Category Archives: Pride

Pride: Vermont Style

Pride in Vermont is unlike any other Pride. First of all, it’s small, though they had their largest contingents of marchers this year with just over 1400 people marching. The Pride Ball was sold out at 420 tickets. And The Guerilla Bar Takeover at Drink Bar Friday night was packed to the gills. Everything had a good showing and it was heartwarming to see so many people out in support of the LGBTQA community in Vermont.

So let’s start with Friday. We first had dinner at Splash at the Boathouse on Lake Champlain. All three of us, two coworkers and myself, had the burger which was delicious, as were their homemade potato chips. We left there and made it just in time for the start of the Hump! Film Festival. Some of the films were quite erotic, it is amateur porn after all. Some were a complete turn off, such as the guy fisting himself and all the lesbian porn. I kept looking at my watch during the lesbian porn hoping it would be over soon, which did not go missed by one of my coworkers. After Hump!, we went to the Guerilla Bar Takeover at Drink Bar. We had one drink there but it was so crowded we had to leave. We met a friend of ours at the more quiet Whiskey Bar. After that, we called it a night.

Saturday, I did not have anyone to go with me to Pride Ball, so I went alone. I had so much fun. The drag shows were phenomenal. The first one lasted about an hour and a half. The beautiful Miss Czechoslovakia was there. She always has a great performance. Butterball performed and was fabulous. She was my favorite performer of the night. I love old school campy drag queens over the often more vulgar and just pretty looking drag queens you often see today. Butterball was campy goodness, and the butterfly dress was beautiful. They had two burlesque performers. I’m not a fan of burlesque, but it’s popular in Vermont. Usually it’s women dancers who really should not be stripping naked. Mike Oxready performed in the first set to a song that rapped mirrored his T-shirt that said “Fuck Trump.” Mike was the only drag king to perform in the first set. There were a few other drag performances. Two that stood out were Farrah Nuff and Shani. After the first set, a DJ was brought out and I left shortly after that. It was getting late and I still had to drive home.

Sunday was the big day. It was the day of the parade. A huge crowd turned out for it. The streets were lined several people deep. There was no rhyme or reason to the order of the people who marched. Probably the largest contingent of people were from St. Michael’s College, a small Catholic college of less than 2000 students, who probably had more than a hundred students there including the hockey team. My favorite queens, Nikki Champagne and Emoji Nightmare we’re in the parade. (See the first picture.) They had hosted the Ball the night before. The LeMay Sisters were at the restaurant across from me but did not march this year. There were some strange participants such as the Star Wars group and the Hearthlight group who were dressed as medieval women. The Burly Bears were there along with many other groups. Ben and Jerry’s always has a group in the Parade as does Bernie Sanders, whose people seemed to be handing out chunks of carrots. It’s definitely a unique parade.

After the Parade, there was a Pride Festival but I couldn’t find parking anywhere nearby, so I decided to run some errands in Burlington and wait for the Burly Bears party to begin. When the time came, I went to the Burly Bears party at Red Square. The staff at Red Square, from security to the bartenders, were all shirtless. They were fun to admire. They also had some go-go boys dancing in little gold shorts that left little to the imagination. They had marched earlier with the House of Madam which you saw a picture of Monday. I mingled a little bit. I talked to Emoji for a while and saw the LeMay Sisters. I stayed for about two hours then headed home.

It was a fun but exhausting weekend.

Pic of the Day


Pride

Pride was a lot of fun. Three days of festivities, and I am exhausted. I didn’t have the energy last night to write up about Pride, but look for the full details Wednesday. I hope everyone had a great weekend.


Vermont Pride 2019

Celebrating and supporting Vermont’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community of all ages, as well as educating and serving as a bridge to create alliances with each other and with the greater community as a whole.

The Pride Parade kicks off at 12:30pm and is a beloved institution here in Vermont and throughout the world. It began as an anniversary celebration of the Stonewall Riots but has evolved over time to encompass the many LGBTQ heroes, struggles, and victories since. The parade begins at the south end of Church Street and ends at Battery Park where the festival is held.

The Pride Festival is one big party in Battery Park following the parade. It’s a place for the entire community – LGBTQ+ and ally – of all ages, races, and backgrounds to come together. Colorful, showstopping performers (Drag! Dance! Comedy! Poetry! Burlesque!) will be sure to entertain on stage while the park is filled with fabulous vendors with info and activities (and food!) for all.

Visit Pridevt.org for more info.

Since 1983, thousands have come together to celebrate the rich diversity that is the LGBTQ community of Vermont. Pride Center anticipates an even larger gathering this year. 

I’ll be there with my pride shirt on.


Bisexual Awareness Week 


Even though roughly half of the LGBT community identifies as bisexual, they’re seldom represented in the media. Nevertheless, more and more millennials are beginning to view themselves as bisexual and sexually fluid. A recent YouGov study discovered that a third of 18-24 year olds in the U.S. and Israel put themselves along a continuum of sexuality, rather than at either end. In the UK, roughly 50% don’t view themselves as 100% gay or straight.

Even though there are a huge number of bisexuals, and the number of bisexual-identifying people is growing, they often feel invisible. They often feel alone.

This feeling of isolation contributes to a slew of mental health issues that highly correlate with bisexuality. Bisexuals have high rates of depression, suicidality, self-harm, smoking and alcohol abuse, and intimate-partner violence. Recent data from a Human Rights Campaign study revealed that bisexual youth are less likely than lesbian and gay youth to feel there’s a supportive adult they can talk to.

These feelings of isolation also keep bisexuals closeted because they don’t feel as if they have a bi community. They don’t think people will accept us. It’s estimated that only 28% of bisexuals come out. Research from Dr. Eric Schrimshaw of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health revealed that most bisexual men know their sexuality. Their reasons for not disclosing it don’t arise from confusion, but rather they don’t come out because they fear rejection from their partners and ostracization from their families and communities.

Bisexuals face additional hardships that monosexuals (either gay or straight) don’t experience. The only way to change this is through visibility. This is why this week—Bisexual Awareness Week—is so important. This is why bi-visibility matters. This is why it’s crucial that bisexuals come out as often and to as many people as we can. Not only will your decision to come out create more visibility for others, you will also start to meet other bi folks, and can become an integral member of the bisexual community. So please, come out and share you story. Let’s make it easier for the next, growing generation of bisexuals to be out, comfortable, and proud of who they are.

By the way, Celebrate Bisexuality Day is observed tomorrow on September 23 by members of the bisexual community and their supporters. This day is a call for the bisexual community, their friends and supporters to recognize and celebrate bisexuality, bisexual history, bisexual community and culture, and all the bisexual people in their lives. First observed in 1999, Celebrate Bisexuality Day is the brainchild of three United States bisexual rights activists: Wendy Curry of Maine, Michael Page of Florida, and Gigi Raven Wilbur of Texas.

Adapted from an Out Magazine article.


Vermont Pride

Yesterday, I went to Vermont Pride in Burlington. There wasn’t much to it. The parade itself lasted about 20 minutes. There were a fair number of booths at the festival but not much to them either. “Northern Decadence,” which was $5 to get into, was merely a few breweries and cideries giving tastes of their wares and then Ben & Jerry’s was giving away ice cream. I had expected food to be part of it as well. I did get carded though to get in, but then these two much older ladies behind me got carded too, so I’m guessing they carded everyone to get in to Northern Decadence.

It was nice that a lot of the political candidates were in the parade, not something that anyone would dream of doing in Alabama. I had a good time overall, even if it seemed to be mostly lesbians and dogs at the parade and festival. There were a few cute guys, just a small percent of the people there. I think kids outnumbered the gay guys there.


The Rainbow

I posted this back in July but wanted to post it again because today is Vermont Pride.

Rainbow Christ Prayer: LGBT Flag Reveals The Queer Christ

By REV. KITTREDGE CHERRY
Colors of the rainbow flag reveal the many faces of the queer Christ in the following Rainbow Christ Prayer I wrote with gay theologian Patrick S. Cheng
Rainbow flags were flying around the world in June for LGBT Pride Month. Rainbows are also an important symbol in many religious traditions. The Rainbow Christ Prayer honors the spiritual values of the LGBT movement. 
The prayer matches the colors of the rainbow flag with the seven models of the queer Christ from Patrick’s book From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ.
Let us pray… 
Rainbow Christ, you embody all the colors of the world. Rainbows serve as bridges between different realms: heaven and earth, east and west, queer and non-queer. Inspire us to remember the values expressed in the rainbow flag of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
Red is for life, the root of spirit. Living and Self-Loving Christ, you are our Root. Free us from shame and grant us the grace of healthy pride so we can follow our own inner light. With the red stripe in the rainbow, we give thanks that God created us just the way we are.
Orange is for sexuality, the fire of spirit. Erotic Christ, you are our Fire, the Word made flesh. Free us from exploitation and grant us the grace of mutual relationships. With the orange stripe in the rainbow, kindle a fire of passion in us.
Yellow is for self-esteem, the core of spirit. Out Christ, you are our Core. Free us from closets of secrecy and give us the guts and grace to come out. With the yellow stripe in the rainbow, build our confidence.
Green is for love, the heart of spirit. Transgressive Outlaw Christ, you are our Heart, breaking rules out of love. In a world obsessed with purity, you touch the sick and eat with outcasts. Free us from conformity and grant us the grace of deviance. With the green stripe in the rainbow, fill our hearts with untamed compassion for all beings.
Blue is for self-expression, the voice of spirit. Liberator Christ, you are our Voice, speaking out against all forms of oppression. Free us from apathy and grant us the grace of activism. With the blue stripe in the rainbow, motivate us to call for justice.
Violet is for vision, the wisdom of spirit. Interconnected Christ, you are our Wisdom, creating and sustaining the universe. Free us from isolation and grant us the grace of interdependence. With the violet stripe in the rainbow, connect us with others and with the whole creation.
Rainbow colors come together to make one light, the crown of universal consciousness. Hybrid and All-Encompassing Christ, you are our Crown, both human and divine. Free us from rigid categories and grant us the grace of interwoven identities. With the rainbow, lead us beyond black-and-white thinking to experience the whole spectrum of life.
Rainbow Christ, you light up the world. You make rainbows as a promise to support all life on earth. In the rainbow space, we can see all the hidden connections between sexualities, genders and races. Like the rainbow, may we embody all the colors of the world! Amen.
I got the idea for the Rainbow Christ Prayer as I reflected on Patrick Cheng’s models of the queer Christ. Patrick and I each spent years developing the ideas expressed in the Rainbow Christ Prayer. It incorporates rainbow symbolism from queer culture, from Christian tradition and from the Buddhist/Hindu concept of chakras, the seven colored energy centers of the human body. The prayer is ideal for use when lighting candles in a rainbow candle holder.
The Rainbow Christ Prayer has been welcomed and used by many progressive Christian communities, but denounced as blasphemy by conservatives at Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.
I first wrote about linking the colors of the rainbow flag to queer spirituality in my 2009 reflection on Bridge of Light, a winter holiday honoring LGBT culture. Meanwhile Patrick was working on his models of the queer Christ based on LGBT experience. In 2010 he presented five models of the queer Christ in his essay Rethinking Sin and Grace for LGBT People at the Jesus in Love Blog.
In a moment of inspiration I realized Patrick’s various queer Christ models matched the colors of the rainbow flag. 
Patrick and I joined forces and the Rainbow Christ Prayer was born. With wonderful synchronicity, Patrick had already added two more queer Christ models, so he now had seven models to match the seven principles from Bridge of Light. He wrote a detailed explanation of all seven models in his book From Sin to Amazing Grace published in spring 2012 by Seabury Books.
Gay spirituality author Joe Perez also helped lay the groundwork for this prayer in 2004 when he founded the interfaith and omni-denominational winter ritual known as Bridge of Light. People celebrate Bridge of Light by lighting candles, one for every color of the rainbow flag. Each color corresponds to a universal spiritual principle that is expressed in LGBT history and culture. I worked with Joe to revise the Bridge of Light guidelines based on my on own meditations on the chakras and their connections to the colors of the rainbow flag.
The symbolism of the rainbow resonates far beyond the LGBT flag. 
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the rainbow stands for God’s promise to support all life on earth. It plays an important role in the story of Noah’s Ark. After the flood, God places a rainbow in the sky, saying, “Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:15-16).
Lastly, in the Book of Revelation, a rainbow encircles the throne of Christ in Heaven.
Originally published on Jesus In Love; Image via Andrew Craig Williams

Pride Celebration


I’m looking forward to having a good time tonight. The Pride Center of Vermont is hosting their 18th Annual LGBTQA Community Celebration to honor those who have made exceptional contributions to the LGBTQA community of Vermont. Along with two friends of mine, I will be going tonight. They will have Inspired food stations with tantalizing culinary delights by Vermont’s best chefs. Amazing auction items so you can bid on an experience. I plan to have a fabulous evening surrounded by LGBTQA community. The celebration is being held at the Echo Aquarium in Burlington and should be pretty fun. If it’s not, then we will just go out drinking instead, lol.

I’ve never been to an event like this before, and I have only ever been to one Pride event and that was a pride parade in Paris ten or so years ago. Pride in Paris is great because if you’ve ever seen French men, they have the best asses I’ve ever seen. Italy has the biggest dicks; France as the best asses. Just my personal observations anyway. I got a little off subject there. While this will be nothing like Paris Pride, I do expect to have fun and at least meet some new people.


Vermont v. Alabama 

  
I received the following comment on my Saturday Moment of Zen post:

Joe, you have now been in Vermont for a month. What about a post on the differences in the aspects of living in the Deep South and living in Deepest New England? Your comments would be very interesting. Your last post touched on accent and way of speech but what else – not just material things, such as food and the time difference, but the way people behave and think?–The Academic 

The first thing I had to get used to, especially when driving around, is that I am in the mountains. Where I live is about 750 feet above sea level. Alabama’s highest peak is 1445 ft, whereas where I grew up was about 400 feet above sea level but so was everything else (In other words, it was relatively flat). The mountain that I am closest to, and is part of the university’s campus is 2382 feet. To get anywhere, you seem to have to go over or around mountains, so while a nearby town may only be 10 miles away, it takes roughly 20-30 minutes. That being said, I am not complaining. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, I just have to get used to the very steep hills, especially when they are covered in ice and snow during the winter. Also, while other towns are 20-30 minutes away, I was already used to that where I lived in rural Alabama. The exception being that here I actually live in a small town which has some of the conveniences you’d expect in a small town. An added bonus is that I live less than a mile from work, whereas in Alabama, I lived 40 miles from work.
Similar to where I was in Alabama, the young guys still drive trucks that are far too loud, and they race up and down the streets in Vermont just like in Alabama. That is one of the things that struck me as very similar to back home. There are a lot of similarities between Alabama and Vermont, as both are rural states. There are churches everywhere, but the ones up here are more accepting of gay people. Sadly though, there are no churches of Christ that I can find. Yes, there are United Churches of Christ, but that’s a totally different animal. It looks like I might be going to a Lutheran church with my boss, at least they celebrate communion each Sunday. 

Besides the churches, everyone seems to know everyone else. When I went in the pharmacy the first time and explained that I had out-of-state prescriptions, they knew exactly who I was and all about me by the time I returned that afternoon to pick my prescriptions up. It seems that the wife of the university president works there. I’ve lived here a month and already people in the stores and post office know me. That’s a nice feeling. Whereas the same could be said about Alabama, in Vermont the people are genuinely friendly, not the fake friendly that many people are in Alabama. When someone sees you, they are actually happy to see you, not just being nosy trying to figure out what you are doing and what gossip they can either get from you or make up about you. I am stereotyping badly here, but there is a certain truths in it.

As for food, there are a few differences, like “bombs,” which is a hot sandwich that comes on a roll that is halfway between a hot dog bun and a hoagie roll and is usually filled with a meat and a cheese. They are quite yummy. Also, when they say “greens,” in Alabama, it meant collards or turnips, here it means kale. They put kale on everything up here. I am surprised that I can find a lot of foods familiar to home in the grocery stores here. I don’t think I’ve seen grits, though they do have polenta, but I have seen corn meal. Surprisingly, though what is hard to find is self-rising flour. When I went to the grocery store last night, they had only one kind of self-rising flour, and they did not have self-rising cake flour. They also don’t sell PET milk, which didn’t matter since they did have Carnation evaporated milk and I had already planned on using heavy whipping cream in a recipe instead to give it a richer flavor. One other thing about food, you are much more likely to get local meats and cheeses and many restaurants try to use as many local ingredients as possible. Vermont cheese is phenomenal, by the way. Nearly every town seems to have their own beer brewery, and some places make hard cider, which I like better anyway. Citizen Cider’s Unified Press is delicious, but that stuff will sneak up on you.

Also, Vermont politics are odd, especially the fact that with my political beliefs I’m considered a liberal Democrat in Alabama and more of a moderate Republican in Vermont. I’ve always said that I was a moderate, but don’t expect me to start considering myself a Republican just because I live in a “hippy-dippy liberal” state now. The town meetings and how they conduct their primary will be quite interesting.

Now to what I suspect you all really want to know: how do I perceive the way they treat gay people up here? First of all, let me say that Vermont does not have a single gay bar. They do have at least one bar that has a monthly gay night. I’ve looked into this to kind of understand why, because Vermont is a very gay-friendly state, but what I have found, or have been told, is that there isn’t a need for a separate gay bar. As a gay man, and I think many of you will agree with this, you don’t always feel welcomed at hetero bars, but it’s different here. I’ve been in a few bars and such here and it always seemed like there was a good mix of gay and straight people. Everyone is treated the same. Sadly this means that there are no go-go boys dancing nearly naked on the bars or shirtless bartenders, but I can live with that, as I have found the waiters and bartenders tend to be cute and flirty jut the same. Also, there seems to be a wide array of gay groups in the state. I’m thinking of volunteering for Vermont Pride.

The thing is, sexuality seems to be a non-issue from anything I’ve seen. My boss went out of her way when I interviewed to let me know how open and accepting the university is and how supportive the president is of LGBT issues. I never mentioned I was gay, but I didn’t try to hide it. It’s part of who I am, but it’s not my defining characteristic. I have sort of mentioned things here and there but it was just in normal conversation. One of my coworkers was asking me yesterday how I was adapting and how I liked it up here, and I told her how much I really love it. I told her that “I had wanted out of Alabama, because it’s just not a good place to grow up as a gay boy.” I think she was happy that I confirmed it. I didn’t want my sexuality to be office gossip, but I figured that at some point it would come up. This particular co-worker confided in me after I’d actually said that I was gay, that when I’d had my phone interview and I’d said that the school had put me on charge of the drama club, even though I had no previous experience with the dramatic arts, she knew she wanted to get me out of Alabama and really pushed for me to get the job. They had really liked my cover letter and resume, so all I had to do was back it up and be a pleasant person. I’d already been told that it was a unanimous vote amongst the staff to hire me, but I had no idea that they’d basically decided to hire me after my telephone interview.

The important thing is that I am free to be me. I can be myself, and I don’t have to worry about hiding my politics to keep my job or hiding my sexuality to keep my job or hiding anything for that matter. I get to be the me that I’ve always wanted to be and do a job that really is a dream job because I am in a job where I am actually valued for my expertise and my work and opinion matters. Most of all, I am happy.
PS I realize that the winter will be harsh, but so far Mother Nature has been good to me. She is slowly easing me into winter. I’ve been told that Vermont is having its mildest November in a long time, and December is expected to slowly bring us into the brunt of the winter. I am sure that in a couple of months, I will be complaining about the weather and how cold it is, but right now I am looking forward to it.


Love Won!

  

The news just came down from the Supreme Court: Marriage equality is officially the law of the land!

Today is a historic day, first for everyone who can now marry the person they love no matter where they live, but also for all of us who are invested in the advancement of equality. Thanks to today’s decision, same-sex couples will have their marriages recognized in every state and can no longer be discriminated against for wanting to adopt a child — just like any other married couple in this country.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Friday that it is legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the people they love. The justices found that under the 14th Amendment, states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex unions that were legally performed in other states. Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

The decision is a historic victory for gay rights activists who have fought for years in the lower courts. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia already recognize marriage equality. The remaining 13 states ban these unions, even as public support has reached record levels nationwide. As gay Americans we have waited with bated breath and wondered why the Supreme Court has waited until the final days of the term to issue this seemingly obvious decision. Every major LGBT equality (or, inequality) decision from the Supreme Court–including, Bowers v. Hardwick (it is ok to criminalize sodomy), Romer v. Evans (the you-can’t-discriminate-against-gays-just-because-you-hate-them case), Lawrence v. Texas (it is not ok to criminalize sodomy), Hollingsworth v. Perry (marriage freedom in California), and United States v. Windsor (the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional)–were handed down toward the end (in the case of Romer) or on the very last day of the Court’s term. Lawrence and Hollingsworth were both argued on the same day one decade apart and decided on the same day a decade apart (March 26 and June 26, in 2003 and 2013, respectively). The other cases were decided at around the same time: Windsor was argued the day after Perry and decided the same day. Romer was argued on October 10, 1995 and decided on May 20, 1996, the earliest of the bunch.

In the majority opinion, the justices outlined several reasons marriage rights should be extended to same-sex couples. They wrote that the right to marriage is an inherent aspect of individual autonomy, since “decisions about marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.” They also said gay Americans have a right to “intimate association” beyond merely freedom from laws that ban homosexuality. Kennedy consistently used the arguments by the opponents of same-sex marriage against them. He said that same-sex marriages would not diminish the dignity of marriage but increase it. Kennedy said that those who wanted to be married are upholding the dignity of marriage because they want the same respect that opposite-sex marriages have. In answering the traditions of marriage, Kennedy said that there is not an overall traditional definition of marriage because marriage has consistently changed over the centuries. Arranged marriages are no longer the norm, interracial marriages are no longer illegal, and gay equality has become accepted by the majority of Americans. Marriage equality has followed political and social change.

The majority determined that extending the right to marry protects families and “without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.” The majority concluded that the right for same-sex couples to marry is protected under the 14th Amendment, citing the clauses that guarantee equal protection and due process. Kennedy said that marriage is a fundamental right of the constitution, which the Fourteenth Amendment’s a Due Process and Equal Protection clauses guarantee.

I am sure that opponents will voice arguments against following the Court and many have already said that they will use civil disobedience to resist the ruling. However, let’s be clear, they Supreme Court did not make the same mistake as in Brown v Board of Education and call for the implementation to be done “with all deliberate speed.” Not is this the 1830s when Andrew Jackson ignored the Supreme Court ruling in Worcester v. Georgia when he said, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”. I have no doubt that lower courts will be busy as people will be forced to file cases forcing local officials to issue marriage licenses. I have little doubt that this will be the case in Alabama. There are some politicians who will use their hatred of equality to attempt to fight, but they will ultimately fail. LOVE WON!


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