Monday, April 29, 2013

A Greek Island by Edward Hirsch

A Greek Island 
Traveling over your body I found
The failing olive and the cajoling flute,
Where I knelt down, as if in prayer,
And sucked a moist pit 
From the marl
Of the earth in a sacred cove.

You gave yourself to the god who comes,
The liberator of the loud shout, 
While I fell into a trance, 
Blood on my lips,
And stumbled into a temple on top
Of a hill at the bottom of the sky.

About this Poem:
"The poem takes a phrase ('C'est l'olive pâmée, et la flûte câline') from an obscene parody of Albert Mérat by Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine ('Sonnet du trou du cul') and develops it into an erotic poem.  Now the body of the body becomes a sacred site, a Greek island."
--Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch is the author of numerous collections of poetry including, The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems(Knopf, 2011). Hirsch is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Sometimes...I Have to Write About Nothing

The only problem with writing a daily blog is that every now and then, I have nothing to write about, or I can't find anything to share with you guys.  Sometimes, it's the opposite.  I have what I think are two or three good ideas, and I have to decide which one to use, and then I have to decide if the others can be used another day.  On Tuesdays, I know I can always find a poem; Saturdays, I can usually find a "Moment of Zen;" and on Sundays, I can usually find a Bible verse if nothing else.  Today, is one of those days that I just can't think of anything to write about.  I've checked out the gay news sources, and nothing popped out at me. Nothing else has struck me as interesting either.  I'm sure there is something, but it eludes me right now.

So today, I am writing about nothing, because I can't think of anything to write about.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."
But he answered, "It is written, 
"'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" 
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, 
"'He will command his angels concerning you,' 
"'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 
Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 
'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.". Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 
"'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" 
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11
As the passage above shows, Christ faced temptation, though because he was God in flesh, he only faced temptation by Satan, but was not tempted. Temptation is something we all face as Christians, no matter how long we have been following Christ.  There are a few practical things, however, that we can do to grow stronger and smarter in our struggle against sin. We can learn how to avoid temptation by practicing these five steps.

Recognize your tendency toward sin.
James 1:14 explains that we are tempted when we become enticed by our own natural desires. The first step toward avoiding temptation, is recognizing our human tendency to be tempted by our own fleshly desires. Temptation is a given, so don't be surprised by it. Rather, expect to be tempted. Be prepared for it.

Run away from the temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."  When you are face to face with temptation, look for the way out that God has promised and then run as fast as you can.

Resist with the Word of truth.
Hebrews 4:12 says God's Word is living and active. Did you know you can carry a weapon that will make your thoughts obey Jesus Christ? If you don't believe me, read 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 One of these weapons is the Word of God.

Though it can be helpful to read God's Word when you're being tempted, sometimes that's not practical. Even better is to practice reading the Word daily, so that eventually you have so much of it inside, you are ready whenever temptation comes. If you are reading through the Bible regularly, you will have the full counsel of God at your disposal.

Refocus with praise.
How often have you been tempted to sin when your heart and mind were fully concentrated on worship to the Lord? Praising God takes your focus off of yourself and puts it on God. You may not be strong enough to resist temptation on your own, but as you focus on God, he will inhabit your praise. He will give you the strength to resist and walk away from the temptation. May I suggest Psalm 147 as a good place to start.

Repent quickly when you fail.
In several places the Bible tells us the best way to resist temptation is to flee from it (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). Yet still we all fail from time to time. We fail to flee. Notice I didn't say, repent quickly if you fail. Having a more realistic view—knowing that at times you will fail—should help you to repent quickly when you do. It is not the end of the world when you fail, but it is very dangerous to persist in your sin. Going back to James 1, verse 15 explains that sin "when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

The following prayer may also bring some solace when we face temptation:
Dear Lord, 
You know the temptations that I am facing today. But your Word promises that I will not be tempted beyond what I can bear. I ask for your strength to stand up under the temptation whenever I encounter it. Your Word also tells me you will provide a way out of the temptation. Please, Lord, give me the wisdom to walk away when I am tempted, and the clarity to see the way out that you will provide. Thank you, God, that you are a faithful deliverer and that I can count on your help in my time of need. 

Moment of Zen: Staying in Bed

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Acquire knowledge, it enableth its possessor to distinguish right from wrong; it lighteth the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when friendless; it guideth us to happiness; it sustaineth us in misery, it is an ornament amongst friends, and an armour against enemies."
― Muhammad, quoted in The Sayings of Muhammad

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
― Marcus Garvey

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.
― Kofi Annan

Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else ... Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.
― Margaret Fuller

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it.
― Samuel Johnson, quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson

The end of man is knowledge but there's one thing he can't know. He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn't got and which if he had it would save him.
― Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men

A society that fears knowledge is a society that fears itself.
― Bernard Beckett, Genesis

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blue Week

Do you ever have one of those weeks when you just feel down and depressed?  I seem to be having what I call a blue week, a week when nothing seems to go right, you're in a constant bad mood, and you just feel down and depressed.  There have been a few bright spots, but it's been two to three bright spots for a hundred dreary spots.  I just feel like the universe is aligned against me this week. The thing is, it's not just one or two things I can name, but so many different things have happened that all seemed to be bad.  Hopefully, the end of week will be an improvement on the beginning.  Quite honestly, it will have to be, I don't think I could handle it getting worse. 
I do like the picture above though.  It just seems melancholy and hopeful at the same time.  Plus, I love the colors, the purples, yellows, blues, and browns just blend together perfectly.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

First Openly Gay NFL Player?

Alan Gendreau is nothing if not unique. A devout Christian and a Florida native, Gendreau was a superstar kicker for the Middle Tennessee State's Blue Raiders; he is also openly gay. As an athlete at a Southern college, Gendreau was not only a successul team member, but he also felt accepted by his teammates. Now, he has his sights set on the National Football League (NFL).
Gendreau gave an exclusive interview to OutSports' Cyd Zeigler about life as an openly gay college athlete and his NFL prospects, revealing that when he came out to his MT team in freshman year, they fully embraced him.
"Everyone just saw him as a football player," MT holder and team punter Josh Davis told OutSports. "He was just one of the guys. The fact that he proved himself on the field, there was a respect for him."
The 5-foot, 10-inch kicker, who graduated from MT last year, knows the NFL is a long-shot for him this year. Gendreau is currently a free agent, and only the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers are likely to draft a kicker this year. Still, it isn't impossible.
"It's totally legit that he can get into the league," Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who is also a gay rights advocate, told OutSports. "Place-kicking is all about doing this one specific skill set. And if you can do that, you can make it whether you've been out of football for one year or 10 years."
If he does make it into the NFL, Gendreau would not only be the first gay professional football player, but he would also be the first professional player to enter the league openly gay.
Gay players in sports have been especially controversial lately. Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo revealed earlier this month that as many as four current football players are in talks to come out in the near future. Following this statement, the NFL met with gay rights groups to discuss enacting policies to end homophobia and combat discrimination.
The NFL would likely embrace a player like Gendreau, and why not? The first openly gay, male athlete will likely rake in millions in endorsement deals and garner major attention for the team.
"We have seen time and time again that diversity is a benefit," Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of pro-tolerance nonprofit Athlete Ally, previously told The Huffington Post. "It's a benefit in corporate America; it's a benefit in schools; and it's a benefit in sports. An athletic culture that welcomes and includes LGBT athletes will ultimately draw improved talent and create more unified and respectful team cultures."
"These ideas are resonating for the sports community at all levels, from the leagues to the players to the corporate sponsors. And perhaps most importantly, they are resonating for fans," he continued. "Though a player's decision to come out is intensely personal and something about which only he or she knows best, it is a promising time as the sports community welcomes those decisions and the corporate community incentivizes them."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dreams by Langston Hughes

by Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry.


Friday was the Day of Silence, which recognizes the struggles faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. I am ashamed of myself for bot recognizing this on Friday, but so much was going on last week, that i just passed me by without me noticing.  Though the movement has its roots in the United States, it addresses problems that are not specific to any one country, and it requires a broad solution that transcends borders and cultures. Fortunately, international awareness is increasing in the fight against homophobia. We have seen this from international institutions such as the United Nations all the way to the realm of one traditionally challenging environment for LGBT youth: the realm of sports.

Christopher Doyle wrote an editorial for The Christian Post called "Day of Silence: How Christians  Should Respond."  Doyle, an "ex-gay" man who is now married with three children, wrote, "With the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in American society, Christians are faced with the dilemma of how to respond. Over the years, I have witnessed a number of reactions from Christians." These reactions range from Christians keeping their kids out of school for the day or, as Focus on the Family suggests, having a Day of Dialogue.  Held on April 18, this day encourages (according to their Facebook page) Bible-believing students to share " the truth about God's deep love for us and what the Bible really says about His redemptive design for marriage and sexuality."

The problem faced by Christian and LGBT students is that too often, these competing days become a source of tension between two different worldviews. Instead of focusing on bullying prevention, a shouting match usually ensues about the cause(s) of homosexuality, from both sides, where no one really listens to each other, and everyone loses.  Focus on the Family is merely encouraging "Christian" students to bully LGBT students when they encourage this Day of Dialogue.  Most students are not mature enough to have a civil dialogue (their parents aren't either, for that matter), and thus it will seem like LGBT students are being bullied, which is the opposite of what the Day of Silence is supposed to mean.

Doyle wrote that, "As a parent of small children, I could not imagine sending them into a school environment that tolerates insults and name-calling towards a group of human beings. Politics aside. Religion aside. Science aside. It's just plain wrong!"  Doyle writes of being bullied as a kid because of his homosexuality.  I want to quote the rest of his editorial, because in it he offers his solution:
What if your son or daughter experiences same-sex attraction and you don't know it? What if a nephew or niece, or another relative, is suffering in silence and doesn't know what to do? Chances are, you are somehow connected to someone who is either struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, or identifies as gay. How would you feel if classmates hurled hateful slurs towards your child and you didn't even know it?

So what should Christians do? Parents would be wise to instill values of empathy, love, and respect in their children on this day, rather than pretend the event doesn't exist or protest at home because of philosophical or theological differences. Parents, find a local of Day of Silence event and attend. Listen without judgment, and see beyond the children's homosexual feelings. Look into their heart. Listen to their story. Understand what they've been through, and empathize with their pain.

Straight students, join your fellow LGBT classmates and pretend, for one day, that you have homosexual feelings. Just for one day, walk in their shoes and imagine how it feels to be harassed and insulted because of your gender non-conforming behavior. As you tape your mouth shut, close your eyes and step into the shoes of someone who has been hurt for something they didn't choose. Remember, no one simply chooses to have same-sex attractions; it is the result of many factors.

It doesn't mean you have to endorse your classmates' sexual feelings or behavior – in fact, your willingness to surrender your own judgment and preconceived notions about LGBT people, and love them unconditionally even for one day, may be the greatest sacrifice you could ever make for them. After all, isn't that what Jesus did for all of us?
I added the emphasis above, because it is what I most want to teach my students and what I pray that parents will teach their children, that they will "instill values of empathy, love, and respect in their children."  Christopher Doyle may have the right idea and he certainly has a unique perspective.  He works with LGBT youth against bullying.  I don't know a lot about Doyle other than what he writes about himself and that he is the Director of Acception Productions, LLC and the Author/Producer of Acception: Bullying Solutions and Prevention Health Education Curriculum (and Film). I

 wrote last Thursday about the choices we make as LGBT individuals.  One of the choices I wrote about was that of pretending not to be a homosexual and attempting to live a heterosexual life.  That is the choice Doyle made, and though I could not make the same choice, I have to believe that everyone has to make their own choices.  Doyle appears to be using his former homosexual identity to help LGBT youth, not through aversion therapy, but by helping to prevent bullying.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Marriage Equality Is a Christian Concern by David McFarlane

I came across this piece by David McFarlane, who writes a blog called Anxious Gay Christian,  and thought it would make a wonderful Sunday post.  David McFarlane is a twenty-something writer living in Portland, Oregon. He's gay, Christian, and less confused by it than most of the people around him. Some days he wishes he wasn't either one. Usually he spends those days writing.  Here is what David wrote for the Huffington Post and his blog.
I probably err too much on the side of grace in most of my writing, but I believe some things necessitate taking a firm stand. Marriage equality is important for any number of civil reasons. I think it's critical for preserving the essence of Christianity. Many have told the Church, on this issue, it's standing on the wrong side of history. I believe it's standing on the wrong side of theology. I say this more as a person of faith than as a gay man: I don't believe one can truly claim to be a Christian and oppose marriage equality.
Faith is a cosmological framework to interpret everything from conflict to purpose. It guides me in such a fundamental way that offering others a glimpse of mine requires more emotional energy than I usually have. Describing faith requires, too, a vocabulary I often don't possess, which makes sense in the context of what I believe God to be -- a being beyond the comprehension of the human mind.
As someone who values empathy, I have to assume this is similar for other genuine people of faith. Knowing it manifests differently throughout lives and cultures, I try to avoid making moral proclamations and condemnations. I appreciate the respect of friends with dissimilar beliefs, and I want to show the same respect to others' faiths. But in the weeks since the SCOTUS hearings, I'm at a loss.
I don't understand how Christians oppose marriage equality.
I don't. I've tried: I've read conservative blogs; I've read my Republican friends' Facebook posts; I've reread the Bible verses (supposedly) relevant to the issue. It's confounding to me, and writing about it is difficult because whatever inspires many of my family members and a minority of Americans to oppose marriage for gay and lesbian couples stems from something beyond my understanding of faith, the faith responsible for my joy and peace in this chaotic, troubled world.
"God clearly forbids..."
"My heart has convinced me..."
"Leviticus 18:22 says..."
Declarations such as these are personal convictions, and they're grounded in a narrow theology. They don't reflect the humility true faith inspires.
Depending on whom you ask, marriage equality is about family, society or moral law. It's about civil rights or theocracy: sanctity, liberties and normalcy. It's about politics and philosophy and the pursuit of happiness to Americans, children of the enlightenment and gay citizens. I have deep convictions about all facets of this debate, but it's primarily as a Christian that I support marriage equality, because ultimately, more than anything else, it's about others.
Of course it affects me as a man who hopes one day to marry a man, but my convictions transcend self-interest. If I were straight, they wouldn't change. Maybe they'd strengthen, liberated to stem unequivocally from my faith, a faith that drives me to love others, not morally control them.
However you interpret the Bible, combating marriage for gay and lesbian couples with ballots, lobbying dollars, bumper stickers, wheels-off former SNL cast members, and any other secular means you have access to is not biblical. It doesn't reflect the ministry of Jesus or Paul, who never advocated establishing the Torah as law over the tyrannical Romans. It doesn't reflect the notion of sin: any impediment -- internal or external -- to communion between a person and the divine. Rather Christianity advocated a revolution of faith; it made religious practice personal and humble. The imposition of a moral code is the Pharisaical doctrine that incited Jesus to fury, and yet it's what's driven the Christian right to support traditional marriage more than education reform, clean air initiatives, or the only caveat that according to Paul reflected pure and undefiled religion: caring for orphans and widows.
Personal convictions are exactly that: personal. Even if I don't share them I have to respect them. But as a person of faith, who reveres faith and grieves the defamation of it in our modern world, I can't stay ambiguous about this issue. Opposition to marriage equality slanders God, true adherence to the Bible, and the revolutionary practice of faith Jesus brought to this world. I don't understand how Christians oppose marriage equality, and I believe until they revise their politics, faith will deservedly appear antiquated, bigoted and dead to a growing majority of our world.
Sent from my iPad

Moment of Zen: Wrangler Butts

Wrangler Butts
By Aaron Watkins

Well, he's a no good for nothing
But she wishes he was good for something
Besides his behind looking so fine
In those wragler jeans
Well all her friends can't help but stare
At his blue denim derie'er
Wish that they were in her boots
If you know what i mean
And it may sound crazy
But those wrangler butts
Drive the cowgirls nuts

Well he lays around all day long
Stays out at night until the break of dawn
Comes crawling in dragging
Mud across her floor
Well she'd love to kick him out
But she can't help but thinking about
All the women who are waiting line
For his 33/34's
And it may sound crazy
But those wrangler butts
It aint healthy if they fit too tight
You know this could hurt a man
By the end of the night
It's a powerful thing
If they fit just right
All the ladies know it's a mighty beautiful sight

Well he's never been one for anything
That involves books
He aint got much going for him besides his good looks
You see he always stays in trouble
When it comes down to romance
It aint a joke when they say the boy
Survives by the seat of his pants
And it may sound crazy
But those wrangler butts
Drive the cowgirls nuts
Yes it may sound crazy
But those wrangler butts
Drive the cowgirls nuts

This song may be about a woman with a good for nothing man with a great butt, but if you live in a rural area, I'm sure you know what a Wrangler Butt is.  I've never seen a pair of jeans that fit a man's behind better than a pair of Wrangler Jeans.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Artists

I was checking out Vilges Suola's blog, lathophobic aphasia, when I came across his most recent post about an online tool that analyses your blog and tells you who it thinks you are.  So I decided to try it out.  The first link was way off, something like an old woman 66 to 100 years old, the same thing he got.  However, when I went to the other link for Typalyser, which he states is more successful, I received what I think is a more accurate type.  Tell me what you guys think.  This is what it said:

ISFP - The Artists

The author of is of the type ISFP.

The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people feel. They usually have a strong appreciation for art and beauty or things around them that affect the look, taste, sound or smell. 

They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders. They tend to follow the path of least resistance and have to look out not to be taken advantage of. 

They tend to value their friends and family above what they do for a living. They genuinely care about people. 

They are extremely gifted at creating and composing things that stimulates the senses, such as art, music or food. They often prefer working quietly, behind the scene as a part of a team. They have no desire to lead others and they don't want to be led. ISFPs are sometimes not good at giving him/herself enough credit for things they did well. 

Common satisfying careers: Fashion Designer, Artists, Interior Designer, Landscape Architect, Nurse, Massage Therapist, Botanist, Teacher, Geologist, Translator, Social Worker, Occupational Therapist, Cosmetologist and Translator. 

Notable ISFPs: Ulysses S. Grant, Sofia Coppola, David Lynch, Brad Pitt, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, David Beckham, John Travolta, Liv Tylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Nero and Wicket the Ewok.
So, how accurate do you think this description is of my blog?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I want to thank everyone for their encouraging words yesterday.  And I wanted to respond to a few of the comments.  First, Vilges Suola, I think that the two boys expected that it would either rile me up or I would gossip with them.  When I did neither, but talked to them privately after class, they expected for me to bless them out.  However, I have found that at points like that, it is best to speak to them like adults.  They appreciate and hear the seriousness of my tone.  They know what I normally expect of them and this was a different kind of situation, so while they have seen the more serious and compassionate side of me, it's rare and they listen.  They knew I was serious, and I just wanted them to understand what the repercussions could be, not for them but for the other boy. The threat of what would happen to them if they didn't do the right thing was left unspoken, nor did it need to be spoken of.  I think the coach handled that part, but in a way that I could not.

Jay, it would not be good for me to talk to the other kid.  I think he knows they know, but he is hoping that they will keep it quiet.  I also do not think I am the best person to talk to him, because this is a kid who hates me.  He usually shows his contempt for me everyday.  It's not for anything I do, but he's one of those kids who thinks he's better than the other people at our school and shows his contempt openly.  He's also a bit of a lazy kid who does not like it when I prod him to do his work.  In other words, we do not get along.  I get along with the vast majority of the kids, but some just don't like me and I cannot bow down to their every whim so that they will like me.  He does not need to know what I did, nor what the coach did.  I honestly believe that if he did know, it would be worse for him.  This way, as long as they keep quiet, he can continue with his denial that people don't know, and he won't feel as if he is being singled out.

With what happened Tuesday,  I wish I could explain to all of them what life is like for a gay person in the rural area where we live, but if I had a frank conversation with them about it, I couldn't do so without coming out to them and giving a personal testimony.  It amazes me how so many of them think that being gay is a choice.  There is a choice, but not the choice most people think. We are born the way we are born.  I believe that with all my being.  Why would I or anyone choose to live a life as a gay man with all of the prejudices and hindrances that still exist.

I did a lot of spiritual searching to understand and come to terms with being gay.  The only choices I ever saw was not whether or not I was gay, but how would I live my life.  I could only see three choices.

First, I could continue to pretend to be heterosexual.  Women loved me.  I could understand them.  I could even love them.  Would I ever be satisfied married to a woman?  The answer was a resounding NO!  All I could see was that I would make some woman miserable. The marriage would have never been fully satisfying for either of us.  I did not believe this was an option.  Why make someone else miserable, just to "save face" for my family?  A life of misery was not worth it.  I will always think that this is the life my father chose for himself and is the reason he is so miserable most of the time.

My second choice was to accept being gay, move away and live my life.  Hopefully, I would find that someone to make my life complete.  I thought that this was my plan.  I moved away to graduate school, came out of the closet, and lived another life away from my hometown.  It did not work out like that.

I moved back home, for a number of different reasons and have stayed, at least for the time being.  So my third choice came about.  Go back in the closet and be alone.  For over two years that is what I did.  I had friends through my blog and other blogs, and that was enough.  I told no one that I was gay, and I kept it that way.  Then I met some wonderful friends who I could come out to; who I could be myself with.  I'm still alone, as in there is no significant other in my life, but I do have friends I can share things with. It's not the best solution, at best, it is a lonely solution, but it's where I am.

Many gay people move to the bigger cities, where there is a larger gay population.  Where I live that could be Mobile, Atlanta, or New Orleans.  Others of us stay and make the best of our situation.  I don't expect to stay here forever, but for now this is where I am.  I wish I could explain these difficulties to my students, but I can only do so much.  It's one of those things where we have to take small steps.

With the 50th anniversary of many of the major events of the African-American Civil Rights Movement reminds us, it too was a slow process, one that is still continuing.  I don't expect Alabama to move any quicker than a snail's pace (if that speedily) toward the Gay Rights Movement.  Attitudes will eventually change.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


We had an incident at school yesterday, but before I tell you about it, I want you to keep something in mind.  I teach at a rural school where the students are sheltered from the real world.  I wish they had more exposure to the real world: people of different races, LGBT people, etc.  However, they just aren't, and they often keep there parents' prejudices.  I'm not making excuses for them, and I don't allow slurs against anyone.  I try to open their world to more exposure, but I also have to stay in the closet for a number of reasons: job security, family issues, etc.

With that said, two boys discovered some pretty indisputable evidence (by accident) that another boy in their class, who they thought was gay, was actually gay.  They brought it to my attention almost immediately. I could tell immediately that they wanted to start the rumor mill going.  I told the kids to keep quiet about it and then at the end of class, after everyone was gone, I had a little talk with them.  They were afraid that I would be mad and yell at them, but I talked very calmly to them.  I tried to explain some of the feelings and problems the other kid was probably going through.  I also told them that they did not need to start spreading rumors.  Rumors would only lead to bullying and this kid does not need that, nor does any kid.  They, like so many straight people, do not understand homosexuality. So I explained some of the problems with depression and suicide many gay kids suffer with because of bullying and so forth.  I told them not to make a big deal out of it, keep things quiet, and let him figure things out on his own.  These are not the kind of guys to go up to him, tell him it's okay, and be supportive.  And let's face it, many of us have been in a similar situation and would have been mortified if we knew someone knew and it would cause even further damage.  By telling them to just forget it and drop it, they might just do so.

It also helped that they talked to one of the coaches about it, and he said almost the exact same thing, down to explaining about suicides and bullying.  We have four coaches and only two of which the kids would talk to about something like this.  They went to the good one, not the asshole who would have done the opposite of what the good coach and I did.

I don't know if I did the right thing or even the bravest thing with what I told the boys yesterday, but I could only think of what I would have wanted a teacher to do if I had been in the same situation: containment.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Whom You Love

Whom You Love
by Joseph O. Legaspi 

"Tell me whom you love, and I'll tell you 
who you are." -- Creole Proverb

The man whose throat blossoms with spicy chocolates 
Tempers my ways of flurrying 
Is my inner recesses surfacing 
Paints the bedroom blue because he wants to carry me to the skies 
Pear eater in the orchard 
Possesses Whitmanesque urge & urgency 
Boo Bear, the room turns orchestral 
Crooked grin of ice cream persuasion 
When I speak he bursts into seeds & religion 
Poetry housed in a harmonica 
Line dances with his awkward flair 
Rare steaks, onion rings, Maker's on the rocks 
Once-a-boy pilfering grenadine 
Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska 
Wicked at the door of happiness 
At a longed-for distance remains sharply crystalline 
Fragments, but by day's end assembled into joint narrative 
Does not make me who I am, entirely 
Heart like a fig, sliced 
Peonies in a clear round vase, singing 
A wisp, a gasp, sonorous stutter 
Tuning fork deep in my belly, which is also a bell 
Evening where there is no church but fire 
Sparks, particles, chrysalis into memory 
Moth, pod of enormous pleasure, fluttering about on a train 
He knows I don't need saving & rescues me anyhow 
Our often-misunderstood kind of love is dangerous 
Darling, fill my cup; the bird has come to roost

About this Poem:
"Simply, unabashedly, this poem is inspired by, dedicated to, and about my beloved, the Dolly to my Lucinda, my husband." --Joseph O. Legaspi

Joseph O. Legaspi is the author of Imago (CavanKerry Press, 2007) and the forthcoming chapbook, Subways (Thrush Press, 2013). He is a co-founder of Kundiman, a non-profit organization serving Asian American poetry. He lives in Queens, NY and works at Columbia University.

"...Legaspi, like William Carlos Williams, can find poetry anywhere. And like his mentor Pablo Neruda he seems able to locate the mysterious and the magical in the most common and overlooked objects. It is difficult to overestimate the daring and resourcefulness required to complete successfully this astonishingly original book. I believe this collection of poetry, so rich in the dailyness of the world and what wisdom we can draw from it, is ample evidence that Joseph O. Legaspi has arrived to a place none of his ancestors in life or in poetry have ever journeyed, and we his readers are the richer for it."--Philip Levine

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tax Day

If you are part of a same-sex couple, April 15th can be a daunting date. Tax matters that are simple for heterosexual couples can be quite complicated for gay and lesbian couples -- from filling out a federal tax return to determining whether a spouse's health insurance benefits are exempt from taxation. To make matters more difficult, some states recognize same-sex marriages or treat domestic partnerships as marriage-like for tax purposes. Others don't.

Marriage isn’t just a legal, religious, or cultural institution — it’s also a fiscal one, with big ramifications for the way that the government taxes ordinary Americans and spends money to support them. As gay marriage has spread on the state level, economists have begun to measure its impact on the government’s coffers.

Most of the research to date suggests that legalizing gay marriage would have a positive net impact on government revenues, thus helping to decrease the deficit.

There are two major ways that increasing gay marriage — and, for that matter, any kind of marriage — would affect the budget. First, it would likely reduce dependence on public benefits, not just because married couples are more likely to support each other financially but also because of how benefits change according to one’s legal marital status.

Legalizing gay marriage would also change the way that the government collects taxes on gay couples. But the overall fiscal impact would likely be smaller as some couples would pay less in taxes while others would pay more due to the so-called “marriage penalty” — an idiosyncrasy in the tax code that penalizes relatively well-off couples where both spouses earn comparable salaries.

Cynthia Leachmoore, a tax preparer in Soquel, California, has about 40 same-sex married couples as customers ranging from teachers to Silicon Valley workers.

A handful of them have joint incomes that top $1 million. They're facing $25,000 to $30,000 more in federal and state taxes if DOMA goes down and they file taxes jointly, she said.

"Most of them don't care. They'd really like to be able to say that they were married" on tax returns, Leachmoore said. "That's more important to them."

Great Scott!

Adam Scott wins the Masters. I'm not much into watching golf, though I do find it fun to play. I played on my team back in high school. Adam Scott though is by far, in my humble opinion, the hottest and sexiest man to ever play pro golf. Congrats Adam!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Way of Love

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
God loves with agape, the love described in 1 Corinthians 13. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for us, that we might have everlasting life. His love is not based on performance. Christ loves us so much that while we were yet a sinner, He died for us.

God's love for us is unconditional and undeserved. He loves us in spite of our disobedience, our weakness, our sin and our selfishness. He loves us enough to provide a way to abundant, eternal life. From the cross Christ cried out, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing." If God loved those who are sinners that much, can you imagine how much He loves you -- His child through faith in Christ and who seeks to please Him?

In the parable of the prodigal son, as recorded in Luke 15, Jesus illustrates God's unconditional love for His children. A man's younger son asked his father for his share of the estate, packed his belongings, and took a trip to a distant land where he wasted all of his money on parties and prostitutes. About the time that his money was gone, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He finally came to his senses and realized that his father's hired men at least had food to eat. He decided, "I will go to my father and say, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man."

While he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming and was filled with loving pity. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. I think that the reason he saw his son coming while he was still a long distance away was that he was praying for his son's return and spent much time each day watching that lonely road on which his son would return.

Even as the son was making his confession, the father interrupted to instruct the servants to kill the fatted calf and prepare for a celebration -- his lost son had repented; he had changed his mind and had returned to become part of the family again.

God demonstrated His love for us before we were Christians, but this story makes it obvious that God continues to love his child who has strayed far from Him. He eagerly awaits his return to the Christian family and fellowship.

Even when you are disobedient, he continues to love you, waiting for you to respond to His love and forgiveness.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Moment of Zen: HRH

If you don't know, HRH is my cat.  She is my moment of zen each day when I come home from school.  This is neither she nor I in the above picture, but it does resemble HRH.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Disadvantage of Spring

I blogged about the beautiful flowers of spring on Monday and Tuesday.  It is the most beautiful time of year in Alabama, but there is one major disadvantage.  POLLEN!  Pollen is the worst culprit and along with spring weather in which Mother Nature acts as if she has multiple personality disorder, you have a bitch of a season for you sinuses.  The weather has been going from the 30s to the 80s back and forth.

I woke up yesterday morning not understanding why I was in such a pissy mood, then the headache and sinus pressure began, and I fully understood the reason.  My nose began to burn, my head felt like it would explode, and I found my temper to be getting shorter and shorter.  I never feel that a sinus headache is a reason to miss work, so off I go to teach again today.  I doubt my mood will get any better today than yesterday.  I will do my best though to keep my temper in check and not take it out too much on the students.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shakespeare's R & J

I am a lover of Shakespeare.  My English Lit students get more than their fair share of my love for Shakespearean sonnets and plays.  I'm always interested when I discover a new adaptation of one of his plays such as Scotland, PA based on Macbeth or Were the World Mine based on A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I recently came across another adaptation, Shakespeare's R & J, based on Romeo and Juliet.  As with each of these there is a unique twist.  Scotland, PA takes place in a fast food restaurant, whereas Were the World Mine is a retelling using a high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Shakespeare's R & J is a refreshing contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy by Joe Calarco.  We all know the story--it's everyone's story. Romeo and Juliet has endured 400 and more years because it's a story about love; in fact, it's about that rarest of all things: first love. Shakespeare's R & J is said to be an arresting, vibrant and hot-blooded adaptation of Romeo and Juliet that pulsates with an adolescent abandon and electricity of which Romeo himself might approve. 

Taking place after curfew in the world of a parochial boarding school for boys, four repressed students discover Shakespeare's incredible love story. What starts off as a lighthearted reading of the forbidden text gradually becomes more dangerous as these young men are allowed to explore their pent up energy and adolescent passion which has been boiling under the surface all along. 

Their experiment ends in an impassioned and honest performance of the play without the restrictions of gender, race or sexuality. With no set, no costume changes or props (except a piece of red fabric), this retelling of Romeo and Julie sounds like it would be a wonderful play to watch.  I hope one day, I will get to see it.

Mauckingbird Theatre Company remounts its critically acclaimed production of "Shakespeare's R & J" at the Caplan Theater, The University of the Arts, 211 South Broad Street, Philadelphia on Friday, May 3 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, May 4 at 5 and 8 p.m. The play is being produced for Equality Forum 2013. Directed by Artistic Director Peter Reynolds, the play features four exciting young actors in this hot-blooded reimagining of Shakespeare's masterpiece.  If I were in the Philadelphia area, I would love to see it.  If anyone who is in the Philadelphia area goes to see it, please let me know how it was, or if anyone has seen it before, I'd love to know what you thought.

To purchase tickets, click here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Daffodils by William Wordsworth

The Daffodils
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
   That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
   And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
   Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
   Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A Poet could not but be gay,
   In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" (also commonly known as "The Daffodils") is a lyric poem by William Wordsworth.    The inspiration for the poem came from a walk he took with his sister Dorothy around Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater, in the Lake District. Wordsworth would draw on this to compose "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" in 1804. It was inspired by Dorothy's journal entry describing the walk:
When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seed ashore & that the little colony had so sprung up -- But as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about & about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed and reeled and danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever dancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here & there a little knot & a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity & unity & life of that one busy highway -- We rested again & again. The Bays were stormy & we heard the waves at different distances & in the middle of the water like the Sea.
—Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journal Thursday, 15 April 1802
At the time he wrote the poem, Wordsworth was living with his wife, Mary Hutchinson, and sister Dorothy at Town End, in Grasmere in England's Lake District. Mary contributed what Wordsworth later said were the two best lines in the poem, recalling the "tranquil restoration" of Tintern Abbey,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude
the entire household thus contributing to the poem. Nevertheless Mary Moorman notes that Dorothy was excluded from the poem, even though she had seen the daffodils together with Wordsworth. The poem itself was placed in a section of Poems in Two Volumes entitled Moods of my Mind in which he grouped together his most deeply felt lyrics. Others included To a Butterfly, a childhood recollection of chasing butterflies with Dorothy, and The Sparrow's Nest, in which he says of Dorothy "She gave me eyes, she gave me ears".

The earlier Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems by both himself and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, had been first published in 1798 and had started the romantic movement in England. It had brought Wordsworth and the other Lake poets into the poetic limelight. Wordsworth had published nothing new since the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads, and a new publication was eagerly awaited. Wordsworth had, however, gained some financial security by the 1805 publication of the fourth edition of Lyrical Ballads; it was the first from which he enjoyed the profits of copyright ownership. He decided to turn away from "The Recluse" and devote more attention to publishing Poems in Two Volumes, in which "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" first appeared.

It is generally considered Wordsworth's most famous work. In the "Nation's Favourite Poems", a poll carried out by the BBC's Bookworm, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" came fifth. Often anthologized, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is commonly seen as a classic of English romanticism within poetry, although Poems in Two Volumes was poorly reviewed by Wordsworth's contemporaries.