Tag Archives: Gay

Dear Catholics…

10 Apr

Dear Catholics, please help me out here. I am truly and desperately trying to understand how those of you who supported Trump did so because of your identity around being Catholic. Sadly, I have family who have used the “we voted for Trump because we are good Catholics” excuse.

Here is some background information. I was talking with a white, heterosexual, cisgender, able bodied, middle class man last week. He was explaining to me that being gay or transgender had nothing to do with gender equity and more importantly that being gay or transgender was WRONG and those people would go to hell. Subsequently, this person explained why he supports Trump: “Because it is God’s will.” Sadly, this white heterosexual man then went into defensive mode by saying: “…by the way some of my friends are gay — they were even at my wedding. While I know they are wrong and will go to Hell, they are friends of mine.” Oy! I wonder if these “gay friends,” assuming they do exist, would consider him a friend?

Here is where I need some help. Please do chime in and illuminate and educate me. Does your God really support a man like Trump — a man who said it is okay to grab a woman buy the genitals? A man who appoints a white supremacist as the attorney general? A man whose behavior has demonstrated nothing but great avarice? A man who publicly mocked a man with disabilities? Is that the God you worship? Who would Jesus hate?

Furthermore, I thought Catholics were against divorce and adultery. How is that you are able to give Trump a dispensation here? Do the rules only apply to those who are poor and cannot afford to buy off a fraud case for $25 million dollars?

Just a quick history lesson here, for those Catholics that are climate change deniers and think science is just a bunch of poo poo, let us remember that in 1633 Galileo was locked up by the Catholic Church for heresy for asserting that the earth was round and revolved around the sun, which countered the wrong geocentric model the church subscribed to at the time. Damn that science! It took over 300 years for the church to acknowledge it was wrong and that Galileo was right. I’m horrifically sad to see that we seem to be repeating history.

Again, I am truly trying to understand how and why Catholics supported and still seem to support Trump and his administration. From my understanding of Catholicism and Christianity, his behavior seems antithetical to the teachings of Christ. I am also exceedingly sad for this man’s children. What if one of them is gay or trans-identified? This man made it clear he feels obligated to judge them and condemn them. Maybe it is just me, but this does not seem like good parenting, nor does it seem very godly. I welcome all voices on this issue to help better educate us all.

Gay Graduation Gratitude

17 Jun

MHSGraduation“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” (Walt Whitman)  In the last two years I am grateful that I have learned how to start being comfortable with my largeness and my contradictions — to sit in ambiguity and reflection.

I started this journey with great trepidation.  I was going back to get my MSW as a middle aged gay man who felt like a cross between Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda Morgenstern; I was scared to death no one would like me and feared it was too late to reinvent myself as a social worker.

I have learned a lot about dignity — how to help people retain their dignity and keeping mine, which means working with resistance and understanding how people need resistance to protect something.

My first experience after being accepted into the program was my visit to the IT Department.  You see, I did not know how to access my student account.  I explained this to the very nice young woman who was trying to help me in earnest.  She very politely explained that she did not have the answer to my query, but would make a phone call (she was standing no more than two feet from me).  She picked up the phone and said: “Yes, I have an elderly gentleman here from the MSW program and he can’t get into his account.”  Of course, I looked around to see who she was referring to, and it dawned on me that she was talking about me.  I had become “the elderly gentleman” just two days before the term had started.  Of course, I wanted to take the tennis ball off my walker and throw it at her, but decided just to walk away and appreciate that she was genuinely trying to help.

While I am exceedingly grateful for my professors and their time, dedication, and belief in me, I have to say that I am also in awe of and grateful for so many members of my cohort.  I listen to their individual and collective narratives full of passion and reflection and I have learned a great deal from these absolutely lovely people. It would be remiss of me to not acknowledge and thank these people for also embracing me and making me feel so welcomed and integrated into the community.

There have been many times during the last two years that I have submitted to my misanthropic woes and have often reflected: “Maybe I can’t do social work.  I don’t know that I do believe everyone is capable of a transformative experience — what if I’m not capable of a transformative experience?”  Then I hear one of my peers talk about standing in solidarity with me around marriage equality and I get verklepmt and I reflect: “How lucky am I? How on earth did I get here?”  I must confess, I don’t always feel worthy of being in such amazing company and I hope I have been able to add just a tiny significant gem to those I have touched and have touched me.

In the larger scheme, I know most of us are desperately wanting to change systems that are wholly unfair.  We are wanting to eradicate poverty, racism, homophobia, and ageism and underscore the power of interconnectedness and interdependency.  The energy and dedication to creating equity both locally and globally is palpable.  One can feel that amazing energy walking down the halls of the school of social work, or running into each other at the Occupy Movement, or posting activist events for us to attend.  When I look around me today, I feel so much optimism that maybe, just maybe we can actually do it!

I have been fortunate enough to have many “social work” heroes through my lifetime: Bayard Rustin, Nina Simone, Gloria Steinem, Howard Zinn, bell hooks, several of my professors and peers here at PSU, and of course Walt Whitman.   The common thread that ties all of these folk together is that they are all radical progressives — the gatekeepers of truth.  None of us can remain neutral.  If we do not work to interrupt oppression, we are as culpable as the oppressors. As radical progressives, we must not give into systems that collude with oppression, but rather we must stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed.  Collectively and individually, we are the Bayard Rustins, the bell hooks, and the Walt Whitmans.

Whitman also wrote, Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged. Missing me one place, search another. I stop somewhere waiting for you. I find at this point in my life, I am both searching and waiting and I could not be in finer company to do so.

Death Knell For the Republican Party

26 Aug

That tea bag sure doesn’t cover much…

As the GOP Convention grows ever nearer and the Republican Platform is now in place, I have to reflect and mourn for what was the Republican Party. While I actually probably identify as a socialist, I am, nevertheless, forlorn at the demise of what was the Republican Party, or more specifically in despair at what has replaced the GOP. For those paying attention and not watching Fox (Faux) News, it is painfully clear that ignorant white “christian” racist, homophobic, women hating heterosexuals known as the Tea Party have taken the GOP hostage and have bullied their way into controlling a discourse that affects an entire nation.

I simply cannot understand how any Gay, Black, Latino, Poor, Woman and the myriad other marginalized people would vote for the lying bigots that are Romney and Ryan.  For those who discarded Michele Bachmann, I have to ask, “have you not noticed that she and Ryan are basically twins?”  They have identical voting records: both consistently vote against women, against the LGBT community, against the middle class, and both are millionaires.

Unfortunately, I had to listen to the lying bigot Romeny address an uber conservative population in Ohio and his exact words were: “It is time to get a Republican back in the White House.”  Ick, Ick, Ick!  This is not the sentiment of what is best for Americans, but rather Romney has demonstrated complete partisanship as well as his own pathological narcissism as his driving force.

How embarrassing is it that we have a political party that stands on the principles of hate?  What message does this send to the rest of the world?  Do Romney, Ryan et al have any idea of what the word Fascism means?  Two white (allegedly heterosexual) men making decisions about women’s health and agreeing with Todd (Mr. Misogyny) Akins as well as saying they want to repeal all civil rights gained by the LGBT community, while protecting the 5% of the wealthiest Americans.  Someone please jump in here and help me understand why anyone would vote for these people?  Never mind the loss of the party of Lincoln; this is not the party of Gerald Ford, of Eisenhower, and it most certainly is not even the party of their much heralded Ronald Reagan.  This political party is the party of white right wing religious extremists.  I only hope America is paying attention and not buying into the insurmountable lies from these rancid tea bags.

Respecting James Beard’s Legacy

21 Apr

Great Chef, Gay Pioneer

Growing up, I knew who James Beard was in a casual sort of way. He was a famous chef who wrote cookbooks and appeared on television. I didn’t fully appreciate his significance, nor did I know how much we had in common. Recent events made me take another look at the great man and want to celebrate his legacy.

Beard was born in Portland, OR in 1903. He lived in my home state until he was in his 20s and had a great appreciation for the beauty of the Oregon coast. He also developed a great love of food, encouraged by his parents’ fondness for fresh ingredients and quality cooking.

He was also gay, a fact he realized by the age of seven and something he never tried to hide. This was very remarkable for his generation. He was kicked out of Reed College in 1922 because he was gay. (Anyone familiar with this quality school’s reputation for embracing the counter-culture will find that as strange and disappointing as I did.) I grew up gay in Oregon in the 70s and that was hard enough. Even though my grandmother says she knew I was gay when I was little, I buried myself in denial. While that spared me some of the difficulty that Beard encountered, I do regret the years I lost by not being able to be myself. Having discovered our shared roots, sexual orientation, love of good food, and enjoyment of Oregon’s coast, I wanted to know more.

I learned that he was interested in the theater, so he joined a traveling troupe. He honed his singing voice and his craft while enjoying the great food of Europe. He particularly fell in love with French cuisine. After Beard returned to the U.S., he found his acting ambitions frustrated, so he turned to his lifelong love and opened a catering company. He quickly rose to fame, appearing on television shows and publishing influential books on cooking. Just as Julia Child helped introduce French cooking to American homes, James Beard helped create the notion of truly American fine cuisine. As Child herself observed:

Beard was the quintessential American cook. Well-educated and well-traveled during his eighty-two years, he was familiar with many cuisines but he remained fundamentally American. He was a big man, over six feet tall, with a big belly, and huge hands. An endearing and always lively teacher, he loved people, loved his work, loved gossip, loved to eat, loved a good time.

He was also a philanthropist, helping found CityMeals-on-Wheels to feed the homebound elderly in New York, where he lived most of his adult life. After his death at the age of 82 (his ashes were scattered near Gearhart on the Oregon Coast), his friends and admirers — led by Julia Child — converted his home into a foundation. The James Beard Foundation provides scholarships to aspiring food professionals and champions the American culinary tradition that Beard helped create. Since 2001 the Beard Foundation has awarded over $2.2 million in scholarships and tuition waivers to young culinarians and career changers pursuing culinary studies.

The Foundation was rocked by scandal in 2004 and its head was imprisoned for grand larceny. The entire board resigned and the Foundation started from scratch under the leadership of Susan Ungaro. For her work in turning around the Foundation and her support of young Americans hoping to pursue a culinary education, Ungaro was recently honored with the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Boy Scouts of America. Ironically, that same group is notoriously anti-gay and would never have associated with the great James Beard. After being reminded by activist and commentator Michelangelo Signorile about the Scouts’ policies, Ungaro did the right thing: she refused the award.

While I support all the poverty and hunger-fighting programs of the Boy Scouts of America, including sending at-risk youth to camp, your report brought to my attention that accepting the Distinguished Citizen Award implied I support their anti-gay policy, which I absolutely do not… I have informed the Boy Scouts of America that I am rescinding my acceptance of the award.

Brava, Ms. Ungaro! Thank you for standing up against bravery and truly honoring the legacy of James Beard, whose foundation you lead. I’m sure he’s lifting a glass of wine in your honor with his trademark grin.

Some of my best friends are gay…

22 Jan

Really Rick?

Thanks to my nephew Tim Jung for inspiring me to write this article.  Tim shared with me an article written by Dan Savage a couple of weeks ago.  He was spot on with his observations of homophobia and how the media participate in institutionalized homophobia, but I will extend it to racism and sexism as well.

I grow so tired of people behaving in extraordinarily homophobic, racist, and or sexist ways and then absolving themselves of any culpability with the glib, “and some of my best friends are gay, or black.”  Really?  Really?  I would love to meet the LGBT, and Black folk, and women who are supporting Tea Party extremists like Newt Gingrich or Rick (the P is silent) Santorum.  How does one help create and maintain a platform of HATE by signing a pledge of discrimination and then say, “but some of my best friends are gay?”

As Dan Savage points out, I suspect these “friends” are quite imaginary!  Why do we never see them or get to hear them being interviewed?  I encourage you to please read Savage’s article.

My Husband Married Maude

23 Jul

Me Giving the Look!

When I first started dating my husband, the librarian, I was not certain we could be married. He was a white Presbyterian WASP who had been married to two different women before dating me.  He was truly god’s frozen chosen.  I, on the other hand, am a cross between a “big black bitch” as one of my former students referred to me, and a loud-mouthed liberal Jewish/Catholic who looked and sounded like Maude with a southern accent.

Oy! My poor husband!  Who knew that 12 years later we would make each other so happy, or as he puts it: “We are stuck with each other.”  My poor husband has to endure my tireless political tirades against bigots like John Boehner, Michele Bachmann and her “straight” husband and the rest of the misogynistic, homophobic bigots that get me so angry that I start to spit fire.  Yes, my husband, the calm ever wise librarian, married a strident feminist, LGBT/Black activist Bitch.

Right now we are at our favorite Inn on the Oregon Coast.  We are having a perfect evening, despite the ugly turn our lovely dinner took. You see, the wonderful restaurant at the Inn now has the most horrific homophobic waiter. He refused to come to our table, so the rest of the staff had to do his job. When we talked to the Chef, whom we love, and praised his culinary triumph (I do not exaggerate here) we also had to give the unfortunate feedback that the waiter  was so homophobic that he would not even come to the table.  The Chef was not surprised in the least, but was clearly sad to hear our feedback. We dined at our favorite Inn in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  We will continue to go to this Inn because everyone else there is quite lovely to us. I do hope they take the waiter to task and give him some sensitivity training.  You can’t “catch” gay, just as you can’t “catch” straight.  If he were to walk into any library, he would be attended to regardless of his religion.  He has a job–he is a waiter, as in wait on people. He needs to be able to do his job regardless of people’s sexual orientation!  Just as I would hope a pharmacist would fill a prescription for a woman, regardless of his religious beliefs and not allow her to bleed to death.

Honestly, we had a lovely evening and my husband was quick to remind me that we would not allow the behavior of one homophobic bigot ruin our time.  God will get you for that Walter!

%d bloggers like this: