Monthly Archives: April 2013

Marriage Equality Is a Christian Concern by David McFarlane

I came across this piece by David McFarlane, who writes a blog called Anxious Gay Christian,  and thought it would make a wonderful Sunday post.  David McFarlane is a twenty-something writer living in Portland, Oregon. He’s gay, Christian, and less confused by it than most of the people around him. Some days he wishes he wasn’t either one. Usually he spends those days writing.  Here is what David wrote for the Huffington Post and his blog.
I probably err too much on the side of grace in most of my writing, but I believe some things necessitate taking a firm stand. Marriage equality is important for any number of civil reasons. I think it’s critical for preserving the essence of Christianity. Many have told the Church, on this issue, it’s standing on the wrong side of history. I believe it’s standing on the wrong side of theology. I say this more as a person of faith than as a gay man: I don’t believe one can truly claim to be a Christian and oppose marriage equality.
Faith is a cosmological framework to interpret everything from conflict to purpose. It guides me in such a fundamental way that offering others a glimpse of mine requires more emotional energy than I usually have. Describing faith requires, too, a vocabulary I often don’t possess, which makes sense in the context of what I believe God to be — a being beyond the comprehension of the human mind.
As someone who values empathy, I have to assume this is similar for other genuine people of faith. Knowing it manifests differently throughout lives and cultures, I try to avoid making moral proclamations and condemnations. I appreciate the respect of friends with dissimilar beliefs, and I want to show the same respect to others’ faiths. But in the weeks since the SCOTUS hearings, I’m at a loss.
I don’t understand how Christians oppose marriage equality.
I don’t. I’ve tried: I’ve read conservative blogs; I’ve read my Republican friends’ Facebook posts; I’ve reread the Bible verses (supposedly) relevant to the issue. It’s confounding to me, and writing about it is difficult because whatever inspires many of my family members and a minority of Americans to oppose marriage for gay and lesbian couples stems from something beyond my understanding of faith, the faith responsible for my joy and peace in this chaotic, troubled world.
“God clearly forbids…”
“My heart has convinced me…”
“Leviticus 18:22 says…”
Declarations such as these are personal convictions, and they’re grounded in a narrow theology. They don’t reflect the humility true faith inspires.
Depending on whom you ask, marriage equality is about family, society or moral law. It’s about civil rights or theocracy: sanctity, liberties and normalcy. It’s about politics and philosophy and the pursuit of happiness to Americans, children of the enlightenment and gay citizens. I have deep convictions about all facets of this debate, but it’s primarily as a Christian that I support marriage equality, because ultimately, more than anything else, it’s about others.
Of course it affects me as a man who hopes one day to marry a man, but my convictions transcend self-interest. If I were straight, they wouldn’t change. Maybe they’d strengthen, liberated to stem unequivocally from my faith, a faith that drives me to love others, not morally control them.
However you interpret the Bible, combating marriage for gay and lesbian couples with ballots, lobbying dollars, bumper stickers, wheels-off former SNL cast members, and any other secular means you have access to is not biblical. It doesn’t reflect the ministry of Jesus or Paul, who never advocated establishing the Torah as law over the tyrannical Romans. It doesn’t reflect the notion of sin: any impediment — internal or external — to communion between a person and the divine. Rather Christianity advocated a revolution of faith; it made religious practice personal and humble. The imposition of a moral code is the Pharisaical doctrine that incited Jesus to fury, and yet it’s what’s driven the Christian right to support traditional marriage more than education reform, clean air initiatives, or the only caveat that according to Paul reflected pure and undefiled religion: caring for orphans and widows.
Personal convictions are exactly that: personal. Even if I don’t share them I have to respect them. But as a person of faith, who reveres faith and grieves the defamation of it in our modern world, I can’t stay ambiguous about this issue. Opposition to marriage equality slanders God, true adherence to the Bible, and the revolutionary practice of faith Jesus brought to this world. I don’t understand how Christians oppose marriage equality, and I believe until they revise their politics, faith will deservedly appear antiquated, bigoted and dead to a growing majority of our world.

Sent from my iPad


Moment of Zen: Wrangler Butts

Wrangler Butts
By Aaron Watkins

Well, he’s a no good for nothing
But she wishes he was good for something
Besides his behind looking so fine
In those wragler jeans
Well all her friends can’t help but stare
At his blue denim derie’er
Wish that they were in her boots
If you know what i mean
And it may sound crazy
But those wrangler butts
Drive the cowgirls nuts

Well he lays around all day long
Stays out at night until the break of dawn
Comes crawling in dragging
Mud across her floor
Well she’d love to kick him out
But she can’t help but thinking about
All the women who are waiting line
For his 33/34’s
And it may sound crazy
But those wrangler butts
It aint healthy if they fit too tight
You know this could hurt a man
By the end of the night
It’s a powerful thing
If they fit just right
All the ladies know it’s a mighty beautiful sight

Well he’s never been one for anything
That involves books
He aint got much going for him besides his good looks
You see he always stays in trouble
When it comes down to romance
It aint a joke when they say the boy
Survives by the seat of his pants
And it may sound crazy
But those wrangler butts
Drive the cowgirls nuts
Yes it may sound crazy
But those wrangler butts
Drive the cowgirls nuts

This song may be about a woman with a good for nothing man with a great butt, but if you live in a rural area, I’m sure you know what a Wrangler Butt is.  I’ve never seen a pair of jeans that fit a man’s behind better than a pair of Wrangler Jeans.

The Artists

I was checking out Vilges Suola‘s blog, lathophobic aphasia, when I came across his most recent post about an online tool that analyses your blog and tells you who it thinks you are.  So I decided to try it out.  The first link was way off, something like an old woman 66 to 100 years old, the same thing he got.  However, when I went to the other link for Typalyser, which he states is more successful, I received what I think is a more accurate type.  Tell me what you guys think.  This is what it said:

ISFP – The Artists

The author of http://closetprofessor.blogspot.com/ is of the type ISFP.

The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people feel. They usually have a strong appreciation for art and beauty or things around them that affect the look, taste, sound or smell. 

They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders. They tend to follow the path of least resistance and have to look out not to be taken advantage of. 

They tend to value their friends and family above what they do for a living. They genuinely care about people. 

They are extremely gifted at creating and composing things that stimulates the senses, such as art, music or food. They often prefer working quietly, behind the scene as a part of a team. They have no desire to lead others and they don’t want to be led. ISFPs are sometimes not good at giving him/herself enough credit for things they did well. 

Common satisfying careers: Fashion Designer, Artists, Interior Designer, Landscape Architect, Nurse, Massage Therapist, Botanist, Teacher, Geologist, Translator, Social Worker, Occupational Therapist, Cosmetologist and Translator. 
Notable ISFPs: Ulysses S. Grant, Sofia Coppola, David Lynch, Brad Pitt, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, David Beckham, John Travolta, Liv Tylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Nero and Wicket the Ewok.
So, how accurate do you think this description is of my blog?

Choices

I want to thank everyone for their encouraging words yesterday.  And I wanted to respond to a few of the comments.  First, Vilges Suola, I think that the two boys expected that it would either rile me up or I would gossip with them.  When I did neither, but talked to them privately after class, they expected for me to bless them out.  However, I have found that at points like that, it is best to speak to them like adults.  They appreciate and hear the seriousness of my tone.  They know what I normally expect of them and this was a different kind of situation, so while they have seen the more serious and compassionate side of me, it’s rare and they listen.  They knew I was serious, and I just wanted them to understand what the repercussions could be, not for them but for the other boy. The threat of what would happen to them if they didn’t do the right thing was left unspoken, nor did it need to be spoken of.  I think the coach handled that part, but in a way that I could not.

Jay, it would not be good for me to talk to the other kid.  I think he knows they know, but he is hoping that they will keep it quiet.  I also do not think I am the best person to talk to him, because this is a kid who hates me.  He usually shows his contempt for me everyday.  It’s not for anything I do, but he’s one of those kids who thinks he’s better than the other people at our school and shows his contempt openly.  He’s also a bit of a lazy kid who does not like it when I prod him to do his work.  In other words, we do not get along.  I get along with the vast majority of the kids, but some just don’t like me and I cannot bow down to their every whim so that they will like me.  He does not need to know what I did, nor what the coach did.  I honestly believe that if he did know, it would be worse for him.  This way, as long as they keep quiet, he can continue with his denial that people don’t know, and he won’t feel as if he is being singled out.

With what happened Tuesday,  I wish I could explain to all of them what life is like for a gay person in the rural area where we live, but if I had a frank conversation with them about it, I couldn’t do so without coming out to them and giving a personal testimony.  It amazes me how so many of them think that being gay is a choice.  There is a choice, but not the choice most people think. We are born the way we are born.  I believe that with all my being.  Why would I or anyone choose to live a life as a gay man with all of the prejudices and hindrances that still exist.

I did a lot of spiritual searching to understand and come to terms with being gay.  The only choices I ever saw was not whether or not I was gay, but how would I live my life.  I could only see three choices.


First, I could continue to pretend to be heterosexual.  Women loved me.  I could understand them.  I could even love them.  Would I ever be satisfied married to a woman?  The answer was a resounding NO!  All I could see was that I would make some woman miserable. The marriage would have never been fully satisfying for either of us.  I did not believe this was an option.  Why make someone else miserable, just to “save face” for my family?  A life of misery was not worth it.  I will always think that this is the life my father chose for himself and is the reason he is so miserable most of the time.

My second choice was to accept being gay, move away and live my life.  Hopefully, I would find that someone to make my life complete.  I thought that this was my plan.  I moved away to graduate school, came out of the closet, and lived another life away from my hometown.  It did not work out like that.

I moved back home, for a number of different reasons and have stayed, at least for the time being.  So my third choice came about.  Go back in the closet and be alone.  For over two years that is what I did.  I had friends through my blog and other blogs, and that was enough.  I told no one that I was gay, and I kept it that way.  Then I met some wonderful friends who I could come out to; who I could be myself with.  I’m still alone, as in there is no significant other in my life, but I do have friends I can share things with. It’s not the best solution, at best, it is a lonely solution, but it’s where I am.

Many gay people move to the bigger cities, where there is a larger gay population.  Where I live that could be Mobile, Atlanta, or New Orleans.  Others of us stay and make the best of our situation.  I don’t expect to stay here forever, but for now this is where I am.  I wish I could explain these difficulties to my students, but I can only do so much.  It’s one of those things where we have to take small steps.

With the 50th anniversary of many of the major events of the African-American Civil Rights Movement reminds us, it too was a slow process, one that is still continuing.  I don’t expect Alabama to move any quicker than a snail’s pace (if that speedily) toward the Gay Rights Movement.  Attitudes will eventually change.


Containment

We had an incident at school yesterday, but before I tell you about it, I want you to keep something in mind.  I teach at a rural school where the students are sheltered from the real world.  I wish they had more exposure to the real world: people of different races, LGBT people, etc.  However, they just aren’t, and they often keep there parents’ prejudices.  I’m not making excuses for them, and I don’t allow slurs against anyone.  I try to open their world to more exposure, but I also have to stay in the closet for a number of reasons: job security, family issues, etc.

With that said, two boys discovered some pretty indisputable evidence (by accident) that another boy in their class, who they thought was gay, was actually gay.  They brought it to my attention almost immediately. I could tell immediately that they wanted to start the rumor mill going.  I told the kids to keep quiet about it and then at the end of class, after everyone was gone, I had a little talk with them.  They were afraid that I would be mad and yell at them, but I talked very calmly to them.  I tried to explain some of the feelings and problems the other kid was probably going through.  I also told them that they did not need to start spreading rumors.  Rumors would only lead to bullying and this kid does not need that, nor does any kid.  They, like so many straight people, do not understand homosexuality. So I explained some of the problems with depression and suicide many gay kids suffer with because of bullying and so forth.  I told them not to make a big deal out of it, keep things quiet, and let him figure things out on his own.  These are not the kind of guys to go up to him, tell him it’s okay, and be supportive.  And let’s face it, many of us have been in a similar situation and would have been mortified if we knew someone knew and it would cause even further damage.  By telling them to just forget it and drop it, they might just do so.

It also helped that they talked to one of the coaches about it, and he said almost the exact same thing, down to explaining about suicides and bullying.  We have four coaches and only two of which the kids would talk to about something like this.  They went to the good one, not the asshole who would have done the opposite of what the good coach and I did.

I don’t know if I did the right thing or even the bravest thing with what I told the boys yesterday, but I could only think of what I would have wanted a teacher to do if I had been in the same situation: containment.  


Whom You Love

Whom You Love
by Joseph O. Legaspi 

“Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you 
who you are.” — Creole Proverb

The man whose throat blossoms with spicy chocolates 
Tempers my ways of flurrying 
Is my inner recesses surfacing 
Paints the bedroom blue because he wants to carry me to the skies 
Pear eater in the orchard 
Possesses Whitmanesque urge & urgency 
Boo Bear, the room turns orchestral 
Crooked grin of ice cream persuasion 
When I speak he bursts into seeds & religion 
Poetry housed in a harmonica 
Line dances with his awkward flair 
Rare steaks, onion rings, Maker’s on the rocks 
Once-a-boy pilfering grenadine 
Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska 
Wicked at the door of happiness 
At a longed-for distance remains sharply crystalline 
Fragments, but by day’s end assembled into joint narrative 
Does not make me who I am, entirely 
Heart like a fig, sliced 
Peonies in a clear round vase, singing 
A wisp, a gasp, sonorous stutter 
Tuning fork deep in my belly, which is also a bell 
Evening where there is no church but fire 
Sparks, particles, chrysalis into memory 
Moth, pod of enormous pleasure, fluttering about on a train 
He knows I don’t need saving & rescues me anyhow 
Our often-misunderstood kind of love is dangerous 
Darling, fill my cup; the bird has come to roost

About this Poem:
“Simply, unabashedly, this poem is inspired by, dedicated to, and about my beloved, the Dolly to my Lucinda, my husband.” –Joseph O. Legaspi

Joseph O. Legaspi is the author of Imago (CavanKerry Press, 2007) and the forthcoming chapbook, Subways (Thrush Press, 2013). He is a co-founder of Kundiman, a non-profit organization serving Asian American poetry. He lives in Queens, NY and works at Columbia University.
“…Legaspi, like William Carlos Williams, can find poetry anywhere. And like his mentor Pablo Neruda he seems able to locate the mysterious and the magical in the most common and overlooked objects. It is difficult to overestimate the daring and resourcefulness required to complete successfully this astonishingly original book. I believe this collection of poetry, so rich in the dailyness of the world and what wisdom we can draw from it, is ample evidence that Joseph O. Legaspi has arrived to a place none of his ancestors in life or in poetry have ever journeyed, and we his readers are the richer for it.”–Philip Levine

Tax Day

If you are part of a same-sex couple, April 15th can be a daunting date. Tax matters that are simple for heterosexual couples can be quite complicated for gay and lesbian couples — from filling out a federal tax return to determining whether a spouse’s health insurance benefits are exempt from taxation. To make matters more difficult, some states recognize same-sex marriages or treat domestic partnerships as marriage-like for tax purposes. Others don’t.
Marriage isn’t just a legal, religious, or cultural institution — it’s also a fiscal one, with big ramifications for the way that the government taxes ordinary Americans and spends money to support them. As gay marriage has spread on the state level, economists have begun to measure its impact on the government’s coffers.
Most of the research to date suggests that legalizing gay marriage would have a positive net impact on government revenues, thus helping to decrease the deficit.
There are two major ways that increasing gay marriage — and, for that matter, any kind of marriage — would affect the budget. First, it would likely reduce dependence on public benefits, not just because married couples are more likely to support each other financially but also because of how benefits change according to one’s legal marital status.
Legalizing gay marriage would also change the way that the government collects taxes on gay couples. But the overall fiscal impact would likely be smaller as some couples would pay less in taxes while others would pay more due to the so-called “marriage penalty” — an idiosyncrasy in the tax code that penalizes relatively well-off couples where both spouses earn comparable salaries.
Cynthia Leachmoore, a tax preparer in Soquel, California, has about 40 same-sex married couples as customers ranging from teachers to Silicon Valley workers.
A handful of them have joint incomes that top $1 million. They’re facing $25,000 to $30,000 more in federal and state taxes if DOMA goes down and they file taxes jointly, she said.
“Most of them don’t care. They’d really like to be able to say that they were married” on tax returns, Leachmoore said. “That’s more important to them.”

Great Scott!

Adam Scott wins the Masters. I’m not much into watching golf, though I do find it fun to play. I played on my team back in high school. Adam Scott though is by far, in my humble opinion, the hottest and sexiest man to ever play pro golf. Congrats Adam!

The Way of Love


1 Corinthians 13


If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
God loves with agape, the love described in 1 Corinthians 13. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for us, that we might have everlasting life. His love is not based on performance. Christ loves us so much that while we were yet a sinner, He died for us.

God’s love for us is unconditional and undeserved. He loves us in spite of our disobedience, our weakness, our sin and our selfishness. He loves us enough to provide a way to abundant, eternal life. From the cross Christ cried out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” If God loved those who are sinners that much, can you imagine how much He loves you — His child through faith in Christ and who seeks to please Him?

In the parable of the prodigal son, as recorded in Luke 15, Jesus illustrates God’s unconditional love for His children. A man’s younger son asked his father for his share of the estate, packed his belongings, and took a trip to a distant land where he wasted all of his money on parties and prostitutes. About the time that his money was gone, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He finally came to his senses and realized that his father’s hired men at least had food to eat. He decided, “I will go to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man.”

While he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming and was filled with loving pity. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. I think that the reason he saw his son coming while he was still a long distance away was that he was praying for his son’s return and spent much time each day watching that lonely road on which his son would return.

Even as the son was making his confession, the father interrupted to instruct the servants to kill the fatted calf and prepare for a celebration — his lost son had repented; he had changed his mind and had returned to become part of the family again.

God demonstrated His love for us before we were Christians, but this story makes it obvious that God continues to love his child who has strayed far from Him. He eagerly awaits his return to the Christian family and fellowship.

Even when you are disobedient, he continues to love you, waiting for you to respond to His love and forgiveness.

Moment of Zen: HRH

If you don’t know, HRH is my cat.  She is my moment of zen each day when I come home from school.  This is neither she nor I in the above picture, but it does resemble HRH.