Thursday, May 31, 2012

Michael Holloway Perronne

Yesterday, when I asked for book suggestions, (thanks everyone for their wonderful suggestions) I was quite surprised by Jay's suggestion to read anything by Michael Holloway Perronne.  I was surprised because I had read Perronne's A Time Before Me several years ago when I was living in Mississippi.  After I had read A Time Before Me, I had posted on MySpace (yes, this was back when MySpace was popular) that he was now one of my favorite authors.  What surprised me the most is that a month or so after that, I received an email from Michale thanking me for listing him as one of my favorite authors.  I wrote back about how much I had enjoyed A Time Before Me, and he then sent me an autographed bookmark in the mail as a thank you. Michael always struck me as a very kind person, so I liked him even more.  Then as things got busier in my life as they often do, I sort of lost track of his newer books, so thank you Jay for reminding me that he has continued to write and that he is still an enjoyable author.  Here is a little biography of Perronne from Wikipedia.

Michael Holloway Perronne (b. 1979Mississippi) is an American author. His novels include: "A Time Before Me", "Starstruck: A Hollywood Saga", "Falling Into Me", "Embrace the Rain", and "A Time Before Us."

Perronne received a great deal of publicity after sending a copy of his novel, A Time Before Me, to Alabama state lawmaker Gerald Allen who proposed that all books mentioning gay content should be banned. Allen was quoted saying, "I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them." In response, Perronne said, ""If Mr. Allen is determined to bury such great works as The Color Purple, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Brideshead Revisited, then I would be honored to have my own work buried with such classics." The controversy led to Perronne making appearances on national television and mentions in national gay newsmagazines. 

His debut novel, "A Time Before Me" won the Bronze Award, ForeWord Magazine's 2006 Book of the Year Award in the Gay/Lesbian fiction category. Perronne is openly gay.

Some of his later works, including "Falling Into Me" and "A Time Before Us," dealt with common issues gay men in their thirties face with growing older. "Embrace the Rain" examined cultural clashes between ethnic groups in a post-Hurricane Katrina coastal Mississippi where Perronne is a native.

Michael was born and raised in Picayune, Mississippi. He received a BA in Film from The University of Southern Mississippi and an MFA in Drama and Communications from the University of New Orleans.

For a few years he worked as a production assistant in television and film, in both New Orleans and Los Angeles, on such projects as the television series The Big Easy and the television movies Rag and Bone and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Following that, he worked as the Conference Services Coordinator for the [[National Association of Television Program Executives]]. He did script reading and analysis for the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Collaborative.

A screenplay he co-wrote with his friend, Gina BonoMillennium Babes From Mars, was optioned by an independent film production company.

He currently resides between Los Angeles and Mexico.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Good Book

I was a bit yesterday, so I couldn't really think of anything to blog about today.  Instead, I thought I would ask you guys a question.

Since school is out, I have a little more time to read, though I am also working on finishing my dissertation this summer, so it is not a lot of time to read.  So here is my question to you guys:

Do you have any suggestions for a good lighthearted read?  I'm not looking for anything too serious, so I would appreciate any suggestions.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Le cancre

Le cancre

Il dit non avec la tête
Mais il dit oui avec le coeur
Il dit oui à ce qu’il aime
Il dit non au professeur
Il est debout
On le questionne
Et tous les problèmes sont posés
Soudain le fou rire le prend
Et il efface tout
Les chiffres et les mots
Les dates et les noms
Les phrases et les pièges
Et malgré les menaces du maître
Sous les huées des enfants prodiges
Avec des craies de toutes les couleurs
Sur le tableau noir du malheur
Il dessine le visage du bonheur.

Jacques Prévert

The dunce

He says no with his head
But he said yes with heart
He said yes to what he loves
He said no to the teacher
He stands
He is questioned
And all problems are posed
Sudden laughter seizes him
And he erases all
The words and figures
Names and dates
Sentences and snares
And despite the teacher's threats
To the jeers of infant prodigies
With chalk of every color
On the blackboard of misfortune
He draws the face of happiness.

Jacques Prévert

Jacques Prévert (4 February 1900 – 11 April 1977) was a French poet and screenwriter. His poems became and remain very popular in the French-speaking world, particularly in schools. Some of the movies he wrote are extremely well regarded, with Les Enfants du Paradis considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pensacola Beach’s Gay Memorial Day Celebration

The redneck riviera becomes the rainbow riviera for one weekend out of the year and it couldn't happen in a more lovely place: Pensacola, Florida. Pensacola Beach is one of the most expansive, beautiful and less known white sand beaches in the world.   This hidden gem of a destination is throwing off its reputation as the ‘Redneck Riviera’ and embracing a future as a world-class tourist destination.  A clear indication that this trend is well under way is the unmitigated success of Pensacola Beach’s Gay Memorial Day Celebration.

There’s no mistaking what time of year it is on Pensacola Beach during Memorial Day weekend. Every year, the beach is sprinkled with rainbow flags welcoming local and out-of-town members of the gay community who generously return the favor by staying in beachfront hotels, eating seafood and drinking a lot. Tens of thousands of gay and lesbian travelers flock to this innocuous beach town every year to bronze their bodies and party with their toes in the blinding white sand.

Those whose memories are still intact remember the weekend starting in the 1980s. The party started on the secluded strip between Navarre and Pensacola Beach on the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and as the years passed it moved its way to the condos and hotels on Pensacola beach.

There’s no official word if the Gulf Islands National Seashore was the chosen spot because of its proximity to the nude beach in Navarre, which is now an urban legend to the younger generation. John Thomas, owner of The Roundup and Pensacola resident since 1993, believes the beach had the best view and the least amount of people as opposed to Destin or Panama City.

“There was a patch of beach that allowed those that are different to be themselves,” he said. “You can go to Destin and be hoity-toity, but in Pensacola it’s more relaxed.”

Pensacola Beach’s laid-back surfer dude charm is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Miami and tacky tourist spring break debauchery of Fort Lauderdale. The community is accepting, embraces gay travelers and is home to many gay residents and several successful gay business owners. I can't begin to describe the beauty of the Gulf Coast beaches in this area if you have never experienced them. The sugar white sands are luxurious and the water is crystal clear with a perfect blue-green hue. It will surely take your breath away.

Located on Santa Rosa Island, in Northwest Florida, Pensacola Beach is a barrier island buffered at both ends by bridges.  There are water views in all directions, with the emerald blue vistas of the Gulf of Mexico 'Gulfside' and the tranquil views of Pensacola Bay 'Soundside'.  Local development is severely curtailed by the protected beaches in the Gulf Islands National Sea Shore located on either end of the island.

On Memorial Day weekend colorful pride flags wave in anticipation as LBGT visitors from all over the country exit the bridge onto the beach.  The colors of the rainbow stand in stark contrast to the glittering white sand as the beach transforms into a seemingly spontaneous parade of beautiful bodies and fashionable swim wear.

Revelers start flooding the beach the week prior to Memorial Day.  The local vibe is always awash with boisterous anticipation.  Friendships and romances are kindled and reunions celebrated.   Days are spent nurturing a tan and people watching with a frosty ‘Bushwhacker’ in hand.  Everything you need to have fun in the sun is easily accessible on foot.

At the main beach, live music and cocktails are plentiful. If you’re energetic there is an ample variety of activities such as stand up paddle boarding, parasailing, kayaking and dolphin watching.   There’s also mini golf, go-carts, beach cruiser bike rentals and funky but fashionable beach stores.  If you prefer a more tranquil atmosphere then migrate east or west and enjoy a romantic picnic on the wild and non-commercial beaches in the National Seashore.  While you are there make sure to explore historic Fort Pickens.

When I was growing up, Pensacola was one of the closest beaches to us, and my parents used to take us camping a few weekends out of the year to the Gulf Islands National Seashore at Fort Pickens. You know that I love history, and Fort Pickens was a wonderful place to explore as a kid. The Fort is an old Civil War fort that stayed in Union hands throughout the war, sitting directly across Pensacola Bay from Fort Barrancas, the Confederate fort. Did you know that the actual first shots fired between Union and Confederate troops was not the Confederates firing on Union forces at Fort Sumpter, but actually Union forces at Fort Pickens firing on Confederate forces at Fort Barrancas? Pensacola has such a wonderful history for any lover of history to enjoy and you don't have to deal with all the hustle and bustle of larger historic southern towns like New Orleans.

Also, if you want a wonderful meal with great service, try one of my all-time favorites, Hall's Seafood on East Gregory Street.  Hall's Seafood features casual dining with a waterfront view & great food. Try their famous hush puppies with cheese sauce, or start your meal with an excellent bowl of gumbo. Don't go to Hall's expecting to eat ultra healthy because if you don't try their hush puppies with cheese sauce, then you might as well not go. They are worth the calories, and even if you think you don't like hush puppies, give these a try. If you get there and are disappointed, then just give the hush puppies and cheese sauce to me, I will eat them. Try it, you won't be disappointed.

For those who crave more than hush puppies with cheese sauce, Pensacola has plenty of culture in nearby Downtown Pensacola which is a theme park for architectural buffs.  Did you know Pensacola is the oldest city in America? (Grant it the Spanish abandoned it the first time to build a city at St. Augustine, eventually they simply couldn't stay away.) Wander through the North Hill residential area and dream of renovating your own antebellum mansion.  Then stroll through the pedestrian friendly streets of the Historic District and enjoy unique culinary offerings, theaters, museums and galleries tucked behind flourished iron balconies reminiscent of New Orleans.

Don’t miss out on numerous Gay Memorial Day events.   This year, renowned comedian Leslie Jordan of Will and Grace, Designing Women and Sordid Lives fame, performed at the historic Saenger Theatre. Emerald City, Pensacola’s premier Gay club, hosted blowout bashes every night featuring DJ Jay-R and DJ Joe Gauthreaux. At the beach many of the local bars such as Crabs We Got Em, Flounders Chowder House and Castaways hosted all night parties.

If you ever get down to Pensacola for Memorial Day Weekend, don't plan on leaving early because on Monday over 150,000 revelers come back to the beach to put their toes in the sand one final time, to share weekend gossip about new loves or break ups, recruit new Facebook friends, get phone numbers or finally muster to courage to say hi to that beautiful person they’ve been eyeing up all weekend.   Most importantly this is the time to say see y’all next year to newfound friends.

Maybe you’ll meet the love of your life and plan a commitment ceremony for the following year.  While same sex marriage is not yet legal in Florida, dozens of couples choose this weekend to say “I Do” with those nearest and dearest to them.  Once you have experienced Pensacola Beach you’ll understand why.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In Honor of Memorial Day Weekend

This post is for all the soldiers who died fighting for our freedoms. More than we will ever know, we're gay soldiers who fought even though they were banned from doing so because of their sexuality. Now soldiers can finally serve open and honestly and those deaths were not in vain.

Footage of a heartwarming reunion between a gay U.S. Navy seaman and his boyfriend is making the blogosphere rounds.

The sailor, identified in the video simply as Trent, had been deployed on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson for nearly six months, according to Towleroad. Waiting for Trent amongst the friends and family at the Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, Calif. was his boyfriend, Lee.

As he waits, an "ecstatic" Lee nervously checks his phone repeatedly before finally greeting Trent with a passionate smooch -- yet another poignant reminder of the progress made since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" last fall.

When the narrator asks Trent what he plans to do when he retires from military service in 10 months, he gleefully replies, "Go to Disneyland!"

U.S. Air Force Academy Graduates First Openly Gay Cadets

In yet another historic, post-"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" moment, the U.S. Air Force Academy graduated the nation's first group of openly gay cadets this week.

ABC News' Devin Dwyer caught up with faculty members and some of the graduates, each of which shook hands with President Obama during the ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colo. Aside from the fact that openly gay members were among the ranks, most cadets interviewed said the impact from last year's repeal was relatively minimal.

"It's pretty much just like any other repeal," one cadet said. "We just got told that this is what's gonna happen, and we all need to be adults about it."

Though several media outlets have noted the lack of rainbow flags or other obvious lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride-relevant symbols during the ceremony, Trish Heller -- who heads the Blue Alliance, an association of LGBT Air Force Academy alumni -- said the reason was obvious.

"The whole thing is we don’t want to be identified as anything different," Heller is quoted by ABC as saying. She noted that her group had connected with at least four members of the class of 2012 who had come out publicly as LGBT, though others likely preferred to keep a low profile. "We want to serve, to be professional and to be symbols of what it means to be Air Force Academy graduates."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Moment of Zen: Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed annually in the United States on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. As a marker it typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Diva Worship

A gay icon is a public figure (historical or current) who is embraced by many within lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities.  Qualities of a gay icon often include glamour, flamboyance, strength through adversity, and androgyny in presentation. Such icons can be of any sexual orientation or gender; they can be out or not. Most gay icons have given their support to LGBT social movements, advocating gay rights in times when it was not socially acceptable.

In a candid interview from 1980, Ball was asked her thoughts on a number of subjects, including gay rights. "It's perfectly all right with me," she replied. "Some of the most gifted people I've ever met or read about are homosexual. How can you knock it?" 

Historical icons are typically elevated to such status because their sexual orientation remains a topic of great debate among historians. Modern gay icons, who are predominantly female entertainers, commonly garner a large following within LGBT communities over the course of their careers. The majority of gay icons fall into one of two categories: the tragic, sometimes martyred figure or the prominent pop culture idol.

Jeffrey Masten, a Northwestern University associate professor of English and comparative literature who wrote a book on "gay identification and musical theater," offers an answer to an obvious question: Why are all these entertaining objects of gay men's affection women? "This started through a process of cross-gender identification in which gay men heard women singers as being able to sing things about loving men (and simultaneously about the difficulty of that) that men singers weren't singing." In other words, said the professor, when Garland sang about "The Man That Got Away," gay men could relate.

Being able to triumph over troubles has universal appeal, of course, but gay men, especially, appreciate that as a key quality of a diva, said 29-year-old David Biele, author of "Vanguards," a play produced at Bailiwick Repertory in 1997 about gay life in Chicago before the 1969 gay men's Stonewall rebellion in New York.  For many gay men, a diva "is a strong person who is a survivor and gay men can relate to someone who has survived in a hostile environment," says Biele.

One can never forget, of course, dearly departed divas such as the late, great Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and the original grande dame of divas: Judy Garland. Although not every gay boy or man worships divas, a good many do. Why is that?

There are many theories. In The Rise and Fall of Gay Culture, Daniel Harris suggests that "at the very heart of gay diva worship is not the diva herself but the almost universal homosexual experience of ostracism and insecurity." Harris feels that we gay men live vicariously through divas who snare the handsome heterosexual men, and that we like to imagine ourselves in their place. He equates diva worship with watching football and says that it's actually just as unfeminine as football: "It is a bone-crushing spectator sport in which one watches the triumph of feminine wiles over masculine walls of a voluptuous and presumably helpless damsel in distress single-handedly moving down a lineup of hulking quarterbacks who fall dead at her feet."

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanny's
Time even addressed diva worship in a review of Judy Garland's final concert on August 18, 1967, at New York's Palace Theatre. The article read, "A disproportionate part of her nightly claque seems to be homosexual. The boys in the tight trousers roll their eyes, tear at their hair and practically levitate from their seats, particularly when Judy sings ['Over the Rainbow']." The article also quoted a psychiatrist who said, "Judy was beaten up by life, embattled and ultimately had to become more masculine. She has the power that homosexuals would like to have, and they attempt to attain it by idolizing her."

On closer examination, we can see there is something decidedly masculine about these divas. They have a hardened, sometimes aggressively feminine side. In their performance mode, they are almost as hyperfeminine as drag queens: Diana Ross' big exaggerated hair, for example, or Cher's heavily beaded gowns and overly glittering eye shadow.

Joe Kort, a psychotherapist, sexologist, and relationship therapist and founder of the Center for Relationship and Sexual Health, believes that these divas are our stand-in mothers. His Jewish clients and friends have related to him that Barbra Streisand saved their lives. Without her movies and songs, they couldn't have survived their childhoods. Many of these men had self-absorbed mothers who were unavailable emotionally, so what better surrogate Jewish mother than Streisand? She is already unavailable in many ways, so his clients can worship her and fulfill some needs that their mothers cannot. These diva-mommies will never let us down; they are whoever we want them to be. They're our mother shadows.

Kort's theory is that in our early lives, our inability to attach and identify with men may prompt us to try to escape into the feminine realm to avoid the shame and fear of being compared unfavorably with other males. Although this is true of both gay and straight men, straight men bring these issues to their female partners. Not having woman as partners, we turn to our divas.

Most queer theorists, though, miss the boat where diva worship is concerned. Ironically, they regurgitate an ignorant heterosexual belief when they do so. They reinforce the assumption that gay people suffer from a sort of passive sadness, an overriding personality disorder, as though loneliness were unknown in other circles. It's the suffering, we've been told again and again, that unified us. We identify with women because they, too, are oppressed. There may be some truth to that, but it isn't our suffering; it's our enduring hope that creates icons. Diva worship is a sensitivity to life's endless possibilities and our ability to transcend acceptance or oppression.

Whatever the reason, these divas mean so much to us as gay men, I am thankful to them for giving us an escape from the pain of growing up gay. I admire their perseverance and their acceptance of their gay audiences. For me, they make the world a more colorful and better place.

What are some reasons you can think of for why we worship divas?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Exciting News: Jim Parsons Comes Out!

Jim Parsons in his dressing room. 

He stars in the play “Harvey,” which opens on June 14.
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
You may or may not know this, but my current favorite show is The Big Bang Theory (see here, here, here, and here).  In addition, I love Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on the show.  So I was quite ecstatic when i read that Jim Parsons has revealed he is gay and in a committed relationship in a new interview.  I am even more in love with Parsons now then I was before.
 Parsons and Spiewak
New York Times writer Patrick Healy confirms "The Big Bang Theory" star's sexuality as part of a profile of the 39-year-old actor, who is currently starring on Broadway in a revival of "Harvey." The revelation comes late in the article, when Healy describes Parsons' role in the 2011 revival of Larry Kramer's HIV/AIDS crisis drama, "The Normal Heart."
Writes Healy: '"The Normal Heart” resonated with him on a few levels: Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said."
 Parsons and Spiewak
Parsons' sexuality has been the source of media speculation for several years. Though the Times doesn't identify Parsons' partner, the actor thanked Todd Spiewak during a 2010 Emmy Award acceptance speech. He has shown up to awards shows and made public theater contributions together with Spiewak, reportedly an art director, on several previous occasions.
The National Enquirer also reported that Parsons and Spiewak were at one time engaged and planning a Massachusetts-based Christmas wedding, which has since allegedly been called off because Parsons doesn't want children. None of this has ever been confirmed nor denied by Parsons' representatives, who have continually declined to speak about their client's sexuality, according to AfterElton.

I am very proud of Jim Parsons.  He's such a great actor and deserves every Emmy that he receives.  Congratulations Jim, I love you man.  I wish you many, may years of continued success.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Response

I received quite a number of comments about my post "Obama and Gay Marriage" on Monday. Instead of answering on that post, I thought I would do another post responding to the comments. First of all, thank you to all who left comments, I always enjoy hearing your opinions. Second, similar to what Fan of Casey said about living in a solid blue state, where no matter how he votes, his state will vote Democrat, I live in a solid red state, and no matter who I vote for, the Republican candidate will win in my state. However, that doesn't mean that I will like it or follow the trend.

Queer Heaven, I agree with you that if Romney wins, we will most likely lose some of our gains in gay rights. Will, I'm not for sure he will reinstate DADT or that a gay marriage amendment will ever be viable, but he most likely will issue an executive order denying LGBT families from having full visitation rights in hospitals, which would reverse one of Obama's most important executive orders.

Coop, I also did not vote for Obama in 2008, and I also can't say that I was impressed with Obama's recent support of gay marriage because I think it was too little too late. He should have come out in support of gay marriage when he had a Democratically controlled Congress, when he had a chance or repeal DOMA.

As for the Anonymous commenter, I think your response is what is most wrong with American politics. Your preference that politicians act like "politicians" is not how I want my politicians to act. I want my politicians to be sincere when they make a statement, and not state whatever they believe will get them another vote. We need (and excuse the oxymoron) some honest politicians, not mere pundits who change directions with the wind like weathervane.

"." I tend to vote for Democrats also because they hold my beliefs more so than Republicans, but to be honest, I think both political parties are moving further away from the middle and is being controlled more and more by the extremes in the party. I am very much a moderate on most issues, and it is sad to me when someone like Romney is considered a moderate because he leans to the right for his base support. We desperately need someone in this country who will look out for the middle class and for the moderate voters. Elections are getting too extreme and the center is not represented anymore.

Jay, in many ways we are very much alike politically, though I do tend to think there should be more control of guns, though to a certain extent gun rights are important. I have a few guns that are family heirlooms, and I will never let anyone take them from me. However, like you, I am a bit of a mixed bag, which is why I consider myself a moderate.

Drew, I think that Romney is pandering to the right, but I'm not sure how moderate he can actually become if elected. He will still want to be elected again and he can do a lot of damage in four years. Presidents tend to become moderate only after winning a second term. Romney is a Mormon, which makes it ever more likely that he will stay far to the right. Mormons are nice people personally, but I do not agree with their political beliefs.

Fan of Casey, you are absolutely right that Obama promised the world, and he is seen as less than a success because he could not deliver. That's why I would like to see a politician who is a realist. If you had a candidate that was as good of a speaker as Reagan or Obama who could point out the real problems and how he wants to go about fixing them, then we might have a candidate that we could follow.

Uncutplus, the only possible hope for the economy is for someone to give us realistic hope. FDR gave confidence to America, but it was Keynesian economics and WWII that brought us out of the Depression. I don't know what the solution will be this time, but we have to have confidence first, or we will never pull ourselves out of it. I don't see either candidates supplying that confidence.

Uncutplus, Drew, and Fan of Casey, As I said before, I think what we need to do is more than get the Republicans out of Congress, we need to get a healthy number of Democrats out as well. We need to get people in Congress who will work with each other. Right now, the atmosphere is so bipartisan that very little gets done. I feel that neither the Democrats or the Republicans represent the majority of the people anymore, but we do not have a viable choice otherwise and we vote for the lesser of the two evils.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

School's Out by WH Davies

"School's Out" may have been Alice Cooper's first big hit single but did you know it's also the title of a poem by a Welsh poet born in 1871? If you left school a few decades ago, you're probably more familiar with the poet as the author of "Leisure", with its famous opening couplet: "What is this life if, full of care, / We have no time to stand and stare." No doubt "Leisure" was once, for many young people, their first encounter with printed poetry. The author, of course, is William Henry Davies, sometimes nicknamed "the tramp poet".

Davies began writing after a serious accident in which, trying to jump onto an express train in Renfrew, Ontario, he was dragged under the wheels. His work doesn't usually dwell on the uglier side of vagrancy, but celebrates the pleasure and joy (two emotions which he was at pains to distinguish) to be had from nature and the simple life. His exuberance seems entirely unforced. There is no self-pity, although he endured a good deal of hardship in prisons and doss-houses before accomplishing his dream of publication, and his "leisure" must surely have been painful at times. Limping on a primitive wooden leg, he had good reason to slow down and gaze around him.

Davies delivers homilies in some of his verses, but he is never pompous or pious. He is the poet as everyman, using his eyes, his humor and his common sense; a natural lyricist with a direct line to the rhythmic vitality of our dear unfashionable old friend, the Common Muse.

As often with Davies's poems, "School's Out" is glancingly autobiographical. It is not a child's-eye view, and it was not intended, as far as I know, to be a children's poem. But then, I'm not entirely sure what a children's poem is. Before writing for children became an industry, children simply looked over the adults' shoulders, and found plenty to enjoy.

This little poem could be a medieval lyric: it could be a nursery rhyme or a carol. It's as timeless as the liberation it delights in. A wry self-mockery reveals to the knowing reader the poet's personal story: the "old man" he orders to "hobble home" may well be himself. But the dimeter rhythm gives the poem a gusty, bouncing pace, the staccato verses succeeding each other like short sharp flurries of March wind. Everything is in fugue – the children, the animals and birds as they hasten out of the way – and the tramps, at possible risk from so much vitality. Any hint of darkness is banished in the cheery apostrophe of the last two lines. There's a lovely contrast between the skippety dactyl of "Merry mites" and the surprising, ceremonious spondee, "Welcome". Perhaps it's not strictly a spondee, but, in bagging a line all to itself, the word seems to insist on taking two full stresses: well come!

So this Poem of the week welcomes anybody who can remember what Alice Cooper described as one of the best moments in life: "the last three minutes of the last day of school when you're sitting there and it's like a slow fuse burning."

School's Out

Girls scream,
    Boys shout;
Dogs bark,
    School's out.

Cats run,
    Horses shy;
Into trees
    Birds fly.

Babes wake
If they can,
    Tramps hide.

Old man,
    Hobble home;
Merry mites,

I also have to add this cute little poem, though I do not know who it is by:

Great Expectations

It's time to say good-bye
Our year has come to an end.
I've made more cherished memories
and many more new friends.

I've watched your child learn and grow
and change from day to day.
I hope that all the things we've done
Have helped in some small way.

So it's with happy memories
I send them out the door,
With great hope and expectations
for what next year holds in store.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Obama and Gay Marriage

We all know by now that Obama has stated his support for gay marriage, but what does that really mean for us?  Quite frankly, I think we have some of the worst choices for president in this election season than we have had in decades.  It's one thing to vote for the lesser of two evils, which is what we often do, but I am truly torn about this election.  Let me get this out of the way first, I will not vote for Mitt Romney, but I don't particularly relish the idea of voting for Obama.  Yes, there are many things that Obama has done for the LGBT community (is it enough?); yet, I can't see much of what he has done for the economy.  Though I have a full-time job (and a part-time job), I am still under-employed and struggle more and more each day to pay my bills.  That was not the case four years ago.

Recently, I read an editorial from the Huffington Post by R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. And though this editorial did not form my opinion about Obama's recent support for gay marriage, it does make some of the same points that I first thought.  Is this just a political ploy? Is it merely a distraction? Is Obama completely sincere or does he just not like being showed up by his VP?  Whatever the reason, which I hope was in all sincerity, here is an excerpt from Cooper's editorial:
The ancient Romans mastered the art of appeasing a restless populace through spectacle. With the president's announcement regarding marriage, Americans are seeing panem et circenses, "bread and circuses," in action, when what we really need are jobs.
To be clear, President Barack Obama's support for the freedom to marry is a landmark in the long march to equality. Log Cabin Republicans have long believed that supporting the freedom to marry is the right thing to do, and the president's joining this effort is in the nation's best interest. That said, Americans can be certain that the President would not have made this decision at this time if it were not in his best political interests. In addition to energizing the liberal base and distracting attention from a failed economic record, the trap has been laid for any Republican who responds with intolerance.
By rejecting not only marriage but civil unions and allowing senior campaign advisor Ed Gillespie to resurrect the twice-failed Federal Marriage Amendment, Governor Mitt Romney has taken the bait. This is a mistake. Both rank-and-file Republicans and senior strategists are recognizing that in today's political climate, anti-gay politics is not the powerful wedge issue it once was, and now the wedge cuts both ways.
I would love to hear what you guys think. I am always surprised at the political spectrum that the rainbow community that reads my blog has.  Though, I think we all assume that the LGBT community is very liberal, we often find that just as we are a diverse community, we also hold diverse political views.

To read the entire editorial, click the link below.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Teacher Writes On Facebook That Being Gay Is 'The Same As Murder'

Jack Conkling, a Prairie Hills Middle School social studies teacher and Buhler High School assistant women's basketball coach in Buhler, Kan., is under fire after equating being gay to being a murderer on his Facebook profile, the Hutchinson News reports.

In his post, Conkling comments on gay marriage, writing that homosexuality "ranks in God's eyes the same as murder, lying, stealing, or cheating."

According to the paper, several of his students who were also his Facebook friends left comments on the post, something that led the school to eventually take notice.

"I wrote what I wrote for my Facebook friends who understand my heart and my intent," Conkling told the Hutchinson News. "I understand that there were some folks who didn't understand my heart, and while that's sad, it is what it is."

While the school district has no Facebook policy for its teachers, Craig Williams, the middle school's principal, said school officials are "looking into it."

In a news release, Kansas Equality Coalition Executive Director Thomas Witt condemned Conkling's public sentiments, saying it isolates students.

"What would Mr. Conkling say to a student who is getting bullied for being gay or lesbian," Witt said in the statement, according to the blog "Gay Star News."

The full text of Conkling's Facebook rant, courtesy of The Advocate:
"All this talk in the news about gay marriage recently has finally driven me to write. Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong. The Bible clearly states it is sin. Now I do not claim it to be a sin any worse than other sins. It ranks in God's eyes the same as murder, lying, stealing, or cheating. His standards are perfect and ALL have sinned and fallen short of His glory. Sin is sin and we all deserve hell. Only those who accept Christ as Lord and daily with the help of the Spirit do their best to turn from sin will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. There aren't multiple ways to get to Heaven. There is one. To many this may seem close minded and antagonistic, but it doesn't make it any less true. Folks I am willing to admit that my depravity is just as great as anyone else's, and without Christ I'd be destined for hell, if not for the undeserved grace of God. I'm not condemning gay marriage because I hate gay people. I am doing it because those who embrace it will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And I desire that for no one."
As more are embracing social media as a regular method of communication and information sharing, school districts across the country are grappling with how to keep online interactions among students and teachers constructive.

States from Missouri to New York have adopted social media policies that prohibit or restrict communication between students and teachers on social media sites like Facebook -- regulations that have been met with mixed responses.

Greater online exposure has also heightened scrutiny of educators' personal lives and opinions, which sometimes puts those teachers' employment security at risk.

Viki Knox, a special education teacher in New Jersey, was investigated last fall for posting anti-gay comments on Facebook. She reportedly wrote on the site that homosexuality is "a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation," and a "sin" that "breeds like cancer."

Last fall, Florida teacher Jerry Buell was reassigned after an anti-gay Facebook post that denounced New York's decision to allow same-sex marriage. Buell wrote that he "almost threw up" when he heard the news.

"If they want to call it a union, go ahead," Buell wrote. "But don't insult a man and woman's marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???"

And in March, Christine Rubino, a teacher in New York, found herself under fire after posting to Facebook inflammatory comments about her students. A day after a Harlem girl drowned at a New York area beach, Rubino suggested that her students should take a beach trip. "I hate their guts," she wrote, according to the New York Post.

It's so sad to me when people like this are educating America's children. We need to be teaching love and acceptance, not perpetuating hate. I have a strict policy that I follow when it comes to Facebook, I do not 'friend' students, nor do I accept their friend requests. Once the graduate or no longer attend my school, I will reconsider. However, not all of our teachers have this policy. Some use Facebook extensively, mostly to gather gossip. No matter what someone believes, Facebook should not allow people to perpetuate hate. What Jack Conkling did was highly inappropriate; now, we will have to see what the administrators at his school does.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Moment of Zen: On the River

We had our end of the year faculty party on the river this year.  We had a great time!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Last Dance: Disco Queen Donna Summer dies at 63

By MESFIN FEKADU, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Like the King of Pop or the Queen of Soul, Donna Summer was bestowed a title fitting of musical royalty — the Queen of Disco.

Yet unlike Michael Jackson or Aretha Franklin, it was a designation she wasn't comfortable embracing.

"I grew up on rock 'n' roll," Summer once said when explaining her reluctance to claim the title.

Indeed, as disco boomed then crashed in a single decade in the 1970s, Summer, the beautiful voice and face of the genre with pulsating hits like "I Feel Love," ''Love to Love You Baby" and "Last Dance," would continue to make hits incorporating the rock roots she so loved. One of her biggest hits, "She Works Hard for the Money," came in the early 1980s and relied on a smoldering guitar solo as well as Summer's booming voice.

Yet it was with her disco anthems that she would have the most impact in music, and it's how she was remembered Thursday as news spread of her death at age 63.

Summer died of cancer Thursday morning in Naples, Fla., said her publicist Brian Edwards. Her family released a statement saying they "are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy."

Luminaries from Aretha Franklin to Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand mourned the loss, as did President Barack Obama, who said he and Michelle were saddened to hear of the passing of the five-time Grammy winner. "Her voice was unforgettable, and the music industry has lost a legend far too soon," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Donna's family and her dedicated fans."

It had been decades since that brief, flashy moment when Summer was every inch the Disco Queen.

Her glittery gowns and long eyelashes. Her luxurious hair and glossy, open lips. Her sultry vocals, her bedroom moans and sighs. She was as much a part of the culture as disco balls, polyester, platform shoes and the music's pulsing, pounding rhythms.

Summer's music gave voice to not only a musical revolution, but a cultural one — a time when sex, race, fashion and drugs were being explored and exploited with freedom like never before in the United States.

Her rise was inseparable from disco's itself, even though she remained popular for years after the genre she helped invent had died. She won a Grammy for best rock vocal performance for "Hot Stuff," a fiery guitar-based song that represented her shift from disco to more rock-based sounds, and created another kind of anthem with "She Works Hard for the Money," this time for women's rights.

Elton John said in a statement that Summer was more than the Queen of Disco.

"Her records sound as good today as they ever did. That she has never been inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted," he said. "She is a great friend to me and to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and I will miss her greatly."

Summer may not have liked the title and later became a born-again Christian, but many remembered her best for her early years, starting with the sinful "Love to Love You Baby."

Released in 1975, a breakthrough hit for Summer and for disco, it was a legend of studio ecstasy and the genre's ultimate sexual anthem. Summer came up with the idea of the song and first recorded it as a demo in 1975, on the condition that another singer perform it commercially. But Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart liked the track so much that he suggested to producer Giorgio Morodor they re-record it, and make it longer — what would come to be known as a "disco disc."

Summer had reservations about the lyrics — "Do it to me again and again" — but imagined herself as a movie star playing a part as if she were Marilyn Monroe. So she agreed to sing, lying down on the studio floor, in darkness, and letting her imagination take over. Solo and multitracked, she whispered, she groaned, she crooned. Drums, bass, strings and keyboards answered her cries. She simulated climax so many times that the BBC kept count: 23, in 17 minutes.

What started as a scandal became a classic. The song was later sampled by LL Cool J, Timbaland and Beyonce, who interpolated the hit for her jam "Naughty Girl." It was also Summer's U.S. chart debut and the first of 19 No. 1 dance hits between 1975 and 2008 — second only to Madonna.

Summer, real name LaDonna Adrian Gaines, was born in 1948 in Boston. She was raised on gospel music and became the soloist in her church choir by age 10.

"There was no question I would be a singer, I just always knew. I had credit in my neighborhood, people would lend me money and tell me to pay it back when I got famous," Summer said in a 1989 interview with The Associated Press.

Before disco, she had already reinvented herself several times. She sang Motown songs with local groups in Boston as a teenager, then dropped out of school in the late 1960s and switched to pyschedelic rock after hearing Janis Joplin. An attempt to get a part in the musical "Hair" led her to get the principal role in Munich. She stayed in Germany for five years, worked in other productions and modeled.

Meanwhile, she was performing in operas, singing backup for Three Dog Night and other groups and releasing songs of her own. A marriage to Helmuth Sommer didn't last, but the singer did hold on to her ex-husband's last name, changing it to "Summer." By 1974, she had met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and released her first album, "Lady of the Night," to success in Europe.

Then came "Love to Love You Baby," her memorable U.S. debut. Through the rest of the disco era she burned up the charts: She was the only artist to have three consecutive double-LPs hit No. 1, "Live and More," ''Bad Girls" and "On the Radio." She was also the first female artist with four No. 1 singles in a 13-month period, according to the Rock Hall of Fame, where she was a nominee this year but was passed over.

Musically, she began to change in 1979 with "Hot Stuff," which had a tough, rock 'n' roll beat. Her diverse sound helped her earn Grammy Awards in the dance, rock, R&B and inspirational categories.
Summer said grew up on rock 'n' roll and later covered the Bruce Springsteen song "Protection."

"I like the Moody Blues, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as well as Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, the Supremes and Temptations," she said. "I didn't know many white kids who didn't know the Supremes; I don't know many black kids who don't know the Moody Blues."

Warwick said in a statement that she was sad to lose a great performer and "dear friend."

"My heart goes out to her husband and her children," Warwick said. "Prayers will be said to keep them strong."

Summer later became a born-again Christian and was accused of making anti-gay comments in relation to the AIDS epidemic — a particular problem for a woman who was and remains a gay icon. Summer denied making the comments, but became the target of a boycott.

Religion played an important role in her later life, said Michael Levine, who briefly worked as her publicist. "Her passion in her life, besides music, was God, spirituality and religion. She held a bible study class at her home every week," he said.
Summer released her last album, "Crayons," in 2008. It was her first full studio album in 17 years. She also performed on "American Idol" that year with its top female contestants.

Summer is survived by her husband, Bruce Sudano, and three daughters, Brooklyn, Mimi and Amanda. AP National Writer Hillel Italie in New York and AP Music Writer Nekesa Moody and Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Whatever raises your skirt, man."

I have been in love with Matthew McConaughey since I saw him in "A Time to Kill.". He is one hell of a sexy man.  I saw the story below on the Huffington Post, and since I can't wait to see "Magic Mike," I wanted to share this story with you.  I hope that you enjoy.

Matthew McConaughey Talks 'Magic Mike,' Gay Fans And How He'd React If His Kids Came Out

Matthew McConaughey's gay fans are no doubt looking forward to "Magic Mike," which will feature scenes of the star stripping down to a thong alongside fellow heartthrobs Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello.
But the 42-year-old hunk has always enjoyed a sizable gay fanbase, which he discusses at length in a new interview with The Advocate.
"It's much appreciated," he tells writer Brandon Voss of the support from the gay community. "You know, I have some good friends of my own who happen to be gay, and when it comes to gay, straight, or whatever, I'm for anything life-affirmative. I'm for gay power, straight power, male power, female power; everybody should feel empowered without oppressing anyone who's different." He then went on to note. "I've had some great conversations with a lot of gay people about being gay, when they knew, how they came out, and how they live...It's all very interesting to me on a human level, because we're all in this together."
McConaughey, who has been the subject of a number of rumors about his own sexuality, also recalls a time when a gay friend made a pass at him in college. "I went like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa," and he freaked out," he said. "I think he thought I was going to be violent or something. I stopped him and said, 'Hang on, I'm not gay, but I like you as a friend. I'm sorry if you misread my friendship, but I still want to be your friend.' He was crying, and I remember giving him a hug and saying, 'Dude, it's fine. Whatever raises your skirt, man.'"
On how he'd react if one of his children with fiancee Camila Alves eventually came out of the closet, he added, "There's nothing in me that can understand disowning your child because they're gay. You deal with it, you support them, and you also help prepare them for how some people in the world will treat and think of them."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

All Over But the Shoutin'

School is almost out.  In fact, as they say in the South, it's all over but the shouting'.  All that is left to do is the end of the year stuff and semester exams.

By the way, if you've never read the book by Rick Bragg's, All Over But the Shoutin',then I highly suggest you read it.

This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg's father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most.

But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg's mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people's cotton so that her children wouldn't have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives--and the country that shaped and nourished them--with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable.

One reason Rick Bragg won a Pulitzer Prize for his feature articles at the New York Times is that he never forgets his roots. When he writes about death and violence in urban slums, Bragg draws on firsthand knowledge of how poverty deforms lives and on his personal belief in the dignity of poor people. His memoir of a hardscrabble Southern youth pays moving tribute to his indomitable mother and struggles to forgive his drunken father. All Over but the Shoutin' is beautifully achieved on both these counts--and many more.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Belle of Amherst

This image, just reminds me of something very Emily Dickinson-esque.

Emily Dickinson

This was a Poet — It is That
Distills amazing sense
From ordinary Meanings —
And Attar so immense

From the familiar species
That perished by the Door —
We wonder it was not Ourselves
Arrested it — before —

Of Pictures, the Discloser —
The Poet — it is He —
Entitles Us — by Contrast —
To ceaseless Poverty —

Of portion — so unconscious —
The Robbing — could not harm —
Himself — to Him — a Fortune —
Exterior — to Time —

Was Emily Dickinson a Lesbian?

A question that intrigues scholars and readers alike: was Emily Dickinson a lesbian? While there's not (to this date, anyway) direct evidence that Dickinson was sexually active with either men or women, she did write passionate letters to women (as did many women of that age). Some historians find this as evidence of what today would be called lesbianism -- others point to incidents where she seemed to be in love with men as counter-evidence.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Art and Degas

I have been working this weekend on some promotions for my schools new art club.  This has gotten me to think about art, and though, Edgar Degas was characterized as an "old curmudgeon" this quote below is quite beautiful.
Young Spartans Exercising, also known as Young Spartans, is an oil on canvas painting by French impressionist artist Edgar Degas. The work depicts two groups of male and female Spartan youths exercising, though the subject matter of the painting has, in recent times, been challenged. The work is now in the permanent collection of The National Gallery in London.

Edgar Degas was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. A superb draftsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half of his works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and depiction of human isolation.
Early in his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life.