Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Florence Ripley Mastin: Poet and Teacher


Night Fell
By Florence Ripley Mastin
Night fell one year ago, like this.
He had been writing steadily.
Among these dusky walls of books,
How bright he looked, intense as flame!
Suddenly he paused,
The firelight in his hair,
And said, “The time has come to go.”
I took his hand;
We watched the logs burn out;
The apple boughs fingered the window;
Down the cool, spring night
A slim, white moon leaned to the hill.
To-night the trees are budded white,
And the same pale moon slips through the dusk.
O little buds, tap-tapping on the pane,
O white moon,
I wonder if he sleeps in woods
Where there are leaves?
Or if he lies in some black trench,
His hands, his kind hands, kindling flame that kills?
Or if, or if …
He is here now, to bid me last good-night?

When Florence Josephine Mastin was in her 20s and already a published poet, she decided to replace her girlish middle name with “Ripley.” “Ripley” sounds jaunty and masculine, and Mastin was proud of her Ripley ancestors, including George Ripley, a Transcendentalist who founded the utopian community of Brook Farm in West Roxbury, Mass. For the rest of her life, her friends called her Ripley. 
Florence Ripley Mastin chose her own name, and she spent her entire life trying to hoist that name out into the world. Between roughly 1900 and 1967, the year before she died at age 81, she published probably hundreds of poems in newspapers and magazines, including more than 90 in the New York Times alone. She authored several books of poetry, and her work appeared approximately a dozen times in Poetry between 1918 and 1935. 
Mastin’s timing was lucky and unlucky. She was brash and butch and she loved women—one woman especially—but she died one year before the Stonewall riots. She was not a great poet, but she was lucky enough to be writing in a time where poetry was published in almost every daily newspaper, and commissioned for just about every public ceremony. Poetry, during her lifetime, was a viable, exciting, and culturally relevant pursuit; Mastin relished its sheen of elitism, but the truth is that she benefited from its mass appeal. She was able to publish prolifically as a high school teacher with modest talent and without many connections to the literary scene. 
Grace Beatrice MacColl, Mastin’s partner of some 50 years, was a fellow teacher at Erasmus Hall High School in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Mastin met MacColl, who was born in Vermont, when they were students at Barnard College. When they graduated, they both took the exam to become New York City high school teachers, and applied to teach at Erasmus “because of its illustrious past, its beautiful campus, and its famous staff of teachers,” Mastin later wrote. 
Mastin and MacColl’s partnership was as public as the era allowed: They presented themselves as “close friends and devoted companions,” to use a phrase from feminist historian Judith Schwarz. Family members and friends sent “love to Grace” in their letters, and the pair traveled together, marched in suffrage parades, and lived together. When an Erasmus student working on a profile of Mastin for the school newspaper wrote her a letter in 1961 mentioning her “devoted friendship” with MacColl, Mastin wrote back paragraphs on the “gifted beautiful girl” who “was a constant inspiration for my poetry: She had a keen, a brilliant mind, a broad understanding and a subtle and delightful wit. She was more of a realist than I, and was an excellent balance wheel for my romanticism. A more noble, true and devoted friend never lived.”
Mastin wrote on subjects from the suffrage movement to both world wars to Sputnik to Vietnam. Since the above poem was published in 1918, I tend to think that it is about a young man going to war.  If it was written early in 1918, it would have been roughly a year since men began being sent to war.  In the poem “At the Movies,” two stanzas on watching a newsreel of British soldiers, was anthologized in a 1919 Treasury of War Poetry and is one of her only works to be reproduced frequently online. 
Occasionally she was funny, even cruel. In one undated handwritten poem, she savaged “certain modern poets”:
The ebullitions of modern poets make me sick.
I am an ordinary person, thank God,
With an ordinary brain and ordinary emotions;
And I come in tired to a warm fire and a drink,
And I open this book of verse . . . . . . . .
I may as well be a surgeon hereafter
And open gall bladders and tracts of bile and
holes with pus in them.
Why should I continue to read your verse
Spread everywhere like damp fungus?
… Dirty highways caked with manure will be
clean to me after you.
As her confusion and anger at highbrow moderns suggests, Mastin was an old-fashioned lyric poet with little interest in being on the literary cutting edge. And though she was publishing constantly, there is no evidence that she was in regular conversation with serious poets of her day, even those she admired. For Robert Frost’s 75th birthday in 1949, Mastin published a poem about him in the New York Times, then printed the poem on a huge scroll and had her students at Erasmus sign it. When Frost gave a talk at the New School soon afterward, a delegation of three students presented him with the scroll. She was only a dozen years younger than Frost, but this is the work of a fan, not a peer. 
Grace MacColl died in 1960 and was buried in the Mastin family plot on a hilltop overlooking the Tappan Zee. Afterward, Mastin couldn’t maintain her home Four Gables on her own, and she moved into an apartment north of Piermont, where she had a porch, a garden, and a view of her beloved Hudson River. “I think I never shall feel old—and maybe it is because I have lived with poetry all my life—and poetry is timeless,” she wrote around that time. “It is built of music and dreams so it never grows old.” She died in 1968. 
Florence Ripley Mastin loved to see her name—the name she had chosen for herself—in print. She kept detailed records tracking which newspapers reprinted which poems and who nominated her for which awards. Today, a few boxes of those papers can be found in the archives of Syracuse University’s Bird Library: dispatches from a life in poetry when such a thing must have seemed like anyone’s for the taking.
It is possible today to see Mastin as an unlikable woman; an unrelenting self-promoter, she sent clippings and copies of her work to friends, acquaintances, and politicians, including President Eisenhower. She was forever bragging about her Mayflower ancestry and her distant familial connection to Ralph Waldo Emerson. But she was a confident striver, that great American archetype, and her identity as a poet gave shape and weight to an otherwise ordinary life. She called herself a poet, and then she made herself one. And her story illustrates an important but easily overlooked chapter in the story of poetry in the 20th century.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Back to the Grind

Spring break is over and there are eight more weeks of school.  And thus begins the marathon.  I had such a wonderful and magical spring break, that it makes it even harder to return to school today.  However, my plan is to let my good mood shine through and hopefully it will rub off on the students.  I know that's wishful thinking, but good things are happening and I'm trying to be optimistic.  The best news is that it's a four day week.  We have Good Friday out of school.

I know this is a short post, and there were several things in the news from last week that I could talk about, but it seemed like a lot of the news was depressing.  California has a proposed ballot initiative that calls for killing gays with "bullets to the head."  Really, what kind of sick minds could actually propose such a thing, but one lawyer in California has done just that.  Furthermore, indiana has passed a new law which the governor signed which is a legalized form of discrimination against gay people, even though it's under the sick and misguided guise of "religious freedom."  What utter bullshit!  It's pure bigotry and has nothing to do with religious freedoms, because they are meant for people who call themselves Christian to refuse service to the LGBT community.  What they need is to be taught about "what would Jesus do" if they want religious freedom.  They should be doing all they can to help everyone and anyone, not finding ways to discriminate.  

There were other news related issues, but even thinking about gem make me sad and/or angry.  This week is Holy Week, and I plan to spend my week being optimistic and trying my best to love my fellow man, which I guess means being nice to my students, or at least as nice as I can be without losing control of them.

I hope everyone has a fabulous week.  I'm starting my morning with a cup of coffee, which always brightens my day and puts a pep in my step.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Inclination by Mia Kerick

But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?  1 John 3:17
I don't think I've ever posted a book review as a Sunday posting before today, but Inclination by Mia Kerick deserves a special posting.  I wish I had been able to read this book as a teenager coming to terms with my own Christianity and homosexuality.  Inclination is a guide for young gay Christians in a beautifully written and straightforward young adult novel.  Here is a description of the book:
Sixteen-year-old Anthony Duck-Young Del Vecchio is a nice Catholic boy with a very big problem. It’s not the challenge of fitting in as the lone adopted South Korean in a close-knit family of Italian-Americans. Nor is it being the one introverted son in a family jam-packed with gregarious daughters. Anthony’s problem is far more serious—he is the only gay kid in Our Way, his church’s youth group. As a high school junior, Anthony has finally come to accept his sexual orientation, but he struggles to determine if a gay man can live as a faithful Christian. And as he faces his dilemma, there are complications. After confiding his gayness to his intolerant adult youth group leader, he’s asked to find a new organization with which to worship. He’s beaten up in the church parking lot by a fanatical teen. His former best pal bullies him in the locker room. His Catholic friends even stage an intervention to lead him back to the “right path.” Meanwhile, Anthony develops romantic feelings for David Gandy, an emo, out and proud junior at his high school, who seems to have all the answers about how someone can be gay and Christian, too.

Will Anthony be able to balance his family, friends and new feelings for David with his changing beliefs about his faith so he can live a satisfying life and not risk his soul in the process?
Inclination can really be separated into three parts: coming out, coming to terms, and acceptance.  In the first part, you see Anthony struggle with his sexuality.  Once he comes to terms with the fact that he is gay, it is not a choice, he begins to ask himself how God could create him this way and yet proclaim it to be a sin.  Sin does not come from God, but his Catholic upbringing teaches him that homosexuality is wrong.  The anguish that Anthony goes through is so real, I felt as if I was reliving that time in my life when I was struggling with the same ideas.
Anthony, however, has two things that I did not: a loving supporting family and David Gandy.  David acts as a guide, a friend, and a teacher who helps Anthony wade through the literature about gay Christianity.  David is sure in his faith and in his homosexuality, and he serves as a major asset to Anthony that many young gay Christians do not have, which is precisely why I think this book is so important and deserves a much larger audience.
I really enjoyed this book, not because I agreed with everything in it.  I think that the physical intimacy can be a part of a gay Christian's life without it being sinful, but this is a young adult book and it should not have carnal relations in it.  Making love is just that, making love and as long as it is meaningful and in a relationship, then it is not wrong.  I believe this must be the case since in some places gay people still are not allowed to be married.  However, what I enjoyed the most about the book is that Kerick brings forth the idea that love and compassion are at the center of Christianity.
This except sums it up very well:
"Now you told me about how Laz acted today in the locker room.  And you know that it was wrong, because he was not showing compassion--you know, not loving you as he loves himself. And even though, on some level, he thinks he was acting in accordance with God's law as he understands it--cuz homosexuality is wrong in his perspective--we both know that he was not following the spirit of God's law.  The God I love and believe in would not encourage such behavior--it wouldn't make sense."  David reaches across the table across the table and grasps my hand.  The predictable goose bumps cover the skin of my arm.  "God is not arbitrary.  He doesn't make rules for the simple purpose of making us follow them.  We're not His trained ponies that need to prove something by turning in circles or jumping over orange cones at His whim.  There are reasons, you know, purposes, behind his rules." 
Kerick does a wonderful job illustrating the struggle many gay Christians go through.  Though Anthony is Catholic, Catholicism does not hold the monopoly on anti-gay rhetoric.  Most denominations spew the same hateful language that is against spirit of God's laws.  While I would love to see an adult-oriented version of this book, I think it is important that young people have access to this book.  I would recommend it to any library and if you know of a young person struggling with their faith and sexuality, please give them this book to read.  It should spur on further reading and hopefully open up dialogue about what it means to be gay and Christian. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Moment of Zen: True Bliss

Often, my MoZ for the week is a picture that I think is sexy or puts a smile on my face or something that I just enjoy.  It's meant to be a picture that brings a brightness to my day and yours.  This week, though, I had a true Zen moment.  It was a moment of peace and tranquillity, of happiness and contentment.  Actually there were several this week with my boyfriend: eating dinner in a restaurant at the top of a mountain with an incredible view, hiking trails and looking at the scenic beauty of Alabama, cuddling together and watching a movie, or sitting outside on a beautiful evening watching the sunset.  There were many other moments of intimacy that I will leave to your imagination. However, the true moment of Zen, that true bliss, came as I was laying next to my boyfriend, my head on his chest, and I realized in that moment I didn't have any pain (not even the minimum trace of a headache), I was happy and content (no depressive thoughts), and I was in the arms of someone I really care about and want to be with as much as possible.

It really was the best week.  I'm still experiencing some residual headaches, but they are less and less and there is more time between attacks.  It's no longer constant.  I still have points when I'm sad, but it's because of something, such as saying goodbye to my boyfriend and not getting to see him for a few days.  The amazing thing is that the pain is no longer constant nor is the depression.  I'm beginning to see real relief and that's a moment of Zen in itself.

I think this is the most I've ever said in an MoZ post before, but this MoZ was not about the picture, but the moment, though I think I found a pretty good picture to illustrate it.

The view from the restaurant.

A very small waterfall on a stream by the hiking trail.

An Alabama sunset at its most beautiful. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Few Thoughts...Happiness

First let me say this, I have never in my life enjoyed a vacation (or even just a few days in a row) as much as I did with my boyfriend this week.  It was so easy to be with him: to talk, to cuddle, to be intimate, to fall asleep next to each other, to wake up next to each other, etc.  I've never felt this easy companionship with anyone else.  It felt so incredibly natural.

It's so easy to talk to him about anything.  We can talk about history, politics, education, and religion with so much ease that it is a dream come true.  I love being with him.  He makes me feel so wonderful and happy, and I hope I am doing the same for him.  When we parted yesterday to go to our respective homes, I missed him instantly.  I didn't want our vacation to end.

He makes me happy, so very happy.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Beauty of Nature

Yesterday, we did some hiking and had a wonderful time checking out small streams and waterfalls and enjoying the scenery.  Mostly, we have just enjoyed being with one another and being kind of lazy.  It's spring break and teachers need the rest and relaxation much more than the kids.  We have to have the strength to forge ahead through the last few months at school and make sure that the students don't give up too quickly or easily.

I'll be heading home later today.  It's been a wonderful trip.  I haven't had much internet access up here on the mountain, which is the reason for the short posts.

A quick health update:  the new antidepressant seems to be working well and my body is adjusting.  Also, the medicine for my cluster headaches seems to be working.  As I'm typing this, I unbelievably am not experiencing any pain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Hiking is our plan for the day, but we will be wearing more clothes.  I liked this picture though.  It reminds me of spring break shenanigans, but in the mountains like I'm doing for spring break.  I wouldn't mind coming across these two on the hiking trail.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Poems by Cyrus Cassells

Beautiful Signor
By Cyrus Cassells 

     All dreams of the soul 
     End in a beautiful man’s or woman’s body. 

     —Yeats, “The Phases of the Moon” 

Whenever we wake,
still joined, enraptured—
at the window,
each clear night’s finish
the black pulse of dominoes
dropping to land;

whenever we embrace,
haunted, upwelling,
I know
a reunion is taking place—      

Hear me when I say
our love’s not meant to be
an opiate;
you are the reachable mirror
that dares me to risk
the caravan back
to the apogee, the longed-for
arms of the Beloved—

Dusks of paperwhites,
dusks of jasmine,
intimate beyond belief

beautiful Signor

no dread of nakedness

beautiful Signor

my long ship,
my opulence,
my garland

beautiful Signor

extinguishing the beggar’s tin,
the wind of longing

beautiful Signor

laving the ruined country,
the heart wedded to war

beautiful Signor

the kiln-blaze
in my body,
the turning heaven

beautiful Signor

you cover me with pollen

beautiful Signor

into your sweet mouth—

This is the taproot:
against all strictures,
I’ll never renounce,
never relinquish
the first radiance, the first
moment you took my hand—

This is the endless wanderlust:
yours is the April-upon-April love
that kept me spinning even beyond
your eventful arms
toward the unsurpassed:

the one vast claiming heart,
the glimmering,
the beautiful and revealed Signor.

Return to Florence
By Cyrus Cassells

How do I convey the shoring gold
at the core of the Florentine bells’
commingled chimes?

Vast as a suddenly revealed
field of wheat,
that up-and-away gold
is equivalent to the match-burst
morning I returned,
intent as doubting Thomas,
to my old classroom terrace,
open to the showy, blue yes
of the bustling Arno,
to my timeless, sun-laved
Basilica of Santo Spirito,
and discovered
ebullient citizens reciting,
at a hundred different posts,
the same unbetraying passage
of Dante’s Paradise.

Cyrus Cassells is the author of four books of poetry: The Mud Actor, Soul Make a Path Through Shouting, Beautiful Signor, and More Than Peace and Cypresses. Among his honors are a Lannan Literary Award, a William Carlos Williams Award, a Pushcart Prize, two NEA grants, and a Lambda Literary Award, which he won for Beautiful Signor. He is a tenured Associate Professor of English at Texas State University-San Marcos, and lives in Paris and Austin.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Break

Spring break is here.  No children for a week, then two months until summer.  I am so excited.  This has been a trying year at school, and I'm ready for it to be over.  Spring break always give the teachers the needed rest to persevere through the final two months of school;  spring break always seems to signal the end of the year for students. They think their work is done, but we have plenty more to do.

So you might ask what I am doing for spring break, well the above picture is NOT a hint, but a dream.  I'd love to find a semi-secluded beach and spend my week reading, soaking up the rays, and drinking coffee in the morning and tropical drinks all day, but kids are always at the beach for spring break and I want as far away from them as possible.

My boyfriend is therefore taking me hiking in the mountains of Alabama.  Yes, we do have mountains in Alabama, they just aren't very tall and they make up the most southern point of the Appalachain Mountains.  It's a three day, two night trip, but most of all, I get to spend that time with my boyfriend.  Maybe he will even pamper me a little bit.  The local restaurant on the mountain we are staying on serves local wines, muscadine and grape, which I'm looking forward to sampling.  I'm really not supposed to drink alcohol with my cluster headaches, but hopefully the new medicines I've been prescribed will help.  The real tricky part is going to be surviving the side effects of the prednisone dose pack my doctor has me taking.  Hopefully, the fresh clean air of the mountains will also help.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pay It Forward

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Luke 19:1-10

Many of us know the New Testament story of Jesus and Zacchaeus (see Luke [Lk] 19:1-10).  The events of that story took place near the end of Jesus’ ministry.  Jesus entered the Judean town of Jericho and a man named Zacchaeus climbed up a tree so he could see Jesus as Jesus passed by.  Zacchaeus was a short man, so he needed to climb the tree in order to see over the crowds.  But Zacchaeus was also the chief tax collector in Jericho and an extremely wealthy man.  One does not expect such a person to climb a tree to see anyone.  His willingness to do so indicates the degree of desire which he had to see Jesus.  It may also indicate that He was a humble tax collector not given to haughtiness or pretense.

So there he was, perched in a fruit tree, when Jesus walked right to that very tree, looked up at Zacchaeus, called him by name and said, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).  Notice Jesus’ words.  “I must stay at your house today.”  The word translated “must” indicates throughout the Gospel of Luke that what is taking place has been planned by God.  It means that it is important to God’s purposes that the designated event occur.  Jesus has found the man whom God had led Him to Jericho to see.

But why?  Why Zacchaeus?  I think that a look back through the preceding chapters of Luke makes it easier to answer that question.  Notice that in Luke Jesus interacts with many people who were, for one reason or another, outcasts–-social pariahs.  The Jewish religious establishment criticized Jesus often because He spent so much time with those whom they referred to as “sinners.”

In Lk 15, we read the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the Prodigal Son.  That chapter makes clear, in verses 1 & 2, that Jesus told those parables in response to the Jewish complaint that He should not be spending time with such low life.  You see the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son all represent, in these parables, the “sinners” whom the Jews wanted Jesus to stay away from.

But we also must notice the way that the persons whom the Jewish establishment rejected are so often described in Luke.  They are described by putting together two nouns.  The two nouns are “tax collectors” and “sinners.”  A devout Jew of Jesus’ day would not eat with a tax collector because such a person was considered ritually unclean due to their involvement with the Roman Imperial authorities.  The fear that one might have touched a tax collector is one of the reasons that the Jews ritually washed their hands before they ate; they feared that just touching such a person might religiously poison their food.  And Jewish laws in Jesus’ day did not allow a tax collector to hold a “communal office” or even give “testimony in a Jewish court” (Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 4:522).

The view of the Gospel of Luke, however, is entirely different.  John the Baptist, in Lk 3:12, is asked by a group of tax collectors what they should do to show the proper fruits of repentance.  John does not tell them to change jobs; he tells them to be fair (Lk 3:13).  And Jesus Himself even calls a tax collector, Levi, to follow him as an apostle, and Levi does follow Him (Lk 5:27-32).  And Jesus eats with tax collectors regularly.  He clearly does not fear being defiled by them.

So Jesus had come to Jericho to meet Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, the only person referred to in that way in the entire New Teatamwnt.  And, to make matters worse, Zacchaeus is rich.  Take a person holding a hated position; make that person rich; the hatred only increases.

So when Zacchaeus and Jesus walk together toward Zacchaeus’s house, the crowd grumbles; they complain.  They complain loudly enough that Zacchaeus hears it and stops.  I know that the New International Version says that he “stood up,” but the verb here can and, in my judgment, should be rendered as stopped, which is the rendering employed in the New American Standard Bible.  Anyway, Zacchaeus responds by turning to Jesus and saying what is most naturally and literally translated by the Revised Standard Version.  The RSV in Lk 19:8 says, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

Now most English translations render the verbs “to give” and “to restore” here as future verbs, i.e., “I will give” and “I will restore or I will give back.”  But the Greek verbs here are both present tense verbs.  Now, it is not impossible in Greek for a present tense verb to have a future meaning (such is called by Greek Grammarians, a futuristic present).  But, for such a rendering to be chosen, the more normal time reference of the verb has to be impossible or unlikely.  Here, I do not think that the natural understanding of these Greek verbs is unlikely at all.  Read as normal present tense verbs this story is telling us that Jesus has been sent to Zacchaeus to help expose how unjust Jewish religious intolerance really is.  He has been sent to bring salvation to him, and salvation here has the idea of Jesus the Savior staying with this “son of Abraham” and, thereby, making clear that this man is not outside of the love and care of his God.  Jesus is saving Zacchaeus from the feeling foisted upon him by His fellow Jews that he is sinful, wicked, and separated from God’s people.  Jesus makes clear that he is a son of Abraham and that the very reason that Jesus is going to Zacchaeus’s house rather than someone else’s is due to the unfair treatment which he has been receiving.

If you read this passage with the words in verse 8 as words of repentance and change (i.e., reading the relevant verbs as future tense verbs) then it is the grumbling of the crowd which causes Zacchaeus to repent, and grumbling is not normally a positive thing in the Bible.  I think it is better to view Jesus here confronting, as He so often does, a social stigma that was unfair and unjust, a stigma based upon religious elitism rather than upon the actual deeds of the person or persons concerned.

But what I want to notice this morning is the lesson that this passage gives us for the use of our wealth.  Jesus revealed the goodness of Zacchaeus by giving Zacchaeus a stage on which to communicate the generous way that he used his wealth and compensated for any mistakes that he made.  He gave half of his goods to the poor.  If he took more from anyone than he should have, then he gave them back four times more than that.

In the days of Zacchaeus we would all be considered wealthy, and I suspect that many within the religious establishment would have doubted our religious purity as a direct result of that wealth and the types of jobs we do to create it.  I want us to follow Zacchaeus’s model.  I want us to be surprisingly generous in the way we use our wealth.  I want us to pay our money forward, forward into eternity, by using our wealth to bless others and by using our wealth to give glory to God.

We have lots of stuff.  But the persons who pay it forward realize that it is not their stuff at all.  It is from God, and God really owns it.  The persons who pay it forward use it in ways that show forth the heart of God, the giver of all that we have.

We Americans like to think of ourselves as the land of the free.  But my experience is that outside of this country we are known as the land of stuff.  What will we do with all that stuff?  Let’s follow the example of Zacchaeus.  Let’s be generous in using for others.  Let’s follow the example of Danny.  Let’s use it to communicate love.  By doing so we will spread peace and the righteousness of God.

This is an edited version of a sermon by Dr. Rodney Plunket, the former pastor of Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas.  The parts I edited out were not because of the message, but because it dealt with members of the Broadway Church of Christ congregation.  I also want to add a few words of my own.

We far too often hear about people who call themselves Christians but only teach hate and fear and condemnation, and far too often these same people end up in scandals about their wealth and status.  They forget that Jesus ministered to those condemned by the Jews.  I think in the present day, LGBT Christians are the Jewish tax collectors of Jesus's day.  Churches shun us and don't want to have anything to do with us.  They preach about their hatred of us.  The argument against homosexuality used to be that gay men were promiscuous and committed fornication with other men.  However, now that gay people can get married and more and more of the LGBT community are in long term monogamous relationships, the very thing we were criticized for not having, the same people are trying to block us from marriage.

My thought is this, no matter what other Christians say or believe, LGBT Christians are still "Christians."  We should continue to give back to those who need it.  I mentioned the other day that I have some medical expenses looming and the help I received from several people was tremendous.  They paid it forward, and whereas I am unable to do that monetarily right now, I try to find other ways to "pay it forward."  Zacchaeus was judged simply because of his job, and Jews of the time didn't care to see what Zacchaeus did with his wealth, but Jesus knew what Zacchaeus did as he knows us in our hearts.  So don't let the judgement of other people stop you from helping those in need.  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Moment of Zen: Spring

The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven -
All’s right with the world!
~ Robert Browning

“The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thank You

Thank you for your kind words.  I want all of you to know that I do have a great doctor; in fact, he is probably one of the best in this part of Alabama. My mother, who is a nurse and used to work with him, has always said that he is the best diagnostician she's ever known.  He will not rest until he is sure of what's wrong, and can fix it.  He also has one of the greatest memories I've ever seen.  Though he uses a patient's chart, he can always remember everything there is to know about a patient simply by seeing their face or hearing their name.  He also reads every medical journal he can get his hands on. He stays abreast of the latest studies, and if something that has him perplexed, he's not afraid to admit it and will immediately research the issue.  Needless to say, I feel completely confident in his care.

I want to thank all of you for your love and support.  It is extremely heartwarming to hear and receive such support.  I started the new antidepressant yesterday, and it will take at least a week to get fully in my system.  I begin the new headache treatment today. My doctor has me on a 12 day prednisone treatment and a calcium blocker, which is designed to prevent the cluster headaches.  He also prescribed Imitrex to help when I have one of these headaches.  He'd prescribed the nasal spray, but even as a generic the copay is outrageous and the pharmacy has to special order it.  Therefore, I'm going to give the pills a try even though the relief isn't immediate with the pill.  Currently, it's a matter of giving these treatments a chance to work and having the patience to know this may only be the beginning but it's a start and not a last resort.     

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Sometimes, I think, "What am I going to write for today's post?"  Sometimes I get a good idea, sometimes I totally blank, and sometimes I find inspiration somewhere.  As I was thinking about this last night, I decided I'd just update you on my headaches and health.  If you've read this blog long, you probably know two things about my health: 1) I suffer from headaches; and 2) I suffer from depression.  I decided it was time for me to go see my doctor and discuss these issues with him more thoroughly.  I hate going to the doctor, so I've put it off for quite a while, but a few things have changed recently.

First, I wrote a month or so ago about how I think my headaches are more than just migraines and how they may be cluster headaches because of the symptoms.  When I discussed my symptoms with my doctor, he agreed.  He started me on a treatment for cluster headaches and wants me to get a CT scan, which I dread because my copay for that is $300, but it is necessary for a true diagnosis.  (If anyone would like to help with that cost, [even a small amount would help], the donate button is to the right toward the top.  It may not sound like a lot to some people, but with my current salary, the extra expense will mean less for other bills and expenses and will take some time to catch up, especially when I'm finally starting to feel like I am almost caught up financially.) My doctor did start me on some preventive medications and a new medication for when I have a cluster headache.  I'm interested to see if it will work.  I'm hopeful that it will.

Second, I've noticed in the last few months that my antidepressant hasn't seem to be doing its job, and its side effects are affecting me in a way that I hadn't noticed before.  When I had the flu, I discussed how I didn't feel that my antidepressant was working as I was having some depressive episodes.  Initially, he double the dosage of my medicine to see if it would help.  It has not.  In the past six months and even longer than that, I've been very lethargic.  I haven't had the energy to do much of anything, and so often, I just get discouraged with things piling up.  I've also had more and more moments of feeling completely hopeless.  Never to the point of harming myself, but often to the point of thinking that if I were to die, my suffering would end. (Maybe that's the passive aggressive southerner in me.) I'm glad I have wonderful friends and family who remind me the importance of being here on earth.  However, there are days when a great sadness washes over me.  I feel despondent, and I wonder if life will ever get any better.  My boyfriend makes me realize that it is worth it, and it does get better.  I love the way he makes me feel, and that brings me to the second major reason I wanted to change antidepressants.

I've also noticed, and this has just been in the last year because I've been more sexually active and have been dating more, that I've had issues getting an erection, maintaining an erection, and/or reaching orgasm.  This isn't always an occurance, but it's far more often than I'd like. It's been very frustrating for me, and I hate for my partner to think it is him, because it is most definitely not.  I just don't have the sex drive I used to have.  Sexual dysfunction is a major side effect of most antidepressants, and definitely with this one.  Doubling the dosage seemed to only make it worse.  I'm only 37, and I've always had a very strong libido until recently.  So I asked him if he'd switch me to a new medication without these side effects, and he agreed to let me try it.  I really hope it works.

That was the good news yesterday, the bad news is that there was a screw up sending my new prescriptions to the pharmacy and after I'd driven all the way to the pharmacy, they didn't have it.  When the pharmacy called the doctor's office, my doctor had already left, and the nurse wouldn't do anything to help the pharmacist.  I was quite upset, and trust me, they will hear about it first thing this morning.  Luckily, I have a family member that works not too far from my pharmacy, so she will be able to pick up my new medications, but I'm anxious to start my new medications and see how they will work.

I'm really hopeful that this is a major step,in the right direction for dealing with some of my problems.  It's a new day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Corey Kent White: Too Cute and Talented Not to Win

Corey Kent White is many things. He’s an artist. He’s a songwriter, and he’s a hard worker. So far, he's also, hands down, my pick to win The Voice this season.  White has put in thousands of hours as a writer and performer. In fact, White’s performances and original songs have already captivated audiences of all sizes throughout the United States.

As part of Team Blake, White and Jacob Rummell  competed in the final night of The Voice battle rounds Tuesday, and White walked away with the win.  In what coach Blake Shelton declared a "dead even" battle, it was White who Shelton chose to advance to the knockout rounds, though I think White was clearly the best choice.  Rummell was stolen by Pharrell, so he remains on the show as well.

The knockout rounds are set to air March 23, 24 and 30 on NBC.  In the knockouts, the singers are again pitted against a fellow team member, but they choose which song they will perform individually while the other watches.

Over ten years ago, White started his music career on a lonely stage at the State Fair in Tulsa, OK. Although it was just him and his guitar, Corey’s talent and professionalism shone through and impressed the manager of a Western Swing band called Oklahoma Stomp. White’s first appearance quickly turned into a five-year gig touring with this group that opened for well-known acts like the Oak Ridge Boys and played famous stages like the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

One thing about the success that White has experienced is clear—it was earned not given. He has worked extraordinarily hard to achieve these extraordinary results.  What’s more, all of this clears up one thing about his future…He won’t stop working until he is at the top, and I hope he's the top choice for America this season on The Voice.  I can't help but be excited over White.  I usually choose a country singer to root for, because they are usually some of the best talent on the show, but White has a breathy, sexy voice, not to mention that he's just adorable.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick’s Day

Here are two poems for St. Patrick’s Day, both appropriately titled, "St. Patrick’s Day."

St. Patrick’s Day
By Jean Blewett

There’s an Isle, a green Isle, set in the sea,
     Here’s to the Saint that blessed it!
And here’s to the billows wild and free
     That for centuries have caressed it!

Here’s to the day when the men that roam
     Send longing eyes o’er the water!
Here’s to the land that still spells home
     To each loyal son and daughter!

Here’s to old Ireland—fair, I ween,
     With the blue skies stretched above her!
Here’s to her shamrock warm and green,
     And here’s to the hearts that love her!

St. Patrick’s Day
BY Eliza Cook

St. Patrick’s Day! St. Patrick’s Day!
Oh! thou tormenting Irish lay—
I’ve got thee buzzing in my brain,
And cannot turn thee out again.
Oh, mercy! music may be bliss
But not in such a shape as this,
When all I do, and all I say,
Begins and ends in Patricks’s Day.

Had it but been in opera shape,
Italian squall, or German scrape,
Fresh from the bow of Paganini,
Or caught from Weber of Rossini,
One would not care so much—but, oh!
The sad plebeian shame to know
An old blind fiddler bore away
My senses with St. Patrick’s Day.

I take up Burke in hopes to chase
The plaguing phantom from its place;
But all in vain—attention wavers
From classic lore to triplet quavers;
An “Essay” on the great “Sublime”
Sounds strangely set in six-eight time.
Down goes the book, read how I may,
The words will flow to Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every year on March 17th, honoring the Irish patron saint, St. Patrick. The celebrations are largely Irish culture themed and typically consist of wearing green, parades, and drinking. Some churches may hold religious services and many schools and offices close in Suffolk County, the area containing Boston and its suburbs.

St. Patrick, or the "Apostle of Ireland," actually started out in the pagan religion. While not much is known about his early life, as many of his life's details were lost to folklore, letters from St. Patrick reveal that he was captured in Wales, Scotland, or another close area outside of Ireland and taken to Ireland as a slave. Years later, he escaped and returned to his family, who were Romans living in Britain, going back to Ireland for mission work after finding a place as a cleric and then Bishop within the Christian faith. He was born around 460, and by the 600s, he was already known as the Patron Saint of Ireland.

There are many legends associated with St. Patrick. The symbol of the shamrock used for St. Patrick's Day comes from the story of St. Patrick using the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity. The three-leafed plant coincided with the Pagan religion's sanctity of the number three and is the root of the green color theme.  Another popular belief is that St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. The story says that while St. Patrick was fasting, snakes attacked him, so he chased all snakes into the ocean. However, there have never been snakes in Ireland during the post-glacial period. The absence of snakes and symbolism involved with snakes is believed to explain the story, although it could have been referring to type of worm rather than snakes. One legend has St. Patrick sticking a walking stick into the ground while evangelizing, which turned into a tree.

St. Patrick's Day was first celebrated in America in 1737, organized by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston, including a feast and religious service. This first celebration of the holiday in the colonies was largely to honor and celebrate the Irish culture that so many colonists had been separated from.  Early celebrations continued this modest tradition. In New York, the first celebration took place as a small gathering at the home of an Irish protestant. St. Patrick's Day parades started in New York in 1762 by a group of Irish soldiers in the British military who marched down Broadway. This began the tradition of a military theme in the parade, as they often feature marching military unites. The holiday eventually evolved from the modest religious dinner into the raucous holiday we know today.

Jean McKishnie Blewett (4 November 1862 – 19 August 1934) was a Canadian journalist, author and poet.  Eliza Cook (24 December 1818 – 23 September 1889) was an English author, Chartist poet and writer born in London Road, Southwark.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Soul Mates

Plato's Symposium uses the dialogue to expound various theories of love. Each participant by means of very personal contributions adds something towards an exposition of love that at the end receives its conclusion from Socrates. The comic playwright, Aristophanes's speech is an explanation of why people in love say they feel "whole" when they have found their love partner. He begins by explaining that people must understand human nature before they can interpret the origins of love and how it affects their own times. 

 Aristophanes says that in the beginning there were three parents: Sun, Moon, and Earth. Each produced an offspring, round and otherwise like itself. From sun was produced the man; from earth, the woman; from moon, the androgyne. Each of these three was a double, one head with two faces looking out in opposite directions, four arms and legs, and two sets of genitalia. They moved about on the earth with a great deal more freedom and power than humans do now, for they rolled-ran hand over hand and foot over foot at double speed.  In other words, they did cartwheels to get around.

One day, these fast, powerful, but foolish creatures decided to scale Mt. Olympus to attack the gods.

What should the gods do to show the foolish humans the error of their ways? Should they shoot them down with thunderbolts? No, they decided, too boring. They'd done that before to the giants. Besides, who would pour out libations and offer sacrifices to them if they destroyed their worshipers? They had to devise a new punishment.

Zeus thought and thought. Finally he had a brainstorm. Humans were not a real threat, but they did need a dressing down. Their arrogance would be checked if they lost their speed, strength, and confidence. Zeus decided that if they were cut in half, they would be only half as fast and half as strong. Even better, it was a re-usable plan. Should they act up again, he would repeat the operation, leaving them with only one leg and one arm each.

After he revealed his plan to his fellow Olympians, he asked Apollo to join him in putting it into effect. The king of the gods cut the man-man, woman-woman, and man-woman creatures in half and Apollo made the necessary repairs. The face, previously facing out, Apollo turned inward. Then he gathered all the skin together (like a purse) with an opening in the middle as a reminder to mankind of his earlier state.

After the surgery, the half creatures ran around frantically looking for their other halves, seeking them out, embracing them, and trying to join together again. Unable to join, the creatures despaired and began to starve to death in their sorrow. Zeus, again mindful of his need for worship, decided something must be done to recharge the creatures' spirits, so he instructed Apollo to create a means to rejoin temporarily. This Apollo did by turning the genitals to the belly side of the body.

Before, mankind had procreated by dropping seed on the ground. This new system created an interesting new means of producing offspring.

The creatures who had been double women before, naturally sought out women; those who had been androgynous, sought out members of the opposite gender; those who had been double men, sought out the company of men, and not simply for intercourse, but so they could become whole again by being rejoined with their soul mates.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

True Friends

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.
1 Samuel 18:1-4

Two boys collected a bucket of nuts underneath a great tree inside a cemetery on the outskirts of town. When the bucket was full, they sat down out of sight to divide the spoils.

"One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me," said one boy, as the other watched intently. Their bucket was so full that some of the nuts had spilled out and rolled toward the fence.

It was dusk, and another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."

The boy with the bike knew just what was happening, and his face went ghostly white. "Oh my," he shuddered. "It's Satan and the Lord dividing souls at the cemetery!"

He jumped back on his bike and rode off, desperately looking for a friend. Just around the bend he met an old, scowling man who hobbled along with a cane.

"Come with me, quick!" said the boy. "You won't believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls!"

The man said, "Beat it, kid, can't you see it's hard for me to walk?" When the boy insisted, though, the man hobbled to the cemetery. When they arrived at the fence, they heard, "One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me."

Ready to have a little fun, the old man whispered, "Boy, you've been tellin' the truth. Let's go inside, and see if we can see the Devil himself!"

The child was horrified, but the old man was already taking his first step toward the gate. Then they heard, "Okay, that's the last of them. That's all. Now let's go get those two nuts by the fence, and we'll be done." They say the old guy made it back to town five minutes ahead of the boy! More than likely, he was looking for a friend.

Most people are constantly looking for friends. Some people are desperately looking for friendship. At times we all stand frozen with fear by the cemetery fence, so to speak, when life shakes us to the core. At times the legs don't support, and a healthy heart nearly breaks. At times we can barely muster a prayer, and when it comes out, it's a plea for a friend.
Friends can be a wonderful blessing. A source of comfort in times good and bad and a source of good counsel when we need advice or a sympathetic ear. It is not always easy to know who our true friends are.  Sometimes a true friend tells you what you don't want to hear, and sometimes a false friend tells you what you do want to hear.  

A true friend will always tell you the truth, even when it might hurt, but they know that the truth is what is best because it is what you need to hear.  We need true friends, who when hearing the gospel of Christ will tell you the full gospel as preached by Christ and His apostles.  A true friend will not just tell you what is popularly believed, or what may appeal to your sensitivities.  We need true friends, who when we are growing in grace will tell us of the need to grow, and the danger of abandoning our beliefs.  As gay men and women, this is especially important.  We often find ourselves rejected from our church, but the true relationship we have with God is personal, and an organization of men cannot take that away.

We should always appreciate the value of true friends.  On the other hand,  false friends often tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear.  False friends tend to have ulterior motives and they may lead us in the wrong direction.   Many people have been led astray by the wrong kind of friends. Good habits can be corrupted by bad company and immature Christians have been tossed around by cunning and deceitful teachers.  And when we most need them, a false friend is nowhere to be found, but a true friend is by your side.  I often see this with homophobic people.  Instead of reading the bible for themselves, they allow others to tell them what it means.

The greatest true friend we will always have is Jesus, and if you are lucky (and I count myself as very lucky), I have a number of true friends who love and care for me.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Moment of Zen: Wink, Wink

I've always found that when a guy winks at me, I go a little weak in the knees.  Is it the same for you?

Friday, March 13, 2015


Solitudine non è essere soli, è amare gli altri inutilmente. 
Mario Stefani
(Loneliness is not being alone, it's loving the of others in vain.)

Mario Stefani
(August 4, 1938 - March 4, 2001) Italy
Poet, art critic, journalist

The gay poet Mario Stefani, was born in Venice; a semi-local celebrity and good-hearted neighbor whose mysterious suicide shocked the Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio community in which he lived.

"Anyone who loves Venice, is a true Venetian... even a tourist, but only if the tourist stays long enough to appreciate the city."  So used to say Mario Stefani.

Mario's poetry is mostly in Italian; his only two collections of Venetian dialect poetry go back to the late sixties, written in the Venetian of those years in a simple style, without any type of linguistic experimentation.

He is quoted in John Berendt's book, The City of Falling Angels, which I am currently reading again, as saying "Telling the truth is the most anticonformist act I know."

About three weeks before Stefani's death, someone had wrote in red stay paint something on the wooden wall covering a small building site right next to the Rialto bridge: "Solitudine non è essere soli, è amare gli altri inutilmente. Mario Stefani" (Loneliness is not being alone, it's loving the others in vain). Three weeks later, on a Sunday, when he'd least likely to have been missed, he hung himself in his kitchen.

Even when we are surrounded by people who love us, we can still feel lonely.  This is especially true when we are hiding a part of ourselves.  Stefani was an out and proud gay man; however, he was hiding a great sadness behind his ever present smile.  So, what I'd like for all of us to do, is tell our friends and loved ones how much we care and love them and that they are not alone.  Sometimes we just need to hear that.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Blurred Lines

In the early 1950s when the homophile movement (the early name for the gay rifts movement) began, the U.S. government didn't differentiate between homosexual rights manifestos, gay erotica or dirty pictures. All were considered illegal, and using the postal service to distribute any of them could and did result in long prison sentences.

So perhaps it's not surprising that pornographers, who had years of experience fighting those battles, were often prominent figures in the emerging homophile movement's leadership. Jim Kepner, founder of the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, was a noted author of gay erotica. Hal Call, one of the first presidents of the Mattachine Society, the pioneering gay rights organization in San Francisco, was an adult film director and owner of the Adonis Bookstore.

Chuck Holmes made a fortune as the founder of the Falcon Studios, a wildly successful gay porn studio who was one of the first to switch from film to videocassette in the 1980s.  He later directed his fortune toward philanthropy, funding HIV/AIDS outreach programs, as well as San Francisco Community Center Project, Amnesty International, Global Green, Sierra Club, The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign. He was also active in supporting political campaigns both locally in San Francisco, and at the national level.

In 2002, Holmes' name was installed over the San Francisco LGBT Center, and public outrage was swift. Detractors called the move, which was in recognition of the late gay mogul's $1 million bequest to the beleaguered center, "insane."  The detractors feared it would only fuel right-wing allegations about the gay community's obsession with sex. What those critics missed, and what continues to missed over a decade later, is the role pornographers like Holmes played in building the gay rights movement we know today.

In 2013, Equality Florida's Tampa Steering Committee presented Jason Gibson, CEO and founder of Corbin Fisher, a leading "amateur" gay porn website, with its Service and Leadership Award.  The award honors an individual whose tremendous support has directly contributed to Equality Florida's ability to break through to a new level of outreach and effectiveness in the effort to secure full equality for Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Corbin Fisher and Gibson gave more than $120,000 to Equality Florida in recent years, and employees have also contributed video editing and production skills to public service announcements. During the 2008 campaign seasons, Corbin Fisher assisted Equality Florida in developing a mobile voting website and provided legal services to the organization. These contributions continued even after Corbin Fisher moved its base of operations from Florida to Nevada in 2010.  Since arriving in Nevada, Corbin Fisher and Gibson have contributed more than $25,000 to local and national LGBT advocacy organizations, Las Vegas' arts and culture community, and the city's new gay and lesbian center. Beyond financial contributions to LGBT groups and non-profits, the company said it encourages activism and philanthropy among staff — all employees of the company are given paid time off to volunteer for charitable organizations, continuing its policy where charitable donations made by individual employees to non-profit groups are matched by the company.

Rather than be a liability, pornographers can provide a strategic advantage to the movement. They not only know the legal restrictions and how to get around them both then and now,  but the early gay pornographers had the money to fight the obscenity battles that cleared the way for greater discussions of sexuality. Pornographers were the advance troops of our sexual revolution.

Homophile organizations like Mattachine and Daughters of Bilitis had publications, of course, but their reach was miniscule compared to that of "posing strap" magazines like Physique Pictorial and Tomorrow's Man. It wasn't political tracts, but pornography that provided most gay men with their first connection to -- and awareness of -- a larger gay culture.  The same exists today with the internet, though the GLBT community is presented more in the mainstream media as well.

From the early days of gay liberation, porn has been embraced as a vital part of our cultural fabric. The very first issue of The Advocate celebrated a court victory won by two pornographers, Conrad Germain and Lloyd Spinar, who had faced 145 years in prison for sending nudes through the mail, on its front page. Gay sexuality was dangerous and subversive, and any chance to speak it, explicitly or otherwise, was a strike for freedom and visibility.

And at a time when mainstream media portrayed homosexuals as pathological, depressive and criminal, porn offered a sunny alternative. We might scoff at porn theaters now, but looking up at that screen, a closeted man could see a promise of gay life that was open and positive, with larger-than-life men who were bold and unashamed in ways he might only aspire to be.

For those who lived outside city centers, that same promise came in the form of mail-order magazines and 8mm loops, which was Chuck Holmes' business. As the owner of the legendary Falcon Studios, Holmes had the widest reach of the early pornographers, and he was vocal about creating imagery that would make gay men feel proud of their sexuality. For tens of thousands of closeted customers in small towns across the country, those Falcon films were the "It Gets Better" videos of their day.

Pornographers contributed in thousands of other ways, of course -- by funding the movement directly, by lending resources and distribution, by educating audiences about safer sex during the AIDS crisis, and by lending their mailing lists to fledgling organizations like the Human Rights Campaign Fund. Holmes served on the HRC's Board of Directors.

But as the movement moved more into the mainstream, adult filmmakers were less and less welcome; their contributions pushed back into the closet. Checks, literally and metaphorically, were returned. Despite his tireless work on behalf of gay and progressive causes, only in recent years have pornographers been welcomed with open arms as Jason Gibson has been.

Some of you may see this history as a black eye on the movement, something that will hurt us in political fights over issues like marriage. I believe detractors and anti-gay politicians will always find something to hurt us until attitudes across America change enough that homophobic comments will only hurt those who say them.  If we allow our sexuality to be a source of shame, and hide our history to appease our critics, we're not nearly as out or proud as we think we are.