Monthly Archives: March 2012

Moment of Zen: The Piano


A Letter to A Bully

I read this the other day, and really wanted to share it with you guys.  It broke my heart.  I think we have all had that feeling of hopelessness at some point, and thankfully we survived it, not all kids do. Kergan Edwards-Stout wrote this compelling letter, and I hope that you find it as interesting as I do.

Dear Dirk,*

The thought of you has filled me with hate almost every day since we first met — but for different reasons altogether than you might expect.

I still remember the terror I felt every time I approached the soccer field. It was in junior high, a difficult time for almost everyone, but especially for me.

You see, I’d always known I was gay. Even in kindergarten, just looking at Jeff Hayward’s smile would make me happy, and I knew intrinsically that it was all right to feel this way — to love other boys — as everything about it felt completely natural and unforced.

In junior high, however, I was placed on the same soccer team as you, and everything changed.

What I had seen as natural and good, you were suddenly calling abnormal and detestable. Every “faggot” you spit toward me hit directly between the eyes, and the whispers, taunts, and dirty looks you and Mike Baker sent my way continually unnerved me, affecting both my sense of self and my performance on the field. Because of you, questions about my masculinity hovered over me, and I would feel physically ill at the thought of another practice or game. I would choose different, roundabout paths to my classes, just to avoid where I knew you’d be.

In high school, while I went on to be active in theater and academics, you and Mike continued to rise socially, becoming the big men on campus that I’d longed to be. You were even voted onto the homecoming king’s court, and as you took to the field, flashing your charming smile, all I could see was the sneer on your lips when you turned and glanced my way.

But that isn’t why you fill me with hate.

Just prior to our senior year, during summer break, word came that you’d tried to commit suicide and were in a coma. No one knew what had happened, but you eventually returned to school our senior year. You were just as popular as you had been before, and perhaps even more so, now that you had this added air of intrigue about you. But despite your outright hatred of me, I still wondered about you and about what could have possibly led you to try to take your own life. You more than anyone seemed to have it all, and despite the way you continued to torment me, I felt a pang of pity for you.

The following summer, I got another call. You’d again tried to kill yourself, tying a noose from the garage rafters — only this time you succeeded. Your mother discovered you, hanging there, upon her return home.

How lonely you must have felt, Dirk, as you tied that rope. Could you really see no path forward? Was there no one you could have reached out to? Was there no friend, family member, priest, counselor — not one person you could’ve trusted with your pain?

Later, I heard that you’d left behind a note, writing that although you did not like girls, you did not want to like boys. And suddenly it became horribly clear to me. You and I were exactly alike. That anger and venom you directed at me, you were also directing at yourself.

How I wish, Dirk, that you’d allowed yourself to connect with me. I’m not saying that a friendship between us could have altered your path, but just knowing that we weren’t the only ones could’ve made our lives easier. For me, discovering that there were other gay people out there did help. I found a progressive bookstore, not too far from where we lived, and I’d covertly journey there as often as I could, just to lose myself in reading about a world that I knew I’d someday enter.

And even if a friendship between us wasn’t possible, given our differing social status, imagine how less torturous you could have made another’s life, simply by being kind.

While in school, my hatred was based solely upon how mean you were to me. Now my anger is reserved for the lack of value you placed upon yourself. Clearly, you didn’t think you were worth loving. Where did you get such a message? You were smart, personable, an exceptional athlete, and beyond handsome. Even with all the venom you sent my way, I still admired your more affirming qualities. Regardless, despite these many gifts, somewhere along the way, you were taught that instead of acting on your love of other men, you’d be better off dead.

I hate that you hurt so, Dirk, and hate just as much that you listened to those who filled your head with such thoughts.

I also hate that I was so absorbed in and blinded by my own situation that I couldn’t see your venom for what it really was. What if, one day, instead of running the other way when I saw you, I had instead offered you a smile?

Dirk, you might be surprised to know whom I ran into at our high school reunion: your old pal, Mike Baker. Imagine my shock, spotting him across the room, when we suddenly locked eyes. I immediately went to that same place of fear and panic, but that only lasted a moment, until I saw him break out into a big grin and make a beeline toward me.

I was shocked when he warmly clasped my hand in his, as if we were longtime friends. “I’ve been looking all over for you,” he said, intently. “I’ve really been wanting to say ‘hello.'” While he never brought up our shared past, it was clear to me that he was making amends.

Did you know, Dirk, that Mike’s younger brother has come out as gay? Would it surprise you to know that Mike is totally OK with it? If you had known back then that your best friend might have been accepting of you, could that have possibly altered your decision?

People loved you, Dirk — then and now.

I wish I could have held you, Dirk, comforted you, and told you that everything would be all right. Our individual uniquenesses are a gift, given by our maker, which we then get to share with the world. Your void is noticeable, even 20-odd years later.

You could’ve done so much, Dirk, if only you’d realized that each one of us is deserving of love and respect.

Wishing you peace,

Kergan

*Though innocence for all was lost some years ago, in respect of their families, all names have been changed.

This piece originally appeared on the Bilerico Project and KerganEdwards-Stout.com.


Drama

Not a whole lot has been going on this week, and so I haven’t found much great inspiration for a post today, at least not one that can be done quickly. Probably, the most exciting thing this week that has happened for me personally is that I was asked a few weeks ago if I would be the advisor for a new drama club at school and I have been working on that this week. I am really excited about it. It’s going to be a lot of work for me, but I look forward to the challenge. We are hoping to have a plan in place for when school starts next year.

This week I have been working on a plan of action so that it can be presented to the students and get some interests generated. At first, I want to put together a few fundraisers that will not be too expensive to produce. We have a lovely mansion near the school where we may be able to have a murder mystery dinner night. The kits for the murder mystery nights are not too expensive and I hope to be able to adapt one so that we can have a little local flavor to it. The mansion where we hope to host it has an old legend that it is haunted (actually by two different women who had unhappy lives in this house). The second of the two women may have even possibly been murdered after a dinner party. I think it will be a fun and fantastic fundraiser. We are hoping to have it sometime near Halloween.

We actually have a beautiful stage at school, but currently the lighting does not work, so they will have to be fixed before we can stage our first real production. I hope the murder mystery night can raise the funds to fix the lights. Then I am hoping that we can have a series of comedy skits that can be our first production. I think that we can do a night of a “thousand” laughs or something similar that can be a relatively inexpensive first production so that we can generate funds for a larger show next spring.

I certainly think that we will have some interest and I hope the interest will grow. I do not have any real experience with theatre, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Do any of you have any experience with productions?

To say that I am excited about this would be a bit of an understatement. Even though I am not out at school, I guess I don’t have the ruggedness that the other men/coaches at school have. Everyone I know who I have told about starting a drama club seems to think that it is natural that they would look to me. Even though I’m not out, I think the gay stereotype is still there. Oh well, I am going to enjoy it anyway, no matter what they think.


The Kiss of Life

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Rocco Morabito won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Spot Photography for this photograph – “The Kiss of Life.”

Apprentice lineman J.D. Thompson is breathing life into the mouth of another apprentice lineman, Randall G. Champion, who hangs unconscious after receiving a jolt of high voltage.

Morabito was driving on West 26th Street in July 1967 on another assignment when he saw Champion dangling from the pole. He called an ambulance and grabbed his camera.

Champion recovered.

I published this post once before, over a year ago, but it is still a favorite photo of mine (and so is the story). I thought that it was worth posting again.


APRENDIENDO VIDA (Learning Life)

I recently came across a new poet.  He is a follower of my blog, so I checked out his blog, ALICANTINO del MUNDO. His poetry shows not only the beauty of the Spanish language but the depths of an artists soul. Manuel Vicente S.C. is the poet, and I instantly fell in love with the beauty of his poetry. I hope that you will find Manuel’s poetry as beautiful as I have. I have posted his poem APRENDIENDO VIDA in its beautiful original language.  Though I do not believe that my translation (with the help of Google Translate) can do justice for his beautiful prose, but I have attempted to do my best.  I hope that you enjoy.

APRENDIENDO VIDA
Manuel Vicente S.C.

He recorrido muchos caminos
donde he respirado polvo ajeno que levantaban otras vidas
que pasaban rozando la mía
y yo siempre quedaba en la cuneta esperando una buena alma
que se apiadara de mi cuando el barro ya me cubría hasta las rodillas.
Pero aprendí a buscar guaridas
cuando la luna me sorprendía en los caminos solitarios.
Aprendí a cobijarme al abrigo de otros cuerpos
cuando el frío me calaba hasta los huesos.
He dormido en muchas camas extrañas
a las que nunca volví.
He grabado muchos ojos en mis pupilas.
Ojos por los que hubiera matado.
He amanecido en calles extrañas y
me he bebido el licor de todos los bares.
Muchas veces he jurado en vano
y he asegurado delante del interesado
que nunca volvería a hacerlo.
Pero nunca cumplí mi palabra.
Volví a tropezar mil veces en la misma piedra.
Volví a recorrer caminos inciertos, vacios, cotidianos
y volví a llenarme de luna llena.
Busqué los caminos que llevan al mar
intentando buscar un refugio.
Intentando dejar mis huellas en la arena por si tú salias a buscarme.

LEARNING LIFE
Manuel Vicente S.C.


I have traveled many roads
where I breathed dust that raised other lives outside
mine that skimming
and I was always in the gutter waiting for a good soul
to take pity on me when the mud already covered my knee.
But I learned to look for hideouts
I was surprised as the moon on lonely roads.
I learned to take shelter in the lee of other bodies
when the cold was soaked to the bone.
I slept in many strange beds
of those who never came back.
I recorded many eyes in my eyes.
Eyes which have killed him.
I dawned on strange streets
I have drunk the liquor of all bars.
Many times I have sworn in vain
and have assured before the interested
would never do.
But I never kept my word.
I returned to stumble a thousand times in the same stone.
Again I go uncertain roads, empty, everyday
and returned to fill a full moon.
I searched the roads leading to the sea
trying to find a shelter.
Trying to leave my footprints in the sand if you are looking for me.

Manuel Vicente S.C. lives in Albatera, Alicante, Spain.


Antigay Hate Groups on the Rise

In recent years, the gay rights movement has advanced by leaps and bounds, but there is still much more we need to do. But such remarkable progress has also given rise to more and more homophobic disciplines as noxious and infuriating as the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council—among many others—whom would very much like to force LGBT men and women everywhere back into the closet, which they will of course keep locked in order to protect traditional families from mere heathens like you and me.  And this is something that we cannot take for granted.

So it should come as no surprise that the number of anti-gay hate groups in the United States increased by 60% in the past year from 17 in 2010 to 27 in 2011, according to a recent Intelligence Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

From the SPLC:

The LGBT community made significant advances in 2011, with the repeal of the “Don’t Act, Don’t Tell” policy on gay men and lesbians in the military, the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage by Americans and the legalization of such bonds in New York state. But it was precisely these advances that seemed to set off a furious rage on the religious right, with renewed efforts to ban or repeal marriage equality and what seemed to be an intensification of anti-gay propaganda in certain quarters. American Family Association official Bryan Fischer, for instance, said that “gays are Nazis,” claimed that HIV does not cause AIDS but gay men do, and, for good measure, criticized black welfare recipients who “rut like animals.” In another development, most of the religious right groups that started out opposing abortion but moved on to attacking LGBT people have recently begun to adopt anti-Muslim propaganda en masse. The gay-bashing Traditional Values Coalition, for instance, last year redesigned its website to emphasize a new section entitled “Islam vs. the Constitution,” published a report on Shariah law, and joined anti-Shariah conferences. Overall, the number of anti-gay hate groups in the United States rose markedly, going from 17 in 2010 to 27 last year.

SOURCES:


Springtime

I had planned on writing this post after I got home from church, hoping that something in the sermon would inspire me to write something inspirational. To be completely honest, I was trying so hard not to fall asleep, that nothing really struck me to write about. There was one thing though, as our preacher was praying (he’s a bit long winded at times), we always know when he is nearly finished when he begins to thank God for all of he beauty in nature: trees, flowers, creatures great and small, etc. Since spring is here and the wisteria has been blooming along with the azaleas and other flowers that remind me of spring, I too am thankful of the natural beauty that surrounds us because of God’s blessings.


Moment of Zen: Life Is Good

Spring has sprung. I love this time of year.
Spring is a time of rebirth, renewal and regrowth, not to mention hot shirtless guys in the park.

A Little Inspiration

Each of us has been born with a genius. There is something that each of us do very well. It has been assigned to us, and yet many of us ever really pause in life to discover it deeply and then apply the other necessary ingredient. And that is drill. That is practice. That is taking that which is good and making it great. That is pursuing your niche. That is unveiling your uniqueness. That is finding your voice and learning how to vocalize – not like everybody else – but your way. That requires you to at times to swim upstream, to go against the flow, to stand out in the crowd declaring – ‘here I am, and here is what I offer to create a much better world – that is now better because I have not hidden my gift – and have risked rejection by bringing it forth in public.

~Peter G. James Sinclair
Peter G. James Sinclair is the international best selling author of a number of highly acclaimed motivational books including Good Things Don’t Come To Those Who Wait. The title of this book summarizes his philosophy, which he carries over and into all his business ventures.


SOURCE: AOM SoulFood (NSFW)

Normal?

What is normal?  Everyone seems to have their own definition of what makes up normal.  Merriam-Webster defines it as “according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle.” We mean that he or she is like everyone else, behaves as most people behave, and stays within current conventions. The idea of what is normal changes from one decade to another.

Behavior can be normal for an individual when it is consistent with the most common behavior for that person. “Normal” is also used to describe when someone’s behavior conforms to the most common behavior in society. Definitions of normality vary by person, time, place, and situation – it changes along with changing societal standards and norms. Normal behavior is often only recognized in contrast to abnormality. In its simplest form, normality is seen as good while abnormality is seen as bad. Someone being seen as “normal” or “not normal” can have social ramifications, including being included, excluded or stigmatized by larger society.

Although it is difficult to define normality, since it is a flexible concept, the existence of these ramifications also makes it an important definition. The study of what is normal is called normatology – this field attempts to develop an operational definition distinguishing between normality and abnormality (or pathology). The general question of ‘what is normal’ is discussed in many fields, including philosophy, psychology and sociology.

As part of the LGBT community, we are often seen by some as being abnormal, but really that is just an aberration.  Because we are all unique, I don’t think there truly is anything as normal or abnormal.  Teaching high school and college, I’ve known many students who buck the norm.  They want to be different, and they have no desire to be like all of the others.  Our former principal believed that for those who were outside the norm, bullying them back into the fold was natural and worth encouraging.  I, and most of the other teachers, believed that he could not be more wrong.  The uniqueness of students, and people in general, are what makes us such a wonderful society.  We don’t live in a totalitarian society or even a utopia where everyone is the same and there is no reason for normal v. abnormal.  For me, such a society would be a very boring place.  Instead, it takes all of our uniqueness to make the world a better place.  We all have our talents and individuality.

How can we claim that just because someone is different (especially when we are all different in some way) that anything is abnormal?  The definitions of normal and abnormal have long been reasons used for discrimination and hatred.  We all have a little bit of discrimination in us.  We all look at someone and think: they are a bit odd.  Truthfully though, we should embrace those differences and allow the world to be a better place for it.

We should embrace the rainbow of diversity. The use of rainbow flags as a sign of diversity, inclusiveness, hope and of yearning has a long history. This denotation goes back to the rainbow as a symbol of biblical promise. Aside from the obvious symbolism of a mixed LGBT community, the colors were designed to symbolize: red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), blue (harmony), and purple/violet (spirit). Just as one of the most well-recognized symbols within our community denotes diversity, why would we even want a world that was “normal”?


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