Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Autumn Fires

100 Bonfires always remind me of fall.  The big bonfire before the homecoming game.  Sitting around a bonfire telling stories.  Ghost stories around the campfire.  All these things remind me of autumn.  I just never got the chance to run around them naked, what about you?  Do bonfires remind you of autumn?  Have you ever run around one naked.
Autumn Fires
Robert Louis Stevenson (1913)

In the other gardenspic28
  And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
  See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
  And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
  The gray smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
  Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
   Fires in the fall!

art a6

Monday, November 29, 2010

To Reserve the Right to Execute Gay People


I saw this on Stuff That Makes Me Hard!  How sad is this?

To reserve the right to execute gay people:

The Maddow Blog: A new U.N. resolution [which] condemns the arbitrary execution of whole classes of humanity, from street kids to indigenous groups, was to have included sexual minorities, but a bunch of nations balked at protection for LGBTs. The U.N. General Assembly then approved an amendment that removed them from the list. The vote was 79-70. Here’s the list of countries that want to reserve the right to kill the gay:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

via: The New Yorker

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friends: Can’t Live with Them; Can’t Live Without Them

I have some great friends in my life and I love them all.  Most of them know one thing for sure or figure it out fairly quickly, I don’t particularly like to talk on the phone.  I don’t like calling people, because I always feel like I am intruding on whatever they are doing.  Now if I am in the mood to talk on the phone it is one thing, if I am not, well I am more than happy to just sit and listen to you.  I do love communicating with friends, don’t get me wrong.  It is great to have someone to tell your trouble and your triumphs.  A great friend, you can talk about nothing and everything all at once and have a great conversation.  Other times, you can just sit quietly with each other content in the knowledge that you are together.

My best female friend is often one of these people.  We get along very well and when times are good they are really good, but we can also get on each others nerves very much.  She is like a sister to me, in fact, I am probably closer to her than I am to my own sister.  However, sometimes I need to just complain about her.  Most of you guys don’t really know me (other than through my blogs) and none of you know her, so you are the perfect people to complain about her to.  Even if you don’t read all of this, I at least get to put my feelings out there.

This friend of mine has moved away from where we used to live in the same town, and I have also moved away, so we are even further apart.  There are several main things that she does that get on my nerves.  First of all, she has a job I would love to have, and though she says she loves her job, she constantly complains about it and hates doing all the extra administrative stuff that comes with the territory.  She’s a teacher and believes that all she is supposed to do is teach.  Anyone who has been in academia knows that you not only have to serve on committees, serve as advisors, perform certain community service activities, etc., you also have to teach.  All of that is part of the job.  I would love to be doing what she is doing.  She only teaches two different classes (though she teaches 5 in all).  I teach 7 different classes, all different preps.  She has two.  I have to serve on the same sorts of committees, actually a few more, go to teacher training conferences, which she has to do also, get paid less than she does, and have to mostly deal with high school students, when she deals with college students.  I know the grass is generally greener on the other side, but while I struggle constantly to find a job that I want and feel is rewarding, along with finishing a dissertation, and all of the other stuff that goes along with life, she has a fairly stable job (she is on one year renewable contracts, that probably won’t end), she only has a master’s degree, and has no worries about tenure or scholarly publications.  She just has to deal with students and administrators and I have to deal with students, administrators, and PARENTS. She doesn’t have that much to complain about in my opinion.

Furthermore, she is becoming more and more selfish in my opinion.  She got angry with me for taking my current job as teaching because she wanted me to move in with her, work at Wal-Mart or some other such job, and help her pay her mortgage and bills.  I love to teach; it is my passion.  My job may not be the ideal situation, but don’t dismiss it or change the subject every time I bring it up, because you don’t see the joys of teaching, when you yourself are a teacher.  She also wants me to drive the 7 hours to visit her, but will not come visit me, when she actually has more time to be able to do so. She always has an excuse.  When she calls me now it is usually to complain about one of two things: general complaints about her job or people she knows or to complain to me about why I don’t call her more.  I don’t call her more because she never wants to listen about my life, but to tell me all about hers, which is fine, but I think it is a two way street.  I also don’t call because she is rarely at home.  She goes out with friends or out drinking a lot (I tend to think she drinks too much and calls in sick with hangovers too much).  She won’t see that she potentially has a problem, even though I have seen the same thing in many other people.  They let the bars run their life.  I admit, I love to go out and have a good time.  I enjoy drinking and getting drunk on occasion, but I never do it if I have to teach the next day or have something else important that I have to do.  I certainly would never go out drinking until 3 or 4 am when I have a 7:30 am class the next day, and I know that I would still be drunk when I got to class or would have to cancel it because my hangover was so bad.  Yet, she still does this.  She worries about her contract not being renewed, yet she doesn’t take initiative to do better about her job when she knows what the bare basic requirements are and only complains about them.

I started writing (ranting) this when I got of the phone with her.  Hence the first part about my often dislike of talking on the phone.  My feelings were already hurt by her this week.  I had surgery on Monday, and not until I messaged her Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday and subtly reminded her that I had not spoken to her since my surgery, did she ask how I was doing.  Then without waiting for a reply, she began another subject. (She also has forgotten my birthday, when I mentioned something about it last week, she asked when it was.  It’s coming up in the next few days; I have never forgotten her birthday since she told me when it was.)  She did ask today when she called how I was doing, but that was only after I mentioned not getting much sleep last night because I was having some pain.  I had thought she had called to ask how I was doing, but the real reason she called was to tell me that her sister had been in a wreck (she’s ok, btw) and that she was really tired and sleepy and needed someone to talk to to keep her awake while she drove to see about her sister.  I was more than happy to sit here and listen even though I am very tired and was getting ready to take a nap. (Part of the reason I am writing this is to get out the frustrations, so that it will be off my mind when I take a nap in a few minutes.)  The problem is instead of talking amicably, she started to complain that she couldn’t hear me very well.  I told her that her phone was breaking up, and I could barely hear her, but she never thinks it is her phone.  Now does anyone have AT&T Wireless?  I used to, and I know very well how crappy their service can be and how many times it would drop a call.  I never have that problem with Verizon.  But just to satisfy her I said for her to call me on my land line. So she said something, which I couldn’t understand, and hung up.  Then she called my land line.  I may have an independent rinky dink local telephone company, but I get damn good service, yet she began complaining again that she couldn’t hear me.  When I said, “I think it is your phone.”  She snapped back at me, “Nope, it’s only you.  Everyone else I can hear fine.”  I’ve heard her talk to other people on the phone, this conversation goes on with each of them too.  I don’t understand why she can admit it.  She has an iPhone, it doesn’t mean she has the greatest piece of telecommunications technology in the world.  It’s AT&T Wireless.  It sucks (BTW, I have major problems with AT&T, but that is a whole other story.  So yes, I am biased against AT&T.)  Then the conversation ended with her saying, “I’m going to just let you go.  You obviously just need a nap.”  Meaning that she thought I was in an ill mood.  I had tried to be nice, but everything I had said she turned back on me.  I hate it when you are trying to be nice to someone and all they can do is point out every little thing that is wrong with what you say.  There is not pleasing them.  Then she hung up.  I can’t take a nap when I am mad, so I decided to calm down and get my frustrations out on this blog.

Sorry that this post is so much the opposite of my earlier post today, which was all about optimism.  I try to keep my optimism, but sometimes we all need a good rant.  Well, here was mine.  Thanks for reading. 

I love her, she is my best friend, but damn she can get on my last nerve like no other.

A Glass Half Full


By the way, next week is my birthday.  I will be thirty-three years old.  Since last week was Thanksgiving, and this week is my birthday, I thought I would take an assessment of my present situation and remind myself all the reasons I should be thankful.  Hopefully, I will also have some bubbly on my birthday (though I hope it is something better than Ballatore Gran Spumante, like the model above).  I love champagne, sparkling wine, Asti, and prosecco, any of the before mentioned will do (Moët White Star is my favorite).  While in France, I learned the dangers of cheap champagne. (Note: never, ever, ever, and I mean, never, buy a €1 bottle of champagne in France.  It will be the worst hangover you have ever had, no matter how little of it you drink.)

I am certainly glad that a few years ago, I decided to change my attitude about life and become an optimist.  I keep the motto that everything will work out in the end, because it is God’s will, not mine.  I could easily be a pessimist, like many people I know, including my mother.  I am still in graduate school, though I wish that I were finished by now and if I had not procrastinated and things had not gone against me several times, I might be done by now.  I have a job I really don’t like at a small private academy teaching middle and high school students, with some subjects outside my field and making very little money.  Five days a week, I deal with spoiled brats who have very little respect for elders, and I deal with an administrator who has a completely different philosophy than me when it comes to education.  I have to deal with parents, who think their children do no wrong and that I show favoritism to other kids, which they see as a bad thing unless it is their kid that they see me showing favor to.  Furthermore, my parents know that I am gay and refuse to accept it.  They insist on a total don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t discuss policy toward my sexuality.

So what am I thankful for?  First of all, in this economy, I have a job doing what I love to do: teach.  It may not be a perfect situation and on many days it may be frustrating, but at least it is a job and it is a teaching job. 

Second, even though the income is not great, I found a wonderful little house to rent with a ridiculously low rent from the sweetest landlady who is not nosy in a small town of busybodies.  This also means that I am no longer living with my parents.  I have my freedom to come and go as I please, with no questions asked.  It may not be a lot, but it is something.

I also have a college class that I teach two nights a week that keeps me sane.  My students are older and are an absolute joy to teach.  Even after a long trying day teaching middle and high schoolers, my college class can lift my energy and spirit like nothing else.  I wish everyone had the chance to find that much fulfillment in a job that only takes two and a half hours a week.

Furthermore, though my parents may not like my sexuality, nor fully support it, at least they did not disown me.  They still love me no matter what and maybe one day they will accept the situation for what it is.  Until that time, the don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t discuss policy is working fine as a sort of armistice. At least it keeps questions from being asked all the time.

Also, I have not given up on graduate school.  I will get my PhD eventually, I just have to finish this damn dissertation.  I think I am on the right track finally, and I just need to learn how to manage my small amounts of free time better.  Whether that means working on my dissertation during my planning period at school or learning to get enough sleep.  Maybe I am somewhat caught up on my sleep after this week where I have done a lot of sleeping during my recovery from surgery.

Lastly, since I started my blogs, I have made some wonderful new friends.  Those friends I cherish as much as the flesh and blood friends I know in my personal life.  You guys are just as real to me as those flesh and blood friends (after all, you are made of flesh and blood).  I love hearing from you guys through comments, emails, chatting, text messages.  All of you are dear to me, though some I may not keep in touch with like I should, I still love you guys and think about you.  Thanks for being my friends.

Oh, and one last thing.  I have made it to my thirty-third year (well almost, here’s hoping, LOL).  Now if this just means that I am only a third or a fourth of the way through my life, then I have a long and happy life to look forward to.  So my advice, look at the things you can be thankful for, not what you might find depressing.  Look on the bright side, and be an optimist.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hey Guys: An Update


Thanks for all the well wishes as I have been recovering this week from my surgery.  I am finally truly feeling better.  I had abdominal surgery to fix an umbilical hernia, which if you have ever had abdominal surgery you know that the pain feels like you are constantly being kicked in the balls.  Yesterday was a bit rough because I still had a lot of swelling and therefore could not eat much.  Plus, I found out the pain medicine was giving me terribly headaches, so I quit taking it, as it wasn’t helping a whole lot anyway.  The swelling seems to have gone mostly down and I am at least able to roll over on my side and flex my abdominal muscles again (the last part important for being able to get my rocks off and have a wonderful orgasm after holding it for several days, LOL).  Thanks again for all of your well wishes, I will try to answer some of my comments and emails tonight and tomorrow.

Photos of gay service members make statement about policy

6a00d8341c730253ef0133f5e141ae970b-800wi(CNN) -- A soldier and his shadow sit alone on wrinkled sheets. With his knees pressed tightly up against his chest, he wraps his arms around his legs and bows his head.
In another photo, a soldier stands before a mirror. His raised hand covers just enough of his reflection to protect his anonymity.
But it's not photographer Jeff Sheng from whom these men are hiding their identities.6_photo-2
It's the military.
Sheng's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" exhibit, two years in the making, conveys the stories of the gay and bisexual men and women who serve in the U.S. military. And because his subjects are forced to keep their sexual orientations under wraps in order to serve, Shen's photos are portraits without faces.
The Los Angeles, California-based artist said many of his subjects were grateful for the opportunity to make a statement "without fully revealing themselves and losing their jobs."
"If this person got outed, they would lose their pension, their retirement benefits -- their 20 years of service in the military would be gone," he said.
6a00d8341c730253ef0133f1b8f56a970b-800wiSheng asked many of those he photographed why they continue to serve despite the inequality.
"I asked, 'Why do you still serve with this policy in place? Why would you do it?' " Sheng said. "And they all looked at me and said, 'Because it's serving the country. It's the most honorable thing that I can think of doing right now in my life.' "
20091220RicoSheng is also the creator of "Fearless," photographs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered high school and college athletes who are public about their sexual identities. He is working on a project focusing on undocumented Americans.
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" photos were exhibited last week in Washington at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters, and Sheng said he hopes to bring them next to Chicago, Illinois.
Bryan-finalThe exhibit couldn't have been unveiled at a more relevant time.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to suspend enforcement temporarily of "don't ask, don't tell." Though a lower court has deemed the law unconstitutional, the controversial policy will remain in effect until the appeals process is complete.
President Obama is on record favoring abolition of the policy but has said he wants the issue to be decided by Congress, not in the courts.
Oliver-finalThe new commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos, opposes repeal of the policy. "There is a risk involved," Amos told reporters in San Diego, California. "I'm tring to determine how to measure that risk. This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness."
Ryan Vincent Downing, a former Air Force captain and one of the 60 service members Sheng photographed, said he has confidence "that people in the military can handle change." He is no longer in the service and said hiding his sexuality took a toll.
Tristan-and-Zeke-final"I found myself making up lies, and then making up more lies to cover the lies I had told before," Downing said.
Sheng said he hopes his photographs open eyes to the way the "don't ask, don't tell" policy affects closeted service members who are fighting and dying for their country.
"This idea that they're hiding, in many ways ... they can't reveal who they are," Sheng said. "[It] has a really profound effect on the way that people see these images and think about the issue."
This was originally published online by Chuck Conder of CNN on November 15, 2010.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


What are you thankful for this year?

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 www.plimoth.org.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two Male College Students Break Guinness World Record, Raise GLBTQ Awareness


The Guinness Book of World Records may have a new entry.

Matty Daley and Bobby Canciello, both gay men, have apparently broken the record for the world’s longest kiss after locking lips for nearly 33 hours. The record was formerly held by Nicola Matovik and Kristina Reinhart, a German couple.

As they said on their website, “After years of fighting bigotry and discrimination, it’s time to put down our words and demonstrate otherwise. When there’s nothing left to say, say it with a kiss.”

While most college students spent their weekend with friends or catching up on homework, Daley and Canciello, both students at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), stood kissing from Saturday morning to Sunday night. The kiss was streamed live on the Internet, with thousands of viewers watching. Neither Daley nor Canciello ate, slept, sat, or used the bathroom for the duration (and as per official Guinness rules, neither wore adult diapers or sanitary napkins).

Daley and Canciello stood for the entire kiss under a small tent set up in a central part of the TCNJ campus in full view of people passing by. An audience gathered for the “finale” Sunday night, after which Daley and Canciello took a bow.

Officials from Guinness World Records will now review the taped material to determine if the record has in fact been broken. The record would be published in the 2012 print edition of the book, because the 2011 version was just released this month. If entered into the Guinness Book of World Records, the best-selling book series under copyright of all time, Daley and Canciello will be the first same-sex pairing to hold the record for longest continuous kiss.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


There once was a doctor in Montgomery,
Who performed for JoeBlow a surgery.
And with that beautiful face;
He performed it with grace.
Now JoeBlow is fine, and ready for some buggery.

Thank you guys for your well wishes. I just wanted to post this quick
note to let you guys know that I am recovering fine though I still
have a bit of pain and soreness. Thank God for pain killers.

William Blake’s To Autumn


To Autumn

William Blake (from Poetical Sketches, 1783)

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
autumn4The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

“The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Doctor, Doctor…


I am having a minor surgery today, nothing really to worry about, but just something that my doctor says has to be done.  I was supposed to have this surgery back in July, but my insurance company decided that I had a waiting period of one year because it might be a pre-existing condition.  The waiting period was passed on September 1, but because of my job, I had to wait until the Thanksgiving holiday to have this surgery done.  Because I will be staying with my parents during my recovery this week, I won’t have much access to the internet.  Therefore, I spent the weekend setting up posts for this week.  If you email me during this week, I probably will not be able to answer until the end of the week.  I also won’t be able to respond to comments, though I promise that I will when I get back to my house.  See you guys on the flip side.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Those Dark Days


Chances are that if you are reading this blog, then you are part of the GLBT family and chances are that you have experienced these dark days. Those days when you just want to sit down and cry, or when the only thing that you feel like doing is curling up into a ball and staying in bed.  With Thanksgiving this week in America and the Christmas holiday season just around the corner, many of us will be dealing with our families.  I love my family, so don’t get me wrong, but for me and many GLBT people dealing with family and the questions about your personal life can be very depressing.  I know that I have had these feelings depression and not just at the holiday season and statistics show that most GLBT people experience depression at a greater amount than heterosexual people.  Here are a few of those statistics:

* In a study of depression and gay youth, researchers found depression strikes homosexual youth four to five times more severely than other non-gay peers.

* Gay and lesbian youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual young people.

* Several studies suggest that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals appear to have higher rates of some mental disorders compared with heterosexuals, although not to the level of a serious pathology. Discrimination may help fuel these higher rates.

* Higher rates of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and substance use or dependence in lesbian and gay youth.

* Higher rates of recurrent major depression among gay men.

* Higher rates of anxiety, mood and substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts among people ages 15 to 54 with same-sex partners.

* Higher use of mental health services in men and women reporting same-sex partners.


The following information is from:


Depression and mental health among GLBT people


Everyone gets sad sometimes, and sometimes it feels worse than at other times. Sometimes people feel depressed or sad because something stressful has happened in their lives--like losing a job or the death of a loved one. Even a good thing can make a person feel overwhelmed if it is stressful enough. And sometimes people get depressed for no obvious reason.

Millions of Americans, both gay and straight, transgender and non-transgender, have emotional or psychological problems of some sort during their lives. While we know that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender identity are not mental illnesses, the stresses caused by society's negative messages, condemnation, and violence can sometimes result in depression and other types of emotional difficulties for GLBT persons.

The research on homosexuality is very clear. Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity. It is simply the way a minority of our population expresses human love and sexuality. Studies of judgment, stability, reliability, and social and vocational adaptiveness all show that gay men and lesbians function every bit as well as heterosexuals.

-- American Psychological Association

What is clinical depression?

Clinical depression is a medical illness that attacks both the mind and the body. It may be far more complex an illness than most people recognize. Depression can cause significant chemical changes to the brain that may make it difficult for many people to overcome it without some time of professional help or treatment.

Depression is not the same as feeling blue or sad--those feelings are a normal part of life. In clinical depression people feel bad for prolonged periods of time--weeks or months. People who are depressed often find it difficult to concentrate. Sometimes they feel like they are on an emotional roller-coaster, sometimes they have trouble getting sad or anxious thoughts out of their minds, and sometimes they just have no energy at all.

Depressed people sometimes have significant weight changes, either up or down. They may have difficulty sleeping, especially in the early morning. Some depressed people sleep more than usual. Sexual interest may decrease.

Untreated, depression can last for months or even years. It may resolve by itself, but it often reoccurs. With treatment, those who suffer from depression often report significant relief within 4-6 weeks.

"Many depressed people feel that they could 'snap out of it' if only they could work things out in their head. That's unrealistic. Depression is an illness. Just as people with AIDS or cancer cannot 'snap out of' their illness, people suffering from depression cannot will themselves to recover."

~ Peter Shalit, MD, PhD

Is clinical depression treatable?

Clinical depression is readily treatable with counseling and medication. Many people suffer needlessly from depression because they don't seek treatment. They may feel that depression is a personal weakness, or try to cope with their symptoms alone.

If you are feeling depressed, and have been for over a month, you should consider seeking professional help from a gay-positive (or trans-supportive) therapist, doctor, psychiatrist, or other health care provider. There are plenty of mental and other health professionals who will support you and guide you towards being a happy and healthy GLBT person-you deserve nothing less. If you are looking for a gay-supportive counselor, ask friends for referrals or call a local GLBT-friendly mental health agency.

A study performed by the National Institutes of Mental Health showed that after 16 weeks of psychotherapy, 55% of those with mild to moderate depression reported significant improvement. Different people react in different ways to various types of counseling, but cognitive therapy--in which you learn to recognize and replace depressive thinking--can be particularly effective for people experiencing depression.

When there is a chemical component to depression, antidepressant medication can help to correct the chemical imbalance (low levels of brain serotonin and norepinephrine). People with moderate to severe depression are most likely to benefit and improve from the use of medication. Many different types of antidepressants have been developed-if one doesn't work for you, another one probably will. Some studies have shown that combinations of antidepressant drugs and good psychotherapy may be the best approach.

Depression and suicide

Sometimes people become so depressed that they think about harming or killing themselves. These thoughts and actions can be "passive"--like not wanting to wake up in the morning or wishing to disappear, as well as "active"--like taking pills, cutting oneself or shooting oneself. When suicidal thoughts or acts are present, it's a good indication that the person may be struggling with a very serious depression.

If you are thinking about hurting yourself or have laid out a suicide plan, please get help immediately. Call a friend, your doctor or your local crisis telephone service. You are not alone and although it may be hard to imagine right now, these feelings will pass and you will be glad you did seek help. If you're in King County and want to speak with someone right away, call the Crisis Clinic at 206-461-3222 any time of the day or night.

If you have a friend or loved one who is thinking about suicide, talk to them about it openly and help them get some professional help as quickly as possible. Asking about suicide does not make it more likely that a person will harm themselves--often people find it a great relief to finally have someone to talk to.

Tips for handling depression

  • Try to accept your depression as an illness. You cannot will the depression away.
  • Try to do things that you enjoy--visit friends, get a massage, take a class--to get your mind off what may be contributing to the depression and to focus on things that help you feel better.
  • Delay any big decisions or changes that involve work, love or money until you feel better.
  • It's common to be forgetful when you're depressed, stressed out or anxious. Take notes and make lists. Your memory will improve when you feel better.
  • Waking through the night is very common. It's better to get out of bed until you feel sleepy again. Repeated awakening in the early morning without being able to return to sleep easily is a sign that medical evaluation is needed.
  • Mornings are often the worst time. The day usually gets better towards evening.
  • Avoid being home alone for long periods--the depressive thoughts can get worse when no one is around.
  • Get outside at least once a day for a walk. Light to moderate exercise of any kind can be very helpful to your recovery.
  • Don't try to "medicate" yourself with alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. These drugs may actually make you more depressed than you were to begin with.

What do if someone you love is depressed

It can be difficult to be around a friend who is depressed. You may feel helpless and sometimes angry, particularly if the person is irritable and doesn't respond when you reach out. Keep reminding yourself that the person is ill, and doesn't mean to be hurtful or unresponsive.

You can't relieve clinical depression with love alone any more than you can cure heart disease or diabetes with just love. People who are depressed need professional help, and some require medication.

On the other hand, social support improves treatment results in many serious illnesses including depression. Reach out to your depressed friend so that he or she knows that you care. Call. Send affectionate notes. Invite the person to dinner, movies, ball games, parties, and other events. But keep your expectations low. Even if your friend doesn't respond, you can be sure that he or she appreciates your attempts.

Who is at risk for clinical depression?

Clinical depression is similar to heart disease and cancer in that everyone is potentially at risk for each. If you have a family history of one of these illnesses, your susceptibility increases. This explains why some people develop a clinical depression only after a large, stressful event, while others develop clinical depression seemingly out of the blue.

Young adults (18-25) are more prone to depression than people in midlife-perhaps because of the particular stressors of separating from one's family and learning to live on one's own. Elderly people also have higher rates of depression than people in midlife.

People who abuse alcohol may become depressed--and excessive use of alcohol often indicates that a person is "self-medicating" a depression. But alcohol and related drugs like valium and barbiturates are themselves depressants, and just make problems worse.

Depression screening questionnaires

This screen questionnaire is not designed to provide an actual diagnosis of depression. For that, you will need a complete clinical evaluation by a psychiatrist or other health care professional.

  1. I am unable to do the things I used to do.
  2. I feel hopeless about the future.
  3. I can't make decisions.
  4. I no longer enjoy the things I used to find fun.
  5. I am losing or gaining weight.
  6. I get tired for no reason.
  7. I am sleeping too much, or too little.
  8. I feel worthless and unhappy.
  9. I become irritable or anxious.
  10. I think about dying or killing myself.

If you answered yes to 5 or more of these questions, and you have felt this way everyday for several weeks, there is a good chance you are suffering from depression and should see a psychiatrist, a therapist, or other health care professional.

If you answered yes to question 10, you should seek help immediately, regardless of your answer to any other questions.

Click here for another online depression screening questionaire.

LGBT Mental Health Resources:

• GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-THE-GLNH (843-4564)
• Rainbow Youth Hotline: 1-877-LGBT-YTH (1-877-542-8984)
• LGBT Suicide Prevention Hotline: www.TheTrevorProject.org or 1-800-850-8078
• NAMI: www.nami.org or 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
• Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays: www.pflag.org
• Rainbow Heights Club: www.rainbowheights.org
• Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists: (215) 222-2800 www.aglp.org
• GayHealth.com: www.gayhealth.com
• National Foundation for Depressive Illness: www.depression.org
• Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: (800) 826-3632 or www.dbsalliance.org
• American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: (888) 333-2377 or www.afsp.org

Friday, November 19, 2010

Homosexual Poetry from the Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties Period

image The complexity of homosexual relationships inevitably led to the creation of poetic works immortalizing conflicting sentiments. Ruan Ji (210- 263CE), lover of Xi Kang, was one of the most famous poets to apply his brush to a homosexual theme. This work, one of several dealing with homosexuality from the "Jade Terrace" collection of love poetry, beautifully illustrates the stock imagery on which men of his time could draw in conceptualizing and describing love for another man.

In days of old there were many blossom boys --
An Ling and Long Yang.
Young peach and plum blossoms,
Dazzling with glorious brightness.
Joyful as nine springtimes;
Pliant as if bowed by autumn frost.

Roving glances gave rise to beautiful seductions;
Speech and laughter expelled fragrance.
Hand in hand they shared love's rapture,
Sharing coverlets and bedclothes.

Couples of birds in flight,
Paired wings soaring.
Cinnabar and green pigments record a vow:
"I'll never forget you for all eternity. "

Thursday, November 18, 2010

'Mama Wu' unlikely hero for homosexuals in China

Wu Youjian, right, chats with another parent of gay child at a recent event at Shanghai Pride, a month-long celebration of gay culture in China's largest city.

Wu Youjian, right, chats with another parent of gay child at a recent event at Shanghai Pride, a month-long celebration of gay culture in China's largest city.
  • 'Mama Wu' has earned fame by publicly defending her homosexual son
  • Homosexuals face deep cultural prejudices and pressure to marry
  • About 30 percent of Chinese homosexuals have attempted suicide
  • Although not illegal, homosexual venues regularly shut down in China
Beijing, China (CNN) -- When Wu Youjian's teenage son told her on a spring night in 1999 that he was gay, Wu did something rarely heard of in China.
"I told him, there's nothing wrong with liking boys and it's no big deal," said the 63-year-old retired magazine editor.
Five years later, when her son discussed his sexuality on local television in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, Wu made another groundbreaking decision. She became what state media calls the first Chinese parent to go on television in support of her gay child.
Zheng Yuantao, 30, knows how lucky he is to have such a mother.
"Many of my gay friends are afraid of going home during holidays, because their parents would ask about girlfriends and press them to get married," he said.
"I grew up in a very open-minded family," he added. "I didn't have too much of a struggle about my sexuality."
Wu now devotes her time and energy to speaking up for gay acceptance by family and society. Her small frame belies her big role in China's gay community, where she is affectionately called "Mama Wu."
She taught herself to use a computer three years ago and now writes a blog that has clocked more than 2.2 million hits. She also tweets frequently, has launched a hotline and founded the country's first PFLAG - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays - group in her hometown.

"I just followed my instinct and my love for my son," Wu said.
For other Chinese parents in her situation, however, instinct usually means a deep sense of shame. Many refuse to face the reality and some sever ties with their gay children. Others scheme to break up their children's relationships. Some may insist on psychiatric treatments, while others may threaten to commit suicide if their children don't change.
'Mama Wu' inspires other Chinese parents of gay children
"In China, we consider carrying on the family line of paramount importance, but we don't value the happiness of individuals," said Li Yinhe, a sociologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Societal pressure cooker
Suicide is high among Chinese homosexuals, Li said, with some surveys saying as many as 30 percent of gay youth attempt to take their lives. That trend mirrors the United States, where a spate of suicides by gay adolescents in recent months has shaken the nation.
Most gay men in China still succumb to social pressure and marry women. It once meant heterosexual marriages, often with children, Li said. Now, gay community activists say a small but growing number of young gay men in big cities are tying the knot with lesbians to both placate families and maintain their lifestyles.
Li conducted China's first comprehensive surveys on gay men. She published her findings in a 1992 book, which Wu credited for shaping her views on homosexuality.
While society at large has loosened up on homosexuality, Li said, family pressure on gay people remains strong because of deep-rooted Confucian ideas and the government's one-child policy - making Wu's words and actions all the more powerful.
"No one would listen to an outsider, but she is not - she is a mother whose only son is gay," Li said. "Others would wonder, if she can handle it so well, why can't I."
It's not all accolades for Wu, however. Vitriolic attacks often dog her online. On a popular video-sharing site, under a clip paying tribute to her achievements, a recent comment accused her of "leading our youth to a place filthier than a brothel" and "hastening the moral death of our already-sick society."
Wu brushes such verbal assaults aside. Her son, often a target himself along with Wu, understands why.
"It's not about how many people she can change," Zheng said. "The important thing is that she is out there helping real people every day."
Gay venues shut down
Homosexuality is not illegal in China, and in 2001 it was also removed from the country's list of officially recognized mental disorders. But it remains largely a taboo topic on state-run media.
China mom becomes advocate for gay son
No one would listen to an outsider, but she is not - she is a mother whose only son is gay --Li Yinhe, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Police sometimes shut down gay venues when high profile events are held. Gay rights advocates reported raids on gay clubs, saunas and cruising spots ahead of the Summer Olympics and the annual parliament sessions in Beijing in the past.
Officials have also pulled the plug - often at the last minute - on gay-themed events, including the country's first gay pageant last January.
Li, the sociologist who also serves as a government adviser, has tried to cement gay rights in Chinese law. She submitted proposals to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003, 2005 and 2006. None have succeeded so far - and she admits her goal probably won't be realized anytime soon.
"Gays are minorities in society," she said. "People just don't think this issue is important enough, compared to national priorities like economic development."
Wu stresses the social and non-political nature of her activities, highlighting official approval and state media reports in her speeches. Her group also joins the effort in HIV/AIDS prevention, a gay-related cause promoted by the government.
She has picked up pace in spreading the message of acceptance, giving lectures and hosting seminars across the nation.
At a recent PFLAG gathering in Beijing, Wu, sporting a rainbow scarf and speaking in a calm but firm tone, addressed a packed hotel conference room of about 100 people, with her son and his boyfriend in attendance.
Her voice cracked, however, when she mentioned how parental intransigence drove a married young gay man, who had sought her help, to take his life.
"We have to give them hope," Wu said, quoting iconic gay American politician Harvey Milk.
Wu says she constantly reminds other parents about one basic fact.
"It doesn't matter if our children are gay or straight - just like it doesn't matter if they are left-handed or right-handed," she said. "They are always our children."
Thousands of blog posts and phone calls later, Wu has compiled her stories in a new book - titled "Love Is the Most Beautiful Rainbow" - and vows to continue her effort.
"I have only one child, but so many call me Mama," she said.
This article was originally written and published by Steven Jiang, CNN on November 16, 2010 1:36 p.m. EST

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Autumn Poetry

6a00e54f0a235a88340134879471c7970c-800wiAutumn is here and you can certainly feel it. The weather is wonderful here. Highs in the 60s and 70s, with Lows in the 40s at night.  I love fall weather. Hopefully, it will continue to get cooler.
To celebrate the Fall Season, here is William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 73” to get you in the mood for Fall.
Sonnet 73
by William Shakespeare (1609)
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blanche DuBois


Sometimes I feel like Blanche DuBois in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire when Blanche is led off to a mental hospital by a matron and a kind-hearted doctor. After a brief struggle followed by the administration of a sedative, Blanche smilingly acquiesces as she devolves into her fantasy life, addressing the doctor with the most famous and poignant line in the play:

'I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.'

Thank goodness that strangers can be occasionally kind.  It is one of the great things about living in the South.  We are so often taught to be hospitable that it eventually wears off on most of us and being kind comes as second nature.  So commit a random act of kindness today and make someone’s life a little better for just a moment at least.

(Yes, I realize that this message is not in the context of the play in the least, but it is one of my favorite lines in any movie or play.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stop the Carnage

Remembering Brandon Bitner (1996 - 2010)  
Brandon Bitner was buried on Wednesday, November 10.  The 14-year-old high school freshman from rural Middleburg, Pennsylvania committed suicide by running into the path of a tractor trailer. He left a note that he wanted to draw attention to bullying.  Brandon was a talented musician, who aspired to be a classical violinist. According to the note, he was tired of being called "faggot" and "sissy."   According to his mother, Tammy Simpson, "He was the most wonderful child anyone could ask for."

"We need to stop the carnage of gay teen suicides," said Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum, a national LGBT civil rights organization headquartered in Philadelphia.

In October 2010, Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, brought national attention to the epidemic of gay teen suicides that resulted from bullying.  It is estimated that about 500 gay teens each year or 40 gay teens per month take their lives as a result of homophobia.

"In most public, middle and high schools, homophobic taunts are hurled without any disciplinary action," stated Lazin.  "Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names can really harm you."

Currently, there are two bills in Congress, the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.  "Preventing bullying is a non-partisan issue," said Lazin.  "Congress needs to unanimously pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act to make resoundingly clear that our nation demands safe schools for all children."

Equality Forum produced the documentary film "JIM IN BOLD" (www.jiminbold.com) about the impact of homophobia on gay youth. The film centers on James Wheeler, a 19-year-old talented youth who committed suicide.  Jim was surrounded in his high school's locker room and urinated on. There was no disciplinary action. The award-winning film has been screened at over 50 film festivals and at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day


John McCrae: In Flanders Fields (1915)

image Canadian poet John McCrae was a medical officer in both the Boer War and World War I. A year into the latter war he published in Punch magazine, on December 8, 1915, the sole work by which he would be remembered. This poem commemorates the deaths of thousands of young men who died in Flanders during the grueling battles there. It created a great sensation, and was used widely as a recruiting tool, inspiring other young men to join the Army. Legend has it that he was inspired by seeing the blood-red poppies blooming in the fields where many friends had died. In 1918 McCrae died at the age of 46, in the way most men died during that war, not from a bullet or bomb, but from disease: pneumonia, in his case.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on rowimage
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. A federal holiday, it is observed on November 11. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)
Especially, please remember all of the gay and lesbian service men and women who have served and too often died in silence about their sexuality, yet served their country with as much élan as any other soldier.  Hopefully soon, GLBT members of the military can serve openly and we can celebrate their service to the fullest extent of their deserved equality.  We need to rid America of DADT.
Happy Veterans Day!

The Flapper

"Hip flasks of hooch, jazz, speakeasies, bobbed hair, 'the lost generation.' The Twenties are endlessly fascinating. It was the first truly modern decade and, for better or worse, it created the model for society that all the world follows today." (from Kevin Rayburn, "Two Views of the 1920s.")

image The Jazz Age and the Flapper was the western world’s response to the horrors of World War I. Today is Veteran’s Day (there will be a special post coming up later about Veteran’s Day).  Veteran’s Day began originally as Armistice Day, a day to celebrate the end of hostilities during the Great War, 1914-1918.

So what, beside the thought of hot soldiers in uniform, does the Veteran’s Day have to do with a gay blog?  First of all, as a result of the war, came the Jazz Age, and with the Jazz Age came the Flapper.  "Flapper" in the 1920s was a term applied to a "new breed" of young Western women who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.

image Flappers did not truly emerge until 1926.  Flapper fashion embraced all things and styles modern.  A fashionable flapper had short sleek hair, a shorter than average shapeless shift dress, a chest as flat as a board, wore make up and applied it in public, smoked with a long cigarette holder, exposed her limbs and epitomized the spirit of a reckless rebel who danced the nights away in the Jazz Age.  The French called the flapper fashion style the 'garçonne'. 'Garçonne' in French, by the way, means boy. More on that later.

When the Great War was over, the survivors went home and the world tried to return to normalcy. Unfortunately, settling down in peacetime proved more difficult than expected. During the war, the boys had fought against both the enemy and death in far away lands; the girls had bought into the patriotic fervor and aggressively entered the workforce. During the war, both the boys and the girls of this generation had broken out of society's structure; they found it very difficult to return.

They found themselves expected to settle down into the humdrum routine of American life as if nothing had happened, to accept the moral dicta of elders who seemed to them still to be living in a Pollyanna land of rosy ideals which the war had killed for them. They couldn't do it, and they very disrespectfully said so (Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1931).

image Women were just as anxious as the men to avoid returning to society's rules and roles after the war. In the age of the Gibson Girl, young women did not date, they waited until a proper young man formally paid her interest with suitable intentions (i.e. marriage). However, nearly a whole generation of young men had died in the war, leaving nearly a whole generation of young women without possible suitors. Young women decided that they were not willing to waste away their young lives waiting idly for spinsterhood; they were going to enjoy life. The "Younger Generation" was breaking away from the old set of values.

The term "flapper" first appeared in Great Britain after World War I. It was there used to describe young girls, still somewhat awkward in movement who had not yet entered womanhood. In the June 1922 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, G. Stanley Hall described looking in a dictionary to discover what the evasive term "flapper" meant:

[T]he dictionary set me right by defining the word as a fledgling, yet in the nest, and vainly attempting to fly while its wings have only pinfeathers; and I recognized that the genius of 'slanguage' had made the squab the symbol of budding girlhood.

Authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and artists such as John Held Jr. first used the term to the U.S., half reflecting and half creating the image and style of the flapper. Fitzgerald described the ideal flapper as "lovely, expensive, and about nineteen."

The Flappers' image consisted of drastic - to some, shocking - changes in women's clothing and hair. Nearly every article of clothing was trimmed down and lightened in order to make movement easier.

It is said that girls "parked" their corsets when they were to go dancing. The new, energetic dances of the Jazz Age, required women to be able to move freely, something the "ironsides" didn't allow. Replacing the pantaloons and corsets were underwear called "step-ins."

Abds-100301 The outer clothing of flappers is even still extremely identifiable. This look, called "garconne" ("little boy"), was instigated by Coco Chanel. To look more like a boy, women tightly wound their chest with strips of cloth in order to flatten it. The waists of flapper clothes were dropped to the hipline. She wore stockings - made of rayon ("artificial silk") starting in 1923 - which the flapper often wore rolled over a garter belt. Flappers worked hard to look more boyish.  The men they were trying to attract during the 1920s were men who had spent years alongside other men in the trenches of the First World War. These men were more comfortable with other men, so women chose to be more like men than the womanly figure of proper society.

Too bad more gay men could not legally be out and proud during the Roaring Twenties, we can look a lot more like hot young men than a bunch of flat-chested women who called themselves Flappers.