Monthly Archives: February 2016

Goodbye, Miss Lee


Alabama legend and literary master Nelle Harper Lee has died at the age of 89. May she rest in peace with her father and sister, who passed on before her. She may have been a tiny woman but she was a literary giant with her masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird.


I’d thought about doing a political post, but it’s been a long and busy week at work and I just wasn’t up to it.  So I decided to relax and do nothing, which included writing a post for today.  More at another time.

What’s Your “Number”?

We aren’t talking telephone number either. Can anything good come from telling your partner(s) how many people you’ve slept with before you met them? Many people would say, “no way.” The very idea of revealing that number can be terrifying because they’re afraid that they’ll be judged for having had too many intimate encounters — or too few — and they worry that the information could harm their relationship. It’s also probably not a good answer when you say, “Um, I lost count. The orgy in Italy threw my numbers off a bit.” Yeah, not a good answer, but some of us were sluts when we were younger, had more hair, and were better looking.

“[What happens when you reveal your number] depends on what are the attitudes and values of the people involved and what their reactions are going to be,” Dr. Zhana Vrangalova , a sex expert and professor at New York University, told the co-hosts of HuffPost Love+Sex Podcast, Carina Kolodny and Noah Michelson . “My husband has actually had that experience with a couple of his friends and girlfriends. They would share the number and he would be so accepting of whatever the number was that they walked away thinking, Oh my God — I’m not this dirty slut that everyone has been telling me I was. So if you have a positive reaction to that, or your partner has a positive reaction to that, it can be a really empowering and really anti-slut shaming that I think a lot of [people] could benefit from it.”

To hear more about what can happen when you share “your number,” as well as questions about everything from the above question about “numbers” to “what should I do if I only want to date ‘daddies’ and they all think I’m too young for them,” listen to the podcast go to iTunes to download it.

Two Interesting Studies


How Do You Feel About Your Nether Regions?

A new study found that regardless of sexual orientation, people who either feel good about their genitals look or are not self-conscious about them are more likely to have good sexual self-esteem and feel sexually attractive. The study examined the relationship between perceptions of genital appearance and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. The study sample included men and women aged 18-45 who identified as heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or bisexual. Participants responded to an online survey assessing their self-perceived sexual attractiveness, genital self-image, genital self-consciousness during sexual activity, and sexual esteem. Based on previous findings, the study hypothesized a positive link between genital self-perceptions and self-perceived sexual attractiveness, with sexual esteem acting as a mediator. Analyses revealed a significant association between both genital self-image and genital self-consciousness and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. However, these relationships were at least partially mediated by sexual esteem, across both gender and sexual orientation. The findings suggest that, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, individuals who maintain a positive genital self-image or lack genital self-consciousness, are more likely to experience greater sexual esteem, and in turn, feel more sexually attractive. The findings have implications for the importance of genital appearance perceptions and improving individuals’ sexual esteem and self-perceived sexual attractiveness.

Freud would agree. I think that when someone is confident in the way their genitals look, then they are overall more confident and have greater self-esteem. The same i believe is true of people who are happy with their body image. It gives the person more confidence and self-esteem. The problem is that for some of these people who are happy with their bodies become overly conceited and obnoxious to deal with overall.
Science: Gay Dudes Like Muscly Hunks

Yeah, this is real: researchers recently counted and analyzed the photos and comments posted on, a blog mostly for gay men. The overwhelming majority of pics and comments celebrated hunky, muscly men with basically zero body fat. The downside: not critiquing these images might be reinforcing an unhealthy body image among blog visitors. This study conducted a content analysis of 243 photographic images of men published on the gay male-oriented blog The study also analyzed 435 user-generated comments from a randomly selected one-year sample. Focusing on images’ body types, the study found that the range of body types featured on the blog was quite narrow-the vast majority of images had very low levels of body fat and very high levels of muscularity. Users’ body image-related comments typically endorsed and celebrated images; critiques of images were comparatively rare. 

First of all, Queerty is the worst place on the net to read comments. Their commenters tend to be the bitterest queens on the planet. However, if you look at this from an evolutionary standpoint, those with less body fat and nice musculature look healthier, meaning that our minds perceive them to be people who will live longer. Attraction often has to do with having a male partner who will love a long time. When it comes to women, heterosexual men tend to find a woman with large breasts and nice hips to be seen as more fertile, just as healthy men are seen as more virile. So when we look at what we find attractive, it comes down to who the evolution of the human species will take the best care of us and who will be the best at procreation. While this may seem to exclude homosexuals, it does not. We still want virility. Whatever sex we are attracted to, we still have the evolutionary genes that tell us the same things about the same sex we are attracted to as it does when opposite sexes are attracted.

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Everyone can quote those final two lines. But everyone, writes David Orr in his book “The Road Not Taken” (Penguin Press), gets the meaning wrong.

The poem is praised as an ode of individuality, to not follow the pack even though the path may be more difficult.

Except Frost notes early in the poem that the two roads were “worn . . . really about the same.” There is no difference. It’s only later, when the narrator recounts this moment, that he says he took the road less traveled.

“This is the kind of claim we make when we want to comfort or blame ourselves by assuming that our current position is the product of our own choices (as opposed to what was chosen for us, or allotted to us by chance),” Orr writes.

“The poem isn’t a salute to can-do individualism,” he continues. “It’s a commentary on the self-deception we practice when constructing the story of our own lives.”

Wrongly referred to by many as “The Road Less Traveled,” the poem’s true title, “The Road Not Taken,” references regret rather than pride. That’s by design. Frost wrote it as somewhat of a joke to a friend, English poet Edward Thomas.

In 1912, Frost was nearly 40 and frustrated by his lack of success in the United States. After Thomas praised his work in London, the two became friends, and Frost visited him in Gloucestershire. They often took walks in the woods, and Frost was amused that Thomas always said another path might have been better. “Frost equated [it] with the romantic predisposition for ‘crying over what might have been,’ ” Orr writes, quoting Frost biographer Lawrance Thompson.

Frost thought his friend “would take the poem as a gentle joke and protest, ‘Stop teasing me,’ ” Thompson writes.

He didn’t. Like readers today, Thomas was confused by it and maybe even thought he was being lampooned.

One Edward Thomas biographer suggested that “The Road Not Taken” goaded the British poet, who was indecisive about joining the army.

“It pricked at his confidence . . . the one man who understood his indecisiveness most acutely — in particular, toward the war — appeared to be mocking him for it,” writes Matthew Hollis.

Thomas enlisted in World War I, and was killed two years later.

Orr writes that “The Road Not Taken” is “a thoroughly American poem. The ideas that [it] holds in tension — the notion of choice, the possibility of self-deception — are concepts that define . . . the United States.”

It is also, as critic Frank Lentricchia writes, “the best example in all of American poetry of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

I have always equated this poem with what Jesus says during the Sermon on the Mount about the narrow gate. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says “13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Frost’s religious beliefs have long been speculated upon. Raised by a mother who was a follower of Swedenborgianism, a Swedish mystical belief, many of Frost’s biographers have noted his apparent atheism or agnosticism. But he was deeply interested in Christianity.

Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College and a prominent Frost scholar Jay Parini said that “Robert Frost called himself an ‘Old Testament Christian. Which meant he was really more focused on the Torah and the old Biblical stories. Things like the Book of Job, the first five books of Moses, the Book of Proverbs and the Psalms were hugely important to Frost as a poet, a man and a thinker.”

Post Valentine Post


I may be a hopeless romantic because I still love Valentine’s Day. Last year, I had a wonderful man in my life, but that ended when I moved over 1300 miles away. So this year, I spent Valentine’s Day alone. I’d planned on not being lonely the whole day, because I was going to brave the sub-zero temperatures and go to church. It didn’t happen like I’d expected because I woke with one of my damn headache. So I stayed in and watched season 5 of Game of Thrones.

With the exception of last year, Valentine’s Day has always been a dud of a day for me. The first girl I ever “dated” (if you can call just hanging out at school and claiming to be going steady) back as a young kid of maybe 12 broke up with me the day before Valentine’s Day. This was particularly horrific since the school had been selling carnations to give to those you “love” and I’d bought her one. They delivered it to me to give to her and my teacher encouraged me to go give it to her, not knowing we’d “broken up.” She was in the grade below me, so I had little choice as a shy kid who wasn’t about to tell a teacher no, but to go knock on the door of her classroom and gove her the carnation. I was so embarrassed. I should have told my teacher that we were no longer dating and just kept the carnation to give to my mother.

I was never dating but three people when Valentine’s came around. My first “girlfriend,” my last girlfriend, and my boyfriend last year. Last year was a lovely day spent together. With my last girlfriend, by Valentine’s I’d already decided that I no longer wanted to pretend and date girls, but she was still a good friend so we kept seeing each other for another month or so. On that Valentine’s, we had a nighttime picnic overlooking a lake. It was a nice Valentine’s.

This year, I tried not to think too much about it being Valentine’s Day. I didn’t get a single Valentine’s Day card from anyone. Usually, at least my mother sends me one, but if she did, it did not arrive before Valentine’s Day. I did get a couple of lovely messages from friends, and an email or two saying Happy Valentine’s Day.

How was your Valentine’s Day? Were you with someone you love? I hope you all were.

For God Is Love

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

Do we really believe that scripture?

I believe this verse would serve us well to consider in its literal simplicity: God is love.

I love how this verse opens up my ability to see God in the flesh, in the here and now.

See the love around you and there it is: there is God, in the flesh.

A father buying his daughter an ice cream conethere! An elderly couple holding hands–there it is again! A woman playing with her dog in a field–Again! God being love. A day care worker leading a crowd of children to the playground–there too! A group of friends enjoying an evening around a table of food and drink. There! There God is again! God being love, in the flesh.

And even better, whenever I myself experience a loving act, I know that God is there loving me.

When my partner comes home after a day at work and I get a hug and a kiss hello, God is there, loving me in the flesh. When my best friend and I hang out together and we get to talk about what’s been going on in our lives, there God is, loving me, loving us, in the flesh.

As a gay man I especially treasure these moments. For many years I was taught that my love is sick, sinful, disgusting, and abomination. I’m guessing the same is true for many of you. I treasure loving moments all the more because it took a lot of work to shake off those teachings, well, for the most part, I have shaken those teachings out of my head, and I have come to believe that my loving acts, yes–my loving acts–fully participate in the love that is God.

What a marvel that is! First John doesn’t add any restrictions or caveats: God is love. Not: God is mixed gender love; Not: God is white people love; Not: God is cis-gendered love; Not: God is highly educated love.

Simply and fully: God is love.

We are all invited to shake off those teachings we learned from society: God loves dark skin less? No! God loves accented English less? No! God loves women less? No! God loves trans and bi and lesbian and gay less? No!

It can be difficult to remember that God loves me without qualification. As a gay man, even after more than 30 years of being out, even after finding many safe and affirming places in my life, there is always–always!–the awareness that not everyone around me knows that I’m gay, the awareness that I am participating in my own oppression in the closet balanced with trying to remain safe and secure balanced with simply being. This is a balancing act I’m too well practiced at.

The need to struggle with that balance is deep in the bones, buried deep in the flesh of any queer person who grew up taught that same gender loving flesh and transgender flesh is an abomination. Perhaps you can relate as a woman or person of color or person with an accent.

For me, that struggle has been so deeply embedded for so long that I rarely notice it anymore.

Though I’d rather not think about it, it remains a costly struggle. And, if we ignore that cost the price can be dear in terms of self oppression, internalized homophobia and their companions depression, addiction, dysfunctional relationship, and other unhealthy destructive behaviors.

For many of us, we have reduced the struggle with oppression by finding safe places. We have reduced that struggle by finding healthy loving committed relationships. Many LGBT people have reduced the impact of our oppression with 20 or 30 years of being out, by claiming God’s love, by living openly and courageously. We have reduced our oppression and struggle, but we still struggle. As much as we want to forget, as much as we want to ignore it, we still live with our oppression.

And it serves me well to remember how precious is this knowledge: that God is love, that my love participates in God’s love, that God loves me in the flesh, that my flesh participates in the love that is God.

Too often, I have seen what happens to people who don’t know that God is love.

When I worked as a psychologist, I worked with too many young adults who spent their adolescence bullied daily. I worked with too many young people who were kicked out of their Christian homes because their parents’ church taught that this was the loving thing to do to LGBT teenagers.

I have read too many statistics about the number of homeless lgbt youth on the streets of our major cities, not because they want to be there, but because the emotional and physical abuse of their home life was worse than living on the streets of cities like New York.

Can you imagine? Worse than living on the streets of New York City–in the winter? homeless? hungry? These young people didn’t start out as homeless youth on our streets. They were, they are, typical everyday kids, usually from the suburbs, usually with no idea of what life is like on the streets of a big city–would you survive a day living homeless on the streets of New York City in the winter?

They are kids who ended up on the streets because of what the church, our churches, have taught about sexuality and gender identity.

Most parental rejection of LGBT youth is based on religious belief, and that must stop.

But, you might be tempted to say, we’re making progress. Look–Will and Grace! Look–marriage equality! Look–Glee!
You think it’s getting better?
That esteemed journal of modern life, Rolling Stone, had an article last September, describing the rising–yes, the rising–tide of homeless lgbt youth today.

Here is a quote from that article, from the founder of the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth: “The summer that marriage equality passed in New York, we saw the number of homeless kids looking for shelter go up 40 percent.”

Wow. Up by forty percent? What happened? The article goes on to explain that these kids, hoping that it’s getting better, seeing marriage equality come to our states, watching TV and YouTube videos, these youth are finding the courage to come out younger–and when youth come out younger, they get kicked out of their religious homes younger.

This is why, my friends, it is so important that we love in the flesh, that we embody God in the flesh to our neighbors and their children.

This is why it’s so important that our Open & Affirming churches name that affirmation and love out loud and visibly, in the flesh, so that everyone grows up believing that God does love them, so that every parent knows that every child is loved by God.

This is why, for me, the “open” in Open & Affirming is so important. We don’t proclaim our churches Open & Affirming for ourselves–we do it for our neighbors. We do it so that our neighbors know that there are churches that affirm LGBTQ people. We do it so that our neighbor’s children know there is a love that may not be present in their parents’ church, that there is a loving church different from the ones they see in the news on TV.

This is why it is so important that we continue the work to bring all our Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations to a welcoming place, to proclaiming openly their affirming welcome of all people regardless of gender expression and sexual orientation as well as race, ethnicity, gender, class and, well, all people.

Let us build a church where no person grows up lacking the knowledge that God loves them, her him and trans, queer bi gay and straight, that God loves all, in the flesh.

Let us build a church where no person grows up encouraged to hide in a closet and participate in their own oppression.

Let us build a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and let us build Christian Churches across the US and Canada where all know that all are welcome.

It’s time to be God in the flesh for all our neighbors, openly, clearly, out loud. Amen.

Originally published by GLAD Alliance and was written by Rev. Dr. Mark Johnston, Executive Director of the Open & Affirming Ministry Program of Gay Lesbian and Affirming Disciples Alliance.
The churches of Christ and the Disciples of Christ have a mutual founding in the Stone/Campbell movement. If anyone knows of a Disciples of Christ  in central Vermont please let me know. I think the Disciples of Christ is probably the only denomination I’d feel truly comfortable in.

I’m sure I’ve posted this hymn before, but the verse above always puts this hymn in my mind. It’s called “God Is Love”:

Come, let us all unite to sing:
God is love!
Let Heav’n and earth their praises bring,
God is love!
Let every soul from sin awake,
Let every heart sweet music make,
And sing with us for Jesus’ sake:
God is love!


God is love! God is love! Come let us all unite to sing that God is love.

O tell to earth’s remotest bound,
God is love!
In Christ we have redemption found,
God is love!
His blood has washed our sins away,
His Spirit turned our night to day,
And now we can rejoice to say:
God is love!


How happy is our portion here,
God is love!
His promises our spirits cheer,
God is love!
He is our sun and shield by day,
Our help, our hope, our strength and stay;
He will be with us all the way;
God is love!


In Canaan we will sing again:
God is love!
And this shall be our loudest strain:
God is love!
Whilst endless ages roll along,
We’ll triumph with the heavenly throng
And this shall be our sweetest song:
God is love!


Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! May you feel God’s love, the love of friends and family, and my love for each of you.

Moment of Zen: Love


TGIF?…Not Really


Yesterday’s post about anticipating cold weather and how it’s been a mild winter in Vermont wasn’t taken as tongue in cheek by everyone as expected. Then again, people don’t always (if ever) get my sense of humor. It’s a little odd the things I find funny. Anyway, yesterday’s post was supposed to be a bit fun.

While today is Friday, I’m not looking forward to the weekend. It will be another lonely weekend. I do not plan on leaving my warm cozy apartment this weekend. I definitely don’t plan to walk to church Sunday morning in -12 degree temperatures. As I’m writing this the wind chill outside is -17 degrees and the actual temperature is a whopping 0. When this blog piece posts, it is supposed to be -3. I do have to go outside tomorrow, and honestly, I don’t mind. However, with the temperature predicted to be dangerously low with wind chills of (now they are predicting) -20 to -30, I think I’ll stay in. Maybe I will do some house cleaning or maybe I’ll just stay in my warm bed and read. Our friend Susan has given me a list of books to read, and I might as well get to reading them.

What are your plans for the weekend? Is this arctic blast supposed to reach you? When I told a friend of mine what the wind chill was last night, she happily said that it was 70 degrees where she was in Louisiana. Her other comment was “Holy shit, that’s cold.” I’d still rather be cold than hot, and besides, I like winter fashions over summer fashions.
PS Speaking of winter fashions, I have yet to buy the requisite Vermont flannel shirt that seems to be the uniform here. I’m just not a flannel kind of guy.



Before I moved to Vermont, my new coworkers kept asking me during the interview if I realized how cold it would be up here. My response was that, “I hate the heat of the South.” It’s true. I have always hated Christmases when you can wear short sleeve shirts and shorts. I’ve always hated summers when you walk outside and the humidity causes you to instantly break out into a sweat. I hated having seasons that instead of being called Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall should have been named after salsa: Hot, Medium, and Mild.

So when I moved to Vermont, I bought all the winter gear necessary. It got the winter clothes, boots, and coats. I got the snow tires and winter windshield wiper blades. I got winterized. Then, the promised winter never seemed to come. Imagine my surprise when the majority of this “winter” seemed a lot like Alabama but with a bit more snow. Yes we’ve had weeks where it did not get above freezing, whereas Alabama would be in the 30s and 40s most of the time, rarely getting below freezing. There’s one major difference I’ve noticed though. Alabama gets a lot more wind and rain in the winter than Vermont has gotten this year. When it is cold, windy, and rainy, it gets to your bones and it’s hard to get warm. However, in Vermont there hasn’t been as much wind and snow just doesn’t feel as cold as those damp “winter” days of Alabama.

I realize that this is highly unusual for Vermont. The ski resorts are really struggling. I’ve heard that the maple syrup season is not going to be as good this year. Last night here was a news story about the poor snowshoe rabbit who turns white each winter and with the lack of snow now thinks it’s camouflaged but sticks out like a sore thumb for predators to swoop in and feast on.

This week, things have begun to change. Apparently, we are finally getting the weather we should have had in November or December. Since Sunday we have gotten snow each day and the temperature continues to plummet. The news says we will be lucky to reach 0 degrees this weekend with lows between -20 and -10 degrees. The predictions I have seen are slightly better for the highs but it’s supposed to be windy so the wind chill will drop that quite a bit. This is what my forecast looks like:


It finally looks like winter is supposed to look, at least this weekend does. Then, it’s expected to warm up again next week. This weekend is apparently just temporary, but it’s nice to see snow forecasted for each day. I’m sure I’m the only one (besides the ski resorts, ice fishermen, and maple sugar producers) who feels cheated by this mild Vermont winter. I still can’t convince my family that it’s just not that cold up here.