Tag Archives: Homosexuality

Spirit Day: Go Purple on October 17, 2013 for #SpiritDay

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I could not decide if I should post this tomorrow or today, but then I decided that if you are like me, you might plan your wardrobe at least a day in advance, so I decided to give you a head start.

Millions wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by high school student Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy — participants are asked to simply “go purple” on October 17th as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are. Learn more & go purple at www.glaad.org/spiritday.

Since I began teaching, whether as a professor’s teaching assistant, a substitute teacher, college instructor, or currently, as a high school teacher, I have always had LGBT students who feel more comfortable around me than their peers or other teachers. Most of those students have never known whether I am gay or not, but there is an intuition that allows us to find each other (most call it gaydar). Some have come to me and confided in me; others are just more relaxed around me. I always do my best to make sure that I have a welcoming atmosphere for all of my students, and I fight bullying at every turn.

When I was a student in high school, I had no one with whom to discuss issues such as sexuality or feelings of same sex attraction. Though by college, I was pretty sure I understood those feelings and in my early grad school years I came out, I wish I had been able to go to someone with whom I could discuss these issues. Being alone with my internal struggles, I began in my teenage years battling depression, which I still battle today. As I have said before on this blog, my depression got to the point that at 16 I took a handful of prescription medicine to end the suffering. I thank God each day that my stomach rejected those pills and over several hours I vomited them out of my system. I was incredibly lucky and stupid. Too many LGBT youth are not as lucky as I was, and we lose them to suicide each year.

By wearing purple tomorrow, you will be showing your support for the LGBT youth in your area. Most people won’t even realize why you are wearing purple, but as tech savvy as youth are today, the LGBT youth you come in contact with will most likely be aware of Spirit Day, so the subtlety of wearing purple will not go unnoticed by them. Sometimes that little bit of encouragement is all it takes for a kid to know that everything is going to be okay and that it does get better. Because of the politics of my school, I can’t be out, but I can be supportive in more subtle ways and make their school experience, at least in my classroom, a little better.

Getting involved is easy: Wear purple or go purple online on October 17th and help create a world in which LGBT youth are celebrated and accepted for who they are.


Love in War

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The Second World War was a huge disruption of American life. People from farms, small towns, and cities, from all regions and classes now found themselves suddenly uprooted and thrown together. People who had never traveled more than 5 miles from home now found themselves in the South Pacific or flying over Central Europe. This was true, not just for soldiers, but for civilians on the home front. The war created desperate labor shortages in factories contracted for war production. Those jobs were filled by women, African Americans, and other minorities. Like the soldiers, many of these workers left home and found themselves living together, sometimes in close quarters in alien environments. Time honored customs and beliefs about class, gender, region, and race came under unprecedented strain. While this created incredible stress for many, for others, this created unexpected opportunities and raised expectations.
 
Gays and lesbians were an invisible minority; not only invisible to society at large, but to each other. Most of the American population at the start of the war still lived in small towns and on farms. A lot of gay men and lesbians from those backgrounds who previously felt very isolated now found each other in the military or in wartime production. Within the ranks of the military, a huge underground gay culture began to flourish. Gay soldiers in the South Pacific would create “gay beaches” for gathering sometimes within days of capturing an island from the Japanese.
 
A gay soldier from rural America recalled visiting Paris within days of liberation in 1944. He sought out a once famous Parisian gay night spot thinking it may still be closed for the duration. When he arrived, the place was wide open and packed with soldiers from a dozen different countries. He described American and Free French soldiers dancing together with Polish and Italian partisans and British troops. Not only did this soldier no longer feel isolated, he also began to see a certain potential. Gay men may have been a minority, but they were not a small minority. Formerly isolated gay men and lesbians discovered that there were lots and lots and lots of people like them. This caused a lot of people to rethink some things and to get some ideas.
 
Regulations and anti-sodomy laws had limited gay service since the Revolutionary War, leading to dishonorable discharge, courts-martial, or imprisonment for men found having sex with other men. The massive manpower needs during World War II and the growing influence of psychiatry in America led the military to classify some homosexual troops as psychologically unfit for service. Still, among the sixteen million Americans who served in the Armed Forces during World War II were hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian military personnel who proudly served. Only about 5000 of the eighteen million men called before draft boards and medical inspectors during World War II were screened out initially because of homosexuality.  As Charles Rowland, a gay draftee from Arizona explained, “We were not about to be deprived the privilege of serving our country in a time of great national emergency by virtue of some stupid regulation about being gay.”
 
The military’s policies toward gays and lesbians became increasingly aggressive and more punitive as the war drew to a close.  The American military only used the ban against LGBT service members when it was convenient; times of war, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, were not convenient times for the American military.  They often overlooked homosexuality because they needed the manpower.   However, just as African- American servicemen saw freedom abroad, so did LGBT service members.  The Stonewall Riots of 1969 are often credited with being a watershed moment that fundamentally altered the course of gay history. This, of course, is true. But it was not the watershed moment. Long before gay bar patrons rioted against the NYPD and gave momentum to the largest political mobilization of gays and lesbians in history, World War II was setting the stage for Stonewall.  This emerging gay culture continued to flourish, and it survived the war’s end. Large American port cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco found themselves with huge populations of gays and lesbians at the end of the war; people who couldn’t or wouldn’t go home again. Friendships and communities formed during the war would quickly become useful for resisting and pushing back as an increasingly paranoid Post War America tried hard to put the genie of expectations for women, African Americans, and LGBTs back into the bottle.
 
A particular letter of love and loss between two World War II soldiers is making its rounds on the Internet, and the heartbreakingly beautiful story it paints for the reader will have you reaching for the tissues.
 
Long before the days of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and its subsequent repeal, the two men appear to have met and fallen for one another while on duty in Africa. However, their idealistic romance seems to have been cut short.
 
An excerpt reads,
 

This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I have ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice … The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon…

 
The heart-rending love letter was written by American World War II veteran Brian Keith to Dave, a fellow soldier he met and fell in love with in 1943 while stationed in North Africa. It was penned on the occasion of their anniversary and reprinted in September of 1961 by ONE Magazine, a groundbreaking pro-gay magazine first published in 1953.  The original is supposedly preserved in the Library of Congress. Read the rest of the letter below, and have a somber glimpse inside the mid-century romance of Dave and Brian.
 

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Here is the full transcript:
Dear Dave,
 
This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theatre in Canastel — perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran — a misunderstanding — an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.
 
Drinks at “Coq d’or” — dinner at the “Auberge” — a ring and promise given. The show 1st Armoured — muscatel, scotch, wine — someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible — a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of “rations” and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player — competition — miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theatre and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms — the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea — pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.
 
The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.
 
We vowed we’d be together again “back home,” but fate knew better — you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that where ever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.
 
Goodnight, sleep well my love.
 
Brian Keith
 
I recommend Alan Berube’s book Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II. Bérubé argues in Coming Out Under Fire, “the massive mobilization for World War II relaxed the social constraints of peacetime that kept many gay men and women unaware of themselves and each other.”  

Letters of Note

One of my fellow teachers was telling me about this website/blog called Letters of Note. (Letters of Note is a blog-based archive of fascinating correspondence, complete with scans and transcripts of the original missives where available. Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.) Since my colleague told me about this blog, I have enjoyed reading some of the letters. On a whim, I searched for letters about homosexuality, and found this one. I hope you enjoy.

Homosexuality is nothing to be ashamed of

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In 1935, the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, was contacted by a worried mother who was seeking treatment for her son’s apparent homosexuality. Freud, who believed that all humans are attracted to both sexes in some capacity, responded with the following letter of advice.

(The letter was later passed on to Alfred Kinsey and reproduced in The American Journal of Psychiatry in 1951, hence the note attached to its foot.)

Transcript follows.

Source: The Truth Tree; Image of Sigmund Freud via Multiart.

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Transcript

April 9th 1935

PROF. DR. FREUD

Dear Mrs [Erased],

I gather from your letter that your son is a homosexual. I am most impressed by the fact that you do not mention this term yourself in your information about him. May I question you why you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc). It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime – and a cruelty, too. If you do not believe me, read the books of Havelock Ellis.

By asking me if I can help, you mean, I suppose, if I can abolish homosexuality and make normal heterosexuality take its place. The answer is, in a general way we cannot promise to achieve it. In a certain number of cases we succeed in developing the blighted germs of heterosexual tendencies, which are present in every homosexual in the majority of cases it is no more possible. It is a question of the quality and the age of the individual. The result of treatment cannot be predicted.

What analysis can do for your son runs on a different line. If he is unhappy, neurotic, torn by conflicts, inhibited in his social life, analysis may bring him harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed. If you make up your mind he should have analysis with me — I don’t expect you will — he has to come over to Vienna. I have no intention of leaving here. However, don’t neglect to give me your answer.

Sincerely yours with best wishes,

Freud

P.S. I did not find it difficult to read your handwriting. Hope you will not find my writing and my English a harder task.


Questions and Answers

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A church of Christ minister emailed me a few weeks ago with some question regarding my posts about gay Christians and my views about the Church of Christ. In his comment, he stated:

I found your site interesting to come across. There certainly should be a place of discourse about homosexuality. I am a minister in the Church of Christ, and I do find that all sexual behavior outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful and contrary to Christ’s words. I do know that many Christians can struggle with difficulties that make them feel on the edges of their church and faith to which I can relate. I think we can help each other. I do have some questions that I hope you can consider and respond.

In his comment and his subsequent email, he asked a number of questions which I will endeavor to answer. In my first email to him, I wrote:

I have struggled for many years to try and understand why God created me in a way that I do not have an attraction to the opposite sex, but an attraction to my own sex. I once asked myself if God made a mistake, but God does not make mistakes, therefore he had a purpose in the way he created me and those like me. I prayed and meditated. I read the Bible, searching for meanings of passages that were difficult to understand, even though some stated that their meaning was very clear and simple. God guided me in that study, as he guides me throughout life. I came to understand and believe that God created me the way I am, that the verses about homosexuality do not pertain to true love between human beings of the same sex, but as perverse sexual acts that are contrary to the teachings of Christ and the worship of Christ.

In what I have read of your views on homosexuality, which I plan to take a closer look to, you equate homosexuality with sexual practices only. Homosexuality is not all about sex. I can be a homosexual and still not engage in sexual practices. There are many who do. However, we are judged by our perceived sexual lifestyle. I am not denying that I have never fornicated, but I have also sought forgiveness for my prior indiscretions.

In his response, he asked how I knew I was born homosexual. While it is true that most people do not develop sexual attraction until puberty, there is more to being homosexual than sex. Though I won’t claim that I was always aware of my homosexuality, it is more because I did not understand. I had no concept of homosexuality, but I certainly knew that I was different. Most homosexuals felt the same way growing up. Most of us did not have the same interests as other boys. I preferred to play with the girls when growing up. I never enjoyed playing sports, though my parents forced me to. So you might ask, how I came to understand my sexuality. It was not easy. When sexual interests began in puberty, it was an attraction to boys not girls. My dreams and fantasies were about boys. Though I tried to think of girls in the same way, it did not arouse me. It took a lot of internal wrestling to come to terms with my sexuality.

Some of the other questions my commenter had that I would like to address:

What do you think it would be like to be a Christian without the desires of homosexuality? How would life be any better?

If I were not homosexual, then I would not have struggled with coming to terms with being gay and Christian. My parents would not worry about me because their concept of Christianity believes that I am damned to hell. In ways, life would be better, but I am the way God created me. I firmly believe that God created me as a homosexual and guided my strong Christian faith because he had a purpose for me. We all have trials and temptations. God tests our faith, as he did Job and Abraham, and so many others. James 1:2-4 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” However, being homosexual strengthens my faith, not lessens it, and I take joy in that, just as God commands.

With many Christians struggling with temptations of sexual immorality, did you ever see yourself as enslaved your homosexual desires as sin?

Before I studied the scriptures and understood the true meanings of its words, yes, I did feel that I was enslaved by my homosexuality and sin. However, when I studied the true meanings of the words, with faith that God was guiding my study, I came to believe differently. I will not repeat this journey, but instead I urge you to go back and read my post “Abusus Non Tollit Usum.”

Do you still think that sexual desires can be deceptive and entice someone to sin (Jas. 1:14-15, 1 John 2:15-17)?

Yes, I do believe that sexual desire, as well as all other desires of this world, can entice someone to sin. However, this is universal, and does not pertain to homosexuals alone, but to all Christians regardless of their sexuality. When we take verses and place a sexual meaning to them, especially when it has such a wider meaning, then we are perverting the Word of God.

Regarding Jesus, what do you think Jesus means concerning sexual immorality defiling the heart in Mark 7:20-23? What sexual immorality would He have in mind and how would we know what He meant?

This was the last of the questions asked, and I think I deserves a post of its own, so I will continue this next Sunday.

Thank you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and may God bless us to live in His love.


All-American Boy

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A friend of mine sent me a link to the video below, and I think it’s pretty fantastic.  I was raised on country music, in fact I’m going to a concert tonight (the group Alabama).  I wouldn’t say I’m a huge country music fan, because I tend to like older country music.  Most of the time when I listen to the radio in the car, I am listening to NPR, not music.  I tend to like funky alternative rock more, but I do like some country music.  When my friend sent me this video, he said, “Since you like country music you are going to enjoy this video.  It’s got a surprise twist.  And the singer is so damn gorgeous and so aptly named.  It is making its rounds on gay sites so you might have seen it already.”  I had not seen it, but I couldn’t pass up an introduction like that.  You guys may have already seen it, if not I hope you will watch it.  Let me know what you think.
Steve Grand  is out to be a country music star, and an out one at that. He’s got the whole package – great voice, musically talented, incredibly hot, and fearless, as you can see in his video for “All American Boy” which he created out of pocket, as he doesn’t have a label yet. The hopelessly romantic singer falls for a guy in a heterosexual relationship in the video. The two spend time together leading to skinny-dipping in a river and a kiss. Unfortunately, the attraction is only held by one of the characters. His lyrics are quite dreamy for his crush “He smiles, his arms around her but his eyes are holding me, just a captive to his wonder, ohh I say we go this road tonight.” Steve produced all his own music, as he does not have a manager or label. He raised funds to pay for everything on his own by playing piano at a local joint and at a church. 
 
He’s ready to be upfront and honest from the start of his career, “time to be brave. the world does not see change until it sees honesty. I am taking a risk here in many ways, but really there is no choice but to be brave. To not tell this story is to let my soul die. It is all I believe in. It is all I hold dear. We have all longed for someone we can never have… we all have felt that ache for our ‎#allamericanboy.”

 

Gay country music artists do not have a good track record.  Josey Greenwell ended up recording a pop song, and k.d. lang left country music, at least for the most part.  I love to hear all of them sing, but I love k.d. more as a jazz artist.  She has a beautiful voice.  I hope Josey goes back to his country music roots and finds success, just as I hope Steve Grand has success.


Thank you, Steve Grand, for having the courage to make the music you want and to be a voice for thousands, in a music genre that may not support you. 

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