Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Future And A Hope

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Today is my 37th birthday.  I decided to search for bible verses about birthdays, and one of the most frequent to come up in my search (i.e. If you exclude those on the birth of Christ) was Jeremiah 29:11.  It is such a beautiful verse filled with immense hope, and I wanted to look into the context of it.  Conduct a Google search of Jeremiah 29:11 and you're likely to see it referred to as "the most misinterpreted verse in the Bible."  This verse gets this moniker for a reason.

This verse, quoted to countless individuals who are struggling with discerning God’s will for them, is not written to individuals at all. This passage is written to a whole group of people—the exiled Jewish people in Babylon. The “you” in Jeremiah 29:11 is actually plural and if it had been written by an American southerner instead of the prophet Jeremiah it would say "y'all" instead of you.

We need to let the Bible speak to us, as God intended for it to do.  We should not allow our own personal bent to speak into the Scriptures.  The propensity for people to take verses out of context and to allow their personal bent to be applied to verses is one of the reasons that homosexuality is condemned by modern Christians. Context matters—God speaks at a particular moment in time, to a particular people group, for a reason.

What this means is that God has plans for a whole group of people, in this instance, the Jewish exiles. And if we read on in the Scriptures we find that this promise was fulfilled: those in exile returned, and the Hebrew nation was restored for a time. God made a promise through the prophets, and that promise came true.

But that’s not the end of the story, either. There is something to the out-of-context prescriptions that so many make using this verse. God is a God of redemption, after all, and He wants to redeem people and put them on a path of wholeness, just as He wanted the Hebrew nation to be redeemed and whole again.

Biblical scholars have said that in this passage, the Jeremiah is speaking not just of historical redemption, for that period in time, but also of “future redemption.” For the Israelites, God listened to their prayers when they sought Him with all their heart, and in His time, He brought them out of exile.  But how does any of this apply to us today? Can we still take heart in such a beautiful promise—even though it was spoken to people long ago, people in a far different situation than ours?

First and foremost, we are all in this together. This verse does not apply to isolated individuals or to a broad community. It applies to both, together, functioning as one. The image painted here is one of individuals in community, like the Body of Christ which Paul talks about. Here are a people, worshiping God together, hoping for a future redemption.

We don't need to be exiles living in Babylon to faithfully appropriate Jeremiah 29:11, but let's remember something about this chapter when we quote verse 11. First, it was written to people in incredible pain, more than most of us will ever experience. They were mourning death, a move, and a transition to enslavement all at once. And yet into that context, God can still speak words of hope. That's amazing.

I think when we apply this verse to a group who is downtrodden and seem to be without hope, this verse becomes even more powerful.  As LGBT Christians and our allies, we often find ourselves exiled from the church, but that does not mean that we should be kept from our communion with God.  God is so much more powerful, loving, and understanding than humans are.  He created us the way we are, and we must love and worship Him.  We must not give up on our faith because of the things men do, but we should believe in the redemptive power of God.   Jeremiah is sending a message to all those in exile to keep the faith, because God knows the plans He has for us, and these are plans for welfare and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope.

And on one final note, as I was looking up verses for birthdays, I came across a site called BirthVerse (, where a group has gone through the Bible matching up numerical birth dates with chapter and verse in books of the Bible and has chosen a inspirational verse for each day of the year.  My BirthVerse happens to be Proverbs 11:30, which reads:

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Moment of Zen: Pharmacy Guy

I thought that yesterday, I could just snuggle the day away, but it wasn't to be.  However, one thing made my day.  I had to go pick up some prescriptions at the pharmacy, and the cute guy who works at the pharmacy was working yesterday.  He's got a sexy new haircut and a bit of scruff going on, beautiful blue eyes, a nice bubble butt, and a charming smile.  He always smiles, so I have no idea if he's smiling at me or he's just really nice.  We've had conversations a few times when I've gone in to pick up a prescription and it wasn't ready yet, but mostly, it's just a lot of eye flirting.

I have no idea if he's really as sweet and adorkable as he seems, but I'd sure like to find out.  He looks a tad like the guy in the picture above but isn't quite as perfect, which makes him all the more attractive.  I just want to take him home with me and do dirty things with him (that and get to know him better), but alas, I have no idea what I could do to show I'm interested other than a little flirting.

I told a friend (jokingly) that I could walk in and say, "Can I snap a picture of you?  My friend doesn't believe you could be as cute as I describe you as being.  I love proving him wrong."  I fear though that: A) he wouldn't find that charming, B) that he is actually straight (though the glittered lanyard he wears with his name tag seems to indicate otherwise), C) I'd totally embarrass myself because he is just being very nice and I'd never be able to step foot in my pharmacy again, or D) he'd think I was an old pervert since I have a strong suspicion that he is at least ten or fifteen years younger than me (I will be 37 tomorrow).

One of these days, maybe I will have the courage to do something more than flirt a little with my eyes and smile at him just to see that gorgeous smile of his.  I do know that his name is Landon, so if by some miracle he is a reader of my blog, which I highly doubt, but just in case, maybe he'll send me an email or slip me his number next time I'm in the pharmacy if he's interested.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Snuggled In

The kitties and I are snuggled in and sleeping late.  No Black Friday shopping for us.  It's too cold to get out of my warm bed.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is usually filled with family and food.  There are many LGBT out there who are without their families because of the hate and bigotry that exists in this world.  I hope those who cannot be with their families, for whatever reasons, have wonderful friends with whom to share this day of Thanksgiving, and I hope they feel the love that I send their way.

I wanted this post to be about all that I am thankful for this year.  In many ways, it's been a year of loses, with the passing of my aunt at the beginning of the year and the passing of my beloved HRH a little over two months ago.  There have been some bright spots though.  With my birthday, (it's this Sunday), I will begin a new year of my life with hope and promise for a wonderful future.  I am so thankful for my family.  They may drive me crazy at times, but I love them and they love me.  I am thankful for the love and companionship provided by my dear kittens Edith and Lucy, who will never replace HRH, but they are wonderful and joyous companions.  I am thankful for the wonderful people with whom I have the pleasure to work.  I'm even thankful for my students, because without them, how could I teach.  I am thankful to be alive and in a happy point in my life.  Most of all, I am thankful for my many friends in my life.  Some of them are people I've never met in person, but have formed a connection with through my blog.  For them, I want to say, you are as important to me and as loved by me as if you were a friend I saw everyday.  I love you all!  Thank you for being my friends.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Opposites Attract in Better Than Good

I just finished reading Lane Hayes' first book in her "Better Than" series, Better Than Good.  It's a story of opposites, as the description states:
Matt Sullivan understands labels: law student, athlete, heterosexual. He has goals: graduate and begin his career in law. One fateful night, Matt tags along with his gay roommate to a dance club and everything changes. Matt finds himself attracted to the most beautiful man he's ever seen. All labels go flying out the window. 
Aaron Mendez doesn't believe in labels, and he’s leery of straight curious men. He makes it clear that he’ll hide his fabulous light for no one. While Aaron can't deny the attraction between him and Matt, he is reluctant to start anything with someone who is still dealing with what this new label means—especially when that someone has a girlfriend.
The premise may sound like a typical gay romance but it has certain twists, and I will admit that Better Than Good hit on a few of my pet peeves.  Aaron is flamboyant, wears make-up, and adds an "ee" to everyone's name, such as Matty for Matt.  I really don't have anything against flamboyant gay men, as I believe that we should all be who we are, and if that's flamboyant then so be it.  It's no different from a hyper masculine man.  Some people are just that way.  I tend to think I'm a happy medium, but that's a different issue.  I will admit that I don't quite understand men wearing make-up, but to each his own.  My only real pet peeve though is when someone calls me Joey.  My name is Joe, not Joey.  So, in my own bias, it grated on my nerves each time I read Aaron calling Matt by the pet name of Matty.

With that being said, I have to tell you those were secondary things because the story is beautifully told.  Hayes does a wonderful job at looking at our insecurities and struggles with decisions.  Matt seems straight but not narrow when we first meet him, but Hayes gives us a good look at the fluidity of sexuality.  One of the things I often find when reading female authors of M/M romance is that they are much more open to the fluidity of sexuality than male authors are.  I also think it's a more realistic look at sexuality.  It's not necessarily about a man going from heterosexual to homosexual over meeting one guy, but more that heterosexuality is so often seen as he "norm" by so many, that some men fail to look past the heteronormative perception we are often raised to believe.

While Matt isn't your average "straight" guy, neither is Aaron your average gay man.  Aaron seems not to have the insecurities that many gay men have, but a closer look shows this is a misconception.  Aaron faces insecurities over his family relationships, especially with that of his father, and he's reluctant to give a chance to a man he thinks is straight.  On the surface, Aaron may seem like a carefree, young, out and proud gay man, but when we get to know him, we learn that he is much more complex.  

The love story in Better Than Good is a slow sensuous story that will leave you wanting more.   The conflict here was presented in a different manner than most M/M romances.  Usually it's the struggle of the "straight" man coming to terms with falling in love with a man.  In Better Than Good, it is the gay man who has inhibition about dating a "straight" man, who has a girlfriend and is perceived to be heterosexuality.  Matt's character doesn't have the central conflicts of most "straight" character, and readily admits that he is bisexual. This gives the story a new twist and makes the story a dynamic narrative which results in an romantic and happy conclusion.

Hayes' working title for the book was All You Can Do is Try, which is a good motto for all of us, and it would have been a great title for Better Than Good, but I'm glad she changed the title and decided to expand the secondary characters of Jay and Peter into a second book in the "Better Than" series.  I've already begun reading Better Than Chance, and I'm enjoying it even more than Better Than Good.  It's definitely a series that I suggest you read.  Because this book was definitely better than good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

One day is there of the series

One day is there of the series
Emily Dickinson

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Amy Lane's Johnnies

I'm willing to bet that at one point or another all of us have enjoyed watching porn, I know I have.  I'd also bet that most of us wondered about the models' lives outside of porn.  When you hear or read about their lives in the news, it's often tragic in some way: drug abuse, poverty, suicide, and the list goes on.  However, we often put that in the back of our minds as we look at the beautiful models having sex on camera.  However, a recent series of books has made me think about the porn industry a little more critically.  That series is Amy Lane's Johnnies series:  Chase in Shadow, Dex in Blue, and Ethan in Gold.

Lane did a great deal of research for these books, which are about the models in a fictional gay adult video company called Johnnies.  While the opening premise sounds incredibly hot and the sex scenes really are scorching hot, Amy Lane doesn't disappoint with her moniker "Angst and Pain, Amy Lane."  However, the books weave together a wonderful story of the men who make up Johnnies, and the trials and tribulations they go through.  Each has secrets to hide, and each needs Johnnies for various reasons.  These were the fictional parts of her writing though she based each character on actual porn models.  I always wondered how Lane wrote such erotic, and accurate, sexual encounters between two gay men, when she in fact is a happily married heterosexual woman.  

First of all, Lane mainly based Johnies on Corbin Fisher, which quite honestly has some of the most beautiful men in amateur gay porn.  Her research also sounds a lot more fun than when I do research in a dusty library or archives (though I get a special joy out of doing that as well).  And while Lane contacted Corbin Fisher with questions, they were never answered.  So she watched lots of gay porn, but she did found herself not watching the the gay porn videos in the same way most of us would.  Usually, we watch porn for one reason, but in this case, Lane spent many hours watching porn with other straight women, talking about what was real and what was directed.  The "real" they were looking for wasn't actual romantic feeling-- it was more like working relationship feeling.  Lane studied the sex scenes looking for eye contact, kissing, considerate touches, etc. all to understand the relationship between the models, not just to watch the fantasy they portrayed on the screen.  Lane told me that researching the Johnnies books made her look at the nature of touch, pleasure, comfort, and love.

L to R: Connor/Chase, Dru/Dex, Aiden/Ethan, Travis/Tommy, Cain/Kane, Trey/Scott

In the books, Lane loosely based the characters (mostly appearance) of the Johnnies models on Corbin Fisher models.  Chase is based on Connor, Dex on Dru, Ethan on Aiden.  Those are the main one, but of course, there are many other models mentioned, such as Tommy who was based on Travis, Scott on Trey, and Kane on Cain.  Those are the ones I have confirmed with Lane on who she based the characters on.  I enjoy being able to put a face (and in this case a body as well) with the characters.  Usually when I read a book, I picture the characters in my own head, but knowing in this case who they were based on made it all the more interesting.  I want to add a side note here and say that I always pictured CF's Dawson as Digger the older model who has been in many scenes over the years and is always affable and a steady model for the studio sticking around much longer than most models do.  Of course there is the young (18 year old) new and very well-endowed new model Bobby who a friend of mine suggested might be CF's Chandler, but I never have been able to figure out a corresponding model for.

When I finished these three books, I loved them, but I won't deny that all three books are difficult books in the beginning. I don't want to give anything away, but be warned.  However, and you must keep this in mind, the books are worth getting past the difficult reading at the beginning.  And when I say difficulty reading at the beginning, I'm not talking about difficult as in Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men when page after page is about a car driving down a road.  I mean difficult as in the subject matter.  The first part of these books are a shock to your system, and whereas they are difficult subjects, you must read on so that you get the immense joy of reading an Amy Lane masterpiece.

Of the characters, I really loved Dex and Ethan the most.  Dex is so together but with something to hide.  I honestly, just want to give Ethan a hug, which I've got a feeling he'd like. Chase is the most flawed of the characters, but even with all his problems, you can't help but feel for the guy and wish him the best.  Dex though is the man that you want as a friend.  He may not be perfect, but he will always be there for you.  And when it comes to Ethan, well all I can say is that with all the Ethans I have known, they are sweet, lovable, intelligent, and you just want to wrap them in your arms and tell them that you'll do anything to make their world a better place.

I adore Amy Lane's books and I just want to thank her for the hours of enjoyment that her books have provided for me.  Of course there are always a few tears involved, but it's one of the things that makes her books great. It's the full range of human emotions that she bring alive from the pages of her books.  Thank you Amy Lane for the enjoyment you bring to so many and for touching our hearts.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Taste And See

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 
Psalm 34:8

This is a beautiful verse because of its simplicity and all the meaning this verse brings to my mind. If you look up the definition of taste in on-line dictionaries, beyond the obvious meaning, you'll find definitions such as, “a sample of experience” (e.g. the first taste of success) or “perceive, discern, or experience . . .” These definitions should get your attention as we look at this verse because this is what I think we should understand when we read this. Several commentaries suggest this verse, when it was written, meant something very deep and meaningful. In simpler terms, to taste and see that God is good is to relish and delight in God’s goodness manifested in and by God’s gifts, and in the contemplation of God’s infinite perfections and boundless love, and to be persuaded and convinced of God’s goodness as to be encouraged in the worst of times.

Taste and see how God is good.

We all have these days when nothing seems to go right.  We get one set of bad news and then another and before you know it you are completely demoralized and you think how can things get worse.  On some of those days, you realize just how much worse things can get. On those days we always wish things had gone better. On days like that we just have to persevere and continue on, but we just cannot allow ourselves to worry to the point of not being able to persevere. It is what it is. We have to take time to spend with God to remind us to taste and see how good God is. Everything will be okay because God has a path for us.  He is watching out for us and is guiding us. Life gets messy. Perfect or not isn’t the issue. Allowing ourself to feel God’s presence is the issue. Taste and see how God is good. Then, we can be blessed. We can feel God’s grace. That is something for which I am very grateful and I hope you are too.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Moment of Zen: Coca-Cola

"I'd like to buy this guy a Coke, 
And keep him company"

I have to admit there are times on a hot day when there is nothing better than a cold Coca-Cola.  Yes, I prefer Coke to any other soft drink.  As a rule, I may drink one Coke a week, but when I need one,miss the only thing that satisfies, and if the guy in the picture ever wanted to share a Coke, I'd be more than willing.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Coming Monday

I had a particular post in mind for either Wednesday or Thursday and then I thought I'd post it today, but I haven't really had the time to get it written not have I felt like it.  I am feeling better though; my shoulder still hurts some but not nearly as bad.  Plus, last night I couldn't miss watching "How to Get Away with Murder." However, I will tell you that the three men above play a major part in the post.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sorry Guys

Yesterday seemed to be the day from hell.  First, my shoulder was still in a lot of pain when I woke up and I had the worst time trying to get dressed. Next, my phone died, and I mean completely died, and I had to go get another one, which took forever.  When I finally got home, and my shoulder and neck pain seemed to not be able to get worse, I had to take out the garbage because of course it's garbage night.  I was then finally able to take some medicine to help with the pain and go to bed.  Therefore, I was not able to write the post I'd planned to write.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ugh! The Pain! The Pain!

I woke up yesterday morning with my shoulder and neck very sore like I'd slept on it wrong or something.  Usually, it gets better as the day goes on, and it seemed to do just that until last night.  About 7:30 last night, the pain got exceedingly worse.  I took some Aleve, then a muscle relaxer, and neither helped.  I ended up going to bed early with a heating pad.  I hope it will be better today and a good night's sleep will help it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


by William Cullen Bryant

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun! 
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air, 
Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds run, 
Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare. 
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees, 
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast, 
And the blue gentian flower, that, in the breeze, 
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last. 
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee 
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way, 
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea, 
And man delight to linger in thy ray. 
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear 
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air. 

About William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant's poetry is affiliated with the Romantics, often reflecting an obsession with nature and a thoughtful desire for silence and solitude. Bryant was born on November 3, 1794. An American nature poet and journalist, Bryant wrote poems, essays, and articles that championed the rights of workers and immigrants. In 1829, Bryant became editor in chief of the New York Evening Post, a position he held until his death in 1878. His influence helped establish important New York civic institutions such as Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1884, New York City's Reservoir Square, at the intersection of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue, was renamed Bryant Park in his honor.   

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why I Love Men

I love men. It’s a simple thought, really. And as an average looking, thirty something year old teacher with a few extra pounds, a little less hair, and more and more gray hair all the time who is well equipped with a sweet disposition and a fabulous brain, I can somehow manage to keep certain relationships with men intact.

I think about the men I’ve slept with, the men I want to sleep with, and those I simply admire and adore in a platonic context.  So many of those men have a certain effect on me.  When I see them, hear them, smell them, or just get a text from them, my heart can skip a beat and a smile comes across my face.  It's a weakness that I have for men who are nice to me.

I love the easy going conversation I can have with them.  Often it doesn't matter what the subject is, but that the conversation flows from one topic to the next, until you have no idea how you got on the subject you're on an hour or so later.  Those conversations can be so amazing and create an energy within me that's overwhelming but calming at the same time.

I love women as well, but not in a hetero-male perspective. I admire their soft curves, physique, and snarky comebacks. I understand the poems written about them and the paintings that burst with gratitude for their existence.  Women are necessary, obviously we wouldn't be here without them, and while they might cause me to smile, they never cause my heart to skip a beat.  Women also can't hold you and comfort you and make you feel safe the same way a man can.

But I love men. I love their arms, their eyes, and their jawlines.  I love the hardness of a man (yes, that kind of hardness too), but mostly the hardness of their bodies.  The strength that it conveys. 

I love when you get that unexpected glimpse of skin as they raise their hands, bend over, or simply when they move a certain way. I love the way a pair of Wrangler jeans hugs a man's behind perfectly, or they way he looks when he walks in a pair of boots.  I love how a nice pair of slacks perfectly hangs over his butt or gently caresses the bulge up front.

I love their calloused hands, broad shoulders, and how innocent and vulnerable they look while they’re sprawled against the sheets.  I love to hear them breath as they sleep and the warmth of their body next to mine.  I love the feel of their skin when it's soft and relaxed which is a perfect contrast to their rough hands.

I love their scruff and how they feel against my neck. Sharp needles that soften; rough textures my skin eventually loosens up to.  I love they way his lips feel against mine, the velvety texture of his tongue, the kisses and sucking on my body.  I love the roughness of a man when he is so turned on he can't keep his hands off of me, and I love the tenderness when we simply lay in each other's arms.

I love seeing them cum. Explicit, but it’s true. Heavy breathing, chest rising, and their shaking thighs. Bright eyes and a wet kiss; it’s like watching a beautiful death, la petite mort as the French say.  It's a beautiful moment, that's made even better if you get to have his hot spent load spray across your body.  I love how just before he has an orgasm his manhood engorges and expands, begins to spasm, and his balls are drawn up.  It's a moment of magic that I think only another man can fully appreciate.

They are gross and intoxicating, beautiful and cautious. Just when I think I have them figured out, something changes. A different ending and a perfect lie. He comes back knocking on your door and asks for another kiss. He calls you back. He does not. He can love you enough to hold you from behind and rest his chin on your shoulder.  One day he's there and the next he's gone.  Maybe he comes back, maybe he doesn't.  Something has changed and unless it's worth working for and keeping, then the moment is over.  I keep hoping that I will find the one man for whom the moment is never over.

He will be he one that I never tire of hearing my name on his lips.

This is an adaptation of a Thought Catalog post called "Why I Love Men" by June Tegon.  However, I adapted it to suit me personally using some of his writing but adding my own as well.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Just a Closer Walk with Thee

Just a Closer Walk with Thee

I am weak but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I'll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Thro' this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

When my feeble life is o'er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o'er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

In this song, we acknowledge our human inability to live righteously, but we also express awareness of the grace and strength that God gives us in our daily walk. Even such an esteemed saint as the apostle Paul acknowledged his need for this grace: “But he [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” … For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, 10b ESV)

This song is one of my all time favorite hymns.  Though I was raised in the church of Christ, my mother was raised a Baptist.  She and her sister played the piano and the organ at their church growing up.  Mama always loved to sit and play hymns at the piano in our living room.  More frequently than any other song, mama would play "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."

Friday, November 14, 2014


First things first, I thought I'd give this photograph a new perspective by turning it on its head.  Obviously, the first thing I thought when I saw this picture was that it's the reflection of a beautiful man. It's a man with his pants down standing in water with his hands behind his back, and we see him through his reflection rippling in the water.  I have always been a sucker for a photograph that gives you just enough to leave you wanting more.  This picture does that for me in spades.  The water distorts the picture just enough so that you can't make out perfect details, but there is no doubt this man has a phenomenal body.  So that is a largely superficial look at the photograph.

Photography is an art like any other, with the photographer as the artist.  How they situate their model or what part of the scene they focus on, can tell different stories.  Now to get philosophical...I am assuming that the photographer took this picture with the gay male aesthetic in mind.  That being said, I would say that the photographer is attempting to make a statement about how gay men see themselves.  As a community, we are far too often hypercritical of one another and that makes us hypercritical of ourselves.  Therefore, we often see a distorted picture of ourselves, much like the water distorts the picture of the model.  Often our distortions can be harmful to ourselves, which one might say is the reason the picture is taken with the model standing in water.  

The two major points of symbolism in this photograph are the water and the reflection.  Since water is often a sign of life, many times water represents life.  Water can also be put into two categories: fresh water and bad/polluted water. The water in this photograph appears to be fresh water which usually represents good health.  Water can also mean purity and cleansing. It also represents thirst, since people drink water to quench their thirst. Furthermore, the reflection in the water calls to mind the symbolism of the mirror.  The oracle of Apollo at Delphi demanded of the ancient Greek ‘know thyself,’ and mirrors have often been used as symbols of wisdom and self-knowledge. But Apollo also required ‘nothing in excess,’ and the mirror can just as easily imply vanity, an unhealthy amount of self-regard. The peril of over admiring one’s mirror image is encapsulated in the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, the beautiful boy who having fallen in love with his reflection in a pool, pined away and was turned into a flower.  One way in which an artist can make use of the mirror is to show us something that we would not otherwise be able to see; the reflection of an object or person outside the scope of the painting perhaps. In the case of this photograph, it's the upper two-thirds of the body.  The most distorted part is the face leaving us with anonymity.

Therefore, considering that we are looking through the lens of the gay male aesthetic, I gather a few points about the interpretation of this photograph. I assume that this is a photograph from either the 1970s or 1980s, but I could be wrong.  I am going to postulate that the picture reminds me of a thirst for life and that the reflection in the water not only implies a narcissism, even thought the model is looking away trying to hide his narcissistic tendencies, but that the distorted face symbolizes the anonymous sex and hedonistic lifestyle of the pre-AIDS era.

Then again, the photographer may have just known that the model had a large penis, asked him to stand in the water and drop his pants so he could take a picture of his reflection so that the photographer could claim it was art because of the artistic angle and not a pornographic picture of a man with a large flaccid penis.  Furthermore, this picture could be part of a larger picture and was merely cropped this way by someone at some point.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Want To Know

A picture is worth a thousand words, or is it?  I want to know if you think this one is.

I saw this picture and was immediately intrigued.  I have my theories about why I find it so interesting, but I'm gonna do something a little different with this post.  I will post my thoughts on this picture tomorrow, but today I want to know what you think.  Do you find this picture interesting?  What about its aesthetic do you like?  Basically, what I asking my readers is: How do you feel when you see this picture?

I really am interested in what you'd guys think, so please comment.  Just tell me what pops in your mind when you see it.  I will have have my thoughts about this picture written up before I read comments but I wanted to see what you thought without any input from me.  Even if the photograph does nothing for you, you are welcome to tell me that too. 

By the way, I have no idea who took the photo nor do I know who the subject is. However, it did come from the blog Homodesiribus.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Grant Gustin As The Flash

The CW has a new superhero drama, The Flash. There are two superheroes that have always fascinated me: Superman and The Flash. More recently, I have a thing for Captain America, but that mainly has to do with Chris Evans, so it's not a long time obsession. I'm pretty sure that I've talked about my superman obsession, though I don't think it's really a full on obsession, but I'm sure I've never discussed The Flash before. The blog QueerClick (NSFW, it's mostly porn but with a few interesting non-porn articles here and there) posted one of their QC Open Forums the other day which was provocatively titled "Is The Flash Too Gay For His Own Good?" The main text of the post (which was mostly pictures, like the one above which I swear has a nice outline of Grant Gustin's privates in it) stated:
If you have seen The Flash you have probably noticed how Grant Gustin's gay comes shining through. We're not saying he is gay (we totally are) but there are moments where The Flash just comes off as very gay, loud and proud. Don't you find odd the lack of chemistry with his leading lady on the show? That's like awfully suspicious. And there are times when the inflections of his voice or the way he acts sets our gaydar off like a klaxon. Is that because he has trouble with the character or because the melodrama is over the top? Or is it a vestigial trait from when he was on Glee?
There's no denying that Grant is super charming and his portrayal of Barry Allen as a good-hearted superhero in the learning stages of his career is not grim or tortured, nowadays that is totally refreshing in the genre. One thing that could disprove our theory is that if he were gay, he wouldn't have choose such awful variation of the suit.
But we can't help going back and forth with the primary question, is The Flash too gay for his own good?
I left a comment on this (the featured comment for the post "woot woot") that said, "Grant Gustin makes the perfect Flash. I seriously see no flaw in his portrayal. He's sweet, kind, dorky, and so damn cute. I think I'm in love." Honestly, I really do enjoy the show, and I enjoyed The Flash when it was on in the 1990s with John Wesley Shipp, who by the way plays Barry Allen's father in this incarnation of The Flash.

While some of the other comments tended to be along the lines of mine and a few were just horny male comments like you'd expect on a gay porn blog, many of the comments were angry at QC for publishing such a post that asked of the character "is too gay." A comment by Tyrone said:
This kind of commentary actually sets our community back. Neil Patrick Harris, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, and T.R. Knight are examples of queer performers who have successfully played straight roles (and the list is endless). Actors, by definition, are portraying something or someone they are not. Their sexuality shouldn't be a factor, and when you are saying it is, you're effectively saying a gay performer can't be taken seriously as a leading man or as a main character in a mainstream movie. That's a problem.
Now here's my thought on this: if it were a more serious news blog or a non-gay blog doing a post like this, then I'd say he had a right for his indignation, but QC is a gay porn blog. Even when they try to do something serious, it's always tongue-in-cheek. Rarely do they every have a serious post. The most ridiculous comment in the whole thread was by "batGRRRl4ever" who wrote "I thought better of this site to even ask a question like this." Really, she thought better of a gay porn blog that is often satirical was better than to "even ask a question like this."

In my opinion, Gustin plays Barry Allen perfectly. I don't think it's "too gay," and though I thoroughly wish Grant Gustin was gay and they would have some gay characters on the show (Wentworth Miller plays one of the [maybe recurring] villains and there is rumors of an actual gay character), it doesn't matter one way or the other because I enjoy the show. Furthermore, just because someone acts dorky and awkward doesn't mean they are gay. Sure in the case of me it does, but it's also the reason I was unmercifully picked on as a child and still face some discrimination based on how I am perceived without someone knowing the truth. I give QC a pass for asking the question because I know I've been having a similar train of thought, but I give them a pass because of the type of blog they are and that's a blog that actually publishes the dirty thoughts that gay men often have and do so unabashedly.

I only have one real bone to pick with the QC post. I like The Flash's costume. I love the dark red leather look much more than I ever like the bright red spandex that The Flash has always been seen wearing. I think it's a good look, and it looks great on a Grant Gustin, and I sure it would look even better crumpled on the floor while he was naked next to me in bed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Flanders Field

In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

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

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

McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Canadian physician Major John McCrae was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of former student, friend, and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, McCrae discarded the poem in a nearby trash can because he was not satisfied with it.  A fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but the London-based magazine Punch published "In Flanders Fields" on December 8, 1915.

McCrae was moved to the medical corps and stationed in Boulogne, France, in June 1915 where he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, and placed in charge of medicine at the Number 3 Canadian General Hospital. He was promoted to the acting rank of Colonel on January 13, 1918, and named Consulting Physician to the British Armies in France. The years of war had worn McCrae down, however. He contracted pneumonia that same day, and later came down with cerebral meningitis. On January 28, 1918, he died at the military hospital in Wimereux and was buried there with full military honors.

I chose this poem today because around the world, today is celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day and in the United States as Veterans Day.  World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria which had begun the war.  The Treaty was signed in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…". The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

A Congressional Act approved May 13, 1938, officially made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Though there has been a few attempts to move the holiday to a Monday or to celebrate it at other times, Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

The photograph above is from Kristine Potter’s series of black and white photographs, The Grey Line, a collection of portraits made at The United States Military Academy at West Point.  I loved the mist in this picture.  To me, it was  a perfect symbol for a Veterans Day commemoration.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Most Popular Posts of All Time

I was kind of at a loss for what to write about today (Mondays are often hard to find a topic for), so I turned to my trusty friend Google for help.  I simply typed in "ideas for blog posts."  Literally hundreds of ideas popped up on the first page, but many of them were basically the same list of 101 blog post ideas.  I've had this blog for over four years now and since I post daily, that's a lot of ideas already used.  Many of the suggestions were things I've done in the past.  One that I haven't done before is a list of my top posts.  So I looked at my all time statistics and these posts are my top posts that have been viewed on my blog.

I published this post on Aug 24, 2010, and it has been my most popular post so far with 149,818 page views as of last night.  A fellow blogger reported this blog post once and said that it was one of his top blog posts as well.  By the way, this post probably has more nudity in one post than all of my other posts combined, but I loved the pictures of YMCAs which showed such casual nudity in the days when it was a men's only organization.  Seeing these pictures, it's no wonder that the Village People sang a song about it being "fun to stay at the YMCA."

This post was published just over a year later on Aug 25, 2011.  With 7,070 page views it is a very distant second to my post on "Naked Male Camaraderie."  However, I have always liked this post.  Whenever there is a lack of women, there is often a rise in homosexual behavior, whether that is all male boarding schools, all male colleges, the military, etc.  The Old West was no different.

I have a feeling that this post, published the day before "Naked Male Camaraderie" on Aug 23, 2010, has reached 6,464 page views simply because people click to see "older posts" on my most popular post.  However, this post holds a great deal of meaning for me.  It was part of a series of posts about coming out.  It was largely my personal experience with coming out and this one in particular was a bit melancholy because, even though I have been out for nearly a decade and a half and have been mostly back in the closet for the past five years, I am still a single gay man, who is not very good with relationships.

This post from Aug 13, 2010, which has garnered 5,030 views, is one of those posts that I found fascinating to write.  Since I was an undergrad and first studied the Picts of ancient Scotland, I have been fascinated with these warriors who went into battle naked and painted blue.

This Aug 20th post from this year is a bit of a surprise.  In less than three months, it has been viewed 4,708 times.  It probably has more to do with the title than anything else.

I am almost certain that the reason this post has had 1,589 views since it was posted on Jul 7, 2011, is not because it is about gay guys being better students, but because the pictures I used are of the very hot actor Colton Haynes kissing another guy. Since I love Colton Haynes (and I do think he is gay, even of his publicist wants to hide that), I had to add a number six to this list, when my personal aesthetic would have preferred to keep to the top five posts.

As many of you know, I also have a mirror/back-up blog on Wordpress.  The same content is published their daily and it links with my Twitter account.  It has only been in existance for about a year or so, but it does have all the same posts.  Surprisingly, the top five most popular posts on that blog are mostly different.

1.  "Nude Equestrianism and Pot" with 7,704 views
2.  "Panic in the Locker Room?" with 1,775 views
3.  "Two-Spirit, The American Third Sex" with 1,251 views
4.  "Naked Male Camaraderie" with 1,201 views
5.  "Gay Camping?" with 1,185 views

Part of the difference here as opposed to my blog's Blogger version is usually this blog gets link to in different ways.  Often the page views for Blogger comes from Google keyword searches, whereas many of my Wordpress page views come from either Facebook, Reddit, or other discussion boards.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Proactive in Faith

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  (James 5:14-15)
I have a cold.  It's just that time of year.  It's not a bad cold but I am congested and coughing and my chest and head hurts.  With that in mind, I decided to look at some sermons about physical illness.  Not quite as easy as I thought it would be, but I came across the following story:
In May 1983, the “Chicago Tribune” ran a story about a young father from North Manchester, Indiana. His name was David Gilmore. He told about the illness of his fifteen-month-old son, Dustin Graham Gilmore, that began in April 1978.  At first his child came down with flu-like symptoms. The Gilmores took him to their church, and the pastor prayed for him. Members of that church believed that faith alone heals any disease and that to look elsewhere for help (for example, a medical doctor) demonstrates a lack of faith in God.  Gilmore and his wife followed the church’s advice and simply prayed for their son. Over the next weeks they prayed faithfully as his temperature climbed, prayed when they noticed he no longer responded to sounds, and prayed harder when he went blind.  On the morning of May 15, 1978, Dustin Graham Gilmore died. An autopsy revealed the infant died from a form of meningitis that could have been easily treated and cured.
Whenever I read about Christians that believe that the pure belief in God and his mercy can heal and that looking elsewhere for help shows a lack of faith, I am always saddened by the actual lack of faith people have in God.  If you believe that God is the Creator of all things then he is also the guiding force behind modern medicine's healing technologies.  Furthermore, God expects us to be proactive in our faith.  We cannot just sit back and wait for God to heal us, we must help God to heal us.

James says, “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” This is one of the verses about healing that many interpret to mean that faith alone will heal what ails us, but this verse tells us to go to others to get help as well.  You might ask about the “prayer of faith” as to what it means. Prayer is talking intimately with God and “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). It is mandatory that the person praying and the person being prayed for have a lively faith, but faith in itself does not heal, but it is God who does the healing. Our prayers are the beginning of the healing process; however, we must be proactive in the healing process. God waits for our prayers which are asked “….in the name of the Lord” (v. 14) before he steps in to take care of our requests. He answers our prayers according to His will. If we are not willing to get the help we need, then God will assist and guide our physicians.

The fact is prayer is an important tool, but it is not the only tool that can heal our ailing bodies.  The idea that seeking help outside the church is a weakness of faith is merely an interpretation.  I do not believe that the Bible is meant to be interpreted in only one way.  When we see only one interpretation of the Bible we do not give enough credit to God, who is all things and all knowing.  I believe that the Bible was written in a way to allow numerous interpretations. Just as prayer is personal, so is an individual's reading of the Bible.  The dogmatic beliefs in certain scriptures is one of the things that fragments Christianity and causes Christians to turn their backs on other Christians who do not follow their narrow interpretations.

God welcomes all of humanity.  If the AIDS epidemic had broken out amongst homosexual men during the time of Jesus, he would have healed them as he healed so many others.  Jesus healed men with leprosy, and I believe he would be in the heart of the Ebola epidemic.  Jesus was the Great Physician and while he healed many who were sick, He no longer walks the earth as a man who is healing the sick and ministering to outcasts.  Just because He no longer walks in a physical form among us, He is with us always among us.  We can look to him in times of illness, but we should not depend on just our prayers to heal.  We must be proactive in our faith, and proactive with our health. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Moment of Zen: Horses

There's just something about a man and a horse.  Maybe it's the rugged cowboy image, that of a man with taunt well worked natural muscles with a powerful horse with a slick beautiful coat and perfect musculature.  The muscle with muscle is just naturally beautiful to me.  Since I read Amy Lane's "Promises" series, I can't look at a man with a horse and not think of her wonderful and heroic character, Deacon Winters.  If you've read the books (and if you haven't you should), you will hope and dream that a man like Deacon someday enters your life.  He is the ultimate dream man.  He's not a perfect man, but then no man will ever be perfect.  However, it's the heart of a man that is most important.  Of all the books I've ever read, I don't think there has ever been a character with as much heart as Amy Lane's Deacon Winters.

Friday, November 7, 2014

6th Circuit Upholds Marriage Bans

As expected the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed lower federal court rulings legalizing gay marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky on Thursday.

Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, who wrote the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals' majority opinion, said the court does not have "a sweeping grant of authority" that allows it to determine "whether gay marriage is a good idea" for the residents of those states.  This is in contrast to how other U.S. circuit courts that have interpreted the ruling in United States v. Windsor, which declared Section 3 of the DOMA unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Sutton questioned, "Is this a matter that the National Constitution commits to resolution by the federal courts or leaves to the less expedient, but usually reliable, work of the state democratic processes?"

The AP reports on the ruling:
It followed more than 20 court victories for supporters of same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. A federal judge in Louisiana recently upheld that state's ban, but four U.S. appeals courts ruled against state bans.

The issue appears likely to return to the Supreme Court so the nation's highest court can settle whether states can ban gay marriage or that gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution. Thirty-two states recently asked the Supreme Court to settle the issue once and for all.
Sutton did acknowledge that the legalization of gay marriage is an issue that's not going away.  In this, Sutron is correct.  The Supreme Court will almost certainly be forced to take up the case of gay marriage now that there is a conflict in the lower courts.  With all previous circuit courts agreeing on the unconstitutionality of gay marriage bans, the Supreme Court had no reason to take on the issue.  However, now that the Sixth Circuit's ruling differs, there is a reason for the Supreme Court to take on the issue.  "From the vantage point of 2014, it would now seem, the question is not whether American law will allow gay couples to marry; it is when and how that will happen," the opinion said.

Senior Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, writi the dissent, chastised her colleague for writing "what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy," arguing that "the majority sets up a false premise—that the question before us is 'who should decide?'—and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism."

"If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams," Daughtrey wrote.

Sutton and the Sixth Circuit are merely delaying the inevitable.  Of course, they may have also taken it as a sign from the Republican victories in the midterm election that Senators like Ted Cruz will likely try to pass a Defense of Marriage Amendment to answer the "question" once and for all.  It would be one of the greatest travesties in American history if they do because it will be the first amendment designed to discriminate against a group of Americans instead of expanding freedoms.

Adapted from: