Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bad Day

Yesterday was, to say the least, a bad day.  First of all, I caught some students cheating quite blatantly.  Our student handbook has a very specific punishment for a cheating offense.  When I took the issue to my principal and expected that he would back me up on the issue, he instead informed me that it was my fault because apparently I am unable to keep control in my class.  This is a man, who refuses to back up his teachers and each time we take him an issue, he turns it around on us.  It is never the student fault, it is always the fault of the teacher.  We do what we can to control our classes.  I try to create a good learning environment. Similar to this blog, my classroom is a fun (sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes very serious) approach to education.  Apparently, I am unable to tell a joke in the classroom, or attempt to make the subjects I teach fun and interesting because it leads to the students not understanding that cheating is wrong. How, I do not know?

Instead of the principal backing me, I felt like I was thrown under a bus.  I was berated by him for over an hour, part of that in front of students, making me look like a fool.  To say that I am furious, is an understatement.  I have attempted to address the problem with academic dishonesty with him in the past and been rebuffed.  I guess, I should not have expected more from him, though I did.  Instead of being a teacher who is attempting to make the school a better place, I feel like a scolded child.  The children feel triumphant because they are not going to have to deal with the full punishment that is accorded to them.  Why can't people understand the value of an education?  Cheating is wrong; end of story, or at least it should be the end of it.  I was proved wrong about that yesterday.

I can only hope that this principal will only be at our school for the rest of the year at the most, and we can truly have a fresh start next year.

Sorry about the bitching.  Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Teach Me

By Donald (Grady) Davidson

Teach me, old World, your passion of slow change,
    Your calm of stars, watching the turn of earth,
Patient of man, and never thinking strange
    The mad red crash of each new system’s birth.

Teach me, for I would know your beauty’s way
    That waits and changes with each changing sun,
No dawn so fair but promises a day
    Of other perfectness than men have won.

Teach me, old World, not as vain men have taught,
    —Unpatient song, nor words of hollow brass,
Nor men’s dismay whose powerfullest thought
    Is woe that they and worlds alike must pass.

Nothing I learn by any mortal rule;
Teach me, old World, I would not be man’s fool.

from The Fugitive, 1922

Donald (Grady) Davidson

Poet Donald (Grady) Davidson was born in Tennessee and was a member of both the Fugitive and Agrarian groups at Vanderbilt University. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Vanderbilt University and remained at the University his entire professional career (1920 - 1968) teaching English. In addition to being a teacher, Davidson enjoyed an international reputation as a poet, essayist, novelist, and critic. His first book of poems, The Outland Piper, was published in 1924. From 1931-1967 he spent his summers teaching at Bread Loaf School of English in Ripton, Vermont. He served in the military during World War I May 1917- June 1919. In June of 1918 he married Theresa Sherrer, a legal scholar and artist. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, American Folklore Society, American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, South Atlantic Modern Language Association, and the Tennessee Federation for Constitutional Government.

Monday, February 27, 2012

James Baldwin

February is Black History Month, and I can't believe that I have not blogged at all about gay black men. I hope that this post will make up a little for it. As a gay man in the South, there were not a lot of resources out there to help me come to terms with my homosexuality. So, I did the only thing that I could (the Internet was a very new resource at the time and not something that I had access to very often) so I did the next best thing, I read everything I could find. To search for something to read, I went to Barnes & Noble to find any books on being gay. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, about a white American expatriate who must come to terms with his homosexuality, was one of two books that I found. The other was Nightswimmer by Joseph Olshan. This was my first attempt at trying to understand. Both of these books still hold a special place in my heart. However, in honor of Black History Month, I want to talk about James Baldwin.

James Baldwin's novels include Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), probably his most famous book, Giovanni's Room (1956), and Another Country (1962), about racial and gay sexual tensions among New York intellectuals. As an openly gay man, he became increasingly outspoken in condemning discrimination against lesbian and gay people.

Although he spent a great deal of his life abroad, James Baldwin always remained a quintessentially American writer. Whether he was working in Paris or Istanbul, he never ceased to reflect on his experience as a black man in white America. In numerous essays, novels, plays, and public speeches, the eloquent voice of James Baldwin spoke of the pain and struggle of black Americans and the saving power of brotherhood.

James Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924. The oldest of nine children, he grew up in poverty, developing a troubled relationship with his strict, religious father. As a child, he cast about for a way to escape his circumstances. As he recalls, “I knew I was black, of course, but I also knew I was smart. I didn’t know how I would use my mind, or even if I could, but that was the only thing I had to use.” By the time he was fourteen, Baldwin was spending much of his time in libraries and had found his passion for writing.

During this early part of his life, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a preacher. Of those teen years, Baldwin recalled, “Those three years in the pulpit — I didn’t realize it then — that is what turned me into a writer, really, dealing with all that anguish and that despair and that beauty.” Many have noted the strong influence of the language of the church on Baldwin’s style, its cadences and tone. Eager to move on, Baldwin knew that if he left the pulpit he must also leave home, so at eighteen he took a job working for the New Jersey railroad.

After working for a short while with the railroad, Baldwin moved to Greenwich Village, where he came into contact with the well-known writer Richard Wright. Baldwin worked for a number of years as a freelance writer, working primarily on book reviews. Though Baldwin had not yet finished a novel, Wright helped to secure him a grant with which he could support himself as a writer in Paris. So, in 1948 Baldwin left for Paris, where he would find enough distance from the American society he grew up in to write about it.

After writing a number of pieces that were published in various magazines, Baldwin went to Switzerland to finish his first novel. Go Tell It on the Mountain, published in 1953, was an autobiographical work about growing up in Harlem. The passion and depth with which he described the struggles of black Americans was unlike anything that had been written. Though not instantly recognized as such, Go Tell It on the Mountain has long been considered an American classic. Throughout the rest of the decade, Baldwin moved from Paris to New York to Istanbul, writing Notes of a Native Son (1955) and Giovanni’s Room (1956). Dealing with taboo themes in both books (interracial relationships and homosexuality, respectively), Baldwin was creating socially relevant and psychologically penetrating literature.

Being abroad gave Baldwin a perspective on his life and a solitary freedom to pursue his craft. “Once you find yourself in another civilization,” he notes, “you’re forced to examine your own.” In a sense, Baldwin’s travels brought him even closer to the social concerns of contemporary America. In the early 1960s, overwhelmed with a responsibility to the times, Baldwin returned to take part in the civil rights movement. Traveling throughout the South, he began work on an explosive work about black identity and the state of racial struggle, The Fire Next Time (1963). For many, Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time were an early and primary voice in the civil rights movement. Though at times criticized for his pacifist stance, Baldwin remained throughout the 1960s an important figure in that struggle.

After the assassinations of his friends Medgar Evers, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, Baldwin returned to France where he worked on a book about the disillusionment of the times, If Beale Street Could Talk (1974). Many responded to the harsh tone of If Beale Street Could Talk with accusations of bitterness. But, even if Baldwin had encapsulated much of the anger of the times in his book, he always remained a constant advocate for universal love and brotherhood. During the last ten years of his life, Baldwin produced a number of important works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and turned to teaching as a new way of connecting with the young. By his death in 1987, James Baldwin had become one of the most important and vocal advocates for equality. From Go Tell It on the Mountain to The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), James Baldwin created works of literary beauty and depth that will remain essential parts of the American canon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Atypical Sunday

Today was not the typical Sunday.  I got up a little late to go to church this morning, so I hurried to get there.  I was about 2 minutes too late.  Church had already started, and our preacher was leading the singing.  I had noticed that our regular song leader had not left his house yet when I went by, so I had hoped that I would make it before they started.  Apparently, our regular song leader has bronchitis, and so our preacher had stepped in to lead the singing.  It's a small congregation, so we don't have enough kids to have Sunday School, but we do start every service with "Jesus Loves Me" for the kids.  As soon as the song was over, our preacher stopped and asked if I wanted to lead the singing today.  I was the song leader before I moved away for graduate school.  I was never very good at it.  I'm just not a loud enough and confident enough of a singer to lead a congregation, let alone a small congregation where every singer counts and there is no musical accompaniment since it is a Church of Christ. Luckily, there was already a song service planned out that I had used the last time I had to be the substitute song leader.  I just wasn't exactly prepared.  I usually need to get mentally read to sing and make sure that the right tune comes out.  I admit, I faltered a few times today.  I even had to restart "The Old Rugged Cross" because I started it wrong.  Overall, I guess the song service went well.  I did my best. The Bible does say:
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:19 (KJV)
Today, we made a joyful noise only because we did it for the glory of God.  Others may not have agreed that it was a joyful noise, but to me, there is nothing more beautiful than a group of people in a small country church where everyone is singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Moment of Zen: Sleeping In

It has been a long week, nothing bad happened. In fact, it has been a pretty good week. Technically, we were out of school on Monday for Presidents' Day, but with so much going on this week, it felt much longer than four days.  Last night, I spent the evening with some friends sitting out on the patio talking (and drinking), so I didn't get my post scheduled last night.  So, I decided that this morning I was going to sleep in...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gay Marry-Land

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, centre, greets supporters and members of the House of Delegates after the House passed a gay marriage bill in Annapolis, Maryland
Gay marriage is all but legalised in the state of Maryland after the legislature gave its final agreement on Thursday to the law that's being sent to the governor, who said he expects to sign it sometime this week.

The state senate voted 25-22 for the law. The vote comes less than a week after the House of Delegates barely passed the measure.

Maryland will become the eighth state to allow gay marriage when Governor Martin O'Malley who sponsored the bill signs the legislation. The Democrat made the measure a priority this session after it stalled last year.

Six states allow gay couples to wed Connecticut, New Hampshire, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont as well as the Washington capital district. The governor of Washington signed a bill this month that would make that state the seventh.

Opponents in Maryland have vowed to bring the measure to referendum in November. They will need to gather at least 55,726 valid signatures of Maryland voters to put it on the ballot and can begin collecting names now that the bill has passed both chambers.

Some churches and clergy members have spoken out against the bill, saying it threatens religious freedoms and violates their tradition of defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

"The enormous public outcry that this legislation has generated voiced by Marylanders that span political, racial, social and religious backgrounds demonstrates a clear need to take this issue to a vote of the people," Maryland Catholic Conference spokeswoman Kathy Dempsey said in a statement. "Every time this issue has been brought to a statewide vote, the people have upheld traditional marriage."

Leaders at the Human Rights Campaign, a group that joined a coalition of organisations to advocate for the bill, said they expect opponents will gather the required number of signatures.

Senator Allan Kittleman, the only senate Republican to vote in favuor of the legislation, said he is proud of his decision and not concerned about political consequences down the road.

"You don't worry about politics when you're dealing with the civil rights issue of your generation," said Kittleman, R-Howard, the son of the late Senator Robert Kittleman, who was known for civil rights advocacy.

Gay marriage remains on hold in California after opponents petitioned a federal appeals court on Tuesday to review a split decision by three of its judges that struck down a voter-approved measure that limited marriage to a man and woman.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marriage Equality Ad From Italy

This is refreshing: In a PSA entitled “I Will Marry You,” the Italian LGBT advocacy group Arcigay has no doubt unleashed a finely tuned, almost poetic video on ordinary life and same-sex relationships that looks very much like Australia’s “It’s Time,” which The Advocate called “possibly the most beautiful ad for marriage equality we’ve seen.”

Below, sprinkled with music by Lorenzo ‘Jovanotti’ Cherubini, yellow sunlight and the sound of two men in love flutter all around like snowflakes. In other words, the video might knock your heart out. (via Instinct Magazine)

When I was in Italy conducting research, I actually joined Arcigay because it was the only way to get into the gay bars. It's a very cool organization, and I think this ad proves just that.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Red-Faced Jazz

A U.K.-based radio station's programmers are understandably red-faced after they inadvertently aired five minutes of a gay porn soundtrack.

Pink News reports that Jazz FM, which focuses on light jazz, standards and occasional blues numbers, aired a recording of what sounded like "two British men in a mostly wordless, but fairly graphic, exchange" on Sunday.

You can listen to a recording of the broadcast here (WARNING: contains graphic language).

Mike Vitti, the station's head of programming, has issued a statement apologizing for the gaffe: "Unfortunately we had an unauthorized access to the live feed this evening which resulted in a highly regrettable incident. Please accept our profound and sincere apologies for any offence that may have been caused.”

Mike Vitti, station programme director, said disciplinary action would follow.

A spokesman for the broadcasting regulator Ofcom told that it has “received a small number of complaints and is currently assessing whether the broadcast broke the Broadcasting Code”. If found in breach, broadcasters can receive a fine or the loss of a license although this is thought highly unlikely in this case. wrote that a broadcast assistant was watching pornography while the recorded show was being broadcast and that they accidentally transmitted the audio of the porn to the nation because their microphone was erroneously active.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Edwin Arlington Robinson

I recently made my American Literature students read some of the poems of Edwin Arlington Robinson.  I will admit that I was not terribly familiar with him, but we are studying American poetry, and he was one of the poets.  The poems were fairly short and fairly straightforward, meaning that it would be easy for the kids to interpret.  I read the poems and fell in love with them.  Since then, I have gone back and read a few more of Robinson's poems, and enjoyed them.  The two poems that we read, sort of resonated with me in a special way.

On December 22, 1869, Edwin Arlington Robinson was born in Head Tide, Maine. His family moved to Gardiner, Maine, in 1870, which renamed "Tilbury Town," became the backdrop for many of Robinson's poems.  His poems are sketches about different people in the town.  If you have never read the two poems below, I hope that you will read them now, or if you have read them before, I hope that you will enjoy them all over again.

The first poem is Richard Cory:

Richard Cory
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked,
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich--yes, richer than a king--
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

The two major things in this poem the wealth of Richard Cory and his suicide at the end are not what draws me to this poem.  I am not rich nor do I contemplate suicide.  This poem, which first appeared in The Children of the Night and remains one of Robinson's most popular poems, recalls the economic depression of 1893. At that time, people could not afford meat and had a diet mainly of bread, often day-old bread selling for less than freshly baked goods. This hard-times experience made the townspeople even more aware of Richard's difference from them, so much so that they treated him as royalty.  I think what I get out of this poem is how he doesn't fit in because of something extraordinary about him.  In his case it is his wealth.  In my case, people often see me as smart and don't often see me as a regular person.  I can tell a dirty joke, drink a beer, and be just as normal as the next person, but sometimes, people see my intelligence and often think, "He's too smart for me."  Or maybe because I am gay (or perceived as gay for those who don't know for sure), people think that I do not enjoy sports, fishing, or other "manly" pursuits.  To truth is, I am just a normal guy who is smart and gay.  Neither of those are the central things about me.  We all have something that distinguishes us, but should that separate us from the crowd.  Maybe sometimes it does, and sometimes we want it to, but all in all, we are just people like everyone else.  Sadly, the people of Tilbury Town did not realize this about Richard Cory.

The other poem is the way I sometimes feel when I am studying particular periods in history.

Miniver Cheevy
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
     Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
     And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
     When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
     Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
     And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
     And Priam's neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
     That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
     And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,
     Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
     Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
     And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
     Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought
     But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
     And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
     Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
     And kept on drinking.

We may not take it as far as Miniver Cheevy, but I think all people who study history sometimes feel that they were born in the wrong time.  Then again, there have been very few times in history when it was as acceptable to be gay as it in this day and age, but then again who wouldn't have loved to witness the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece, or traveled down the canals of Venice when the city was in its full glory, or any number of periods or events in history.  Personally, though I would love to visit those time periods, I like my modern conveniences and air conditioning.  Then again, the Roaring Twenties when I could have possibly partied with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Tallulah Bankhead or sat on the Seine with the Lost Generation or gone to the Cotton Club in Harlem at the height of the Harlem Renaissance.  Come to think of it, maybe, I was born out of time. I think I would have loved the 1920s (just not the Great Depression that followed).

How many of you have felt that you were born in the wrong time? Or that people didn't appreciate you for who you are?

Monday, February 20, 2012

And Now for the Answers...

I hope you enjoyed this Presidents' Day and that you had fun reviewing some of my posts about gay (or not) presidents.  I also hope that you enjoyed the quiz.  Now it is time to see if you got the answers correct.

1. What is the birth state of the most presidents?
Correct answer: Virginia

2. How many U.S. presidencies have there been?
Correct answer: 44

3. Who was the first president to live in the White House?
Correct answer: John Adams

4. Which is NOT true about Lincoln's Gettysburg Address?
Correct answer: He wrote out the address on the back of an envelope on the train to Gettysburg.

5. Fill in the missing words in the president's oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, ---, --- and --- the Constitution of the United States."
Correct answer: Preserve, protect and defend

6. True or false: George Washington owned many slaves but decided to free them in his will.
Correct answer: True

7. Who was the only president to serve two nonconsecutive terms?
Correct answer: Grover Cleveland

8. Lincoln was virtually unknown in the Republican Party in 1858 when he challenged the powerful U.S. Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois. The two debated seven times between July and October of that year. Which is NOT correct?
Correct answer: As a result of the debates, Lincoln beat Douglas but was only in the U.S. Senate for a short time because he beat him again to become president in 1860.

9. Four presidents were assassinated in office, and four others died from other causes. What killed William Henry Harrison?
Correct answer: Pneumonia and pleurisy

10. What was Woodrow Wilson's nickname?
Correct answer: The Professor

How well did you do?

In Honor of Presidents' Day...

It’s Presidents’ Day, but whom the holiday is meant to honor depends on whom you ask. Even the placement of the apostrophe is open to question! To the U.S. government and Virginia, the home state of George Washington, the holiday is recognized as “Washington’s Birthday.” Some states jointly celebrate the birthdays of George Washington, born Feb. 22, and Abraham Lincoln, born Feb. 12, while others honor Washington and Thomas Jefferson but not Lincoln. In some Southern states, all of the presidents are commemorated on Presidents’ Day.

So in honor of Presidents' Day (since I do live in one of those Southern states that commemorate the day as such), I have two specials for you guys. First I have reposted just prior to this post two earlier posts about Presidents that may or may not have been gay.

and I can't forget the Senator from Alabama, who was also for a brief time, Vice President of the United States:

Also, in honor of the day, here is a little presidential trivia quiz from the Washington Post:

1. What is the birth state of the most presidents?
  • Virginia
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Illinois
2. How many U.S. presidencies have there been?
  • 42
  • 44
  • 45
  • 49
3. Who was the first president to live in the White House?
  • George Washington
  • John Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
4. Which is NOT true about Lincoln's Gettysburg Address?
  • Lincoln was not the main speaker on Nov. 18, 1863, at the dedication of Soldiers' National Cemetery in Pennsylvania.
  • He wrote out the address on the back of an envelope on the train to Gettysburg.
  • Now regarded as one of the greatest speeches ever, at the time it got mixed reviews.
  • It took about three minutes to deliver.
5. Fill in the missing words in the president's oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, ---, --- and --- the Constitution of the United States."
  • Preserve, promote and defend
  • Support, protect and uphold
  • Preserve, promote and uphold
  • Preserve, protect and defend
6. True or false: George Washington owned many slaves but decided to free them in his will.
  • True
  • False
7. Who was the only president to serve two nonconsecutive terms?
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Grover Cleveland
  • Abraham Lincoln
8. Lincoln was virtually unknown in the Republican Party in 1858 when he challenged the powerful U.S. Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois. The two debated seven times between July and October of that year. Which is NOT correct?
  • Lincoln and Douglas ignored key issues of the day, such as immigration and bank regulation, and spoke almost exclusively about slavery.
  • As a result of the debates, Lincoln beat Douglas but was only in the U.S. Senate for a short time because he beat him again to become president in 1860.
  • The debates are sometimes depicted as being civil, but both Douglas and Lincoln hurled personal insults at each other.
  • The format of the debates involved one candidate speaking for an hour and then the other speaking for one and a half hours, with no real interaction.
9. Four presidents were assassinated in office, and four others died from other causes. What killed William Henry Harrison?
  • Heart attack
  • Acute gastroenteritis
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Pneumonia and pleurisy
10. What was Woodrow Wilson's nickname?
  • The Boss
  • The Little Magician
  • The Rail Splitter
  • The Professor

The answers will be published this evening, so stay tuned. 

Buchanan and King: A 19th Century (Gay) Power Couple?

There are some who think that, yes, there were.  Historian James W. Loewen is one of those who thinks that both James Buchanan (15th President of the United States) and William Rufus King (13th Vice President of the United States)  were not only gay but also lovers.  Though I have heard the historic rumors about Buchanan, this was the first time I had heard about King, who I have done a fair amount of research, since he lived just down the road from me.

More than 150 years before America elected its first black president, Barack Obama, it most likely had its first gay president, James Buchanan (1791-1868). Buchanan, a Democrat from Lancaster County, Pa., was  a lifelong bachelor (throughout American history this was often code for homosexual). He served as president from 1857-61, tumultuous years leading up to the Civil War.  Loewen has done extensive research into Buchanan’s personal life, and he’s convinced Buchanan was gay. Loewen is the author of the acclaimed book Lies Across America which examines how historical sites inaccurately portray figures and events and Lies My Teacher Told Me which examines how history books have been marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies.  I have always enjoyed reading Loewen, but I am not for sure how accurate he is in this instance.

In 1819, Buchanan was engaged to Ann Caroline Coleman, the daughter of a wealthy iron manufacturing businessman and sister-in-law of Philadelphia judge Joseph Hemphill, one of Buchanan's colleagues from the House of Representatives. Buchanan spent little time with her during the courtship: he was extremely busy with his law firm and political projects during the Panic of 1819, which took him away from Coleman for weeks at a time. Conflicting rumors abounded, suggesting that he was marrying her for her money, because his own family was less affluent, or that he was involved with other women. Buchanan never publicly spoke of his motives or feelings, but letters from Ann revealed she was paying heed to the rumors.

After Buchanan paid a visit to the wife of a friend, Ann broke off the engagement. She died soon afterward, on December 9, 1819. The records of a Dr. Chapman, who looked after her in her final hours, and who said just after her death that this was "the first instance he ever knew of hysteria producing death", reveal that he theorized, despite the absence of any valid evidence, the woman's demise was caused by an overdose of laudanum, a concentrated tincture of opium.

His fiancée's death struck Buchanan a terrible blow. In a letter to her father, which was returned to him unopened, Buchanan wrote "It is now no time for explanation, but the time will come when you will discover that she, as well as I, have been much abused. God forgive the authors of it [...] . I may sustain the shock of her death, but I feel that happiness has fled from me forever." The Coleman family became bitter towards Buchanan and denied him a place at Ann's funeral. Buchanan vowed he would never marry, though he continued to be flirtatious. Some pressed him to seek a wife; in response, Buchanan said, "Marry I could not, for my affections were buried in the grave." He preserved Ann Coleman's letters, keeping them with him throughout his life; at his request, they were burned upon his death.

“I’m sure that Buchanan was gay,” Loewen said. “There is clear evidence that he was gay. And since I haven’t seen any evidence that he was heterosexual, I don’t believe he was bisexual.”  According to Loewen, Buchanan shared a residence with William Rufus King, a Democratic senator from Alabama, for several years in Washington, D.C.  Loewen also said Buchanan was “fairly open” about his relationship with King, causing some colleagues to view the men as a couple. For example, Aaron Brown, a prominent Democrat, writing to Mrs. James K. Polk, referred to King as Buchanan’s “better half,” “his wife” and “Aunt Fancy … rigged out in her best clothes.”  Brown may have been trying to slander King in this letter.  He was a friend of the Polks and was James K. Polk's law partner, but he was also an early proponent of secession after his years as Governor of Tennessee.  Most accounts by historians of King’s political career portray him as a moderate southerner who supported slavery while emerging as a strong unionist. King voiced opposition calls by some of his fellow southerners for the South to secede from the United States during the tense decade prior to the Civil War.  King was always considered a moderate Democrat who was a staunch Unionist, which probably led to some political disagreements between Brown and King.

William Rufus DeVane King, the 13th United States vice president, has the distinction of having served in that office for less time than any other vice president and for being the only U.S. official to be sworn in on foreign soil.  He died of tuberculosis on April 18, 1853, just 25 days after being sworn into office while in Cuba on March 24, 1853.  Some historians have speculated that King holds yet another distinction — the likely status of being the first gay U.S. vice president and possibly one of the first gay members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

King (1786-1853) served in the House of Representatives from North Carolina for six years beginning in 1811 and later served in the Senate from the newly created state of Alabama from 1819-44, when he became U.S. minister to France.  He returned to the Senate in 1848, where he served until he resigned after winning election in November 1852 as vice president on the ticket of Franklin Pierce.

When in 1844 King was appointed minister to France, he wrote Buchanan, “I am selfish enough to hope you will not be able to procure an associate who will cause you to feel no regret at our separation.”  Loewen also said a letter Buchanan wrote to a friend after King went to France shows the depth of his feeling for King.  “I am now solitary and alone, having no companion in the house with me,” Buchanan wrote. “I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”  Loewen said their relationship — though interrupted due to foreign-service obligations — ended only with King’s death in 1853.

Some of the contemporary press also speculated about Buchanan's and King's relationship. The two men's nieces destroyed their uncles' correspondence, leaving some questions about their relationship; but the length and intimacy of surviving letters illustrate "the affection of a special friendship", and Buchanan wrote of his "communion" with his housemate. In May 1844, during one of King's absences that resulted from King's appointment as minister to France, Buchanan wrote to a Mrs. Roosevelt, "I am now 'solitary and alone', having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and [I] should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection."

Circumstances surrounding Buchanan's and King's close emotional ties have led to speculation that Buchanan was homosexual. Buchanan's correspondence during this period with Thomas Kittera, however, mentions his romance with Mary K. Snyder. In Buchanan's letter to Mrs. Francis Preston Blair, he declines an invitation and expresses an expectation of marriage. The only President to remain a bachelor, Buchanan turned to Harriet Lane, an orphaned niece, whom he had earlier adopted, to act as his official hostess.

Loewen said many historians rate Buchanan as one of the worst U.S. presidents. Buchanan was part of the pro-slavery wing of the Democratic Party, and corruption plagued his administration.  But Loewen said those flaws shouldn't discourage members of the LGBT community from acknowledging Buchanan’s status as a gay man.  “If we only admit that really great people are gay, what kind of history is that?”  Truthfully though, even the letters written by Buchanan do not really point to more than merely a great friendship and affection that was common between men of the nineteenth century, especially during a time when women were still seen as intellectual inferiors.

A lifelong bachelor, King lived for 15 years in the home of future U.S. president James Buchanan while the two served in the Senate. In a time when Congress was only in session part of the year, and senators often returned home when not in session, it would not have been that unusual for two senators to share a home. King’s relationship with Buchanan, who was from Pennsylvania, could have been a factor in Buchanan’s sympathy for the South.

From the research I have done about King, he seems to be a fairly boring and moderate politician, as most Vice Presidents in history have been.  Like many men of his status, he traveled widely in Europe during his life, often as a diplomat.  He also sent his nephews and nieces to Europe as well to round out their education. The only evidence I have seen is what Brown stated to Mrs. Polk in his letter and in the way that Buchanan pines for him in his letters.

Is this really enough evidence to be the proof that Loewen claims to have?  I personally think that either man would be a wonderful addition to the list of LGBT historical figures, especially King, who I have long admired.  What do you think?

Abraham Lincoln, Gay?

If you want just my opinion on this controversial issue, this would be a very short post, because I don’t think he was gay.  However, there is a lot of controversy over this issue, and I thought I would give a closer look for you guys.

The sexuality of Abraham Lincoln is a subject that is laced with many discrepancies and historical flaws.  GayLincoln The notion that Lincoln was a homosexual also portrays nearly perfectly two of my major pet peeves with historians.  First, much of the argument is taken out of its historical context, and second, the authors who expound on this notion have no historical objectivity.  I will explain these two pet peeves of mine as I relate the supposed homosexuality of Abraham Lincoln.  Mostly, I will explain what is wrong with the theories of Lincoln’s homosexuality.  If you are not familiar with the arguments concerning Lincoln’s homosexuality, please read the suggested readings below.   

6a00d8341c730253ef00e54f3297c08833-640wi In The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, C. A. Tripp contends that Lincoln had erotic attractions and attachments to men throughout his life, from his youth to his presidency. He further argues that Lincoln's relationships with women were either invented by biographers (his love of Ann Rutledge) or were desolate botches (his courtship of Mary Owens and his marriage to Mary Todd). Tripp is not the first to argue that Lincoln was homosexual -- earlier writers have parsed his friendship with Joshua Speed, the young store owner he lived with after moving to Springfield, Ill. -- but he assembles a mass of evidence and tries to make sense of it.

imageTripp died in May 2003, after finishing the manuscript of this book, which means he never had a chance to fix its flaws. Tripp alternates shrewd guesses and modest judgments with bluster and fantasy. He drags in references to Alfred Kinsey (with whom he once worked) to give his arguments a (spurious) scientific sheen. And he has an ax to grind. Not only did he work with Kinsey, but Tripp was a well-known gay activist and psychologist.  By the way, psychologists who write psycho-history are often the worst type of historians.  They have very little understanding of the craft and they use their knowledge of psychology to interpret historical data.  The same goes for most journalists, who do not have the same standards as historians when it comes to citing their sources. Psychologists who write history too often apply Freudian and Jungian psychology to people who had never had any knowledge of this type of psychoanalyzing. 

In the after math of the Franco-Prussian War in Europe (1870-71), Carl von Clauswitz wrote the military strategy book On War.  Military historians after the publication of On War are able to compare Clauswitz theories to modern warfare because it influenced modern generals and military strategists.  Likewise, the psychological theories of Freud and Jung and the perverted misunderstanding of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (“everything is relative,” not just E = mc2, as Einstein meant it) greatly influenced 20th century writers, who used this knowledge to form their characters and plot devises. I mention these two instances of influencing theories because Tripp uses modern homosexual behavior to explain Lincoln relationships with men.  He takes the notion out of its historical context. 

imageIntimacy between men was much more common and less sexually laced in the 19th century than it was in the later part of the 20th century.  In 19th century America, men commonly slept with other men. For example, when lawyers and judges traveled "the circuit" with Lincoln, the lawyers often slept "two in a bed and eight in a room."  William H. Herndon recalled, "I have slept with 20 men in the same room."  A tabulation of historical sources shows that Lincoln slept with at least 11 boys and men during his youth and adulthood. There are no known instances in which Lincoln tried to suppress knowledge or discussion of such arrangements, and in some conversations, raised the subject himself. Tripp, who was not aware of this large number of Lincoln's male co-sleepers, discusses only three of them at length: Joshua Speed, William Greene, and Charles Derickson.

Joshua Speed

Tripp and other gay activists have an agenda to prove Lincoln’s homosexuality.  He is seen as the father of the Republican Party, an American political party known for its many anti-gay members and platforms.  Their objectivity is shot to hell because they are not attempting to give their readers an intimate look at the private life of Abraham Lincoln, but to discredit the Republican Party.  For me, this takes away much of the credibility of advocates of Lincoln’s homosexuality.  I am no fan of the Republican Party.  I largely find the modern Republican Party to be defined by what it hates and not what it is for; however, the same could be said for the Democratic Party.  American politics is a divisive politics of hate.  If someone writing history is blinded by that hate, they cannot see the error of their historical argument.  They apply modern interpretations to situations that do not warrant modernity.  Yes, the Civil War in America, the mid-19th century was a turning point in the history of America.  It is a period of transitioning from the early republic to the modern era.  Yet, this transition was not even complete by 1877 when Reconstruction ended.  Therefore, modern interpretations of events are null and void.

Suggested Readings:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

GOD LOVES YOU! No matter what others may say

Can a gay person really be saved? What does the Bible really say? According to the Bible, I found that the answer is yes! Furthermore, you don’t have to "stop being gay" in order to be considered righteous by God!
This article is based on two assumptions:

First, God sent his Son into the world for all of us. According to John 3:16, 17 there are no conditions on God’s love. The only condition set on obtaining everlasting life, or salvation, is to believe in Jesus.
John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV)
Second, what we are to believe about Jesus is that he died and was raised from the dead on the third day. If we believe this with our hearts and confess with our mouth that "Jesus is Lord" then we will be saved according to the Bible:
Romans 10:9-10
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (KJV)
TRADITIONAL TEACHING: Gays are an abomination...

According to the general Church community gays are an abomination. Gays are told that they have a no hope in God; they will end up like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah; and they are treated as though they embody all evil. A Christian co-worker once told me that the antichrist is going to be a homosexual man. She believed that he was going to be in the closet at first to make everybody like him. She said that when the time comes for him to show his evil he will come out of the closet. I want to proclaim to you that the concept that gays have no hope in God, as gay people, is not a Biblical teaching but a traditional teaching.
Colossians 2:8
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (KJV)
There are many examples of traditional teachings that served no other purpose but to separate people from God.
  1. Galileo discovered that the earth revolved around the sun. The Church considered this heresy according to their misinterpretation of Genesis 1. They sentenced him to life imprisonment under house arrest.
  2. The Church used Genesis 9:21-27 to "prove" that Blacks were cursed by God into a life of slavery in order to justify what was done to them during the plantation days and to justify racism. The fact is that the curse fell upon Canaan, one of Noah’s grandson’s. Canaan was one of four brothers. His three brothers settled in Africa but Canaan settled in the Middle East.
  3. Another example of a traditional teaching with no basis in Scripture is the hatred of Jews. Some think that God condemned the Jews because they killed Jesus. If it were not for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ there would be no salvation. Jesus himself was a Jew!
Finally, the Church community is wrong when it uses God’s Word to condemn you for being gay. The fact that you care what God thinks about you, proves them wrong! The fact that you have suffered hurt, humiliation, guilt, rejection and shame at the hands of these people proves that they are misrepresenting God!

The God of the Bible is full of justice, mercy and love. Yes, He has gotten and will get angry with people, but this anger is always precipitated by three things: abandoning Him in exchange for another god, abusing others morally, financially, sexually or otherwise, and abusing ourselves in the same manner. You will see this consistent theme from Genesis to Revelation.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Moment of Zen: Music

Music can be very therapeutic. Music therapy is an interpersonal process in which the therapist uses music and all of its facets-physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual-to help clients to improve or maintain their health. Music has been used as a healing force for centuries. Music therapy goes back to biblical times, when David played the harp to rid King Saul of a bad spirit. As early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates, Greek father of medicine, played music for his mental patients. Aristotle described music as a force that purified the emotions. In the thirteenth century, Arab hospitals contained music-rooms for the benefit of the patients. In the United States, Native American medicine men often employed chants and dances as a method of healing patients. Music therapy as we know it began in the aftermath of World Wars I and II. Musicians would travel to hospitals, particularly in the United Kingdom, and play music for soldiers suffering from war-related emotional and physical trauma.

Friday, February 17, 2012

If We Can't Laugh at Ourselves...

Three friends - two straight guys and a gay guy -- and their significant others were on a cruise. A tidal wave came up and swamped the ship; they all drowned, and next thing you know, they're standing before St. Peter.

First came one of the straight guys and his wife. St. Peter shook his head sadly. "I can't let you in. You loved money too much. You loved it so much, you even married a woman named Penny."

Then came the second straight guy. "Sorry, can't let you in, either. You loved food too much. You loved to eat so much, you even married a woman named Candy!"

The gay guy turned to his boyfriend and whispered nervously, "It doesn't look good, Dick."


This guy walks into a bar and two steps in, he realizes it's a gay bar. "But what the heck," he says, "I really want a drink."

When the gay waiter approaches, he says to the guy, "What's the name of your penis?"

The customer says, "Look, I'm not into any of that. All I want is a drink."

The gay waiter says, "I'm sorry but I can't serve you until you tell me the name of your penis. Mine for instance is called 'Nike,' for the slogan, 'Just Do It.' That guy down at the end of the bar calls his 'Snickers', because 'It really Satisfies'."

The guy looks confused so the bartender tells him he will give him a second to think it over. The guy asks the man sitting to his left, who is sipping on a beer, "Hey bud, what's the name of your penis?"

The man looks back and says with a smile, "TIMEX."

The thirsty straight guy asks, "Why Timex?"

The fella proudly replies, "Cause it takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin!"

A little shaken, the guy turns to the fella on his right, who is sipping a fruity Margarita and says, "So, what do you call your penis?"

The man turns to him and proudly exclaims, "FORD, because 'Quality is Job 1.' " Then he adds, "Have you driven a Ford, lately?"

Even more shaken, the straight guy has to think for a moment before he comes up with a name for his penis. Finally, he turns to the bartender and exclaims, "The name of my penis is 'Secret.' Now give me my beer."

The bartender begins to pour the customer a beer, but with a puzzled look asks, "Why secret?"

The customer says, "Because it's STRONG ENOUGH FOR A MAN, BUT MADE FOR A WOMAN!"


How can you tell if your house was built by lesbian carpenters?
All tongue-in-groove, with no studs.


There was this man who walked into a bar and says to the bartender 10 shots of whiskey.

The bartender asks, "What's the matter?"

The man says, "I found out my brother is gay and marrying my best friend."

The next day the same man comes in and orders 12 shots of whiskey.

The bartenders asks, "What's wrong this time?"

The man says, "I found out that my son is gay."

The next day the same man comes in the bar and orders 15 shots of whiskey.

Then the bartender asks, "Doesn't anyone in your family like women?"

The man looks up and says, "Apprently my wife does."


John invited his mother over for dinner. During the meal, his mother couldn't help noticing how handsome John's roommate was. She had long been suspicious of Johns' sexual orientation and this only made her more curious.

Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between John and the roommate than met the eye.

Reading his mom's thoughts, John volunteered, "I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you, Mark and I are just roommates."

About a week later, Mark came to John and said, "Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle. You don't suppose she took it, do you?"

John said, "Well, I doubt it, but I'll write her a letter just to be sure." So he sat down and wrote: "Dear Mother, I'm not saying you 'did' take a gravy ladle from my house, and I'm not saying you 'did not' take a gravy ladle. But the fact remains that one has been missing ever since you were here for dinner."

Several days later, John received a letter from his mother which read: "Dear Son, I'm not saying that you 'do' sleep with Mark, and I'm not saying that you 'do not' sleep with Mark. But the fact remains that if he was sleeping in his own bed, he would have found the gravy ladle by now. Love, Mom"


Like I said, if we can't laugh at ourselves...then who can we laugh at. I hope you guys enjoyed these little snippets of fun. Some of them are kind of old, but I still find them funny.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reverend Wigglesworth

Michael Wigglesworth
When I was doing research at the Massachusetts Historical Society a few years ago for my dissertation, I did some research into the Wigglesworth Family Papers.  My primary concern at the time were the diaries of Anna and George Wigglesworth and their travels to Europe in the mid 19th century.  However, as I was looking through the internet archives, that I blogged about yesterday, I came across the Reverent Michael Wigglesworth (1631–1705) who was a Puritan minister and poet. His most famous poem The Day of Doom was a bestseller in early New England. Wigglesworth is included in's section called "Age of Sodomitical Sin: 1607-1776" because of his extraordinary diary. I wanted to share this article with you because I found it so fascinating.

"Too much doting affection"
The extraordinary diary of the Reverend Wigglesworth documents the inner life of this Puritan divine, famous as the author of the poem "Day of Doom," a popular classic in the New England hellfire and brimstone tradition. [1]His diary reveals that while Wigglesworth was a tutor at Harvard he was tormented by sexual feelings for his male students -- feelings experienced as deeply sinful.
Historian Edmund Morgan's introduction to the published edition of Wigglesworth's diary admits that "We should scarcely exaggerate ... if we described Michael Wigglesworth as a morbid, humorless, selfish busybody," an "ugly," "absurd," "pathetic" cartoon caricature of a Puritan.[2]
As a striking example of the strict Puritan of popular imagination, Wigglesworth is a problem for those historians who, led by Edmund Morgan, have criticized the popular view of the early Puritans as "grossly overdrawn." The Puritans, Morgan stressed, did not exclude "enjoyment"; they "read books, wrote verse," "had their pictures painted," were "unashamedly fond" of beer, wine, and harder liquors, liked to eat well, "made no pretensions to asceticism:' were "not prudish," and made "no attempt to stiffle natural passions in celibacy."
Morgan then admitted that "the mark of the Puritan" was "his zeal, his suspicion of pleasure, his sense of guilt." Those characteristics in Wigglesworth are not evidence of any purely individual eccentricity, but were "simply the qualities demanded of a good Puritan." Many of Wigglesworth's contemporaries were probably not quite so distressed by their inability to live up to the demands of a religious ideal. Philip Greven's differentiation of colonial Protestants as strict "Evangelical," "Moderate," and "Genteel" usefully suggests a wider, and probably more realistic range of colonial personalities. Greven does view Wigglesworth's extreme sense of sin as typical of the evangelical personality, however. And it was this strict Puritanism that was institutionalized in early statutes and in many prosecutions. Wigglesworth's writing for New England "the most popular book of his time," his teaching at Harvard, and his ministerial service to a Puritan congregation all suggest that his views were not unique, and appealed to a common chord in the early colonists.
Of special interest here are Wigglesworth's intimate, problematic relationships with males, worldly and otherworldly, in particular with his father, his Harvard students, with God his "father," and with Christ. Wigglesworth's loving these, and being loved by them, either not enough or (in some cases) too much, was a central and continuing preoccupation. His feeling that his earthly loves detracted from his love for God indicates a concept of love as a scarce and limited good. Wigglesworth's thinking of himself as a Bride of Christ (as did other evangelicals, male and female) sometimes led him to speak of kissing and embracing his "husband," a metaphor with distinctly erotic overtones. Such ideas, together with his entries on marriage, make Wigglesworth's diary quite a complete and amazing account of early Puritan sexual and affectional life.
Throughout his diary, Wigglesworth often referred to an earthly "creature" who kept stealing his affection away from God. That "creature" was usually earthly comfort in general. But in the early entries especially, that seductive "creature" often turns out to be Wigglesworth's male students. It seems that one of the sins that made the Day of Judgment a "Day of Doom" for Wigglesworth was his "too much doting affection" for young Harvard males.
The most explicit sexual passages in the diary were written in a special shorthand code (decoded and printed in italics as in Morgan's edition). While Wigglesworth reported his sins quite frankly to God, his code suggests he wanted to keep them hidden from his fellow humans.
In the first entry, dating to February 1653, Wigglesworth asked:
If the unloving carriages of my pupils can go so to my heart as they do; how then do my vain thoughts, my detestable pride, my unnaturalfilthy lust that are so oJt and even this day in some measure stirring in me . . . ?[3]
On February 7, Wigglesworth feared
there is much sensuality and doting upon the creature in my pursuit of the good of others... [4]
On February 15, Wigglesworth declared:
Lord I am vile, I desire to abhor my self (0 that I could!).... I find such unresistable torments of carnal lusts or provocation unto the ejection of seed that I find my self unable to read anything to inform me about my distemper because oj the prevailing or rising of my lusts. . . . [5]
On February 17, 1653, Wigglesworth wrote:
The last night a filthy dream and so pollution escaped me in my sleep for which I desire to hang down my head with shame and beseech the Lord not to make me possess the sin of my youth and give me into the hands of my abomination. [6]
On February 26, he noted: "Some filthiness escaped me in a filthy dream. The Lord notwithstanding." He fretted that when his affections were taken up with doing good, "it is very hard for me to set my heart upon God himself and not to rest in the creature. "[7]
On March 5, 1653, Wigglesworth recorded: much distracted thoughts I find arising from too much doting affection to some of my pupils one of whom went to Boston with me today. He felt no power to love God, he said, "my spirit is so leavened with love to the creature. This frame I am afraid of."[8]
On April 1, Wigglesworth asked the Lord, his "father," to "witness my daily sensual glutting my heart with creature comforts."[9]
And, on April 5, Wigglesworth found
vain distracting thoughts molested me in holy duties. I find my spirit so exceedingly carried with love to my pupils that I can't tell how to take up my rest in God. Lord for this cause I am afraid of my wicked heart. Fear takes hold of me. [10]
One morning in April, Wigglesworth wondered "will the Lord now again return and embrace me in the arms of his dearest love? Will he fall upon my neck and kiss me?" He then lamented that his love for God had grown cold; he was also "afraid" of his "want of natural affection" for his parents.[11]
At the end of April, Wigglesworth begged God to "give me some sweet soul ravishing communion with thy self. "[12] He also recorded "whorish desertions of my heart from God to the creature." Wigglesworth noted his "cooling affections" for God, and his "whorish outgoings of heart after other things. I fear my pupils formerly, and now my ease and sloth and pleasure are getting oft between christ and me." Despite such "backslidings" Wigglesworth thought that God did not "upbraid me of my other lovers." As a Bride of Christ he begged the Lord to restore "the love of my espousals thine to me and mine to thee."[13]
On April 27, Wigglesworth told the Lord: "I seek at the hands of a father pardon and power over my still prevailing lusts, principally pride and sensuality, want of love to thee and fervent desires after communion with thee."[14] Unable to savor communion with God "above communion with men," Wigglesworth felt unworthy.[15]

Click on more for the rest of this passage.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This is a wonderful source for LGBTQ history that I recently found.  I found it when I was searching for information about gay men in colonial America, and I came across this web page, which had a wealth of primary source information.  I kind of got lost in reading it for a little while.  I hope you will check it out and help support

Liberating the LGBTQ Past to Understand the Present and Inspire the Future is a website in development about gender and sexual history, a site that, at its best, should encourage us to think deeply and critically about historical evidence and what it means to understand LGBT and heterosexual life in the perspective of society and time. OutHistory should help us ask and begin to answer questions about the gendered and sexual actions and feelings of people within social structures over time. OutHistory includes elements of an almanac, archive, article, bibliography, book, encyclopedia, library, and museum, but it is not identical to any one of these. It's a history website -- on it, time is of the essence. What this history website is, and what it does, will become clearer as it develops its own historical life and identity over time. is produced by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS), located at the City University of New York Graduate Center. The site is directed by Jonathan Ned Katz and the OutHistory Project Director for CLAGS is Lauren Gutterman. The content of is provided by volunteers. The official launch of took place October 21, 2008. From September 2011 on OutHistory is being directed by historians John D'Emilio and Jennifer Brier at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in consultation with Jonathan Ned Katz, and in cooperation with the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center, and other interested advisors. is a freely accessible, community created, educational, non-profit website on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and, yes, heterosexual history.

OutHistory was awarded the 2010 Allan Berube Prize in Public History by the Committee on LGBT History of the American Historical Association.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

I started to do a post on the origins of Valentine's Day and end with a favorite love poem. However, I changed my mind. The origins of Valentine's Day is just a bit depressing with the martyrdom of two different men named Valentine in the third century (if you want to read about the origins, click on this article form NPR: The Dark Origins Of Valentine's Day), so then I looked for a poem. After looking at several different poems, I had to come back to my favorites, even though they are a bit corny/sappy, and I couldn't choose just one. I happen to think that sonnets are the most beautiful form of poetry, and so the first two are sonnets, one from Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the other from Shakespeare. I am sure that all of you have read both of these first two, and I absolutely love them.

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.

Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day? (Sonnet 18)
by William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

The last poem, I found in a list of author's favorite love poems for Valentine's Day. This one is from Blake Morrison, a British poet and author whose greatest success came with the publication of his memoirs And When Did You Last See Your Father? In his offering of a love poem, he states:
Love poems may be addressed to someone in particular but the "you" invariably remains unidentified or is represented only by a body part or item of dress – a sleeping head, a naked foot, an air-blue gown. Thom Gunn's "Touch" is an extreme example of this. His lover is no more than a mound of bedclothes and embraces him in sleepy oblivion ("do / you know who / I am or am I / your mother or / the nearest human being"). This feeling of anonymity is important: it links the two lovers to the rest of us: they're part of a "realm where we walk with everyone". But the poem is also intimate and domestic: here are two people (plus cat) in their own bed – naked, cocooned, "ourselves alone". Gunn was gay but his lover's gender isn't specified, since the theme is the inclusiveness of touch: the way it breaks down the "resilient chilly hardness" we all adopt to function in the outside world. The syllabic form enacts this dissolution or slippage, as the words seep gently from line to line, without the hardness of end stops. The word "love" isn't used; the words "dark" and "darkness" recur three times. But the poem exudes warmth, familiarity and how it feels to lie naked with a fellow creature, whoever he or she may be.
by Thom Gunn

You are already
asleep. I lower
myself in next to
you, my skin slightly
numb with the restraint
of habits, the patina of
self, the black frost
of outsideness, so that even
unclothed it is
a resilient chilly
hardness, a superficially
malleable, dead
rubbery texture.

You are a mound
of bedclothes, where the cat
in sleep braces
its paws against your
calf through the blankets,
and kneads each paw in turn.

Meanwhile and slowly
I feel a is it
my own warmth surfacing or
the ferment of your whole
body that in darkness beneath
the cover is stealing
bit by bit to break
down that chill.

You turn and
hold me tightly, do
you know who
I am or am I
your mother or
the nearest human being to
hold on to in a
dreamed pogrom.

What I, now loosened,
sink into is an old
big place, it is
there already, for
you are already
there, and the cat
got there before you, yet
it is hard to locate.
What is more, the place is
not found but seeps
from our touch in
continuous creation, dark
enclosing cocoon round
ourselves alone, dark
wide realm where we
walk with everyone.

May each and every one of you have a happy and perfectly lovely Valentine's Day!
It doesn't matter if you are with someone or alone, know that I am sending my love, hugs, and kisses on this Valentine's Day.