Sunday, July 31, 2011

Michael Brown stupidly claims Southern Poverty Law Center is the real hate group

Michael Brown, author of the hateful and grotesque A Queer Thing Happened to America, claims that SPLC is being oh so mean to Focus on the Family and the American Family Association.

I recently had the unfortunate experience of having an online discussion with Michael Brown.  I confronted him about the inclusion of a chapter on pedophilia in his book.  He claimed that he wasn't trying to associate pedophilia with homosexuality in the minds' of his readers.  He says he just wanted to point out that the arguments for the acceptance of homosexuality and pedophilia are the same, and both equally invalid.  (He gave a list of what he claimed were points of similarity between the arguments for homosexual and pedophilia acceptance, and he conveniently left out significant differences.)  When I pointed out that the inclusion of this chapter was suspicious given his wholehearted support of those who claim there is a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, and that his argument was an invalid straw man argument and you could just as easily compare the advocacy of Christianity with the advocacy of pedophilia, he suggested I was too dumb to understand his reasoning and that I was attacking him and if I didn't stop, he would kick me off of his discussion board. 

Read his dishonest Christianist drivel regarding his claim that the SPLC is hateful here.

Trial of teen charged with killing gay classmate grows heated

Read the article at The Los Angeles Times.

McInerney's team is going full speed ahead with the "gay panic defense." It seems they would have us believe Larry King is responsible for his own murder because he was gay and supposedly flirty and little Brandon just didn't know how to handle it, and that's why he shot Larry in the head.

New Details On Cult Leader Who Killed Woman & 4-Yr-Old He Thought Was Gay

5th Victim in Pastor's Gay Scandal Case

Holy Spirit or Demonic Possession?

Looks like some rough and sweaty man sex is about to take place

Santorum: New York has destroyed marriage.

Pretty hard

Excerpt from RELIGION GONE BAD by Mel White

“In the fall of 1994, when ‘Strangers at the Gate’ was published, I began a tour of the country to promote my autobiography and to tell the story of my own gradual realization that God created me a gay man and loves me exactly as I am. On my first stop at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, I finished my presentation, fielded questions from the audience, and was about to be escorted to a reception by the host committee when I passed a first-year student standing by the stage door with tears in her eyes. I excused myself from my student guide, walked up to the young freshman, and asked quietly, ‘Are you all right?’ Unable to speak, she just looked up at me and whispered, ‘No.’ Then, after a pause, she shared her fears with one simple question. ‘How do you know for sure that God loves you, too?’

“For the past fifteen years, I have been asked that question by lesbian and gay people who approach me cautiously, their eyes turned downward, their voices low. With their dignity and self-esteem battered by religion, they whisper the question, afraid to even say it aloud. They have been so abused by false teachings, so overwhelmed by the false rhetoric, so terrified by the promise of eternal damnation that accepting their sexual orientation as a gift from God seems almost incomprehensible.

“Their question can’t be answered by a review of the latest scientific, psychological, historical, personal, or even biblical data. That comes later. These are victims of fundamentalist Christianity. They grew up singing, ‘Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.’ Now, to make it simple, they’re afraid Jesus doesn’t love them anymore. The only way to answer their question is to help them see Jesus in a new light.

“Fundamentalist Christians have emasculated Jesus. They have broken his new covenant of love and grace and tacked up in its place the old covenant of law and order. They aren’t singing about ‘the love that will not let me go.’ Instead, they are chanting verses from Leviticus and looking for someone to punish. They are obsessed with Jesus’ death on the cross and overlook his life and teachings almost entirely. All too often, they forget that he was flesh and blood and lived among us. He showed us that God knows our failures and loves us anyway. Therefore, the best way to answer that young lesbian’s question--‘How can you be sure that God loves you, too?’--is to let Jesus speak for himself.

“When a Pharisee asked Jesus which of their 613 laws was ‘the great commandment,’ Jesus answered, ‘Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as you would yourself.’ On the night he died, Jesus boiled it down to what he called a ‘new commandment.’ ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ It wasn’t new at all. He just wanted to be sure his slow-witted disciples (then and now) would remember that love was at the very heart of his life and ministry.

“It is almost incomprehensible that the followers of Jesus--entrusted with the task of bringing a new kind of love into the world--have instead caused so many people to ask ‘How can I be sure God loves me, too?’ Instead of feeling love from their Christian families and their Christian churches, they are treated as outcasts. Fortunately, the story of Jesus assures us that God loves outcasts best.

“You don’t have to be gay or lesbian to feel like an outcast. Fundamentalist Christians have made people outcast by the color of their skin, by their race and religion, by their sex, their sexual orientation, and their gender identity. When I was a child my home church made outcasts out of smokers, drinkers, dancers, rock-and-roll listeners, moviegoers, television watchers, longhairs, hippies, divorcees, unmarried bachelors and spinsters, Roman Catholics, liberal Protestants, pagans, atheists, and agnostics. Even those families who missed church by spending an occasional weekend at their mountain cabin were made to feel like outcasts when they returned the following Sunday.

“Fundamentalists of the twenty-first century are the equivalent of the first-century Pharisees, who knew the law by heart but had forgotten that love is the heart of the law. From the very first sermon he preached, Jesus condemned the Pharisees as he would contemporary fundamentalist Christians for their success at legalism and their failure to love. From the beginning, he ignored all the fundamentalists’ precious rules and it drove them crazy.

“‘You eat food that is not pure,’ they charged him. ‘It’s not what enters into the mouth which defiles a person,’ Jesus replied, ‘but that which comes out of it.’

“‘You disregard the traditions of the elders,’ they accused. ‘For the sake of your tradition,’ Jesus answered, ‘you have rendered useless the word of God.’

“‘You disobey God’s law,’ they warned. ‘And you honor God with your lips,’ he said, ‘but your hearts are far from him.’

“If a fundamentalist in your life makes you feel like an outcast, tell him or her to read Jesus’ story again from the top.

“I think God was trying to make a point when Jesus was born by human standards an ‘illegitimate’ baby, delivered without a doctor or midwife to an unwed teenage mother, not in a mansion, but in a barn, wrapped in rags and placed in a hayloft surrounded by bleating animals and the stench of urine and manure.

“I think God was trying to make a point when Jesus was born a person of color, to a conquered people in a backwater, third-world nation; that he was adopted and knew from infancy what it meant to be poor and homeless, an illegal alien, a war refugee living with other refugees in an Egyptian refugee camp.

“I think God was trying to make a point when at twelve years old Jesus was headstrong and disobedient, already arguing with the male elders; that he was baptized in a muddy little river by a renegade who wore leather; that he was an apprentice to his father’s carpentry shop with no official record that he ever graduated high school, let alone college; that he studied theology in the desert, where he argued not with esteemed professors from many different academic fields but with the devil himself.

“I think God was trying to make a point when Jesus’ first miracle was changing water into wine at a wedding party after the guests had finished off their hosts supply. The evening was young. This was a celebration of eros at work in the lives of two young people, and God was there in the midst of this sensual, joyous occasion and didn’t want the party to end.

“I think God was trying to make a point when Jesus didn’t choose one clergy-type to be his disciple; that he was known for the bad company he kept: Jews who collected taxes for the Romans, women of ill-repute, foreigners, half-breeds, children; and that Jesus had one special friend among the disciples, the one they say he ‘loved,’ who after supper lay against Jesus’ chest and that the one Jesus loved was the only disciple at the foot of the cross when he died.

“I think God was trying to make a point when Jesus would not conform to religious norms but confronted Pharisees and the other religious fundamentalists on a regular basis with very tough language: ‘fools and blind,’ ‘hypocrites,’ ‘serpents and vipers,’ ‘clean bowls on the outside filled with extortion and excess,’ ‘magnificent looking graves filled with dead men’s bones.’

“I think God was trying to make a point when Jesus, though innocent, was tried, convicted, and put to death by officials from both church and state for demanding justice and mercy instead of business as usual; that Jesus was condemned by the crowd, tortured by sneering soldiers, executed between two felons, and buried in a borrowed tomb; that one of the twelve betrayed him and the others slept through his agony, then denied and deserted him; that on the cross Jesus felt abandoned even by his Creator when he cried out, ‘Father, why have you also forsaken me?’

“What is the point? If there’s any one message the Bible delivers, it is the message that God loves outcasts and that Jesus was born into the world an outcast to rescue and renew outcasts from religion gone bad. He was born poor and died poor, yet the legacy of love that he left us, the legacy of inclusion and acceptance and understanding, will endure forever.

“If you’re still not convinced, look closely at the miracle stories. Jesus’ love for the outcast leper caused him to hug the ‘untouchable’ even before healing him. Jesus’ love the for the outcast Samaritan caused him to share a drink of water with a woman despised even before he sent her on her way rejoicing. Jesus’ love for the woman with the flow of blood considered ‘unclean’ by the religious leaders…Jesus’ love for the outcast prostitute caught in the act of adultery…Jesus’ love for the man considered sinful since he was blind from birth…Jesus’ love for the lunatic rejected by his family living in a graveyard…Jesus’ love of the widow whose child lay dead at his feet…Jesus’ love for his friend Lazarus…Jesus’ love for every outcast that crossed his path. What will it take to help lesbian and gay people realize that they, too, are loved unconditionally and that the fundamentalists are the ones who should be asking the question ‘How can I be sure God loves me, too?’

“Needless to say, my favorite miracle is the healing of the outcast Roman centurion’s ‘special servant.’ It is well known that the wives and lovers of Roman centurions were allowed to accompany them on their journeys. A Gentile and a member of the occupying force, the centurion was an outcast in Jerusalem, and his ‘special servant,’ almost certainly gay, was an outcast for a whole other set of reasons, yet when the centurion cried out to Jesus to heal his young lover, Jesus said, ‘Right. Take me to him.’ The centurion, knowing that the pictures on the desk might give them away, responded, ‘Could you heal him long distance?’

“Jesus must have smiled to himself knowing that the centurion and his lover had no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed. He knew why they hid their loving relationship from the local religious authorities and the gossips on the street, but they had no reason to hide their relationship from God, who created them and loved them exactly as they were. Instead of taking that risk, Jesus healed the outcast lover on the spot. I wish I could have witnessed that moment when Jesus looked into the eyes of the centurion and without a word passing between them said, ‘Now, friend, let your own guilt and fear be healed as well.’

“Love is God’s gift demonstrated by Jesus in an unloving world. When that legacy of love is discovered by the young lesbian at Texas A&M who had been brainwashed by her Baptist church and rejected by her Christian parents, she will never need to ask the question again ‘How do I know that God loves me, too?’ Because God proved through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that God loves outcasts best. When you stand with the outcasts, you stand with Jesus, and when you despise the outcast, you despise Jesus as well.

“Once you realize that you are loved, that the fundamentalist Christians are entirely wrong about you, that you are not ‘sick’ or ‘sinful’ but in fact a child of the Creator who loves you exactly as you are, then (and only then) can you start putting that love into action on behalf of other outcasts who still feel unloved. Becoming an activist is simply a matter of putting love into action. For activists, love is something you do, not something you just talk about, and that’s when the fun begins.”

Religion Gone Bad by Mel White at Amazon

Review of Judy Shepard's The Meaning of Matthew

by Gary Cottle

I can’t recall exactly when I became aware of the brutal attack on Matthew Shepard.  It must have been pretty soon after the story caught on with the media because I can remember seeing a spokesperson on TV from the hospital where Matthew was being treated for severe head injuries giving updates regarding his condition.  I related to Matthew’s story immediately.  He was gay, and, like me, he was from a rural state.  He also chose to continue to live in that state once he became an adult and to go to college there.  I was from West Virginia, and I went to WVU.  A year before he was attacked I had underwent head surgery to have a brain tumor removed.  I was keenly aware of how any kind of trauma to the head could change your life.  I had been cut open by highly trained professionals under general anesthesia, and yet I had to live with pain, facial paralysis, and serious balance and hearing impairments, so I cringed all the more at the idea of being repeatedly struck in the head with the butt of a gun while fully conscious.  And I worried what kind of hell would be in store for Matthew if by some miracle he should happen to live.  But of course he didn’t live.  Several days after he was attacked, Matthew Shepard escaped the clutches of this world, and I hope that he now resides in one free of hate.  

I followed the story closely, so I’ve been aware of certain facts for some time.  I knew that Matthew’s father was in the oil business.  I knew that Dennis Shepard worked in Saudi Arabia.  I knew that Matthew went to high school in Switzerland.  I knew that, while still in high school, he was gang raped when he and several classmates visited Morocco.  I knew his rapists stole his shoes after they had taken their turns violating him.  I knew that, oddly enough, his murderers also stole his shoes the night they assaulted him.  I knew that his murderers, two young men close to Matthew’s age, picked Matthew up in a bar in the college town of Laramie, Wyoming.  I had heard the details of that night laid out may times.  Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney pretended that they were gay, convinced Matthew to leave the bar with them, persuaded him to get into McKinney’s pickup, and then they drove him to a secluded spot, robbed him, and then McKinney became violently abusive.  After Henderson tied Matthew to a fence, McKinney struck Matthew in the head several times with the butt of a gun, and then the two young men left him there to die alone.  Matthew was out there for 19 hours before someone spotted him.  By that time he was in a deep coma from which he never awoke.  His face was covered in blood except for tear tracks under his eyes.  These details have been seared into my brain.

I was taken aback when I saw pictures of Matthew taken before the attack.  He looked like such a sweet and unassuming young man.  I could not imagine why anyone would want to hurt him.  Then I heard how small he was – just 5'2" and not much more than 100 pounds.  Since he had been tied to a fence and left to die, images of Christ sprung to mind.  His face was angelic, and he seemed to have taken on the sins of the society in which he lived without complaint.  It was hard for me not to view him as a martyr.  But Judy Shepard, his mother and author of The Meaning of Matthew, insists that we should not see her son in this light.  According to her, the tragedy of his death does not lie in the fact that a perfect young man was murdered.  She reminds us that Matthew was a flawed human being just like the rest of us but that he was deserving of respect, and he should have been able to live his life without fear of violence.  What happened to him should not happen to anyone, no matter how imperfect they are.  Mrs. Shepard makes a good point.  But I think there’s a part of me that will always see an angel when I run across a picture of Matthew’s pretty face.

Judy Shepard writes of Matthew’s childhood and how she and her family have struggled to come to terms with what happened to him in a straightforward, no nonsense style.  And she does not offer much in the way of intellectual speculation as to why her son was gay or why anyone would hate him.  But the lack of flourish in Mrs. Shepard’s book serves her message well.  She comes across as honest, her words deeply felt and sincere.

I knew the Shepards were from Wyoming, but since Dennis Shepard worked in Saudi Arabia and Matthew attended high school in Europe, I got the impression that this was a well-heeled, globetrotting family.  But Mrs. Shepard lets us know that Matthew spent most of his life in the small town of Casper, Wyoming.  Mr. Shepard didn’t get the job overseas until Matthew was in his mid teens.  So Matthew was a small town boy who had been given a few opportunities that broadened his horizons.  Following his high school career, he returned to the States and lived in the south for a while.  Then he returned to Casper before deciding to move to Denver.  And finally he chose to attend college in Laramie.

Mrs. Shepard suspected her son was gay when he was still very young.  But she kept her thoughts to herself, and she admits to hoping that she was wrong.  She writes of how Matthew called her early one morning while she was in Saudi Arabia and broke the news to her.  Mrs. Shepard responded by asking Matthew why it took him so long to tell her.  He asked her how she knew before he did.  After Matthew’s death, others asked her when she figured it out.  She once claimed that it was when Matthew dressed up as Dolly Parton for Halloween two years in a row.  Some have criticized her comments and claim she was advancing a stereotype.  Mrs. Shepard admits that this answer was pat and that she can’t really pinpoint an exact time when she started to suspect.  But I personally have no problem with her comment.  Of course lots of people like Dolly Parton – gay and straight, as well as young and old – but I’m sure that Mrs. Shepard sensed that Matthew was relating to Dolly in a way that many little boys wouldn’t.  And there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging this.  As strange as it may seem, many gay men are fascinated and drawn to certain female celebrities, such as Dolly Parton.  And this interest often starts in childhood even though gay boys generally grow up in isolation from one another, so it's not merely a matter of being socialized into the gay subculture.

The transition from childhood to adult freedoms and responsibilities can be difficult for many young people.  Nevertheless, Matthew had done well in high school, despite having ADD.  And he was a social success.  Matthew was not shy at all, and he had no fear of going up to strangers and starting conversations.  He made friends easily.  But it seems the rape got to Matthew.  He tried to attend college right after graduating, but he soon dropped out.  And he had serious problems with depression and post traumatic stress.  Mrs. Shepard claims that Matthew did not take his medications as prescribed and that he often drank too much.  Relatives visited him in Denver and found him living in a dirty, disheveled apartment, and it seems he had begun to neglect his personal hygiene, too.  Matthew admitted that days would sometimes go by when he would not leave the apartment or talk to anyone.  The boy seemed to want to move forward, but he couldn’t get any traction.  When he decided to attend college in Laramie, his family thought he was at last on the road to recovery.  But then an odd thing happened that made everyone worry about his mental health.  The Shepards came back to the States for a vacation with their sons, and while on the road, they rented out a couple of motel rooms.  Mr. and Mrs. Shepard slept in one, and Matthew and his brother slept in another.  But when the Shepards went to their sons’ room the next morning, Matthew wasn’t there.  They’re younger son informed them that he was at the police station.  Turns out Matthew was so restless he was unable to simply pass the night in that room with his brother.  Instead he went out to a bar, and he ended up leaving the bar with a heterosexual couple and the bartender.  The group went to a remote location, got out, and when the couple started kissing, Matthew tried to get the bartender to go with him to the other side of the vehicle.  Matthew later claimed he only wanted to give the couple some privacy, but the bartender thought Matthew was making a pass, so he punched Matthew.  Apparently he hit the boy hard enough to knock him out for a few seconds, and this somehow triggered a flashback to Matthew’s gang rape in Morocco.  When he came to, he thought he had been raped again.  Later when he got back to the motel room, he was still very upset, still convinced that he had been raped.  He even called the police and told them that he had been raped.  It turned out that he hadn’t, and his family was understandably perplexed by his behavior.  Why couldn’t he just spend the night with his brother?  Why did he insist on drinking so much?  Why did he insist on going out with strangers?  Why would he think he had been raped when he hadn’t?

Since Matthew had such a vivid flashback of what happened to him in Morocco over three years before, and since it was so overwhelming that he was unable to reality test it for several hours, I have a strong suspicion that Matthew was very seriously ill.  I think he was much too ill to be living alone.  Of course I don’t fault the Shepards for going back to Saudi Arabia after this incident.  They had their own lives to lead, and Matthew was nearly twenty-two at this point.  But I think it’s a shame that he was left to his own devices, a young man who had been having trouble for years.  He sometimes couldn’t manage to shower regularly or take his medications daily.  He was experiencing flashbacks that, at least on one occasion, morphed into a delusion.  And he was self-medicating with alcohol.  I’ve had my own problems with depression and post traumatic stress, and I was very ill when I was Matthew’s age.  I know that someone like Matthew can engage in self-destructive behavior that is baffling to others.  Depression and anxiety can cloud your judgement.  Young people have an especially hard time dealing with serious mental illness, such as major depression, because they have little experience to help them put things in perspective.  Depression can rob you of your hope, and if you’ve never went through a full cycle, you have no way of knowing that the pain you feel will come to an end.

While Matthew was being treated for his injuries in Fort Collins, it was revealed that he had contracted HIV.  According to Mrs. Shepard, Matthew’s doctor concluded that he had been infected fairly recently given the large viral load detected in his blood.  Mrs. Shepard reports that she found cold remedied in Matthew’s apartment in Laramie, indicating that the virus may have already started to affect Matthew’s health.  Of course by 1998, HIV wasn’t the death sentence it had been back in the 80's, but if Matthew had lived, he would have had to learn to take his medications in a timely manner, which is something he had trouble with in regards to his antidepressant and antianxity medications.  Mrs. Shepard admits to being puzzled and disappointed by Matthew’s HIV status.  She accepts that her son was a sexual person, but she had hoped he would be more careful.  She says he was very worried about HIV after he was raped and that he got tested regularly for a long time after that.  But I suspect his mental health may have had a role in Matthew contracting HIV.  He may have stopped caring about himself enough to insist his partners wear condoms.  Depression will do that to you.  And given Matthew’s propensity to go out to bars by himself, and for going home with strangers, it’s easy to imagine that he may have been raped again.  I’m not saying there was anything wrong with Matthew’s desire to socialize in bars, or even his willingness to leave those bars with people he had just met.  Young people, both gay and straight, have a strong desire to have a good time and meet new friends, and of course they have sexual appetites, but partying with strangers does carry with it a certain amount of risk.  Given that Matthew was so inclined to talk to strangers, and given that he liked making new friends, I wonder if his rape somehow robbed him of some of the trust he placed in humanity in general.  And I wonder if meeting strangers and going home with them was a way to reassure himself that people could be trusted.

Knowing that Matthew had been struggling for several years makes his untimely death seem all the more sad.  He never got a chance to work through his issues.  We can only guess how far this bright, friendly young man would have gone.  Mrs. Shepard claims he was doing well in Laramie despite his difficulties.  He was going to class and keeping his grades up.  He had also joined an organization for gay students, and he was helping them plan for National Coming Out Day.  When the phone rang early one October morning back in 1998, Mrs. Shepard assumed that it was Matthew.  He often called her in Saudi Arabia without regard to the time difference.  I can only imagine the shock when it turned out to be a doctor informing Mrs. Shepard that her son had been attacked and that he wasn’t expected to survive.

Of course the Shepards returned to the States as soon as possible, but before going on to Fort Collins, they first had to pick up their younger son who was attending high school in another city.  Mrs. Shepard writes that it was while they were in the airport meeting Matthew’s younger brother that she saw newspaper headlines about what happened to Matthew.  And in the days that followed the attention from the media and well-wishers from across the country and around the world only grew.  It would have been hard enough to deal with the fact that a loved one had been so gravely injured by thugs, but it’s difficult to imagine what it was like for them to become household names at the exact same time.  We have all seen the media focus singular attention on a particular person or family, pluck them from relative obscurity and make them the center of a national discussion.  Mrs. Shepard, in her book, helps us see this process from the other side.  She admits that she doesn’t know why Matthew’s case became such a huge story.  Of course what happened to Matthew was of the utmost importance to her and her family, but why would people who had never met Matthew be so interested in him?  Mrs. Shepard speculates that maybe the news media simply was in need of a good story, and Matthew filled a vacuum.  Whatever the reason, I’m not sure I would have been able to handle the stress as well as the Shepards did.  The fact that a loved one had been bludgeoned and was in a coma would have been hard enough for me to process, but if I suddenly started getting phone calls from the President of the United States at the same time, I might conclude I had lost my mind.

We all know that the media attention attracted Fred Phelps who attempted to capitalize on Matthew’s death by coming to town with his God Hates Fags signs.  Mrs. Shepard states in her book that she had never heard of anyone protesting a funeral before.  I’m pretty sure I had never heard of such a thing either.  But aside from that nasty surprise coming on top of an already excruciatingly painful event, more bad news was coming.  Mrs. Shepard informs us that Matthew’s death lead to two other deaths in a round about way.  His elderly great uncle drove through a snow storm in order to attend Matthew’s funeral, and he had a heart attack and died while in the church.  And then three weeks later, Matthew’s grandfather died.  Seems he had cancer, and the stress of coming to terms with the attack on his grandson, the hospital vigil, the media attention, and helping clean out Matthew’s apartment pushed the man over the edge.  How sad.

The Shepards caught a break when Russell Henderson decided to accept a plea bargain the following spring, so they didn’t have to deal with a trial until that fall.  But then the shit hit the fan.  Aaron McKinney did not deny that he killed Matthew, but his lawyers decided to put up the most insulting defense imaginable -- gay panic.  They tried to argue that McKinney’s violent assault on Matthew was at least in part understandable because Matthew had made sexual advances.  They also tried to paint Matthew as a sexual predator.  The bartender who socked Matthew the summer before he started college in Laramie was called to the stand.  And another young man who was in the bar the night Matthew was attacked also testified.  He claimed that Matthew had made him uncomfortable by sitting down at his table, flirting with him by luridly licking his lips, and then saying something about head before leaving.  Like Mrs. Shepard, I find this bar patron’s account hard to swallow.  He made it sound like Matthew was some silly, overbearing tart.  I think it’s much more likely that he suspected Matthew was gay and then read all kinds of suggestive things into his mannerisms and actions.  And he readily admitted that he didn’t catch everything Matthew had said when he heard the word “head.”  He just assumed Matthew was offering sexual favors.  But so what if Matthew had been flirty and direct?  What’s wrong with simply saying “no thank you” or even “fuck off” to an advance?  I don’t think punching someone who weighs no more than 110 pounds is warranted.  I certainly don’t think murder is justified.  McKinney claims Matthew put his hands on his leg while he, Matthew and Henderson were in the truck.  So what if he had?  Henderson and McKinney admitted that they tricked Matthew into thinking they were gay.  Maybe Matthew got the impression that these boys were interested in him.  I don’t see anything wrong with a 21-year-old man hoping to have a little adult fun with a fellow consenting adult.  The problem with the “gay panic” defense is that it implies gay men should never make a pass at anyone unless they know beforehand that such a pass will be welcome, and it attempts to validate violent reactions to unwelcome passes from gay men.  The “gay panic” defense sends a clear signal: gay men should remain in the closet and know their place, and if one reveals himself to a straight man, that straight man has a right to kill him.  What insane bullshit.

I’m glad that the jury didn’t fall for this nonsense, but it’s too bad that the Shepards had to listen to such blather about their murdered son.  But it seems Mrs. Shepard held it together pretty well throughout the trial.  She claims that the only time she lost it was when they brought out Matthew’s clothes tacked to a display board.  It was understandably hard for her to maintain emotional distance because the clothes made everything personal.  She had seen Matthew wearing those clothes.

Mrs. Shepard admits that it was hard for her to understand why anyone would want to hurt Matthew, let along kill him, or protest his funeral.  The level of hate directed at her kind and loving son was unfathomable.  But it seems she also had a hard time understanding the extraordinary sympathy of strangers.  On the one hand, she did appreciate it, but on the other, it was puzzling.  And I get the sense that in the beginning she was more than a little suspicious of it.  She writes of attending one of the vigils for Matthew outside the hospital.  This was before her face had been plastered all over the news, so she was able to go incognito.  When one of the speakers mentioned something about a political issue that was of importance to the local gay community, she felt that Matthew was being used.  Of course since she was Matthew’s mother, and since he was still in a coma at that point, the only thing she wanted to hear about was Matthew.  But as time passed, she began to see things differently.  She says that eventually she came to accept that even though the thousands who showed an interest in Matthew’s case didn’t know her son as she did, they were relating, at least in part, to the person Matthew had been in life.  I wonder if she started to see the bigger picture when she began reading the notes and emails sent to her from parents wanting advice on how to come to terms with their gay child or young gay people who just needed to tell someone about coming out to their parents and getting kicked out of the house.

Some of the people who sent notes also included donations that were meant to help cover Matthew’s medical expenses.  These donations amounted to nearly one hundred thousand dollars.  Since the Shepards didn’t need the money, they decided that it should be used for a good cause that Matthew would have approved of, and that’s how the Matthew Shepard Foundation came to be.

Mrs. Shepard spells out three primary goals of the organization – stop the hate, work toward legal equality for gay people, and help educate the public on the needs of gay youth.  I greatly appreciate the work the organization is doing, and I especially appreciate the focus on gay youth.  I’m afraid that once gay people escape their childhoods and establish their independence, they often never look back, at least not with the intention of trying to figure out how things could have been done differently.  But my interest in psychology long ago lead me to believe that the gay community will never be whole until the majority of us comes from supportive, nurturing families.
Judy Shepard writes that she never imagined that she would become a public speaker, but in the years since Matthew’s death, she has spent a huge amount of her time traveling the country telling audiences about her son.  She also states that she still hangs Matthew’s stocking up during the Christmas season.  That made me cry.  I cried many times while reading Mrs. Shepard’s book.  But I found the experience richly rewarding.  I feel like I know and understand Matthew in a way I didn’t before.  I’m sure I would have liked him if I had ever gotten the chance to know him.  I admire his mother a great deal.  She says that she still has not gotten over losing her son and the only way she can cope is by not picturing or imagining the pain and suffering he went through the night he was assaulted.  But despite this, Mrs. Shepard has found a way of turning her personal grief into something positive.

The Meaning of Matthew by Judy Shepard at Amazon

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Kill the Gays" Bill Is Back and Moving Faster Than Before

(The Advocate) -- ...

Uganda expert Warren Throckmorton reports that Otto Odonga, a member of parliament, expects the Anti-Homosexuality Bill could return by the end of August. Odonga [pictured at left] is known for once having said he'd kill his son if he were gay.


Read more at The Advocate.

Cindy Jacobs tells us about her first prophetic vision

"...Around three a.m., I was awakened by a voice, "Wake up! I want to talk with you! I am Gabriel and I am here to give you a message from God.” I did not see him; nonetheless, I had no doubt that he was who he said he was.

The next thing I knew, I was having a vision of mounting and riding a huge chestnut horse and my friend Julie was mounting and riding a white stallion. She was part of a vast army of women. As the Lord showed me country after country, I saw thousands of women on horseback behind me to march across the earth. In the vision, I was wearing armor and carried a sword.Gabriel told me that the women in the vision comprised a great company of women who would march across the planet, preaching the gospel, doing miracles, and transforming the nations..."

--Cindy Jacobs

Read more here.

Cindy claims to get messages from God, and back in the spring, she claimed that God killed a bunch of birds in Arkansas because of the repeal of DADT.

GOProud and Birchers ousted as CPAC co-sponsors (David Horowitz survives vote)

Read the article here.

The Bigotry Of Pat Buchanan

Read the lowdown on Pat at Media Matters.

Peter LaBarbera Calls Gay Rights "Satan's Point Of Attack On The United States Of America"

From the Janet Mefferd Show:

Mefferd: Here’s what I did Peter, I wrote it down and I categorized every single one of those stories. And you know what I came up with, the invasion of the gay agenda in the following categories: family; military; schools, leisure and entertainment, that was the story about those lesbians at Dollywood that we were talking about yesterday they were offended because this t-shirt that said ‘marriage is so gay’ they made them turn it inside out and now they’re fighting that; the other areas, the medical field, our tax money and most stunning the church. This is so widespread and so pervasive and I think it’s important to talk about the macro story here, what is your perspective on that?

LaBarbera: Well, first of all, sounds like you’re doing my job better than I am, congratulations! To me this is Satan’s point of attack on the United States of America, including the church. I mean, how ridiculous that, wow, it was less than seventy years ago, I think sixty, homosexuality was largely taboo.

Read more at Right Wing Watch.

David Barton: Only Small Minority Supports Marriage Equality

Read article here.

Denying ‘It Gets Better’ Only Latest Example Of Scott Brown’s Anti-Gay Views

(Think Progress) -- ...

- OPPOSES SAME-SEX COUPLES RAISING CHILDREN: In 2001, he attacked state Sen. Cheryl Jacques and her domestic partner, Jennifer Chrisler, for deciding to have children, calling it “not normal,” though later said he chose the wrong words.
- CALLED OUT YOUNG PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT EQUALITY: In 2007, Brown “crossed the line” when he quoted profanity from a Facebook group and identified the students who used it when he was invited to King Philip Regional School District to discuss his opposition to marriage equality.
- TRIED TO BAN SAME-SEX MARRIAGE MULTIPLE TIMES: As a Massachusetts state senator, Brown voted twice in 2007 to ban same-sex marriage after voting for two similar amendments in 2004.
- TRIED TO CENSOR HOMOSEXUALITY IN SCHOOLS: Brown cosponsored the “Parents Rights Bill,” which would have allowed Massachusetts parents to prevent their students from learning anything about same-sex families in school.
- TRIED TO OVERTURN DC MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Brown took a “state’s rights” position on same-sex marriage in his campaign for U.S. Senate, but in March of 2010, Brown voted for a referendum to overturn marriage equality in the District of Columbia. This was in contradiction to previous statements leaving marriage to the states.
- OPPOSES NONDISCRIMINATION PROTECTIONS: Brown has made it quite clear that he would oppose passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect LGBT employees from unfair hiring practices.
- ACCEPTED MONEY FROM ANTI-GAY GROUPS: Many of Brown’s electoral victories have been thanks to the support of anti-gay PACs and organizations like hate-group MassResistance and the National Organization for Marriage.
- NO SUPPORT FOR ANTI-BULLYING BILLS: Though Brown’s spokesman said he has a “strong record…against bullying,” Brown has not signed on to support any of the anti-bullying bills currently before Congress.


Read full article here.

Pelosi to Bachmann: Address the Teen Suicides in Your District

(The Advocate) -- Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann’s failure to address a disturbing trend of teen suicides within her own congressional district does not reflect well on her White House ambitions, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told The Advocate Thursday.

Read more at The Advocate.

Almost half of the kids who committed suicide in this area are reported to have been the target of homophobic bullying.

The Teen Suicide Epidemic in Michele Bachmann's District

Read article at Mother Jones.

New York Woman Faces Homophobic Attacks at Sizzler

(The Advocate) -- ...

The suit, filed on Friedlander's behalf by gay rights group Lambda Legal, claims that the manager shoved her in the chest, kicked her legs, and called her a "fucking dyke" and other epithets.

Other patrons joined in, calling her a "he-she freak" and demanded that she leave the restaurant. Another man threatened to take her outside and rape her, then started throwing objects at her. Eventually, police came, and Friedlander was taken to a nearby hospital.


Read more at The Advocate .

Tea Party Nation: Obama Is Gay and Ineligible To Serve

Read article at Right Wing Watch.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll: Americans split on New York gay marriage law

Read article at The Washington Post.

California Supreme Court to Hear Standing Question Arguments in Prop 8 Case on Sept. 6

Read article here.

StandUp Website Launch

Liberty Counsel: Gay Rights Advocates Are The Real Bullies

Right at this very moment here in CA a young man is being put on trial for shooting a boy, Larry King, in the head for being gay. Larry was at school and sitting in class when he was murdered.

Bradlee Dean: I'm Suing Rachel Maddow To Protect America's Children From Gays

Les chansons d'amour - Ma Mémoire Sale (Eng sub)

The English translation of the title of this film is “Love Songs”. Ismael (the dark-haired young man) is a young widower. His young wife died unexpectedly, simply dropped dead one night due to an undiagnosed heart condition. He imagined they would have decades together, so he is profoundly grief-stricken and depressed to the point of being nearly suicidal.

Then Erwann (the blond boy) comes into his life. Erwann makes it clear that he has fallen in love with Ismael, but Ismael resists him at first and dismisses his feelings as a schoolboy crush.

But in this scene we see Ismael give into Erwann’s advances. It is a beautiful and tender love scene, but also heartbreaking because Ismael is asking Erwann to be so passionate that he forgets his dead wife.

Lines that I find particularly erotic and devastating at the same time: “Wash my soiled memory in its muddy stream. With your tongue’s tip lick me clean.” And “So burn! Burn when you sink into my bed of ice!”

Remarkable film, and this scene still makes me cry even though I’ve seen it many times.

What Women Shouldn't Wear

3000 participate in Jerusalem gay pride

Fig Leaf Briefs

I think these two are up to something.

This would make for an interesting but perhaps not restful night.


Problems of a gay kid


Jesus Left Room for Same-Sex Marriage and New York State Moved In | Mazel Tov

Jesus left room for people who do not fit inside the “one man + one woman marriage” paradigm and New York State wisely, and finally rushed in...

You can read this blog post by  Kathy Verbiest Baldock at Canyonwalker Connections.

Old Lesbians Threaten Marriage


Yeah, watch out straight Fundie Christians.
Homosexuals are a threat to your idea of sanctity of marriage because we stay committed even when the government doesn’t support us.
We commit when the church ignores us.
We commit when our families disown us.
We commit because when it comes to love… we are fearless!
And what’s more dangerous than fearless love?


--Gail of For Gail So Loved The World

Thursday, July 28, 2011

NAACP's Historic Gay Rights Discussion

Read article at The Advocate.

The Catholic Church’s Secret Gay Cabal

(Gawker) -- John C. Favalora is a sallow old man who looks like the corpse of Dom DeLuise. He likes attractive young men to sit on his lap and allegedly treats them to trips in the Florida Keys. He was, until recently, part owner of a company that makes "all natural" boner-inducing beverages. He's also the Archbishop Emeritus of Miami...

Read more at Gawker.

Op-ed: Where to Find "The Gay Gospels"

(The Advocate) -- A new book by Christian gay activist Keith Sharpe makes a religious argument against the Bible’s clobber verses — which have become a litmus test for the religious right’s evaluation of politicians.


Over the past two decades, Christian leaders have chosen the gay issue as their principal battleground; what matters to them now is not  “Do you believe in God?” but “Do you believe the Bible condemns homosexual practice as a sin and an abomination?” Or, more simply, in the words of the enchanting and delightful God-fearing Phelps family, “Do you believe God hates fags?”


Read more at The Advocate.

Donkeys Try to Bust Up Jerusalem Gay Parade

(The Advocate) -- To demonstrate the "bestial" nature of homosexuality, a group of right-wing protesters attempted to bring a donkey convoy to Thursday's Jerusalem Pride Parade but were stopped by police outside the city limits.

Read more at The Advocate.

Bachmann Pal Bradlee Dean: Lawsuit Against Maddow Is About ‘Protecting’ Children From Homosexual Agenda

(Think Progress) -- ...

In his appearance on Jones’ show, Dean doubled down on his long record of anti-gay rhetoric, claiming that his lawsuit aimed at “protecting the young in public high schools” from homosexual indoctrination and agreeing with Jones that gay people teach fisting to young children...

Read full article here.

Bachmann To Headline Anti-Gay Group’s Award Dinner In Florida

Read article here.

Rick Perry Tosses Tentherism Under The Bus To Placate Anti-Gay Hate Group

Read article here.

Rick Perry learned that Christianist Republicans give a lot of lip service to "states rights" until a state does something they don't like. :P He'll probably remember that in the future.

LGBT Leaders Slam Sen. Brown For Refusing To Participate In ‘It Gets Better’ Video

Read article here.

All the reps from Mass and Sen. Kerry got together and made an "It Gets Better" video. Sen. Brown didn't participate. This is the man who replaced Sen. Ted Kennedy.

According to Dan Savage, not one Republican politician has made an "It Gets Better" video.

Farah: United States Should "Break Up" Over Marriage Equality

Read article here.

Kern: Real Hatred Comes From Gay Rights Advocates

Wildmon: Now Sally as you just said, nobody hates the individual homosexual. We want to see them come to repentance and know the Lord and have their lives changed, that’s what we want to see. So we have compassion for people like that
Kern: To me what is hateful is when those people who say ‘you’re born this way, there’s no hope in change, you’re stuck in this, deal with it,’ that is hate. There’s no hope in that

Kern: We’re losing our freedom of conscience. And if the homosexuals get what they want, and as you said it’s not just homosexuality, its immorality or adultery, all of that, but in my opinion the homosexual movement is the tip of the spear. They’re the ones who right now are beating down the door, have their foot in the door, trying to tear down the moral fiber of America. We have to stand up to that. The reason it’s the tip of the spear you don’t see ‘Adulterers Victory Fund’ out there trying to promote adultery. God’s people got to stand up to this.
Read more and listen to a clip of a radio broadcast here.

Teaching kids to hate

Bradlee Dean's Fight Against MSNBC & Rachel Maddow for Defamation - Alex...

Bachmann Dodges Question On Ex-Gay Therapy: My Clinics Are ‘Not Running For The Presidency’

Thousands Protest Gay Marriage in New York

Ann Coulter: I Want DADT For All Of Society, I'm Sick Of Hearing About T...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who will end up on top?

By Howard Roffman

Good morning, precious.

That Arthur is a lucky guy.

Russia, China Fail to Thwart Recognition of Gay Group By UN

Read article at The Advocate.

Larry Kramer: I’m Being Tarred for Something I Did Not Say

Believe me when I say that I very much want to get married to my partner, but only when that marriage is equal to what heterosexual marriages convey by law, the law of the United States, and not just New York State.

And I do not disparage those who choose to marry under the present woefully unequal conditions. I just wish that they, and all gay people everywhere, would realize that they are accepting so little when we are pledged so much more by and in this one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

--Larry Kramer

Read more at The Advocate.

Tony Perkins admits homosexual attraction not a choice

Journalists' "fact-checking" services can be just as prone to bias and factual error as the politicians they're checking. PolitiFact analyzed former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's recent statements on the origins of homosexuality. Meet the Press host David Gregory had asked: "Is being gay a choice?" Pawlenty began his response by saying, "Well, the science in that regard is in dispute." PolitiFact rated that lone sentence as "false." But the "choice" question is meaningless unless you also define what you mean by "gay." Same-sex attraction is not a choice, but homosexual conduct and homosexual self-identification are choices.

--Tony Perkins of the hate group Family Research Council

More here.

Lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker On Her Relationship With Rick Perry

Maggie not even faking it anymore: NOM is essentially a religious group

Read article at Good As You.

Donnelly Denigrates The "San Francisco Military"

Read article here.

Bryan Fischer Now Against "Imposing" Personal Values

Colombian Court Rules for Marriage Equality

Read article here.

Apple Joins Microsoft, Leaves Christian Values Network

Read article at The Advocate.

World Net Daily promotes Scott Lively's "The Pink Swastika."

World Net Daily

Colson: Claim that gay rights threatens our religoius freedom

 Is it time for the “marriage battleground” to shift to religious freedom? That’s the question posed by a recent Christianity Today article in the wake of New York’s approval of same-sex “marriage.”  According to University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, the answer is “Yes.” He says, “Religious conservatives who advocate traditional marriage must shift their focus to fighting for religious freedom."


Chuck Colson

Read more here.

Italy rejects anti-homophobia bill

More at Pink News.

Bipartisan Poll Study Shows Accelerating Support For Marriage Equality

More here.

Vander Plaats Responds To ‘Faggot’ Joke Controversy: ‘We Speak The Truth And Love’

More about this here.

I can do without Vander Plaats kind of love.

Bradlee Dean Never Calls For The Persecution Of Gays, Except All The Time

Read article here.

MSNBC Responds to Rachel Maddow Lawsuit: ‘This suit is baseless and we stand by our reporting’

Read article here.

Nimocks: Bans on Interracial Marriage Were Wrong Because They're Discriminatory, But Bans on Same-Sex Marriage A.O.K.

Read article and listen to clip of radio broadcast here.

Right-Wing Activists Explain How Daycare, Public Schools And Gay Rights Are Destroying Society

Read article and listen to a clip of radio broadcast here.

Linda Harvey: "Teens Will Suffer" From Anti-Bullying Efforts

Read article here.

Lesbian Couple Saved Dozens of Campers From Norway Massacre

Read article here.

Savage To Santorum: Keep Attacking Gays And I’ll Redefine ‘Rick,’ Too

Watch video here.

LGBT Employees Face Discrimination, Wage Gap, Unemployment, And Health Consequences

Read article here.

Pat Buchanan: Norwegian Right-Wing Terrorist ‘Breivik May Be Right’

...As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right.

--Pat Buchanan

More here.

LaBarbera to conservatives: don't stop fighting homos

After a left-wing victory, we're retreating and going to the next battle -- and that's not how the bad guys, that's not how the other side works.

Why is it that we're always backing up?  I think we need to fight hard -- even if it takes 20 [or] 30 years, we need to reinstate the ban on homosexuality in the military.

What's ironic is the liberals fight like they have the truth, although they don't.  Whereas the conservatives who do possess the truth act like they don't have the truth; they're so defensive all the time.

--Peter LaBarbera, founder and president of hate group Americans for Truth about Homosexuality

More here.

Newt Gingrich earned $8,000 from American Family Association speeches

Read about how Newt Gingrich collected fees from speeches from anti-gay hate group here.

True Blood: Alan Ball PSA (HBO)

True Blood: Rutina Wesley PSA (HBO)

True Blood: Kristin Bauer PSA (HBO)

True Blood: Alexander Skarsgard PSA (HBO)

Michele Bachmann's Gay Lovers Speak Out and the Orioles team up

Parker: Black Family Was "More Healthy" Under Slavery

Let The People Vote (LTPV) Manhattan Rally - NY State Senator Diaz

Glenn Beck: Norway Victims are like Hitler Youth! Tea Party Campers? Not...

'I Do' NY: Gabriel & Dylan

You Almost Killed Me With Your Religion

by Gary Cottle

All of my life I have regularly encountered people who use scripture and dogma like weapons. Whenever my grandparents, whom I love and miss, would get into arguments, it was only a matter of time before the scripture quoting and the claims of righteousness would commence. And, of course, they were not the only adults I encountered who would do this. It turned my stomach from the very start, and I’ve never been interested in memorizing the Bible so that I could pick out verses at will and hurl them at people like darts.

I don’t claim to be all sunshine and smiles. I readily admit that I have a temper, and I’m not above telling people off when I get mad. In fact, I’ve been told that I’m rather good at it. But what I don’t do is claim to have any kind of Godly or supernatural authority backing me up. I let people know how I feel and what I think, and sometimes I’m not very diplomatic about it, but I never tell anyone that God is displeased with them or that they are in danger of divine retribution.

I learned very early the value of humility, and that’s not only because I witnessed well-meaning and sincere people, such as my grandparents, slip in moments of anger and use supposed spiritual insights as a means to rip into a fellow human being. In addition to that lesson, I learned that our minds can mislead us as to the nature of reality by watching what happened to my mother who happened to be very seriously mentally ill. Eventually she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Her illness caused her to believe quite a lot of unusual things. When I was a toddler, I was often at home alone with my mother during the day because my father worked and my sister had already started school. I can recall sitting beside her on our sofa in the living room and listening to her tell the most fantastic stories imaginable. I had a picture book filled with artists’ renditions of various Biblical characters, and when I was alone with my mother, we would often go through it, and she would tell me about the people in the pictures. I can assure you that most of what she said wasn’t orthodox. For instance, she would often tell me that the painting that represented Mary, Jesus’ mother, was actually a painting of her. She also used to tell me that I was the twin of our minister’s son and that we were special because we were born in the same way Jesus was born. I now realize that she was talking about immaculate conception.

My father was a country boy without much formal education, so he didn’t know exactly how to handle the situation, and rather than consulting a doctor, my father decided to confide in our minister, and our minister hatched a plan to remedy the situation. One day, out of the blue, when my mother and I were home alone, my father, our minister, and several men from our church showed up unannounced. And right there in front of me, these men hauled my mother off kicking and screaming. They basically kidnapped her as I stood witness. Not one of these men, not even my father, paid the slightest bit of attention to me. Not one tried to console me. After they literally dragged my mother outside, shoved her in a car and drove away, I was left alone in the house for several minutes.

Eventually my grandmother showed up. She came into the house and proceeded to make me lunch, a grilled cheese sandwich, without assuring me that my mother was alright or offering a word of explanation.

I didn’t see my mother again for a couple of weeks, and when I did, her condition had not changed. It wasn’t until years later that I learned she had been taken to a Christian based counseling center. My father told me that the “doctors” there informed him that they couldn’t help my mother because she refused to cooperate with them. By that, they meant that Mother was unwilling to pray to God and ask to be delivered of her affliction per their instructions. So long before I ever heard of “pray the gay away” therapy, my mother was subjected to “pray the schizophrenia away” therapy.

For many years after this, my father buried his head in the sand in regards to my mother’s illness. He didn’t do anything about it, and he stayed away from the house as much as possible, and when he was home, he often retreated to his room complaining of what he termed “sick headaches”. I learned that I couldn’t rely on my parents for much in the way of emotional support, and I learned to keep my mouth shut because God only knew what kind of irrational response I would get if I said anything about a problem or a concern.

My mother finally began receiving proper care for her condition just a few months before I went away to college. And when I got away from home, one of the first things I did was seek out the services of a psychologist. Much to my amazement, my counselor informed me that treatment for schizophrenia wasn’t new. It turns out antipsychotic medication has been around since before I was born. So we suffered needlessly all those years.

I do have regrets, and I have my resentments, but I don’t blame my parents. They did the best they could. I don’t even blame them for whipping me when I was young because the Bible says “spare the rod, spoil the child.” My mother used to hit my sister and me with her hairbrush, and Dad used to take down our pants and hit us with his belt or with a switch. I can still remember the sting. I remember how my soft, smooth baby flesh would turn bright red. I remember the blood blisters and welts. And I remember that these whippings often occurred on Sunday because I found it difficult to sit through Sunday school and two church services without becoming restless. But my parents had been taught that you should drill religious dogma into the heads of children at a young age, and they were taught that you should beat children when they disobeyed. But to their credit, they abandoned the whippings by the time I was about seven. Neither one ever hit me again after that. And because my mother couldn’t be trusted not to espouse her unusual beliefs in church, we stopped going on a regular basis by the time I was seven.

That isn’t to say I escaped fundamentalist indoctrination. Unfortunately I was subjected to the ravings of televangelists almost daily. The only one who seemed truly loving and caring was Billy Graham. All the rest were scripture quoting, dart throwing meanies. And their condemnation for anyone and everyone who didn’t follow (their interpretation of) The Word, stung all the more when I realized I was gay at age eleven. There I was a kid going through puberty. I had just discovered that I liked boys, and my mother was talking to invisible people, my father was so stressed out by this point, it seemed that he would explode at any moment--eventually he did have a massive heart attach--and there was Jimmy Swaggart screaming stuff about "homosexshials” and pantywaisted boys from the TV.

I had already learned by this point not to share much with my parents, and once my sexuality hit into high gear, I buckled down and guarded my inner thoughts and feelings as if my life depended on it. For seven long years I never told a soul about what was going on inside me, and you know how long seven years is to a young person.

It was like torture, and school didn’t provide much of a break either. The kids were generally homophobic and a number of them had noticed that I was just a little different. Although I certainly wasn’t given the worst of it, I was bullied regularly, and I never truly felt safe anywhere, certainly not at school. And the thing I longed for the most, I couldn’t have. I didn’t even allow myself to hope for a boyfriend. The only thing that seemed possible at that point were quick encounters in the dark sometime in the future.

These experiences have left their emotional scares. Depression, sharp mood swings, anxiety and suicidal ideation plagued me after I escaped home, and eventually I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress and labeled an adult survivor of childhood abuse.

After all of that, I have very little patience for people who claim they know what God “wants” with absolute certainty. I don’t care how much of the Bible you’ve committed to memory or how clear you think your understanding is. To me, to claim with absolute certainly that you know anything at all about God is insane. I have little patience for those who get bent out of shape when schools attempt to address homophobic bullying. They don’t know what it’s like to be a gay kid in school and to be afraid someone is going to find out your secret. I have little patience for those who scream bloody murder if a teacher even mentions anything about homosexuality or LGBT people. They don’t know what it’s like to be so starved for even a small crumb of affirmation. I have very little patience for those who take to the streets, or the internet, or the TV or the radio to shout that people like me are diseased, disgusting, and a threat to the family, religious liberty and civilization. I have little patience for those who march to the poles to vote me down and petition their elected representatives to step on my hopes of being recognized as an equal. I’m tired of these people, beat down and sick of them.

I know that not all Christians are alike. I know many, maybe even most, know they don’t know everything no matter how careful their study of their scripture or dogma may be. I know these people are capable of being sincere in their faith and serious in their efforts to adhere to their beliefs while remaining open to different perspectives and respectful of others who may see things differently. But for those who insist that they are right about everything and I must surrender to their directives which they equate, quite unashamedly, with the wishes of God, I say this: You have your own life. You can’t have mine. I have my own beliefs. I don’t want yours. So please stop trying to force me to follow you, and please stop demonizing me when I refuse.

I have long realized that one of the brightest and most wonderful aspects of my life is my desire and admiration of men. Even back in high school when I couldn’t tell a living soul about my desires, I relished them. I can remember vividly crushing on so many of the boys I went to school with. Of course it hurt that none of the feelings I had for these boys, to my knowledge, was returned. But I felt alive and in the moment when I longed for those boys. I remember the way certain actors made me feel when I watched them in a movie. I absolutely fell in love with C. Thomas Howell and his character Ponyboy in the film The Outsiders. Deep down, I wanted a boyfriend like Ponyboy more than anything, even though back then I didn’t even give myself permission to dream of a boyfriend. I just watched that movie over and over again with quiet longing. Of course I was sexually attracted to Ponyboy, but it was so much more than that. I wanted to be with him. I wanted to share my thoughts with him in quiet moments. I wanted him to tell me his secrets. I wanted to joke with him and giggle with him. I wanted to kiss him and lay my head against him. I wanted to hold his hand.

My sexual and romantic attraction to men is one of the things that sustains me. Right above my desk is a calendar with a large picture of two nude, slim young men. They are standing outside with woods behind them, and sunlight is streaming down. They are smiling, and the one on the left is affectionately touching the stomach of his friend. The beauty of their bodies, the brightness of their eyes and the warm of their smiles sparks in me a sense of hope and appreciation for life every time I look up. I know this feeling well, for many beautiful young men cause me to light up in this way. I cherish the experience.

I never found a boyfriend. I’m way too shutdown and withdrawn for that, I guess. But there are those who even object to my appreciation of men, and they would take it away from me if they could. And they would tell me and themselves that they’re doing it for my own good. Well, I have news those people, I have never liked your kind. Even before I knew anything about my sexuality, I didn’t like those who pounded on their Bibles and insisted they are right about everything. It is because people like you that I associate religion with pain. It is because of people like you that I have no desire to attend church. It is because of people like you that I am cautious around anyone who claims to be religious until I know they are not like you. I find you repellant, and I do wish you would shut up and leave me and people like me alone.

It may be too late for me to find love. After all these years of being so independent, I might be incapable of letting anyone in. But I want things to be different for young LGBT people. I want them to grow up in supportive homes. I don’t want them to be afraid of telling their parents or their classmates. I want them to be able to talk to their parents about their feelings. I want them to be able to talk to their parents about their boyfriends and girlfriends. I want them to be able to bring their boyfriends and girlfriends home. I want them to go through life open and free. I want them to be able to get married and raise kids if that’s what they want. I want it all. …if not for me, then for them.