Monthly Archives: June 2014

Moment of Zen: Summer

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Whether your hanging out at the park, the beach, the lake, or the mountains, Summer is officially here. Summer begins today with the summer solstice.


I Hope He’s Still There…Yep, He Is

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Let’s face it, as men, we were born with our best friend attached to our bodies. He’s a stand up guy, well he becomes one after we hit puberty and he begins to get some hair, and he always has two nutty friends who are always hanging around and are loads of fun. Yep, this guy is our penis. Most of us probably have a nickname for our old trusted friend, but only those who are up close and personal with him have the chance to learn mine’s nickname. We may be more proud of this guy when he’s fat and/or really tall, and if he’s short and/or skinny, we might be embarrassed to show him in public, but we love him nonetheless.

He is one of our most important assets, and contrary to the belief of women, we are afraid we might lose him. Tragedies do happen, so we have to check on him fairly regularly. So I have to disagree with the mom who wrote the letter below:

My dearest sons,

You know the dangly appendage that occupies your thoughts and/or your hands for a large percentage of the day? Well, as a concerned mother, I feel it’s my duty to enlighten you on the subject of your penis.

Now, never having been in possession of one myself, I can’t be considered an outright expert, but I’d like to think that my experience raising you counts for something. After all, I’ve seen enough nakedness around this piece to rival any nude resort. So, for you, and any other boys out there, here are nine things you should know about your penis.

1. Relax; Your penis won’t fall off. It will stay right there in your pants (provided you’re wearing any), so you can stop clutching it while you watch TV and falling asleep with it in your fingers. In fact, it will be with you for the rest of your life, so maybe you should think about being a little less rough with it.

2. One exception: Having a firm grip on it is encouraged – and preferred – when using the toilet. It’s floppy, and when you don’t have it under control, you spray like a leaky hose.

3. Keep it in your drawers, ok? (This is a piece of advice that will have a different, but equally significant, meaning during your teen years – so don’t forget it.) There’s really no need to lay it on your brother’s arm. Or dip it in your chocolate milk. Or poke it through the hole of a DVD. Or wrap it around your eating utensils. Or your pencil. Or your brother’s pencil.

4. It might not hurt you when you stretch it out ten miles long like it’s made of rubber, but it hurts me just looking at it, so stop.

5. On rare occasions, you may actually let go of it in order to grasp something else. Like a sandwich, or your brother’s face. In the event of such occasions, hand-washing before you touch anything else is the courteous (and sanitary) thing to do.

6. It’s not the end of the world when it’s facing the wrong way or bunched up in your underwear. No need for a meltdown.

7. It’s handy and portable and all that, but just because you can pee anywhere doesn’t mean you should.

8. If you’re gonna stretch/dangle/pull/twist/twiddle or otherwise manhandle (boy-handle?) it, please do so in your room and spare us all a little awkwardness. Please.

9. I’ve seen it a million times, so there’s no need to waggle it in my direction after your bath, nor make it dance and jump around by thrusting around like Elvis with a hula hoop. (This also goes for your dad, so pass that tidbit along.)

I’m hoping this letter will serve as a handy reference to the proper penile etiquette, and that you’ll start having a little ding-dong dignity.

You’ll thank me later… or at least your wife will.

Lots of love, Mommy


I Would Say “Only in Texas,” But…

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The first Father’s Day for Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs was bittersweet because days earlier, a judge in Texas denied their request to have their names placed on the birth certificates of their newborn twins.

The twins, Lucas and Ethan, share an egg donor and were born to a surrogate mother a month ago. The twins are half brothers. Each of the men is a biological father to one of the babies. But, because Texas has a ban on gay marriage (it was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge last February, but the decision was stayed pending appeal), and because a judge can use his or her own discretion in these cases, neither of the men is currently on the birth certificates of either of the boys, nor have they been able to co-adopt each other’s biological child.

Only the surrogate mother — who has no biological relationship to the boys, since embryos were transferred to her — is on the birth certificates. In essence, the men are not legally defined as the parents of their own children. And though they have DNA tests for proof, they’re worried, particularly if something were to happen to one of them while the other still has not been able to co-adopt the other’s biological child.

The couple petitioned a judge in their county to add each of their names to their biological sons’ birth certificates and to cross-adopt, or second-parent adopt, the boys. The judge has denied the family on both requests.

“As of right now in Texas two men cannot be on the birth certificate,” Jason Hanna explained in an interview on SiriusXM Progress. “So our attorney followed the letter of the law. We petitioned the court. We had DNA testing there [in court] and petitioned the judge to ultimately remove the surrogate mother from the birth certificate, who has no biological ties to the boys. We would like each biological dad to be placed on the birth certificate of our own son, and then ultimately proceed to the second-parent adoption. The entire petition was denied.”

“We were sworn in and ultimately the judge was saying that with the information she had in front of her, under Texas law she couldn’t grant it,” Riggs said of their appearance in court last week. “I was shocked. We had a ton of questions as we walked away from that courtroom.”

‘It’s a little scary because right now we don’t have full parental rights over own biological children,’ Hanna told the Fox affiliate in Dallas.

Added Riggs: ‘A family court, I guess I expected them to be looking out for the best interests of our kids. We walked out away that day and it wasn’t in the best interests of our kids.’

According to GLAAD, it is unclear in Texas and 17 other US states whether LGBT parents can jointly adopt. This has resulted in legal rulings varying from judge to judge or county to county. Some judges in Texas have approved such adoptions to same-sex couples. It was particularly jarring to Hanna and Riggs because other gay couples in Texas, including friends of theirs, have successfully completed this process. The couple’s lawyer has offered them several options on bringing the petition back, changing the paperwork and the process. But there’s no question that if their marriage was legally recognized they would not be having this problem at all.

The legal picture could improve for the couples if a ruling by a federal judge overturning the states’s ban on gay marriage is upheld by a higher court.

“In order to grant a second-parent adoption [automatically under current law], it has to be between two married people,” Jason explained. “And so, considering we’re not legally married in the eyes of Texas, they don’t have to grant that second-parent adoption because they don’t recognize our marriage…It’s up to the judge’s discretion on whether or not to grant it.”

Hanna and Riggs worry, as they wait for the next step, because they’re in a scary legal limbo.

“Without [co-adoption], if something happened to either me or Joe we don’t have any legal recourse to keep the other’s biological child,” Hanna said. “The state could come in and separate these two brothers…We want to reiterate how important it is for a state to recognize each family, whether it’s same-sex or opposite-sex, and really to ensure everyone has equal protection from the state.”

Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs met six years ago and knew they wanted to be together and raise children, so they saved their money, knowing it would be a costly process. They married last July in Washington DC, where gay marriage is legal, and then went back to Dallas to celebrate their wedding with family and friends in August. They found a surrogate mom, and this past April the twins were born.

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It’s heartbreaking to think that a state has erased the parents of children and put a family in legal jeopardy, simply because of discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. But that’s what happened to this gay couple in Texas after what they described as the “magical” birth of their twin boys.


Finally…

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While many states are battling over same-sex marriage, Alabama has only just ruled that prohibiting homosexual sex is unconstitutional. Civil rights organizations in Alabama are cheering a state appeals court ruling that declared part of a state sexual misconduct law as unconstitutional.

Under the statute, consensual oral and anal sex was banned in what the court determined was an act aimed at criminalizing homosexual activities. Furthermore, the statute has been traditionally interpreted to criminalize all sexual practices other than the missionary position between one man and one woman. The portion of the law cited in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruling includes: “Consent is no defense to a prosecution under this subdivision.” The sixteen page ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals can be read in it’s entirety by following this link. (It’s well worth reading, and I found it quite interesting. Plus I’d love to know silvereagle’s opinion on this case and the ruling.)

The ruling was unanimous in the case of Dewayne Williams vs. State of Alabama. Williams, a Dallas County, Ala., man, who, although was not convicted in 2010 of first-degree sodomy, was convicted of the “lesser-included offense” of sexual misconduct, according to the ruling. Williams acknowledged he had taken part in the sodomy but argued it was consensual, the ruling states.

Alabama is one of a dozen states that still have laws prohibiting consensual homosexual sex, according to a survey by the Human Rights Campaign, a national group advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, applauded the ruling. “Aiming to ban consensual sex is flat out wrong,” she said Saturday. “A person’s sexual orientation shouldn’t matter. Consensual sex is consensual sex.”

Ben Cooper, chairman for Equality Alabama, also lauded the ruling and added the law was “settled years ago” under Lawrence v. Texas, a case the Alabama court referenced in its decision. In the 2003 case, the crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct was determined to violate the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

“Each and every person, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, is entitled to equal protection under the law,” Cooper said in a statement. “The Alabama court’s unanimous decision overturning the statute is a step in the right direction and makes us optimistic for future and ongoing equal rights through the continued elimination of unconstitutional provisions in our state’s constitution that violate privacy and equal protections.”

Michael Jackson, the prosecutor in the Williams case, said Monday that he understood why the appeals court ruled the way it did, and said the decision would probably be upheld if appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. But he said the victim is not getting a fair result because the sex in the case he was prosecuting wasn’t consensual.

“He got attacked by another man and he had sex he didn’t want to have,” said Jackson. He said Alabama’s sodomy law still applies in cases of forced sex. For the record, Jackson has no business prosecuting sexual misconduct. As District Attorney for Fourth Judicial Circuit of Alabama, Jackson has often hired female prosecutors based on their ample breasts and how often they will go to bed with him. Jackson himself should be tried for sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. He is a further disgrace to the already disgraceful Alabama judicial system.

The state of Alabama also was denied its request to remove the language on consent from the law and remand Williams’ case for a new trial. The Alabama appeals court explained in its ruling that a remand of the case would violate the double jeopardy clauses of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Alabama Constitution and that by amending the statute the Court would be creating and ex post facto law that would further violate the U.S. Constitution.

The question does remain as to whether the sex between the two men, Williams and the unnamed clerk at the Jamison Inn Hotel, was consensual as Williams claims in his defense. However, because the prosecution knew they could not convict Williams of first degree sodomy, which had been struck down by Lawrence v. Texas, they chose an obscure section of the clause which made the question of consent moot. The clause used stated that “Consent is no defense to a prosecution under this subdivision.” Therefore the prosecution cannot have the trial remanded because Williams would be tried twice for a crime in which he has already been convicted.

There are two things that really surprise me about this whole case. First, that Jackson attempted to prosecute Williams in the first place for sodomy, when if he is going to claim that no consent was given, then he should have charged Jackson with rape and assault. Instead, he charged him with sodomy and sexual misconduct. For me this proves, not only Jackson’s incompetence as a prosecutor, but also that there was insufficient evidence that the sex between Williams and the hotel clerk was not consensual.

Second, the other, and actually most surprising thing, considering that Roy Moore is the head of the Alabama Judicial System, is that the all Republican Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals actual made a ruling that made sense and followed the law. Moore’s philosophy of justice is that whatever laws he deems appropriate in his head are the only ones that need to be followed, so for a lower court under his authority to make a ruling that actually follows the law is astounding. Maybe there is hope for Alabama’s Republican controlled judicial system after all.


Alone

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Alone
Maya Angelou, 1928 – 2014

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

“Alone” starts off with our speaker doing some serious soul-searching. She’s feeling pretty isolated, but she thinks she just might have come up with an answer to her problems: people need community in order to get by. I think this is very important for many minority groups, but is currently especially needed for the LGBT people in the South. As I was discussing with a friend the other day about the HRC’s Project One America Campaign. My friend said that the most important thing that Alabama LGBT needed was a sense of community. We currently don’t have much of a community besides in larger cities. Alabama still has a largely rural population, which often feels alone because they need that sense of community,

In “Alone,” Angelou says that money won’t buy you happiness. Even the very, very rich get lonely. So, don’t try to make more money. Make friends instead. Something I’m attempting do more of. The speaker of the poem fashions herself into something like a prophet, warning the “race of man” that things aren’t about to get any easier anytime soon. The solution is to realize that no one can make it on their own. We need each other.

When poet, memoirist, screenwriter, film director, jazz singer, dancer, professor, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou died in May at the age of 86, I reflected on what an icon America had lost. Maya Angelou helped people feel like they were possible of living great, meaningful lives.

She became, for so many, a symbol of resilience — the capacity to persist in the face of hardship and adversity — and beyond that a symbol of boundless creativity. She didn’t just survive the significant trauma of her early life; she made something magnificent of that life. Here are a few quotes a dear friend sent me from Maya Angelou, and I asked him to tell me what those quotes mean to him.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.“– Maya Angelou

This is my friend’s favorite quote from Maya Angelou. As he thought back on his life and the trials he’s gone through, He said he remember people who have been there for him. You may not remember what they said or did to comfort you, reassure you or build you back up, but we will never forget how they made us feel loved, needed and worth their time. For my friend (and for most of us), these people are our real friends, our real family. We love them more than they will ever know.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.“– Maya Angelou

This is a very wise and powerful statement made by Angelou and one that has been very difficult for my friend and many of us to achieve. We all take a beating by events in our lives, those experiences knock us down, stomp on our hearts and tear at our souls. We can choose to be conquered by those unfortunate life occurrences or we can overcome them, learn from them and then go help others.

Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.“– Maya Angelou

This is so simple and yet we don’t often put it into action. We get so wrapped up in our own problems, our own desires, and our own silly day-to-day meaningless activities that we forget to be there for other people. I’ve found that when I help others or reach out to a friend in need or take time with someone to let them know we care and that they are important, we are able to forget our problems, our pain and our worries. It’s all about the “Golden Rule” a dear friend once told me. Treat others how you’d hope they would treat you. It’s in a small way following the example of Jesus Christ.

You can see in others what they don’t see in themselves and what the world doesn’t see in them. We all have that possibility, that potential and that promise of seeing beyond the seeming.” — Maya Angelou

Angelou wrote for her own creative satisfaction, but she was driven by the desire to encourage and inspire people beyond their limitations, whether they were self-imposed, determined by society, or handed down through history. The point of endeavor was, as she wrote, “to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” She sought to be that rainbow for anyone who could read or hear her work. I try to so the same through The Closet Professor, as we should each attempt to in our lives.


HRH Update

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Several people have requested updates on how my cat HRH is doing. The first of the year was a bit rough with her bladder infection and then an abscess but he has continued to improve. She is eating more and has gained enough weight that I can’t feel her ribs anymore. She’s also much more playful with me. She will grab at my ankles wanting me to rough house with her, but he is sixteen (roughly 84 cat years old) so I don’t rough house too much. I usually just scratch her belly which she acts like she doesn’t like, but really she can’t get enough of it. I know this because she will come back for more and then roll over on her back exposing her tummy for me to rub. Mostly though, she wants you to,rub her head. If anyone else is paying attention to HRH, they may only rub her head. I am the only one who she allows to hold her or pet her anywhere else.

I’m glad she’s eating though. I was worried about her, but we found some food that she likes and doesn’t upset her stomach too much. She’s becoming incontinent, but she does her best. We just have to have her a special potty to use, as she won’t use any other. Other than that, she’s in great health. She’s very spry and feisty, like the HRH before she got sick. She does sleep a little more and a bit more soundly these day, but when she’s awake, everyone knows it. She mostly sleeps by the food bowls, of which she has become the guardian. She lets the other cats eat only when it suits her.

If she is not in her spot guarding the food bowl, she is in one of three places. She may be drinking water; clean fresh water please. She may be eating from one of the bowls she guards. And thirdly, if someone is sitting in my chair, she will come sit beside them. If it’s me in the chair, she’s laying on my chest or up next to me. However, she does this only when the mood strikes her, which has been numerous times in the last couple of days. She even sat and yeowed (she’s part Siamese so she doesn’t meow like most cats) for me to pick her up and hold her. I always know she’s feeling good when she wants to socialize and be loving. When she’s sick, she wants to find a place to hide.

HRH is regal and commanding, and you had better bow to her wants and tastes. I’m glad to see her old attitude back. It means she is feeling better and doing well.

The above picture is not of her, or of me, but the picture below is of her. She’s licking her paw because she just drank the rest of my coffee. Coffee is something she can’t resist. She likes it black or with cream and sugar. It matters not to her.

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Happy Father’s Day

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Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:1-4

Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.
Proverbs 23: 22-25

I know there are at least a few dads out there who read my blog, maybe even two gay dads out there raising sons and/or daughters, and I want to wish you a very Happy Father’s Day. Just like mothers, fathers can drive us crazy. Most of us may not have been as close to our fathers as maybe we should have been or should be, but all of us have a father somewhere. Besides wishing you fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day, I also wanted to tell you about my father.

We are very different in so many ways. He is very outdoorsy: he hunts, he fishes, and constantly works outdoors. I was always a book worm, who liked books better than sports. I’ve learned to like the outdoors: I walk nature trails, I like to hike, and I even like to fish occasionally. Whereas my father worked outside all his life, I prefer to work inside, research, writing, teaching, etc. There are a lot of other differences as well. We can generally have a conversation for about 15-20 minutes before we get into some type of argument. My father has never felt I was right about anything. I can be agreeing with him, and he will fuss at me for agreeing with him. No matter what I say, he will say the opposite. One example is that I once made a remark about a house being painted white (it used to be gray), he argued with me that the house was painted gray, just a lighter shade. Everyone else I know says the house is white, but he still says that it is gray. The other day, he even told me I was a very unpleasant person to be around. It’s odd, because as far as I know, he’s the only person I know who feels that way. It’s that sort of thing that drives me crazy. Needless to day, we barely get along. I love him nonetheless, I just don’t like him sometimes. He can be very cruel and frustrating.

To switch gears a little bit, I want to tell you also how great my father can be, without me ever knowing it. This is part of the reason that I forgive so much of the misery he causes me. When my parents found out I was gay, it was a very traumatic experience for all concerned. My mother had suspected for quite a while and was being very nosy. She checked my email. She didn’t like some of the emails that she saw. Most of them, if not all, were fairly innocent, but there were some like an ad from Showtime about “Queer as Folk” and maybe another one from gay.com. I was over at my grandmother’s checking on her, when my mother called me and confronted me about it. I was tired of denying it. All of my friends knew, so why shouldn’t she. I knew she wouldn’t like it. She had confronted me several years before about it, and I denied it then. I wasn’t ready, and to make sure that I never was, my mother told me, “If you would rather have a dick up my ass, then be part of this family, then leave. We have have nothing more to do with you.” When this time came around, we got into a huge argument. I yelled, she yelled, and I left. I was still dependent on them for some things, but I could live without them. My mother went to bed and cried for the next two weeks. By the way, this all happened two days before Christmas, while I was home on Christmas break. My mother did get up and do the family things the holdoay required but was very cold toward me the whole time. When my father got home, he talked to my mother about what was wrong. She told him. She tells him everything. This was one of the times when he sided with me.

He told my mother, that I was there child. She could not stop loving me, just because she did not agree with my lifestyle. He would continue to love me, and she would have to do the same. No matter what his children did, they would still love them (it may have helped that my sister married a complete and total jackass, who doesn’t physically abuse her, but abuses her mentally). Then he came and talked with me. He told me that he didn’t care what I told my mother, but to tell her something or she would die in that bed in there (you don’t know my mother, but she would have). Then he told me what surprised me the most, “I should have taught you how to fight the urges. I am sorry that I failed you.” It is the only time my father ever apologized to me for anything. I never asked about the urges, but I am pretty sure I know what he was talking about. He knew exactly how I felt. He had been there himself, but he had chosen a different path. Maybe that is why they still believe it is a choice. But I see the misery in him almost everyday. I went to my parents and told them both that I was celibate and would remain that way, and I had never acted on my sexuality (yes it was a lie, but it was one I think was and still is for the better, even though I hate lying more than anything). They made me promise that I would not tell anyone else in the family, and I have agreed to that. Our family has become a “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t discuss” zone. It is not my preference but it is what I must deal with for the time being. If I ever find a man to live my life with, I will deal with the other consequences then. I don’t think I could hide from my family the love of my life (if he ever comes along). My mother continues to be the queen of denial and believes I will fin the right girl and get married someday.

They still consider my being gay a lifestyle choice, I never will. I would have never chosen this myself. I would have chosen to live a more open life, but that is mostly not possible where I live now, and especially not with my job, though I am praying that by August maybe I will have a different job and be able to live my life again. But I know what makes me happy, and after a lot of prayer and meditation, God told me that love is what matters most in this world. I came to understand that if I lived a lie and married a woman, I would make her and my life miserable (somewhat like my father has). If I was going to be alone, then I would be alone. At least I wouldn’t be hurting someone else. I realize that some people had more pressures to get married and have a family and come out later in life. I do not fault them for that, it was a different time and different circumstances. But in this day and age, I felt I could not lie to myself or anyone else and spend a large portion of my life as a lie.

Some of you may have read this post before. I not only used it for my Father’s Day post for the last three years, with a few modifications, but I plan to use it each Father’s Day for as long as this blog is published.


Moment of Zen: Yard Work

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I will admit, most of the time I dread doing yard work, but it’s only dreading getting started. Once I’m out working in the yard, I usually quite enjoy it. I’d enjoy it more if these guys were helping, but I’m off to do some yard work anyway.

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Building a Better Tomorrow: Project One America

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The Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, was in Montgomery, Alabama, last night to discuss the launch of a new gay rights campaign targeting three Southern states: Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Project One America, as it’s called, is a three year, $8.5 million dollar effort to secure marriage rights and other protections, such as employment non-discrimination against LGBT people, at the state and local level. I attended the meeting, but my post today is not going to be to talk about all that was discussed there. We were asked not to blog or tweet about issues and personal stories shared at the meeting, so that the meeting could be an open and inviting place to talk. I was a bit disappointed because that is what I had planned my blog topic to be today, so instead I am going to discuss the new HRC program, Project One America, which was behind the meeting last night.

The President of the HRC, Chad Griffin grew up in Arkansas and much of his family is still there. With a Southerner at the helm, the HRC has finally decided to pay attention to the South, which it has largely ignored during much of its existence, except for a source of campaign contributions. When asked if him being a southerner had anything to do with why HRC is launching a campaign in the South, Griffin replied:

No, it doesn’t, but I can certainly tell you that it informed this work. There is no question that my experience growing up as a kid of the South, deeply closeted, growing up Southern Baptist, going to church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and usually Wednesday nights too certainly informs my experiences and how I approach this work.

But the reason we are going to these three states specifically is there are a few things that are unique about these states. Number one, these three states are – unlike other states across the country, including the South – three states that have no fully-resourced statewide LGBT groups. So, no full time paid staff that are working day in and day out on behalf of equality.

The second, and really important and unique difference about these three states is that they’re the only three states where there’s no statewide non-discrimination protection, there’s not even a single city or municipality that has workplace non-discrimination, or public accommodation, or housing non-discrimination ordinances or laws.

So, those two things make these three states uniquely situated and, quite frankly, these three states need this work and need this investment. They have been dramatically underresourced, and we intend to change that.

Unlike other states in the South — including Texas, Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina — these three states lack fully resourced and staffed LGBT statewide equality campaigns. According to a report by Funders for LGBTQ Issues, in 2011-2012, grant funding for LGBT advocacy totaled $10.10 for per LGBT adult in the Northeast. That number was only $1.71 per LGBT adult in the South. In these three states, the numbers are $0.71 per LGBT adult in Mississippi, $0.35 per LGBT adult in Arkansas, and $0.31 per LGBT adult in Alabama.

The HRC has nine launch goals for Alabama:

1. Empower LGBT people (and straight allies) to come out.
2. Raise the visibility of LGBT people and issues with the general public.
3. Create safer environments for LGBT young people.
4. Build partnerships with faith communities, communities of color, business communities, and conservatives.
5. Create a more inclusive workplace for LGBT people
6. Build support for enduring legal protections that ensure LGBT equality.
7. Expand participation in HRC’s Municipal Equality Index in these three states.
8. Create a more inclusive healthcare environment for LGBT people
9. Equip LGBT people and non-traditional allies as spokespeople.

For the HRC to be successful they will have to number one, and first and foremost, change the hearts and minds of Alabamians. They can change hearts and minds by building bridges and by having a conversation with business leaders, with faith and religious leaders, with community leaders, and also with elected officials at the community level and at the state level. The HRC plans to accomplish this by having organizers: community organizers, organizers in the business community, organizers in the faith and religious community. Ultimately, our goal will be to bring about the much needed protections at the local, as well as ultimately at the state level.

A greater presence in the South is something Griffin has talked about since He became HRC President. The Human Rights Campaign is also the single largest organizer in the South. One-third of our members are from the South – which is a surprising number to me. That’s over 500,000 HRC members who are from the South, including over 60,000 just in these three states alone.

So after the Supreme Court made that historic decision just a year ago, it became quite clear that we have two Americas when it comes to equality. We have the ‘haves,’ largely situated along the coast with a couple of bright spots in the middle, and then we have the ‘have-nots’ when it comes to legal equality, and that’s places like Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. So, Project One America is designed to specifically close that gap.

Chad Griffin says that he is absolutely optimistic that the South is, in fact, ready for equality. But he said he wanted to underscore that this is hard work. It will be a lot of work, and it won’t be easy. The South is not going to become a place for LGBT equality overnight, but with the right education, involvement, and momentum, it will happen.


Summer Reading

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Even with my busy schedule so far this summer, as a teacher, summer brings one of my greatest joys: reading. Even as a student and now as a teacher, I have gotten the summers off, which means for the other nine months out of the year, I collect books that I want to read when I have the time, which is usually during the summer. There is so much to do and so many other thigs to read during the school year, that if don’t get to read much for pleasure. The other day, I was talking to a woman who was studying for the bar exam. She said the same thing. For three years, she has read what she was told to read and what she had to read, now she just wanted to read for enjoyment.

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I do get some pleasure reading done during the school year now that I’m a teacher, but not as much as I’d like. As a grad student, it was worse. By the end of the academic year, I’d have a stack of books three or four feet tall waiting for me to read when summer arrived. Summers tend or be lean times, especially as a grad student, so I really didn’t have much money to go an do, so I stayed home and read. And what better light for reading is available than the summer sun. Whether your sitting on your porch or patio, in a window, laying on the beach, or lounging in the park, a book is the perfect accompaniment.

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So even with the business of my summer, I have read a few books. Amy Lane has written two wonderful books called Country Mouse and it’s continuation City Mouse. If you want an easy fun read for summer with a bit of naughty sex thrown in, then these are the books for you. Then there are The Men of Smithfield series by L.B. Gregg: Mark and Tony (Book 1), Max and Finn (Book 2), Seth and David (Book 3), and Adam and Holden (Book 4). Gregg also has the much anticipated and soon to be released on Sam and Aaron (Book 5) which will be available as an e-book on June 16. Each book is about a different budding relationship in the town of Smithfield, where everyone knows each other. The great thing about The Men of Smithfield is that each story contains a mystery within that goes along with the love affair. The sex scenes are well written, and some are rough and some are gentle. No matter which you read, you’ll find characters that you fall in love with.

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Currently, I’m reading the third in the “Glen and Tyler” series by J.B. Sanders, Glen and Tyler’s Paris Double-Cross. If I’ve never mentioned the Glen and Tyler Adventures, then I have done all of my readers a disservice. The Glen & Tyler series of adventure books are about a happy married couple getting out there and solving crimes. Or playing hockey. It depends on the day. Glen and Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure is the first book and details how Glen and Tyler got married and what it means for their future, especially the honeymoon. The second in the series was Glen and Tyler’s Scottish Troubles which continues their adventures in their newly inherited Scottish manor. There is a fourth book in the works called Glen and Tyler’s High Seas Hijinks which sounds very fun and I can’t wait for it to be released. In addition, to the three books already released there are also two erotic novellas dealing with Glen and Tyler: Glen and Tyler Just Married and Glen and Tyler vs. The Gay Kama Sutra. The three major books have implied sex, but nothing explicit. They are just really fun to read, especially if you want to imagine what it’s like to have more money than you know what to do with; it makes a nice fantasy and is just plain fun.

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So now that I’ve told about my summer reading list so far, do you have any suggestions? Are there any books that you are dying to read or are there any that you have read that you’d like to recommend? If so, put them in the comment section. Happy reading!