Friday, February 27, 2015

Jack Falahee: Inquiring Minds Want to Know



The two hour season finale of "How to Get Away with Murder" aired last night.  There were many OMG, OMFG, WOW, and WTF moments in last night's episode.  We got to see a little bit more about Connor and Oliver's relationship, but sadly we haven't gotten any steamy sex scenes since the first half of the season.

"How to Get Away with Murder" star Jack Falahee, who’s been steaming up TV screens with his gay sex scenes as Connor Walsh, expounded further on why he’s not announcing his sexual orientation any time soon.  His approach to this question is quite interesting, and to a certain degree, I understand it.  Even though, my curiosity is up too.  Jack is incredibly sexy.

In a recent interview in Out that received lots of social media attention, he’d said it “seems reductive” to note his sexual orientation publicly, explaining that he doesn’t think it ”accomplishes anything other than quenching the thirst of curiosity," and opined that, ”no matter how I answer, someone will say, ‘No, that’s not true.’"

Speaking with me on SiriusXM Progress, Falahee, who replied “Yeah, sure,” when asked if it’s important for young LGBT people to see out actors and celebrities, further explained his thinking on why, in his case, he’s not discussing whether he’s straight, gay or bisexual.

“I was basically trying to say [in that interview], for me it’s like asking an actor who plays an alcoholic what their relationship is with alcohol,” he explained. “It’s not necessarily — I think we’re projecting onto actors in a way. I think we’re expecting them to be their characters when, at the end of the day, this is my job and I’m an actor portraying a role on a fictitious television show.”

But an actor who plays an alcoholic might be asked what he brings to the role and if he’s had that experience in his life. If people ask what an actor like Falahee, whose character, Connor Walsh, had lots of hook-up sex with various men last season, what he brings to the role of a gay man, isn’t the interviewer simply asking what he brings to the experience?

“Right, but that wasn’t the question,” Falahee replied. “The question was, ‘How do I define my sexuality?' And that’s a very different question than asking — actually we were in Atlanta, for the ATL TV Fest, and a young woman, she actually had a really great question. She said, ‘What personal experience do you bring to portray — what did she say? — a ‘manwhore’ homosexual on television?’”

“And you know, I was like, that is a great question,” he continued. “That is a different question than how do I define my sexuality. And to answer that question, I would say, well, you know, I went to NYU, and the Tisch School of Drama, and there we studied Stanislavski-based acting techniques. And while I have dabbled in the Lee Strasberg method of sense-memory and using your own experience to portray a character, I found that that was a fast track, maybe, to therapy. And so, I fell more into the Stella Adler method of acting camp, and create fictitious circumstances….I’m creating circumstances in which Conor exists to accurately portray him..I just think it’s interesting because I have a body of work before Conor Walsh that is primarily heterosexual and yet people want to ask — you know, no on asks any other man, or woman, on my show, about their sexuality, and that’s what fascinates me."

He then added, “We don’t ask the actor playing James Bond what his sexual preference is. So I don’t know what it is, really, with trying to out actors who portray gay characters on television. But it is some sort of fascination in society.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Blogger and Censorship


Google has announced a new adult content policy for Blogger.  Starting March 23, 2015, bloggers won't be able to publicly share images and videos that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity on Blogger.  Google says that they will "still allow nudity if the content offers a substantial public benefit. For example, in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts."  Bloggers says that if an existing blog doesn’t have any sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video on it, that you won’t notice any changes.

If an existing blog does have sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video, the blog will be made private after March 23, 2015.  Blogger says that no content will be deleted, but private content can only be seen by the owner or administrators of the blog and the people who the owner has shared the blog with.

Several years ago when Blogger began to shut down many gay blogs, I decided to remove anything I deemed overtly sexually explicit or contained graphic nude images or videos from my blog.  At the same time, I also removed the adult content warning.  However, I do still post some nudity on my blog, but mostly only male behinds.  I never post an exposed penis, nor an erect penis.

I have several issues with Blogger's explanation of the new policy because it is too vague and ambiguous.  There needs to be a specific policy to explain what Google/Blogger will determine as what will be deemed not to "offer substantial public benefit."  Who will determine what is substantial?  The answer most likely is that it will be either google workers or some computerized search technique they will use.  I've had a few problems with Blogger in the past with their AdSense revenue sharing program.  It never produced much money, but a little here and there always hoped.  However, AdSense, even though I conformed to their policy, decided that my blog was in violation of their policy.  Though I emailed them numerous times, I was never given an explanation.  I'm afraid they will do the same with their new policy.

Some of the blogs I read daily, do contain sexual content.  Steve's "All Natural and More" is one of my favorite blogs.  I follow it and check it out each day.  I love the pictures that Steve shares, but I also love the newsworthy items that he shares on his blog.  Since I am a follower of Steve's blog, will I lose access to this blog if it is deemed "pornographic" or will I have to ask for permission to follow his blog or other blogs that are made private that I follow?  Will blogs that are converted to private still appear on my Dashboard?  These are just some of the many questions that Blogger should be answering, but is remaining silent about.

It is simple censorship.  A blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first). Many blogs provide commentary on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries; others function more as online brand advertising of a particular individual or company. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic, sometimes those topics are sexual in nature. The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of a blog.  I've met many great people through blogging.

What upsets me is that a blog is an extension of your personality.  Often bloggers are anonymous so that they can freely express a part of their personality that they may not be able to express to the public world around them.  This is especially true of closeted gay bloggers.  By censoring us, of what Google/Blogger may or may not deem to offer substantial public benefit, they are taking away a large part of what blogging is about.  I do not believe that my blog is in violation of their new policy, but if one day they deem it to be in violation, please remember my dear readers that I have a mirror blog at closetprofessor.wordpress.com.  If this blog does get caught up in Blogger's censorship campaign (I hope it won't), I will continue to post on my WordPress site.

Just as a side note, look at that picture above.  It is a picture of one of the most beautiful men that I've ever seen, yet I had to censor it to make it appropriate for this blog.  As beautiful as that man is, I do not believe it is a pornographic picture simply because he is (1) naked, (2) shows his penis, or even that (3) he has an erection.  It is a beautiful picture of a beautiful man, and to me, that makes it art and worth sharing.  Besides, I find something incredibly sexy about a man in nothing but a white dress shirt.

UPDATE:

Writing for Google's Blogger Team, Social Product Support Manager Jessica Pelegio said that users whose blogs were consistent with Blogger's existing policies (including the labeling of adult content) would not need to make any changes.

"We've had a ton of feedback," Pelegio said, "in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities. So rather than implement this change, we've decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Semen: The Natural Antidepressant



It seems like our little swimmers help elevate our moods.  A new study has found that semen is good for your mental and physical health.  Whether it enters the body orally or via unprotected sex, the “mood altering chemicals” contained within seminal fluid reduce depression, increase affection, and help you sleep.

The State University of New York study found that women who regularly have unprotected sex are less depressed. Medical Daily points out semen contains mood-elevating estrone and oxytocin, cortisol, melatonin, anti-depressant prolactin, thyrotropin releasing hormone and serotonin.

The study surveyed the sex lives and mental health of 293 women from the SUNY-Albany campus.  Researchers also asked respondents to complete the Beck Depression Inventory, which is commonly used to measure mood disorders.  The results revealed that sexually active women who “never” used condoms showed significantly fewer depressive symptoms than those who “always” or “usually” used condoms.

The findings, which were published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour journal, also found women who described themselves as “promiscuous” yet used condoms were as depressed as women who practice abstinence

The team says this suggests it is semen, not just sex, that makes women happy.  It comes in the same month Gordon Gallup, a psychologist at SUNY-Albany, proposed semen also helps women suffering from morning sickness.  Gallup theorized that pregnant women often feel nauseous because their bodies are rejecting the semen’s genetic material as alien.  It thus follows that ingesting the same sperm would allow the body to build up a tolerance, The New York Daily News reported. 

Considering that this test was only done using female subjects, I think there should be a study using gay men.  Let's pass out the pineapple juice guys and get started.  I think I'd much rather lift my mood this way than taking Prozac.  It certainly sounds like a lot more fun, and tasty (just don't forget the pineapple juice).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Dream


The Dream
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love, if I weep it will not matter,
  And if you laugh I shall not care;
Foolish am I to think about it,
  But it is good to feel you there.
Love, in my sleep I dreamed of waking, —
  White and awful the moonlight reached
Over the floor, and somewhere, somewhere,
  There was a shutter loose, —it screeched!
Swung in the wind, — and no wind blowing! —
  I was afraid, and turned to you,
Put out my hand to you for comfort, —
  And you were gone!  Cold, cold as dew,
Under my hand the moonlight lay!
  Love, if you laugh I shall not care,
But if I weep it will not matter, —
  Ah, it is good to feel you there!

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Stay weird. Stay different"


Last night I watched the Oscars.  I usually don't, and I have to say, they were a bit dull and disappointing.  I expected better of Neil Patrick Harris as the host, but he does a much better job with the Tonys.  I thought that the most elegant speech of the night was that of Julianne Moore for Best Actress.  I think Moore is a classy lady and she showed just how classy the Oscars can be.

However, the best speech of that night was by Graham Moore.  Moore won Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Imitation Game," and he used the win to give a powerful speech about suicide awareness and depression.

"I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I'm standing here," he said. "I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it's your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along."

I was that weird and awkward kid when I was sixteen.  I even tried to commit suicide, and I thank God each and every day that I was not successful.  I may not have the life I'd expected to have, but it's not over yet.  There are many teenagers, especially gay teenagers, who have faced depression and attempted suicide.  Sadly, far too many are successful.  We have to make this world a better place so that teenagers who face depression and suicidal thoughts can understand that the world is a better place.  The phrase "It gets better!" may be a bit cliche these days, but it really is true.  It does get better.

On Saturday afternoon, I went to see "The Imitation Game."  If you're not familiar with the movie, it is about the life and achievements of the late Alan Turing, the British mathematician and cryptanalyst who helped solve the Enigma code during World War II. After the war he was prosecuted for homosexuality in Britain and died by suicide in 1954 at 41 years old.  I've written about Turing before on this blog, and this movie was a great movie.  I honestly thought it deserved much more recognition than it received last night.  If you haven't seen it, I hope you will.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ask and You Shall Receive



"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8

Jesus’ statement “Ask and you shall receive” occurs several times in the Gospel accounts in various forms. It is a saying that has often been misinterpreted by those who do not understand the verse in its context, but rather assume that Jesus’ meaning was “ask for anything you want and I’ll give it to you,” a basic tenet of the prosperity gospel and word of faith teaching. Sadly, the faith of many has been shipwrecked on the rocks of unanswered prayers that were prayed because of a belief in the faulty assumption that “ask and you shall receive” is a blanket promise with no conditions.

Perhaps the most famous instance of “ask and you shall receive” is found in Matthew 7:7-8 where Jesus tells His disciples during the Sermon on the Mount that whoever asks receives, whoever seeks finds, and to whomever knocks, the door will be opened. We cannot gain a full understanding of Jesus’ meaning without reading the entire passage. Jesus goes on to say that God will not fail to give His children good things. Luke 11:9-13 repeats this message, but replaces the words “good things” with “the Holy Spirit.” This means that God will give good gifts to His children, and the best example of a good gift is the Holy Spirit. When combined with John 14:14, where Jesus tells His disciples that whatever they ask for “in His name” will be done for them, we begin to see the two-fold purpose of prayer—to give us deeper understanding of what God calls “good” and to cultivate a desire in us for that which God calls good. 

Our prayers to God are not unlike our requests of men. They are based in a relationship, just as Jesus points out in Matthew 7:8. When we ask our earthly fathers for something they know will hurt us, those things are denied. A child may be frustrated and unhappy when his father denies his request for something bad, but he still trusts his father. And when a request is for something that the father knows is good for his child, he will provide it willingly and eagerly because he loves his child. This relationship is further alluded to when Jesus follows His promise in John 14:14 with verse 15: “If you love me, keep My commandments.” Loving Jesus, obeying Him, and praying according to His will are all part asking in His name.

Many new believers have experienced a disappointment about this reality, thinking, “But what if what I want / need is not in God’s will?” But when we think about it, this promise can never disappoint us. First, if what we want is not in God’s will, we really don’t want to receive it, because, though it might seem to be what we want, God knows it isn’t good for us and is faithful and loving to say “no” to that prayer. Second, inherent in the promise is the guarantee that the things we truly need will always be given to us when we ask for them. God will always give us good things. Our job is to understand what is good, so that we know what to ask for. The natural mind does not understand this, but, according to Romans 12:1-2, renewing our minds, which can only be done through His Word, will help us understand what God’s will is. Then, asking in faith, we will have all we need for life and godliness and fullness of joy (John 16:24). This is not intuitive for us, but it teaches us humility, and it draws us near to God, who is the Source of our joy. 

All other verses about prayer must be interpreted through this lens. Matthew 21:22 tells us that we will receive whatever we ask for in prayer, if we have faith. The question is faith in what? Again, it is faith in His Word to tell us what is best and faith that He will give us what is best. If we ask for healing, and that is the best thing for us, we should not doubt that He will do it. But if He does not heal, we must assume that not being healed is a necessary part of a larger plan that is ultimately for our good. 

Consider Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” We know that this verse doesn’t mean “if you pursue God you will get what you want” because of what we already know about asking according to His will. This verse does not give us a way to manipulate God, nor does it mean that, if we obey, He will see it and be pleased and then give us whatever we are craving. Rather, it means that when we delight ourselves in God, truly loving Him and pursuing Him for His sake, then everything we want and need will necessarily be in Him. The issue here is a change of heart—when the heart seeks the Lord, it is satisfied with what it finds there, and its true desires are realized in Him. But loving and desiring God is far from natural for us.

Therefore, the first and most important prayers in the life of a Christian are “Make me love You above all else” and “Make me want what You want” because when we truly desire God and long to see the Kingdom of God realized in our lives and in the lives of others, when we are passionate to see His will and His work in this world, and we ask for the things that bring Him glory and increase our closeness to Him, He is eager and willing to give us anything we ask for. Sometimes the things that glorify God are pleasant things, like a marriage or a child. Sometimes they are difficult things, like a failure that humbles us or a physical weakness that makes us dependent upon Him. But we must never doubt that, when we pray for what is in His will, we will receive it, and that what we receive from Him will always be that which is best.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Moment of Zen: Tennis



I have a date today to go watch the Blue Gray National Tennnis Classic.  I love watching tennis, and what I love even more is sexy teen is players.  Yum!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Rally for Marriage



I never listen to the radio in the mornings.  I used to listen to NPR every morning on the way to school, but occasionally they get on a story and they are as bad as all the other news sources and just go on and on ad nauseam.  So, I usually listen to an audiobook to and from school.  But this morning, I was having trouble with the phone syncing to the radio and it kept playing the actual radio station, which happened to have "The Rick and Bubba Show" on the station.  I used to listen to Rick and Bubba fifteen years ago back when it was largely a comedy show and they still played music, but since then they have gone so far to the Christian Right politically and religiously that I can't even begin to listen to it.

The less than two minutes I accidentally heard the show, it was like listening to a racing lunatic on the radio.  Rick Burgess has such a blind hatred of President Obama and all things liberal that he sounds like a religious fanatic, which he is. This morning he was ranting about how Obama decries any criticism of Islam while chastising anyone in support of Christianity.  It was a load of shit.  Rick would say the same thing about me.  I hate when other people are ignorant and dismissive of a religion just because it is different from theirs and they don't understand it.  I probably didn't hear more than 20 seconds of the show and in that time, he raged against Obama's "hatred" of Christianity and got on the topic of same-sex marriage in Alabama.

Rick Burgess happens to be a fanatical supporter of Alabama's Chief Clown Roy Moore. Burgess last week sent out a message on Twitter stating that Alabama probate judges claiming to be Christians should make a stand and refuse to sign same sex marriage license. Then, in a follow-up statement to AL.com, Burgess urged judges to follow the example of King in fighting unjust segregationist laws.
"If you are a Christian and a probate judge do you condone a version of marriage that goes against God even though it's the current law of the land?   Martin Luther King Jr. in his letter from a Birmingham jail covered this when explaining to fellow pastors why he would continue to break "unjust" laws."
This coming from a man who we all know doesn't hate Obama because he's "not a Christian" but because Obama is part African-American.  All southern (and most national) conservatives don't hate Obama solely because he is a Democrat but at least 75 percent of their hatred is because he's "black."  It pisses me off that someone like Rick Burgess will hate a man because he's black and then turn around and used Dr. King as an example for judges to hold themselves to a "Christian" standard.

Honestly, I can't understand why anyone would listen to the dribble that comes from the mouths of Rick and Bubba.  Not only will I not find myself accidentally listening to them again, but I will never tune to that radio station again.

By the way, I'd also love to be attending the Rally for Marriage in either Birmingham or Mobile tomorrow.  I wish they were holding one in Montgomery, but maybe I will head to one of the rallies.  If you are around Birmingham or Mobile, I encourage you to go.  Show your support for the Alabama probate judges who are doing the right thing and for the right for gay people to marry and have some equality in Alabama.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gong Hei Fat Choi: Happy Chinese New Year!


Today is the first day of the Chinese calendar, and we welcome the year of the goat (or sheep or ram, according to which translation you choose).  The year of the goat is part of an ancient tradition in which the Chinese zodiac, Shēngxiào, attaches animal signs to each lunar year in a cycle of 12 years.

It reflects a similar concept in western astrology and means "circle of animals" – and remains popular in Asian communities around the world.

But as we bring the year of the horse to an end, where did the animals of the Chinese zodiac come from and what do they mean?

It is known that the animals of the zodiac have been popular since the Han Dynasty, between 206 BC and 220 AD. Pottery artifacts dating back to the Tang Dynasty, 618 to 907 AD, show the animals were popular at that time – but they have also been found on relics from the Warring States Period, 475 to 221 BC.

According to some historians, the animals of the Chinese zodiac were brought to China via the Silk Road, the central Asia trade route that brought Buddhism from India to Han China in the 1st or 2nd century BC.

Others argue that the belief predates Buddhism and has origins in early Chinese astronomy that used Jupiter as a constant – due to its 12-year orbital period around the earth. Some suggest the use of animals in astrology began with ancient Chinese nomadic tribes, who developed the calendar for agriculture and hunting.

Red is the predominant color used in New Year celebrations. Red is the emblem of joy, and this color also symbolizes virtue, truth and sincerity. On the Chinese opera stage, a painted red face usually denotes a sacred or loyal personage and sometimes a great emperor. Candies, cakes, decorations and many things associated with the New Year and its ceremonies are colored red. The sound of the Chinese word for "red" is in Mandarin homophonous with the word for "prosperous". Therefore, red is an auspicious color and has an auspicious sound.

The translation of the Mandarin word "yang" (since this is technically the Year of the Yang) – a "horned animal" – has led to dispute over whether the Chinese New Year will bring the year of the goat, sheep or ram. But folklorists say it is the western translation which is the problem, as the "yang" can mean either animal, depending on what Chinese character it is paired with.

Experts say it does not matter which animal the zodiac sign refers to, as the emphasis relies on the connotation of the animal. According to Zhao Shu, a researcher with the Beijing Research Institute of Culture and History, "This 'yang' is fictional. It does not refer to any specific kind of sheep or goat."

The animal choice can depend on which area of Asia the person is from, as different regions of China have their own interpretations. According to Google, the phrase "the year of the ram" is most commonly used in India, followed by Canada and the United States, while the Philippines had high search levels for the "year of the sheep".

The Year of the Goat has been predicted by Chinese astrologers to be a sign of a bad year.  However, it is the eighth character of the zodiac and eight in Chinese sounds similar to their word for prosper.  The Chinese commonly regard sheep as an auspicious animal, and the Year of the Sheep, therefore, heralds a year of promise and prosperity, so I'm not sure why some astrologers are expecting a bad year.  To improve your fortunes this year, it is advised that people to wear black and blue, and to carry sheep talismans or accessories to help ward off bad luck.

Whichever you choose to use, Gong Hei Fat Choi, which loosely translates to "Congratulations and be prosperous," and is a traditional greeting of the new year.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Early to Bed, Early to Rise...



I had to get to bed early last night and be at school super early today, so not much time for a blog post.  I'm not a morning person, so I'm not so sure I believe in the Benjamin Franklin proverb "Early to bed and early to rise makes and man healthy, wealthy and wise."  I tend to think early to rise makes me grumpy, grouchy, and a bit foggy, especially without my coffee.  With that being said, you might wonder what's up with the picture I used today.  Well, yesterday was Mardi Gras.  Sadly, I didn't get to go this year, but it's always been fun when I did go.  The gay sector of Bourbon Street is always a lot of fun, and you never know what you'll see.  Even if it's Ash Wednesday and the good times have rolled, laissez les bon temps rouler!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

O Captain! My Captain!



O Captain! My Captain!
Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892

 O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack,
      the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
      While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart!
      O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.
      O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for
      you the bugle trills, 
                                  
         For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths- for you the shores
             a-crowding,
          For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
             Here Captain! dear father!
               This arm beneath your head!
                 It is some dream that on the deck,
                   You’ve fallen cold and dead.

          My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
          My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
          The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
          From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
               Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                 But I with mournful tread,
                   Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                     Fallen cold and dead.


Since yesterday was Presidents Day and I've never featured this poem, I thought it would be a wonderful tribute, as this poem was meant to be.  When President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, a war-weary nation was plunged into shock. The last great battles of the Civil War were still a recent memory, and the murder of the president seemed to be a bloody, pointless coda to four years of conflict and instability. There was a great outpouring of grief across the country, and poems and songs were written mourning the nation’s loss.

One American who grieved for the fallen president was the poet Walt Whitman. Whitman had lived in Washington for most of the war and was a great admirer of Lincoln, whom he felt embodied the American virtues of plain-spokenness, courage, and "horse-sense." He often saw the president riding around town on horseback, and the two men sometimes exchanged cordial bows.

Lincoln’s death inspired Whitman to write one of his most memorable works—a simple, three-stanza poem of sorrow that bore little resemblance to his other, more experimental writings. "O Captain! My Captain!" was published in New York’s Saturday Press in November of 1865, and was met with immediate acclaim. The poem’s evocation of triumph overshadowed by despair spoke to readers throughout the shattered nation, and it was widely reprinted and published in anthologies. "O Captain! My Captain!" became one of the most popular poems Whitman would ever write, and helped secure for him a position as one of the greatest American poets of the 19th century.

Whitman was very particular about the appearance of his poems and paid careful attention to every detail of spelling and punctuation. When Whitman noticed several errors in one edition of "O Captain! My Captain!" he mailed the page to the publishers with his corrections marked in ink. As you read this version of the poem, look at Whitman’s notes and ask yourself how his changes contributed to the poem’s impact.


Monday, February 16, 2015

MCM: Scott Eastwood



Well helloooo, Scott Eastwood!

Proving that good genes are in fact man's best friend, Clint Eastwood's gorgeous son channels his famous father's sexy squint in a photo shoot for Town & Country.

The 27-year-old shows off his movie star good looks in the nautical-themed shoot, which has him smoking on a cigar, posing shirtless, wearing summer whites and flaunting his toned legs in navy shorts.


But the hottie's life hasn't always been this glamorous despite his famous last name.  Eastwood told the magazine that he has worked every job imaginable from bartending to working construction.

"People assumed that I would have everything handed to me, but that couldn't be further from the truth," he says. "I was on my own just doing the grind."


But his filmmaker father, who had Scott with flight attendant Jacelyn Reeves, helped him find work in Hollywood for roles in Eastwood-directed "Flags of Our Fathers," "Gran Torino" and "Trouble With the Curve."  He can also be seen in the Brad Pitt movie "Fury" and the upcoming movie "The Longest Ride" based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name.

Do you think Scott looks like dad Clint?




Sunday, February 15, 2015

Love Is Our Nature


So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
1 John 4:16

There is an old fable about a saint and a scorpion.  I'm not sure where it originates from, though it sounds somewhat Indian in origin to me.  It goes something like this.  One day there was a saint meditating near the river. After he had finished his meditation, the saint opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water for his survival. As the scorpion was washed closer to the tree, the saint quickly stretched himself out on one of the long roots that branched out into the river and reached out to save the drowning scorpion. As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Impulsively the saint withdrew his hand. A minute later, after he had regained his balance, he stretched himself out again on the roots to save the scorpion. This time the scorpion stung him so badly with its venomous tail that his hand became swollen and bloody and his face contorted with pain.

At that moment, an onlooker saw the saint stretched out on the roots struggling with the scorpion and shouted: “Stupid man, what's wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don't you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?"

The saint turned his head. Looking into the stranger's eyes he said calmly, "My friend, just because it is the scorpion's nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save."

The moral of the story is that most of the time we changed ourselves due to the nature and attitude of the other person and loose our own unique identity.  I think oftentimes as LGBT Christians we do this ourselves.  We struggle with our sexuality and our faith because we are too often taught that they contradict each other.  However, it is only because we do not have faith enough in God to guide us along the correct path.  If we had faith in God's infallibility, then we would realize that God created us homosexual.  He would not have created us that way merely in order for us to fail, but it is human nature to have doubt, when we should look to God for faith instead.

Human nature is that which makes us distinctly human. Our nature is distinct from that of the animals and the rest of creation in that we can think and feel. One of the chief distinctions between human beings and the rest of creation is our ability to reason. No other creature has this ability, and there’s no question that this is a unique gift bestowed by God. Our reason enables us to reflect on our own nature and the nature of God and to derive knowledge of God's will for His creation. No other part of God’s creation has a nature capable of reason.

The Bible teaches that God created human beings in His image. This means that He enables us to have some understanding of Him and of His vast and complex design. Our human nature reflects some of God’s attributes, although in a limited way. We love because we are made in the image of the God who is love (1 John 4:16). Because we are created in His image, we can be compassionate, faithful, truthful, kind, patient, and just. In us, these attributes are distorted by sin, which also resides in our nature.

Originally, human nature was perfect by virtue of having been created so by God. The Bible teaches that human beings were created “very good” by a loving God (Genesis 1:31), but that goodness was marred by the sin of Adam and Eve. Subsequently, the entire human race fell victim to the sin nature. The good news is that at the moment a person trusts in Christ, he receives a new nature. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Sanctification is the process by which God develops our new nature, enabling us to grow into more holiness through time. This is a continuous process with many victories and defeats as the new nature battles with the “tent” (2 Corinthians 5:4) in which it resides—the old man, the old nature, the flesh. Not until we are glorified in heaven will our new nature be set free to live for eternity in the presence of the God in whose image we are created.

Therefore, as LGBT Christians we have a further step, a further test, than most Christians.  We can follow the steps of salvation, but we must also have faith that God created us in his image.  We must have faith that God created us to be attracted to and love those of the same sex.  No matter what the flaws of man may be, or the sin that mankind tempts us with its doubts, we must be strong in out faith and believe that God made us who we are and know that He is love.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage and Alabama


There has been one major advantage to being out sick this week with the flu, I have been able to be glued to the television and internet news coverage of same-sex marriage coming to Alabama.  A few years ago, I'd have never thought this day would come, and up until last month, I thought Alabama would be the 50th state to recognize same-sex marriage, but I am glad that I was wrong.  I wasn't wrong that it would happen with Alabamian officials kicking and screaming and trying to relive the conservative, states' rights "glory days" of the 1960s. 

Alabama's same-sex marriage ban began crumbling in January, when U.S. District Judge Callie Granade found it unconstitutional. At the request of the state attorney general, Granade put a two-week stay on her ruling so the state could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and delay it even longer. On Monday morning, however, the Supreme Court declined to get involved, and Alabama became the 37th state where gay marriage is legal.

Despite the ruling, dozens of probate judges around the state have refused to comply with Granade's ruling. According to the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, as of Thursday afternoon, only 23 of the state's 67 counties were issuing marriage licenses to all couples.


Their defiance is due to instructions from Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R), who sent an order to the state's probate judges Sunday night not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He argued that they were not bound to follow the federal ruling.

To further the confusion for Alabama's probate judges, the state's Attorney General is refusing to advise county probate judges in the matter of issuing same-sex marriage licenses.  AG Strange claims that it is not part of his job to advise elected officials in the state concerning the law.  First of all, Strange is a dumbass like so many officials in the state and he apparently has no idea what his job description is.  The Attorney General in Alabama is the chief lawyer of the state. He is called upon as the chief defender of the laws of Alabama, the lawyer for state officials and represents the state in all matters brought before a court of law or tribunal. The Attorney General also provides advisory opinions to local and state governments when questions arise about the constitutionality of proposed laws and regulations.  Therefore, when Judge Grenade ordered him not to enforce Alabama's same-sex marriage bans on the grounds that they are unconstitutional, that seems pretty clear to me that she ordered him to advise county probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Furthermore, the governor is playing dumb, as he usually does and refuses to make any comment.  At the same time that he wants to prevent same-sex marriage, he doesn't want to go down in history as the George Wallace of the LGBT rights movement.  Governor Bentley is merely a fence sitter.  He has made only one clear decision in his time as governor and that is to refuse federal aid for ObamaCare, which any healthcare worker who deals with the poor will tell you has been a major mistake, since it left many Alabamians uninsured because they couldn't pay the high cost of health coverage and they did not qualify for Alabama's income level for Medicaid.  He has been wishy-washy over casinos and every other issue before the state.  He's useless.

On the bright side, at least out Lt. Governor Kay "I have other people to do my thinking for me" Ivey hasn't seemed to weigh in on the topic.  God only knows what stupidity that old woman's advisors would have her say.  Half the time I wonder what the hell she does anyway, but then again, I have no doubt that she wonders the same thing.  The other day, I was reading a blog post from Michael-in-Norfolk where he wrote "The batshitery and insanity coming out of Alabama or more particularly the Alabama Republican Party seems to be increasing hourly.  As I've done before, I cannot help but wonder WTF happened to the state where I lived for four years."  The only issue I have with what Michael says is that, it was just as bat shit crazy four years ago.  Four years ago we elected a dermatologist as governor, a man who calls himself "Big Luther" as AG, a state treasurer named Young Boozer, a Public Service Commissioner named Twinkle, who ran on a platform to dismantle the PSC and end the last minor protections we have against public utilities, and Kay Ivey as Lt Governor, who said on her election night when asked about an important issue at the time, and I quote, "I don't know, I pay people to do my thinking for me."

They may have closed Bryce's Mental Hospital in Tuscaloosa a few years ago, but apparently the residents were all let lose to run the Alabama government and right now the loudest lunatic is a clown in black robes named Roy Moore.  The voters of the state of Alabama should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.  I am totally embarrassed, even though I didn't vote for a single one of these lunatics.  It's sad to say that I haven't voted for a single winning candidate in a state or local election in over ten years.  Yet, all that most people look at in the state of Alabama is party affiliation not the candidate.  Quite honestly, who in their right mind would elect a man who shows wanton disregard for the legal system to head the Alabama Judicial System as Chief Justice.  Moore has a history of defying federal decisions. In 2003, Alabama's judicial ethics panel voted to remove Moore, who was chief justice at the time, from office after he refused to follow a federal order to take down his Ten Commandments monument in the state judicial building. Moore was elected as chief justice again in 2012.

Roy Moore has stated over and over that the lowest federal court does not overrule a state's highest court; however, the 1859 Supreme Court case Ableman v. Booth clearly states that State courts cannot issue rulings on federal law that contradict the decisions of federal courts. Moore consistently makes up his own laws and opinions to suit his needs instead of following the dictates of his office.  The Alabama Court of the Judiciary needs to once again remove him from office.  Once removed, this time Moore could never again have the chance to be a judge in Alabama.  At 68, he will turn 70 before the next election and Alabama law bars anyone over 70 years of age from being elected to the bench.

HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement yesterday “It is time for the judicial chaos that Chief Justice Roy Moore has caused to end.  Both the law and Judge Granade’s action today are crystal clear: refusing to follow the law has consequences. All probate judges should do their duties as public servants and begin to issue licenses to committed, loving same-sex couples immediately.”  Warbelow is saying exactly what AG Strange should have said on Monday when the US Supreme Court refused to extend the stay and allowed for same sex marriage to begin in Alabama.

I have been wanting to write about this last week, so if I've been a little over zealous in this post, please forgive me.  The defiance of federal court rulings is something Alabama should have learned it's lesson about fifty years ago, yet elected officials still want to show their ignorance and backwards thinking.  I haven't felt like putting my thought together until now, so it all came out at once.  Thankfully, I am feeling better.  I'll be heading back to school today.  It will be a short day, so I think I can handle it.  Thank you all for your well wishes.  I think I'm in the clear now.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Out Sick...Still!


Is this the never ending flu, or what?  I'd planned on going back to school today, but I was still running a 102 fever as of last night.  My fever had stayed down most of the day, and I thought I was in the clear and on the mend.  So much for that.  Since we only have a half day of school tomorrow, I will most likely not go in on Friday either.  So much work is piling up from being out sick.  I dread going back Tuesday.  I'll call the doctor in the morning and see what he says.  I had hoped I'd feel at least marginally better by today, but I basically feel the same as I did when I went to the doctor on Monday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Trying to Recover



I'm supposed to be well enough tomorrow to go back to work, but last night I was still running a fever of 101.  Since my doctor did confirm it was the flu, he prescribed Tamiflu.  It seems to be working, as I do feel better than I did, but damn that stuff is expensive and my insurance doesn't cover it.  Luckily, I had some money stuck back.  It seems that every time you save, some emergency comes up.  At least though, I am at a point where I can start saving little by little.  Anyway, hopefully there will be no more fever today, and I'll be feeling better tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sick


Sick
By Shel Silverstein, 1930 - 1999

 “I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more--that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!”

Oh, if it were only Saturday and I'd be well.  Unlike Peggy Ann McKay, I am very much sick.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Gay marriage comes to Alabama over chief judge's objections


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's chief justice built his career on defiance: In 2003, Roy Moore was removed from the bench for defying a federal court order to remove a boulder-size Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse.

On Monday, as Alabama became the 37th state where gays can legally wed, Moore took a defiant stand again, employing the kind of states' rights language used during the Civil War and again during the civil rights movement.

He argued that a federal judge's Jan. 23 ruling striking down the Bible Belt state's gay-marriage ban was an illegal intrusion on Alabama's sovereignty. And he demanded the state's probate judges not issue any marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"It's my duty to speak up when I see the jurisdiction of our courts being intruded by unlawful federal authority," the 67-year-old Republican chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court said in an interview Monday.

His stand did not succeed in stopping gay couples from tying the knot. And it brought forth another round of criticism of Moore at a time when the movie "Selma" has reminded many Americans of Alabama's segregationist defiance of the federal government in the 1960s.

Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a major civil rights organization, branded Moore the "Ayatollah of Alabama."
Moore's office in the Alabama judicial building is down the street from the Alabama Capitol, where in 1963 Gov. George Wallace promised "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" and vowed to fight what he portrayed as the tyranny of the federal government.

"Moore is using the religion issue to further his political career, just as Wallace used the race issue to further his," Cohen said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a judicial complaint against Moore accusing him of trying to incite chaos at the probate courts.

On Monday, some counties refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses or shut down their licensing operations altogether, citing confusion about what they should do. But at least seven of Alabama's 67 counties issued gay marriage licenses, and same-sex couples were wed at courthouses in such places as Birmingham and Montgomery.

In Birmingham, the Jefferson County Probate Office said it had dispensed more than 250 licenses to same-sex couples by midday, with people still arriving. Only three opposite-sex couples had received licenses.

Some of the gay couples who had been lined up for hours exited courthouses to applause, delighted by the opportunity to exchange vows.

"I figured that we would be that last ones - I mean, they would drag Alabama kicking and screaming to equality," said Laura Bush, who married Dee Bush in a park outside the courthouse in Birmingham.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican and a Southern Baptist, said he believes strongly that marriage is between one man and one woman. But he said the issue should be "worked out through the proper legal channels" and not through defiance of the law.

Bentley noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama.
"I don't want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years when a federal law was defied. I'm not going to do that," Bentley said. "I'm trying to move this state forward."

After the Ten Commandments dispute made a national figure out Moore, he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006 and 2010. In 2012, he returned to the high court when he got elected chief justice. There has been speculation he might make a third run for governor.

He has been one of the state's most outspoken critics of gay marriage and homosexuality. Moore called homosexuality an "inherent evil" in a 2002 ruling in a child custody case. On the campaign trail in 2012, he said that same-sex marriage would bring about the "ultimate destruction" of the country.

Late last month, U.S. District Judge Callie Granade ruled that the state marriage ban was unconstitutional and - in a later clarifying order - said probate judges have a legal duty under the U.S. Constitution to issue the licenses. On Monday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the start of gay marriages in Alabama.

Moore bristled at the comparison to Wallace and disputed the notion that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue.

"This is not about the right of people to be recognized with race or creed or color. This is about same-sex marriage. It is not the same subject," he said.

"Eighty-one percent of the voters adopted the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment in the Alabama Constitution. I think they want leaders that will stand up against an unlawful intrusion of their sovereignty, and that's what we're seeing.

Flu?



On a day that I should be able to celebrate: Alabama is expected to begin issuing marriage license to couples today (if Clarence Thomas doesn't grant an emergency stay before 8 am).  However, I seem to have the flu.  If it's not the flu, it's a very bad cold: coughing, headache, body aches, fever, congestion and nausea.  Ugh!  I guess I will be spending this morning in the doctor's office.

FYI: It was confirmed to be the flu.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Triumph Over Adversity


Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:2-8

In this passage, James presents us with four steps to winning triumph over adversity: count, know, let, and ask.  The Epistle of James is framed within an overall theme of patient perseverance during trials and temptations, and it begins with one of the most inspiring verses of the Bible.  In James 1:2, we are told to "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds."  James does not say "if" we experience adversity, but says "when" we experience adversity, because James knows that Christians, and really all humans, will experience trials and tribulations.  In John 16:33, Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."  We will experience various trials, some of these adversities come because we are human, such as sickness, accidents, disappointments, and death, but other trials come because we are Christians.  Those adversities come as temptations and battles with Satan and the evil he presents to us.  As LGBT Christians, we face our own trials.  Many claim that because we are gay, we cannot also be Christians.  In an attempt to find a church that will accept us, we often find it disheartening when people who claim to be Christians turn their backs on us, but God welcomes all into Christianity.  What should our response be to these adversities, James says to "Count it all joy!"  So the first step in overcoming adversity is to count our joys and adopt a joyful attitude.

"But how," we may ask, "is it possible to rejoice in the midst of trials?"  The second imperative in verse three explains how knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience.  The right knowledge concerning the value of trials makes it possible to have a joyful attitude.  We are to understand that: trials test our faith, and faith that is tested can bring out the best in us.  With this understanding, we can have joy in trials because we know from 2 Corinthians 4:17, "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."  The testing of our faith works for us, not against us, and when we use adversity to our advantage, it helps us to mature in our faith.  Patience is not a passive acceptance of circumstances. It denotes the ability to exhibit steadfastness and dependability in the face of the most formidable difficulty. As LGBT Christians, we may be disheartened when a church rejects us, but we must rest assure in the knowledge that Fod does love us.  Not all of those who call themselves Christians really are Christians, some are merely doing the devil's work in disguise.  We must have patience with our knowledge. Patience is a courageous perseverance in the face of suffering and the persistence to carry on, even when it is rough, despite the circumstances. Such a quality of stedfastness can come only through experiencing trials.

Having this understanding about what trials can accomplish enables us to have a joyful attitude toward such trials.  But to really benefit from our trials, we must also obey the third imperative found in verse four that we must let patience "have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  To truly turn trials into triumph. We must let patience do it's work.   Too often, we want to get our trials or difficulties over with quickly, but there are times when the best course is to bear up under the trial patiently. Instead of grumbling and complaining patiently endure the trial, doing good despite the trial.  When we experience rejection from those who claim to be Christians, we must show them patience and let our own good work and righteousness speak for us. When patience has the opportunity to work, it produces maturity.  In verse four, the word "perfect" does not mean that we must be sinless; Romans 3:23 states that "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," instead perfect means  "completeness, wholeness, and maturity."

Letting patience have its perfect work is not easy.  It certainly requires wisdom which enables us to see the value of our trials.  This brings us to the fourth imperative necessary to turn trials into triumph, found in verses five to eight that if we lack wisdom, we must ask for it from God.  He has promised to give wisdom liberally, and He will not reproach us for making such a request.  We should be careful to distinguish "wisdom" from "knowledge." Knowledge involves information, facts, etc., whereas, wisdom is the ability or insight to properly use those facts in the most effective way. Failure to understand this distinction has led many into error. Many believe that this passage (James 1:5-8) teaches that God will give knowledge concerning His Will in answer to prayer, but knowledge comes only through His Word; we must carefully study it if we would know the Will of God.   However, the wisdom to properly use His Word can be received through prayer. Proper prayer is that which is asked in faith and with no doubt.  Prayer is the most important tool we have to combat the false Christians who teach hate toward the LGBT community.  We must pray that not only will God give us the patience to persevere and the wisdom to follow His Word, but also that God will grant wisdom to those who profess hate in his name and let them understand that God's wisdom comes not from hatred but from love.

So here is the key to turning trials into triumph:  we must have the knowledge and perspective that adversity can accomplish much good, we must let the patient endurance of adversity accomplish it's work, and we must do this all the while using the wisdom God gives in answer to prayer to help put it all together.  When this is done, even trials can be a source of joy for the Christian.  Remember, we must have faith and trust in God.  Faith and trust in God should always bring us joy, even in times of adversity.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Moment of Zen: Cuddling



Whether it's before, after, or during sex, or even instead of sex, I love cuddling.  One of the ways that I realized that I was gay was the steong desire to be held by another man.  There's just something about being lovingly held in a man's arms that is pure bliss.  I love to cuddle.

The science behind cuddling's appeal all comes down to one word: hormones. A good cuddle, hug or loving physical interaction with another person (including sex) releases a trio of feel-good substances in your brain: 1) oxytocin, the chemical responsible for happiness; 2) endorphins, the chemicals released after a really tough workout or when you eat chocolate; and 3) dopamine, the hormone that regulates the pleasure centers in your nervous system and helps reduce blood pressure.

So let's release those hormones, and cuddle more.