful vote delivered a significant victory for Obama, who promised during his 2008 campaign to end the ban during his presidency.

Supporters of the repeal celebrated Saturday's votes, drawing parallels to the military's decision to end racial segregation in the 1950s and the admission of women to military service academies in the 1970s.

"This is the defining civil rights initiative of this decade," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group established shortly after Clinton authorized the gay ban. "Congress has taken an extraordinary step on behalf of men and women who've been denied their rightful integrity for too long."

The votes came amid an unusually busy Saturday for the Senate, which is also debating the New START Treaty and an immigration bill, known as the DREAM Act, which failed a procedural vote. Nonetheless, it was a banner day for Senate Democrats and, to some extent, for bipartisanship.

"This is one of the days where you really feel privileged to be in the U.S. Senate," said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), the bill's lead sponsor. "There's been a lot of difficult times the last couple of years because it's so partisan to get anything done. But here we are, it came together. And it was bipartisan; we wouldn't have done it without the Republicans. We got something really good done. So I feel good about it."

Ahead of the historic vote, senators laid out their positions for and against ending the ban.

gaysmilitarycartoon"Today's a very sad day," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a leading opponent of the measure. He blamed elite liberals with no military experience for pushing their social agenda on troops during wartime.

"They will do what is asked of them," McCain said of service members. "But don't think there won't be a great cost."

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) saw it differently. "As Barry Goldwater said, 'You don't have to be straight to shoot straight,'" he said, referring to the late GOP senator from Arizona.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who stayed in Washington this weekend for the vote despite needing surgery for early stage prostate cancer, said "I don't care who you love, if you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldn't have to hide who you are. You ought to be able to serve."

The law struck down Saturday marks the end of decades of military policy prohibiting gay men and lesbians from serving openly in uniform. The Defense Department concluded during the Reagan administration that homosexuality was incompatible with military service and nearly 17,000 troops were discharged during the 1980s for being gay, according to a 1992 Government Accountability Office report.

In an attempt to make good on a campaign pledge, Bill Clinton sought a change to the policy at the start of his presidency, but faced stiff resistance from top military advisers, Congress and the American public.

Months later, Clinton signed a law implementing the policy officially known as "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue," first proposed by Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), who opposed allowing gays to serve openly. Citing a shift in public opinion, Nunn said this month that he now supports ending the ban.

DADTThe procedural vote that made the repeal possible passed by 63 to 33. Fifty-seven members of the Senate Democratic caucus and six Republicans -- Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio) -- voted yes. Four senators -- Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) -- were not present and did not vote.

Supporters of the repeal celebrated Saturday's votes, drawing parallels to the military's decision to end racial segregation in the 1950s. Among those celebrating with the jubilant Sen. Lieberman was Eric Alva, who lost a leg to a landmine during the Iraq war. A 13-year Marine veteran, Alva was not discharged under "don't ask, don't tell," but disclosed his homosexuality four years ago and has fought to end the ban ever since.

After a press conference Saturday, Alva pulled Lieberman aside and volunteered to help the Pentagon conduct sensitivity training with troops concerned about ending the ban.

"They're going to get over it," Lieberman told Alva, adding, "God bless you."

Under "don't ask, don't tell," more than 13,000 men and women have been discharged from the military because of their sexuality. The policy was the result of a compromise between Bill Clinton and

Even if the bill is passed this weekend, the ban on gays in the military does not end immediately, and military officials and activists continue to warn that gay men and lesbians serving in uniform should not make public declarations of their sexual orientation until the law is officially repealed.

According to the legislation, the issue would rest entirely with Obama and top military leaders, who must inform Congress in writing that they have reviewed the findings of a Pentagon study regarding an end to the ban and that the Defense Department has drafted the policies and regulations necessary to stop enforcing it. Those changes must not impact troop readiness, cohesion or military recruitment and retention, according to the law.

Once the written notice is submitted, 60 days must elapse before "don't ask, don't tell" is officially repealed. During the two-month window, lawmakers are likely to hold hearings to review the Pentagon's policies and procedures for accepting openly gay and lesbian troops, according to congressional aides familiar with the matter.

The White House and Pentagon will not set a specific timetable on ending the ban, and stress it will occur only after Gates and Mullen believe the military is ready to end enforcement.

dontask_97a78For his part, Gates said this month said he expects Obama "will be watching very carefully to ensure that we don't dawdle or slow-roll on this.''

The speed of implementation could be influenced by members of the gay community, who warn privately that they will be less generous with their time and money if Obama is seen as prolonging the inevitable repeal.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, called on Gates to immediately end investigations of troops in violation of "don't ask, don't tell."

"Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law," Sarvis said.

Gates is not expected to immediately halt the investigations, according to Pentagon official unauthorized to speak for the record.

Close military observers anticipate that the ease of ending the ban will vary widely among the different military branches and that the Pentagon may stagger implementation of the change across the military branches.

Combat Marines are especially concerned about the possibility of serving alongside openly gay colleagues, and Gen. James F. Amos, the Marine commandant, has suggested that allowing gays to serve openly in the military could result in deadly distractions. Several Republican senators cited Amos's concerns Saturday before voting against the bill.

"There will be plenty more skirmishes on this issue. This issue has been full of them," said Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group close to the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats. " We won't agree with everything the Pentagon has to say, as well we shouldn't."

PH2010120905001Obama and military leaders had pressed lawmakers to repeal the ban this year in part to avoid a surprise ruling by federal judges who are hearing cases that challenge the ban's constitutionality.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said Saturday that "open service needs to be in place," before his group drops its legal suit challenging the law. In the meantime, "we will continue to push for the constitutional rights of service members by any means necessary," Cooper said.

Eventual repeal may also allow previously discharged troops who violated the ban to reenlist. Michael Almy, 40, a former Air Force major, is among those eager to once again wear a military uniform.

"I can't wait to be a part of it again," Almy said Saturday.

Staff writer Felicia Sonmez contributed to this story.

Moment of Zen: Winter Wonderland

christmas3

Here is a very nice version of Winter Wonderland by the very cute Jason Mraz.  I was searching for a good Christmas song to add to this post, and I came across this one and fell in love.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Jason Mraz - Winter Wonderland

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gay and homeless: In plain sight, a largely hidden population

Every year, hundreds of gay youths end up on the streets of L.A. County, where they make up a disproportionate share of the people under 25 who are homeless. 'They haven't been on the streets for years and years,' an advocate says, 'so they don't look bad.'

By Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times

December 12, 2010

The city hipsters sipping expensive coffee and chatting on cellphones did not give a second look at the two young men cutting across a Hollywood courtyard on their way to bed down in a nearby park.


imageAJ, 23, and his boyfriend, Alex, 21, hide their blankets and duffel bags in bushes. They shower every morning at a drop-in center and pick out outfits from a closet full of used yet youthful attire.


"If I could be invisible, I would," AJ said. "I feel ashamed to admit that I'm homeless."

Every year, hundreds of gay youths end up alone on the streets of Los Angeles County, where they make up a disproportionate share of the at least 4,200 people under 25 who are homeless on any given day.


PHOTO GALLERY: On the streets of Hollywood with AJ and Alex


A recent study found that 40% of the homeless youths in Hollywood, a gathering spot for these young people, identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure of their sexual orientation. Five percent say they are transgender.


imageBut it is a largely hidden population, said Simon Costello, who manages the drop-in center frequented by AJ and Alex.


"They haven't been on the streets for years and years," he said, "so they don't look bad."


Blending in is part of how AJ and Alex survive on the streets. Police officers are quick to issue tickets, and the streets are full of predators.


In recent weeks, a Times reporter and a photographer spent time with several gay homeless men in their early 20s.


The men agreed to speak openly about their lives, including illegal drug use and other criminal activity, on the condition that their full names not be used. Using public records and other sources, The Times was able to independently verify some details they shared about their family histories.


***


imageGay and transgender youths become homeless for the same reasons as others their age. Many come from families with a history of abuse, neglect, addiction, incarceration or mental illness. But they say their sexual or gender identity often plays a role in the breakdown of their families.


"Queer" was among the more polite names Christopher was called while growing up, before he even knew what the barbs meant.


A slight 22-year-old with a shock of red hair, he said he stood out in his large Latino family in Pacoima, a place he calls "the ghetto of the Valley."


"My cousins were gangbangers," he said. "They're talking about girls and parties … and I knew in middle school that I liked boys and wanted to hold their hands."


At school, classmates would pelt him with food and milk cartons. To dull the hurt, he turned to alcohol and drugs. He stole money from his grandmother, swallowed his brother's medication and cut himself with razors.


When he turned 18, he said, his grandmother kicked him out of the family home. She filed a restraining order against him in court.


image"I been hearing about my peers committing suicide because of the teasing and bullying … and of course I understand," he said, staring at a web of scars on his left forearm. "But then I go, 'How come that's not my story? Why didn't you kill yourself? How did you make it through all that?'"


Christopher said that on his first night without a roof over his head, he shared a drink with two men who took turns raping a girl who had passed out on the side of a highway.


Soon he was selling his body on Santa Monica Boulevard to support a methamphetamine habit. He and his friends used the drug to stay awake, he said, so they would not get jumped. They shared a room and a soiled mattress in an abandoned building. "No plumbing, no electricity," Christopher said.


***


imageAJ was just 16 when his Vietnamese immigrant father told him to get out of his house, unable to accept his admission that he was gay. Any effeminate gesture, AJ said, would drive his father to beat him.


For a time, AJ moved between the homes of friends and relatives in California and Colorado while he worked a succession of jobs. Some paid well enough for him to get his own apartment. But, he said ruefully, "It has been hard to sustain my sobriety."


When he was fired from his last job in July, he had no place to go but the streets.


He met Alex at the drop-in center operated by the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center. Tired of his father's drunken rages, Alex left his home in El Paso in June and caught a train to Los Angeles with a friend. He thought there would be more opportunities here. After two weeks, his backpack was stolen along with the only possessions he had with him. He still hasn't found work.
AJ and Alex bonded quickly. Both lost their mothers to drug overdoses and struggled to be accepted by their fathers.


imageOn a recent night, the couple headed to a park, one of their favorite spots to while away time during the hours the drop-in center is closed. The restrooms are open late. Friendly neighbors stop to chat while walking their dogs; once, they ordered pizza for them.


They spread a sleeping bag on the lawn, then pulled out a bottle of cheap gin, which they mixed with diet Mountain Dew. They said they collected store gift cards, which are offered by many institutions as incentives to attend therapy sessions, then traded them in for cash to buy the beverages.


"We're not alcoholics," Alex said. But sometimes their life is difficult, he said, "and we have to numb it down."


Soon they were singing along to songs stored on a cellphone with no service. As they neared the end of the bottle, AJ became by turns angry and despondent. All he could think about was getting high, but he did not have the cash to buy crystal meth.


"Let's go," he told Alex. "I want to prostitute myself."


Alex tried to distract him with a bite of hamburger, but AJ pushed it away and groaned.


Finally, they crawled underneath some bushes to go to sleep. As they curled up in each other's arms, cheerful chatter wafted over them from a late-night picnic, punctuated by the thwacks of tennis rackets hitting a ball on an illuminated court.


***


imageFor some gay youths alienated from their families, the foster care system provides sanctuary. But too often, said Costello, the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center's associate director for children, youth and family services, they bounce between foster parents and group homes until they turn 18. Once emancipated, they have nowhere to go.


Jonathan, a gregarious 21-year-old with a marijuana leaf tattoo on his arm, said he had more than 20 placements between the time he was removed from his parents' home at 5 and aged out of foster care three years ago.
"I had anger management issues," he said.


When he was 9, Jonathan said, one of his foster mothers left him alone with two men who raped him.


"I used to hate gay people because of what happened to me," he said.
But he recently told his best friend that he is bisexual. They were in a cell waiting to see a judge about a pair of tickets they'd been issued for riding a train without paying.


imageJonathan said he has lost track of the number of times he has been arrested. He hangs out in skateboard parks and often sleeps on a rooftop, where he feels safe.


The first thing he does when he wakes up is reach for a marijuana pipe. Staring through the pungent haze from his spot on the pavement early one morning, he had a commanding view of the Hollywood Hills.


"You see those houses on the hill?" he said. "I'm a have one of those one day."


***


imageGetting off the streets is a challenge for many of these young people. The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center is one of several Hollywood organizations that assist homeless youths. Among them, there are only about 200 beds available.
Christopher credits the center — and the kindness of a teacher who took him into her home for a time when he was being bullied — with keeping him alive.
But it has not been easy. Soon after he was admitted to a transitional living program operated by the center, he was kicked out for getting into a fight with his boyfriend. Months later, Christopher asked the center for another chance.


"I was so tired … so broken and hopeless," he said. "I was desperate for something different."


With their help, he completed a rehab program, passed the high school equivalency test and moved into a sober-living home. He now works part time dispensing frozen yogurt and has a tiny apartment of his own.
"I'm a part of society," he said. "I couldn't be any happier."


imageJonathan says he isn't sure that he wants to go into transitional housing — too many rules. But he has plans. He would like to go to college, maybe become a doctor or a lawyer so he can help others like himself.


"Things are going to work out," he said. "Remember this face."


AJ has promised Alex he will stop doing crystal meth. They are looking for work, but are finding it difficult without an address.


AJ was diagnosed with depression and applied for a bed at a shelter operated by a mental health center. But when two beds became available one morning, the staff had no way to reach him. By the time he checked in with the center that afternoon, the spots had been snapped up.


A few days later, there was good news. Another bed was available. AJ, worried that Alex could not cope alone on the streets, made his boyfriend take the bed. They held hands on the bus and kissed goodnight outside the metal gates.


imageTo be close to Alex, AJ started sleeping under a nearby bridge. There were rats and piles of trash. He spread cardboard on the ground before putting down a blanket. His last $2 went to buy a bottle of vodka. When that was gone, he grabbed another bottle from a supermarket shelf and sprinted out the door.
He tried to bum a cigarette off a passerby, but the man ignored him. Furious, AJ threw down the backpack in which he had stuffed the bottle, then burst into tears as vodka seeped onto the pavement.


Spending a night apart from Alex, "it seems so small," he said later. "But when you have nothing but each other, it's huge."

PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Christina House / For The Los Angeles Times