Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mardi Gras

I just got back from Mardis Gras in New Orleans. This was my 6th Mardi Gras, and I had a great time. I love New Orleans and have probably been there 15-20 times over the last few years, so I was itching to get back. In my opinion, it really is one of the best cities on earth.

My adventures included eating at two of the best places on earth, Verti Marte and Gumbo Shop (these are not fancy by any stretch of the imagination, just good), getting pelted in the face with beads at a parade, having our hotel reservations cancelled upon arrival, and talking for nearly an hour at 4am with two very nice Southern Baptist ministers from Hawaii.

Now that is a good weekend. I may post more later. For now it's back to work!

*Update:* Randy has a great link to Wizbang about why Mardi Gras will never be cancelled. Definitely worth the read. If the Civil War didn't stop it, I don't think anything will.

Also, I forgot to mention how excited people were to have us in the city. Locals thanked us for coming, told us to have fun, and I even had two people tell me how wonderful my hometown of Houston had been to them while they were displaced. That's why I love New Orleans and Mardi Gras...it just puts you in a good mood.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ex-Gay Billboard Defaced

I found out via Randy's blog that an Exodus billboard (maybe two now) has been defaced recently. Unfortunately, it happened last year too. It really is too bad that someone would stoop to that level. Not that I'm all that surprised that it happened. I'm not convinced the criminals were gays or gay allies protesting Exodus or Love Won Out, though.

You see, it's not as easy being gay as people seem to think. I see the "f word" or the word gay used derogatorily in nearly every graffiti-laced bathroom I enter, and it's pretty common to see gay-themed posters and signs get defaced or vandalized even in this "gay accepting" society we supposedly live in.

This could be a gay vandal, and if it is, I'll come down on him or her. But, I think it's too early to make that call and I think a press release combining the vandalism and the protests of Love Won Out in the same sentence is unfair. It just seems like Exodus and/or Love Won Out are jumping on the opportunity to show how evil gays are. This press release doesn't explicitly draw the link, but it is close (talking about the vandalism by anonymous folks and the protests by gay people in the exact same breath). Sadly, this statement does draw a link and accuses gays without any evidence. Is this about helping same sex attracted people or deamonizing them?

I support civil protests (just as Exodus has supported civil protests against gay groups). I don't support vandalism. I will draw the distinction every time. I hope others will too.

On that note I'm not sure why Alan Chambers finds the public protests by gays particularly disturbing while he has publicly supported public protests against gays.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Gay Adoptions- This Year's Scapegoat

Sixteen states currently have major efforts underway to ban gay adoptions. This makes sense, you see, because we all know how important the sanctity of adoption has always been in the history of man.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're going to say. Kids are supposed to be raised by a mother and a father. Three quick problems- 1. Shouldn't we be banning single people from adopting and/or making divorce more difficult too? 2. Wouldn't a gay family be better than jumping kids around between foster homes? 3. No studies show that gay families are detrimental to kids.

It's about bigotry. Or, maybe it's about "rallying the base." Or, maybe it's both. But, it's definitely not about the kids.

Big Weekend

It's been a big weekend/week here in Houston. As you may know, the NBA All Star Game was here in town this weekend, and I managed to score some tickets to the Rookie Game on Friday and the Skills Challenge (including the Slam Dunk Contest) on Saturday.

Actually I didn't have tickets--I was a seat filler. But, this turned out to be a really good deal. On Friday there were tons of open seats (even though it was sold out), so i grabbed a seat 6 rows off the court and got to stay there the whole time. Same deal on Saturday with the seat filling, but it was much more crowded. I spent about half of the night on row 6 and the other half on row 12 or so.

I go to lots of basketball games and usually have decent tickets, but I don't get to sit THAT close very often, especially for a star-studed event. Among the stars I was within a few feet of were Oprah, Diddy, Donald Faison, Eva Longoria, Terrell Owens, David Stern (the NBA commissioner), Ahmad Rashad, Shaq, and numerous other basketball players. So cool. I'm a sucker for celebrities, what can I say. I also managed to get a great picture of the winning dunk just as it is being dunked in.

Last night I saw Bon Jovi. They are really good live, and the ladies still love Jon. They were completely swooning over him. Good weekend and good times. Now it's back to reality for a couple of more days.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

More Paul Cameron. Really?

As I mentioned, the Exodus Media Blog is up and running, and recently they linked to a story on LifeSite that is trying its best to prove that gay marriages won't make gay people happier or healthier.

I know Exodus' blog says they don't endorse any of the articles that they link to, but it sure is telling when they keep linking to articles that use these completely bogus studies to demean gay people.

To show how terrible gay people are, the article mentions a "study," saying, "that it revealed there is a 20-year reduction in the average life span of a homosexual male, compared to that of a heterosexual. Published in Psychological Reports in 2005, the study “Gay obituaries closely track officially reported deaths from AIDS” shows that the dangers of homosexual activity reduce the life span of gay men to the life expectancy of men in1871."

Sadly, the study is Paul Cameron (or regurgitated Paul Cameron in this case) trash. It's funny that they imply this study pertains to all gay people when the title of the study very clearly is talking about reported deaths from AIDS, not all gay people. Plus, any normal, educated person should see that reading obituaries does not a study make. I mean, really.

It's so disheartening to see people will try so hard to be "scientific" to cover up their own bigotry. A junior high understanding of sociology and psychology would allow any regular person to see through the holes in nearly all of these studies. This isn't partisan opinion, it is plain fact. The studies are completely bogus.

But, it sounds good. It makes them sound like they have crediblity. And, when someone really wants to dislike gay people, they aren't going to do research to disprove a study that makes their bigotry feel comfortable. Of course, that's the problem, and until we reframe the debate, these types of studies are exactly why we will lose. We have to get the media on our side to call this type of study out for the lie that it is.

Back to Exodus. I wonder when Exodus Corporate will get in the business of ministering to gay people and out of the business of publicly demeaning and stereotyping them.

BoxTurtleBulletin is a great resource to disprove a good number of the anti-gay studies out there, some of Paul Cameron's best (worst). Check them out if you want to learn more.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Alabama Church Fires

Recently ten churches in Alabama have been set on fire, most likely by arsonists. It's shocking that someone would be so callous as to set anything on fire, but a church is even worse in my mind.

Question- should these people be charged with a hate crime?

Chris Matthews suggested that liberals or gay people might be involved in the fires, angering a ton of liberal bloggers out there. I can see their anger, given he had no reason to believe that and his words took just another negative shot at gay people (they're monsters you know).

Now it looks like investigators may be thinking it is a gay couple too. I guess that's what they mean by "bosom buddies." Who says bosom buddies anyway?

I hope whoever is doing this gets caught, but I also hope that the actions of a few people aren't blamed on an entire group of people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

On a Lighter Note- Gizoogle

Here's the next online craze-- Gizoogle. it's based on Snoop Dogg's "izzle speech." Apparently the creators are big fans of his work, and everything translated has been used by him in his work.

This is way too funny. I've been laughing hard over here. My company's website is especially funny.

Here's a snippet of my last post using this:

"I mentioned in mah last post `bout this thizzay I hadn't read tha full tizzle of his pizzost, n I stizzay haven't, but given tha snippets here, doggy stylin' is J-to-tha-izzust gett'n worse. "

Oh, this is PG-13 material sometimes. But try it still.

More of Alan Chambers's at CPAC

The Exodus Media Blog is moving again, and what a better way to resume than to post more about Alan Chambers' speech at the CPAC.

I mentioned in my last post about this that I hadn't read the full text of his post, and I still haven't, but given the snippets here, things are just getting worse.

I really would honestly like to ask Alan, Randy, or any politically active ex-gay that is actively fighting against gay rights how using blanket stereotypes about gays helps them to recruit gays to their ministry and "the love of Jesus Christ." Wouldn't compassionate press conferences or speeches targeted at gay people (rather than the religious right) be more helpful than saying that there is no such thing as a lifelong homosexual relationship, calling gay relationships selfish, and claiming that gay marriage will destroy the world we live in? How many gay people were in that room do you think? I'd guess not many.

Seriously, I'm not trying to be political now. I'm being honest and open. I see how these types of statements and speeches help advance the conservative agenda and even help get funding for Exodus. But, I just don't see how this type of thing attracts any happy, openly gay person. if anyone would like to fill me in with a real answer from that side of the aisle, I would love to hear it. Again, I'm not trying to call anyone out with this post. I'm honestly looking for an answer.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Other People Voting on My Rights

So, a group of straight Americans are going to vote on a bill that affects me personally and doesn't affect them at all. Good times.

We have the Supreme Court to protect the minority from the majority in cases like this. But, the right wing realized that to avoid the Supreme Court, they can just write pure discrimination into the Constitution. They sure are sneaky.

I'm glad people didn't think of this hundreds of years ago. Oh wait, they did. Look at what a terrible mess that turned into.

I'm talking about the Senate voting to ban marriage for gays in June. I just hope they do what they did last time, and vote the right way in this one. I also hope Republicans start getting called out for this type of distraction and hate mongering.

So, I'll either be really mad or really actively fighting against this in the coming months. I'll try to keep it positive.

It's hard when this type of thing affects me so personally, and people outside of the issue just don't seem to get it. Or they do and they just don't care.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Now THIS is How to Turn Gay People Straight

I'm being sarcastic. At the same event where Anne Coulter used a racial slur against muslims (and later defended herself by saying muslims killed 3,000 Americans), Alan Chambers of Exodus used the opportunity to stereotype gay people.

In a post over at XGW, Timothy describes how Alan says that gays don't really want marriage for themselves and that, "lifelong homosexual relationships are not possible." Timothy does a good job of calling Alan out on this one. Alan occasionally posts over at XGW and reads other pro-gay sites, so I am sure he has heard of at least one gay relationship that lasted a lifetime. I guess my relationship has only been 7 years, so there's still time for it to crash and burn (and I'm guessing that's how he is rationalizing this statement), but I'd love to hear him respond to Timothy.

I admit, I haven't seen the whole text of his speech, so I'm not sure if the quote was out of context or not, but it's not looking so hot.

You know, if I were running a Christian organization whose goal was to recruit gay people and bring them to God, I'd probably refrain from going out and publicly making blanket negative stereotypes about gays. All it does is piss them off. If he's really trying to recruit gays and not just try to show the world how evil they are, wouldn't he try to be a bit, umm, nicer?

Meet Anne Coulter

Meet Anne Coulter. Conservative Goddess and Fox News darling.

I've always thought she is more interested in being a tv "shock jock" than advancing actual conservative ideas. And I can't believe that anyone falls for her plainly offensive speeches.

I think I was right. Via America Blog, she recently called muslims "ragheads." Tell me how this helps anything and isn't just plan racist. And, explain to me why conservatives give her so much "respect."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

About Me

Steven has a blog. It's a personal blog for him (not political or social like mine).

I just noticed that in his "About Me" section he finishes by saying, "I'm gay. But I don't take it too seriously." I like that idea.

Maybe mine should say, "I'm gay. I take it too seriously."

Maybe one day I won't.

Christian Missionaries to Gays?

Randy has a good post over at his blog about The End of the Spear, the current movie featuring Chad Allen (a gay actor) as Christian missionary. He references an article in Christianity Today that compares the way many evangelicals deal with gay people vs. the way they deal with missionaries and the people they seek to reach.

Think about it- missionaries (especially the ones in this movie) often go to very dangerous areas of the world to spread the word of God. They eagerly (I'd assume) risk their lives to befriend tribes and teach them about their faith. But so often some of the same people don't even consider befriending the "gay community" (I'm talking a whole group of gay people, not just one person), and instead respond hostily.

Now, I'm not saying all Christians have this attitude, and neither is the author. I also think there are missionaries to gay folks out there. Many (I'd include Randy in this group, for the record) actively reach to gay folks to show them Christianity. At times I disagree with some of the methods, but I do certainly understand the intent and the heart behind it.

The article is worth a read. It certainly isn't an angle I had considered previously.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Death Metal, Christians, and Gays

I went to a death metal concert with a couple of friends of mine last night. This isn't my usual scene, so I felt slightly out of place.

I've been to plenty of punk rock shows in my life, so I'm fine with energetic fans, crowd surges, and the occasional mosh pit, but this was a little different. The mosh pit was way more violent, and everyone (I mean everyone) was in black. The bands were decent, though, so I enjoyed it.

The opening band was, believe it or not, a Christian death metal band. Talk about having a niche market. Very interesting, especially considering the next act was called Devil Driver. I couldn't understand a word they said, so I'm just going off what I was told.

During the last band, my friends and I stood just a few people off of the stage to be more part of the energy of the crowd. For those of you that don't know, mosh pits usually form several rows of people off of the stage (I'd say 10-15 people deep or more if I had to guess). It gets too dangerous to have people moshing right up against a big wooden stage. But, for some reason, after a bit of normal crowd surging, a mosh pit opened up right on top of my two friends (which was normally way too close for a pit). They were caught way off guard and weren't pleased.

One of my friends said he thought the guys that started the pit pinpointed them because they were gay (I normally don't get picked out for being gay, but like I said, we stood out in the crowd of all black, long-haired people). He saw two guys pointing at them right before it happened. I'm not sure that's what happened, but a few minutes earlier, I did hear someone yell a few derrogatory names about gay people (at some other people, not us), so it's possible.

All in all a good time. I was just left thinking how often I get told by the anti-gay crowd how cool and easy society says it is to be gay these days. Maybe they should go to a venue like this and tell people they're gay, just to see how easy it really is.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Reframing the Debate

It's no secret that gay people have become society's scapegoat recently. Conservatives all too often use us to get out their voters (in the form of marriage amendments) . They scare people into voting by telling them how we are going to indoctrinate their kids and take over the world. They use us to deflect voters' attention from real issues and problems going on in politics (see Texas' recent marriage amendment brought up during the midst of the worst school finance problem in the state's history or the recent claim from politicians in the Bahamas that students in school are low performers due to rampant lesbianism among teachers and students). It's sometimes so obvious it's funny, but people fall for it, and we end up the losers.

I'm sick of it. We have to take over the debate. I know it seems like an almost insurmountable task for a tiny minority group to reframe a debate, but it has to happen, and it has to happen through gay people connecting to the rest of the population, not as people that need to be accepted even if we are different, but as people that need to be accepted because we are the same as they are.

I just can't fathom the idea that someone that is not gay is telling me that I'm not a moral person for being attracted to other guys. How we managed to let this fall into a morality debate is beyond me. Now that it's there, we have to show why it isn't about morality, it's about people.

The in your face arguments of the past, "We're here, we're queer, get used to it," don't work. I'd argue that they dig us into a deeper whole. Even the more subdued version involving two men in tuxedos in tv ads don't hit home with people in the heartland. When the typical citizen sees a message like that, they too easily label the messenger as "other" and don't even try to relate to them, and the stereotypes trupmeted by the far right just become cemented into the minds of non-gay Americans. We are defining ourselves as different when we should be defining ourselves as the same. The images of two guys getting married can come, but if they come too early, we make potential allies uncomfortable from the get go.

We're starting to reframe the debate, we really are. And I hate to discount the out and proud activists that work so hard trying to get our message across, but at some point we have to look at what is working and what isn't.

It's a proven fact that the best way to change opinions about gay people is knowing a gay person. It forces a person to realize that gay people aren't the "monsters" portrayed by the AFA, Focus on the Family and other groups that work so hard earning money off of the backs of gay people. We have to take that to a national level. I'm talking about leaning on activists that have a more mainstream appeal. The Chad Allen types, the Patrick Guerriero (head of the Log Cabin Republicans) types, hey maybe even the allegedly gay Anderson Cooper types.

Nothing against Elton John, but he's just not making the right connection with the heartland, and until we make that connection, we will continue to allow the right wing to frame a debate. Sure, middle aged men and women love him, but they see him as an entertainer (and a flambouyant one at that), not as someone that is just like them. So, the stereotypes they work so hard to continue continue to be accepted. This debate affects us, not them, and we have to take this out of the morality realm (because it isn't about morality) and into the personal realm. Until we do that, progress will be slow in coming.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Hatchett Attack

An 18 year old guy came into a bar in Massachusetts recently and started attacking two men with a hatchett and shot another one. He walked in (using a fake I.D.), asked the bartender if it was a gay bar, and shortly thereafter started attacking people. Presumably because they were gay.

I read AmericaBlog fairly regularly, but I often find it too liberal for my tastes. I have to agree with John's take on this one, though. If you call a group of people perverts, disease-ridden (per PAM) and child molesters long enough, eventually someone is going to take it seriously and try to punish the perverts and child molesters.

Pam has her usual snippets about what the commenters of the conservative Free Republic message board have to say (this is really worth a look), and it's easy to see how attitudes like theirs can lead to such a terrible incident. Some of them are actually trying to condone this type of behavior.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

My Dad

Here's a little change from the normal topics on this blog--some personal stuff. I may have posted about this a while back, but I don't think I did, and I just found out some new information about the whole situation that made me very happy, so I thought I should write about it.

When I told my dad I was gay it didn't go over very well at all. After minutes of silence, he cried and didn't speak to me for about a week so he could gather his thoughts. I honestly have never been so emotionally hurt in my life. For days I felt like I had been punched in the chest.

After we finally spoke, the conversation was gentle and loving, but he made it clear that he wasn't ever going to accept my being gay. He suggested ex-gay ministries and church, and I agreed to keep conversation open about the topic. It wasn't perfect, but at least we were talking again.

One day a few months ago my dad told me that he had told one of his cousins (who he is very close to and has always looked up to) that I was gay, and this cousin told my dad that if it were his son, it wouldn't matter to him in the least. I was glad to hear not only that he told this person he respects so much that I was gay, but also that he would call me and tell me what his cousin had said. This conversation was the first real, meaningful break in the situation I had since I came out to him nearly 2 years earlier.

So, last night I hung out with my younger brother who brought up the story about my dad telling his cousin that I was gay. I told him I'd already heard the story, but he repeated it anyway. My little brother told me that my dad had actually talked to him about this conversation too (so it very obviously made an impact on my dad). But, my brother had a couple of pieces of the story that I had never heard. The first was funny--when asked what he would do if people made fun of me for being gay in front of him, my dad's cousin said he would "whip their ass." The second was the next big step for my dad in my mind--he told my younger brother that after talking to his cousin, he realized that he needed to look at things differently, and then he said that he was going to make it a point to change the way he has been dealing with me being gay.

Go dad.