Friday, October 30, 2015

Gus Kenworthy

Just days after he came out, Olympian Gus Kenworthy was asked a question many gay and lesbian people dread on Twitter by a random user. But Kenworthy handled it so well, and we can't think of a more perfect way to respond to such a cringeworthy inquiry.  
"Are you the man or the woman in the relationship? That's all I need to know right now," the user wrote. 
Kenworthy, 24, followed up with: 
In a relationship I am the man. As is the other man. I'm gay. Not trying to emulate a heterosexual relationship. 
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) October 24, 2015
The professional freeskier, who nabbed a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, revealed his sexuality in a simply-worded tweet posted on Oct. 22. 
"I am gay," he wrote. 
The tweet was accompanied by a photo of the athlete on the cover of ESPN Magazine. The new issue, which hits newsstands on Oct. 30, features an in-depth profile on Kenworthy, in which he recalls his early struggles with his sexuality.  
"You're constantly lying and constantly feeling like you're being deceitful," he said in a video on ESPN that was produced in conjunction with the article. "I'm just at that point where I'm ready to open up and let everyone see me for me and I hope everyone accepts it."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Offensive, Deplorable, Insensitive, Cruel, and Insulting

Last night I was watching the World Series (I'm rooting for the Royals). I just couldn't handle watching the Republican debate. I find all of the candidates offensive, but I didn't expect to be offended during the World Series. However, a DIRECTV advertisement with Peyton Manning came on. I've seen it before, and its incredible offensiveness and makes my blood boil every time is see it. I never have particularly liked Peyton Manning, but even if I had been a huge fan of his, this commercial would have made me hate him with a passion. Before I say more, I'm going to let you read what the commercial says (I could have posted a YouTube video of the commercial, but I find it too offensive to post):
Hi I’m Peyton Manning and I have DIRECTV. 
And I’m really high voice Peyton Manning and I have cable. 
Only DIRECTV lets you watch NFL Sunday Ticket games live on all your devices. 
With cable I can’t do that it’s like – ahhhhhhh! [high-pitched] 
I get to take all the games with me. 
I sing with the Four Tunesmen. 
Camptown ladies sing a song
Doo dah, doo Dah
Camptown racetrack five miles long
Oh the doo dah day
Don’t be like this me get NFL SUNDAY TICKET only on DIRECTV.
To understand why I find this really offensive, I have to tell you something about myself that I don't think I've ever mentioned on this blog before: I have a high voice. My voice is the stereotypical "gay voice." I get mistaken for a woman on the phone and at drive-thru restaurants. All of my life, bullies have imitated my voice as a way to call me a faggot, usually while using the word fag or faggot and limp wrist hand gestures along with it. My voice has been an embarrassment to me all my life, but I am learning to accept it. It does help that with my new job, my voice plays a major component in said job. However, every time I see this commercial, it brings up all the bullying I faced in my life, and I'm not just talking about my teenage years but my adult life too. It still happens. Imagine calling your bank to straighten out an issue that has to be done over the phone and the person you are speaking with refuses to believe you are who you say you are. They thought by your name you were a man, but when they speak to you they are sure you are female and cannot be convinced otherwise. So they try every security question they can think of and after you answer all of them promptly and correctly, they reluctantly agree to speak with you, but remain skeptical you are who you say you are.

So when I see this commercial and I hear, "And I’m really high voice Peyton Manning and I have cable," what I really hear is "And I’m faggot Peyton Manning and I have cable." I don't know how many of you watch NBC's The Voice, but this season there is a male contestant named Jordan. He also has a high voice and during the blind auditions, everyone turned around and was shocked that he was a guy. Then they all said, especially Adam Levine, how important a contestant he was because he was so brave. I admire Jordan immensely for having the courage to stand up there knowing the judges would turn around and be shocked that he was a guy. I couldn't have done it. Sadly, I don't think he will make it far when America begins to vote because guys with high/effeminate/"gay" voices are discriminated against everyday. We constantly have our manhood questioned because we don't have a deep voice. We are constantly discriminated because of it. We are made fun of by athletes and bullies, and now even on a national television commercial.

I find this commercial to be one of the most offensive, deplorable, insensitive, cruel, and insulting commercial that I have ever seen. DIRECTV has been called out before on these types of commercials, but they continue to make more of them. Who else will they be allowed to insult before they stop using these commercials? I find this one even worse because without saying it directly, it hits on two major stereotypes of gay men: that we have "gay voices" and we don't like sports. After all, this is a commercial about NFL Sunday Ticket on DIRECTV. This commercial invites ridicule for those men who don't have deep voices. DIRECTV should be ashamed of themselves for such a blatantly homophobic commercial. The sad thing is, I doubt DIRECTV nor Peyton Manning realize just how hurtful and insensitive this commercial is. They merely think it's funny. There is nothing funny about condoning bullying and homophobia, directly or indirectly.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Historical Rewrites

I haven't mentioned politics too much on this blog lately, mainly because the Republican candidates are a scary bunch of clowns that seem like they are almost making a remake of Stephen King's It. The Democratic candidates really don't give us much of a choice, Bernie Sanders (even if he is my new Senator), doesn't stand a chance in a national election, which leaves Hillary Clinton as the only real choice. I have to admit, I have never been a big fan of Hillary Clinton, but I will support her for President.

On Friday night, Hillary Clinton was interviewed by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and I watched it.  In that interview, Hillary really disappointed me.  She did something that as a historian I find deplorable.  She rewrote history to fit her current agenda.

"I think what my husband believed -- and there was certainly evidence to support it -- is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America and that there had to be some way to stop that," said Hillary Clinton. "In a lot of ways, DOMA was a line that was drawn that was to prevent going further."

In comments the next day at the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa, Sanders called this a "rewrite" of history and said it was "not the case" that something worse was coming down the pike. Those who were in the trenches at the time agree.

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, said, "It is not accurate to explain DOMA as motivated by an attempt to forestall a constitutional amendment. There was no such serious effort in 1996." At the time, Wolfson was an attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

"It's ridiculous. There was no threat in the immediate vicinity of 1996 of a constitutional amendment. It came four years later," said Elizabeth Birch, who was executive director of the Human Rights Campaign from 1995 to 2004. "It may be that she needs to revisit the facts of what happened."  Birch took Bill Clinton to task in 2013, clearly refuting this "defensive action" claim, and pointed to the radio ads. Now really, if DOMA was a "defensive action" taken for our own good, why was Clinton using it for his own good in radio ads in the South? At the time he signed DOMA, Clinton did call the bill "gay-baiting" and didn't believe it was necessary. But he said he agreed with the substance of it: "I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages, and this legislation is consistent with that position."

Clinton's campaign, on Monday, didn't retreat from her underlying point, though offered a more forward-looking statement. "Whatever the context that led to the passage of DOMA nearly two decades ago, Hillary Clinton believes the law was discriminatory and both she and President Clinton urged that it be overturned," said spokesman Brian Fallon. "As President, Hillary Clinton will continue to fight to secure full and equal rights for LGBT Americans who, despite all our progress, can still get married on a Saturday and fired on a Monday just because of who they are and who they love."

Meanwhile, Richard Socarides, Bill Clinton's former aide on gay rights issues, argued that "there is no question that President Clinton believed that one of the reasons he was willing to sign a bill that he did not like was because he thought he would prevent greater damage."

This is a clear rewrite of history. Clinton actually announced he would sign DOMA in May 1996, several weeks before it passed the House. The news sparked angry protest among gay rights allies. A co-chair of the president's re-election campaign in Washington state quit. But others in the Democratic Party viewed it as crass, albeit excusable, pragmatism.

Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told HuffPost in May of this year that Republicans had settled on gay marriage as a wedge issue in the 1996 elections and that Clinton "gave in" on DOMA to take it out of play. "They were the major villains," Frank said of congressional Republicans. "He went along with them."

This assessment is shared by Socarides, who said that Republicans were  "hoping that Clinton would veto [DOMA] on constitutional grounds and that they could then say he was secretly for gay marriage even though he had articulated the opposite position."

But that take is complicated by an October 1996 radio ad in which Clinton's campaign highlighted his signature on the legislation.

Well before the bill reached Clinton's desk, it was abundantly clear that a veto of the measure would be unsustainable. The president wasn't the only one to make this calculation. A month before DOMA passed the House, The New York Times reported on a fissure within the gay rights movement: One camp was committed to fighting DOMA, and the other argued for focusing on amendments to make it more palatable since it would pass anyway.

In June, DOMA passed the House by a 342-67 vote margin. In September, the Senate passed the bill by an 85-14 margin (it was noted that 20 of those senators had been divorced). That meant each chamber had a supermajority to override any veto. On Sept. 21, 1996, Clinton signed the bill in the dark of night and avoided having it recorded on camera. 

Bill Clonton was convinced that lawmakers pushing DOMA were perfectly willing to trample on gay rights if it meant they'd have a better campaign landscape. But at the time, he was also personally opposed to expanding marriage rights to same-sex couples. The day after DOMA cleared the House, White House press secretary Mike McCurry referred to it as "gay baiting pure and simple," but also said Clinton would sign it if it didn't change radically before it reached his desk because "he believes frankly that the underlying position in the bill is right."

Some who criticized Hillary Clinton for her explanation of the '96 vote also praised her for having a strong record on LGBT rights during her own career, but I wish that Clinton would simply admit that DOMA was a mistake and not try to create alternate rationalizations for its passage. Hillary needs to say that the Clinton administration was wrong on DOMA in 1996. It was not good in any way in terms of constitutional law, and it certainly hurt a lot of Americans. She needs to admit the mistake and just say it. Own it. Stop this revisionist history.

A friend of mine reminded me that now is a different time, and everyone's evolved and understands what the cultural and political reality was then, and what it is now. The Clintons may not have been leaders in gay rights back in the 1990s, but they are now. That doesn't mean that she can rewrite history. Hillary Clinton should simply say this: "Yes, after the fact, years later, some Democrats used DOMA to forestall a constitutional amendment when it came up -- saying that we don't need an amendment because we have DOMA -- but no, a possible amendment was not something that was a rationale for signing DOMA in 1996. My husband did think DOMA was the result of GOP gay-baiting and unnecessary. But he agreed on the substance of it, as did the majority of Americans and the vast majority of Democrats. And we were all wrong. We evolved, as has our current president and the American public. And I'm glad to see DOMA gone."

A politician gets a lot more respect from me when they are honest, own their mistakes, and resist spinning their mistakes to rewrite history.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cheerfulness Taught by Reason

Cheerfulness Taught by Reason
 By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I think we are too ready with complaint
In this fair world of God’s. Had we no hope
Indeed beyond the zenith and the slope
Of yon gray blank of sky, we might be faint
To muse upon eternity’s constraint
Round our aspirant souls. But since the scope
Must widen early, is it well to droop,
For a few days consumed in loss and taint?
O pusillanimous Heart, be comforted,—
And, like a cheerful traveller, take the road—
Singing beside the hedge. What if the bread
Be bitter in thine inn, and thou unshod
To meet the flints?—At least it may be said,
“Because the way is short, I thank thee, God!”

About This Poem

“Cheerfulness Taught by Reason” was published in Browning’s book A Drama of Exile: and other poems (H. G. Langley, 1845).  It is true, we are often all too ready to complain, but God is on our side.  God provides us with hope and happiness, it is only without Him that we could truly complain. If there was no God, we would have right to become weak and feel like our aspirations are constrained by an empty eternity, but because there is much more in life beyond that where there is God, we shouldn’t complain when we have a few bad days. Our cowardly hearts should be comforted and we should move on happily. Even if we come across some bad times, at least this life God has given us is short and afterwards we can have paradise for eternity. To put that more succinctly, on this journey to happiness, we must be prepared to run into bumps in the road, but know in the end it will get better. Even if in the end you feel as if the journey has taught you nothing, you must be thankful that the journey was short.

This poem was, in my opinion, a perfect companion to my post yesterday.  My road has been bumpy and the journey has been arduous, but I persevered and kept God by my side, and I am much happier because of it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Life Lesson

Fifteen years ago, I went to graduate school to become a history professor. While I received my MA in military history, I never received my PhD, for which there are a myriad of reasons and misfortunes, so while I could have become an instructor, I knew I'd never be a professor. You all know I spent five years teaching middle and high school history, even though I was an actual trained historian. That is not a slight on any middle or high school teacher, but it was not for me. For the past fifteen years, I tried to tow the line and do what I was expected to do. In other words, I did as I was told. I had very little ability to pursue my own path, but the path set for me by others. All those experiences though led me to my current opportunity.
I really do love my new job. I'm still getting my predecessors' filing systems figured out, but I made great progress last week. Both of my predecessors left rather abruptly and, as I understand it, not on the best terms with the museum. Neither of them were very good fits for the position. However, my new employer and my coworkers are excited to have me join the team, mainly because of my education and experiences that I never dreamed would actually lead to a job. Here is probably the most wonderful thing about my new job: my boss came to me Friday and we were discussing sorting through everything, and she told me, "This is your job, not your predecessors. I have full faith that you will figure all of this out and that you will get this program up and running again and going in the right directions. Do what you need to do. You have my full support." How wonderful is that?! Though some of the groundwork has already been put into place, I am being given full authority to make this job what I have in mind for it, not what someone else thinks it should be.
As I look at the work that has already been done, it is truly fascinating. I cannot stress that enough. I am enthralled by what I have to begin with. While I am not happy with the way things were done before, my filing system will make it more efficient as will my philosophy on how the job should be performed. Maybe that sounds too overconfident or maybe even self-aggrandizing, but I know I am the right person for this job. I knew it the minute I saw the job announcement. I am very glad that my new employer could and does see that as well. I have my vision of how I want this job to proceed, and I plan for when phase one of this project is finished for it to be an integral part of the museum's mission and to be a significant contribution to the modern era of this historic institution. Yes, I have grand ideas, and while everything may not go exactly as planned, I was given a job to do and I will accomplish it to the best of my ability.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that my MA is in military history. Because I am gay, I was subtly steered away from making military history my career. I believe that it was because being gay and studying military history seemed to be contrary to one another. However, it was what I was most passionate about in my study of history. Yes, there were other historical fields that peaked my interest, but none like military history did. So for me to have a job that largely deals with military history, I feel vindicated about my original course of study. And from what I've delved into about this program so far, my interest in military history and my interest in human rights will be one of my greatest assets in this job.
To say that I am excited about my work and to say that I am eager to get to work is an understatement. (Today is an unexciting half day of orientation, one of three I must attend over the next month.) This job may not have been in my original idea for a career, and I may have pursued other pursuits in the past, but once I let God lead the way and put my faith in Him, He has put me on the path I was meant to be on. For the first time in my life, I feel that I am on he right path. If I've learned one lesson in the last (nearly) twenty years since I graduated high school and began my journey in higher education, it has been to pursue my dreams and not to let anyone discourage me.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Fall of the Leaf

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The Fall of the Leaf
By H. Macmillan, D. D.

At no period of the year are the sunsets so varied and beautiful as in autumn. The many-colored woods of the year's eventide correspond to the many-colored clouds of the sunset sky; and as the heavens burst into their brightest hues, and exhibit their loveliest transfigurations when the daylight is fading into the gloom of night, so the year unfolds its richest tints and its fairest charms when it is about to sink into the darkness and desolation of winter. The beauty of the autumnal tints is commonly supposed to be confined to the fading foliage of the trees. This is indeed the most obvious feature of the season — that which appeals to every eye, and reads its lesson to every heart. But nature here, as everywhere else, loves to reproduce in her smallest things the peculiarities of her greatest. It was a beautiful myth, created by the glowing imagination of the Greek poets, that the great god Pan, the impersonation of nature, wedded the nymph Echo; so that every note which he blew from his pipe of reeds awakened a harmonious response in her tender bosom. Most truly does this bright fancy represent the real design of nature, according to which we hear on every hand some curious reverberation of some familiar sound, and see all things delighting to wear each other's robes. The fading frees pipe their many-colored music aloft on the calm blue October air — for the chromatic scale is the harmonious counterpart of the musical — and the lowly plants that grow beneath their shadow dance to the music. The weeds by the wayside are gifted with a beauty in the decline of life equal to that of the proudest oaks and beeches. Each season partakes to some extent of the characteristics of all the other seasons, and shares in all the varied beauties of the year. Thus we find an autumn in each spring in the death of the primroses and lilies, and a harvest in each summer in the ripe hay-fields; and every one has noticed that the sky of September possesses much of the fickleness of spring in the rapid change of its clouds and the variableness of its weather. Very strikingly is this mutual repetition by the seasons of each other's characteristic features seen in the resemblance between the tints of the woods in spring and in autumn. The first leaves of the oak expand from the bud in a pale tender crimson; the young leaves of the maple tree, and all the leaves that appear on a maple stump, are of a remarkable copper color; the immature foliage of the hazel and alder is marked by a dark purple tinge, singularly rich and velvety-looking. Not more varied is the tinting of the autumnal woods than that of the spring woods. And it may be remarked that the color into which any tree fades in autumn is the same as it wears when it bursts the cerements of spring, and unfolds to the sunny air. Its birth is a prophecy of its death, and its death of its birth. Nature's cradles have not more of beginning in them than of ending; and nature's graves have not more of ending in them than of beginning. No one can take a walk in the melancholy woodland in the calm October days without being deeply impressed by the thought of the great waste of beauty and creative skill seen in the faded leaves which rustle beneath his feet. Take up and examine one of these leaves attentively, and you are astonished at, the wealth of ingenuity displayed in it. It is a miracle of design, elaborately formed and richly colored — in reality more precious than any jewel; and yet it is dropped off the bough as if it had no value, and rots away unheeded in the depths of the forest. Myriads of similar gems are heaped beneath the leafless trees, to moulder away in the rains of November. It saddens us to think of this continual lavish production and careless discarding of forms of beauty and wonder, which we see everywhere throughout nature. Could not the foliage be so contrived as to remain permanently on the trees, and only suffer such a periodical change as the evergreen ivy undergoes? Must the web of nature's fairest embroidery be taken down every year, and every year woven back again to its old completeness and beauty? Is nature waiting for some great compensation, as Penelope of old waited for her absent husband, when she unravelled each evening the work of each day, and thus deluded her eager lovers with vain promises? Yes! she weaves and unweaves her web of loveliness each season — not in order to mock us with delusive hopes, but to wean us from all false loves, and teach us to wait and prepare for the true love of our souls, which is found, not in the passing things of earth, but in the abiding realities of heaven. This is the secret of all her lavish wastefulness. For this she perpetually sacrifices and perpetually renews her beauty; for this she counts all her most precious things but as dross. By the pathos of her autumn loveliness she is appealing to all that is deepest and truest in our spiritual nature; and through her fading flowers and her withering grass, and all her fleeting glories, she is speaking to us words of eternal life, whereby our souls may be enriched and beautified for ever.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Progress and the Blahs

As I've had all week, I had a great day yesterday.  I even made some significant progress in figuring out the two very different filing systems of my predecessors.  It's all on the computer but finding it on there and knowing where to start has been a bit of an issue.  I'm getting there though and making slow but steady progress.  However, after I got home, I started feeling a little sick.  I had a headache and just felt wonky, if you know what I mean.  I just felt off.  Therefore, this is a short post.  I didn't feel up to writing much more.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


All of my life, I have lived in the Central Time Zone (CST), and while,it's only an hour difference, I'm finding it hard to adjust to the Eastern Time Zone (EST).  Before I started work, it didn't bother me as much because I didn't have a certain time I had to wake up, but since I started work, I'm getting only about 6 hours of sleep at night.
You see, in the CST, prime time television ran from 7-10 pm, but in the EST, prime time television runs from 8-11 pm. I'm used to going to bed around 11 pm, but now it's more like 12 when I can turn off the lights and settle down.  No matter what time I go to bed in a time zone, I still like to get up at 6:30 am in order to get ready for work.  Honestly, I really need 7 hours of sleep but prefer a good eight hours. Having my morning coffee isn't really helping keep me awake all day long.
So far the time difference is the only drawback I've found, and I know it is something I will get used to.  It is an adjustment though, but I wouldn't trade my new life for anything. I love my job and the people I work with.  The daily eye candy surrounding me on campus is well worth it, even if the job wasn't, all the cute guys would be. However, the job is completely worth it and the eye candy is just a nice bonus.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Questions, Questions

Actually, it's just one question (two,if you feel generous in your commenting).  About a year ago, Dave over at Wicked Gay Blog asked "What is your favorite part of a man's body?"  I'm going to modify that question a little, though you are more than welcome to tell me what is your favorite part of man's body is (though like Dave said in his post, we need to exclude the penis, because we all obviously love penis).  What I want to know is this:

What is the first thing you notice about a guy?

For me it's one of two things.  If I see him from behind, well the first thing I notice is his, well, his behind.  If I see him from the front, I am most often drawn to his eyes.  Then my eyes will travel to various other parts.  There are so many things that can make a guy attractive (and I am only speaking superficially here, because I tend to rank personality and intelligence at the top of my list).  It could be his nose or his ears.  It could be his bulge or if he's freeballing in athletic shorts, his VPL (visible penis line, for,those who might not know).  It's also according to how he is attired.  If he's been working out and only has on shorts, then I'm going to check out his chest and stomach, and if he turns around his back and shoulders.

If I had to pick a favorite part of a man's body, I'd have to say that I love a nice bubble butt. I love having something to grab onto. That gets me every time.  However, if I see a guy without a shirt, I am drawn to his chest.  He doesn't have to have perfectly chiseled pecs either, but if there is some definition and he has nice nipples that really does drive me wild, mainly because I want to nibble on them.

You now know mine and why, so what about you?  What is the first thing you notice about a guy? And, as a bonus, what is your favorite part of a man's body?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I Hear America Singing

I Hear America Singing
Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892

 I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe
     and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the
     deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing
     as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the
     morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at
     work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young
     fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

This is my favorite poem about work. It's Walt Whitman’s celebration of the working man.  I think Whitman definitely had a thing for blue collar workers. To me, this is one of the most melodic of Whitman's poems.

I wanted to do a poem about work because my first day went really well.  Grant it, most of the day was settling into my new office and getting my ID, ordering business cards, and stuff like that.  It was a mostly quiet day.  There isn't a lot I can do yet.  The IT department has to switch over the computers to me, they are all still locked with my predecessor’s log ins.  So far though things are going smoothly.

And for those who were wondering, I did get snow up here this weekend.  It snowed a little Saturday and then off and on all day Sunday.  It's amazing to me to get snow in October.

Monday, October 19, 2015

First Day

Today is my first day at my new job.  I'm very excited, and I've never been excited about a job before.  I've always had jobs that were supposed to be temporary until a "real" job came along.  I went to graduate school thinking I'd teach college.  I've always loved teaching college, but I ended up teaching high school instead.  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know the story.

One thing though that I did when in graduate school was to diversify within the field of history.  I covered military, Civil Rights, American, European, Women, and Native American history, as well as various research tools, such as language, oral history, public history, literary analysis, and art history.  By doing so, I wanted to make myself marketable.  While it has taken many more years than I expected for that strategy to pan out, it finally has.  I landed a job in which I was uniquely qualified for because of my diversification, and while it is not a teaching job, it is a job that I am very happy with beginning.  

So today is my first day.  I'll get the keys to my new office and get to work making this position mine and molding it as I see fit.  I've basically been given free rein to make this position and the program I'm taking over into what I know it can be. I Will Try to do my very best, because that's all we can to is try to do our very best.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Fruit of the Spirit

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.Galatians 5:22–26

It never ceases to amaze me how the Christian community has endured in spite of the differences in biblical interpretations and analyses. In some cases, the only thing Christians have in common with each other is Christ. The rituals and dogmas among Christians are extraordinarily different. There are poisonous snake handlers, horse and buggy riders, and Voodoo Christians. There are those who believe that dancing will doom you to hell and those who dance during their services. Some fill their church with music, while others like the churches of Christ forbid any musical instruments in their church. My list could go on and on and on!

Galatians 5:22-26 binds our “fractured” Christian Community into “one” through the nine manifestations (fruits) of the spirit. That includes mainstream Christians as well as the snake handling Christians. Even those Christians who have never heard of the “fruits of the spirit” have felt the spirit in their heart and soul and most certainly witnessed them in Jesus Christ.

These manifestations are available to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, just for the taking:

LOVE: Without love, humanity would not exist. There could be no human interaction. You would have no feelings for friends, family, or those you hold close to you. Love is so much more than a romantic relationship. Love resonates throughout our life. Love is what makes us human.

JOY: Don’t mistake happiness for joy. They are not the same. There is a vast difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is based on short-term events or “things” — a new car, a kiss, an awesome gift. Joy comes from God and is born from within. Happiness is the Easter Bunny. Joy is the risen Christ.

PEACE: This is not the peace that comes at the end of a battle. It is the peace of the Lord. This is a peace that comes from within, and is always with you. It is enduring peace of mind, contentment, and serenity.

FORBEARANCE: Forbearance means to tolerate even when you get less than you think you deserve; to be patient, and deal with difficult circumstances with gentleness and calmness.

KINDNESS: Kindness is a smile rather than a frown, a word of encouragement and comfort, or a warm, sincere, much-needed hug. I know it is a billboard cliché, but kindness truly can come from asking yourself, “What would Jesus do?”

GOODNESS: Generosity is being mindful of those who have less than you — doing good things from the goodness of your heart, not for the tax break or the glory. Goodness is fed from the inner qualities of virtue, excellence of character, and attitude.

FAITHFULNESS: Faith is knowing that God always does what is best for you, not necessarily what you ask for. Don’t lose faith when doubts creep into your heart. Doubt is a powerful component of faith.

GENTLENESS: Do not confuse gentleness with weakness. Gentleness requires great strength. Gentleness enables a person to patiently endure insults and injuries received at the hand of others. It allows us to keep cool when others explode. Gentle people do not seek revenge; they leave that in God’s hands.

SELF-CONTROL: We all know what our self-control failures are: material possessions, promiscuity, anger, alcohol, drugs, etc. Our “head” knows when our human desires are not right for us — and, as a result, there is a tug of war between our head and our desires. And sometimes it is a major tug of war. We must always be vigilant to keep our self-control.

The creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, once said, “If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.” 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Moment of Zen: A New Life

A new life worth living. 
A new day worth getting up for. 
A new beginning.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sleeping In

It has been an incredibly busy week getting settle into my new place, and while I'm not completely settled yet, I don't have any appointments tomorrow. I can just sleep in and enjoy my new and very comfortable mattress that was delivered yesterday. The only thing that I do need to do is walk over to the post office and pick up my keys to my p.o. box.  When I paid for it, the keys that I was given didn't work, so they had to rekey it.  I seriously doubt I'll have any mail, but you never know.

Every time I have ever moved into a new place, I forget how much there is to do.  There is even more when you pack light and do it all yourself. I never realize how many unexpected expenses there are when moving to a new place.  It didn't help that I had a mishap on the way up and was delayed a day, which actually added the expense of two extra nights because even though I cancelled my reservation at the hotel I'd planned to stay at the first night, it was after the 24 hour deadline for cancellations.  I'll get reimbursed for most of my expenses, but I'm not sure when I will get that reimbursement.

Moving is also very stressful.  I'm in a new place far away from anything that is familiar to me.  Thank goodness for Apple Maps.  It's told me where grocery stores and mattress stores and various other stores I needed were. It's nic for anything that makes this process easier.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


First off, since neither FedEx or UPS would bring my deliveries up to my apartment, I had to carry them all up the stairs.  That really pissed me off.  Anyway, I got it all up to my apartment and then began the task of assembling everything.  With a few short breaks here and there I got all but one piece put together.  My hands are so sore though that I can barely type, in fact it hurts quite a bit.  It really was a busy day.  I can't wait for my new mattress to arrive today.  I'll probably just make up the bed, strip naked, and snuggle in for a nap.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


I had a busy day yesterday and night last night.  It was the first business day since I'd arrived so there was lots to do.  Today should be busy too. I'm having cable and Internet installed.  Plus, most of my furniture is scheduled to arrive, so I'll be busy setting it up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015



By Helen Hunt Jackson 
Bending above the spicy woods which blaze,
Arch skies so blue they flash, and hold the sun
Immeasurably far; the waters run
Too slow, so freighted are the river-ways
With gold of elms and birches from the maze
Of forests. Chestnuts, clicking one by one,
Escape from satin burs; her fringes done,
The gentian spreads them out in sunny days,
And, like late revelers at dawn, the chance
Of one sweet, mad, last hour, all things assail,
And conquering, flush and spin; while, to enhance
The spell, by sunset door, wrapped in a veil
Of red and purple mists, the summer, pale,
Steals back alone for one more song and dance.
The picture above is not of the best quality because it was taken by me with my phone through my kitchen window. (My phone is my only internet right now.) This really is the view from my kitchen. The view from my balcony is just as beautiful. I feel like I moved into a postcard.

PS Our friend JiEL was able to enhance to enhance the picture above to give it some truer color.  The window pains had muted the colors a bit.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Getting Settled

Moving would be a lot more fun if these guys had been there to help, but as it is I'm just taking it slow, bringing a few things in at a time.  It's a lot of work to move into a second floor apartment all by yourself.  Most of my furniture should be delivered on Wednesday and Thursday.  I'm not sure when the cable will be installed but hopefully soon (I might go crazy without TV and Internet).  I have to call them back today, assuming they aren't closed for Columbus Day.  I hope that by this time next week, I'll be settled in, since a week from today is my official start date at my new job.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Boasting About Tomorrow

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 4:13-17

There is so much depth to these five verses. In the big picture, do we include God in all of our plans? Do we include him in our career or educational plans? Do we pray about the path He wants us to take?  When we make plans and exclude God, no matter what the plans are, it is as if we are boasting in our own abilities.

Verses 13 and 14 refer to making future plans for prosperity without consulting God. Even if the plans are honorable and righteous, God may have other ideas. Our lives are but a blink of God's eye, "a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." God wants us to consult with Him for all plans.  

At the first of last week, I boasted about how far I'd get each day on my journey to Vermont.  However, God had other plans.  I had not planned on hitting something in the road, puncturing my fuel tank, and being stranded in Knoxville for a few days, but that's what happened.  It actually only delayed my arrival by one day, but I was fortunate on two fronts.  First, I was fortunate that I was not hurt in the accident and that no severe damage was done to my car.  Second, it apparently rained most of the day yesterday in Vermont and it would have been miserable trying to move things into the apartment. In most things, we can find a silver lining, if we try.

I plan ahead.  If I do not have the next step or two thought out before I get to them, I feel behind and unorganized. Of course, just because we plan doesn't mean things will actually go as planned. God decides what will and will not happen. Ever since I gave Him full rights to my life, I cannot seem to plan anything too far in advance.  He is the ultimate schedule shifter.  James notes, "you do not know what tomorrow will bring."  I have to remind myself of this.  Life throws sudden changes at you.  Yes, I still plan ahead to the best of my ability, but I now make flexible plans instead of rigid ones.  This is one way I submit my life to God, by giving Him free reign to jumble my schedule.  In the end, I trust God has a better idea of what I should do with my life than I do since He sees the entire picture.

I remind myself that God has a plan for me in my prayers.  I begin by asking God to forgive me of my sins, then I ask Him to guide me down the path He has chosen for me before asking Him to bless my family and friends.  I pray for guidance down the path God has chosen for me, because I know it is not an easy path.  In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

I've learned to use verse 15 in all planning. "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." There is so much each of us wants to do with what time we have left in our lives, right? Personally, I would love to travel to Europe again, write a book, get in better shape, and be healthier. With each thing I want do to, I pray about it and say, "Lord, if it is Your will that I do this, then I will do it."

Psalm 37:4 states: Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. This is a Scripture of hope.  We think, "I love the Lord and so He will give me whatever my heart desires." That sounds great and all, but what about this:  if we love the Lord and become very close and intimate with Him, very soon His desires become the desire of our hearts. Ask the Lord if your desire is His will and you may find that His will truly becomes your desire.

Verses 16-17 remind us that boasting in our arrogance is evil, and goes on to say that if we know the right thing to do and fail to do it, we are sinning.  If the Lord places something upon your heart, and you do something else instead, verse 17 tells us that it is sin.  In 2 Corinthians 1:12, Paul writes, "For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you."

Boast in the Lord and proclaim to everyone: "My God has blessed me abundantly, and He directs my path."  In Matthew 5:6, Jesus said: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." There is satisfaction in doing God's will. To actually do good is filling food. The more we eat the keener our appetite becomes. Dissatisfaction is a sure sign that we are not eagerly doing the will of God. It is a symptom of spiritual immaturity. The only way to discover the point of Christ's teaching is to practice it. The only way to godly contentment is to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Moment of Zen: Arriving

While it's the end of a long journey, it's the beginning of a new chapter in my life.


I drove all day as soon as I got my car and arrived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  There was no way I could safely make it any further.  I'll leave first thing in the morning and drive the final 7.5 hours to my new apartment.

I'll post my Moment of Zen later today.

Friday, October 9, 2015


So, my insurance company got me a rental car, and it looks like my car will hopefully be fixed tomorrow.  With a badass SUV that they gave me to drive, I decided to go see what fun could be had in Knoxville.  By fun, I'm not talking about sights, but I thought I'd check out the local gay scene.

Apparently, there are three gay bars in Knoxville.  One looked really promising as they were having a free Texas Hold 'Em tournament last night.  Winner got $100.  I used to play poker every Friday night with a group of friends when I was in graduate school, so I decided I'd check it out.  I got to the bar and ordered a drink to wait for the tournament to start. The crowd was mostly older men. I have nothing against older guys, but it's nice when they are friendly.  While I tried to engage a few, it was obvious that I was an outsider and not that welcomed.  The guys and gals there to play poker were obviously very serious about it.  I was hoping for some fun and socializing.  I figured out pretty quickly that this was not going to be the case.  So I gave up on the place and left.  With it being a Thursday night, I doubted that the other two gay bars would be much fun either.  If this was New Orleans, something is usually happening every night, but this is Knoxville not New Orleans, so I decided to head back to the hotel to watch How to Get Away with Murder.

I have a confession here, I saw a sign for an adult store on my way back to my hotel and decided to check it out and see if they had anything fun.  I did find a nice new toy (as luck would have it they were having a sale and the cashier gave a 20% off coupon to use), and my new toy is the perfect size for some play.  So while I didn't have fun playing poker because it looked a bit lame, I had a lot of fun with my new toy.  So I amused myself and then went on to bed.

I expect that my car will not be ready until tomorrow afternoon, so I will go into downtown Knoxville and see some of the sights.  Hopefully I can get back on the road tomorrow and maybe make it to Virginia.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Shit Happens

First things first, I'm ok, sadly my car is not.  On I-40 just outside of Knoxville, TN, I hit some large piece of metal (well about the size of my head) in the road.  It punctured my gas tank.  I had no choice as I was flanked by semi trucks.  Luckily, no sparks were present, and I was able to pull off to the side of the road and call 911.  The local fire department arrived and neutralized the gas and my car was towed to a local garage.  The tow truck was kind enough to take me to a hotel.  So for at least tonight I'm stuck in Lenoir City, Tennessee, in a hotel.  Hopefully, they can get a new fuel tank quickly and get it installed today, and I can be back on my way. If they have the part, I was told they'll move quickly, assuming the only damage was the fuel tank. If not, my insurance company will send me a rental car to use until my car is fixed but it would still mean I'm stuck in Lenoir City, Tennessee.  Maybe I can explore some of nearby Knoxville.

I had to cancel my hotel reservations in Virginia and Albany.  Hopefully, the hotel in Albany will not charge me as I cancelled a day in advance. My Virginia hotel was not as kind. They are charging me regardless because I did not cancel 24 hours in advance.  They didn't care that I had an accident.

On the bright side, there were no sparks and my car did not blow up with or without me in it.  This is just one of those things that happens and it could have been far worse.  I did enough crying and freaking out yesterday, I am going to try and remain calm.  I will get to Vermont, come Hell or high water.

UPDATE (10am EST):  The needed part was found in Knoxville and unless there is more extensive damage than they initially thought, my car will be ready tomorrow.  The insurance company is sending a rental car to let me use until the car is ready.  It means I'm stuck at the hotel until 4pm when they will deliver the car.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A New Day

Today is the first day of my new life.  I'm driving as far as Virginia today and have dinner with a friend at Virginia Tech, then I'll drive from there to Albany, New York, on Thursday.  I'll arrive in my new town on Friday and take possession of my new apartment.  The rest of this week is a transition but the new day has begun. 

Since this is a new beginning, I've been doing a lot of thinking about my blog title.  And while I have mulled over a number of suggestions, I've decided that at least for now, it will stay The Closet Professor.  As my friend of mine in marketing would say, it's my brand.  It is what people are familiar with and even though the web address wouldn't change, there would still be some ripple effect in changing it.  I chose The Closet Professor because I was a teacher and I was in the closet, but also because it gave the blog an LGBT qualifier in the name.  The LGBT part of the title is something that has always been very important to me, and I don't want to let that go. Even though I will no longer be teaching (though I'm still hoping I might be able to, at least some) and I will be out, The Closet Professor is a major part of who I am.  It's who I was and part of me will always be.  

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like today, October 7, 2015, is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's.

A new day has begun...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


by Warren Hanson

This is the Beginning…
This is where it all will start,
on the Wings of some new Spirit with the Beat of some new Heart.

Every morning brings a Promise,
Every day has Gifts to give,
But Today…right now…This Minute….
is when I begin to Live.
And the air that I am breathing is the breeze of what could be,
as I stand here looking out on all the things that could be Me.
And the road that goes before me, leading somewhere out of sight,
is a brand new Opportunity for me to get it Right.
This is the Beginning. This is
Once Upon a Time….
There are dragons to be vanquished! There are castle walls to climb!
But this story isn’t written yet.
I’m only at page One.
The Adventure that’s awaiting me has only just Begun.
There are Mysteries and Treasurers.
There are daring deeds to do!
And if I speak the secret word, then all my Wishes will come true.
That Magic Word has powers that can make the heavens spin.
But it really is not Secret that the password is……”Begin!”
Oh the possibilities is this Beginning I have made!
I am Ready!…. but reluctant.
I am Excited!…. but afraid.

Afraid that starting something New leaves something Old behind.
Afraid that what I seek is something I may Never find.
Or, if I Find it, that it won’t be what I want at all.
That what I’ve left Behind is what I needed after all.

Beginning can be bittersweet, and hard to comprehend.
It can mean that some sweet, precious part of life is at an End.
And the Heart can feel so Hollow when it has to say Good-bye
that the thought of starting Over is too Hard to even try.

But when I reach the End, when all my days are nearly through,
I will Not want to look back on all the things I Didn’t do.
Nor regret the Joys and Passions of the me that Might have been,
if only I had found the simple Courage to Begin.
So…….This is the Beginning….
My Beginning……..My Rebirth.
I Awaken to the Wonder of what I am Really worth.
It is a Springtime for the Spirit, and it’s Giving me a Choice.
So I choose to Use this season as a reason to Rejoice!

I lift my voice in Sweet thanksgiving, singing Loud….and not alone.
A host of Harmonies accompanies my song of the unknown.
Loving Friends and willing Strangers, with their voices joining in,
create a chorus of Encouragement that begs me to Begin.

And the end?…..
It’s out there, Somewhere, farther than the heart can see.
And the Power that will take me there is Here, inside of me.
Though there is no way I can know how many trials I’ll endure,
nor the Joys that I may find,
there is One thing I know for sure…..

This is the Beginning…….

Warren Hanson is a gifted writer of books for children and adults alike. It's amazing how closely it aligns with what I am feeling today. I'm putting the final touches on packing, loading my car, and telling people goodbye. I’m heading north tomorrow morning. As the poem says, “I am Ready!…. but reluctant. I am Excited!…. but afraid.” It's so true that “Beginning can be bittersweet, and hard to comprehend.” It can be a bit overwhelming at times. This is a new adventure and a new job far away from home. I don't know what the future will hold, but I look forward to getting settled and getting to work. This is the Beginning…….