Friday, November 30, 2012

St Andrew's Day

St. Andrew's Day is the feast day of Saint Andrew. It is celebrated on November 30 in Scotland.    Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and St. Andrew's Day is Scotland's official national day. In 2006, the Scottish Parliament designated St Andrew's Day as an official bank holiday.

There are many people with birthdays today, including yours truly:

Clay Aiken, born November 30, 1978 Singer.
Ben Stiller, born November 30, 1965 Actor.
Bo Jackson, born November 30, 1962 Football, baseball.
Billy Idol, born November 30, 1955 Singer.
Dick Clark, born November 30, 1929 Entertainer.
Winston Churchill,  born November 30, 1874 British Prime Minister.
Mark Twain, born November 30, 1835 Writer.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tab and Roddy

This vintage celebrity beefcake moment is brought to you by some genius of a studio exec at Warner Bros. who thought it would be a good idea to do a publicity photo shoot of Tab Hunter and Roddy McDowall together for Movies magazine. The photo above shows them cooking up wieners wearing nothing but shorts. See the full spread for Calling All Girls from June 1953 here.

Although McDowall never officially came out, the fact that he was gay was one of Hollywood's best known secrets.  Overwhelmed by the Hollywood publicity machine, Hunter struggled to keep secret the fact that he was gay. Hunter came out publicly in 2005 with his book Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star .

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dolly Is a Doll

generation-defining gay icon, Dolly Parton has faced a number of rumors about her own personal life.
As she promotes her new memoir, "Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You," the 66-year-old country superstar hopes to put that tabloid speculation to rest in her signature candid way.
On allegations she was secretly gay and romantically involved with a childhood friend, Parton (who has been married to husband Carl Dean for 46 years) compared herself to another woman who's faced her own share of rumors, Oprah Winfrey.
"Like Gayle [King], her friend, Judy, my friend...they just think that you just can't be that close to somebody," Parton said. "Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third and fourth grade. We still just have a great friendship and relationship and I love her as much as I love anybody in the whole world, but we're not romantically involved."
The star of hit films like "Steel Magnolias" and "9 to 5," Parton also dishes about that time she entered -- and lost -- a drag queen celebrity lookalike competition. "They had a bunch of Chers and Dollys that year, so I just over-exaggerated -- made my beauty mark bigger, the eyes bigger, the hair bigger, everything," she said, laughing. "So I just got in the line and I just walked across, and they just thought I was some little short gay guy...and I got the least applause!"
She then added, "It's a good thing I was a girl or I'd be a drag queen."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Long Day

Yesterday started when I left the house before 7am and did not end until I returned home at 10:30.  Other than the total of maybe 45 minute of eating all day and an hour or two of driving, the rest of the day was spent teaching, preparing for class, directing theater practice, and a few other extra faculty duties.

And yet, this poem is now stuck in my head.  I think I have heard it too may times in the last few weeks:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, 
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, 
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur 
Of which vertú engendred is the flour; 
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth 
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth 
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne 
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, 
And smale foweles maken melodye, 
That slepen al the nyght with open ye, 
So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages, 
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, 
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, 
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; 
And specially, from every shires ende 
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende, 
The hooly blisful martir for to seke, 
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. 

"Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales

In modern English if you wish to read it:

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.
And specially from every shire's end
Of England they to Canterbury wend,
The holy blessed martyr there to seek
Who helped them when they lay so ill and weal

Monday, November 26, 2012

Southern Discomfort

I've been thinking of sharing this book with you guys, and quite honestly, I couldn't remember it's name, only that Rita Mae Brown wrote it and that it took place in Montgomery, Alabama.  So I looked up Brown's bibliography and searched through the books until I found it.  I checked out this book a few years ago at the public library when I was in graduate school. I absolutely fell in love with it.  Southern Discomfort is my favorite Rita Mae Brown book. The characters in this novel are so vivid and well developed you'll finish the novel feeling like you know them personally. Fast, smart, funny and ultimately heartbreaking, this is definitely a must for any fan of Rita Mae Brown.

Only Rita Mae Brown, author of Rubyfruit Jungle , could have written a novel as passionately delightful as Southern Discomfort .  Here is a witty, warm and pentrating tale of two decades in Montgomery Alabama--a world where all is not what it seems.  Meet Hortensia Reedmuller Banastre, a beautiful woman entrenched on old money, white magnolia and a loveless marriage--until she meets an utterly gorgeous young prizefighter.  Amid such memorable characters as Banana Mae Parker and Blue Rhonda Latrec (two first-class whores) and Reverend Linton Ray (who wears his clerical collar too tightly for anyone's good), Hortensia struggles to survive the hurricane of emotions caused by her scandalous love.  How she ultimately triumphs is a touching and beautiful human drama--an intense and exuberant affair of the heart.

Rita Mae Brown's Southern Discomfort is warm and fuzzy in all the good ways. She earns the pleasurable feelings from her readers through the creation of her dazzling cast of characters and spinning them through a marvelous narrative. I laughed and I cried and sometimes often at the same time. The author writes beautifully and easily allows the reader to soak into the Southern pool of charm she creates. I have enjoyed many of her novels but this is the one that always draws me back. It is the perfect novel for a summer day sipping a mint julep and wondering how eccentric your friends and neighbours could be if only they were Southern.


Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sister Jane novels-Outfoxed, Hotspur, Full Cry, The Hunt Ball, The Hounds and the Fury, The Tell-Tale Horse, and Hounded to Death-as well as the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, and The Sand Castle, among many others. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


    "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

Psalm 100 

Thankfulness in God's Word is a major theme throughout. But, the actual first official ceremony of Thanksgiving in the Bible is listed in Leviticus 7:11-15. "And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord. If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried." God ordained a practice of specific instructions to show gratitude. Clearly, gratitude is the door that opens peace in our hearts. God's design for mankind is that giving thanks means receiving peace. Giving thanks in the Bible is the formula to peace because when we are truly thankful to God, we are expressing our trust in Him. 

The theme of thanks in the Bible continues from the commanded thanksgiving sacrifices to the beautifully written Psalms of praise and thanks to our Lord. "Praise ye the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever." (Psalm 106:1) And, Thanksgiving in the Bible continues to be practiced with Christ, giving thanks at the Lord's supper. Paul the Apostle wrote many times of his gratitude to Christ and for his gratitude to the followers of Christ. "I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers." (Philemon 1:4)

To celebrate a day of thanks is to take a day and clearly honor God in praise for the enormous blessings He has bestowed upon our land. As Thanksgiving facts reveal a Biblical foundation, we know that this holiday must have more to do with honoring God than any other fact. When we look back at history, thanksgiving in the Bible, and the celebration that first took place in this country, we find that God's people are to turn their hearts to Him, thanking Him for all things in all circumstances. Perhaps one of the most quoted scriptures in the New Testament says it best. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let our request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Let us not only be thankful only one day a year but celebrate the greatness of our God with thanks everyday! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

Did anyone go to the Black Friday sales? Did you find any great bargains?

I stayed home and slept late.  This is really my only day that I have nothing to do, so I decided to be lazy and enjoy it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

How FDR Changed Thanksgiving

How FDR Changed Thanksgiving

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a lot to think about in 1939. The world had been suffering from the Great Depression for a decade and the Second World War had just erupted in Europe. On top of that, the U.S. economy continued to look bleak. So when U.S. retailers begged him to move Thanksgiving up a week to increase the shopping days before Christmas, he agreed. He probably considered it a small change; however, when FDR issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation with the new date, there was an uproar throughout the country.

The First Thanksgiving

As most schoolchildren know, the history of Thanksgiving began when Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered together to celebrate a successful harvest. The first Thanksgiving was held in the fall of 1621, sometime between September 21 and November 11, and was a three-day feast. The Pilgrims were joined by approximately 90 of the local Wampanoag tribe, including Chief Massasoit, in celebration. They ate fowl and deer for certain and most likely also ate berries, fish, clams, plums, and boiled pumpkin.

Sporadic Thanksgivings

Though the current holiday of Thanksgiving was based on the 1621 feast, it did not immediately become an annual celebration or holiday. Sporadic days of Thanksgiving followed, usually declared locally to give thanks for a specific event such as the end of a drought, victory in a specific battle, or after a harvest.

It wasn't until October 1777 that all 13 colonies celebrated a day of Thanksgiving. The very first national day of Thanksgiving was held in 1789, when President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26 to be "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer," to especially give thanks for the opportunity to form a new nation and the establishment of a new constitution.
Yet even after a national day of Thanksgiving was declared in 1789, Thanksgiving was not an annual celebration.

Mother of Thanksgiving

We owe the modern concept of Thanksgiving to a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale. Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book and author of the famous "Mary Had a Little Lamb" nursery rhyme, spent 40 years advocating for a national, annual Thanksgiving holiday. In the years leading up to the Civil War, she saw the holiday as a way to infuse hope and belief in the nation and the constitution. So, when the United States was torn in half during the Civil War and Lincoln was searching for a way to bring the nation together, he discussed the matter with Hale.

Lincoln Sets Date

On October 3, 1863, Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation that declared the last Thursday in November (based on Washington's date) to be a day of "thanksgiving and praise." For the first time, Thanksgiving became a national, annual holiday with a specific date.

FDR Changes It

For 75 years after Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation, succeeding presidents honored the tradition and annually issued their own Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring the last Thursday in November as the day of Thanksgiving. However, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not. In 1939, the last Thursday of November was going to be November 30. Retailers complained to FDR that this only left 24 shopping days to Christmas and begged him to push Thanksgiving just one week earlier. It was determined that most people do their Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving and retailers hoped that with an extra week of shopping, people would buy more.

So when FDR announced his Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1939, he declared the date of Thanksgiving to be Thursday, November 23, the second-to-last Thursday of the month.


The new date for Thanksgiving caused a lot of confusion. Calendars were now incorrect. Schools who had planned vacations and tests now had to reschedule. Thanksgiving had been a big day for football games, as it is today, so the game schedule had to be examined.

Political opponents of FDR and many others questioned the president's right to change the holiday and stressed the breaking of precedent and disregard for tradition. Many believed that changing a cherished holiday just to appease businesses was not a sufficient reason for change. Atlantic City's mayor derogatorily called November 23 as "Franksgiving."

Two Thanksgivings in 1939?

Before 1939, the president annually announced his Thanksgiving Proclamation and then governors followed the president in officially proclaiming the same day as Thanksgiving for their state. In 1939, many governors did not agree with FDR's decision to change the date and refused to follow him. The country became split on which Thanksgiving they should observe.

Twenty-three states followed FDR's change and declared Thanksgiving to be November 23. Twenty-three other states disagreed with FDR and kept the traditional date for Thanksgiving, November 30. Two states, Colorado and Texas, decided to honor both dates.

This idea of two Thanksgiving days split some families, because not everyone had the same day off work.

Did It Work?

Though the confusion caused many frustrations across the country, the question remained as to whether the extended holiday shopping season caused people to spend more, thus helping the economy. The answer was no. Businesses reported that the spending was approximately the same, but the distribution of the shopping was changed. For those states who celebrated the earlier Thanksgiving date, the shopping was evenly distributed throughout the season. For those states that kept the traditional date, businesses experienced a bulk of shopping in the last week before Christmas.


In 1940, FDR again announced Thanksgiving to be the second-to-last Thursday of the month. This time, 31 states followed him with the earlier date and 17 kept the traditional date. Confusion over two Thanksgivings continued.

Congress Fixes It

Lincoln had established the Thanksgiving holiday to bring the country together, but the confusion over the date change was tearing it apart. On December 26, 1941, Congress passed a law declaring that Thanksgiving would occur every year on the fourth Thursday of November.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving's Gay Secrets

Each year we gather together with our families (blood or created) and give thanks for the good things in our lives (and perhaps for the bad things that aren't in our lives).
The day centers around food, football, and for many, gearing up for an intense day of shopping on Friday but we here at HuffPost Gay Voices thought we'd do a little digging to uncover the gayer side of Thanksgiving.
From gay Pilgrims to beloved gay turkeys, these are the things that they didn't teach you about in grade school (or on Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving special).

Secret #1: Pilgrims Party in P-Town

While many people think that the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, they actually arrived in one of the gayest towns in the world -- Provincetown.  The Pilgrims came to Provincetown in 1620 and spent five weeks there, during which time they created and signed the Mayflower Compact.  There's no word on whether they had time for tea dances or hanky panky under the docks, but we sure hope so!

Secret #2: Gay Pilgrims

The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Point in 1621 may have been attended by gay Pilgrims. According to, in 1637 two men at Plymouth faced execution because they were "convicted of what the law books said was a grave moral crime" -- being in a gay relationship. Richard Pickering, deputy director of Plimoth Plantation, the living museum of Colonial and Native American history, notes gays and lesbians "did not have the opportunity to pursue the kind of lives and identities that modern social structures allow." Though the maximum penalty for homosexuality was death, neither men were killed. Pickering says that Alexander, who was labeled the seducer and "therefore was considered more responsible," was branded with a hot iron and banished from the colony. Roberts was allowed to stay but he could not own land or be actively involved in politics.

Secret #3: Native Americans And The Two-Spirit Tradition

Thanksgiving in present day America is a mix of Native American autumnal celebratory traditions and traditions brought to the New World by colonists. The NorthEast Two-Spirit Society notes that there are roughly 400 indigenous Nations in the United States and 155 of those Nations have "documented multiple gender traditions" including those who are "Two Spirit," or individuals whose spirits "are a blending of male and female." Harland Pruden and Melissa Hoskins, Co-Chairs of NE2SS, write:
"The Two Spirits' mere existence threatened the colonizers' core beliefs; the backlash was violent. Sketches, housed at the New York City public library, depict Two Spirit people being attacked by colonizers' dogs." Secret #4: Gay Turkeys
Homosexuality has been observed in many as many as 1,500 species -- including turkeys. There is even a YouTube clip in which two male turkeys chase each other around a Massachusetts yard just after gay marriage was made legal in the state.
Secret #4:  Gay Turkeys

Homosexuality has been observed in many as many as 1,500 species -- including turkeys. In this clip, two male turkeys chase each other around a Massachusetts yard just after gay marriage was made legal in the state.

 Secret #5: An Awkward Thanksgiving

Going home for Thanksgiving? The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) wants you to consider their hilarious (and delightful) new campaign, "I'm Letting Aunt Betty Feel Awkward This Thanksgiving." GLAAD writes:
"The LGBT community has a ton to be thankful for from the past year. But we also have a long way to go. And believe it or not, putting down that forkful of stuffing for a minute and just talking about yourself (if you can) this Thanksgiving can make a huge difference. We've all had those Thanksgiving dinners where Aunt Betty decides this is the perfect time to discuss a year's worth of ailments and medical treatments. Well, you know what? If she can talk about her podiatrist, you can talk about your partner. The fact is, while you're scarfing down mashed potatoes and staying silent while everyone else at the table is freely speaking their minds, you're missing a golden opportunity to make real, honest progress by talking about your life, and the things you care about. It's okay if Aunt Betty feels a little awkward at first, it's important for her to know that someone she loves cares deeply about LGBT equality. And the more we all talk about what's important to us, the less awkward those conversations will become. Today some LGBT people can't be open about who they are. But if you do feel comfortable, speaking openly and honestly about your life with your loved ones is one of the best ways for all of us to move forward together."
Secret #6: Thanksgiving's Unofficial Fruit

Fresh or fresh out of the can with those weird indentations still intact -- no table is complete without cranberries during the holidays. And seeing as cranberries are Thanksgiving's unofficial fruit -- we began to wonder about other fruit, including the word itself and how it became equated with gay men. The term first became used to refer to gay men in 1935, and some believe it was due to the word's prior association with "a girl or woman willing to oblige." Gay men have long been connected to slang that serves to emasculate them and "fruit" most likely falls into that category.

Secret #7: The NFL Gets Gayer

For many Americans there's nothing like a good game of football to finish off a Thanksgiving afternoon. And thanks to a change to the National Football League's Collective Bargaining Agreement made in September of this year, we might soon be seeing gay football players (or at least the groundwork has been laid for the possibility). The Agreement was altered to include "sexual orientation" in the non-discrimination clause which now reads: Section 1. No Discrimination: There will be no discrimination in any form against any player by the Management Council, any Club or by the NFLPA because of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or activity or lack of activity on behalf of the NFLPA.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

One day is there of the series

One day is there of the series

Emily Dickinson

One day is there of the series
Termed "Thanksgiving Day"
Celebrated part at table
Part in memory -
Neither Ancestor nor Urchin
I review the Play -
Seems it to my Hooded thinking
Reflex Holiday
Had There been no sharp subtraction
From the early Sum -         
Not an acre or a Caption
Where was once a Room
Not a mention whose small Pebble
Wrinkled any Sea,
Unto such, were such Assembly,         
'Twere "Thanksgiving day" -

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gay Pilgrims

PLYMOUTH - In the summer of 1637, two working men at the English colony at Plymouth faced the possibility of execution, convicted of what the law books said was a grave moral crime.

gaypilgrimsGay Pilgrims would have never looked this happy.
John Alexander and Thomas Roberts had been caught in a homosexual relationship.

Court records from their case, and from a handful of others, are the only keyhole through which researchers at the Plimoth Plantation museum can peek backward through time to imagine the lives of the colony’s gays and lesbians.

On this date in 1637, John Alexander and Thomas Roberts were changed with and convicted of “lude behavior and unclean carriage one with another, by often spending their seed one upon another, which was proved both by witness and their own confession; the said Alexander found to have been formerly notoriously guilty that way, and seeking to allure others thereunto.”

John Alexander was sentenced to a severe whipping, then to be burned in the shoulder with a hot iron, and then to be permanently banished from the Colony.

Roberts was sentenced to a severe whipping, but was not banished. He was prohibited from ever owning any land within the Plymouth Colony “except he manifest better desert.” He was returned to his master and forbidden to hold any lands in the future.

Sodomy, usually homosexuality, was considered a capital offence but rarely punished as such. These punishments, while harsh, still lacked the full force of the law.

At the Out at Plimoth Plantation event, the living museum of Colonial and Native American history presents special programs on gay history of the 17th and 18th centuries in early American culture.
“Plimoth Plantation as a museum has always been a place that has tried to recover every life,’’ said Richard Pickering, the museum’s deputy director. Pickering quoted the poet and author Paul Monette, who wrote that most of gay history “lies in shallow bachelors’ graves.’’

“We’re telling the audience that we’re going to talk about all those uncles and all those aunts who have fallen off the family tree,’’ said Pickering. “Their stories may be lost, so let’s contemplate those lost lives.’’ Though the historical record is sparse, “we can get a sense of what the options of the past were,’’ and provide some sense of history to a modern gay community “that really doesn’t have a strong sense of its past much before 1960.’’

Back in the 1600s, homosexuality was thought to be a behavior that could be learned due to a lack of “proper’’ examples of traditional relationships, said Pickering. Being gay or lesbian at the time was not a sexual identity as we think of it today. Gays and lesbians “did not have the opportunity to pursue the kind of lives and identities that modern social structures allow,’’ he said.
Yet the prosecution of Alexander and Roberts for homosexual conduct reveals layers of complexities in Colonial life, despite the scant court records. Though the maximum penalty was death, neither man was executed.

Alexander, who was perceived as the seducer and therefore was considered more responsible, was branded with a hot iron and banished from the colony, said Pickering.
Roberts was allowed to stay, though the court forbade him from owning land or participating in the political process, Pickering said.

“At first glance you would think that 17th-century New Englanders would be very harsh,’’ said Pickering. But both men were spared execution, and in time Roberts was allowed to own land and to vote. “Even though there are statutes, in the enactment of the law they are much more gentle.’’ It may have been that the colony needed every pair of hands and couldn’t afford to lose both workers, or that in a tiny community of a few hundred, the judges would have known the defendants personally and were reluctant to send neighbors to their deaths.

Plimoth Plantation began researching the gay history of the colony about 10 years ago, in preparation for bringing its replica of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower to gay-friendly Provincetown.

The role players at Plimoth Plantation wear period costumes and never come out of character while they’re on the job. In a recent interview, for example, Pickering had to leave the “village’’ for a private room to speak as a modern man. In that spirit of authenticity, the museum researched gay Colonial history to educate its staff in case one of the role players got a question about same-sex relationships while in Provincetown.

The museum last year presented that research to visitors at its first Out at Plimoth Plantation, a conscious effort to reach out to the gay community. “For a while the museum just assumed it was known that everyone was welcome here,’’ said spokeswoman Jennifer Monac. “History is everybody’s story. We realize we need to make it relevant for everybody.

“We wanted to create a day where same-sex couples could attend like any other family and not have to worry if they hold hands or show affection,’’ she said.

The museum’s website is

Sunday, November 18, 2012

God's Good Purposes

When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him."

So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this command before he died, 'Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." 

Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants."

But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Genesis 50:15-21
We can learn so much from what Joseph tells his brothers in the passage above.  As members of the LGBT community, we often have people who "mean evil against us." However, we must remember that God has a plan and a purpose for us.  We cannot lose faith, we must persevere as Joseph did.

If you are not familiar with the story of Joseph, here is a quick synopsis:
In the Old Testament, the son of the patriarch Jacob and his wife, Rachel. He was favored by his father, and his brothers became bitterly jealous when he was given a resplendent coat of many colors (literally, coat with flowing sleeves). They sold him into slavery in Egypt, telling Jacob he had been killed by a wild beast. In Egypt Joseph gained favor with the pharaoh and rose to high office, owing to his ability to interpret dreams, and his acquisition of grain supplies enabled Egypt to withstand a famine. When famine forced Jacob to send his sons to Egypt to buy grain, the family was reconciled with Joseph and settled there.
Joseph is unwilling to take vengeance where God has shown mercy. His own deep faith and his own experience of God's grace move him to forgive the past and build for the future. Not only does he forgive, but he promise to provide for and protect his repentant brothers and their families.

And it is what God would have for us too. A faith that looks not to the hurts and the wrongs that others have caused us, but to the grace and mercy God shows even in the midst of such wrongs. A faith that stands gratefully in the place of God to receive God's gifts and live a life of forgiveness through service! A faith that is able to see the Lord's mercy and grace at work even through the most evil of circumstances and trust that God will turn evil to good for those who love and trust in Him.
The lawyer may says "Let justice be done though the world perish." A theologian says "Let sin be forgiven and the world be saved, for justice is not done, but sin is always done." If the great, sublime article called the forgiveness of sins is correctly understood, it makes one a genuine Christian and gives one eternal life. This is the very reason why it must be taught in Christendom without unflagging diligence and without ceasing, so that people may learn to understand it clearly, and discriminatingly. For to do so is the one, supreme, and most difficult task of Christians. To do so is to understand the place of God – the work of God – the promise of God.
We sin every day, and we are also sinned against every day.  When someone who has wronged us asks for our forgiveness, you and I have the unique privilege to reflect the love of God into their hearts and minds.  

"I forgive you."  Sometimes I think that phrase is even harder to say than, "I'm sorry."  But that little phrase is packed with Christian power.  It's packed with the power of Jesus' blood that washes away a lifetime of guilt.  It's packed with the power of God's Word that makes it as valid as if God himself announced his forgiveness with a thundering voice from heaven.  You know how much those words mean to you.  Let's share those words with the people in our lives who need to learn how much it means for them! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Portrait Of A Drag Queen

Next Magazine Survey Provides Insight Into The Personal Lives Of Drag Queens
While drag queens have made their way into the mainstream with TV shows like "RuPaul's Drag Race," there is still much that is unknown about the world of drag.
Fortunately, our friends over at Next Magazine surveyed 60 drag queens in order to cut through the many stereotypes and pinpoint the characteristics of the average queen.
According to the poll, 55 percent of drag queens currently perform in a nightclub, bar or cabaret, with the majority receiving $51 to $200 per appearance. Their look of choice ranges from glamorous to vintage, but most queens surveyed have any overwhelming variety of outfits -- the average closet contains 79 different ensembles.
Not surprisingly, 73 percent of queens said drag has changed for the better in the past 10 years, with the majority naming RuPaul as the most important drag queen of all time.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Is it time to dump the term openly gay?

I'm not for sure that it's not nearing a time when we should ditch the phrase "openly gay," and in fact stop referring to sexual orientation altogether when we're talking about politicians and public figures.

Why is it relevant? What do we get out of knowing whether a candidate is gay or straight? Yet "openly gay" is a ubiquitous tag line. The media carefully use "openly" to signal they are not outing someone, deliberately or inadvertently.

Homophobia is still out there, in lame jokes, in both urban and rural settings, and in communities across a broad ethnic and religious spectrum and in political campaigns where it flares up in nasty ways. In fact, there may be a danger that no longer referring to a public person as "openly gay" could create an unwelcome return to the closet.

Most gay public figures are well aware of the pressure on them from within the LGBT community to be "out" role models who can offer comfort and reassurance to young people worried about coming out or even just appearing to be gay.

Last summer, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper publicly came out, at 45, stating, "In a perfect world, I don't think it's anyone else's business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted."

Knowing a public figure is gay can add to their lustre — it takes courage to be out in a predominantly straight world.  Yet the millennial generation, which will one day rule this world (so be nice to them), is quickly moving beyond noting or caring about gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity, differences that their parents can't resist mentioning in casual conversation. Mom and Dad, your kids don't really give a damn if your stockbroker is gay, unless they are taught to hate and look at such matters.

In politics and in life, which can still remain two separate entities, the more people come into contact with someone who is gay — in their families, at work or socially — the less they "otherize" them.
Even in the American heartland, long-held prejudices fanned by the religious right are melting away. In last week's election, gay marriage initiatives passed in several states (although it's still constitutionally banned in 31) and Wisconsin voters elected Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator.

I loved her line when asked if she thought her presence in that august chamber would make a difference to gay rights: "If you're not in the room they talk about you, if you're in the room, they talk with you."

So is it still fair to proclaim someone is "openly gay?"  How important is a label?  Because of where I live and work, it is easier for me to make it a non-issue.  Some people think I am gay, some don't, but for my students, it's actually a non-issue.  It is not something I will discuss with them, now will I confirm whether I am or not, but kids are smarter than we think they are.

I do believe that we are not quite there where we will stop saying "openly gay," and that is because we do still need some openly gay role models.  People need to see that we are essentially no different from them. We just happen to have an attraction to someone of the same sex.  To which I say, "So what?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I was sick yesterday and still not feeling well today. I think it is a stomach virus. Anyway, I went home yesterday and went to bed. I have not had time nor have I felt like doing a post today. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reasons to Survive November

Reasons to Survive November

November like a train wreck—
as if a locomotive made of cold
had hurtled out of Canada
and crashed into a million trees,
flaming the leaves, setting the woods on fire.

The sky is a thick, cold gauze—
but there's a soup special at the Waffle House downtown,
and the Jack Parsons show is up at the museum,
full of luminous red barns.

—Or maybe I'll visit beautiful Donna,
the kickboxing queen from Santa Fe,
and roll around in her foldout bed.

I know there are some people out there
who think I am supposed to end up
                in a room by myself

with a gun and a bottle full of hate,
a locked door and my slack mouth open
          like a disconnected phone.

But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure,

and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over

and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies.
"Reasons to Survive November," Tony Hoagland, from What Narcissism Means to Me (Graywolf Press).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Southern Tall-Tales

Southerners love tall tales, the taller and crazier the better. If you hear somebody say, "Now, this is a true story ...," you might as well go ahead and sit down and get comfortable. Whether it's exaggeration or downright lies, it's fun to listen to storytellers. Southerners are the best, mostly due to the insane real life events all around here that are better than fiction. You can't make this stuff up.  There was a historian once who said that one of the reasons that southerners were so crazy was the heat and humidity.  He believed it drove us all insane.  There might be some validity to this argument.  Whatever the reason, we love to tell stories, and we often exaggerate a little in our stories.  If you ever hear a southerner tell the same story more than once, the exaggerations will always get bigger, especially if it is a funny story, because it just makes the punchline even better.

Two of the best storytellers I have ever heard were Kathryn Tucker Windham and Lewis Grizzard, both of whom have now passed away.  Each could tell a tale and have you rolling in the floor, especially Grizzard.  Windham just loved to collect tall-tales and ghost stories.  My granddaddy was another who loved to tell tall-tales.  I will tell two of the stories he used to love to tell.

The first one, the shortest one, involved a rattlesnake that once bit him.  He swore that the rattlesnake bit him and then rolled over and died.  My granddaddy claimed he was just that mean, and some would agree with him on that, but he was always very kind to me.  The truth of that story is that the bite nearly killed my grandfather, but whatever happened to the snake, we will never know.

The other story was about a swamp that was about a mile from his house.  He always told the story of the him and his brother going hunting in the swamp.  All of a sudden they heard this loud noise and thought it must be a helicopter, but then trees began to fall.  He said before they new it, whatever it was got closer.  When it got close enough for them to see, they realized that it was the biggest mosquito they had ever seen.  His point was always that the mosquitoes around that swamp were huge, but it was always fun hearing him tell his stories.

I think most southerners tend to exaggerate a bit, some more than others, when we tell stories, I know I do.  You know what, it makes life more interesting that way.

What's the biggest tall-tale you have ever heard?  Do other parts of the country tend to exaggerate as much as southerners do?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Proverbs And Words, Part II

Last week, we looked at how the book of Proverbs deals with our propensity to talk.  I suggested taking some time to be quiet and listen to others instead of talking.  Did you do it?

If not, you're not alone.  It's so easy to fall into our old habits, worrying more about our own opinions and thoughts than about others'.  Keep making an effort, though; this is important stuff.

If you did do it, did you notice any differences in the way people responded to you?  Most people relish the chance to be heard, so when you make that space by shutting up and showing interest in others, you gain the chance to be influential in their lives.  You demonstrate the love of God, who always takes time to show interest in us - even though there's absolutely nothing we have to say that God doesn't already know!

This week, let's take it one step further.  What about when you're in dialogue with someone, and they say something that you really disagree with?  It might be anything from a conversation with your parents to a debate on the recent election  The point is, someone says something you know is wrong - maybe even a direct criticism against you.  How should you respond?
Here's what Proverbs says:
Proverbs 12:15
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 18:2

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.
"But these aren't just my opinions!" you say.  "They're the truth!"  And of course that's just what the fool says as well, isn't it?

Notice - the difference between the wise and the foolish is that the fool wants to get his opinions out there, but he (or she) gains no pleasure from "understanding."  Understanding what?  Why, the other points of view, of course.  By contrast, wise people also want to have their views heard, but not until after making sure they have fully understood the other person.  The wise person listens first.  And once the fool is convinced that the wise person has understood the fool's point of view, then he or she will be much more open to listening to the (now much more informed) position of the wise.

Behaving this way takes humility and discipline.  It's not easy to sit there quietly listening when you're just dying to show the other person why they're wrong.  It's even more difficult to spend that time focusing on understanding the other person rather than trying to think of all the arguments you want to use against them.

It's easy to think, in the midst of all this listening and patience, that you're wasting your time when you should be correcting the other person - maybe they're spouting false doctrine, and you need to stand up for what's right.  But that's exactly when you must use patience as a weapon for the Truth.  Proverbs says:
Proverbs 25:15 
Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

Proverbs 16:32

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

Proverbs 14:29

A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.
Patience is powerful.  In arguments and debates, we so easily fall into the trap of thinking that being louder and more forceful gives us an advantage, but how often have you ever "won over" the other side by arguing with them?

If your goal is to change someone's mind, patience and gentleness are the most effective weapons to do it.  Be kind, stop talking and listen whenever the other person has something to say, and if you must, sit there for hours until they're done ranting.  Once they have nothing left to say and you've heard and understood it all, you've taken all the wind out of their sails.  Now they have nothing left to do but listen.  "Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone."  It's counterintuitive, but it's true.

Proverbs recommends the patient approach, because:
Proverbs 15:18
A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.
So what's so wrong with a quarrel?  Isn't a good quarrel healthy now and then?  Not according to the Scriptures.
Proverbs 17:19
He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.

Proverbs 17:14 

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

Proverbs 20:3 
It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
Are you a quarrel-loving fool?  It may be time to rethink that position.

But sometimes, arguments seem impossible to avoid, especially when someone else says something harsh against you.  So if somebody insults you, how can you avoid a quarrel?
Proverbs 24:29
Do not say, "I'll do to him as he has done to me; I'll pay that man back for what he did."

Proverbs 29:11
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.

Proverbs 26:4
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.

Proverbs 12:16
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
Such a gargantuan task we have as Christians, isn't it?  It rather reminds one of that "turn the other cheek" bit that a certain Jesus of Nazareth is famous for saying.

These proverbs are so simple, but if we really followed them as we should, we could increase our persuasiveness by hundreds of times.  We could literally change the entire world.

I for one need to be reminded of these on a daily basis.  I plan to print these out and review them regularly.  Maybe next time a quarrel breaks out, I'll be reminded to respond more like a wise man... and less like the fool that I usually am.