Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Birthday Reflections

Today is my birthday.  I am now entering my thirty-fourth year on this earth. When I was in my twenties, my birthday was a great reason to go out and party. In my thirties, I try not to spend my birthdays thinking, “I thought I’d be somewhere bigger doing something better by now.”  Though sometimes, this thought does cross my mind.  The truth is, I wish I had finished my dissertation by now and was teaching full-time in college.  However, I have the firm belief that God has a plan for me.  I don't know yet what it is, but I have to believe that I am where I am supposed to be at this point in my life.  There is no room for regrets in life, though we all have them.  Instead, I like to take each day as they come and look to the future.  I try to be the person I want to be and strive to be all that I can be, which is really the most we can ask of ourselves.  We also must know our limitations, so that we are not disappointed when we try to do too much at once.

Happy birthday to me!
I love having a birthday.  It's my special day, and though some people hate being a year older, I always find it better than the alternative.  At thirty-four, I still have a lot of life left to live, and on this journey, I hope that it is  bit of an adventure.  There is an old Chinese curse that states: "May you live in interesting times."  I have never thought this to be a curse, especially as an historian.  In the present, we live on the front lines of history, and what would life be, if it were always boring.

So on this birthday I want to leave you with a poem that I came across.  This goes out to all those who have had a birthday already this year or will be having one this year.

A Birthday Wish
by Faye Diane Kilday

I wish you love and laughter,
happiness and cheer,
I hope that you'll have fun
And throughout the coming
I hope your aspirations will
become reality...
I hope you'll be exactly what
you really want to be.
But most of all I hope this
birthday's better than the
For you're a special person
who deserves the very best!

© Faye Kilday 2000

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How Do I Love Thee?

How Do I Love Thee? 
(Sonnet 43)
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

This sonnet may be a bit corny today, but it is one of my favorite sonnets. I happen to love sonnets, and I find this one particularly beautiful. My poor high school English Lit students get a bit sick of sonnets when I teach them British poetry. I still love this one.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Born: 6 March 1806
  • Birthplace: Durham, England
  • Died: 29 June 1861
After anonymously publishing a book of poetry and a translation of Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, Elizabeth Barrett published The Seraphim and Other Poems in 1838 under her own name. Her literary success drew the attention of poet Robert Browning and they met and fell in love. In defiance of her father, and in spite of ill-health, she married Browning secretly in 1846. She continued to publish poems, including the "novel in verse" Aurora Leigh, published in 1857.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's grave in the English Cemetery in Florence Italy.  It is one of the most elaborate graves in the cemetery, which is taken care of by two very sweet and loving nuns.  If you ever have the chance to visit Florence, take the trek out to the cemetery.  It's well worth it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Friends of Dorothy


image The Wizard of Oz had its first premiere screening August 12, 1939 and has been a beloved classic since that day. This movie has been a iconic movie for gay men since it was released. Other connections between Garland and LGBT people include the slang term friend of Dorothy, which likely derives from Garland's portrayal of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz and became a code phrase gay people used to identify each other. Dorothy's journey from Kansas to Oz "mirrored many gay men’s desires to escape the black-and-white limitations of small town life...for big, colorful cities filled with quirky, gender-bending characters who would welcome them." In the film, Dorothy immediately accepts those who are different, including the Cowardly Lion. The Lion identifies himself through song as a "sissy" and exhibits stereotypically "gay" (or at least effeminate) mannerisms. The Lion offers a coded example of Garland meeting and accepting a gay man without question.In the film, Dorothy is accepting of those who are different. For example the "gentle lion" living a lie, "I'm afraid there's no denyin', I'm just a dandy lion.”


image I find this little fact hilarious, though it is also quite tragic in terms of understanding the American military attitudes and understanding of gay men.  In the early 1980s, the Naval Investigative Service was investigating homosexuality in the Chicago area. Agents discovered that gay men sometimes referred to themselves as "friends of Dorothy." Unaware of the historical meaning of the term, the NIS believed that a woman named Dorothy was at the center of a massive ring of homosexual military personnel. The NIS launched an enormous hunt for Dorothy, hoping to find her and convince her to reveal the names of gay servicemembers.

Conventional wisdom is that Garland's death and funeral, in June 1969, helped inspire the Stonewall riots, the flashpoint of the modern Gay Liberation movement. However, some observers of the riots contend that most of those involved "were not the type to moon over Judy Garland records or attend her concerts at Carnegie Hall. They were more preoccupied with where they were going to sleep and where their next meal would come from." There was certainly an awareness and appreciation of Garland among Stonewall Inn patrons. Because the bar had no liquor license, it was passed off as a bottle club and patrons were required to sign in. Many used pseudonyms and "Judy Garland" was among the most popular. Regardless of the truth of the matter, the Garland/Stonewall connection has persisted and has been fictionalized in Stonewall, Nigel Finch's feature film about the events leading up to the riots. Lead character Bostonia is shown watching Garland's funeral on television and mourning, and later refusing to silence a jukebox playing a Garland song during a police raid, declaring "Judy stays."

Time magazine would summarize decades later:

The uprising was inspirited by a potent cocktail of pent-up rage (raids of gay bars were brutal and routine), overwrought emotions (hours earlier, thousands had wept at the funeral of Judy Garland) and drugs. As a 17-year-old cross-dresser was being led into the paddy wagon and got a shove from a cop, she fought back. [She] hit the cop and was so stoned, she didn't know what she was doing—or didn't care.
Garland's daughter Lorna Luft points to the connection with pride, saying that her mother was a "huge, huge advocate of human rights" and that Garland would have found the rioting appropriate.

Another connection is the rainbow flag, symbol of the LGBT communities which may have been inspired, in part, by Garland's song "Over the Rainbow." Garland's performance of this song has been described as "the sound of the closet," speaking to gay men whose image "they presented in their own public lives was often at odds with a truer sense of self that mainstream society would not condone."


Sunday, November 27, 2011


I have a big ol' crush on the guy who works at the local Starbucks. I'm pretty sure that he has no idea and he's several years younger than me (okay, probably 10 yrs younger, but still of legal age). He's really cute--with dark hair and eyes, tall and skinny, with a cute little butt that I know would look fabulous naked. And you know those skinny boys always seem to be packing, LOL. He always seems happy to see me when I go in, more so than many people that come into the cafe (This may just be my imagination). The other day, he waved really big and said, "Hey man, how's it going?" Probably means nothing, he just sees me every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon on my way to work. He is always friendly, and if he is able to do so, always strikes up a conversation, though sadly it is mostly about how beautiful the weather is that day. (People always seem to talk about the weather when they can't think of anything to say.) I just want to say, "So, what time do you get off work? I think you are really hot and would love to get to know you better." But, I am generally a shy person and would never do so. He probably isn't even gay, though he has that southern gay boy sense of fashion. He wears designer accessories with his uniform (Gucci belt, designer shoes, etc.) Maybe he plays for our team, it's nice to thank so.

By the way, the guy I have a crush on makes the best Vanilla Latte. It's my drink of choice at Starbucks, and he always seem to make it the best. I will miss him when my job ends in May and I won't be seeing him twice a week anymore. Oh well, I will enjoy it while it lasts, and continue to flirt twice a week.

Hot Coffee Guy has been my crush for a while.  There are actually two Starbucks guys that I have a crush on, I seem to always find guys that make my coffee to be very sexy.  We all find guys that we see on a regular basis to be attractive, and though not all of them are crushes, some of them are.  I think some flirtation and a bit of crushing on someone is good for the soul, especially if you are single.  The worst though is when they are straight, and as gay men, we all know that we have probably had fascinations/crushes on straight men at one time or another.  In today's post, I thought I would tell you about some other crushes I have had in the past. Nothing ever happened with any of these guys. They were all straight, much to my dismay.

The first guy I ever really had a crush on was a guy I met in junior high. So I will tell you the story:
When we met, it was the first time I really knew that I was attracted to guys. Someone in my class was calling me a “faggot” or some other derogatory term for sissy or gay, though as I think back now, I doubt they knew what gay was. And to be truthful, I was not the most masculine of guys. I was tall and non-descriptively handsome, with brown hair, brown eyes, and an olive complexion, and I was the smartest person in the class, automatically making me a queer nerd. Anyway, a group of guys was calling me names and bullying me, when I hear a masculine voice tell them to stop. I looked to see a vision of beauty, not by everyone’s standards, but to me, he was a vision of beauty. He was tall, with blond hair, blue eyes, and that pinkish complexion that comes from fair skin guys who don’t tan, but burn in the sunlight. He was also as masculine as a thirteen year old can be. I fell in love, but he didn’t know that and wouldn’t all through school. We became friends, or you might say acquaintances, we didn’t hang out all the time or anything, but he was always friendly to me and took up for me when guys were bullying me. In turn I helped him with schoolwork and whatnot.

As we grew older and made our way out of middle school to high school, he became more built and handsome. He was the star jock at our school, playing football, basketball, baseball, and running track. I couldn’t compete with his athleticism, and never was very good at sports. I refused to play football, but I did play basketball, ran track, and played golf for our school. By our junior year of high school, we were the top guys in our class. I was the smartest; he the best athlete. He was always very popular, and I was mostly just tolerated. He played the sports, and I did all the other extracurricular activities...
I still run into him every now and then. He is beefier than he used to be, but he is still one fine hunk of man. Good Lord, he still makes me weak in the knees.

My second major crush was my roommate in college. He was actually a few years older than me, so he could buy alcohol before I could, and we used to get drunk together a lot. We lived together for four years, and though I tried a few times to hint that I wanted to experiment with him, he never took the bait. His most striking feature he had were his eyes. He had these beautiful clear blue eyes, that could just make you melt. It also didn't hurt that he was one of the kindest people I have ever known and would give someone the shirt off his back if he thought they needed it. He also had an owl tattoo on his upper arm, probably the first guy I ever knew who had a tattoo. It suited him too. He had a wonderful hairy chest, and I saw him plenty of times just right out of the shower, which always made my day.

My third major crush in life was with a guy I went to grad school with. He was smart and cocky, and a few years younger than me. We became friends right after he started grad school, and for some reason we just seemed to click. I guess opposites attract because, other than studying the same thing in grad school, we were very different. He is very straight (he would go to bed with anyone who had a vagina), has blond hair and blue eyes, and had been in a fraternity. I am gay, have brown hair and brown eyes, and had never been in a fraternity. Like I said, I was a nerd growing up, but I think I have grown out of that, somewhat anyway. The most striking feature about this guy was that he had "equipment."  He was tall and skinny and a little dorky looking, which made what he had in his pants seem even bigger. To say the least I wanted it bad. He liked to show off what he had, which drove me crazy. He also was one of those guys who had a skinny butt when he had clothes on, but a cute little butt naked. God, I miss this guy. The picture to the side really captures what the guy looked like. The facial expression and attitude of this guy reminds me so much of him.

The above three have not been my only crushes, but each played an important part in my life, whereas some of the other crushes I have had, were just passing fads.  Which crush do you remember the most?  What is the story behind it? How did he impact your life?  I would love to know, but also, I think my readers would love to hear that they are not the only ones with crushes like the ones I mentioned above.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Moment of Zen: Football

It's Rivalry Saturday, the day when all the big rivals play football.  You can be sure that I will be watching football today, and as you may can tell by the picture above, this is a major reason I love football.  Who couldn't love how a pair of football pants fits the players just so.

The big rivalry game I will be watching this year is Auburn v. Alabama. (Kickoff is at 2:30 CST.)  And just for Theaterdog (from a fellow alumni) War Eagle!!!  Hopefully, we will beat Alabama this year, though with the way we've been playing it doesn't look too likely.

Friday, November 25, 2011


He could be part of my Thanksgiving leftovers anytime.  In fact, he could be the centerpiece of my table next year if he wants to be.

Did anyone go to the sales and do some shopping today?  I didn't, though there were a few things that I wanted, it just didn't seem like it would be worth the hassle.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.

Best of all is it to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving, and for every breath a song.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline To Be Thankful For

This timeline provides information about the gay rights movement in the United States from 1924 to the present: including the Stonewall riots; the contributions of Harvey Milk; the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy; the first civil unions; the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York; and more.

The Society for Human Rights in Chicago becomes the country's earliest known gay rights organization.
Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed.
The Mattachine Society, the first national gay rights organization, is formed by Harry Hay, considered by many to be the founder of the gay rights movement.
The Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering national lesbian organization, is founded.
Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.
The Stonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots.
The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders.
Harvey Milk runs for city supervisor in San Francisco. He runs on a socially liberal platform and opposes government involvement in personal sexual matters. Milk comes in 10th out of 32 candidates, earning 16,900 votes, winning the Castro District and other liberal neighborhoods. He receives a lot of media attention for his passionate speeches, brave political stance, and media skills.
San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appoints Harvey Milk to the Board of Permit Appeals, making Milk the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States. Milk decides to run for the California State Assembly and Moscone is forced to fire him from the Board of Permit Appeals after just five weeks. Milk loses the State Assembly race by fewer than 4,000 votes. Believing the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club will never support him politically, Milk co-founds the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club after his election loss.
On January 8, Harvey Milk makes national news when he is sworn in as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Running against 16 other candidates, he wins the election by 30 percent. Milk begins his term by sponsoring a civil rights bill that outlaws sexual orientation discrimination. Only one supervisor votes against it and Mayor Moscone signs it into law.
John Briggs drops out of the California governor's race, but receives support for Proposition 6, also known as the Briggs Initiative, a proposal to fire any teacher or school employee who publicly supports gay rights. Harvey Milk campaigns against the bill and attends every event hosted by Briggs. In the summer, attendance greatly increases at Gay Pride marches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, partly in response to Briggs. President Jimmy Carter, former Governor Ronald Reagan, and Governor Jerry Brown speak out against the proposition. On November 7, voters reject the proposition by more than a million votes.
Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy is instituted for the U.S. military, permitting gays to serve in the military but banning homosexual activity. President Clinton's original intention to revoke the prohibition against gays in the military was met with stiff opposition; this compromise, which has led to the discharge of thousands of men and women in the armed forces, was the result.
In Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court strikes down Colorado's Amendment 2, which denied gays and lesbians protections against discrimination, calling them “special rights.” According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, “We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These protections . . . constitute ordinary civil life in a free society.”
Vermont becomes the first state in the country to legally recognize civil unions between gay or lesbian couples. The law states that these “couples would be entitled to the same benefits, privileges, and responsibilities as spouses.” It stops short of referring to same-sex unions as marriage, which the state defines as heterosexual.
The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws in the U.S. are unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.”
In November, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that barring gays and lesbians from marrying violates the state constitution. The Massachusetts Chief Justice concluded that to “deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage” to gay couples was unconstitutional because it denied “the dignity and equality of all individuals” and made them “second-class citizens.” Strong opposition followed the ruling.
On May 17, same-sex marriages become legal in Massachusetts.
Civil unions become legal in Connecticut in October.
Civil unions become legal in New Jersey in December.
In November, the House of Representatives approves a bill ensuring equal rights in the workplace for gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals.
In February, a New York State appeals court unanimously votes that valid same-sex marriages performed in other states must be recognized by employers in New York, granting same-sex couples the same rights as other couples.
In February, the state of Oregon passes a law that allows same-sex couples to register as domestic partners allowing them some spousal rights of married couples.
On May 15, the California Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. By November 3rd, more than 18,000 same-sex couples have married. On November 4, California voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage called Proposition 8. The attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, asked the state's Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The ban throws into question the validity of the more than 18,000 marriages already performed, but Attorney General Brown reiterated in a news release that he believed the same-sex marriages performed in California before November 4 should remain valid, and the California Supreme Court, which upheld the ban in May 2009, agreed, allowing those couples married under the old law to remain that way.
On October 10, the Supreme Court of Connecticut rules that same-sex couples have the right to marry. This makes Connecticut the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples. The court rules that the state cannot deny gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry under Connecticut's constitution, and that the state's civil union law does not provide same-sex couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.
On November 12, same-sex marriages begin to be officially performed in Connecticut.
On April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously rejects the state law banning same-sex marriage. Twenty-one days later, county recorders are required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
On April 7, the Vermont Legislature votes to override Gov. Jim Douglas's veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry, legalizing same-sex marriage. It is the first state to legalize gay marriage through the legislature; the courts of the other states in which the marriage is legal—Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa—gave approval.
On June 3, New Hampshire governor John Lynch signs legislation allowing same-sex marriage. The law stipulates that religious organizations and their employees will not be required to participate in the ceremonies. New Hampshire is the sixth state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.
On June 17, President Obama signs a referendum allowing the same-sex partners of federal employees to receive benefits. They will not be allowed full health coverage, however. This is Obama's first major initiative in his campaign promise to improve gay rights.
On August 12, President Obama posthumously awards Harvey Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
March 3, Congress approves a law signed in December 2009 that legalizes same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia.
August 4, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8, the 2008 referendum that banned same-sex marriage in California, violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. "Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment," Vaughn wrote in his opinion. "Proposition 8 perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming long-term loving relationships and that gays and lesbians are not good parents."
December 18, the U.S. Senate voted 65 to 31 in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Clinton-era military policy that forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Eight Republicans sided with the Democrats to strike down the ban. The ban will not be lifted officially until President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agree that the military is ready to enact the change and that it won't affect military readiness. On Dec. 18, President Obama officially repealed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy.
June 24, New York passes a law to allow same-sex marriage. New York is now the largest state that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry. The vote comes on the eve of the city's annual Gay Pride Parade and gives new momentum to the national gay-rights movement. The marriage bill is approved with a 33 to 29 vote. Cheering supporters greet Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he arrives on the Senate floor to sign the measure at 11:55pm, just moments after the vote. After making same-sax marriage one of his top priorities, Cuomo emerges as a true champion of gay rights.

Read more: The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline —

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Pumpkin by John Greenleaf Whittier

The Pumpkin
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

In the poem "The Pumpkin" by 19th century poet John Greenleaf Whittier, the tradition of Thanksgiving is described as a time of remembrance and return, a celebration of abundance, both of sustenance and of love, at a family gathering. The poet depicts the scene sensually, packing each line with the fruits of a healthy harvest and the warmth of a kitchen sweet from baking. By the end of the poem, the words achieve an almost too-full splendor:
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow...
Having lived on a farm his entire life, Whittier offers his reader the plentiful harvest as a symbol of a productive year, evoking the historical origin of Thanksgiving as the meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag together with the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts; the harvest festival was a shared tradition of both cultures, and the account of a peaceful celebration between the two groups is still the basis for the holiday today. While some of the elements of the story are myths that were consciously exaggerated in the 1890s and early 1900s in the hopes of forging a national identity in the aftermath of the Civil War, the core message of acceptance and commonality still remains for many celebrants.


Monday, November 21, 2011

What I Am Thankful For...

There are so many things for which to be thankful, and I don't know quite where to start.

I am thankful for all the friends that I have made as a blogger, though things have been hectic lately, and I haven't had much of a chance to respond to comments like I would like, you guys make my day when you read my blog, leave comments, and send me emails.  I am very thankful that I have made some wonderful friends while I have been blogging.

I am also thankful for having the opportunity to teach.  Though my high school students may stress me out at times, and the job does not pay that much, I still love to teach.  I am thankful for the rare occasions when the students show a little appreciation for what I am doing.  Often it comes from their parents who tell me how much their kid talks about my class and how much they enjoy it, even though I don't see the same thing out of their children, it's nice to know that I can make a difference.

I am thankful for my friends that I have met since moving back and for the friends that I am able to keep in touch with from grad school. They are an important part of life and it's nice to have someone to talk to about school, life, etc.

I am thankful for my family.  With my grandfather's passing over a week ago now, the importance of family becomes even more apparent.  This Thanksgiving will be a little sad without him, since it will be the first I remember without him, but as a family we will pull through.

I am also thankful for the small group of close friends who I have been able to come out to since I moved back home and back in the closet.  Those friends mean the world to me, because they get to see the real me. There is no hiding who I am.  I can be me and that is a wonderful feeling.  In rural America, there can be so few gay people, and it can be quite lonely.  However, with a few who I can be open and honest with, it makes the loneliness a little easier.

I am also thankful that on the 30th of this month, I will have another birthday.  Some people fret over being a year older, but I like being a year older a lot better than the alternative.  I am thankful for my health and for the fact that I live in a country where each year I get older the GLBT community continues to gain the rights and struggles for equality that we deserve.

There is so much to be thankful for, but these are the big ones.  For each of you...

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, your a pal and a confidant.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see, the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

I have to also mention that I am thankful for my loyal companion, HRH, the Queen.  She may be one of the moodiest cats that I have ever known, but she truly is a wonderful and loving companion.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Being Thankful

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
Albert Schweitzer

Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.
Robert Louis Stevenson

We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.
Albert Barnes

We can be thankful to a friend for a few acres, or a little money; and yet for the freedom and command of the whole earth, and for the great benefits of our being, our life, health, and reason, we look upon ourselves as under no obligation.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get.
Frank Howard Clark

If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.
W. Clement Stone

Like Christ said, love thee one another. I learned to do that, and I learned to respect and be appreciative and thankful for what I had.
James Brown

Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.
Alphonse Karr

Thanksgiving is a time when the world gets to see just how blessed and how workable the Christian system is. The emphasis is not on giving or buying, but on being thankful and expressing that appreciation to God and to one another.
John Clayton

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!
Henry Ward Beecher

We have to be thankful considering our number as a family we enjoy very good health generally but you may be sure me and my partner have quite enough to exercise our minds and occupy our attention.
John Hawley

We in the United States should be all the more thankful for the freedom and religious tolerance we enjoy. And we should always remember the lessons learned from the Holocaust, in hopes we stay vigilant against such inhumanity now and in the future.
Charlie Dent

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Moment of Zen: Reflection

A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living.

A little reflection will show us that every belief, even the simplest and most fundamental, goes beyond experience when regarded as a guide to our actions.

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bob Smith

The church says we should get down on our knees and repent. Well, excuse me, but didn't being on my knees cause most of my sins? -- Bob Smith
My high school had a Head Start program for homosexuals, it was called Drama Club. -- Bob Smith
In college I experimented with heterosexuality: I slept with a straight guy. I was really drunk. -- Bob Smith

Bob Smith is an American comedian and author. Smith, born in Buffalo, New York, was the first openly gay comedian to appear on The Tonight Show and the first openly gay comedian to have his own HBO half-hour comedy special. Smith, along with fellow comedians Jaffe Cohen and Danny McWilliams, formed the comedy troupe "Funny Gay Males" in 1988.

With Funny Gay Males, Smith is the co-author of Growing Up Gay: From Left Out to Coming Out (1995). Smith is also the author of two books of biographical essays. Openly Bob (1997) received a Lambda Literary Award for best humor book. Way to Go, Smith! (1999) was nominated for a Lambda in the same category. Smith published his first novel, Selfish and Perverse, in 2007.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tallulah Bankhead: Gay Icon

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was born on January 31st, in Huntsville, Alabama, to William Brockman Bankhead and Adelaide Eugenia Bankhead in 1902. The Bankheads were a formidable political family. Her father, grandfather, and uncle were all respected, influential statesmen. Tallulah's mother, "Ada" of Como, Mississippi, was visiting Huntsville to buy a wedding dress when she first met William Bankhead. They fell hard and fast. Needless to say, Ada's previous wedding was cancelled. They married on January 31st, 1900, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Tallulah’s older sister, Eugenia, was born a year before she was, in 1901. Her mother, sadly, died only three weeks after Tallulah’s birth. On her deathbed she told her sister-in-law, “Take care of Eugenia, Tallulah will always be able to take care of herself.” Devastated by his wife’s death, William sent Eugenia and Tallulah to Jasper, Alabama, to live with their grandmother. The two would divide their time between her and aunt Marie Owen in Montgomery.

Though certainly pretty in her own right, Tallulah’s sister was more conventionally beautiful, so Tallulah felt the need to get attention in her own ways : singing, reciting, acrobatics, tantrums and holding her breath tell her face turned blue. Often grandmother would “calm her down” by dousing her with a bucket of water. This was long before ADD had been discovered. At the age of 15 Tallulah came into her own, and while her older sister Eugenia was getting married (at 16) she had much more grand designs for the future.

An avid reader of movie magazines, Tallulah spotted a contest for aspiring screen stars. Twelve winners would receive a trip to New York and roles in a film on the strength of their photograph alone. She was so excited she sent her picture without any contact information, and when Picture Play ran the shot with the caption : “Who is she?” her father replied with another copy of the photo and a letter of confirmation. A couple of tantrums later, he agreed to let Tallulah go to New York along with her aunt as chaperone.

In New York City Tallulah and the eleven others got the royal treatment. She got her first taste of film and stage acting and was hooked. Her early performances at this time were not especially noteworthy, indeed, her career was checkered with hits and misses epic and trivial. It was at this time that she became used to the glamorous, high-octane, dissolute lifestyle of actors and artists. It wasn’t long before she and her aunt moved into the Algonquin, with its parade of celebrities and geniuses from a myriad of disciplines. For the most part she preferred the stage, where the nuances of her one-of-a-kind demeanor and zeal for life came through in abundance. She attended parties and found small stage parts until she reached the age of consent, at which time (at the urging of an astrologer) she left New York for London where she was invited to star in a play.

For seven years Bankhead was the toast of London. British audiences adored her, whether the content was classy or tawdry. A group of aficionados who emulated Tallulah (gallery girls) would cheer whenever she made an entrance and, delighted, she would wave back at them, saying, “Thank you dahlings.” She was an extremely accessible star and would happily greet her fans at the stage door, signing autographs, inquiring as to their health, sometimes even making them guests in her home. She bought a large home with a team of servants she often treated more like companions, gabbing with them until all hours and playing bridge, which she loved. Attempting to match the film success of other exotic beauties such as Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, Paramount lured her away from England. Dubious though she was, the money was simply too good to pass up (especially in the midst of mounting debts).

In January of 1931, Tallulah Bankhead sailed to the studios Paramount kept in New York and working for the first time with George Cukor. The film was called The Tarnished Lady and was followed by two more, My Sin and The Cheat, all three of which lacked sparkle or pop. She moved on to Hollywood to see if she could do any better. Riding with her on the train was Joan Crawford and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Tallulah told her, "Dahling, you're divine. I've had an affair with your husband. You'll be next." Sadly her experiences with film acting were mostly disappointing with one exception, Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat. Many fans came to know her solely from this one movie and her performance in it was implacable and memorable. Apparently Hitchcock knew just how to put Bankhead’s talents to their best use.

After her debacle with the movies, Tallulah returned to the stage, and the theatre is where she made her mark. She triumphed in numerous roles, including the conniving Regina Giddens in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, Sabina in Thornton Wilder’s epic comedy of survival, The Skin of our Teeth, and Noel Coward’s Private Lives. In 1952, she was hostess to a wildly popular radio variety show in which she bantered with guests such as Marlene Dietrich, George Sanders and Earl Wilson.

Her trademark whiskey voice (more like molasses, really) coupled with her dry wit and impeccable timing made The Big Show a ringing success. Tallulah continued to perform in various venues. The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas paid her a generous $20,000 per week to perform in a one-woman show which included monologues, songs and poem readings. She went on to play heroines of Tennessee Williams in A Streetcar Named Desire and The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, but neither ever quite left the ground. She had great successes in all mediums, including television, when they found just the right fit for Bankhead’s ingenious flare for the wicked and outré.

Tallulah Bankhead was always very frank and forthcoming about her sexual appetites. She never hedged about her openness to taking lovers of both genders. “My father warned me about men and booze but he never said anything about women and cocaine.” She purportedly had liaisons with Billie Holliday, Eva La Galliene, Marlene Dietrich, Mercedes de Acosta, Hattie McDaniel and wisecracking comic actress from Brooklyn, Patsy Kelly, probably best known for a supporting role in Rosemary’s Baby. Embroidery aside, Tallulah, who certainly never hid her attraction to men, took her female friendships very seriously, imbuing them with playfulness and devotion. Some, apparently had romantic components while some did not.

In Boze Hadleigh’s 1994 book, Hollywood Lesbians, Patsy Kelly confirmed that she and Tallulah had been lovers as well as friends. Bankhead never stayed with any one paramour for very long, though Kelly lived with her in her mansion (Windows) in Bedford, New York, for many years. Of the numerous subjects featured in Hadleigh’s book, Kelly was one of the few to be absolutely direct, describing herself as a dyke and enumerating her own numerous affairs. When Hadleigh asked her to discuss Greta Garbo she said, “Talking about Garbo is like talking about Asia. What would you like to know?”

Tallulah Bankhead led a life of rapturous adventure and sensual celebration, peppered with skewed humor and a penchant for the outspoken. She frequently hired friends as employees (the dividing line nearly invisible) and loved to have young, handsome gay men act as her valet, mixing drinks and drawing her baths. Her parties and quips were the stuff of legend, and while she felt emotions with grandeur, she took disappointments in stride. When she was diagnosed in earlier days with a nearly fatal case of gonorrhea, she mischieviously (though perhaps not without cause) blamed Gary Cooper. She died at the age of 62, December 12th, 1968, ending a raucous, tempestuous life. And she never wasted a moment of it.

Continue reading on Queer Brilliance. Tallulah Bankhead : Southern, decadent and enduring queer icon - Dallas GLBT Arts |

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not Enough Time in the Day

The above picture is what I would love to be doing today: curled up with HRH, The Queen (codename for my cat, who is named after a real queen of England), catching up on my sleep. However, it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to get it all done and get some sleep. I am teaching a new class this week, sort of. The senior honors English class at my high school is learning a subject in which I have a particular expertise. It's part of my dissertation, and I am having a great time, actually presenting part of my dissertation to these kids (They are learning something that they would not normally have been taught, and I hope that it will bring an interest to the subject that wasn't there before). As I said, I am having fun with it because I am finally able to teach something that I have spent years studying. However, I don't want to go in their unprepared, so it's taking up a bit of my time. Plus, I teach my regular English class at the same time as this class, so I have to have plenty of work for them to do while I am in the honors class this week. Ah, the joys of teaching...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Book of David by Bryan Borland

from My Life as Adam

by Bryan Borland

He’s divorced and remarried now,
blue collared factory slave
in Mississippi somewhere, shackled
to the second shift, daily
repetitive movements undoing history,
heat and grease replacing the smell
of freedom at sixteen,
of my bedroom in November, my parents off
chasing Rolling Stones.

He corrected me when I sang “bright red” instead
of “flat bed” Ford in “Take It Easy,”
said to treat it like a popsicle then
let me lay my head on his stomach

(most straight boys don’t).

So many men but he was the only one who
took the time to teach me.

I’d watch him communicate patiently with
his deaf younger brother, his rough hands
transformed through sign language,
a gentle education
on the complexities of the world.
These are my last memories of him.

I picture him now guiding the new guys on
how to operate the machines.

I picture them listening.

About the Author
Bryan Borland is a multi-time Pushcart-nominated poet from Little Rock, Arkansas, and the owner of Sibling Rivalry Press, LLC, a young publishing house whose goal is to develop, promote, and market underground artistic talent – those who don’t quite fit into the mainstream. As a poet, Bryan writes primarily narrative poems that create portraits of moments through words. Whether chronicling old friends and lovers in his “Book of” series (“The Book of David,” The Book of Cody,” “The Book of Dmitri,” etc.) or inviting us into his family through poems like “Sons of Abraham” and “Supper,” Bryan seeks to poetically etch tally marks into the walls of life; to, in essence, prove he’s been here.
His first collection of poetry, My Life as Adam, is a potent cocktail of family life, religion, and sexuality, the three pillars of Southern life. It was one of only five books of poetry selected by the American Library Association for their first annual “Over the Rainbow” list of noteworthy LGBT-themed publications. 
Through Sibling Rivalry Press, Borland has also worn the editor’s hat, putting together Ganymede Unfinished, a tribute to the late John Stahle and his beautiful journalGanymede that features the work of poets Jee Leong Koh, Jeff Mann, Matthew Hittinger, writers Charlie Vázquez, Perry Brass, and Scott Hess, artist Seth Ruggles Hiler, and photographer Eric Davis, among others. The success of Ganymede Unfinished led Bryan to create Assaracus, the world’s only quarterly print journal dedicated exclusively to gay male poets. Assaracus has exploded onto the poetry scene and has featured the work of Antler, Gavin Dillard, Raymond Luczak, and Emanuel Xavier.
Bryan is a staple at the Arkansas Literary Festival’s Pub or Perish reading series, and in 2011, he gave the keynote address of the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival. He was also named as one of the Arkansas Times‘ “Eight for the Future” in a cover story focusing on young Arkansans making an impact.
Bryan doesn’t mind, and, in fact, embraces being labeled a gay poet. As Philip F. Clark wrote to Borland while editing My Life as Adam, “Someone out there is waiting to read you. Write for yourself, but write for him, too.”
Want more Bryan? You can read an interview with him here , another interview with him here, and yet another interview with him here. You can add him as a friend onFacebook and can follow him on Twitter. You can also hang out with him if you ever get to Little Rock.