Thursday, June 30, 2022
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
A Poem for Pulse
By Jameson Fitzpatrick
Last night, I went to a gay bar
with a man I love a little.
After dinner, we had a drink.
We sat in the far-back of the big backyard
and he asked, What will we do when this place closes?
I don't think it's going anywhere any time soon, I said,
though the crowd was slow for a Saturday,
and he said—Yes, but one day. Where will we go?
He walked me the half-block home
and kissed me goodnight on my stoop—
properly: not too quick, close enough
our stomachs pressed together
in a second sort of kiss.
I live next to a bar that's not a gay bar
—we just call those bars, I guess—
and because it is popular
and because I live on a busy street,
there are always people who aren't queer people
on the sidewalk on weekend nights.
Just people, I guess.
They were there last night.
As I kissed this man I was aware of them watching
and of myself wondering whether or not they were just.
But I didn't let myself feel scared, I kissed him
exactly as I wanted to, as I would have without an audience,
because I decided many years ago to refuse this fear—
an act of resistance. I left
the idea of hate out on the stoop and went inside,
to sleep, early and drunk and happy.
While I slept, a man went to a gay club
with two guns and killed forty-nine people.
Today in an interview, his father said he had been disturbed
recently by the sight of two men kissing.
What a strange power to be cursed with:
for the proof of men's desire to move men to violence.
What's a single kiss? I've had kisses
no one has ever known about, so many
kisses without consequence—
but there is a place you can't outrun,
whoever you are.
There will be a time when.
It might be a bullet, suddenly.
The sound of it. Many.
One man, two guns, fifty dead—
Two men kissing. Last night
I can't get away from, imagining it, them,
the people there to dance and laugh and drink,
who didn't believe they'd die, who couldn't have.
How else can you have a good time?
How else can you live?
There must have been two men kissing
for the first time last night, and for the last,
and two women, too, and two people who were neither.
Brown people, which cannot be a coincidence in this country
which is a racist country, which is gun country.
Today I'm thinking of the Bernie Boston photograph
Flower Power, of the Vietnam protestor placing carnations
in the rifles of the National Guard,
and wishing for a gesture as queer and simple.
The protester in the photo was gay, you know,
he went by Hibiscus and died of AIDS,
which I am also thinking about today because
(the government's response to) AIDS was a hate crime.
Now we have a president who names us,
the big and imperfectly lettered us, and here we are
getting kissed on stoops, getting married some of us,
some of us getting killed.
We must love one another whether or not we die.
Love can't block a bullet
but neither can it be shot down,
and love is, for the most part, what makes us—
in Orlando and in Brooklyn and in Kabul.
We will be everywhere, always;
there's nowhere else for us, or you, to go.
Anywhere you run in this world, love will be there to greet you.
Around any corner, there might be two men. Kissing.
I Woke Up
By Jameson Fitzpatrick
and it was political.
I made coffee and the coffee was political.
I took a shower and the water was.
I walked down the street in short shorts and a Bob Mizer tank top
and they were political, the walking and the shorts and the beefcake
silkscreen of the man posing in a G-string. I forgot my sunglasses
and later, on the train, that was political,
when I studied every handsome man in the car.
Who I thought was handsome was political.
I went to work at the university and everything was
very obviously political, the department and the institution.
All the cigarettes I smoked between classes were political,
where I threw them when I was through.
I was blond and it was political.
So was the difference between “blond” and “blonde.”
I had long hair and it was political. I shaved my head and it was.
That I didn’t know how to grieve when another person was killed in America
was political, and it was political when America killed another person,
who they were and what color and gender and who I am in relation.
I couldn’t think about it for too long without feeling a helplessness
like childhood. I was a child and it was political, being a boy
who was bad at it. I couldn’t catch and so the ball became political.
My mother read to me almost every night
and the conditions that enabled her to do so were political.
That my father’s money was new was political, that it was proving something.
Someone called me faggot and it was political.
I called myself a faggot and it was political.
How difficult my life felt relative to how difficult it was
was political. I thought I could become a writer
and it was political that I could imagine it.
I thought I was not a political poet and still
my imagination was political.
It had been, this whole time I was asleep.
About the Poet
Jameson Fitzpatrick is the author of Pricks in the Tapestry (Birds, LLC, 2020), and the chapbooks Mr. & (Indolent Books, 2018) and Morrisroe: Erasures (89plus/LUMA Publications, 2014). Fitzpatrick teaches at New York University.
Monday, June 27, 2022
- First, the roux is going to begin to smell nutty and eventually smell a bit like burned coffee, but don’t despair. It should smell that way to give the gumbo a dark, rich flavor.
- Second, I would use unsalted chicken stock to be able to control how much salt you want to use as the gumbo cooks.
- Third, I halved this recipe. I did not need six quarts of gumbo.
- Finally, suggest adding a pound of small or medium peeled and deveined shrimp at the end. You can either add cooked shrimp, or if you want to add the most flavor, add the raw shrimp and let them cook in the gumbo. They won’t take long to cook. If you want to forgo the chicken and use crab instead, then I’d suggest adding okra and making a seafood gumbo. I did not go this route because it seems impossible to get fresh okra in Vermont.
- 1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 red bell peppers, in medium dice
- 2 celery stalks, in medium dice
- 1 medium onion, in medium dice
- 1 ¼ gallon (20 cups) chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into ¼ inch-thick slices
- 3 ½ lb. chicken, roasted and boned
- hot sauce to taste
- boiled rice as accompaniment
- In a 12-quart stockpot melt butter over moderately low heat.
- Gradually add a third of the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add a third more flour and stir constantly, 30 seconds. Add remaining third of flour and stir constantly, 30 seconds. Continue to cook roux, stirring constantly, until it is the color of dark mahogany, about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Add bell peppers and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add onions and celery and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add the stock to roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
- Add all remaining ingredients except chicken, rice, and hot sauce and bring to boil. Simmer gumbo, uncovered, 45 minutes, skimming off any fat and stirring occasionally.
- Add chicken and simmer 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with hot sauce. Serve over rice.
- This recipe yields about 6 quarts, but gumbo freezes well and can be thawed without losing flavor.
Sunday, June 26, 2022
What Would Jesus Do?
He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.
Religion fanaticism fueled by hatred and hatred fueled by ignorance is destroying the United States. Fascist politicians are using hatred, just as they did in the 1920s and 1930s to further their power-hungry ambitions. All across the world, there are politicians who are either fighting against democracy or strengthening their existing authoritarian rule. Conservatives, whether Republican, Fascist, Nazi, etc., have used religious fanaticism to take away the rights of people. Religion was used to justify slavery, subjugate women, kill or imprison LGBTQ+ individuals, and any number of horrible inhumane actions.
For those who claim they are Christian and vote and support hatred-fueled religious fanaticism, they do not follow the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught love, hope, charity, mercy, and acceptance. In John 4:3–39, Jesus was headed to Galilee from Judea. This was early in His ministry. He stopped to rest and refresh Himself at a well in Samaria during one of His journeys. A woman came to the well to draw water, and the Savior engaged her in conversation. She was astonished that He would speak with her, “for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” But He overlooked the traditions that devalued her in others’ eyes. He taught her about the living water of the gospel, and He testified to her, “I who speak to you am [the Messiah].”
Jesus did not teach hatred and discrimination like many modern Christians. Instead, he taught acceptance. There are two remarkable stories showing how Jesus cared for all types of people. The religious fanatics of his time called the Pharisees were offended because in their view God loved only the righteous who kept the law as they interpreted them. They, therefore, distanced themselves from so-called 'unclean' sinners in their delusions of self-righteousness. But Jesus was often eating and drinking with those the Pharisees deemed disreputable sinners. He met people where they were and healed them. He protected those who committed adultery and prostitutes. Jesus proclaimed that both law-keepers and law-breakers are sinners in need of forgiveness. In John 8:7, Jesus told the Pharisees who wanted to stone a woman to death for committing adultery, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” In Matthew 7:1-3, Jesus warned, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”
A day of reckoning will come for those who use the name of God to further their hatred and claim that they do so in Jesus’s name. We can start by going to the polls in November and voting out the hypocrites and modern-day Pharisees. We need to vote in such great numbers that we make the elections of 1932 a minor Democratic victory. For anyone who is not familiar with the 1932 elections, Democratic New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Republican incumbent president Herbert Hoover in a landslide, with Hoover winning only six Northeastern states. In addition to Hoover's defeat, the Republicans also suffered crushing defeats in both congressional chambers: they lost 101 seats in the House of Representatives, with the Democrats expanding their House majority to a supermajority (a gain of 97 seats), and also lost twelve seats in the Senate, giving Democrats a total of 58 out of 96 seats in the Senate (Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states). The other Senator, Henrik Shipstead of Minnesota, was a member of the Farmer-Labor Party before switching back to being a Republican in 1940. (He’d been a Republican prior to 1923.) This landslide election was the last time that an incumbent president lost re-election and his party lost control of both chambers of Congress in a single term until 2020.
If we don’t keep a majority in the House and gain at least 2 seats in the Senate (to counteract Manchin and Sinema) and do away with the filibuster, hate has won. Furthermore, we must expand the Supreme Court and institute ethics reforms in the federal government including SCOTUS. If you live in a state with a Republican majority, work as hard as you can to change that. We have to have election reforms and protections. We need stronger and sensible gun laws. We need meaningful reforms to healthcare and student loans. Most importantly we must preserve equality in the United States. We can no longer allow religious fanatics to have sway in this country. Republicans have pushed for overturning Roe v. Wade, and now they’ve done it. This will only empower conservatives and religious fanatics to push forward with taking away marriage equality, access to birth control, the right to privacy, and due process. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the justices “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell” — referring to three cases having to do with Americans’ fundamental privacy, due process, and equal protection rights. Anyone who did not see this coming with the overturning or Roe was incredibly naïve. I beg of you not only to vote but encourage all those who are sympathetic to equality to also vote. If someone needs a ride to the polls, give it to them. If someone is not registered to vote, get them registered.
I don’t think that the majority of people who claim to be Christian would follow Jesus if the Second Coming happened today. They set aside all of their values and beliefs to elect Donald Trump. They sold their souls to make sure that Roe was overturned. Now, we must come out fighting (peacefully, of course). Vote! Vote! Vote! Let’s take back our country and make it a country in which we can be proud to live.
Prayer for Pride 🙏🏻🏳️🌈
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”1
I love Pride because it shows the diversity of our communities. Different skin colors, different body types, different genders (and even more gender expressions!) From promiscuous to monogamous married couples, from kinky to vanilla, and everything in between. The LGBTQ+ community is varied and beautiful, and that’s what makes us such a fabulous community.
Recently, I received an email form Queer Theology which shared a wonderful prayer for Pride. I have adapted it a little to fit my situation better, and I encourage you to do the same. (My edits with notes are in parentheses.) So, I give you a Prayer for Pride:
There was a time when I prayed asking you to help me become straight. Thank you for ignoring that prayer. Or rather, for answering it differently than I expected:
“I will help you become more fully you.”
Thank you for the gift of queerness, for the liberation it has sparked in my own life (and in the lives of my family2).
Thank you for this body and for the courage to explore all the ways I can use it to make myself and others feel good, connected, healed, whole. (And let’s not forget sexy and desired.3)
Though my journey here has not been easy, I am grateful for it. Let the shame I felt with my body, with my desires, with my love, with myself, be a reminder to do everything I can to not contribute to another’s shame but to instead support them in their own self-love and self- determination.
I pray for those still living with shame, help them to shake it off; and embolden me to work to create a world which breeds pride, not shame.
I pray for those who, knowingly and unknowingly, fed my own shame. May they have everything they need in their lives and if they seek forgiveness, help them to know that they are forgiven.
And I pray for those in the in-between spaces--myself included, if I’m honest--give us strength to continue the journey, to lean into the tender places, to do the work, and to celebrate the victories.
Thank you for the victories. Though the Kingdom of Heaven is still not fully realized on earth, let us be glad in all the ways in which it is alive and present, here, and now.
In Christ’s name we pray,
1. One of my greatest pet peeves is when people make a huge deal about praying in public. My sister’s in-laws always insisted on holding hands and praying when at a restaurant. And often, when people pray in church, they drone on and on. A simple prayer is always best, and in my opinion, it is much better to pray alone and in private. Prayer should be between you and God. It need not be with anyone else.
2. I hope that it has made positive changes in your family. Mine is still a work in progress.
3. This one I leave up to you.
I had planned on only posting the "Prayer for Pride" but with the SCOTUS news on Friday, I wanted to say more.
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Friday, June 24, 2022
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
By Elsa Gidlow - 1898-1986
I shall never have any fear of love,
Not of its depth nor its uttermost height,
Its exquisite pain and its terrible delight.
I shall never have any fear of love.
I shall never hesitate to go down
Into the fastness of its abyss
Nor shrink from the cruelty of its awful kiss.
I shall never have any fear of love.
Never shall I dread love’s strength
Nor any pain it might give.
Through all the years I may live
I shall never have any fear of love.
I shall never draw back from love
Through fear of its vast pain
But build joy of it and count it again.
I shall never have any fear of love.
I shall never tremble nor flinch
From love’s moulding touch:
I have loved too terribly and too much
Ever to have any fear of love.
About the Poem
Today’s poem is by the early 20th century poet Elsa Gidlow, who famously came out as a lesbian in her autobiography. “I, Lover” originally appeared in On a Grey Thread (Will Ransom, 1923). In this poem, we see the speaker acknowledge the risk of love. But we also see her courage to commit to risking her heart again and again, no matter what the consequences. While it is a lesbian poem, I think it is universal for all LGBTQ+ love. It is an inspirational poem about not fearing who we love and shows Gidlow’s openness with her sexuality. I think it is a goal of all of us to “never have any fear of love.”
If you read “I, Lover” aloud, as poems are meant to be read, it would not work unless you started with the words, I, lover. It converts a shout into the void into a personal promise. A beloved is swearing fealty to love, to enter into a relationship unafraid of stinging reprisals of heartbreak. It is a weighty vow we are witnessing, and as we recite it, we become part of it.
About the Poet
Portrait of Elsa Gidlow, circa 1970s.
(GLBT Historical Society)
Elsa Gidlow, known to many as the "poet-warrior," was unabashedly visible as an independent woman, a lesbian, a writer, and a bohemian-anarchist at a time when such visibility was both unusual and potentially dangerous. Gidlow was born on December 29, 1898, in Yorkshire, England. She was the eldest of seven children and immigrated with her family to a town near Montreal when she was six. Gidlow grew up in poverty and was largely self-educated. Throughout her career, despite often surviving on a meager income, she would struggle to support her family, including three siblings who suffered with mental illness, while maintaining her commitment to writing.
In 1920, after spending some time in Montreal’s art circles, Gidlow moved to Manhattan. Gidlow began her career as a freelance journalist and co-published the first North American newspaper that openly celebrated and discussed LGBTQ+ lives and issues within the community. After moving to Manhattan in the 1920s, she became poetry editor at Pearson’s Magazine. Six years later, she moved to San Francisco, where she befriended several poets, as well as the journalists and activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin—the first gay couple to be legally wed in California.
In the early 1950s, Gidlow was investigated as a suspected Communist, though she identified as an anarchist, and was forced to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). At the time, Gidlow lived openly in a relationship with Isabel Grenfell Quallo, a biracial woman. Her cohabiting in an interracial, lesbian relationship may have provoked the investigation as much as her politics. Indeed, when she was questioned by the HUAC, she had nothing good to say about Communism, since her own political sympathies lay with the anarchists, who considered Marxism just another oppressive ideology.
Gidlow published around a dozen books of poetry and prose, some of which were self-published and released with a limited number of copies. Many of her works are currently out of print. Her poetry book, On a Grey Thread is, historians believe, the first collection of openly lesbian love poetry published in North America. Her autobiography, Elsa: I Come With My Songs (Booklegger Press, 1986), was the first lesbian autobiography not published under a pseudonym.
In 1954, Gidlow purchased a ranch at Muir Woods, north of San Francisco, called Druid Heights, which she used both as her personal residence and as a retreat for artists, bohemians, and feminists. Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder were among the ranch’s various famous guests and residents. In 1962, Gidlow co-founded, with British philosopher and writer Alan Watts, the Society of Comparative Philosophy. In 1977, she appeared in Peter Adair’s 1977 documentary Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives, which featured LGBTQ+ individuals from a range of classes, ethnicities, and professional backgrounds.
Gidlow died at home on June 8, 1986. Her ashes are interred near the Moon Temple at Druid Heights.
Monday, June 20, 2022
Sunday, June 19, 2022
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
As much as my father and I have argued, I wish he had known this verse better. He used to provoke me to anger (wrath) constantly, and often, he still does. I know there are at least a few dads out there who read my blog, maybe even two gay dads out there raising a son(s) and/or daughter(s), and I want to wish you a very Happy Father's Day and tell you a little about my father. Just like mothers, fathers can drive us crazy. Most of us may not have been as close to our fathers as maybe we should have been or should be, but all of us have a father somewhere.
We are very different in so many ways. He is very outdoorsy: he hunts, fishes, and constantly works outdoors. I was always a bookworm, who liked books better than sports. I’ve learned to like the outdoors: I walk nature trails, I like to hike, and I even like to fish occasionally. Whereas my father worked outside all his life, I prefer to work inside, research, writing, teaching, etc. There are a lot of other differences as well. We can generally have a conversation for about 15-20 minutes before we get into some type of argument. My father has never felt I was right about anything. I can be agreeing with him, and he will argue with me for agreeing with him. No matter what I say, he will say the opposite. One example is that I once made a remark about a house being painted white (it used to be gray), he argued with me that the house was painted gray, just a lighter shade. Everyone else I know says the house is white, but he still says that it is gray. Once, he even told me I was a very unpleasant person to be around. It's odd because as far as I know, he's the only person I know who feels that way. It’s that sort of thing that drives me crazy. Needless to say, we barely get along. I love him nonetheless, I just don’t like him sometimes. He can be very cruel and frustrating.
To switch gears a little bit, I want to tell you also how great my father can be, without me even knowing it. This is part of the reason that I forgive so much of the misery he causes me. When my parents found out I was gay, it was a very traumatic experience for all concerned. My mother had suspected for quite a while and was being very nosy. She checked my email. She didn’t like some of the emails that she saw. Most of them, if not all, were fairly innocent, but there were some like an ad from Showtime about “Queer as Folk” and maybe another one from gay.com (back when that was a thing). I was over at my grandmother’s checking on her, when my mother called me and confronted me about it. I was tired of denying it. All of my friends knew, so why shouldn’t she. I knew she wouldn’t like it. She had confronted me several years before about it, and I denied it then. I wasn’t ready, and to make sure that I never was, my mother told me, “If you would rather have a dick up my ass, then be part of this family, then leave. We will have nothing more to do with you.” When this time came around, we got into a huge argument. I yelled, she yelled, and I left. I was still dependent on them for some things, but I could live without them. My mother went to bed and cried for the next two weeks. By the way, this all happened two days before Christmas, while I was home on Christmas break. My mother did get up and do the family things the holiday required, and I did go back after a lot of begging from my sister, who knew nothing about what was going on. But, my mother was very cold toward me the whole time. When my father got home, he asked my mother what was wrong with her. She told him. She tells him everything. This was one of the times when he sided with me.
He told my mother, that I was their child. She could not stop loving me, just because she did not agree with my lifestyle. He would continue to love me, and she would have to do the same. No matter what his children did, they would still love them (it may have helped that my sister married a complete and total jackass, who doesn’t physically abuse her but abuses her mentally). Then he came and talked with me. He told me that he didn’t care what I told my mother, but to tell her something or she would die in that bed there (you don’t know my mother, but she would have). Then he told me what surprised me the most, “I should have taught you how to fight the urges. I am sorry that I failed you.” It is the only time my father ever apologized to me for anything. I never asked about the urges, but I am pretty sure I know what he was talking about. He knew exactly how I felt. He had been there himself, but he had chosen a different path. Maybe that is why they still believe it is a choice. But I see the misery in him almost every day. I went to my parents and told them both that I was celibate and would remain that way, and I had never acted on my sexuality (yes it was a lie, but it was one I think was for the better, even though I hate lying more than anything). They made me promise that I would not tell anyone else in the family, and I have agreed to that, though I recently told my niece when she came out as transgender. Our family has become a “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t discuss” zone. It is not my preference but it is what I must deal with for the time being. If I ever find a man to live my life with, I will deal with the other consequences then. I don’t think I could hide from my family the love of my life (if he ever comes along). My mother continues to be the queen of denial and believes I will find the right girl and get married someday, but she seems to be beginning to crack. I think being away from them during the whole of the pandemic has made her see what it would be like if she loses me because of her own backward hatred.
They still consider my being gay a lifestyle choice, but I never will. I would have never chosen this myself. I am glad I live in an area where I can be out and be myself. Twelve hundred miles makes a difference.
Some of you may have read this post before. I not only used it for my Father's Day post for the last three years, with a few modifications, but I plan to use it each Father's Day (though I haven’t always remembered to do so) for as long as this blog is published.