Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Habit of Making Historicsl Figures Gay or Trans Is Problematic

With Transgender Day of Visibility and the GLAAD Media Awards occurring during the same week and with Pride Month just a few months away, it made me reflect on LGBT history and historiography. If you don’t know what historiography is, it can be defined as “the writing, methods of scholarship, and selection of materials to create a narrative of history that will stand the test of critical review.” It’s the work that historians engage in to help us understand our past. There are numerous approaches to it that have risen and fallen in popularity over time from Great Man, Annales School, and Marxist to Consensus and New Left, each with its own merits and followings. However, the challenge they all share is how to reconcile their views with the complexity of human existence and its past. As part of that, LGBT history faces the same dilemmas and the same issues with reconciling the past without falling subject to fallacies commonly found in historical thought.

It’s only been in the last few decades that being LGBT has moved beyond being seen as merely a sexuality or way of expressing yourself but a genuine group identity. As with any emerging group, there is a drive to create a historical narrative of where we came from, to create a mythology that includes virtuous heroes, and to place us within the greater society. This is nothing new or special, as every group in history has done it — nations, ethnicities, genders, religions, and even various professions. To want to find a place in the historical narrative of humanity is simply an act of being human, yet as such can be entirely flawed and problematic. This is not to say that what LGBT people are doing is wrong — far from it — it’s just that we need to be aware of these problems and work to correct them, as the process can ultimately work against our goals of acceptance.

The major problem where this occurs is the same problem that has plagued other groups, which is forming a selective narrative and projecting our current worldviews into the past. The first part is forming a selective narrative that tends to emphasize the good and play down or ignore the bad. A good example for Americans would be the issue of race. For example, while much focus is placed upon the South’s Jim Crow laws and slavery in our collective history, we tend to overlook that American finance and industry were funded and supported by the slave trade. Additionally, we have yet to fully resolve the contradictions of our hero Founding Fathers with their claim “All men are created equal,” while many still fought to own slaves themselves. In this regard, the LGBT community is quick to proclaim virtuous obvious heroes such as Harvey Milk, Alan Turing, and Bayard Rustin, but tends to play down those that are far less virtuous such as Roy Cohn, a man who helped persecute LGBT people and helped Donald Trump escape greater punishment for his racist housing practices. Another great example of this is J. Edgar Hoover, who helps highlight the second great problem in developing an LGBT history.

J. Edgar Hoover was never proven to be gay, though rumors circulated his entire life. Allegations about his relationship with his assistant Clyde Tolson, whom he was extremely close to, were around for years, along with Hoover’s suspiciously coincidental associations with other closeted gay men like Roy Cohn. Now, while Hoover’s sexuality will likely never be proven to a general satisfaction and many people will debate it for years, it raises a particular issue for LGBT people — that of appropriating historical figures. While there certainly are historical figures we can cite as being part of the LGBT population, such as the Emperor Hadrian, Gustave Flaubert, or Oscar Wilde, it’s when we start to take on those who have more ambiguous histories that we run into issues that may actually end up working against us. For example, it’s often said that Abraham Lincoln was gay and Joan of Arc was transgender because of the behaviors they exhibited that we see now as fitting those identities. Historians have a word for it: “presentism.”

With LGBT people, the issue is that in trying to paint many historical figures who behave in ways that seem to be “gay” that are familiar to us — or err on the side of favorable historical rumors — we run contrary to the contemporary arguments about gender and sexuality that we use to foster our own acceptance. We regularly argue that gender roles and behaviors are a social construct and therefore are constantly evolving. For example, we point out that at one point in Western history it was acceptable to be bisexual or to exhibit same-sex attraction, yet we fail to note that people of the time viewed sexual behaviors in a vastly different than we do, and the period often included complex social values and norms. We also seem to sometimes place modern views on same-sex nonsexual relationships to these figures in that “no true straight person” could have such feelings for a person without it being sexual. We cite letters and poems that express a fondness we consider romantic or sexual, when we know well that in those times and in different cultures expressions of closeness were different. Even in today’s world, while Americans might find men kissing or holding hands an overtly homosexual act, in many parts of the world, it’s simply a sign of affection and closeness, just as men sharing a bed for long periods of time in the past was completely common but seen as “queer” today. The same goes for expressions of gender behavior that we have deemed masculine or effeminate, like dress and occupation, including those that served a specific purpose. When we place a pattern of gendered behaviors from our contemporary culture onto the past, we contradict our own arguments against gender expectations.

LGBT people are not special nor really stand out in misinterpreting, appropriating, or revising history to suit their purposes over any other groups. Reconciling the good and bad LGBT figures from history will come with time and from a more reflective position when values have changed. People project their own values and views so regularly onto the past, it’s practically expected. A huge portion of the work historians do is to counter that. However, there is a unique interest in LGBT history to avoid viewing the past through our current frameworks. If we are to advocate for diversity of expression, to work against toxic views of gender and sexuality, and to show that society is better for embracing such beliefs, we cannot rewrite or whitewash history along those lines, as we end up working against our self-interest. 
AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City. Follow her on Twitter @EternalKerri.
Source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2017/4/05/habit-making-historical-figures-gay-or-trans-problematic


Boasting About Tomorrow

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
James 4:13-17
 
There is so much depth to these five verses. In the big picture, do we include God in all of our plans? Do we include him in our career or educational plans? Do we pray about the path He wants us to take?  When we make plans and exclude God, no matter what the plans are, it is as if we are boasting in our own abilities.
 
Verses 13 and 14 refer to making future plans for prosperity without consulting God. Even if the plans are honorable and righteous, God may have other ideas. Our lives are but a blink of God’s eye, “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” God wants us to consult with Him for all plans.
 
I plan ahead.  If I do not have the next step or two thought out before I get to them, I feel behind and unorganized.  However, God does not work this way.  Ever since I gave Him full rights to my life, I cannot seem to plan anything too far in advance.  He is the ultimate schedule shifter.  James notes, “you do not know what tomorrow will bring.”  I have to remind myself of this.  Life throws sudden changes at you.  Yes, I still plan ahead to the best of my ability, but I now make flexible plans instead of rigid ones.  This is one way I submit my life to God, by giving Him free reign to jumble my schedule.  In the end, I trust God has a better idea of what I should do with my life than I do since He sees the entire picture.
 
I remind myself that God has a plan for me in my prayers.  I begin by asking God to forgive me of my sins, then I ask Him to guide me down the path He has chosen for me before asking Him to bless my family and friends.  I pray for guidance down the path God has chosen for me, because I know it is not an easy path.  In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
 
I’ve learned to use verse 15 in all planning. “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” There is so much each of us wants to do with what time we have left in our lives, right? Personally, I would love to travel to Europe again, write a book, get in better shape, and be healthier. With each thing I want do to, I pray about it and say, “Lord, if it is Your will that I do this, then I will do it.”
 
Psalm 37:4 states: Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. This is a Scripture of hope.  We think, “I love the Lord and so He will give me whatever my heart desires.” That sounds great and all, but what about this:  if we love the Lord and become very close and intimate with Him, very soon His desires become the desire of our hearts. Ask the Lord if your desire is His will and you may find that His will truly becomes your desire.
 
Verses 16-17 remind us that boasting in our arrogance is evil, and goes on to say that if we know the right thing to do and fail to do it, we are sinning.  If the Lord places something upon your heart, and you do something else instead, verse 17 tells us that it is sin.  In 2 Corinthians 1:12, Paul writes, “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.
 
Boast in the Lord and proclaim to everyone: “My God has blessed me abundantly, and He directs my path.”  In Matthew 5:6, Jesus said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” There is satisfaction in doing God’s will. To actually do good is filling food. The more we eat the keener our appetite becomes. Dissatisfaction is a sure sign that we are not eagerly doing the will of God. It is a symptom of spiritual immaturity. The only way to discover the point of Christ’s teaching is to practice it. The only way to godly contentment is to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

 Moment of Zen: Runners


A Day Off

I have today off because I have to work Saturday. Since I have today off, I’m sleeping in. There isn’t much more to write about, so I’ll leave it at that.


Roy Moore Lost His Appeal

The Alabama Supreme Court today upheld the decision that removed Roy Moore from his position as chief justice.

Moore in a press conference after the decision called the prosecution “politically” motivated and declared that he remains Chief Justice despite the suspension regarding an administrative order against the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“I have done my duty under the laws of this state to stand for the undeniable truth that God ordained marriage as the union of one and one woman,” Moore said during the press conference with reporters in the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the Alabama State Capitol.

Moore can’t appeal the ruling to the federal courts because there are no federal issues. “This is it,” he said.

Moore also said he would reveal early next week for any plans he may have to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who was appointed to replace Jeff Sessions who is now U.S. Attorney General.

Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center which had filed the ethics complaint against Moore issued this statement after the court’s ruling today:

“Roy Moore’s violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics was egregious. He got what he deserved. We’ll all be better off without the Ayatollah of Alabama as our chief justice,” Cohen stated.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary on Sept. 30, 2016 suspended Moore for the remainder of his term as chief justice after finding him guilty of six charges of violation of the canons of judicial ethics. The charges were brought and prosecuted by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission.

Moore’s term is to end in 2019, but because of his age, 69, he cannot run for the office again. Moore appealed the COJ’s ruling to a special supreme court of retired judges appointed to hear the case.

“We have previously determined that the charges were proven by clear and convincing evidence … we shall not disturb the sanction imposed,” today’s order stated.

Moore’s current suspension was focused on a Jan. 6, 2016 administrative order he sent to the state’s probate judges regarding the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses.

Prosecutors with the JIC said Moore’s in his order urged probate judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2015 that declared gay marriage legal nationwide and halt their issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore testified that it was only a “status report” to probate judges regarding Alabama litigation regarding same-sex marriage that remained active.

They also have argued that only the Alabama Supreme Court has jurisdiction over administrative orders issued by a Chief Justice and that such orders cannot serve as the basis for ethical charges.

“This opinion and the entire case against Chief Justice Moore is a tragedy,” Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represents Moore stated in a press release after the ruling.

“For the first time in the history of Alabama, a justice has been disciplined for issuing an Administrative Order. Under this system, no judge is safe to issue orders or render dissents. The system has to change, and politics should be removed from judicial decision making and disciplinary actions,” Staver stated.

Moore also said today that a federal judge in Mobile had agreed with his legal basis for the administrative order.

Both Moore and one his attorneys, Phillip L. Jauregui, called the Judicial Inquiry Commission’s decision to prosecute him, the COJ’s verdict and suspension, and the special supreme court’s decision “illegal.”

“This case was a politically motivated effort by the Judicial Inquiry Commission and certain homosexual and transgendered groups to remove me from office because of my steadfast opposition to same-sex marriage,” Moore read from a prepared statement.

Moore contrasted his career-ending suspension to that of a probate judge – Leon Archer – who got a six-month suspension from the COJ for transmitting sexually explicit photos of himself to a litigant before his court.

In March cancelled, at Moore’s request, the planned April 26 oral arguments in the case. Instead, the court will consider Moore’s appeal based on written arguments already presented by the Judicial Inquiry Commission and Moore’s attorneys at Liberty Counsel.

Moore had argued that setting oral argument nearly three months in the future has imposed a “substantial financial hardship” on Moore because he has had no income or benefits since his suspension.

Moore’s attorneys with the group Liberty Counsel have said that the “suspension” imposed against Moore is the longest suspension in the history of the Court of the Judiciary. The COJ illegally removed him de facto from the bench “because political opponents disagreed with his legally accurate analysis,” his attorneys have said.

Moore has questioned the COJ’s suspension and argues that court violated its own rules. The COJ couldn’t get the nine votes necessary to outright remove him from the bench, but did get the votes needed to suspend him from the bench for the rest of his term.

Jauregui and Moore also questioned the timing of today’s ruling to affirm Moore’s ouster. The press conference was originally going to be about the delay by the special court and only an hour or so before it happened, the court ruled, they said.

From: al.com


Business Email Glossary 


thanks in advance: get this done by the time i press “send”

thanks for your interest: why’d you have to bring this up

would you be so kind: fucking do it

best: i have never physically met you

all best: this conversation is over

all my best: i wish you would die

happy to help: this is the easiest thing in my inbox

i hope this helps: i’ve done all i’m willing to do

i did a bit of research: i googled it, because you’re too lazy to

sorry to chase: answer my email

so sorry to chase: answer my FUCKING email

i am really sorry for being a pest but: i am LIVID that you are ignoring me

please contact my colleague: this isn’t my problem

i’m copying in my colleague: this isn’t my problem and i am thrilled about it

i’ll check and get back to you: i might forget to

i’ll let you know when i hear anything: i will forget to

can you check back with me in a week?: i’m hoping you will forget to

per our earlier conversation: i just yelled at you on the phone

great to chat just now: you just yelled at me on the phone

thanks!: i’m not mad at you

thanks!!: please don’t be mad at me

thanks!!!: i’m crying at my desk

please advise: this might be your fault

kindly advise: this is entirely your fault

mind if i swing by?: i’m already in the elevator

can you confirm for me: you told me before and i deleted the email

sorry if that was unclear: i think you’re an idiot

let me know if you need anything else: please never contact me again


Tears, Idle Tears

Tears, Idle Tears
Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1809 – 1892

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!


Sadness 


I lost a dear friend this weekend. She was more than just a friend, she was a lawyer, boss, and mentor. It was the years under her tutelage that I realized that I did not want to practice law and wanted to be a historian. She was a great lawyer and an honest one. That honesty, never made her a millionaire but she taught me to be honest in all that I do. I will greatly miss her.


He’s Alive


The gates and doors were barred
And all the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hope of sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breakin’ through
To drag us all away

And just before the sunrise
I heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call
I hurried to the window
Looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches
And the sound of soldiers’ feet

But there was no one there but Mary
So I went down to let her in
John stood there beside me
As she told me where she’d been
She said they’ve moved Him in the night
And none of us know where
The stone’s been rolled away
And now His body isn’t there

We both ran towards the garden
Then John ran on ahead
We found the stone and empty tomb
Just the way that Mary said
But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in
Was just an empty shell
And how or where they’d taken Him
Was more than I could tell

Oh something strange had happened there
Just what I did not know
John believed a miracle
But I just turned to go
Circumstance and speculation
Couldn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him
Then I saw Him die

Back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came
Everything I’d promised Him
Just added to my shame
When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
And even if He was alive
It wouldn’t be the same

But suddenly the air was filled
With a strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room
And Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And I just clung to Him and cried

Then He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
The love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies
Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I ever had
Just melted into peace

He’s alive yes He’s alive
Yes He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive yes He’s alive
Oh He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive He’s alive
Hallelujah He’s alive
He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive He’s alive He’s alive
I believe it He’s alive
Sweet Jesus

 
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.
     But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”-and that he had said these things to her.
John 20:1-18


 
The song above is one of the most powerful Easter songs I know.  It never fails to bring tears to my eyes. It’s a Dolly Parton song, and it’s one of her most beautiful.  As you listen or read the words to the song, you can almost put yourself in the position that the disciples of Christ found themselves. Not only was there great sadness in the death of their savior but also there was fear of what the authorities would do to them. It must have been agonizing for them. Then He appears to them and: 

He’s alive and I’m forgiven 

Heaven’s gates are open wide

 
For Jesus’ mother, his disciples and his followers, Jesus’ death was a tragedy. You can imagine that all hope was naturally gone. We today can face the same feeling. Many times in life, with homophobic politicians, the increasing rise of anti-gay homophobic groups, and everything that is going on in the world — war, famine, disease, natural disasters, discrimination, and hate — there can be a loss of hope and faith. Yet the resurrection gives us hope that no matter what has happened in our lives, no matter how much faith and hope we have lost, we can experience hope, we can overcome and regain whatever we have lost in our lives.
 
Our hope includes the knowledge that evil does not win. – Sometimes today, it seems that the bad guy often wins. Sometimes it seems that the one who cheats, the one who lies, the one who steps on others to get ahead, is the one who prospers. Far too often, I read of this person cheating or that one (or catching a student cheating) or another kid, gay or otherwise, who has been bullied, lost hope, and committed suicide. How often do we read of politicians cheating, or working to make sure their businesses get the good contract? It seems there is no hope for the little guy, the one who lives right, to ever get ahead.
 
With a positive attitude that through God we can accomplish anything, we truly can make the world a better place. With hope that springs eternal, just as the flowers in spring show the rebirth of the earth, we can be assured that God’s promises will deliver a better day, a rebirth our faith. The promise that Jesus would rise from the grave on the third day is remembered every Easter Sunday, it is the greatest sacrifice God could give for our sins. When we are baptized, it is done in symbolic reverence as our old body dies in its watery grave to be reborn and rise from the dead as Christ did for our sins.
 
 Easter has always been the major religious holiday at my old church in Alabama.  It is a day which has a date for us to celebrate, and it has the most meaning for Christians.  It is the day when the Old Testament prophesies of the Messiah were ultimately fulfilled.  It is the day that Christ rose from the dead.  The resurrection is the most important of the miracles.  When I was a child, our church had dinner on the grounds, and everyone brought a dish and the kids had an Easter egg hunt.  It was always a wonderful day of fellowship.  We no longer have dinner on the grounds because we once had a preacher (he didn’t last long with us) who was extremely hardcore and did not believe in having dinner on the grounds.  I think he believed the only meal that should be taken at church was communion.  Though he is long gone, we never revived the tradition of dinner on the grounds.  I find it quite sad, since early Christian services were often centered around the dinner table where fellowship, worship, and food were part of the gathering.  

I hope that all of you have a wonderful Easter.   I, also, hope that each of you feels the hope of the rebirth that Easter brings to us today. May God’s love eternally bless you.

Moment of Zen: The Beach


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