I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's.
My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces.
Jeremy Ryan of the blog, New Homo Blogo, just left a comment alerting me to the fact that Dr. Andrew Neighbors’s, who I featured in a January 2020 blog post, “The Eyes Have It,” dog Arbor is missing. If you are in the Tacoma Washington Area, and spot the dog, please message Andrew via his Instagram account @andrewgoesplaces. To see Jeremy’s post about Andrew’s missing dog, go to LOST DOG – Tacoma WA Area. Andrew seems to be a very sweet man, and if you have watched any of his YouTube videos, you know how much he loves his dog Arbor. I don’t know how many people in Tacoma, Washington who read my blog, but if there are any, I hope you will be on the lookout for Arbor.
I don’t usually post pictures of dogs on my blog, as I am very much a cat person, but I will make an exceptions here:
UPDATE – Arbor has been found! Andrew is out of town seeing patients, but Arbor is safe with a neighbor.
Star Trek: Discovery’s Lt. Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz)
Actor Wil Wheaton, known for his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, welcomed pride month this weekend by giving a special shout-out to his LGBTQ+ fans. Wheaton, who is now 48, took to Facebook to publicly acknowledge the number of Star Trek fans that had a crush on the actor–or his character–during the show’s run.
“Over the years, I’ve met several men who have told me that their childhood crush on Wesley Crusher was a big part of them coming out and living their lives with joy and love and pride,” Wheaton wrote. “I can not even begin to tell you how much this means to me. I love it so much that I, and some of my work, were there for people (when I didn’t even know it was happening) who needed a safe place.”
As a Star Trek fan, I certainly had a crush on Wesley Crusher, but the character that really made my hear go pitter patter was Dr. Julian Bashir (portrayed by Alexander Siddig) on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Bashir has sometimes been referred to as a twink, although his character began the series in his late thirties. He obviously caught the eye of the station’s resident Cardassian tailor, Elim Garak (portrayed by Andrew Robinson). Dr. Bashir was always handsome in the series, in particular, I always loved the episode “Rivals” because of the skintight suit Bashir wears while playing racquetball.
Alexander Siddig: Dr. Julian Bashir and Today
I had crushes on other Star Trek characters as well. On Star Trek: Voyager, I had a thing for Tom Paris played by the ever-handsome Robert Duncan McNeill. Enterprise had Commander “Trip” Tucker portrayed by Connor Trinneer who seemed to spend half the series in his underwear and boy did he look good in his underwear. With Star Trek: Discovery, we now have actual gay characters, who are all surprisingly played by gay actors, to lust after. I am looking forward to the upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to see actor Ethan Peck, the grandson of actor Gregory Peck, who will be playing Spock. Peck previously played Spock during the second season of Discovery.
”Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Creole Proverb
The man whose throat blossoms with spicy chocolates Tempers my ways of flurrying Is my inner recesses surfacing Paints the bedroom blue because he wants to carry me to the skies Pear eater in the orchard Possesses Whitmanesque urge & urgency Boo Bear, the room turns orchestral Crooked grin of ice cream persuasion When I speak he bursts into seeds & religion Poetry housed in a harmonica Line dances with his awkward flair Rare steaks, onion rings, Maker’s on the rocks Once-a-boy pilfering grenadine Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska Wicked at the door of happiness At a longed-for distance remains sharply crystalline Fragments, but by day’s end assembled into joint narrative Does not make me who I am, entirely Heart like a fig, sliced Peonies in a clear round vase, singing A wisp, a gasp, sonorous stutter Tuning fork deep in my belly, which is also a bell Evening where there is no church but fire Sparks, particles, chrysalis into memory Moth, pod of enormous pleasure, fluttering about on a train He knows I don’t need saving & rescues me anyhow Our often-misunderstood kind of love is dangerous Darling, fill my cup; the bird has come to roost
[ a subway ride ] By Joseph O. Legaspi
His artfully unkempt strawberry blonde head sports outsized headphones. Like a contemporary bust. Behold the innocence of the freckles, ripe pout of cherry lips. As if the mere sight of the world hurts him, he squints greenly and applies saline drops. You dream him crying over you. For the duration of a subway ride you fall blindly in love. Until he exits. Or you exit, returning home to the one you truly love to ravish him.
V-Neck T-Shirt Sonnet By Joseph O. Legaspi
I love a white v-neck t-shirt on you: two cotton strips racing to a point they both arrived at: there vigor barely contained, flaming hair, collarless, fenced-in skin that shines. Cool drop of hem, soft & lived-in, so unlike my father, to bed you go, flushed with fur in a rabbit’s burrow or nest for a flightless bird, brooding. Let me be that endangered species, huddled in the vessel of the inverted triangle: gaped mouth of a great white fish on the verge of striking, poised to devour & feed on skin, on all.
Vows (for a gay wedding) By Joseph O. Legaspi
What was unforeseen is now a bird orbiting this field.
What wasn’t a possibility is present in our arms.
It shall be and it begins with you.
Our often-misunderstood kind of love deems dangerous. How it frightens and confounds and enrages. How strange, unfamiliar.
Our love carries all those and the contrary. It is most incandescent.
So, I vow to be brave. Clear a path through jungles of shame and doubt and fear. I’m done with silence. I proclaim.
It shall be and it sings from within.
Truly we are enraptured With Whitmanesque urge and urgency.
I vow to love in all seasons. When you’re summer, I’m watermelon balled up in a sky-blue bowl. When I’m autumn, you’re foliage ablaze in New England. When in winter, I am the tender scarf of warm mercies. When in spring, you are the bourgeoning buds.
I vow to love you in all places. High plains, prairies, hills and lowlands. In our dream-laden bed, Cradled in the nest Of your neck. Deep in the plum.
It shall be and it flows with you.
We’ll leap over the waters and barbaric rooftops.
You embrace my resilient metropolis. I adore your nourishing wilderness.
I vow to love you in primal ways. I vow to love you in infinite forms.
In our separateness and composites. To dust and stars and the ever after.
Intrepid travelers, lovers, and family We have arrived.
Look. The bird has come home to roost.
About the Poet
Joseph O. Legaspi was born in the Philippines, where he lived before immigrating to Los Angeles with his family at age twelve. He received a BA from Loyola Marymount University and an MFA from New York University’s Creative Writing Program. Legaspi is the author of the collection Subway (CreateSpace, 2013), Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017), and Imago (CavanKerry Press, 2007), winner of a Global Filipino Literary Award. He is the recipient of two poetry fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and in 2004 he cofounded Kundiman, a nonprofit organization serving Asian American poetry. He works at Columbia University, teaches at New York University and Fordham University, and lives with his husband in Queens, New York.
I saw this video and had tears in my eyes when it was over. This is very much my story. I, too, grew up in the Bible Belt. I’m not sure what part of Alabama he grew up in, but I grew up in a rural area in the southern part of Alabama. Everyone but me seemed to know I was gay. I got called faggot, queer, sissy, gay, etc., all before I knew what any of it meant. People mocked me for my voice and mannerisms. I couldn’t do much about my voice, but I did change my mannerisms to be less “effeminate” in the bullies’ eyes. Those bullies made it all sound like it was the worst thing in the world to be gay, and I “knew” I didn’t want to be gay. It was unthinkable, and no matter what I did, the bullying did not stop until I went away to college. It took me years to accept myself. Just like him, this was in the 1990s. I also was in high school from 1992-1996. While he found theater and it saved his life, I found the internet and began researching, which saved my life. I finally had access to some of the answers I so desperately needed. This blog has also helped me to “find” myself.
The story of my sophomore year was a bit different from his. My best friend was a girl. (She’s now a Trump loving Republican, and we no longer speak.) But back then she was my cover in a way. I guess she was my “beard,” but it really didn’t seem to change anyone’s perceptions of me. I was still the intelligent, effeminate teenager whose most of his friends were girls, but never his girlfriend. Instead of hiding my friendship, I tried to hide my true self using that friendship. However, during that sophomore year when I was 16, the bullying got so bad, I took a handful of pills. I’d been on Ativan for my migraines. The doctor had taken me off of them, but I still had part of a bottle. I took all I had left hoping this would end my misery. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough for an overdose, and I just became violently ill.
I hated high school, just like I’d hated middle school. I hated all my years at that small private school in Alabama. I remember in kindergarten, my teacher forced me to take a toy truck to the playground and play with the other boys. I preferred to play with the girls. All of this came together to change who I was. I was a well-behaved kid at school, I was not a nice kid to my parents at home. I backtalked a lot and was constantly in trouble for it. I hated my dad’s rule of “Do as I say, not as I do.” At one point, my parents wanted to send me away to a boarding school. I wanted to find one for the academics and opportunities it might provide, and they wanted me out of their hair. They didn’t want to send me to a school for kids with severe behavioral problems, and I didn’t want to go to a military school. We did a bit of research into boarding schools. I wanted to be sent to an all-boys school, which in hindsight would probably had been just as bad as what I was going through. Eventually, they figured out that I wanted to be sent away, and they dropped the idea.
I have struggled much of my life with my sexuality. I’d say it could be one of the reasons for my migraines, but I’ve had migraines my whole life, even before I started school. I have had some miserable periods in my life. College and graduate school were different, but I always struggled with having enough money during those years. I was the typical poor college student, which added to my anxiety. Then, as a high school teacher, I seemed to hit rock bottom. I am a good teacher, but I was teaching spoiled rich kids who made my behavioral issues in high school seem minor. I was a good kid except when alone with my parents. My students were hateful, disobedient, and lazy, and I felt like I was more of a babysitter than a teacher. My bad temper came out a lot more than I’d have wanted. I wish I could have been calmer when dealing with them, but they often brought me to the brink. Teaching at a private school was by far the most difficult and worst job I’ve ever had. I was not cut out for teaching secondary school. I always did much better teaching college.
Only in the last few years have I begun to fully accept myself. It took moving 1,400 miles away to a mostly solid blue state to be happy, and to get a fairly decent paying job. Mostly these days, I am happy. I do struggle with some health issues (chronic migraines, diabetes, my weight, my brittle teeth), but even those seem to be getting under control. The Botox treatments seem to be working; my diabetes seems to be under control; and I’ve been losing weight, though I still have more weight I need to lose. My teeth are still a work in progress (I have to go to the dentist for a broken tooth this morning), but hopefully, things will get better in the dental department as well.
The most important thing is that I have accept who I am, and I am proud of my sexuality. Yes, I still have to be in the closet when I go home in an effort to appease my family, but one day, I hope and pray this too shall pass. I live my life as an out gay man here in Vermont, and I am unapologetically gay. Vermont has laws protecting gay people from discrimination, and the university I work for has anti-discrimination policies. I don’t have to put up with homophobia here. It’s not perfect, and I’m still getting comfortable in my own skin, but it has gotten better. Isn’t that what we all hope for when dealing with our sexuality?
The It Gets Better Project is a nonprofit organization with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the globe.
I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
-2 Corinthians 7:4
For those of us who were raised in a strict Christian environment, we had to learn not to hate ourselves and to accept who we are and our sexuality. Some Christians are opposed to the concept of LGBTQ+ pride. They feel LGBTQ+ people should be ashamed of who we are, and any public celebration of LGBTQ+ sexuality is wrong. Those who reject us are those who are straying from the teachings of Jesus. I still believe in the teachings of Christ and believe that God created me just the way I am. I learned to accept myself and be proud of who I am. I am proud to be both gay and Christian.
Christians who know church history can identify with persecution. During the early years of the Christian church, Christians were put in prison and killed for their faith. The civil authorities in the Roman Empire were persecuting people for being Christian. Both Christianity and the LGBTQ+ community share a history of discrimination and persecution. Unfortunately, discrimination and persecution of LGBTQ+ people continue today, largely led by people claiming to be Christian. Some Christians do not understand how much they have in common with the LGBTQ+ community. Instead of working closely together to ensure their mutual human rights are respected, many Christians actively work to keep LGBTQ+ people from having the same rights other members of society enjoy.
The LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride Month each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall Riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
LGBTQ+ pride promotes the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of LGBTQ+ people. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBTQ+ rights movements. Ranging from solemn to carnivalesque, pride events are typically held during the month of June. Some pride events include LGBT pride parades and marches, rallies, commemorations, community days, dance parties, and festivals. Pride may be considered one of the seven deadly sins, but there is nothing wrong with LGBTQ+ people having self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility. In fact, God expects us to have pride, a pride that is justifiable and reasonable, because it is based on what God has done for humanity.
God chose humanity before the world was created. Ephesians 1:4, we are told, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” God did not wait to see how things would go before choosing humanity. According to Ephesians we were chosen before the world was around, before we had a chance to do anything that would make God favor us. We did not have to act loving, do impressive humanitarian work, wear designer clothes, or make love to the right person to earn God’s love. God’s love for us is not a new, fickle love. His love for all of us, no matter our sexuality, is as old as time. God loved us, just the way we are. We can take pride in the fact that God sought us out and chose us before the world was created. In 2 Corinthians 7:4, we are told that God as “great pride” in us.
Isaiah Chapter 44 says God formed us in the womb. It does not say, “God created heterosexual people in the womb,” but it says that God, “formed you from the womb and will help you.” (Isaiah 44:2) We are not an accident in God’s eyes. We are not defective like some Christians would have us believe. God formed us in the womb and made us who we are. Galatians 1:15 states the Paul was chosen before he was born, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.”. Just like Paul, we were chosen to be an LGBTQ+ Christian (if that’s how you identify) before we were born. We can have pride, because God chose us and picked us to be on children.
Genesis tells humans, again, no matter their sexuality, were created in God’s image. Anything made in the image of God is valuable. We can have pride because we are a valuable masterpiece. God did not make a mistake when he created us with the varying sexualities that exist in this world. Romans 5:8-9 says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” In Greek, the word justify carries the meaning to vindicate, approve, and honor. LGBTQ+ Christians are vindicated, approved, and honored by God, no matter our sexuality, because of Christ’s death on the cross. And nobody, gay or straight, has the right or the authority to put down or condemn people God has vindicated, approved, and honored.
LGBTQ+ Christians have the same reasons to have pride as straight Christians. Gay and straight Christians are equally called before the world was created, are equally formed in the womb by God and are equally redeemed by God. LGBTQ+ Christians can and should have pride in who they are by creation, by birth, and in Christ. To advocate that LGBTQ+ Christians should not have pride is to advocate that LGBTQ+ people feel and express no gratitude to God. When LGBTQ+ Christians are denied LGBTQ+ pride, they are asked to deny their Creator’s role in their creation and birth. It denies Christ’s role in our salvation.
Some LGBTQ+ people find pride to be one time of the year when they do not feel alone, isolated, cut-off, rejected, hated, and despised. Pride helps LGBTQ+ people feel they are not a tiny, powerless minority group. Through pride, many LGBTQ+ people find a sense of belonging, a sense of being worthwhile. Society has long taught LGBTQ+ people to hate themselves. By celebrating pride, the LGBTQ+ community can start the long process of overcoming self-hate. Standing side-by-side with God, LGBTQ+ Christians are accepted, loved, connected, and made powerful by God.
LGBTQ+ Christians can find meaning in pride. God wants LGBTQ+ people to stop hating and fearing themselves, because those who live secret lives of pain are not able to fully celebrate their identity in Christ. Through LGBTQ+ pride, God calls LGBTQ+ Christians to live as though the world waits for them, waits for them to passionately praise God, to love as faithfully as God loves and to celebrate life, as they walk hand-in-hand with Christ into eternity.