Monthly Archives: October 2014

3:16

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“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
John 3:16-21

John 3:16 is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Bible. It has also been called the “Gospel in a nutshell”, because it is considered a summary of the central theme of traditional Christianity. It is a central message in the Bible, but it’s not the verse that I believe is central to the Bible. Christianity cannot be summed up with one verse. However, the verses around it does encapsulate the major message of Christ. It’s the context that makes the difference.

The story around the text is about Nicodemus who visits Jesus in the night. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. According to John, he showed favor to Jesus. He appears three times in the Gospel of John. In the context of John 3:16, Nicodemus visits Jesus one night to discuss his teachings with him. The second time Nicodemus is mentioned is when he states the law concerning the arrest of Jesus, and the third is when he assists Joseph of Arimathea in preparing the corpse of Jesus for burial.

In the first fifteen verses of John Chapter 3, Jesus explains to Nicodemus that you must be born again in the waters of baptism in order to see the kingdom of heaven. After speaking of the necessity of a man being born again before he could “see the kingdom of God”, Jesus spoke also of “heavenly things” and of salvation and the condemnation of those that do not believe in Jesus.

It is the later part of this exchange that I want to discuss today. Jesus did not come to the world to condemn us but to save us, and by us, Jesus means all of humanity. This includes LGBT people, though some Christians want to pick and choose, Jesus never turned anyone away from God. If we believe and are born again, we will enter into the kingdom of Heaven. We must follow Christ’s example and be a light for the world. If we do what is true and go to the light, then it will be clearly seen that our works have been carried out in God’s name.

In a world broken by prejudice and hatred, Christians are called to embody the unconditional love of God for all. Jesus proclaimed this message to the world in his new commandment:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.John 13:34-35

Jesus was not bound by the expectations of society, and through his ministry, he extended the love of God to many who had been deemed “unworthy.” Through Jesus’ own example and teachings, we are called into action.

But for those who ask, “What does God require of us?” We can look to the Book of Acts for the answer. Peter was given a vision to accept gentiles who were deemed unfit for the kingdom of God. But, God told him, “Do not call unclean what God has declared clean.” Paul talked to the leaders of Jerusalem to convince them that ministry amongst the gentiles was where God was leading him. We are called to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, and visit the imprisoned. Some may call them the unclean, but God does not discriminate because we are all His children. Jesus didn’t say, for God so loved some of the world, He said for God so loved the world. We are called to love our neighbor—not discriminate.


Comparisons

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Today’s post is about comparisons. As men, we are often sizing each other up, but in this case, I wanted to compare political control of the states with it’s effects on same-sex marriage recognition.

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The above map shows party control of the state legislatures. Those in Red represent that both houses of the state legislature are controlled by the Republican Party. Those in Blue represent that both houses of the legislature are controlled by the Democratic Party. The three states in Purple (Iowa, Kentucky, and New Hampshire) represent that one house of the legislature is controlled by Democrats while the other is controlled by Republicans.

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The above map shows party control of the state governorship. Those in Red represent that the governor is a member of the Republican Party. Those in Blue represent that the governor is a member of the Democratic Party.

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The above map shows which states recognize and perform gay marriage. All states whose legislature is currently controlled by the Denocratic Party have legalized gay marriage. In most of the states that have Republican controlled state legislatures have had gay marriage made legal through the courts. You will also notice that the political party of the governor does not correspond well with the map of states with same-sex marriage.

I decided to use the visual aids to help us visualize the politicalization of America. JiEL commented yesterday that he’d like to see a map of the state-by-state political make-up of the United States. He said, “I’m almost sure that the same states that are against equality of marriage rights and liberty rights are those same ones….” I agreed that it would be interesting to compare the different maps. I hope you’ll find it interesting too.


A Difficult Climb

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Most people do not fully understand how an amendment can be proposed and ratified. As someone who teaches history and government, it’s part of my job to understand this process. Article V of the Constitution lays out the processes by which constitutional amendments can be proposed and ratified. It begins with the proposing of the amendment which can be done in one of two ways.

In the first method which takes place in the U.S. Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must approve the amendment by a two-thirds supermajority vote, a joint resolution amending the Constitution. Amendments so approved do not require the signature of the President of the United States and are sent directly to the states for ratification. The second method, which has never been used, requires two-thirds (or 34) of the state legislatures to ask Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments.

Of these two processes, it is unlikely that a new Equal Rights Amendment as I outlined on Monday could pass by a supermajority of both houses of the current Congress. The atmosphere is highly politicized with Republicans largely against equality for LGBT Americans and Democrats largely for LGBT equality. With Democrats not holding a supermajority in both house, it is highly unlikely to be able to move through Congress.

However, 34 states legislatures could call for a national convention. The likelihood of this is fairly slim because it’s never been done before, and the majority of state legislatures, roughly 60 percent are controlled by Republicans. However, the majority of Americans, even if you go by state-by-state polls, favor same-sex marriage. At least, two-thirds of the states have 50 percent or more of its citizens who favor same-sex marriage. If the majority of citizens in favor of marriage equality in those 34 states became vocal enough, then state legislatures might be convinced to vote for a national convention for proposing amendments. This is also a tricky prospect because it would depend on who the states sent to a national convention and whether or not they would even even choose to propose a new ERA. The precedent set by the original Constitutional Convention would point to a national convention throwing out their mandate and proposing completely different amendments.

If a new ERA were proposed by a national convention, then it would move to the states for the ratification process. Again, Article V recognizes two ways for this to be accomplished. An amendment could be added to the Constitution if three-fourths of the state legislatures approve it. States may also choose to call ratifying conventions in which three-fourths of the states approve it. This method has been used only once, to ratify the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition.

The fact is, I realize this is a dream. Even with the 30 states that currently have same-sex marriage legalized, not all of those states would want to agree to a constitutional amendment for LGBT equality. Some polls show that in 38 states, there is a majority or near majority of people who believe that same-sex marriages should be recognized. The Pew Research poll which looked at regional support of same-sex marriage showed that only 34 states supported same-sex marriage, with basically the old Confederate states of the South, plus Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia being opposed to same-sex marriage.

Of the thousands of proposals that have been made to amend the Constitution, only 33 obtained the necessary two-thirds vote in Congress. Of those 33, only 27 amendments (including the Bill of Rights) have been ratified. It’s a long shot but with enough momentum and support behind it, it is a possibility.

Sources:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_state_legislatures
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/
http://www.freedomtomarry.org/resources/entry/marriage-polling
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/10/15/gay-marriage-arrives-in-the-south-where-the-public-is-less-enthused/

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Headaches

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I’d planned on a different post for today, but sometimes my migraines get me down and it’s hard to think and/or write. This headache began Monday night and kept me awake as the storms that swept through the South that night raged on. It didn’t go away yesterday but waxed and waned thoughout the day. As one set of medicine wore off the intensity of the pain increased until I could take another dose. I’m hoping it will be better today. I try to go about and do what I need to do when when I have headaches like this, but it’s usually at a reduced capacity when the pain is this intense. So last night as I was writing this post, my medicine had worn off, and I was feeling the intense pain come back. I’m hoping a good night’s sleep will help alleviate this headache.


Once More Unto the Breach

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From Henry V
By William Shakespeare

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

Yesterday I wrote about the Equal Rights Amendment and how I believe we should have a new ERA that includes LGBT equality. The ERA was introduced into every Congress from 1923 until it was passed in 1972. It was a long fought battle, which was never won. Once it had passed through Congress, there were fifty battles to be fought and a minimum of thirty-eight had to be won. Those fighting the good fight, lost three battles too many. Once more into the breach we should go and fight the good fight again, but this time we should make sure that all men and women are equal.


Equal Rights Amendment

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Just over four years ago, I wrote a post about the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In that post I suggested that a new ERA be proposed. The original Equal Rights Amendment was designed to guarantee equal rights for women. The ERA was originally written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, and it was introduced in the Congress for the first time in 1923. Though the ERA was introduced in every Congressional session between 1923 and 1970, it almost never reached the floor of either the Senate or the House for a vote—instead, it was usually “bottled up” in committee. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress and went to the state legislatures for ratification.

The resolution in Congress that proposed the amendment set a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979. Through 1977, the amendment received 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications. Five states later rescinded their ratifications before the 1979 deadline, though the validity of these rescissions is disputed. In 1978, a joint resolution of Congress extended the ratification deadline to June 30, 1982, but no further states ratified the amendment before the passing of the second deadline. Several feminist organizations, disputing the validity and/or the permanence of the ratification deadline, and also disputing the validity of the five rescissions, continue to work at the federal and state levels for the adoption of the ERA.

The language of the 1972 ERA was fairly simple and read:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

In all likelihood, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is dead and will never be ratified to become the 28th Amendment. The fight to ratify the ERA is still ongoing and is not quite over. More than three decades after the deadline set by Congress, advocates are working to advance the amendment’s cause at the grass-roots level as some in Congress work to either repeal the amendment’s deadline or start over.

Advocates say the Supreme Court’s June 30 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby has energized interest in the ERA. That 5-4 decision said the 2010 Affordable Care Act can’t require certain businesses to provide free insurance coverage for birth control if they object on religious grounds. Pay equity is another factor driving renewed enthusiasm for the Equal Rights Amendment. Women on average are paid 77 cents for every dollar men are paid, according to the ERA Coalition.

Congress is considering amendment resolutions that take two different approaches: the three-state approach and the fresh start approach. The “three-state” approach, sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., would repeal the ratification deadline and make the ERA part of the Constitution when three more states ratify it. The “fresh start” approach — by Menendez and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. — would start over with a new resolution and no ratification deadline. Menendez and Maloney also are co-sponsors of the three-state approach legislation.

I believe that they should not only push through with the fresh start approach, but I think there should be a Federal Amendment that would extend the ERA to include barring discrimination because of sexual orientation or identity. I propose that the new language of the amendment read:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. All laws infringing on the rights of individuals because of sex, sexual identity, or sexual orientation shall become null and void immediately upon passage of this amendment.

I think it should also be proposed that a possible Section 4 might be added that would define sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Section 4. Definitions of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Section 4.1. Sex shall be defined as the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.

Section 4.2. Gender shall refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. Gender identity shall be defined as the gender, male, female, with which a person identifies exclusive of their biological secondary sexual characteristics. The gender identities one may identify as include male, female, both, somewhere in between (“third gender”), or neither and may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth.

Section 4.3. Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to men, women, both genders, neither gender, or another gender. Sexual orientation is enduring and also refers to a person’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.

Though some might believe this fourth section is too strict or defined. However, whenever the debate over gay marriage is brought up, the ideas of polygamy, bigamy, and bestiality are always raised in the debate by crackpots. I think these definitions would clear up any debate about the meaning of the terms. It would also not allow for a great deal of interpretation of the meaning of the amendment by the Supreme Court or the state ratifying legislatures.

If this amendment were to be proposed and ratified, the debates over GLBT rights would effectively be ended. Gay marriage would be forced to be recognized nationwide and we would no longer be holding our breaths as court cases continue in nineteen states. Furthermore, school bullying would be against federal laws. Teachers could not be fired because of their sexual orientation. We would have definitive protection once and for all. I realize this is a dream, but I think it is a great idea. What do you think? Should we all push to have this amendment proposed, passed by Congress, and ratified by the states?

I am going to be discussing more about this idea this week. I want to look at whether it is possible for a new ERA to pass through Congress and what would happen if it reached the states. Though I believe that the federal courts are moving in the right direction, court decisions can be overturned. The Supreme Court has reversed their decisions before, and let’s face it, the Supreme Court is as political as any branch of government and with that the balance of the Court could move away from LGBT rights. I think a constitutional amendment is the true way that LGBT Americans to be equal once and for all.


That You May Know His Blessed Assurance

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I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
1 John 5:13-15

John writes with this purpose: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) This is a key verse of the book of 1 John. John writes so that his readers who have faith in Christ may know the assurance of their salvation. In the church today there are many who truly know the Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and they are confident in their salvation.

Yet, there are some Christians who have a sincere faith in Christ but they lack the assurance of their salvation. These individuals walk the Christian life with the uncertainty of acceptance with God and a feeling that they may not be saved. On the other hand, there are those in the church that think they are saved because they “prayed a prayer” or were baptized, yet their life is unchanged. They do not live a Christian life, but are Christians in name only. These people often teach hate and judge and criticize people. They are like the hypocrites that Jesus discusses in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus says “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

He wants people to be clear in their understanding of the good news of Jesus, and the confidence that we have in Christ. He writes this letter “that you may know that you have eternal life.” Similarly, he begins the epistle by saying, “[T]hat which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” John wants Christians to “know” that they have eternal life. He desires that they come to a fuller understanding of what it means to be in fellowship with God and what is required to maintain that fellowship. By so doing, they can be confident as Christians and sure of their salvation. Like with most things, we must humble ourselves before God, yet we must have the faith to believe we are saved.

I wanted to end this series on 1 John because the phrase “that you may know” is so vitally important. I have always felt that the uncertainly in salvation is like an uncertainty in God. If you truly believe, if you follow the teachings of Christ, and if you have full faith in God, then you have the assurance of salvation. God knows we are not perfect. Only God is perfection. He allows us to pray and ask for forgiveness with the assurance that if we are sincere in our prayers and actions, then we will be forgiven of our sins. I do not doubt my salvation. Others might doubt my salvation because of my sexuality or because of their lack of belief and/or understanding of God, but their doubt does not affect me. I pray that you will have the same faith and keep the same faith that I do. Do as God commands. Love your fellow man. Believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Do these things and you will have the faith that assures salvation.

It seems that many of the passages of 1 John, remind me of songs. This one is no different because it remind me of the song “Blessed Assurance” written in 1873 by blind hymn writer Fanny J. Crosby to the music written in by Phoebe P. Knapp. The popular song reflects Crosby’s walk of faith, as expressed by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” and based on an interpretation of Hebrews 10:22 “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” I think it also works alongside 1 John 5:13 “that you may know that you have eternal life.” We are given these blessed assurances by God, and we should rejoice in them.

Blessèd Assurance

Blessèd assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.


Moment of Zen: A Natural Man

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To Be, Or Not To Be

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To be, or not to be hairy is not the question I was asking yesterday. I was however, trying to make a statement about being happy with the bodies we have and being content with nature. Just because someone, such as JiEL said in the comments, being naturally hairless is “not less manly.” Running my hands over a smooth chest is just as luxurious to me as a hairy one. I remember a particular dancer at a gay bar in Houston that was shaved, but was letting his hair grow to a stubble. I remember being incredibly turned on by that “sandpaper sensation.” The tactile sensation of hairy, hairless, or somewhere in between does not, however, mean that there is not a aesthetic pleasure to seeing a man in all his natural beauty, hairless or not.

Of course, all of this is a matter of personal taste, and when it comes down to it, I completely agree with Damien, who wrote “So I guess I mostly like the person beneath the skin, the skin beneath the hair, the hair beneath the shirt.” I also agree with Bodhisbuddy who said that his tastes have changed. As a preteen through early twenties, I too preferred as little body hair as possible on a man. As I grew older, I began to appreciate well groomed bodies with hair, and now I’m to the point where hairless looks much less appealing. Though my tastes do occasionally change, I rarely look for the very hairy. It just doesn’t appeal to me that much.

I also agree with Damien that Nick Jonas is getting too much attention over these photos. Me personally, I find his ass the most appealing thing about him, then again, I’m an ass man, so that kind of figures I’d find his attractive. It’s a nice round bubble butt.

I also agree that there is a double standard when it comes to male and female celebrities, especially those who were child stars/wholesome Disney personalities. However, and I may be adding to this double standard, but I believe that Miley Cyrus and Nick Jonas took two different paths when they decided to break away from their squeaky clean personas. Miley appeared to eschew all the values that she previously seemed to embrace. Nick Jonas may be making racier photos (and not all people, were upset over Miley’s racy behavior) and he may have taken off his purity ring, but he still seems to have kept some core values. “This is a real growth in me and not something [wearing a purity ring] I’m doing anymore. But I’ve got my set of values, things that are important to me now at this point in my life and that’s all that matters,” said Jonas in a recent interview. “I’ve had an incredibly intense journey with faith and religion and my own growth. My belief in God is still very strong and important to me as a person and I think that’s all that should matter,” he continued. “I grew up in a church environment and still have love for the church.”

So i think the photos and the publicity have brought to light a few interesting things about our culture. I do believe that the lack of outcry is a reflection of the sexism still prevalent in our society. As Damien out it “Boys will be boys but girls should be ladies!” Also, the little bit of hair he shows in the mildly revealing photographs has at least raised the question of manscaping or not. I honestly think it makes for some interesting conversations, though not many are talking about it in those terms.

Thank you all for your comments. I don’t often answer comments directly, but know that I read every one of them. Please keep commenting and keep the conversation going.


Hair Today, NOT Gone Tomorrow

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Nick Jonas has been all over the internet recently. He has spent the better part of the last month promoting his new single, “Jealous,” and his upcoming DirecTV series, Kingdom, with a media tour that has included interviews with several gay publications and some stops at gay bars. The attention seemed to begin when Jonas showed off his abs at a gay bar, engaged in some flirting with the patrons and has spent the last few weeks going out of his way to prove that his affinity for his gay fans is more than a marketing strategy.

The viral internet attention seemed to hit a high point last week (his new show premieres tonight) when his photo shoot in Flaunt magazine became public. The photo shoot included several shots inspired by Marky Mark’s iconic 1992 Calvin Klein underwear campaign.

I have to agree with Noah Michelson, the Executive Editor of Gay Voices at The Huffington Post, when he said that the Calvin Klein-esque photos were “not the most interesting thing to come out of the Flaunt shoot.” The photo above however is very interesting. It shows something we don’t often get to see in media: body hair. There is an incredibly sexy small patch of hair fanning out across Jonas’ lower back and creeping down his butt cleavage.

There is so much attention paid to smooth male bodies that you have to look hard for a natural look. It’s why one of my favorite blogs is SteveXS’s blog All Natural & More, (NSFW) dedicated to “Appreciating Maleness In Its Natural State Plus Other Things We Like.” The appreciation of body hair, especially when it’s all natural, comes and goes in our culture. Look at most gay porn and the bodies are often very smooth, and the model may or may not even have public hair. On mainstream shows, you never see a full chest of manly hair like Magnum, P.I. anymore. The bodies are hairless.

And when we do see body hair in magazines or movies, it’s always controlled and coiffed and constrained to the chest and stomach. Often it’s a source of comedy and the person is made fun of for being overly hairy. If you look for the gay scene with hairy men, you have to look to bears, cubs, or otters (all animal inspired names). In our culture, to be hairy seems to mean that the person is animalistic or a Neanderthal with lower intelligence. Even many of the “otters” are trimmed, sometimes severely. Whereas, we do occasionally see limited chest or tummy hair, but hairy backs and asses are even bigger jokes. If you have one (and many, many men do), you can’t be the leading man; you’re someone’s gross dad or lecherous bad date. A sentiment that I wholly disagree with. I know he has a bad rap today, but I will never forget seeing Mel Gibson’s hairy butt in “Bird on a Wire” when I was a teenager. It left a hard wired memory in my mind, even if I later found out it was a “stunt butt,” which actually makes it better now. I didn’t pay attention to the reaction to Gibson’s stunt butt, I was too busy staring at that glimpse I was given, but since 1990 when that movie came out, fewer and fewer men are seen with hairy bodies.

Nick Jonas showing his hairy butt is definitely a breakthrough. Though I was never a fan of the Jonas Brothers, or really even Nick Jonas, I can certainly appreciate his once shapely bubble butt. It’s a breakthrough because Jonas is a 22-year-old celebrity who many consider a “heartthrob.” Jonas may be showing the hair on his lower back to prove to people that he is now a man and no longer a teenager, dare I say, a kid. He’s all grown up and he has a gritty grown-up television show. But it can also be a sign of more.

I’ve based most of this article on the one mentioned above by Noah Michelson (however, I’ve added many of my own thoughts as well), but I want to end with Michelson’s explanation of why he write an article asking “Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About Nick Jonas’ Hairy Ass?” This is what Michelson wrote in his blog post on HuffPost Gay Voices:

I can already see the comments section of this blog post filling up with responses like “Who cares?” and “Why is this news?” And you’re right: This isn’t “news.” No one else even seems to be thinking, much less writing, about this photo. But before you write me off as just another garden-variety perv (which is totally valid most of the time), I hope you’ll consider how important visibility is for creating change.

As more and more queer people come out and we gain more and more “possibility models” (as Laverne Cox has so eloquently put it) in the media, we feel more permission to be exactly who we are, and I believe the same is true for body image. Imagine being a 22-year-old guy and feeling ashamed about your own hairy back or hairy ass and seeing that image. Or imagine being an 18-year-old young woman and seeing that photo and having to readjust your idea of what sexy is. Even in queer culture, with our bears and otters and cubs and wolves, we’re no stranger to shaming bodies — our own and each other’s — and tiny, but visible, moments like this one are important for us too.

I’m not claiming that this photo is some kind of furry panacea for all that ails us. Of course Nick Jonas’ body conforms to (or surpasses) societal norms in many ways, and seeing it could inspire body shaming or set unrealistic expectations for some people. I’m also not claiming that men shouldn’t shave or wax or laser their bodies if that’s what they prefer, but I would like to at least raise the question of why hairlessness is the preference for so many of us and address the stigma that often comes with being hairy. And let’s face it: Jonas isn’t exactly hirsute, but I believe there is something radical about that patch of hair — however small, however innocent — climbing out of his jeans in the pages of Flaunt. And I think it’s worth pointing out and talking about, because this is how our culture begins to change — one image at a time — and because I want to celebrate progress — however modest — wherever I find it, even (especially?) if it’s in Nick Jonas’ hairy ass crack.

I have to agree wholeheartedly with Michelson. Maybe it will inspire some people to look a little differently at what they view as sexy. Personally, I think that men shave for two reasons. First, they trim their crotch area because they’ve been told it makes their penis look bigger (and a few other sexually misinformed reasons), when in fact, when it’s too trimmed it just looks odd. Second, I believe men do so to make themselves look younger. I teach a lot of teenage guys, and I often hear mixed feelings about body hair. Some are proud of their body hair because it means they are becoming a “man.” Others shave for various reasons: trying to make their dick look bigger, because their girlfriend asked them to, because they see it in the media, etc. They are forming opinions and maybe with some positive images of natural body hair, no matter how insignificant, they will see that it’s ok to be natural.

The picture below is two different pictures of the same model: unshaved and shaved. Which do you prefer?

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