Tag Archives: lgbt

Sexuality vs. Love


All hearts can love.

As we continue having debates regarding rights, freedoms, and full citizenship for people in same-gender relationships, we may want to conserve our energy and make our discussions more efficient and accurately reflective of every type of relationship.

As I watched Current TV, the channel developed by former vice-president Al Gore, and Illinois senator, Al Franken (D), I heard a woman say that these debates, especially those going toward the U.S. Supreme Court, are made more challenging because the word sex is involved.   The word to which she was referring was, “Homosexuality.”

If it’s really an issue, why not use a different word?  The Latin word, “homo,” means, “same.”  “Hetero,” mean “different.” The Latin root, “amor,” means, “love.” 

Homoamorous means two people of the same gender love one another. 

Heteroamorous means two people of different genders love one another.

So, why not change the word.  It’s not as though we’re using ancient or sacred words to describe our relationships.  “Homosexuality” was coined on May 6, 1869 by Karoly Maria Benkert, a 19th Century Hungarian physician, who first broke with traditional thinking when he suggested that people are born homosexual and that it is unchangeable.  With that belief as his guide, he fought the Prussian legal code against homosexuality that he described as having “repressive laws and harsh punishments (Conrad and Angel, 2004).” 

One would suspect that Dr. Benkert would appreciate this change in lexicon so that we change our focus in this debate from sex to love.  John and Frank are not two people in sex.  They are two people in love.  Deborah and Sheila are not two women who spend their lives sexing each other, they are two women loving each other.  This is especially true because homosexuality has been demedicalized in so many ways.

If we’re going to have to have this debate in the first place, let’s speak accurately about the people involved.  We are homoamorous people.  We are two people of one gender who are in love.  Those in opposite gender relationships are heteroamorous. 

How complicated can that be?  If I were to approach someone and ask them if they’d like a slice of bread, their first question is likely, “What kind is it?”  As a people, we love clarity.  Homosexuality and heterosexuality are simply not clear enough terms for the breadth of our relationship.  Homoamorosity and heteroamorosity are clear winners when it comes to describing the relationships with which I am most familiar.

Sexuality is an important, if not a terribly time consuming part of most marriage relationships.  It helps motivate our interest in a particular person whose gender is consistent with what we prefer; however, that, too, is not always the case. 

Is it unthinkable that two people can have a relationship that is purely emotional in form, without sex, who continue to love one another nonetheless?  Ask many people who are of a certain age. 

Homoamorosity and heteroamorosity are not only options for the terms homosexuality and heterosexuality, they might even be the preferred forms given their more emotionally inclusive qualities. 

My mother used to say, when trying to get the direct truth out of me, “Jim, call a spade a spade.”  Although I never played bridge, from which this term comes, I knew what she meant.  Name something as it is.  I now get that message all the more clearly.

Thanks, Mom.

__________________________

References:

2010, Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/homosexuality/

Conrad, P., & Angell, A. (2004). HOMOSEXUALITY AND REMEDICALIZATION. Society, 41(5), 32-39. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

The President’s Voice on Prop. 8


There are many people who have lived in the United States of America who have not had a voice.  Those voiceless people were expected by those in power to sit silently as others made decisions for them.

The Native Americans were expected to stand aside as Europeans settled their sacred land.

African natives and their descendants were expected to work as slaves as European descendants built their livelihoods on these slaves’ sweat and blood.

The Chinese railroad workers were expected to accept what they received as they built the Transcontinental Railroad.

Mexicans were expected to work as farm laborers without adequate pay or human services while farmers earned their living.

The one thing each of these oppressed groups had in common was that they all spoke up.  They fought back.  Those wise enough and strong enough stepped up to demand that their message be heard.   The voices of  John Smith and Pocahontas in Jamestown, Virginia; the Chinese striking railroad workers on Donner Pass, in 1867; Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War; and Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta during the founding of the National Farmworkers Association, all resounded throughout the country as their messages of equality, health, safety, and full citizenship were heralded.

We are facing a federal court case in San Francisco that will assess whether the vote on California’s Proposition 8 was legal.  Prop 8 passed in November 2008 and because it passed, the now enforceable California Marriage Protection Act added language to Section 7.5 of Article 1, of the California Constitution that stated, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California.”

As we look toward the future of equal marriage rights and citizenship rights for the gay community, we are fortunate to have many voices calling for full citizenship in the United States.  The tragic part is that the one voice that is more necessary than any others is falling eerily silent during this time of change.

Instead of standing tall for the freedom and voice of the gay community, President Barack Obama is peering from the sidelines.  Rather than stating emphatically that the rights of one citizen of our country shall be granted, without hesitation or fear, to all citizens of our country, regardless of race, creed, economic status, disability, or sexual orientation, he simply waits quietly.  Somehow, amazingly, President Obama appears to believe that we should allow this debate to continue as a people while hearing only a vacuum in the Oval Office. 

From Presidents Bush, Reagan, Nixon, Ford, and others of their ilk, this philosophy of inequality is strangely understandable.  Because they were reared in another social era, holding onto conservative beliefs, their frames of reference should be expected to be as they were.

With Presidents Carter and Clinton, the time had not yet arrived for this message of equality.

As for President Bush, Jr., our expectations of him had to be held very, very low because he was just not capable of anything more.

“And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.”  Luke 12:48 (Holy Bible)

Not only has President Obama been given the mantle of President, he has also been given a place in American history that not one other human being can ever have.  He is the first African-American to hold this position.  With that place in history, Americans have incredibly high expectations of him.  We must remember, however, that he is not obligated to support all equal rights issues just because he holds this place in American history.  He is simply a human being making human decisions. 

Perhaps because of the powerful Black leaders of the past, including Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and General Colin Powell, we’ve hoped that President Obama would join their ranks in fearless defense of all citizens of our country.  That simply may not be the case.  He may just wait for others to do the work before he steps up to say, “Well done.”

The hardest part for many people in this country is to imagine that President Obama will blandly meld into the lineage of so many other American presidents by turning what could have been a dynamic era in U.S. history into a watered down revisitation of other administrations.   Perhaps he will lean more toward his European heritage and become the politician that so many U.S. presidents have become instead of the noble statesman he has the capacity to become.

The truth is, Americans do expect more from President Obama.  At a certain level, he is the first of his culture to leap the White House in a single bound.  He is, I suppose, perceived as our Captain America.  He shouldn’t be.  He’s just a person like the rest of us.

After all his promises of change, the only real change we may see through him is his ethnic background.   He may prove to disbelievers that there really is no difference between the races or cultures in America.  Any person in the White House can be just as afraid of disapproval as any other person, and in that fear, remain silent when there are people who need vocal and active leadership.

The Invisible Gay Dollar


What if on June 9, 2010, (6/9 for those who enjoy a naughty giggle), the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community stopped buying anything across the country?  What would happen to the American economy?

In very loose numbers, it is estimated that in 2006, $660 billion were spent by the LGBT community in 2006.  That number is expected to rise to $835 billion in 2011.  I’ve seen numbers that indicate as much as over two trillion dollars will be spent by the LGBT community in 2012.  Even if any of these numbers are off by a few billion, the numbers are truly staggering.

The LGBT community has the power to put a dent in our economy, and yet, we don’t know our own strength.  If we don’t know it, how can anyone else feel that power?

It makes sense to validate that most efficient force by damming up the economic river for just a moment in time. 

Here is the plan for June 9, 2010:

Every member of the LGBT and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) communities will commit to:

1.  not purchase one item of food, clothing, equipment, or anything else on this day, including eating out or buying a cup of coffee;

2.  not buy or trade one stock or bond in any stock market in the world;

3.  withdraw 0.1% of your money from every account you own (e.g. If you have $1,000.00, you would withdraw $1.00 and if you have $100, you would withdraw $0.10);

4.  not donate one item to charity;

5.  not go to work or school for at least half a day;

6.  not use a computer or cell phone for one day;

7.  not use any electricity or gas that is not life-preserving;

8.  not drive anywhere in your automobile;

9.  do whatever else you feel is appropriate, healthy, and safe to make an economic statement about the strength of the LGBT community;

10. Finally, to make June 9 a day of silence to reflect the silence our country is asking us to provide regarding our needs, including equal access to marriage, health care, law, education, and employment. 

Be sure to contact your legislator by June 8 to advise them of your intentions. 

We have seven-and-a-half months to prepare.  In that time, we can clearly create the environment that well over half of our country wishes from us.  This will certainly let them know, “Watch what you wish for!”

What happens if the LGBT and PFLAG community disappeared and we took our money and expertise with us?  We’d have a pretty good idea about the impact of that situation, wouldn’t we?

If you’re interested in participating, please contact me on my Facebook page, June 9, 2010 – Invisible Gay Day.

Some Perspective on the DOJ and DADT and DOMA


If Nathan Lane was President of these here United States of America (with Harvey Fierstein as Vice President, and Hedda Lettuce as U.S. Attorney General), his administration would have been required to support the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) as it was for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in response to a court battle.  It is the law that the Department of Justice must always file friends of the court/amicus briefs that support current law.  We should not be getting upset about this amicus brief.  It’s a non-issue.

What should have gone along with this brief, however, is a statement from the President indicating his focus on getting a quick legislative repeal of DOMA.  His speech at the National Equality March did give us more hope; however,that’s how this should have been handled in the first place. 

It’s frustrating to realize that we are having issues regarding civil rights in our third century of existence as a country; we, whose ancestors left England, and many other countries for that matter, for freedom. 

hillbillyI remember thinking as a teacher about students who took a long, long time to get the concepts I was putting forth, “Bless their pointed little heads.” 

Sometimes, that’s the way I feel about us as a nation.

“Bless our pointed little heads.”

My point is, let’s stay focused on our next move and not get bogged down in those things we cannot change.

Stay focused, people!

Smudges of Life


E. Lynn Harris (6-20-1955 to 7-23-2009)

E. Lynn Harris (June 20, 1955 to July 23, 2007)

When I read my friend, Al’s post about the recent death of E. Lynn Harris, fifty-four-year-old author of insightful books about gay, African-American men in today’s society, I couldn’t help but ponder about the current state of our gay society.

Mr. Harris’  books included, Invisible Life, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted – A Memoir, and, most recently, Basketball Jones.  Mr. Harris used common language to describe the lives of his characters in a way that was accessible to the masses (ask any of the many black women in the hair salons who were his first customers), while describing, as some have said, for the first time lives that would be considered, if heterosexual and white, “normal” by most people’s standards.  His critics have said that his writing was mediocre; however, the fact is that he helped bring to light a specific subculture that many, particularly those in the black community, do not discuss or wish to discuss: the gay man in the African-American subculture.

It seems we are once again returning to the beige comfort of sameness in our culture.  There is a bowl of homogeneity into which we, as a people, are slowly dripping down the sides, one rich culture at a time.  The gay community is no less immune to this process than the asian, latino, european, or african communities have been.

"Invisible Life" by E. Lynn Harris

"Invisible Life" by E. Lynn Harris

There are two periods that can be observed when the largest steps toward our own invisibility have occured.  One was during the 1950’s and 1960’s when sexuality was solely a topic of discussion with regard to police blotters and social stigma.  Gay men were attempting to “pass,” if I may so rudely abscond with a term from the black community, as straight.  With the revolution that erupted during the Stonewall Riots in 1969, much of that changed.

During the 1970’s, free love from the 1960’s became permissable for the gay community, as well,  in a whole new way.  We were out and we were proud… kind of.  That was also the period when I married my now-ex-wife.  The irony, of course, was that I fell in love with her and truly wanted to be married.  We had children and a good life for awhile.  I was only seventeen years old when I married my bride, too young to know what healthy, adult love was.   It was this ignorance that landed me in the discos night after night, trying to find male companionship along the way.

When acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) took hold in the early 1980’s, it became quite clear to all of us that we, the gay folk, were now the pariahs of society.  Those not-so-in-the-know believed the gay community was the filthy underbelly of society that was trasmitting vile diseases and recruiting children for the sole pleasure of the evil, flaming society.

Of course, this description sounds ridiculous to thinking people today; however, this philosophy did reflect the larger culture at the time.   With my impeccable timing, this was exactly the time I chose to enter into the gay community at full bore.  I separated from my wife in 1985.  I continued frolicking with various masculine satyrs of the time, many of whom are now dead, sadly.

Back into the closet many of us went, attempting to avoid our fearful brothers and sisters from crossing the street when we approached or giving us Hollywood kisses and hugs, afraid they would become contaminated by our very presence.  I, too, began actually dating instead of playing.  I worked hard, wore a tie to work, and reared my five children the best I could as a single father.  At certain points, my sexuality simply went on hiatus.

As our education about AIDS and homosexuality broadened, we once again gained a brief foothold into society as a valuable cultural entity, when Ellen Degeneres and Rosie O’Donnell, Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris came out of the closet.

In celebration, Mayor Gavin Newsom, (D- San Francisco) decided it was time for gay folk to get married.  He ordered his staff to begin handing out marriage licenses and performing marriages for lesbians and gays.  Yee haw!  The Wild West is wild once again.

As one might expect, these marriages were overturned in the courts and Proposition 8 came to the forefront of our gay consciousness.   Proposition 8, the definition of marriage as being only between a man and a woman, passed.  The LGBT community was once again relegated to the back of the bus.

This time, however, we didn’t go into hiding.   The tack now was to let people know that we are your average Joe’s and Jane’s amongst the many.  We are living perfectly productive, joyful lives in general society.  We have effectively blended in.

E. Lynn Harris was talking about all of us in the gay community, in some ways.  We are all just trying to live our lives plainly and simply within our community.  Some are able to live openly, but for those who cannot do so, we make it work for ourselves and our immediate family.

Perhaps beige is the color to which we must aspire, because it is only in beige that no one says, “Look, he is different.”  The question we, in the gay community, must ask ourselves, is, “Are we different?”

We pay bills, we drive to work and hate the commute, we argue with our mates, we go to PTA meetings with our children, and we shop for food that costs too much.  Isn’t that what everyone does?  Like Italian-Americans, or Egyptian-Americans, or Chinese-Americans, Gay-Americans have an historical context from which our population stems, if not a regional location.  We can maintain our cultural identity without marginalizing ourselves in general society.

Androgynous biracial actor, Jaye Davison

Androgynous biracial actor, Jaye Davison

It is surmised that eventually skin color will return to the original color of medium brown with all the interracial marrying we are doing.  With the acknowledgement of the fluidity in our sexuality, I wonder if we are, in that same way, finding a middle ground where one’s gender and sexuality will not matter as much to the people of our society?

We are increasingly smudging the lines of sexuality, culture and ethnicity more and more all the time.   This could be a good thing.   Perhaps beige is the new white.

First Down and Wonderment


Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders

As a man reared in the mountains of Northern California, listening to the trains roll by at the bottom of the hill, accompanied by the gurgle of the Sacramento River where we so often fished, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that I like football.  After all, I am a guy.

Although I was reared on cultural music, like  jarabes on my mother’s side, and “Jak czybko mijaja chwile,” on my father’s, American football and it’s accompanying fight songs, were as common in my alpine hamlet as mountain biking and snow skiing. 

Most people don’t know this, but I have a letterman sweater from my high school displaying a Block “D” with pins for both football and basketball.  O.K., I admit, it was for being the manager of the teams and not playing either sport.  The sad truth is that when I attended Dunsmuir High School, I didn’t know a first down from a circus clown.  I always got confused about which direction the teams were supposed to run.  For these reasons and many more, it was a good thing I was running the concession stand during the games or playing in the band.  And, contrary to popular belief, I never wanted to be a cheerleader.

Fast forward twenty years to the day I met my future husband, David, a devout, and I mean that in the most religious way, fan of the Raider Nation.  I realized early on that Dave took sports, particularly Oakland Raider football, very seriously, indeed.   Even when it comes to his hair color, David never allows anyone to call his hair grey; it’s silver and black, which, I suppose if one squints, that’s exactly what it is.

In my attempt to avoid joining millions of football widows and widowers, I discovered that I had to learn about football.  I’m college educated.  I’m creative.  I figured there had to be a way to figure this football thing out.  Of course, my constant questions in the beginning drove Dave nuts, but, as I explained to him at the time, it’s either the questions now or hours of distance between us for years to come.  It took him awhile to decide which, to him, would be preferrable, but lovingly he chose to answer my questions.

As we began watching tonight’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, we both silently hoped that this would be the year things would begin turning around for the Silver and Black.  After eleven years of discussing defense and offense with David, recognizing patterns and plays, and being able to identify the positions on the ball field, I realized tonight that although I’m no expert, I am comfortable watching the game with my husband.

Scrutinizing the Raiders tonight, under the official guidance of new Head Coach Tom Cable, after half a season as interim coach, I’m wondering, with a a 31-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys, if this is an omen of the year to come.  I couldn’t help but be impressed by John Marshall’s work as Defensive Coordinator with the team in their surprising ability to make clean plays, limiting the Dallas offense at every turn.   There were several new additions to the roster that looked like promising talent.

For a team like the Cowboys that made it so far in last year’s playoff games, this win over them was a testament to the new focus Oakland is making to turn their gamemanship around.  The Raider plays were tough, tight, and cohesive in a way we haven’t seen for a long, long time.

While JaMarcus Russell did a respectable job in the first quarter given his issues with timing overall, the team was still stymied with a 3 to 10 score at the half.  Up-and-coming quarterback, Brice Gradkowski showed in the later quarters that he could hold his own as he connected with running back Darren McFadden for a 45 yard gallop at the end of the first quarter.  And, it all got better from there.

Still not believable?

Still not believable?

By the end of the game, the Raiders were on top 31 to 10.  It was some of the best news the Raiders organization has had for many years.   Not only did we see a great score at the end of the game against one of last year’s playoff teams, it brought us hope that the coaching staff, team players and organization are ready to usher in a new era of success. 

Of course, only time will tell.  We’ve seen hopeful preseason games in the past that led nowhere.

I suppose that in a marriage, both people change.  I’m talking football and David said, just today, that he wanted to see the movie, “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”    I can’t do anything but smile.

Now, let’s talk about the Sacramento Kings.

Slowly… Slowly


TransgenderSometimes, change happens all at once.  Usually, however, it happens in tiny increments, especially when it comes to social change.

United States Senator Barbara Boxer (California) recently distributed an e-mail indicating that she is joining a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) prohibiting  job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

The passage of ENDA would prohibit all employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and other groups who hire and fire staff from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against anyone on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

This bill has already been supported by high profile national civil rights  and labor organizations and more than fifty Fortune 500 companies.

One must wonder if the significance of this era is being missed by those who feel they are not directly involved in the movement toward the eradication of discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender citizens? 

Is it even possible to realize how important a particular shift in public perception is until after the transition is complete?  The movements to ensure a woman’s right to vote and the acknowledgement of and action against racial discrimination began in small ways, but it wasn’t until the lion’s share of the legislation was passed that we could begin to fathom just how pervasive the blight of hatred and disrespect had been and how far we were stepping ahead.

Senator Boxer’s note to all of us was particularly welcome given that President Obama has shown so little dynamic leadership in relation to repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue (DADT) policies currently on the books in our country. 

The best news about ENDA is that it is a bipartisan effort by our Federal legislators.  Nothing gives us greater hope for our future than when, on both sides of the aisle, our elected officials choose to correct a horrible injustice in our laws and societal patterns in such a dynamic way.

Slowly, the awakening is beginning that each person, no matter how they are identified in the little boxes on most forms, has the right to all the freedoms promised in our United States Constitution.  This new effort is one more important step.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the passage of this bill!

A Speech for Some of Us


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

On July 16, 2009, President Barack Obama delivered a dynamic speech on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the National Assocation for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  The NAACP has been the seminal and pivotal organization for the phenomenal growth toward civil rights in these United States of America.  A celebration of this organization and its creative and powerful membership is well-deserved and should be celebrated by every group.

There was a cognitive dissonance in hearing the presidents’ words, however, as a gay person in the U.S, particularly considering the NAACP has been a vibrant supporter of gay rights.  His message of hope and personal and social responsbility resonated as so much more shallow than it might have as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue (DADT) policies remain in full force. 

This letter was written and sent today to President Obama in hope that my voice, added to the millions of others supporting full civil rights for all people in the United States, would make a difference. 

Wherever you stand on these topics, I hope this continues to be an on-going discussion and that the gay community, like the African-American community, will find positive movement forward as time passes.

July 16, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for your dynamic and moving speech on the joyful anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People today.  Your words of hope and movement forward, personal responsibility and support of the national government were both powerful and intimate.

Without taking anything away from your message to the African-American community, it’s just sad that your words do not apply to the gay children in our country.  It truly is a shame.  Your silence is injuring our gay youth every day it continues.  Your daily inaction is another pound of weight of intolerance and neglect on their necks.

Because I believe in your innate goodness and wisdom, I must only conclude that you do not clearly understand that you alone, Mr. President, can change the direction of our national intolerance and neglect toward all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in our country, particularly with regard to the Defense of Marriage Act and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue policies.  It is your voice that will ring the clarion call for change, change that you promised all Americans during your campaign.

I will continue to remind you of your promise, Mr. President.  Each time you speak, I am listening, along with millions of others like me.  We are waiting. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this correspondence, if you have.  I suspect it will simply end up in a stack of mail that your aides will review, at which time they will mail out a boilerplate response, and feel complete in their task.   Your eyes will be ignorant of my words and your hands will be clean of responsibility for a genuine, personal response to me.
That is not accessibility to you.  That is accessibility to the infrastructure of the White House and no more.

In prayers of gratitude and hope,

James C. Glica-Hernandez
Sacramento, CA

I Love the United States of America


Our Fourth of July

Our Fourth of July

It sounds so corny when I say it out loud, quite honestly.  “I love the United States of America.”  The reflection in the mirror I half-expect to see as I walk past as I speak these words is my rotund countenance draped in stars and stripes.  That’s how silly it sounds to me to say it… at first.

Then, as I mull the phrase over in my head, I contemplate a few things that soften my attitude about this compilation of words.

First, I think about my Dad.  (I always capitalize the word, “Dad,” when I refer to my father, whether it’s grammatically correct or not).  My father fought in World War II.  He was a decorated Pharmacist Mate.  He served in both the Mediterranean and Asian theaters.   He was a hero.  Although he rarely spoke about his time in the Navy, I was always in awe that he fought the enemy and through his efforts, helped win the war.  He fought for the freedoms that I have today.  He, along with all the men and women who so valiantly served our country over the last two hundred-plus years, made a difference to us.  I never forget that.  I suppose that’s why, when I hear the National Anthem, I still get choked up.  It happens every single time.

Second, I wonder where else on Earth I could walk down the street with the fearlessness I do.  As a gay man, a Latino man, an older man, a man of lower-moderate socio-economic status, I am greeted warmly, loved openly, and respected for who I am, with all the diversity I embody.  There are laws that protect me.  I am, relatively speaking, safe.

Third, I can write to the President of the United States of America and say exactly what is on my mind.  Because I have no desire to threaten anyone, I’m secure in the knowledge that my words count just as much as anyone else’s.  It’s a sweet knowledge I carry inside my heart about my place here in the good ole U.S. of A.

I get angry, sometimes, at our legislators and our judges.  I am often frustrated by our media services.  The cost of things is abominable and the challenges to acquire health care for many is untenable.  “Skinny people are too thin.  Fat people are too fat.”  Everyone has an opinion about everything.

We are, thankfully, able to express our opinions as freely as we belch.  Unfortunately, some of our opinions are worth about the same thing.  At least, we are able to send our thoughts out as easily as we throw a frisbee at a Fourth of July picnic. 

We have had presidents, from Washington to Obama, that are nearly as diverse in thought and history as those of us in our neighborhoods.  There were builders, deceivers, heroes and scoundrals, activitists and do-nothings.  They were Americans. 

Today, on this Fourth of July, 2009, I am not a hyphenate-American.  I am simply, joyfully, and proudly an American.

So, as corny as it may sound, I will reiterate my feeling that I love the United States of America.   God (or whomever you choose to believe in, if anyone) bless America!

The birth of the United States of America flag

The birth of the flag of the United States of America

What’s Good for the Goose…


There is a dichotomy in these United States of America that is so vividly being presented in the State of Connecticut regarding our freedoms.  In the second of five states in the country to allow gay marriage, there comes a video from the  Manifested Glory Ministries that shows a sixteen-year-old young man having a “homosexual demon” exorcised from his body.

Calvin and Patricia McKinney

Calvin and Patricia McKinney

Prophet Patricia McKinney, and the church overseer and McKinney’s husband, Calvin McKinney, have apparently performed several exorcisms on young people who are attempting to release themselves from the perceived grip of their homosexuality.  The video, as one can imagine, is dynamic in that the young fellow, whose name was withheld, was seen thrashing on the floor, eventually vomitting during the twenty minute, vociferous event.

As revolting as the concept of a “gay exorcism” is to my mind and heart, one question is raised,  “Is the family’s freedom of religion alive enough  to practice their faith as they see fit?” 

If the child’s parents gave the McKinneys permission to perform this rite, the McKinney’s were willing to perform the rite, and if the child himself agreed to experience it, does the family of the parishoner have the right to practice their religion in whatever way they choose, so long as the boy wasn’t injured physically? 

Some might say that the boy should feel free to be gay if that’s what he is.  If that is true, which I believe it is, as well, then shouldn’t he also be allowed to participate in the rites of his church just as freely? 

Concern is correctly expressed that the exorcism will damage his psyche and sense of self because he is not being supported by his community for being who he genuinely is.   We must invite the question as to whether there are other religions who, perhaps not so vehemently, do the same thing to their beloved children.  Families often criticize and shame their offspring because of their sexuality.  Doesn’t that also do horrific damage to the child to have people he or she loves dispense separation, vitriol, and, perhaps, violence against that individual because of the child’s sexuality?

How obscene should it be to us as  a people to wag our fingers at the McKinneys for doing what we do to our own children in other ways? 

“God, I wish my son wasn’t a freakin’ fairy.”

“Jeez, why can’t my daughter just find a nice man with whom to settle down and have a family, instead of that horrible dyke?”

The high horse on which many are riding right now is growing more and more lame.  The pedestal on which many of our fellow Americans would like to believe they sit is cracking under the pressure of our own hypocrisy. 

In this video, there appeared to be a belief that this child harbored a demon named, “homosexuality.”    Isn’t that what many in our country believe?  Those who fight against the equal rights for marriage certainly are making that statement to their children.  Those who sit idly by and watch our junior high students commit suicide because they are being perceived as gay are saying the same thing.

Let’s see things as they are for a change.  We are culturally a bigotted and judgmental people on the whole.   We see ourselves in distinct and separate groups and we like it that way.  The good news is that we are slowly recognizing it and the damage it is causing.  We are changing.  We may even arrive at a place where, for example, in this country, we are all Americans first, instead of insisting on being hyphenates, such as Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, or Straight-Americans.

Change is hard.  Cultural therapy is phenomenally painful and difficult.  We will, however, survive and flourish once we get to the other side.  At that point, we will be able to better see our brothers and sisters as equals in every way. 

What a great day that will be.

What we must not do, though, is lose sight of the fact that for each of our rights, there are those who will show us the extremes of what having them means.  The McKinneys are just those people.  For some, Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen Degeneres would be just those people, as well.  

There must be room for everyone if we want our equality and rights to live in the broadest possible way.

The only exorcism I’d like to see is the banishment of hatred and ignorance.  I’d go to that ritual today!