Monthly Archives: January 2013

Jim Nabors, AKA Gomer Pyle

The gay news was abuzz about the reports that not only was Jim Nabors gay, but also that he married his partner of thirty-eight years recently in Seattle, Washington.  The thing is, and maybe it’s just Alabama knowledge (he was raised in Alabama), that Jim Nabors is gay.  I’ve known that for many years, though I can’t remember when I first learned this fact.  He just was, it was accepted, and no one made a big deal about it.  The news media is treating it like he just came out, even though there were apparently no exclamations of “Shazam!” or “Golly!” — just a simple exchange of rings in front of a judge in a Seattle hotel room, after which Jim Nabors, the star of television’s “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” married Stan Cadwallader, his partner of 38 years, according to a report by a Hawaiian television news station.

On January 29, 2013, Hawaii News Now reported that Nabors married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, at Seattle, Washington‘s Fairmont Olympic Hotel on January 15. (Same-sex marriage became legal in Washington the previous month.) The news program quoted Nabors as saying that though he had always been open about his sexuality to co-workers in the entertainment industry, he did not plan to get involved in the national debate over gay marriage.

“I haven’t ever made a public spectacle of it,” Mr. Nabors said, according to Hawaii News Now. “Well, I’ve known since I was a child, so, come on. It’s not that kind of a thing. I’ve never made a huge secret of it at all.”
Mr. Nabors, who was born and raised in Sylacauga, Ala., originated the character of the hapless but loveable gas-station attendant Gomer Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show,” and reprised the role in five seasons of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” (on which the goofball character was perpetually making trouble for his military superiors). Mr. Nabors also appeared on “The Carol Burnett Show,” “The Muppet Show,” and his own variety series, “The Jim Nabors Hour.”
An urban legend maintains that Nabors married Rock Hudson in the 1970s. In fact, the two were never more than friends. According to Hudson, the legend originated with a group of “middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach” who sent out joke invitations for their annual get-together. One year, the group invited its members to witness “the marriage of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors,” at which Hudson would take the surname of Nabors’ most famous character, Gomer Pyle, becoming “Rock Pyle.” Those who failed to get the joke spread the rumor. At the time Nabors was dating his boyfriend, Stan, whom he eventually married; Hudson was also gay but closeted, and because of the fear that one or both of them might be outed, Nabors and Hudson never spoke to each other again.
Sent from my iPad

My body is your compass

My body is your compass. 
North is where the whispers go 
And where the smiles reside for you
 East and West are there to support you 
To hold you and to help carry your load in life 
And South is the heart and soul and heat… 
Everything to sustain and shelter you. North, South, East, West… 
All directions lead you home.
A beautiful post from Homo Eroticus, that I wanted to share with all of you.

At the Gym

At the Gym
Mark Doty

This salt-stain spot
marks the place where men
lay down their heads,
back to the bench,
and hoist nothing
that need be lifted
but some burden they’ve chosen
this time: more reps,
more weight, the upward shove
of it leaving, collectively,
this sign of where we’ve been:
shroud-stain, negative
flashed onto the vinyl
where we push something
unyielding skyward,
gaining some power
at least over flesh,
which goads with desire,
and terrifies with frailty.
Who could say who’s
added his heat to the nimbus
of our intent, here where
we make ourselves:
something difficult
lifted, pressed or curled,
Power over beauty,
power over power!
Though there’s something more
tender, beneath our vanity,
our will to become objects
of desire: we sweat the mark
of our presence onto the cloth.
Here is some halo
the living made together.

From Source by Mark Doty, published by HarperCollins. Copyright © 2002 by Mark Doty. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

About Mark Doty:

Mark Doty was born in 1953. He is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2008), which received the National Book Award; School of the Arts (2005); Source (2002); and Sweet Machine (1998).

Other collections include Atlantis (1995), which received the Ambassador Book Award, the Bingham Poetry Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award; My Alexandria (1993), chosen by Philip Levine for the National Poetry Series, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and Britain’s T. S. Eliot Prize, and was also a National Book Award finalist; Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (1991); and Turtle, Swan (1987).

In 2010, Graywolf Books published a collection of essays on poetry titled The Art of Description: World into Word, in which Doty asserts that “poetry concretizes the singular, unrepeatable moment; it hammers out of speech a form for how it feels to be oneself.”

He has also published Heaven’s Coast (1996), which received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. Other memoirs by Doty includes Firebird (1999), Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy (2000), and Dog Years(HarperCollins, 2007).

Doty has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ingram Merrill, Rockefeller, and Whiting foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected an Academy Chancellor in 2011. He has taught at the University of Houston and is currently serving as a Distinguished Writer at Rutgers University. He currently lives in New York City.


Spartacus

Does anyone watch the series Spartacus? I watched the first season when Andy Whitfield was the gorgeous and badass Spartacus, but had not kept up with the series.  Recently, I have been watching it again.  Last night I watched the season premiere of Spartacus: War of the Damned.

When the Starz Network announced Aussie actor Liam McIntyre would be taking over the role of Spartacus from Andy Whitfield, I wasn’t for sure that anyone could replace him, but Liam McIntyre has done an admirable job.

Whitfield, who had left the series after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, had amassed a legion of admirers in one short season of Spartacus. Some felt that the sword and sandals epic would have a difficult time continuing without the actor who had become synonymous with the show – a feeling that only worsened after Whitfield passed away.

However, McIntyre overcame tremendous odds to win the hearts of the show’s fans, not by attempting to duplicate Whitfield’s interpretation of the character, but by respecting the actor enough to take Spartacus in a new direction and help the popular show soldier on.

Featuring an army of scantily clad, gorgeous gladiators, Spartacus is a series that easily caught the attention of LGBT fans from the first episode. However, it takes more than a serving of skin to turn a TV show into the pop culture phenomenon Spartacus has become. The series quickly unfolded into an intriguing tale of power, honor, vengeance, and romance — romance which includes the love story that began last season between two gay rebel warriors, Agron (played by Dan Feuerriegel) and Nasir (Pana Hema-Taylor). 

If you can get past the blood and gore and the fact that it does not even attempt to be historical, the show is pretty entertaining, especially the eye candy.

Someone thinks you’re sinning. Now it’s your move.

We Christians have a lot of debates.

To those on the outside, it may seem that we’re always arguing with each other about various points of belief.  And no arguments get quite as heated as the ones about sin.

It always seems to start when one person calls another person’s behavior into question.  “You shouldn’t do that,” they say.  “That’s a sin.”

In modern times, the gay issue has become one of the catalysts for these debates.  We who are gay and Christian get accused of sin just for being who we are, when we aren’t even doing anything!  But it’s nowhere near being the only subject of the sin debate.  Live life for long, and eventually someone will say that something you’re doing is wrong.

One of the biggest debates of Paul’s day centered on the question of meat that had been sacrificed to idols.  Christians were divided on whether this meat was okay for them to eat.  We also looked at Paul’s initial response to this question.  Believers, he said, should not do anything that might link them symbolically to pagan sacrifice.

But the issue was a bit more complicated than that.  Much of the meat available in the marketplace had been previously involved in idol worship.  How could a Christian know whether or not a certain piece of meat had been used in a sacrifice?  And furthermore, what about the idea that for a Christian, everything is permissible, since we’re no longer under the Law?

Paul addresses those questions and more in this week’s passage.
1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1
“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake – the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Here Paul reaffirms a characteristic message in his letters, that Christians are not bound by the old “written code” restrictions on how to eat and behave.  But he also reminds us that our actions do have consequences, and we must use common sense in examining the impact our actions may have on others.

Christians shouldn’t be involved in pagan sacrifices, but when meat is being sold in the marketplace, how can you possibly know where it’s been?  Paul says, go ahead and eat it in good conscience.  Everything on this earth – including that meat – belongs to God.  Similarly, if someone invites you to dinner, eat what they have to offer you.  You have nothing to fear.

But what if someone tells you that the meat has been involved in a sacrifice?  Then, Paul says, you should abstain, but “for the sake of the man who told you.”  Why?

Let’s put this back into the perspective of the debates that face us today.  As Christians, we have a tremendous amount of freedom, due to the fact that we are not under Law anymore.  When someone accuses you of sinning, remember what Paul said: “Why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?”  We are each individually accountable to God; you don’t have to justify your freedom to anyone else.

But Paul also wants us to use our freedom wisely.  We can choose to do almost anything we want, but Paul encourages us that “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  We should not use our freedom in a way that will cause others to “stumble,” including believers and unbelievers.  That sometimes means that even though something is okay for us to do, we should still abstain from it, simply because our goal isn’t to indulge ourselves but to bring glory to God.

How might our actions cause others to stumble?  There are many ways, depending on the situation.  For example, think about the use of strong language.  I can find no passage in Scripture that says that it’s a sin to use certain words.  I believe that our freedom in Christ gives us the right to use words that others may find offensive.  But, at the same time, what if your use of those words turns someone else off to the message you’re trying to convey?  What if you are a less effective witness for Christ because your language offends the person you’re trying to reach?  Shouldn’t you then voluntarily abstain from exercising your freedom, so that you can bring glory to God?

This requires a lot of prayer, humility, and self-reflection.  There are times that we must do things that others don’t like; for instance, I think that being honest about our gay identities is something that helps the church, even though some people may be offended by it.  Other times, we may choose to refrain from a behavior in order to be more effective.  Either way, our own focus must be not on what we want to do, but on what will bring the most glory to God in this situation.

“For I am not seeking my own good,” Paul reminds us, “but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

And why should we go to all this trouble?  Because, as Paul says at the end of this passage, we have the example of Christ, who went through more pain, suffering, and inconveniences than any of us ever could, in order that he might reach us.

So next time there’s a debate about sin and Christian behavior, stop and think.  How can you best glorify God in this situation: by drawing upon your freedom in Christ, or by voluntarily limiting yourself to avoid causing trouble to someone else’s conscience?

Only you can answer that question – with God’s help.


Moment of Zen: Kitty Kuddle


Fun Facts for Friday

Click picture to enlarge!

One Today: Reprise

Randy Malamud, the Regents’ professor and chair of English at Georgia State University, wrote an opinion piece for The Chronicle of Higher Education about Richard Blanco’s poem for the inauguration. Below is an excerpt of what he wrote:
Blanco—who, according to his Web site, has a “poetry dance—a little Michael Jackson-inspired shtick I do around the house in my pajamas when I am high from a good-poem day”—was a great choice for the inaugural honor. But “One Today,” in my opinion, falls flat. It reads like an early draft of what could be a good poem. I’m trying to restrain automatic prejudice against quickly made-to-order poetry, but I find the effort slapdash, and simply not very coherent.
It’s full of clichés: the din of honking cabs and buses, a songbird on a clothesline, the sun rising over the Rockies. Emotional clichés too: the father who, early in the poem, worked hard so that the son could have books and shoes, but still, later in the poem, couldn’t give his child what he wanted; the mother who rang up groceries so that the poet could write this poem. (Poets should be very wary of writing poems about writing poems.)
The title itself is awkward, elusive. Today we are one? There is only one today? Every day is today? I’m not sure.
Blanco’s imagery doesn’t resonate as clever or creative—which is, of course, the burden of poetry: pencil-yellow school buses, squeaky playground swings, the plum blush of dusk, the moon like a silent drum tapping on the rooftops. The word “howdy” should probably never appear in a poem, and certainly not sandwiched among a polyglot smorgasbord of howdies: shalom, buon giorno, namaste, buenos dias. “Crescendoing” is another word that feels out of place.
Blanco strains to bring in the 9/11 attacks, juxtaposing the handiwork of a person making the first brush stroke of a painting with that of someone completing “the last floor on the Freedom Tower / jutting into a sky that yields to our resistance.” I find this dubious, gratuitous.
Even more unexpectedly, Blanco works in a reference to the Newtown killings, in a passage that’s especially difficult to follow. A stanza that begins with images of learning and imagination takes a forced detour to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and ends oddly—it’s not clear how we got here—with churches, museums, and parks. Amid all this, in a jolting scene that strikes me as impious and insufficiently thought out, Blanco meanders into “the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain / the empty desks of twenty children marked absent / today, and forever.”
It’s not that poetry can’t or shouldn’t invoke last month’s massacre—but the decision to broach this tremendously raw tragedy should be accompanied by a sensitive, courageous, meaningful treatment that does justice to the pain as it is recalled in the poem.  There’s a heavy responsibility in writing about this. I don’t know exactly what is the right way to remember those poor children, but “marked absent / today, and forever” is not it. This misstep is a symptom of what’s too undigested, too unsettled, about “One Today” as a whole.
I think Blanco’s intent—a sensible one for the occasion—was to create a vast, varied portrait of our country. It’s the kind of task that Alexander achieved more subtly and comfortably in her poem four years ago, a smooth confluence of cultural and historical images which contrasted quotidian American life and the monumentally historic importance of Obama’s first inauguration day. Alexander’s poem has many thematic similarities with Blanco’s (children and parents, the hard work of living each day, the awe of a unifying moment in America), but she succeeds, where Blanco fails, at handling the task eloquently. I guess she works well under deadlines.
“One Today” is a frenetic mishmash.  No poetry dances here, I’m afraid.
I could not disagree more with Dr. Malamud. As one commenter wrote:
The simple poem effectively wrapped around the otherwise “frenetic mishmash” that we as Americans are and that the Inauguration Day festivities likewise were.
Patriotism may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the homespun images of diversity seemed both democratic and moving–hopeful, really, as I think the poet intended and entirely appropriate for the occasion. The image of the one moon “tapping on every rooftop and every window” is one that lingers.

 I found “One Today” to be a beautiful poem that was very pertinent to today.  It is also hopeful of a better tomorrow.  Though much of what Dr. Malamud wrote, I disagree with, I especially disagreed with the line “The title itself is awkward, elusive. Today we are one? There is only one today? Every day is today? I’m not sure.”  I do not see what is elusive or awkward about a poem that brings together Americans or that symbolizes how on Inauguration Day, we are all one.  It’s sad that Dr. Malamud missed the grace and fluidity of the poem.  The poem was straightforward and not an obtuse piece of tedious dribble that often comes from academics, which is probably part of the reason that Blanco is no longer in academia.  
Professors of English far too often want something so complicated that they only want themselves to be able to interpret it for us.  They are also a jealous bunch who loves to criticize, which is most of academia.  For every book review I wrote in college and grad school, my professors always loved the negative reviews and hated the positive ones.  Those in academia are trained to rip to shreds each others work. It is, sadly, the nature of the beast.
Every Tuesday, I post a poem to my blog. All of those I poems, I find beauty in their words.  That is what poetry is, the beautiful assemblage of words. Poetry should speak to those reading it. It should cause an emotional reaction down to your soul.  The best poems are those that are understandable and evoke strong feelings.  Whether it is there cadence or composition, poetry is, for me, the height of of wordly beauty. For whatever true problem Dr. Malamud has with Blanco’s poem, I found it to be a poem for everyone, and a poem that is for everyone to be “One Today” and hopefully tomorrow as well.  Being written and read by a gay Latino poet, “One Today” evoked the beauty of the American spirit and founding principle: E Pluribus Unum.

Reliquaries and Research

Reliquary with Finger of John the Baptist

I don’t know how many of my readers are researchers.  I know that many of you are teachers and educators.  However, one of the things that drew me into history was the research.  I have always loved libraries and archives: the smell, the feel, the intimacy of the artifacts, etc.  Currently, I am reading Donna Leon’s novel, The Jewels of Paradise, which is a departure from her Guido Brunetti novels because it focuses on a musicologist’s search for the truth about a Baroque composer.  It’s all about the research, which in many reviews people seemed to hate.  I am also reading Danielle Trussoni’s novel, Angelology: A Novel, which is partly an exploration of the research of angels.
By reading these books, I have been not only thinking of my own research into American expatriates, but also some projects that I would love to delve into if I had the resources, i.e. the time, funding, and technology.  I don’t remember exactly the passage in The Jewels of Paradisethat caused me to think about reliquaries, but I know something did.  

If you are not familiar with relics and reliquaries, here is a brief description.  Christian belief in the power of relics, the physical remains of a holy site or holy person, or objects with which they had contact, is as old as the faith itself and developed alongside it. Relics were more than mementos. The New Testament refers to the healing power of objects that were touched by Christ or his apostles. The body of the saint provided a spiritual link between life and death, between man and God: “Because of the grace remaining in the martyr, they were an inestimable treasure for the holy congregation of the faithful.” Fueled by the Christian belief in the afterlife and resurrection, in the power of the soul, and in the role of saints as advocates for humankind in heaven, the veneration of relics in the Middle Ages came to rival the sacraments in the daily life of the medieval church. Indeed, from the time of Charlemagne, it was obligatory that every altar contain a relic.

My mind sometimes wonders when I read, and I thought about a quote from Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad from 1869. In the passages about visiting Genoa, Italy, Twain mentions the number of relics he has seen and writes:
But isn’t this relic matter a little overdone? We find a piece of the true cross in every old church we go into, and some of the nails that held it together. I would not like to be positive, but I think we have seen as much as a keg of these nails. Then there is the crown of thorns; they have part of one in Sainte Chapelle, in Paris, and part of one also in Notre Dame. And as for bones of St. Denis, I feel certain we have seen enough of them to duplicate him if necessary.

So, I began to ponder this statement and thought that it would be an interesting topic to research.  If I had the resources, I would love to take an inventory of all of the Christian relics.  I’m sure the Vatican has one somewhere.  Once I had that, I would love to take a computer program that would piece together each individual relic and see if it would be possible to reconstruct at least one of the saints from the bones he left behind.. Or, more likely to see just how many fingers John the Baptist has hidden away in reliquaries.  I find relics to be a morbid fascination, though one that I would love to have the resources to explore someday.

One day, and I hope it’s one day soon, I will finally receive my PhD and will be able to reenter the world of academia and get out of teaching high school. Maybe I will one day be fortunate enough to head a major research project like the one mentioned above.

One Today

The following poem was delivered by inauguration poet Richard Blanco during ceremonies for  President Obama‘s second inaugural Monday. The text of the poem was provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

“One Today”

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper — 
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives — 
to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me — in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound 
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country — all of us —
facing the stars
hope — a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it — together


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