Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Puppy Episode

Ellen senses a kindred spirit in herself when she meets an openly gay woman, named Susan, through Richard, an old boyfriend of hers, who enlightens Ellen to her own sexual identity. Confused by this startling self-discovery, Ellen seeks the guidance of yet another therapist and braces herself for yet another moment of truth of her life.

After a discussion with her therapist, Ellen decides to tell the truth about her true repressed sexual orientation to her friends by inviting them over to her apartment to break the news so she can be at peace. Meanwhile, Ellen’s hopes for a relationship with Susan are dashed when she tells Ellen that she’s not interested, but gives Ellen further confidence to embrace her newfound life.
Fifteen years ago today, Ellen DeGeneres’s character Ellen Morgan came out of the closet while 42 million Americans watched.  During the fourth season of Ellen in 1997, DeGeneres came out publicly as a lesbian in an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.  Shortly afterwards on the April 30, 1997, episode of Ellen title “The Puppy Episode,” her character Ellen Morgan also came out to a therapist played by Winfrey, and the series went on to explore various LGBT issues including the coming out process. 
Thank you Ellen for an inspirational fifteen years.

When Jesus Met Homeless LGBT Youth

When Jesus Met Homeless LGBT Youth 
Joseph Amodeo

Allow me to retell a well-known story from the Gospels:

Jesus was entering a town when homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!” Jesus ignored the young people and his disciples encouraged him to send them away. For a moment in the story, Christ turns to his disciples and aligns himself with them saying that he only came for the house of Israel. As the young people are ignored, they become persistent in calling out to Christ and finally Christ stops ignoring their cries for help, turns to the young people, and says, “O young people, great is your faith!”

Now perhaps you’re wondering where these words are in the Gospels, but we need only look at the story of the encounter between Jesus and the Canaanite woman to see that Christ stands with those in need. The story of the Canaanite woman is of particular relevance to the current situation involving Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the invitation for him to meet with homeless LGBT youth to hear their stories and dialogue with them. It is in the light of this Gospel reading from Matthew (15:21-28) that I hold great hope that Cardinal Dolan will follow the example of Christ and that even amid calls from others to simply “look the other way,” he will turn and stop ignoring the cries of young people in need.

The welcoming and all-inclusive message of Christ is further seen in the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 1-10). When Jesus calls out to Zaccahaeus and tells him that he would like to stay at his home, the crowd refers to Zaccahaeus as “a sinner”; however, Jesus does not succumb to their words of condemnation, but rather sees Zaccahaeus as a “descendent of Abraham.”

Both of these stories remind me that the Church is at its core a welcoming and affirming assembly dedicated to living the message of Christ in a way that reaches the most vulnerable among us. The experience of the Canaanite woman demonstrates that even religious law is not always right and just, but rather sometimes we are called to witness truth in the present moment. In the case of Zaccahaeus, we are taught that Christ sees each of us as being created in God’s image and likeness.

When I launched the petition calling upon Cardinal Dolan to meet with homeless LGBT youth, hear their stories and dialogue with them, I did so because I believe the time has come for the Church to no longer ignore the stories of LGBT people, but rather to encounter and discern them. The notion that we live in a country where 30 percent to 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, should be startling enough to awaken the hearts of Catholic leaders so as to work with the community to solve this epidemic. The Church must recognize its role in creating an environment that is safe and affirming for all youth without exception. This is the Gospel message of inclusion.

In light of this call upon Cardinal Dolan, the reality is that the vast majority of Roman Catholics support their LGBT sisters and brothers. I have visited a number of parishes throughout the United States, where I have seen firsthand communities of faith living the message of inclusion. This is what we are calling upon the American hierarchy to witness — witness the prophetic voice of those in the pews and those who courageously preach the Gospel’s message not of law, but of peace and love. The petition to Cardinal Dolan does not challenge Church teaching, but rather it asks the Cardinal — and others in the American hierarchy — to look into the faces of homeless LGBT youth and in doing so look into the face of Christ. This petition is not a political statement nor a profession of faith, but rather it is a contemplative action that represents a society-wide prayer: a prayer that one day we might come to see the dignity that is inherent in every human being.

I hope you will join me, and nearly 2,000 other people of faith, in asking Cardinal Dolan to follow the humble example of a man who nearly 2,000 years ago stopped ignoring a woman because of laws, turned to her, listened and witnessed the great faith she exhibited. This same man sought a place to rest in the home of person that others deemed a sinner, but Christ saw as a righteous man in the eyes of God. It is with this understanding of Christ, that I launched the petition inviting Cardinal Dolan to enter into a dialogue with those most in need, so as to begin to understand the LGBT experience and see the dignity of the human person. Perhaps at that moment, Dolan will turn to our community and say, “My gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers, great is your faith” and “Today salvation has come to this house because LGBT people are descendants of Abraham.”

This post was originally written for Believe Out Loud’s blog.
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Moment of Zen: Coppertone

The Original…

And How Can They Breathe?

funny pictures history - And How Can They Breathe?

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Gay Student Says Attack Was A Hate Crime

An openly gay Illinois State University student had to have his jaw wired shut after allegedly being beaten by a group of men who shouted homophobic slurs as he was returning home after a party.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that 23-year-old Eric Unger was walking home when a group of five to eight African-American males passed him from behind, and one of them knocked his cell phone out of his hand. After he asked “what their problem was,” Unger says the group attacked him, hurling anti-gay epithets.

“They just wanted to hurt somebody,” Unger, a family relations major who hopes to work with LGBT youth, recalled for CBS. “The last thing I remember is just being blindsided by six or eight guys, and then I woke up on the concrete.”

Unger reportedly suffered scrapes and bruises around his face, broken teeth, and a fractured jaw. Unger had to have his jaw wired shut for the next four to six weeks, leaving him with limited speech and on a liquid-only diet as he recovers, the Chicago Phoenix is reporting.
At present, the Normal Police Department have not classified the attack as a hate crime. “At this point, that’s part of our investigation,” Chief of Police Rick Bleichner told the Phoenix. “Initially, there was no claim about that. That’s why we are doing the investigation to determine anything further about that.”
Unger, however, begs to differ. “I know this is a hate crime, just because of the words that they said and just how they were saying it,” he told CBS. “You know, if there was a group of white guys, you know, attacking a black guy, saying [discriminatory] words to him, that would be a hate crime, wouldn’t it?”

SOURCE: Huffington Post, Eric Unger, Gay Illinois State University Student, Claims Brutal Attack Was Hate Crime. 04/25/2012 by

Just Because…

…I’d love to be in Venice, Italy, right now.

Morning Express

Morning Express
Along the wind-swept platform, pinched and white,
The travellers stand in pools of wintry light,
Offering themselves to morn’s long slanting arrows.
The train’s due; porters trundle laden barrows.
The train steams in, volleying resplendent clouds
Of sun-blown vapour. Hither and about,
Scared people hurry, storming the doors in crowds.
The officials seem to waken with a shout,
Resolved to hoist and plunder; some to the vans
Leap; others rumble the milk in gleaming cans.
Boys, indolent-eyed, from baskets leaning back,
Question each face; a man with a hammer steals
Stooping from coach to coach; with clang and clack,
Touches and tests, and listens to the wheels.
Guard sounds a warning whistle, points to the clock
With brandished flag, and on his folded flock
Claps the last door: the monster grunts; ‘Enough!’
Tightening his load of links with pant and puff.
Under the arch, then forth into blue day;
Glide the processional windows on their way,
And glimpse the stately folk who sit at ease
To view the world like kings taking the seas
In prosperous weather: drifting banners tell
Their progress to the counties; with them goes
The clamour of their journeying; while those
Who sped them stand to wave a last farewell.
A poem written by:

An English war poet, Sassoon was also known for his fictionalised autobiographies, praised for their evocation of English country life.

Siegfried Sassoon was born on 8 September 1886 in Kent. His father was part of a Jewish merchant family, originally from Iran and India, and his mother part of the artistic Thorneycroft family. Sassoon studied at Cambridge University but left without a degree. He then lived the life of a country gentleman, hunting and playing cricket while also publishing small volumes of poetry.

In May 1915, Sassoon was commissioned into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and went to France. He impressed many with his bravery in the front line and was given the nickname ‘Mad Jack’ for his near-suicidal exploits. He was decorated twice. His brother Hamo was killed in November 1915 at Gallipoli.

In the summer of 1916, Sassoon was sent to England to recover from fever. He went back to the front, but was wounded in April 1917 and returned home. Meetings with several prominent pacifists, including Bertrand Russell, had reinforced his growing disillusionment with the war and in June 1917 he wrote a letter that was published in the Times in which he said that the war was being deliberately and unnecessarily prolonged by the government. As a decorated war hero and published poet, this caused public outrage. It was only his friend and fellow poet, Robert Graves, who prevented him from being court-martialled by convincing the authorities that Sassoon had shell-shock. He was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh for treatment. Here he met, and greatly influenced, Wilfred Owen. Both men returned to the front where Owen was killed in 1918. Sassoon was posted to Palestine and then returned to France, where he was again wounded, spending the remainder of the war in England. Many of his war poems were published in The Old Huntsman (1917) and Counter-Attack (1918).

After the war Sassoon spent a brief period as literary editor of the Daily Herald before going to the United States, travelling the length and breadth of the country on a speaking tour. He then started writing the near-autobiographical novel Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man (1928). It was an immediate success, and was followed by others including Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930) and Sherston’s Progress (1936). Sassoon had a number of homosexual affairs but in 1933 surprised many of his friends by marrying Hester Gatty. They had a son, George, but the marriage broke down after World War Two.

He continued to write both prose and poetry. In 1957, he was received into the Catholic church. He died on 1 September 1967.

The Conch Republic

The Conch Republic was established by secession of the Florida Keys from the United States of America, on April 23rd, 1982 in response to a United States Border Patrol Blockade setup on highway U.S.1 at Florida City just to the north of the Florida Keys. This heinous act effectively isolated Keys Citizens from the U.S. mainland since the blockade was on our only land artery to and from the mainland. This roadblock portrayed Keys residents as non-U.S. citizens who had to prove their citizenship in order to drive onto the Florida mainland! Hardly an American thing to do!

 Today, the Conch Republic celebrates its thirtieth birthday. The thirtieth anniversary celebration runs from April 20-29. The gay community of Key West joins in o the celebration with several events at the Bourbon Street Pub. Key West’s Great Conch Republic Drag Race wore Saturday. The race featured 16 high-heeled female impersonators navigating across an obstacle course filled with automobile tires and scantily-clad passengers in shopping carts. According to the Florida Keys News Bureau, the race was hosted by the republic’s Bourbon Street Pub Complex, where contestants raced down Duval Street, or the fittingly nicknamed “main drag.” The wacky drag challenge has been held annually since 1982 as part of Key West’s independence celebration. This year’s celebration runs through April 29th, filled with other events to look forward to such as a reenactment of the secession, a fun sea battle with tall ships, and an open-air bed race that’s said to be “the most fun you can have in bed with your clothes on.”

 The City of Key West is a menagerie of people from all walks of life. The people of Key West are fortunate to live in a tolerant community that respects and celebrates differences. They have a vibrant gay and lesbian community and Key West has been ranked as one of the “Top Gay and Lesbian Destinations” in the world. This spirit of tolerance is evident everywhere on the Island. Filled with a funky charm, Key West is a sophisticated place with amazing restaurants, diverse entertainment, eclectic art, professional theatre, and live music that includes salsa, show tunes, disco, country, opera, and classical. Key West’s gay and lesbian guest houses are legendary, and our mainstream hotels and inns are always All Welcome. Drag shows, commitment ceremonies, water excursions, late night parties, beaches, clothing optional resorts, and the only gay & lesbian historic trolley tour make our island the preeminent LGBT vacation choice. But the best part about our town is our open and accepting attitude. “One Human Family” is our city motto, and our closets are only used for our costumes!

One of these days, I am going to have to visit Key West.  It sounds like a fantastically fun place, and one of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway, used to live there. Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West for more than ten years beginning in the 1930s. Calling Key West home, he found solace and great physical challenge in the turquoise waters that surround this tiny island.

Earth Day 2012

Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.
Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center. 
The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.
As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean AirClean Water, andEndangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”
As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.
As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.
Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.
The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.

Moment of Zen: Founding of Rome

The Founding of Rome 

 According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Romulus and his twin brother, Remus, found Rome on the site where they were suckled by a she-wolf as orphaned infants. Actually, the Romulus and Remus myth originated sometime in the fourth century B.C., and the exact date of Rome’s founding was set by the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro in the first century B.C. 
 According to the legend, Romulus and Remus were the sons of Rhea Silvia, the daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa. Alba Longa was a mythical city located in the Alban Hills southeast of what would become Rome. Before the birth of the twins, Numitor was deposed by his younger brother Amulius, who forced Rhea to become a vestal virgin so that she would not give birth to rival claimants to his title. However, Rhea was impregnated by the war god Mars and gave birth to Romulus and Remus. Amulius ordered the infants drowned in the Tiber, but they survived and washed ashore at the foot of the Palatine hill, where they were suckled by a she-wolf until they were found by the shepherd Faustulus. 
 Reared by Faustulus and his wife, the twins later became leaders of a band of young shepherd warriors. After learning their true identity, they attacked Alba Longa, killed the wicked Amulius, and restored their grandfather to the throne. The twins then decided to found a town on the site where they had been saved as infants. They soon became involved in a petty quarrel, however, and Remus was slain by his brother. Romulus then became ruler of the settlement, which was named “Rome” after him. 
To populate his town, Romulus offered asylum to fugitives and exiles. Rome lacked women, however, so Romulus invited the neighboring Sabines to a festival and abducted their women. A war then ensued, but the Sabine women intervened to prevent the Sabine men from seizing Rome. A peace treaty was drawn up, and the communities merged under the joint rule of Romulus and the Sabine king, Titus Tatius. Tatius’ early death, perhaps perpetrated by Romulus, left the Roman as the sole king again. After a long and successful rule, Romulus died under obscure circumstances. Many Romans believed he was changed into a god and worshipped him as the deity Quirinus. After Romulus, there were six more kings of Rome, the last three believed to be Etruscans. Around 509 B.C., the Roman republic was established. 
 Another Roman foundation legend, which has its origins in ancient Greece, tells of how the mythical Trojan Aeneas founded Lavinium and started a dynasty that would lead to the birth of Romulus and Remus several centuries later. In the Iliad, an epic Greek poem probably composed by Homer in the eighth century B.C., Aeneas was the only major Trojan hero to survive the Greek destruction of Troy. A passage told of how he and his descendants would rule the Trojans, but since there was no record of any such dynasty in Troy, Greek scholars proposed that Aeneas and his followers relocated. 
 In the fifth century B.C., a few Greek historians speculated that Aeneas settled at Rome, which was then still a small city-state. In the fourth century B.C., Rome began to expand within the Italian peninsula, and Romans, coming into greater contact with the Greeks, embraced the suggestion that Aeneas had a role in the foundation of their great city. In the first century B.C., the Roman poet Virgil developed the Aeneas myth in his epic poem the Aeneid, which told of Aeneas’ journey to Rome. Augustus, the first Roman emperor and emperor during Virgil’s time, and Julius Caesar, his great-uncle and predecessor as Roman ruler, were said to be descended from Aeneas.
Source of the Image above:
Bacco (version 2) by aurelio MONGE 
Bacchus was the Roman god of agriculture and wine, similar to the Greek Dionysus. 

He was the last god to join the twelve Olympians; Hestia gave up her seat for him. His plants were vines and twirling ivy. He often carried a pinecone-topped staff, and his followers were goat-footed Satyrs and Maenads, wild women who danced energetically during his festivals. 

Bacchus was the child of Jupiter (whose Greek name is Zeus) and Semele, a human whom Juno (whose Greek name is Hera) had tricked into asking to see Jupiter as he really was. Since she was a mortal, she was burned up by the sight of Jupiter in his divine form. So Jupiter sewed the infant Bacchus into his thigh, and gave birth to him nine months later. As a child, Bacchus was tutored by Silenus, who was a great lover of wine and often had to be carried on the back of a donkey. Before he took his place at Olympus, Bacchus wandered the world for many years, going as far as India to teach people how to grow vines. 
Aurelio Monge ©2011 
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