Monthly Archives: May 2023

Pic of the Day

People 🤔

I’ll admit it, I don’t understand a lot of people. One minute they are friendly, and the next, they won’t even talk to you. It’s always a mystery to me when people seemingly get pissed off at me. I ask myself, “What did I do to make them act this way?” Most people consider me a nice guy who’s smart and kind. I’d do anything for my friends. 

They are those who have a dislike of me from the start, usually either because I’m gay or Southern. You’d be amazed at the number of people up north who discriminate against Southerners. Of course, most people just want to hear my accent and have no problem with me being Southern, though sadly a lot of people hear a Southern accent and think you’re dumb. It’s a bad stereotype. Think of really dumb people in movies or television; they more often than not have a southern accent, though usually a really bad one.

Then, there are the people who you thought were your friend, but as Heidi Klum would say on Project Runway, “One day you’re in; the next day you’re out.” I think those are the ones that hurt you the most. There are few things as devastating as when someone you thought was a friend turns their back to you. As gay people, we often have to deal with this when we come out and you find out who your true friends are. 

Of course, there are also the users. They use you for their benefit and take advantage of your kindness only to turn on you when you say no. I had a boyfriend like that once. He liked me for exactly two things: I had a car that could take him places and the sex. I mostly didn’t mind the sex part, but only liking me because I could drive him places was something I did mind.

Finally, there are the true friends. When you need them, they are always there for you. They are always there with an encouraging word or an ear to listen to your problems. They are there when you just need to gossip but want to make sure no one else will hear what you have to say. Friends, true friends, will laugh with you and cry with you. They’ll give you a hug when you most need it, and when you’re upset and think you just want to be left alone, they realize that you really need someone, even if you don’t think you do.

I’m not sure why this all popped in my mind, but it’s probably because of a few things going on in my life right now that have me perplexed.

Pic of the Day

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Sonnet 18)

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Sonnet 18)
By William Shakespeare – 1564-1616

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
    So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Since Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, I thought I’d post what is arguably the most well-known use of summer in a poem. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” is one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

“Sonnet 18” is perhaps the best known of all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, primarily due to the opening line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” which every true romantic knows by heart. But there is much more to this line than meets the eye. “Sonnet 18” focuses on the loveliness of a friend or lover, with the speaker initially asking a rhetorical question about comparing their subject to a summer’s day. He then goes on to introduce the pros and cons of the weather, mentioning both an idyllic English summer’s day and the less-welcome dim sun and rough winds of autumn. In the end, it is insinuated this very piece of poetry will keep the lover—the poem’s subject—alive forever and allow them to defy even death.

When I would teach “Sonnet 18,” I loved to compare it with “Sonnet 130,” also known as, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” “Sonnet 130” is an unusual poem because it turns the idea of female beauty on its head and offers the reader an alternative view of what it’s like to love a woman, warts and all, despite her shortcomings. It is basically the opposite of the more famous “Sonnet 18.”

It parodies other sonnets of the Elizabethan era, which were heavily into Petrarchan ideals, where the woman is continually praised and seen as beyond reproach. In this sense, ‘Sonnet 130’ is an anomaly, a unique poem that flouts the rules of convention and breaks new ground in the process. Shakespeare must have known what he was doing when he wrote this sonnet, because he ridicules an art form he himself had mastered.

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)
By William Shakespeare – 1564-1616

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
    And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
    As any she belied with false compare.

Pic of the Day

Memorial Day 🏳️‍🌈 🇺🇸

For many of us, Memorial Day weekend is about cookouts, sales, watching fireworks, and fellowshipping with family and friends. However, this weekend is supposed to be about honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. They gave their lives serving in one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. As a military historian working at a military college, I am very much aware of the sacrifices made every day by military personnel. Historically, LGBTQ+ soldiers have sacrificed even more. For most of the history of the U.S. military, LGBTQ+ soldiers had to be closeted because being “out” wasn’t acceptable. Being outed could have cost them their military career. Many LGBTQ+ soldiers kept their mouths shut and their business to themselves to protect themselves from harm and protect the nation.

In 1982, the U.S. military enacted a policy explicitly banning gay men and lesbians from their ranks. Before that, however, same-sex relations were criminalized and a cause for discharge. And in the early 1940s, it was classified as a mental illness, disqualifying gay men and lesbians from service. In 1993, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (DADT) went into effect, allowing closeted LGBTQ+ soldiers to serve in the military. Under the policy, service members would not be asked about their sexual orientation but would be discharged for disclosing it. 

Many LGBTQ+ soldiers were outed as gay or lesbian by fellow soldiers and not allowed to serve. Some soldiers were killed by their fellow comrades while on active duty. If you saw the 2003 film Soldier’s Girl, you are aware of U.S. Army infantry soldier PFC Barry Winchell who was murdered on July 6, 1999, by a fellow soldier for dating a transgender woman, Calpernia Addams. The murder became a point of reference in the ongoing DADT debate. Eighteen years after DADT was enacted, Congress repealed the policy, allowing openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to serve in the military.

Another barrier was lifted in 2013 when spousal and family benefits were extended to same-sex married partners in the military. After ending temporarily in 2016, the ban on transgender individuals was again rescinded in 2021, allowing transgender individuals to enlist and serve in the armed forces. It’s been a long journey, but LGBTQ+ soldiers have always been part of the American military. In an era before gay marriage or open pride, military men fell in love, formed passionate friendships, and had same-sex encounters. Due to social and official discrimination, most of the stories of these LGBTQ+ soldiers have gone untold. One famous example was Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a Prussian military man hired by George Washington to whip the Continental Army into shape during the darkest days of the Revolutionary War. He was known for his bravery and the discipline and grit he brought to the American troops. Historians also believe he was gay—and served as an openly gay man in the military when sex between men was punished as a crime.

So, if you have never considered the LGBTQ+ service members who lost their lives to serve a country that didn’t respect them, you should. We shouldn’t take our freedom for granted. It comes with a price tag, and we all need to remember this. As we celebrate another Memorial Day weekend, please note this isn’t just another time to party. Today is a day set aside to remember those who have sacrificed their lives so that we may live and be free, fight against discrimination, and love who we want. These brave, unsung heroes sacrificed the truth of themselves. Let us never forget them.

Be safe, be conscious, be proud, and remember our fallen LGBTQ+ service members who died in times when being “out” wasn’t allowed. Thankfully, things seemed to have changed drastically in the U.S. military. LGBTQ+ service members are able to serve openly and without harassment. While acceptance of LGBTQ+ service members is a relatively new development in the military’s long history, the Department of Defense is committed to maintaining a strong force that reflects the nation’s diversity.

Pic of the Day

Loyalty and Friendship

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

—Proverbs 17:17

Few things in this life are better than true friends. If I were ever to marry, I would want him to be my best friend. There is no greater love. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” For true friends, we will never forsake them, and we will do anything for them. Proverbs 12:26 tells us, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Friendship should be the same love we have for Jesus; He is our friend and guide. As one of my favorite hymns says, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!” On more than one occasion, I poured out my soul to one of my friends; then, I realized how selfish I was in only talking about myself. My friends have always said, “That’s what friends are for. We listen when you need us.” I have said the same to my friends when they tell me their woes. Jesus is always there to listen to our troubles, and if we are to live a life that imitates Jesus, then we should listen to the good and the bad our friends go through.

Romans 8:38-39 illustrates to us what kind of love and friendship we have with God, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When I think of how God is always there for us, I always think of the poem “Footprints in the Sand,” or sometimes, it’s simply called “Footprints.” I’m sure that most of us know the poem. My grandmother kept this poem on the wall of her bedroom, so it has always had a special place in my heart and makes me think of her. 

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed
You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child,
I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

We sometimes forget that God is with us. In our most trying times, he is carrying us. The poem “Footprints,” nobody actually knows who wrote it, was probably inspired by Deuteronomy 1:29-31, “Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.'”

Our true friends are there for us because of God. I think God brings people into our lives. We may sometimes wonder if God has forsaken us, but He never will. God is there with us, and our true friends will also be there. God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes when we need Him the most, he helps us through our friendships on Earth. A true friendship is eternal, just as our relationship with God is eternal.

*Some of you may notice that the man walking alone on the beach is naked. I don’t usually use images of naked men on my Sunday posts, but I thought this picture was the best one for this post. If we think about it, we are all naked before God. He hears our innermost thoughts and sees everything we do. 

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Summertime