Monthly Archives: May 2012

Obama and Gay Marriage

We all know by now that Obama has stated his support for gay marriage, but what does that really mean for us?  Quite frankly, I think we have some of the worst choices for president in this election season than we have had in decades.  It’s one thing to vote for the lesser of two evils, which is what we often do, but I am truly torn about this election.  Let me get this out of the way first, I will not vote for Mitt Romney, but I don’t particularly relish the idea of voting for Obama.  Yes, there are many things that Obama has done for the LGBT community (is it enough?); yet, I can’t see much of what he has done for the economy.  Though I have a full-time job (and a part-time job), I am still under-employed and struggle more and more each day to pay my bills.  That was not the case four years ago.
Recently, I read an editorial from the Huffington Post by R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. And though this editorial did not form my opinion about Obama’s recent support for gay marriage, it does make some of the same points that I first thought.  Is this just a political ploy? Is it merely a distraction? Is Obama completely sincere or does he just not like being showed up by his VP?  Whatever the reason, which I hope was in all sincerity, here is an excerpt from Cooper’s editorial:

The ancient Romans mastered the art of appeasing a restless populace through spectacle. With the president’s announcement regarding marriage, Americans are seeing panem et circenses, “bread and circuses,” in action, when what we really need are jobs.
To be clear, President Barack Obama’s support for the freedom to marry is a landmark in the long march to equality. Log Cabin Republicans have long believed that supporting the freedom to marry is the right thing to do, and the president’s joining this effort is in the nation’s best interest. That said, Americans can be certain that the President would not have made this decision at this time if it were not in his best political interests. In addition to energizing the liberal base and distracting attention from a failed economic record, the trap has been laid for any Republican who responds with intolerance.
By rejecting not only marriage but civil unions and allowing senior campaign advisor Ed Gillespie to resurrect the twice-failed Federal Marriage Amendment, Governor Mitt Romney has taken the bait. This is a mistake. Both rank-and-file Republicans and senior strategists are recognizing that in today’s political climate, anti-gay politics is not the powerful wedge issue it once was, and now the wedge cuts both ways.

I would love to hear what you guys think. I am always surprised at the political spectrum that the rainbow community that reads my blog has.  Though, I think we all assume that the LGBT community is very liberal, we often find that just as we are a diverse community, we also hold diverse political views.

To read the entire editorial, click the link below.

Teacher Writes On Facebook That Being Gay Is ‘The Same As Murder’

Jack Conkling, a Prairie Hills Middle School social studies teacher and Buhler High School assistant women’s basketball coach in Buhler, Kan., is under fire after equating being gay to being a murderer on his Facebook profile, the Hutchinson News reports.

In his post, Conkling comments on gay marriage, writing that homosexuality “ranks in God’s eyes the same as murder, lying, stealing, or cheating.”

According to the paper, several of his students who were also his Facebook friends left comments on the post, something that led the school to eventually take notice.

“I wrote what I wrote for my Facebook friends who understand my heart and my intent,” Conkling told the Hutchinson News. “I understand that there were some folks who didn’t understand my heart, and while that’s sad, it is what it is.”

While the school district has no Facebook policy for its teachers, Craig Williams, the middle school’s principal, said school officials are “looking into it.”

In a news release, Kansas Equality Coalition Executive Director Thomas Witt condemned Conkling’s public sentiments, saying it isolates students.

“What would Mr. Conkling say to a student who is getting bullied for being gay or lesbian,” Witt said in the statement, according to the blog “Gay Star News.”

The full text of Conkling’s Facebook rant, courtesy of The Advocate:

“All this talk in the news about gay marriage recently has finally driven me to write. Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong. The Bible clearly states it is sin. Now I do not claim it to be a sin any worse than other sins. It ranks in God’s eyes the same as murder, lying, stealing, or cheating. His standards are perfect and ALL have sinned and fallen short of His glory. Sin is sin and we all deserve hell. Only those who accept Christ as Lord and daily with the help of the Spirit do their best to turn from sin will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. There aren’t multiple ways to get to Heaven. There is one. To many this may seem close minded and antagonistic, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Folks I am willing to admit that my depravity is just as great as anyone else’s, and without Christ I’d be destined for hell, if not for the undeserved grace of God. I’m not condemning gay marriage because I hate gay people. I am doing it because those who embrace it will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And I desire that for no one.”

As more are embracing social media as a regular method of communication and information sharing, school districts across the country are grappling with how to keep online interactions among students and teachers constructive.

States from Missouri to New York have adopted social media policies that prohibit or restrict communication between students and teachers on social media sites like Facebook — regulations that have been met with mixed responses.

Greater online exposure has also heightened scrutiny of educators’ personal lives and opinions, which sometimes puts those teachers’ employment security at risk.

Viki Knox, a special education teacher in New Jersey, was investigated last fall for posting anti-gay comments on Facebook. She reportedly wrote on the site that homosexuality is “a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation,” and a “sin” that “breeds like cancer.”

Last fall, Florida teacher Jerry Buell was reassigned after an anti-gay Facebook post that denounced New York’s decision to allow same-sex marriage. Buell wrote that he “almost threw up” when he heard the news.

“If they want to call it a union, go ahead,” Buell wrote. “But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”

And in March, Christine Rubino, a teacher in New York, found herself under fire after posting to Facebook inflammatory comments about her students. A day after a Harlem girl drowned at a New York area beach, Rubino suggested that her students should take a beach trip. “I hate their guts,” she wrote, according to the New York Post.

It’s so sad to me when people like this are educating America’s children. We need to be teaching love and acceptance, not perpetuating hate. I have a strict policy that I follow when it comes to Facebook, I do not ‘friend’ students, nor do I accept their friend requests. Once the graduate or no longer attend my school, I will reconsider. However, not all of our teachers have this policy. Some use Facebook extensively, mostly to gather gossip. No matter what someone believes, Facebook should not allow people to perpetuate hate. What Jack Conkling did was highly inappropriate; now, we will have to see what the administrators at his school does.

Moment of Zen: On the River

We had our end of the year faculty party on the river this year.  We had a great time!

Last Dance: Disco Queen Donna Summer dies at 63

By MESFIN FEKADU, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Like the King of Pop or the Queen of Soul, Donna Summer was bestowed a title fitting of musical royalty — the Queen of Disco.

Yet unlike Michael Jackson or Aretha Franklin, it was a designation she wasn’t comfortable embracing.

“I grew up on rock ‘n’ roll,” Summer once said when explaining her reluctance to claim the title.

Indeed, as disco boomed then crashed in a single decade in the 1970s, Summer, the beautiful voice and face of the genre with pulsating hits like “I Feel Love,” ”Love to Love You Baby” and “Last Dance,” would continue to make hits incorporating the rock roots she so loved. One of her biggest hits, “She Works Hard for the Money,” came in the early 1980s and relied on a smoldering guitar solo as well as Summer’s booming voice.

Yet it was with her disco anthems that she would have the most impact in music, and it’s how she was remembered Thursday as news spread of her death at age 63.

Summer died of cancer Thursday morning in Naples, Fla., said her publicist Brian Edwards. Her family released a statement saying they “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”

Luminaries from Aretha Franklin to Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand mourned the loss, as did President Barack Obama, who said he and Michelle were saddened to hear of the passing of the five-time Grammy winner. “Her voice was unforgettable, and the music industry has lost a legend far too soon,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Donna’s family and her dedicated fans.”

It had been decades since that brief, flashy moment when Summer was every inch the Disco Queen.

Her glittery gowns and long eyelashes. Her luxurious hair and glossy, open lips. Her sultry vocals, her bedroom moans and sighs. She was as much a part of the culture as disco balls, polyester, platform shoes and the music’s pulsing, pounding rhythms.

Summer’s music gave voice to not only a musical revolution, but a cultural one — a time when sex, race, fashion and drugs were being explored and exploited with freedom like never before in the United States.

Her rise was inseparable from disco’s itself, even though she remained popular for years after the genre she helped invent had died. She won a Grammy for best rock vocal performance for “Hot Stuff,” a fiery guitar-based song that represented her shift from disco to more rock-based sounds, and created another kind of anthem with “She Works Hard for the Money,” this time for women’s rights.

Elton John said in a statement that Summer was more than the Queen of Disco.

“Her records sound as good today as they ever did. That she has never been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted,” he said. “She is a great friend to me and to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and I will miss her greatly.”

Summer may not have liked the title and later became a born-again Christian, but many remembered her best for her early years, starting with the sinful “Love to Love You Baby.”

Released in 1975, a breakthrough hit for Summer and for disco, it was a legend of studio ecstasy and the genre’s ultimate sexual anthem. Summer came up with the idea of the song and first recorded it as a demo in 1975, on the condition that another singer perform it commercially. But Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart liked the track so much that he suggested to producer Giorgio Morodor they re-record it, and make it longer — what would come to be known as a “disco disc.”

Summer had reservations about the lyrics — “Do it to me again and again” — but imagined herself as a movie star playing a part as if she were Marilyn Monroe. So she agreed to sing, lying down on the studio floor, in darkness, and letting her imagination take over. Solo and multitracked, she whispered, she groaned, she crooned. Drums, bass, strings and keyboards answered her cries. She simulated climax so many times that the BBC kept count: 23, in 17 minutes.

What started as a scandal became a classic. The song was later sampled by LL Cool J, Timbaland and Beyonce, who interpolated the hit for her jam “Naughty Girl.” It was also Summer’s U.S. chart debut and the first of 19 No. 1 dance hits between 1975 and 2008 — second only to Madonna.

Summer, real name LaDonna Adrian Gaines, was born in 1948 in Boston. She was raised on gospel music and became the soloist in her church choir by age 10.

“There was no question I would be a singer, I just always knew. I had credit in my neighborhood, people would lend me money and tell me to pay it back when I got famous,” Summer said in a 1989 interview with The Associated Press.

Before disco, she had already reinvented herself several times. She sang Motown songs with local groups in Boston as a teenager, then dropped out of school in the late 1960s and switched to pyschedelic rock after hearing Janis Joplin. An attempt to get a part in the musical “Hair” led her to get the principal role in Munich. She stayed in Germany for five years, worked in other productions and modeled.

Meanwhile, she was performing in operas, singing backup for Three Dog Night and other groups and releasing songs of her own. A marriage to Helmuth Sommer didn’t last, but the singer did hold on to her ex-husband’s last name, changing it to “Summer.” By 1974, she had met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and released her first album, “Lady of the Night,” to success in Europe.

Then came “Love to Love You Baby,” her memorable U.S. debut. Through the rest of the disco era she burned up the charts: She was the only artist to have three consecutive double-LPs hit No. 1, “Live and More,” ”Bad Girls” and “On the Radio.” She was also the first female artist with four No. 1 singles in a 13-month period, according to the Rock Hall of Fame, where she was a nominee this year but was passed over.

Musically, she began to change in 1979 with “Hot Stuff,” which had a tough, rock ‘n’ roll beat. Her diverse sound helped her earn Grammy Awards in the dance, rock, R&B and inspirational categories.
Summer said grew up on rock ‘n’ roll and later covered the Bruce Springsteen song “Protection.”

“I like the Moody Blues, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as well as Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, the Supremes and Temptations,” she said. “I didn’t know many white kids who didn’t know the Supremes; I don’t know many black kids who don’t know the Moody Blues.”

Warwick said in a statement that she was sad to lose a great performer and “dear friend.”

“My heart goes out to her husband and her children,” Warwick said. “Prayers will be said to keep them strong.”

Summer later became a born-again Christian and was accused of making anti-gay comments in relation to the AIDS epidemic — a particular problem for a woman who was and remains a gay icon. Summer denied making the comments, but became the target of a boycott.

Religion played an important role in her later life, said Michael Levine, who briefly worked as her publicist. “Her passion in her life, besides music, was God, spirituality and religion. She held a bible study class at her home every week,” he said.

Summer released her last album, “Crayons,” in 2008. It was her first full studio album in 17 years. She also performed on “American Idol” that year with its top female contestants.

Summer is survived by her husband, Bruce Sudano, and three daughters, Brooklyn, Mimi and Amanda. AP National Writer Hillel Italie in New York and AP Music Writer Nekesa Moody and Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

"Whatever raises your skirt, man."

I have been in love with Matthew McConaughey since I saw him in “A Time to Kill.”. He is one hell of a sexy man.  I saw the story below on the Huffington Post, and since I can’t wait to see “Magic Mike,” I wanted to share this story with you.  I hope that you enjoy.

Matthew McConaughey Talks ‘Magic Mike,’ Gay Fans And How He’d React If His Kids Came Out

Matthew McConaughey’s gay fans are no doubt looking forward to “Magic Mike,” which will feature scenes of the star stripping down to a thong alongside fellow heartthrobs Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello.
But the 42-year-old hunk has always enjoyed a sizable gay fanbase, which he discusses at length in a new interview with The Advocate.
“It’s much appreciated,” he tells writer Brandon Voss of the support from the gay community. “You know, I have some good friends of my own who happen to be gay, and when it comes to gay, straight, or whatever, I’m for anything life-affirmative. I’m for gay power, straight power, male power, female power; everybody should feel empowered without oppressing anyone who’s different.” He then went on to note. “I’ve had some great conversations with a lot of gay people about being gay, when they knew, how they came out, and how they live…It’s all very interesting to me on a human level, because we’re all in this together.”
McConaughey, who has been the subject of a number of rumors about his own sexuality, also recalls a time when a gay friend made a pass at him in college. “I went like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” and he freaked out,” he said. “I think he thought I was going to be violent or something. I stopped him and said, ‘Hang on, I’m not gay, but I like you as a friend. I’m sorry if you misread my friendship, but I still want to be your friend.’ He was crying, and I remember giving him a hug and saying, ‘Dude, it’s fine. Whatever raises your skirt, man.'”
On how he’d react if one of his children with fiancee Camila Alves eventually came out of the closet, he added, “There’s nothing in me that can understand disowning your child because they’re gay. You deal with it, you support them, and you also help prepare them for how some people in the world will treat and think of them.”

All Over But the Shoutin’

School is almost out.  In fact, as they say in the South, it’s all over but the shouting’.  All that is left to do is the end of the year stuff and semester exams.

By the way, if you’ve never read the book by Rick Bragg’s, All Over But the Shoutin’,then I highly suggest you read it.

This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. It is the story of Bragg’s father, a hard-drinking man with a murderous temper and the habit of running out on the people who needed him most.

But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg’s mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people’s cotton so that her children wouldn’t have to live on welfare alone. Evoking these lives–and the country that shaped and nourished them–with artistry, honesty, and compassion, Rick Bragg brings home the love and suffering that lie at the heart of every family. The result is unforgettable.

One reason Rick Bragg won a Pulitzer Prize for his feature articles at the New York Times is that he never forgets his roots. When he writes about death and violence in urban slums, Bragg draws on firsthand knowledge of how poverty deforms lives and on his personal belief in the dignity of poor people. His memoir of a hardscrabble Southern youth pays moving tribute to his indomitable mother and struggles to forgive his drunken father. All Over but the Shoutin’ is beautifully achieved on both these counts–and many more.

Belle of Amherst

This image, just reminds me of something very Emily Dickinson-esque.

Emily Dickinson

This was a Poet — It is That
Distills amazing sense
From ordinary Meanings —
And Attar so immense
From the familiar species
That perished by the Door —
We wonder it was not Ourselves
Arrested it — before —
Of Pictures, the Discloser —
The Poet — it is He —
Entitles Us — by Contrast —
To ceaseless Poverty —
Of portion — so unconscious —
The Robbing — could not harm —
Himself — to Him — a Fortune —
Exterior — to Time —
Was Emily Dickinson a Lesbian?

A question that intrigues scholars and readers alike: was Emily Dickinson a lesbian? While there’s not (to this date, anyway) direct evidence that Dickinson was sexually active with either men or women, she did write passionate letters to women (as did many women of that age). Some historians find this as evidence of what today would be called lesbianism — others point to incidents where she seemed to be in love with men as counter-evidence.

Art and Degas

I have been working this weekend on some promotions for my schools new art club.  This has gotten me to think about art, and though, Edgar Degas was characterized as an “old curmudgeon” this quote below is quite beautiful.

Young Spartans Exercising, also known as Young Spartans, is an oil on canvas painting by French impressionist artist Edgar Degas. The work depicts two groups of male and female Spartan youths exercising, though the subject matter of the painting has, in recent times, been challenged. The work is now in the permanent collection of The National Gallery in London.

Edgar Degas was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. A superb draftsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half of his works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and depiction of human isolation.
Early in his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life.

Mother’s Day

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I hope that we all think of our mothers today. I love my mama, but like all mothers, she drives me crazy sometimes. She has been in a long, five year period of depression since she found out I was gay, but that was relieved somewhat by the birth of my niece, so she now has the grand-baby she always wanted. She is still convinced I am going to hell, but she doesn’t say it as much anymore. As long as it is a “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t discuss” situation, we get along great.

So even if your mother drives you crazy, I hope that you still have a good relationship with her and tell her how much you love her today.

I love you, Mama.

(She would surely die if she ever saw this blog, but I did choose a picture of sunflowers because they are her favorite.)

Moment of Zen: Quiet Darkness

I suffered from a terrible migraine that just would not go away on Thursday, so my moment of Zen was when I found a quiet, dark place to rest and recover.  If you suffer from migraines, then you probably know what I mean.