Monday, April 30, 2012

The Puppy Episode

Ellen senses a kindred spirit in herself when she meets an openly gay woman, named Susan, through Richard, an old boyfriend of hers, who enlightens Ellen to her own sexual identity. Confused by this startling self-discovery, Ellen seeks the guidance of yet another therapist and braces herself for yet another moment of truth of her life.


After a discussion with her therapist, Ellen decides to tell the truth about her true repressed sexual orientation to her friends by inviting them over to her apartment to break the news so she can be at peace. Meanwhile, Ellen's hopes for a relationship with Susan are dashed when she tells Ellen that she's not interested, but gives Ellen further confidence to embrace her newfound life.

Fifteen years ago today, Ellen DeGeneres's character Ellen Morgan came out of the closet while 42 million Americans watched.  During the fourth season of Ellen in 1997, DeGeneres came out publicly as a lesbian in an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.  Shortly afterwards on the April 30, 1997, episode of Ellen title "The Puppy Episode," her character Ellen Morgan also came out to a therapist played by Winfrey, and the series went on to explore various LGBT issues including the coming out process. 

Thank you Ellen for an inspirational fifteen years.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

When Jesus Met Homeless LGBT Youth

When Jesus Met Homeless LGBT Youth 
by 
Joseph Amodeo

Allow me to retell a well-known story from the Gospels:
Jesus was entering a town when homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!" Jesus ignored the young people and his disciples encouraged him to send them away. For a moment in the story, Christ turns to his disciples and aligns himself with them saying that he only came for the house of Israel. As the young people are ignored, they become persistent in calling out to Christ and finally Christ stops ignoring their cries for help, turns to the young people, and says, "O young people, great is your faith!"
Now perhaps you're wondering where these words are in the Gospels, but we need only look at the story of the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman to see that Christ stands with those in need. The story of the Canaanite woman is of particular relevance to the current situation involving Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the invitation for him to meet with homeless LGBT youth to hear their stories and dialogue with them. It is in the light of this Gospel reading from Matthew (15:21-28) that I hold great hope that Cardinal Dolan will follow the example of Christ and that even amid calls from others to simply "look the other way," he will turn and stop ignoring the cries of young people in need.

The welcoming and all-inclusive message of Christ is further seen in the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 1-10). When Jesus calls out to Zaccahaeus and tells him that he would like to stay at his home, the crowd refers to Zaccahaeus as "a sinner"; however, Jesus does not succumb to their words of condemnation, but rather sees Zaccahaeus as a "descendent of Abraham."

Both of these stories remind me that the Church is at its core a welcoming and affirming assembly dedicated to living the message of Christ in a way that reaches the most vulnerable among us. The experience of the Canaanite woman demonstrates that even religious law is not always right and just, but rather sometimes we are called to witness truth in the present moment. In the case of Zaccahaeus, we are taught that Christ sees each of us as being created in God's image and likeness.

When I launched the petition calling upon Cardinal Dolan to meet with homeless LGBT youth, hear their stories and dialogue with them, I did so because I believe the time has come for the Church to no longer ignore the stories of LGBT people, but rather to encounter and discern them. The notion that we live in a country where 30 percent to 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, should be startling enough to awaken the hearts of Catholic leaders so as to work with the community to solve this epidemic. The Church must recognize its role in creating an environment that is safe and affirming for all youth without exception. This is the Gospel message of inclusion.

In light of this call upon Cardinal Dolan, the reality is that the vast majority of Roman Catholics support their LGBT sisters and brothers. I have visited a number of parishes throughout the United States, where I have seen firsthand communities of faith living the message of inclusion. This is what we are calling upon the American hierarchy to witness -- witness the prophetic voice of those in the pews and those who courageously preach the Gospel's message not of law, but of peace and love. The petition to Cardinal Dolan does not challenge Church teaching, but rather it asks the Cardinal -- and others in the American hierarchy -- to look into the faces of homeless LGBT youth and in doing so look into the face of Christ. This petition is not a political statement nor a profession of faith, but rather it is a contemplative action that represents a society-wide prayer: a prayer that one day we might come to see the dignity that is inherent in every human being.

I hope you will join me, and nearly 2,000 other people of faith, in asking Cardinal Dolan to follow the humble example of a man who nearly 2,000 years ago stopped ignoring a woman because of laws, turned to her, listened and witnessed the great faith she exhibited. This same man sought a place to rest in the home of person that others deemed a sinner, but Christ saw as a righteous man in the eyes of God. It is with this understanding of Christ, that I launched the petition inviting Cardinal Dolan to enter into a dialogue with those most in need, so as to begin to understand the LGBT experience and see the dignity of the human person. Perhaps at that moment, Dolan will turn to our community and say, "My gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers, great is your faith" and "Today salvation has come to this house because LGBT people are descendants of Abraham."

This post was originally written for Believe Out Loud's blog.
Follow Joseph Amodeo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/josephamodeo

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gay Student Says Attack Was A Hate Crime

An openly gay Illinois State University student had to have his jaw wired shut after allegedly being beaten by a group of men who shouted homophobic slurs as he was returning home after a party.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that 23-year-old Eric Unger was walking home when a group of five to eight African-American males passed him from behind, and one of them knocked his cell phone out of his hand. After he asked "what their problem was," Unger says the group attacked him, hurling anti-gay epithets.
"They just wanted to hurt somebody," Unger, a family relations major who hopes to work with LGBT youth, recalled for CBS. "The last thing I remember is just being blindsided by six or eight guys, and then I woke up on the concrete."
Unger reportedly suffered scrapes and bruises around his face, broken teeth, and a fractured jaw. Unger had to have his jaw wired shut for the next four to six weeks, leaving him with limited speech and on a liquid-only diet as he recovers, the Chicago Phoenix is reporting.
At present, the Normal Police Department have not classified the attack as a hate crime. “At this point, that’s part of our investigation,” Chief of Police Rick Bleichner told the Phoenix. “Initially, there was no claim about that. That’s why we are doing the investigation to determine anything further about that."
Unger, however, begs to differ. "I know this is a hate crime, just because of the words that they said and just how they were saying it," he told CBS. "You know, if there was a group of white guys, you know, attacking a black guy, saying [discriminatory] words to him, that would be a hate crime, wouldn’t it?"
SOURCE: Huffington Post, Eric Unger, Gay Illinois State University Student, Claims Brutal Attack Was Hate Crime. 04/25/2012 by

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just Because...


...I'd love to be in Venice, Italy, right now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Morning Express


Morning Express

Along the wind-swept platform, pinched and white,
The travellers stand in pools of wintry light,
Offering themselves to morn’s long slanting arrows.
The train’s due; porters trundle laden barrows.
The train steams in, volleying resplendent clouds
Of sun-blown vapour. Hither and about,
Scared people hurry, storming the doors in crowds.
The officials seem to waken with a shout,
Resolved to hoist and plunder; some to the vans
Leap; others rumble the milk in gleaming cans.

Boys, indolent-eyed, from baskets leaning back,
Question each face; a man with a hammer steals
Stooping from coach to coach; with clang and clack,
Touches and tests, and listens to the wheels.
Guard sounds a warning whistle, points to the clock
With brandished flag, and on his folded flock
Claps the last door: the monster grunts; ‘Enough!’
Tightening his load of links with pant and puff.
Under the arch, then forth into blue day;
Glide the processional windows on their way,
And glimpse the stately folk who sit at ease
To view the world like kings taking the seas
In prosperous weather: drifting banners tell
Their progress to the counties; with them goes
The clamour of their journeying; while those
Who sped them stand to wave a last farewell.


A poem written by:

SIEGFRIED SASSOON

An English war poet, Sassoon was also known for his fictionalised autobiographies, praised for their evocation of English country life.

Siegfried Sassoon was born on 8 September 1886 in Kent. His father was part of a Jewish merchant family, originally from Iran and India, and his mother part of the artistic Thorneycroft family. Sassoon studied at Cambridge University but left without a degree. He then lived the life of a country gentleman, hunting and playing cricket while also publishing small volumes of poetry.

In May 1915, Sassoon was commissioned into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and went to France. He impressed many with his bravery in the front line and was given the nickname 'Mad Jack' for his near-suicidal exploits. He was decorated twice. His brother Hamo was killed in November 1915 at Gallipoli.

In the summer of 1916, Sassoon was sent to England to recover from fever. He went back to the front, but was wounded in April 1917 and returned home. Meetings with several prominent pacifists, including Bertrand Russell, had reinforced his growing disillusionment with the war and in June 1917 he wrote a letter that was published in the Times in which he said that the war was being deliberately and unnecessarily prolonged by the government. As a decorated war hero and published poet, this caused public outrage. It was only his friend and fellow poet, Robert Graves, who prevented him from being court-martialled by convincing the authorities that Sassoon had shell-shock. He was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh for treatment. Here he met, and greatly influenced, Wilfred Owen. Both men returned to the front where Owen was killed in 1918. Sassoon was posted to Palestine and then returned to France, where he was again wounded, spending the remainder of the war in England. Many of his war poems were published in The Old Huntsman (1917) and Counter-Attack (1918).

After the war Sassoon spent a brief period as literary editor of the Daily Herald before going to the United States, travelling the length and breadth of the country on a speaking tour. He then started writing the near-autobiographical novel Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man (1928). It was an immediate success, and was followed by others including Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930) and Sherston's Progress (1936). Sassoon had a number of homosexual affairs but in 1933 surprised many of his friends by marrying Hester Gatty. They had a son, George, but the marriage broke down after World War Two.

He continued to write both prose and poetry. In 1957, he was received into the Catholic church. He died on 1 September 1967.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Conch Republic

The Conch Republic was established by secession of the Florida Keys from the United States of America, on April 23rd, 1982 in response to a United States Border Patrol Blockade setup on highway U.S.1 at Florida City just to the north of the Florida Keys. This heinous act effectively isolated Keys Citizens from the U.S. mainland since the blockade was on our only land artery to and from the mainland. This roadblock portrayed Keys residents as non-U.S. citizens who had to prove their citizenship in order to drive onto the Florida mainland! Hardly an American thing to do!

 Today, the Conch Republic celebrates its thirtieth birthday. The thirtieth anniversary celebration runs from April 20-29. The gay community of Key West joins in o the celebration with several events at the Bourbon Street Pub. Key West's Great Conch Republic Drag Race wore Saturday. The race featured 16 high-heeled female impersonators navigating across an obstacle course filled with automobile tires and scantily-clad passengers in shopping carts. According to the Florida Keys News Bureau, the race was hosted by the republic's Bourbon Street Pub Complex, where contestants raced down Duval Street, or the fittingly nicknamed "main drag." The wacky drag challenge has been held annually since 1982 as part of Key West's independence celebration. This year's celebration runs through April 29th, filled with other events to look forward to such as a reenactment of the secession, a fun sea battle with tall ships, and an open-air bed race that's said to be "the most fun you can have in bed with your clothes on."


 The City of Key West is a menagerie of people from all walks of life. The people of Key West are fortunate to live in a tolerant community that respects and celebrates differences. They have a vibrant gay and lesbian community and Key West has been ranked as one of the "Top Gay and Lesbian Destinations" in the world. This spirit of tolerance is evident everywhere on the Island. Filled with a funky charm, Key West is a sophisticated place with amazing restaurants, diverse entertainment, eclectic art, professional theatre, and live music that includes salsa, show tunes, disco, country, opera, and classical. Key West's gay and lesbian guest houses are legendary, and our mainstream hotels and inns are always All Welcome. Drag shows, commitment ceremonies, water excursions, late night parties, beaches, clothing optional resorts, and the only gay & lesbian historic trolley tour make our island the preeminent LGBT vacation choice. But the best part about our town is our open and accepting attitude. “One Human Family” is our city motto, and our closets are only used for our costumes!


One of these days, I am going to have to visit Key West.  It sounds like a fantastically fun place, and one of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway, used to live there. Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West for more than ten years beginning in the 1930s. Calling Key West home, he found solace and great physical challenge in the turquoise waters that surround this tiny island.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012


Each year, Earth Day -- April 22 -- marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson's New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.
Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center. 
The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.
As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean AirClean Water, andEndangered Species Acts. "It was a gamble," Gaylord recalled, "but it worked."
As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) -- the highest honor given to civilians in the United States -- for his role as Earth Day founder.
As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.
Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.
The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn't even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Moment of Zen: Founding of Rome


The Founding of Rome 

 According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Romulus and his twin brother, Remus, found Rome on the site where they were suckled by a she-wolf as orphaned infants. Actually, the Romulus and Remus myth originated sometime in the fourth century B.C., and the exact date of Rome's founding was set by the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro in the first century B.C. 

 According to the legend, Romulus and Remus were the sons of Rhea Silvia, the daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa. Alba Longa was a mythical city located in the Alban Hills southeast of what would become Rome. Before the birth of the twins, Numitor was deposed by his younger brother Amulius, who forced Rhea to become a vestal virgin so that she would not give birth to rival claimants to his title. However, Rhea was impregnated by the war god Mars and gave birth to Romulus and Remus. Amulius ordered the infants drowned in the Tiber, but they survived and washed ashore at the foot of the Palatine hill, where they were suckled by a she-wolf until they were found by the shepherd Faustulus. 

 Reared by Faustulus and his wife, the twins later became leaders of a band of young shepherd warriors. After learning their true identity, they attacked Alba Longa, killed the wicked Amulius, and restored their grandfather to the throne. The twins then decided to found a town on the site where they had been saved as infants. They soon became involved in a petty quarrel, however, and Remus was slain by his brother. Romulus then became ruler of the settlement, which was named "Rome" after him. 

To populate his town, Romulus offered asylum to fugitives and exiles. Rome lacked women, however, so Romulus invited the neighboring Sabines to a festival and abducted their women. A war then ensued, but the Sabine women intervened to prevent the Sabine men from seizing Rome. A peace treaty was drawn up, and the communities merged under the joint rule of Romulus and the Sabine king, Titus Tatius. Tatius' early death, perhaps perpetrated by Romulus, left the Roman as the sole king again. After a long and successful rule, Romulus died under obscure circumstances. Many Romans believed he was changed into a god and worshipped him as the deity Quirinus. After Romulus, there were six more kings of Rome, the last three believed to be Etruscans. Around 509 B.C., the Roman republic was established. 

 Another Roman foundation legend, which has its origins in ancient Greece, tells of how the mythical Trojan Aeneas founded Lavinium and started a dynasty that would lead to the birth of Romulus and Remus several centuries later. In the Iliad, an epic Greek poem probably composed by Homer in the eighth century B.C., Aeneas was the only major Trojan hero to survive the Greek destruction of Troy. A passage told of how he and his descendants would rule the Trojans, but since there was no record of any such dynasty in Troy, Greek scholars proposed that Aeneas and his followers relocated. 

 In the fifth century B.C., a few Greek historians speculated that Aeneas settled at Rome, which was then still a small city-state. In the fourth century B.C., Rome began to expand within the Italian peninsula, and Romans, coming into greater contact with the Greeks, embraced the suggestion that Aeneas had a role in the foundation of their great city. In the first century B.C., the Roman poet Virgil developed the Aeneas myth in his epic poem the Aeneid, which told of Aeneas' journey to Rome. Augustus, the first Roman emperor and emperor during Virgil's time, and Julius Caesar, his great-uncle and predecessor as Roman ruler, were said to be descended from Aeneas.

Source of the Image above:
Bacco (version 2) by aurelio MONGE 
Bacchus was the Roman god of agriculture and wine, similar to the Greek Dionysus. 

He was the last god to join the twelve Olympians; Hestia gave up her seat for him. His plants were vines and twirling ivy. He often carried a pinecone-topped staff, and his followers were goat-footed Satyrs and Maenads, wild women who danced energetically during his festivals. 

Bacchus was the child of Jupiter (whose Greek name is Zeus) and Semele, a human whom Juno (whose Greek name is Hera) had tricked into asking to see Jupiter as he really was. Since she was a mortal, she was burned up by the sight of Jupiter in his divine form. So Jupiter sewed the infant Bacchus into his thigh, and gave birth to him nine months later. As a child, Bacchus was tutored by Silenus, who was a great lover of wine and often had to be carried on the back of a donkey. Before he took his place at Olympus, Bacchus wandered the world for many years, going as far as India to teach people how to grow vines. 
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 
Aurelio Monge ©2011 
This image is copyrighted. If you publish or share, please mention the name of the author and website: 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Matthew Mitcham


Aussie Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham says he's comfortable being seen as an icon for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The 24-year-old openly gay diver, who won the 10-meter platform event and received the highest single-dive score in Olympic history during the 2008 games in Beijing, told the Sydney Morning Herald in a new interview that he doesn't mind the attention paid to his personal life.

"I certainly don't see it as a burden,'' Mitcham told the paper after a training session in Sydney. ''I never did, especially with how much attention the LGBT cause has been getting lately with marriage equality…and with how few openly gay sports stars there are around at the moment."

He continued:
"Ideally I would like one day for sexuality to be as unimportant and uninteresting as hair color, or eye color or even just gender in general. One day it will get to that.

But until it is easy for sports people to come out without fear of persecution or fear of lost sponsorship income and stuff like that, or fear of being comfortable in the team environment, I don't mind attention being brought to my sexuality in the hope that it might make other people feel more comfortable…in being comfortable enough about who they are in their sporting environment."
Mitcham, who has reportedly been plagued by injuries for the past year, is preparing to defend his title at the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer. As The Guardian notes, he appears to be back in top form, attracting perfect 10s from all seven judges on one of his dives to post a plus-550 score at the Australian trials.

SOURCE: Olympic Diver Matthew Mitcham On Being Gay: 'I Don't Mind Attention Being Brought To My Sexuality' HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Francis Davis Millet and Charles Warren Stoddard, 1874-1912

Empty Chair, Empty Bed, Empty House
Adapted from Jonathan Ned Katz's book Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality (University of Chicago Press, 2001). The source citations are available in the printed edition.
Charles Warren Stoddard
By November 1874, the American travel journalist Charles Warren Stoddard had given up on the South Seas, the site of earlier sensual adventures recorded in coyly coded form in published articles. He was now pursuing his erotic destiny in Italy.

There in romantic, legendary Venice at the end of the year, "a young man quietly joined me" in a box at the opera during intermission, Stoddard recalled. "We looked at each other and were acquainted in a minute. Some people understand one anotherer at sight, and don't have to try, either." Stoddard's recollection of this meeting was published in Boston's National Magazine in 1906.

Stoddard's friend was the American artist Francis Davis Millet. Stoddard was thirty-one in 1874, and Millet was twenty-eight.

During the Civil War, Millet's father, a Massachusetts doctor, had served as a Union army surgeon, and in 1864, the eighteen-year-old Frank Millet had enlisted as a private, serving first as a drummer boy and then as a surgeon's assistant.

Young Millet graduated from Harvard in 1869, with a master's degree in modern languages and literature. While working as a journalist on Boston newspapers, he learned lithography and earned money enough to enroll in 1871 in the Royal Academy, Antwerp. There, unlike anyone before him, he won all the art prizes the school offered and was officially hailed by the king of Belgium.

Francis Davis Millet
As secretary of the Massachusetts commission to the Vienna exposition in 1873, Millet formed a friendship with the American Charles Francis Adams, Junior, and then traveled through Turkey, Romania, Greece, Hungary, and Italy, finally settling in Venice to paint.

At the opera, as Stoddard recalled, Millet immediately asked, "Whereare you going to spend the Winter?" He then invited Stoddard to live in his eight-room rented house at 262 Calle de San Dominico, the last residence on the north side of San Marco, next to a shipyard and the Public Garden. "Why not come and take one of those rooms?" the painter offered, "I'll look after the domestic affairs" -- is this a Stoddard double entendre?

Stoddard accepted Millet's invitation, recalling that they became "almost immediately very much better acquainted." Did Stoddard go home with Millet that night?

The two lived together during the winter of 1874-75, though Stoddard did not take one of the extra rooms. Millet's romantic letters to Stoddard make it clear that the men shared a bed in an attic room overlooking the Lagoon, Grand Canal, and Public Garden.

Lack of space did not explain this bed sharing, and Stoddard's earlier and later sexual liaisons with men, his written essays and memoirs, and Millet's letters to Stoddard, provide good evidence that their intimacy found active affectionate and erotic expressIon.

Though Stoddard's erotic interests seem to have focused exclusively on men, Millet's were more fluid. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Millet's psychic configuration was probably the more common, Stoddard's exclusive interest in men the less usual. In any case, the ranging of Millet's erotic interest between men and women was not then understood as "bisexual", a mix of "homo" and "hetero." The hetero-homo division had not yet been invented.

Another occupant of the house was Giovanni, whom Stoddard called "our gondolier, cook, chambermaid and errand-boy." His use of "maid" and "boy" hint at gender doubling, and, perhaps, at sexual nonconformity. (Giovanni's last name, not mentioned, is lost to history, typical in masters' accounts of servants.)

That winter, Millet taught Giovanni to prepare two classic New England dishes, baked beans and fish balls, and during the cold months, Stoddard recalled, he and Millet dined Massachusetts style in their warm Italian kitchen.

From the window of this kitchen in warmer weather, Stoddard recalled, they watched "the supple figures of half-nude artisans" working in an adjoining shipyard. It was "no wonder that we lingered over our meals there," said Stoddard, without explaining that lingering. Visual, alimentary, and erotic pleasures are repeatedly linked in Stoddard's and Millet's writings, as we will see.

During the daytime, Millet painted in their home's courtyard while Stoddard dozed, smoked, and wrote columns about Venice and other Italian cities for the San Francisco Chronicle. They dined early and took gondola rides at sunset.

In a newspaper column that Stoddard published early in his relationship with Millet, the journalist wrote of "spoons" with "my fair" (an unnamed woman) in a gondola's covered "lovers' cabin," and of "her memory of a certain memorable sunset--but that is between us two!" Stoddard here changed the sex of his fair one when discussing "spooning" (kissing, making out) in his published writing. Walt Whitman also employed this literary subterfuge, changing the sex of the male who inspired a poem to a female in the final, published version.

Touring Italy: January 1875

In late January 1875, Stoddard, seeking new cities to write about for the Chronicle, made a three-week tour of northern Italy, revising these memoirs twelve years later for the Catholic magazine Ave Maria, published at Notre Dame University. Stoddard wrote that his unnamed painter friend accompanied him as guide and "companion-in-arms," a punning name for his bed mate--the companion in his arms. This definitely intended pun allowed Stoddard to imply more about this companionship than he could say directly. A variety of other, barely coded references lace Stoddard's writing with allusions to eros between men.

In Padua, for example, Stoddard wrote that he and his companion were struck by views of "lovely churches and the tombs of saints and hosts of college boys." Casually including "hosts of college boys" among the "lovely" religious sights of Padua, and substituting "hosts of ... boys" for the proverbial "angels," Stoddard's sacrilege-threatening run-on sentence suggested that, to these two tourists, at least, the boys looked heavenly.

The Wrestlers
In another case, on the train to Florence, Stoddard and his companion noticed a tall "fellow who had just parted with his friend" at a station. As "soon as they had kissed each other on both cheeks -- a custom of the country;' Stoddard explained to nonkissing American men, the traveler was "hoisted into our compartment." But "no sooner did the train move off, than he was overcome, and, giving way to his emotion, he lifted up his voice like a trumpeter," filling the car with "lamentations." For half an hour "he bellowed lustily, but no one seemed in the least disconcerted at this monstrous show of feeling; doubtless each in his turn had been similarly affected."

Suggesting, slyly, that bellowing "lustily" was common among parting men friends and represented the expression of a deep, intense, and by no means unusual feeling, Stoddard pointed to a ubiquitous male eros, not one limited to men of a special, unique, man-loving temperament.

Typically keeping a sharp eye out for the varieties of physically expressed attachment between males, he also invoked Walt Whitman's poem on the tender parting of men friends on a pier: "The one to remain hung on the other's neck and passionately kiss'd him, / While the one to depart tightly prest the one to remain in his arms." That poem, and Stoddard's essay, suggest that parting provided, in the nineteenth century, a public occasion for the physical expression of intense love between men, a custom that had special resonance for men, like Stoddard, attracted to men.

Among the statues that Stoddard admired in Florence were "The Wrestlers, tied up in a double-bow of monstrous muscles" -- another culturally sanctioned icon of physical contact between, in this case, scantily clad men.

St. Sebastian
In Genoa, Stoddard recalled seeing a "captivating" painting of the "lovely martyr" St. Sebastian, a "nude torso" of "a youth as beautiful as Narcissus"--yet another classic, undressed male image suffused with eros. The "sensuous element predominates," in this art work, said Stoddard, and "even the blood-stains cannot disfigure the exquisite lustre of the flesh."

In Sienna, Stoddard recorded, he and his companion-in-arms slept in a "great double bed ... so white and plump it looked quite like a gigantic frosted cake--and we were happy." The last phrase directly echoes Stoddard's favorite Walt Whitman Calamus poem in which a man's friend lies "sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night" -- "and that night I was happy." Sleeping happily with Millet in that cake/bed, Stoddard again linked food and bodily pleasure. In Sienna, Stoddard and Millet also looked at frescos by the artist nicknamed "Sodoma", Giovanni Bazzi, the outspoken 16th century artist.

Back in Venice: Spring 1875

Back in their Venice home in spring 1875, Stoddard recalled one day seeing "a tall, slender and exceedingly elegant figure approaching languidly."

A. A. Anderson
This second American artist, A. A. Anderson, appeared one Sunday at Millet's wearing a "long black cloak of Byronic mold," one corner of which was "carelessly thrown back over his arm, displaying a lining of cardinal satin." The costume was enhanced by a gold-threaded, damask scarf and a broad-brimmed hat with tassels.

In Stoddard's published memoirs, identifying Anderson only as "Monte Cristo," the journalist recalled the artist's "uncommonly comely face of the oriental--oval and almond- eyed type." Entranced by the "glamor" surrounding Monte Cristo, Stoddard soon passed whole days "drifting with him" in his gondola, or walking ashore.

Invited to dinner by Monte Cristo, Stoddard and his friend (Millet) found Monte occupying the suite of a "royal princess, it was so ample and so richy furnished." (Monte was a "princess,"' Stoddard hints.)

Funded by an inheritance from dad, Monte had earlier bought a steam yacht and cruised with an equally rich male friend to Egypt, then given the yacht away to an Arab potentate. Later, while Stoddard was visiting Paris, he found himself at once in the "embrace of Monte Cristo," recalling: "That night was Arabian, and no mistake!" Stoddard's reference to The Arabian Nights, a classic text including man-love episodes, also invoked a western mystique of "oriental" sex.

To England and Robert William Jones

After the beautiful Anderson left Venice, Stoddard, the perennial rover, found it impossible to settle down any longer in the comfortable, loving domesticity offered by Millet. The journalist may also have needed new sights to inspire the travel writing that supported him. On May 5, 1875, he therefore set off for Chester, England, to see Robert William Jones, a fellow with whom, a year earlier, he had shared a brief encounter and who had since been sending him passionate letters.

Stoddard's flight, after living with Millet for about six months, marked a new phase in their relationship. Millet now became the devoted pursuer, Stoddard the ambivalent pursued.

SOURCES:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sailors Kissing

Courtesy of Indiana University
Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

60. What think You I take my Pen in Hand?

WHAT think you I take my pen in hand to record?
The battle-ship, perfect-model’d, majestic, that I saw pass the offing to-day under full sail?
The splendors of the past day? Or the splendor of the night that envelopes me?
Or the vaunted glory and growth of the great city spread around me?—No;
But I record of two simple men I saw to-day, on the pier, in the midst of the crowd, parting the parting of dear friends;
The one to remain hung on the other’s neck, and passionately kiss’d him,
While the one to depart, tightly prest the one to remain in his arms.

An excerpt from this poem is featured in my post for tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gays on the Titanic


RMS Titanic, which sunk on its maiden voyage 100 years ago, has become something of a legend. Famously trumpeted at the time as ‘virtually unsinkable’, it was the height of luxury and class. It boasted features more in common with a hotel and was designed with the Ritz, rather than a ship, in mind.

It was over three quarters of the way into its journey from Southampton, England to New York when Titanic received warning from other ships of dangerous ice. However, it continued at full speed and hit an iceberg at 11:40pm ship’s time on 14 April 1912.

Having just 20 lifeboats, Titanic was entirely unprepared for the sinking. Even if they had been filled, only half of the passengers on board would have made it safety. In fact, many of the first lifeboats to leave Titanic were only half-full because so many passengers didn’t believe it could possibly be sinking.

There were 2,224 people on board. Only 710 were saved.

"It's our most potent modern parable, the great ship, deemed unsinkable, going down on her maiden voyage," says author Hugh Brewster on why we're still talking about the Titanic a century after its tragic sinking. "The stories of how people behaved on that sloping deck are haunting and unforgettable."

Brewster, the writer and historian behind several best-selling books about the doomed ship, provides a thoughtfully researched and vividly drawn look at those haunting and unforgettable stories in the brand-new Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World. Told through portraits of some its most fascinating and well-off wayfarers, the book provides some startling revelations about the private lives of travelers like artist and writer Francis Millet and his friend (and former roommate) Major Archibald Butt, military aide to presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.

Of particular interest to LGBT readers is Brewster's implication that the two might have been more than friends. He writes that while Butt, a "dandified bachelor with an intense devotion to his mother, seems a more likely gay man than Frank Millet, the decorated war correspondent and married father of three," the surviving correspondence from Millet to San Francisco poet Charles Warren Stoddard points to Millet's homosexuality being more than just a youthful bohemian phase.

"Since homosexuality was once an imprisonable offense," Brewster tells The Advocate, "incriminating diaries and letters were usually destroyed, which is why it is remarkable that Frank Millet's unequivocally homoerotic youthful love letters to Stoddard have survived."

In Millet's final letter, mailed from the Titanic in Queenstown, Ireland, four days before it went down, the artist wrote to another friend that a perusal of the passenger list had led him to believe that there were a good number of "our people" on the voyage.

While most books about the oft-depicted disaster place the Titanic as the tragedy's main character, Gilded Lives lets her notable passengers take center stage. The result is a fascinating story of people gay and straight whose demises are as heartbreaking today as they were a century ago.

Archie Butt (right) with President William Howard Taft. 
Brewster is not the only historian asserting that Francis Millet and his friend Archibald Butt may have been gay. Historian James Gifford’s writing also studies the lives of two passengers aboard Titanic. The essay can be read on OutHistory.org. It asserts that, while travelling companions Archibald Willingham Butt and Francis D Millet were not lovers, there is evidence that both were gay.

Archibald Butt, known as Archie, was an influential military aide to US presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. He is described by Gifford as ‘camp’ and a ‘dandy’ who was always impeccably dressed.

In the essay Gifford says: ‘The Washington newspapers seemed to have enjoyed guessing what female Butt would settle down with, ears attentive to any possible romantic connection.’

This, however, doesn’t satisfy Gifford, who was fascinated by Butt’s lifelong single status. He suggests that Butt, whose name was often attached to a number of different women in newspapers, gained his reputation as a ladies man from his gallantry, rather than anything sexual. He states that Butt ‘never took women as romantic partners very seriously’.

Gifford continues: ‘Most accounts referred to him as a lifelong bachelor. A handsome man who stayed in shape, Butt’s not marrying was a sticking point for me.

‘Of course there is no conclusive evidence that Archibald Butt was gay, and I find it highly unlikely, given Archie’s careful self-image control, that he ever committed to paper any overt thoughts of such a nature. He was too canny an individual for that, too conscious of the risk in military and political ranks, where such an idea would have put a quick end to any hopes of advancement.

‘So I can only suggest that my research results in an “impression” that he was homosexual. What struck me when I presented this idea to members of the Titanic Historical Society was that they all seemed to feel that the very idea of his possible homosexuality cast aspersion on Archie, that it dishonored him.

‘Of course men can like antiques, be mother-obsessed, remain an inveterate bachelor, notice the colors of ladies' dresses, live constantly in a home full of men, without being gay. We all know that, yes. But my gaydar was telling me something else.’

A portrait of Millet by Daniel H. Burnham.
While Gifford’s findings on Butt are inconclusive, when it comes to Francis Millet, knows as Frank, he turns up far more convincing evidence.

Millet is known to have an affair with writer Charles Warren Stoddard in Venice in 1875. Stoddard would later leave him, devastating Millet.

Gifford even says that before researching Butt: ‘So far as I knew, Millet was the only gay man to die on the Titanic.’

In fact, he notes: ‘It wasn’t until further research indicated that he was travelling with Archie Butt that I started wondering about their relationship. As well as Archie's sexuality.’

Though they stayed separately on Titanic, they often shared a room on land.

While Gifford stops short of suggesting Butt and Millet were lovers, he points to sources that are more convinced of the pairing.

He says: ‘Writer Richard Davenport-Hines, in a March 2012 article for The Daily, refers to Butt and Millet (without citing sources) as lovers, but his simultaneously published book, Voyagers of the Titanic makes no similar claim.’

Gifford also quotes a newspaper piece written after their death that says: ‘The two men shared a sympathy of mind which was most unusual. None could help admiring either man.’

However, he concludes that: ‘Evidence about their friendship continues to remain elusive. To this day, I could find nothing concrete about this relationship.’

OutHistory founder Jonathan Ned Katz told the Huffington Post that while Gifford found no concrete evidence that Butt and Millet were lovers ‘he did end up thinking that when all of the aspects of Butt's personality were put together, it suggested to him that he may have been a repressed homosexual’.

SOURCES:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Prayer of Hope

Generally, when I pray, it is a solitary moment when I have a conversation with God.  Thanking him for all that he does for me and praying for guidance.  I have a somewhat set way in which I pray, so I never use pre-written prayers.  However, I know that some do, and some wonder how to prayer.  The "Model Prayer": or "Lord's Prayer" is given to us by Jesus in the Matthew 6:9-15. It is probably the prayer we most hear and is how Jesus teaches us how to pray.

Below is a prayer for hope.  I found this prayer while searching the internet and fell in love with the beauty of it, though I have altered it a little.  There are times when we need to share with God our outlook, and a prayer of hope and strength is an important part of our conversations with God. We need to tell God what we want or what we need. Sometimes God will agree, sometimes he will use those times to point us in His direction. Yet a prayer of hope also means giving us a lift when we know God is there, but maybe are struggling to feel or hear Him. Here is a simple prayer you can say when you feel hopeful:
Dear Lord, thank you so much for all the blessings you have provided in my life. I have so much, and I know it is all because of you. I ask you today to continue to provide me with these blessings and to provide me with the opportunities I need to continue to do your work here.
You always stand beside me. You provide me with a future full of your love, blessings, and guidance. I know that, no matter how bad things get, you will always be by my side. I know I may not see you. I know I may not feel you, but I thank You for giving us Your Word that tells us you are here.
Give me the strength I need. Protect me each step of the way. Be with me each time I come out to a friend, a loved one, or a relative. Prepare the way for me, so Your love will transform their hearts.  Give me the strength to face those show hatred to me and those like me, who you created to love unconditionally and to be true to our hearts.  Thank you for giving me the strength to be who I am and face the daily prejudices of the world.
You know my dreams, Lord, and I know it is a lot to ask to realize those dreams, but I ask that you hear my prayer of hope. I would like to think that my hopes and dreams are all part of your plans for me, but I trust that you always know best. I put my dreams in your hands to mold and fit to your will. I surrender my hopes to you. In Christ's name, we pray, Amen.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Moment of Zen: Marlen Boro


What is “Male Boudoir”?
Traditional boudoir photography revolves around a woman's bedroom... soft lighting and sheer lingerie... a little tease... Male boudoir photography is whatever you want it to be - unapologetically confident and sexy photos of you.

Marlen offer his clients the chance to celebrate themselves - their bodies, their determination, their sexuality. Whatever you want. With his help he will capture amazing images that you will enjoy and treasure until you die.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Boys of Summer

Though right now it doesn't feel a lot like summer and it is still spring (it is getting down to the 40s at night here and the days are perfect weather--not too cold and not too hot, but just right), the boys of summer are definitely out. Baseball season is on, and I love baseball season. The metaphors are never ending with balls and bats, but honestly, I do love baseball. I have to admit though, that like with all sports, I am not a fan of professional sports. I do not like the MLB, though I do consider myself an Atlanta Braves fan, and I think I realized that I was gay with my love of Jose Canseco back when he played for the Oakland A's (before he became a pumped-up steroid buffoon).  Canseco was so hot back then.  I collected baseball cards, but most only his.  I mostly enjoy watching college sports. The only professional athletes I watch are in men's tennis.

I know what you’re wondering. Why is he so excited about baseball? What is so appealing about a three-hour game where no one gets tackled (football), no one dunks (basketball), guys aren’t punching each other’s teeth out on the ice (hockey), there are no spectacular wrecks (NASCAR), and where there can be sometimes lengthy stretches when, frankly, nothing happens. Why should I watch such a sport? Those above may actually be reasons why most of us may not like sports, but there are many reasons why I love baseball, and I find it so much fun to watch.

Let me get out of the way the totally superficial eye candy reasons why I love baseball. Baseball players have fantastic bodies. They have uniforms that accentuate their assets, and let's face it baseball players tend to have fantastic behinds. What's not to like? Yes, it can be slow, but that is one of the things I love about it. If the game gets boring, you can get up and do something else or take a nap, but still wake up or get back to the game before it ends.  Look away from most sports for just a minute and you may miss a huge play, except for NASCAR, when you are guaranteed that they will turn left around the track.  However, with baseball, you look up and there is guaranteed to be eye candy on the screen. In the words of Yogi Berra, "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical." The two together make it a glorious game.

Baseball is, at its core, a conversation. Something happens on the field. We consider it and wonder what might come next. Then another thing happens and we contemplate further. I love baseball because it affords me the opportunity to forget about the mundane concerns of everyday life for a while. Baseball is, in the truest sense, a pastime, i.e., "something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably." In a world that demands much of us and our limited time here, there's something to be said for passing it agreeably. As Walt Whitman said, "I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Exhaustion


So much has been going on this week, that I almost don't know up from down. I had several emails that I needed to catch up on, I can be terribly slow about answering emails, but rest assured that if you emailed me recently, I will get back to you as soon as I can. However, last night I came home from my night class so tired that I just crawled into bed, watched a couple of episodes of "Big Bang Theory" on TBS, and then fell asleep. I just couldn't hold my eyes open any longer. I needed a good night of sleep.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Procrastination


Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Abraham Lincoln