Monday, January 31, 2022
Sunday, January 30, 2022
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.—2 Corinthians 4:17-18
The Indian writer and painter Rabindranath Tagore said, “The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.” Tagore was a persuasive advocate for Indian independence, though he did not live to see the 1947 milestone achieved. He devoted his years to benefiting future generations. As his quote implies, no legacy is more worthwhile than bettering the world for others.
Paul told the Corinthians the same thing in his second epistle to them. Paul tells them, “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” There are many things that we do that we will never realize the lasting effect they have on others. Maybe you provide an example for a young LGBTQ+ individual who sees you as a role model, and without knowing it, you provide them with a positive example of acceptance. You might give someone encouragement and tell them how much you appreciate the good job they did or how helpful they were. That can give someone a confidence that you may never see. All of you have probably planted a seed in someone’s mind that changed their life for the better, whether that was through showing someone acceptance or giving them confidence. That seed may grow into a mighty tree, but you may never see it or realize it.
The opposite can also be true. We also have to be careful with the legacy we leave behind. You may never know when you have said something to another person that it might effect them in a negative way. You may not have meant to, and if that’s the case, you may never know you did it. When I was a teenager, I worked hard to have perfect grades, to be involved in as many things academically as possible, and I was proud of my accomplishments. A lady once told my mother that I “sure was full of myself.” Meaning that I thought a lot of myself and implying that I was a braggart and conceited. When my mother told me that, I was devastated. I had only answered what the woman had asked me. It destroyed my confidence for a long time. If I “tooted my own horn” would others think badly of me. I felt as if I needed to downplay a lot about myself, and that led to me not being confident in my accomplishments. It took a long time for me to be confident again, and I’m still not always as confident as maybe I should be.
Under present social conditions, with the continuous increment in hate speech, be it targeted on grounds of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religion, we need to consider what we say before we say it. How will what we say effect others? People often speak very comfortably and impulsively without realizing if certain words or the way we use them have an inherent negative meaning attached to them. If such a case causes a miscommunication then it may lead to disastrous consequences. so, thinking before speaking is a necessity for people to be a better person.
Fran Lebowitz, known for her sardonic social commentary on American life, is quoted as saying, "Think before you speak...read before you speak.” The continuous negativity in speech has ended up subjecting humankind to a vicious toxic circle, one that cannot be done away with until we speak consciously and think before we speak. The writer William Arthur Ward said, "Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn...before you criticize, wait." While words have the miraculous power to heal, they also have the power to topple the world. Voltaire said, "Everything you say should be true, but not everything true should be said." We live and breathe in words. Sometimes words make us smile, sometimes they make us cry, sometimes they pierce through us to an extent that we never forget the hurt they caused. The Irish missionary and writer Amy Carmichael, gave this advice, "Let nothing be said about anyone unless it passes through the three sieves: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?"
Saturday, January 29, 2022
Friday, January 28, 2022
Thursday, January 27, 2022
If the guy above looks familiar to you, then you might be a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR). Bryce Eilenberg is a member of the Pit Crew, a group of male models who appear in various segments of RPDR. Bryce is a sexy redhead who loves cats, and he’s a straight ally (not gay as I originally posted). What’s not to like?
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
I don’t know who wrote this poem, though it’s been posted in several places on the internet, including the Vermont Country Store’s Facebook page. I initially saw it elsewhere on Facebook, and it made me laugh when I read it.
Monday, January 24, 2022
Sunday, January 23, 2022
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.—Matthew 7:13-14
When I was coming to terms with my sexuality, I thought about the above verses a lot. For LGBTQ+ individuals, accepting our sexuality is the narrow gate; going through the wide gate often leads to our destruction. The discrimination and bullying LGBTQ+ individuals often face in life often can lead to suicidal behavior. Policies and interventions that effectively reduce stigma and discrimination while strengthening support networks and community connectedness could help reduce the risk of suicide for LGBTQ+ adults and youth.
Although sharply divided, public attitudes toward gays and lesbians are rapidly changing to reflect greater acceptance, with younger generations leading the way. Acceptance of homosexuality in general also reflects the generational difference in opinion. In 2010, 26 percent of the people surveyed who were under 30 said they felt same-sex behavior is “always wrong,” while 63 percent of the people aged 70 and older held that opinion.
Those in the LGBTQ+ community know that the attitude towards our community is changing. The change toward acceptance of homosexuality began in the late 1980s after years of remaining relatively constant. In 1973, 70 percent of people felt same-sex relations are “always wrong,” and in 1987, 75 percent held that view. By 2000, however, that number dropped to 54 percent and by 2010 was down to 43.5 percent. People of my generation and older, and even today, people in more conservative areas of the country, know that lack of acceptance made many people deny their sexuality, which is harmful. Lack of acceptance and fear of the way we’d be treated if we came out, led many of us to stay in the closet for too many years.
Research shows that anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and victimization contribute to an increase in the risk of suicide, and LGBTQ+ people are at disproportionate risk of suicidal thoughts, planning, and attempts. A 2016 review of research found 17 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults had attempted suicide during their lifetime, compared with 2.4 percent of the general U.S. population. LGBQ people were 92 percent more likely to think about suicide, 75 percent more likely to plan suicide, and 88 percent more likely to actually attempt suicide that resulted in no or minor injury. The statistics for transgender individuals is even worse. For transgender individuals, 82 percent have seriously thought about suicide in their lifetimes, while 48 percent had done so in the past year. Even more devastating is that 40 percent of transgender individuals have attempted suicide at some point in their lifetimes, and 7 percent had attempted it in the past year.
Acceptance can go a long way in changing these statistics. That doesn’t mean just acceptance from non-LGBTQ+ people, but also accepting ourselves and our sexuality. LGBTQ+ people are a minority. At best, we make up about 10 percent of the population, though in surveys that number is usually lower. Our small section of the population that accept our sexuality put us automatically on the “narrow path.” But acceptance and journeying down that narrow path leads to much difficulty , but it also “leads to life.” Mark Twain once said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
In life, we are constantly faced with the narrow path and the wide path, it is up to us to chose which one we take. However, just remember that “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life,” Today, I want to leave you with one of y favorite poems which gives advice we should all heed.
The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
Saturday, January 22, 2022
Friday, January 21, 2022
I know this is not the type of picture you expect on this blog, but it’s one that been on my mind lately as I’ve worked on our new exhibit. This painting will not be in our exhibit, but it is one that I came across while doing research for our exhibit. The painting above is titled Gallery of the Louvre and was painted by Samuel F. B. Morse between 1831–33. Morse is better known today for his invention of the electromagnetic telegraph—and for "Morse" code—but he began his career as a painter and rose to the Presidency of the National Academy of Design in New York. Morse always wanted to be known as a great painter and never liked the fame he received for his invention. That could be because he got the idea from someone else, although the name escapes me at the moment.
The monumental Gallery of the Louvre (it measures 73.75 in. x 108 in.) is Morse’s masterwork. It is currently owned by the Terra Foundation for American Art as part of the Daniel J. Terra Collection. Gallery of the Louvre was Morse's ambitious effort to capture images of the Louvre's great paintings and transport them across the ocean and throughout the country, to the republic's young cities and villages, so that art and culture could grow there.
Morse was one of the major historical figures I researched while I was writing my (never completed) dissertation. While this is an unusual post for me, I have had such a great time delving into my old research again to prepare for this exhibit, and I wanted to share some of it. It’s been a lot of work, and I’ve been incredibly busy. So, if my posts are not exactly substantial for the next couple of weeks, it’s because my creative endeavors have been focused elsewhere, and considering that I’m not a very creative person, there isn’t much creativity to spare at the moment, but I’ll continue to do my best.
The people in Gallery of the Louvre are real people known to Morse, and the paintings within the painting are famous works from the Louvre. One of the people is Morse himself.
1) Samuel F. B. Morse
2) Titian’s Francis I, 1539
3) The American writer James Fenimore Cooper, his wife Susan, and their daughter also named Susan
4) American sculptor Horatio Greenough, who was probably most famous for the monstrosity that he sculpted of George Washington (which could be a whole other post in itself)
5) Richard West Habersham, a young American portraitist from Georgia, who was Morse’s roommate in Paris
6) Possibly a woman named Miss Joreter, who took lessons from Morse in the Louvre
7) Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Lisa Gherardini, known famously as the Mona Lisa
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
From Heaven I fall, though from earth I begin.
No lady alive can show such a skin.
I'm bright as an angel, and light as a feather,
But heavy and dark, when you squeeze me together.
Though candor and truth in my aspect I bear,
Yet many poor creatures I help to insnare.
Though so much of Heaven appears in my make,
The foulest impressions I easily take.
My parent and I produce one another,
The mother the daughter, the daughter the mother.
This is a poem/riddle by the satirist Jonathan Swift. I’m going to take a page from BosGuy’s Friday Brain Teaser, and so, I’m not going to post the title of this poem until later this afternoon. I’d like to see if you can figure out the title. BosGuy waits to approve the guesses in the comments until later, I’ve changed my comments, only for today, so that you can comment your answer. After the Pic of the Day posts, I will approve all of the comments for the riddle answers. Any other comments to other posts will be approved as soon as I see them. Don’t cheat and look up the poem. Instead, give it a real shot to see if you can guess the answer to the riddle.
Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland, on November 20, 1667, and spent his adult life alternately living in Ireland and England. A satirist known for his sharp wit and unforgiving criticism of politics, religion, and society, Swift is best known for his satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Though best known for his prose, Swift also wrote a number of poems in his lifetime, most of which were also humorous in tone and written under pseudonyms. Swift died in Dublin on October 19, 1745.
By the way, I think Swift would have had a field day with our previous defeated, loser, and twice-impeached president. Can you imagine? I’m sure it would have been good, at least for those who did not like the former president.
Monday, January 17, 2022
When the time comes for me to make the final decision about a new apartment, I only hope that Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
Sunday, January 16, 2022
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”—John 8:31-32
For LGBTQ+ Christian believers and non-believers alike, there is no promise more powerful than what Jesus said in John 8:32: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” When we come out, we live and know our truth and it sets us free to be our authentic selves. In the book The Rock That Is Higher, Madeleine L'Engle says, "If it's hard for us to accept our monsters and love them and free them to become the beautiful creatures they were meant to be, it's even harder for most of us to believe in the happy ending." Many in the LGBTQ+ community may have thought of their sexuality as a monster within them because they were told their sexuality or gender identification was wrong, but once we come out, we can embrace our true self and realize just what beautiful creatures we are. Yet, it is often hard for us to believe that we can experience a happy ending, but we can and will if we can accept ourselves and become comfortable in our own skin and in our own minds.
In her writing, L’Engle recognizes the universal human longings and considers how literature, Scripture, personal stories, and life experiences all point us toward our true home. In The Rock That Is Higher, she also wrote, “We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is.” As we grow up in a world where heterosexuality and gender conformity are considered “normal,” we do feel like we are strangers in a strange land. We long to be normal, and it’s sometimes hard to realize that what is normal is not heteronormative social conventions, but “normal” is being your authentic self. However, L’Engle writes that we get a glimpse of our true self, “…sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.” We have to learn to grasp onto and accept that sweet familiarity.
If we do this and accept ourselves for who we are, then it is an affirmation of God’s love and truth–an acknowledgment of our longing for a rock in the midst of life’s wilderness. Gay activist and former Jesuit priest Robert Goss wrote in his book Jesus Acted Up, "For queer Christians, the Bible is read intertextually with their own resistance to homophobic oppression. The truth of a particular text requires an interpretation that includes the social context of the text and the truth of their own queer lives.” Contrary to what many conservative Christians want us to believe, God will never forsake us. He is always there for us and wants us to be happy. Isaiah 54:10 says, “‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Nothing will ever stop God’s love for us.
If we accept ourselves and accept the infinite diversity of humanity, we can become closer to God. He accepts us the way we are, and if we slip up Jesus died on the cross for our sins and salvation. We will all make errors of judgment occasionally. Romans 3:21-26 says:
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
My mother used to sarcastically say about my father, “Only two perfect men have ever existed: your father and Jesus Christ.” This was usually said when my father claimed he was right, and she knew he was wrong. My earthly father is flawed, but my Heavenly Father is perfect. My father (and my mother, as well) hold grudges, but God will never hold a grudge against us, especially if we accept and live our truth, because “the truth shall set you free.” We should celebrate our freedom and live our truth.
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Friday, January 14, 2022
Thursday, January 13, 2022
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
The Fluffer Talks of Eternity
By D. A. Powell
I can only give you back what you imagine.
I am a soulless man. When I take you
into my mouth, it is not my mouth. It is
an unlit pit, an aperture opened just enough
in the pinhole camera to capture the shade.
I have caused you to rise up to me, and I
have watched as you rose and waned.
Our times together have been innumerable. Still,
like a Capistrano swallow, you come back.
You understand: I understand you. Understand
each jiggle and tug. Your pudgy, mercurial wad.
I am simply a hand inexhaustible as yours
could never be. You’re nevertheless prepared to shoot.
If I could I’d finish you. Be more than just your rag.
About the Poem and the Poet
I featured W. H. Auden’s “The Platonic Blow” a few weeks ago about a blowjob. Though much longer, D. A. Powell’s “The Fluffer Talks to Eternity” deals with the same sexual act, though I am not sure that in this poem it is not metaphorical. I once saw an independent film called The Fluffer about a film buff with a crush on a porn star who is straight, for whom he would end up working as a fluffer in gay porn. Just in case you don’t know, a fluffer is a person employed to keep a porn performer's penis erect on the set. “The Fluffer Talks to Eternity” was published in Poetry in February 2010 along with his poem “Pupil.”
Born in Albany, Georgia, D. A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Cocktails was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. His next two books were Chronic (2009), which won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (2012) won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry.
Powell is known for his syntactically inventive, longer eight- or ten-beat lines in poems that are often untitled. As a teacher at Sonoma State, he noticed that most of his students’ poems were written to fit the demands of the page. His experiments with his students in writing on unexpected surfaces (such as candlesticks or rolls of toilet paper) led to his own breakthrough in “subverting the page”: he turned a legal pad sideways and wrote the first poem for Tea. Powell explains that “by pulling the line longer, stretching it into a longer breath, I was giving a little bit more life to some people who had very short lives.”
Powell has also taught at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of San Francisco. He has been awarded the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Paul Engle Fellowship from the James Michener Foundation. His poems have been featured in the Norton anthology American Hybrid (2009) and Best American Poetry (2008).
D.A. Powell is openly gay, and often explores his sexuality and the body through his poetry. This exploration of the body is noted with some sadness if anyone knows anything about Powell himself. Powell is HIV positive, which is part of the reason why his first three books have been called “The AIDS Trilogy” because of their exploration of the cultural and individual impact of the disease. Too many critics and writers focus just on Powell’s identity as a gay man with AIDS. They spend so much time on that aspect of his life, and they miss the man’s soul seen through his poetry. Powell’s humor is one of the greatest appeals of his work. Despite the moments where Powell is lifting the small details of existence up for reflection, he takes the reader to another place, such as he does in “The Fluffer Talks of Eternity.”
The poem is a monologue of a man who “fluffs” men before a porn shoot. Powell is working in a voice spoken from a sensitivity of life, of its absurdity, or its all tiniest beauties. He is able to conjure sensations and imaginations that real poetry should do. Poetry sometimes should just shock us out of our comfort so that we can then reassess our reality and determine what it actually is. That is often the beauty of poetry.