Archive for October 2007

James Dobson and My Ex-Ex-Gay Life

October 31, 2007

Focus on the Family will be in Indianapolis this weekend at Traders Point Christian Church putting on one of its ex-gay 101 conferences, ironically titled “Love Won Out” (I guess to them gay people are just a bunch of pathetic, loveless losers). The time will be spent telling folks that people can change their sexuality. Having spent years in such ministries myself, thinking about it brings up a lot of pain for me. Still, when PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, asked me for a few media quotes about my experience with “ex-gay” ministries to counter the views that will be presented by FOTF (an organization that spends much time working to legislate against families like mine), I thought I would try to help. Below are the thoughts I provided:

“After eleven years of struggling unsuccessfully to reorient my sexuality, I finally realized that my true struggle had been to fit into a religious community that only accepted me fully when I pretended to be someone I was not.

I was told by my ex-gay leaders that healthy same-sex couples were a myth, that they did not exist, and that any long-term gay couples were surely debauched in some way. To increase my odds of changing my same-sex attractions I chose to believe these statements as fact until I finally put myself in a position to learn otherwise. When I did actually look closely at the same-sex couples I met, in my case, at the Methodist church I attend, I found remarkable examples of commitment, fidelity, and unconditional love. Though legally still vulnerable these relationships thrive, often in the midst of great adversity and a striking lack of family support.

Being gay for me is like being right-handed. It is neither good nor bad. It just is. My family and my partner’s family see us as we see ourselves – as a mutually committed couple working hard to keep our family strong. And like any good family, our parents brothers and sisters all work along side us so that we might someday have the same opportunities to protect our family that they all have.

Keeping families strong is a full time job. It is sad that organizations like Focus on the Family work to make things even harder for families like ours by spending considerable time and money to keep them disadvantaged. It is especially hurtful that they do this under the guise of love and in the name of God.

Even though I now disagree with the assumptions that ground Love Won Out’s philosophy, it isn’t the presentation of an ex-gay point of view that concerns me. What is worrisome is the attachment of that point of view, at least in this case, to Focus on the Family, a powerful and well-funded political organization that prides itself on its efforts to further disadvantage the families of gay people.”

Good Service/Bad Service

October 26, 2007

In keeping with Dave’s suggestion that we document service highlights I thought I should give a shout out to O’Malias Grocery Store in downtown Indy. 

O’Malias is getting a makeover and food is on a different aisle every time I go, which is fine.  Updates are certainly needed.  Last night I was hunting for some gorganzola cheese for a pizza recipe I’m making, but all I could find was packaged, shredded Kraft basic cheeses -cheddar, etc. 

When I was checking out I mentioned that I was sad because I couldn’t find any gorganzola.  The woman checking me out (she looked about 18 so I’m not going to use her name here), who has always been friendly, shut down her register in mid-check out and said, “well, let’s just go see if we can find it for you.”  After going to a few places with no luck, she asked another employee who said, “Oh,  yeah.  We moved that over here,”  and then he walked with us to the exact spot where it was.  I was so thankful.  Back when I worked for Wal-mart (I was young and needed the money) we were told that if any customer ever asked where something was we were to take them to it, not just point in its general direction.  I’ve always thought this was good advice, but I’ve never seen a grocery store employee do it.   I’ll be writing a letter to thank the store manager. 

A few blocks away, however, customer service at Complexions Spa is not as impressive.  A couple of months ago I decided that living in a state that is gray four months out of the year entitles me to treat myself to a monthly facial.  I could have gone with a massage, but I turned forty in January and I have so MUCH face that I decided that a facial would probably provide me with greater bang for my buck. 

I made arrangements with the receptionist to reserve the 4th Tuesday of each month at 5:45 p.m. with Santina, who is awesome.  The first two months went fine, but I showed up the other day and they said they didn’t have me on the calendar.  Glitches happen, so I didn’t make a huge deal out of it even though I’d been looking forward to it all day.  The woman at the desk tried to reschedule me, but I told her I would have to e-mail her in the a.m. since I didn’t have my calendar with me. I e-mailed the next day explaining again what happened and asking to reinsert me into the monthly schedule and I haven’t heard a peep from them. 

I really wanted this monthly event to be a no-brainer kind of thing, which is why I scheduled a recurring monthly apppointment.  I would think this would be a win-win situation for a business, but I guess they have enough traffic that they don’t need to manage appointments that well.  I’m still deciding if I should try to get a hold of them again. 



Obama Steps In It

October 23, 2007

Out of all the great gospel singers out there, Obama had to invite Donnie “curse of homosexuality” McClurkin to tour South Carolina with? If Obama’s judgement is this bad, I don’t think there’s any way I can support him unless he knows something I don’t about Donnie. I’m sad. I thought he was smarter than this.

I haven’t posted about Donnie since he sang at the Republican national convention in 2004. Click here for my earlier thoughts.

I Heart Puerto Rico

October 18, 2007

(If you don’t like vacation recaps, you’ll want to skip this entry.)
John and Me

John planned the best vacation for us at the island he’s been calling home every five weeks over the last year for work. Aside from our honeymoon in Branson (no lie) it was the first real vacation we’ve taken by ourselves in the eight years we’ve been together.

I was completely spoiled. He made all of our hotel arrangements at the Intercontinental-San Juan and got us an 11-story view of the ocean.

The View from Our Balcony

Our agenda included a lot of water time, so we sat on the beach or in the pool
John in the Pool

and let hotel staff bring us snacks, mojitos and gin and tonics for three days straight.

John drove us all over the island including to the beach at Pinones,
The Beach at Pinones

where hutty-like pubs served crushed fried plantain mixed with shrimp and crab and coconut milk right out of freshly hacked shells.

We sea kayaked at night through an ocean bay, a canal and then into a lagoon (those hundreds of canoe trips on the Spring River paid off) to see Bio-bay, one of the few places on earth where bioluminescent creatures light up the water. When we ran our hands and paddles through the water it sparkled, and you know how I love sparkly things. Sitting in the middle of the lagoon at night watching fish streak through the water like lightening flashes was freaky cool. I was a little nervous about kayaking into a lagoon at night (Do snakes hang from Mangrove trees? Is there a Dengue-fever-toting-mosquito with my name on it?), but we made it home without any natural traumas.

And the casino in our hotel sparkled, too! John doesn’t gamble and I don’t much either, but when I walked passed a little slot machine called “Fairy’s Fortune,” did I really have a choice? I set a limit of 10.00 per night to spend on slots (I never spent that much. Still came home down a dollar, which is why John doesn’t gamble), and after three nights in a row I got a blister on my thumb (the slot machine was a touch screen). I refer to my newly discovered syndrome as “Fairy Finger.”
Fairy Finger

(In my best Britney voice) Old San Juan is really old y’all! El Morro, the fort that has guarded San Juan Bay since 1539 was incredible.

Cannon Ramp

And since John studied military architecture in high school I had a cute AND well-informed guide.
John as Docent

All that sun, the water, the incredibly friendly people, and the best sweetie to see it all with–Puerto Rico totally gets a Fairy Finger Thumbs Up! I would have dreaded coming home except John used his frequent flier miles to book first class seats for us!

More pics here.

Sorry So Absent

October 17, 2007


I’ll let Claire’s eyes plead for my forgiveness. She’s a pro. John and I just got back from Puerto Rico yesterday and it looks like it’s going to be a busy week both at work and home for the next week. Can’t wait to catch up on what’s happening with my fellow bloggers, but I’ll probably be out of pocket for a few more days. I’ll be back soon though!

The Eyes of Culture Warriors are on Arkansas

October 9, 2007

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel approved language for an act that would make it no longer legal for single people to be adoptive or foster parents in Arkansas. I use the awkward phrase “no longer legal” because it has been legal and there is no history of problems with the system as it currently exists. In fact, the needs of a great many parentless children, and there are more of them than there are parents to care for them, are met under current laws.

So why is the Arkansas Family Council pushing for this ban on single adoptive parents now? Because thanks in large part to the AFC and the 2004 constitutional marriage amendment, gay people in Arkansas are forever single in the eyes of the law. A single parent ban would allow them to squash gay parents. You know my motto, whenever you see the words “family” and “council” together, you can bet someone is fear-mongering and trying to strip away rights at the same time. (I need to come up with a catchier version of that motto, but you get the point.)

The history goes like this. Back in July 2006 every single judge on the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that declared unconstitutional a ban that would keep qualified gay parents from adopting or foster parenting children. Here is what the court, including a judge who was hand selected by former governor Mike Huckabee (R) had to say about the proposed ban:

“Children of lesbian and gay parents are just as well-adjusted as children of heterosexual parents; Being raised by gay parents doesn’t increase the risk of psychological, behavioral, academic, gender identity, or any other sort of adjustment problems; Being raised by gay parents doesn’t prevent children from forming healthy relationships with their peers and others; There is no factual basis for saying that gay parents might be less able to guide their children through adolescence than heterosexual parents; There is no evidence that gay people, as a group, are more likely to engage in domestic violence or sexual abuse than heterosexual people; The exclusion of gay people and people with gay family members may be harmful to children because it excludes a pool of effective foster parents…

The Court went on to say that the state’s argument to the contrary “flies in the face” of the scientific evidence about the suitability of lesbian and gay people as foster parents. The Court added that “the driving force behind adoption of the regulation was not to promote the health, safety, and welfare of foster children, but rather based upon the Board’s view of morality and its bias against homosexuals.”

(Courtesy PageOne Q)

Unwilling to consider the research seriously and despite the fact that there is no history of problems with gay people adopting or foster parenting, the Arkansas Family Council is trying to put the issue on to the ballot under the guise of a single-parent adoption ban.

The AFC must gather 62,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot in November. I predict they will succeed. If the measure passes it will be because the public will not take the time to look at the research the court saw and because the evangelical fringe will fan the flames of fear with rumor and religious hearsay. And in their misguided zeal the voters, thinking they are protecting children and/or teaching “the gays” another lesson will further disadvantage young people already struggling to find homes.

If my prediction turns out to be wrong I will make a special trip to Arkansas to shout, “I am a giant douche bag!” from the steps of the Capitol building.

Creepy Critters

October 8, 2007

We took advantage of the late season heatwave to head down to Brown County and Monroe Lake for some boating with our friends Brad and Leelee.

LeeLee Haulin' Boat

Leelee drove the boat to the cabin like she’d been doing it all her life. John and I followed in our car and I was amazed at how in control she was the whole time. My driving would have taken out a few folks on the way.

We like to stay in cabins when we travel. They are typically quieter and have the added bonus of a hot tub somewhere outside if we are lucky. The cabin we stayed at this time had a hot tub and a few more surprises.

When we pulled up to the cabin around dusk we all walked through touring the rooms together. John and I volunteered to take the upstairs loft so Leelee could be closer to the bathroom. As we stood in the loft talking, Leelee asked, “Did you all hear that?” When we got quiet, sure enough, we could hear the sound of several faint squeaks coming from the wall near the fireplace in our room.

My mind immediately conjured up bats, and then it conjured a cloud of them coming at me while I flailed about and shrieked like a pre-teen, pre-hillbilly-cracker-Britney fan. John said he thought they were mice and banged on the wall where the sound came from. Hundreds of wings or scurrying feet flittered nervously on the other side. A million trips through Blanchard Springs Caverns had left me feeling nervous about bats. Seeing their monumental piles of poop convinced me that they fly around with the stuff streaming out of their behinds like jet plane vapor trails. And mice running over my hands as I straightened shelves at Town and Country grocery store in high school left me completely freaked about them, too. I was starting to regret our lodging choice.

John said the chimney in our room was closed off but the one downstairs wasn’t, so he and Brad built a fire in the hearth to smoke whoever was in there out. Once the fire started the squeaks died down, so I felt better. We fired up the grill outside, put some steaks on, baked a few potatoes and by the time we sat down to eat I’d pretty much forgotten all about our rodent roommates.

That is until I started to take a bite of my steak and saw this on the door jam 10 feet away.

Night Visitor

If Cesar Milan has taught me anything it is never to appear frightened to an animal that might be about to attack you. So I just sat still and exclaimed, with as much excitement as a whispery and slightly panic-tinged voice will allow, “I can not ______ believe this.”

No one had a clue what I was talking about. I whispered, “Look at the door to the porch! Look at the door!”

By the time everyone had seen it I was slamming the bathroom door behind me. I could hear someone yelling, “Troy, take a picture! Take a picture!” I didn’t even reply. At first all I could hear outside the bathroom was Leelee making fun of me. Then some banging. I’ll admit, Leelee’s taunts were kind of humiliating until she burst screaming through the bathroom door and slammed it shut behind her. “They’re using a broom to push it outside. John’s holding the door and Brad’s swinging at it.”

“Why aren’t you out there taking pictures, Beowulf?” I asked.

“I was until it flew off the door. Then I was done.”


I have to admit, this is a darn good action photo considering the photographer was about to pee her pants. Soon Brad and John sent what we later learned was a Southern Flying Squirrel (communal and nocturnal, which explains a lot) on its way out into the wilderness. A cute thing really. The fact that it was “Southern” endeared it to me. The fact that it flew did not.

It was a pretty quiet weekend after that until about 5:00 Sunday morning when I heard a chorus of squeaks coming from the wall on my side of the bed. I punched John in the side and in a whispered shout said, “They’re back.” He asked me what he wanted him to do, but I was too annoyed and frozen with fear to answer. Instead I just pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep until I smelled bacon frying downstairs.

Next time we’re staying in a hotel.

WWII and The March to Equality

October 3, 2007

The last episode of Ken Burns’ The War aired last night on PBS.

One of the most disturbing subplots involved the U.S.’s fight against Hitler’s notion of racial superiority during WW II even as the Jim Crow status quo at home was heartily maintained. Hispanic, African-American, Japanese-American and Native American soldiers willingly fought for freedom without any promise that they would be seen as equal upon their return to their own country.  

As soldier John Gray said, “It would be a matter of disgust and distaste with you when you found out that the fruits of victory were not yours.”

I was surprised that in response to FDR’s death right before the end of the war, Japanese-American soldiers made a point of fighting even harder in honor of this man who signed the order to put their families in American concentration camps.  

All of this reminded me of a funeral I attended not long ago for one of our church members, Bill McKinney who happened to be an African-American WWII vet.  His sacrifices during the war were honorable.  He also was one of the friendliest, well-loved men I’ve ever met; the kind of person who smiled and shook your hand at church as if you were exactly who he came to see that day.  Whether he knew you well or not didn’t matter much. 

During the eulogy, Rev. Mike noted that Bill enrolled as a student at IU upon returning from WWII.  Dissatisfied with the lack of progress in the area of civil rights at the time he organized student groups to create change.  I remember feeling immediately jealous of someone who could be that kind of activist while staying so amazingly friendly and positive. Ever since then I’ve adopted Bill as personal role model, though the standard he set seems very high to me.  

As I’ve been reflecting on the Little Rock 9 I’ve started to wonder what role WWII played in the fight for equality.        

Food Fight with Mom

October 2, 2007

Dave and I were in the food court at the Fashion Mall on Sunday afternoon. We sit near the walkway because it makes for some great people watching, but the seat we took on Sunday was a front-row ticket to a freak show!

I noticed what I assume was a mother and her daughter, who was probably 9, having words at a table nearby. The little girl wasn’t getting her way about something. As the mother stood her ground the little girl whined louder and louder. Soon the daughter was screaming at her mother through a stream of whipped up tears as she went on and on about how good she’d been all day.

To emphasize her angelic nature the girl threw a piece of food at her MOTHER! And mom did nothing. Okay, hard as it may be to imagine throwing food at one of your parents, what would have happened to you if you had? I wouldn’t have seen the hind-end of the minute I was in.

The girl went on and on to the point that I was starting to get a little sick to my stomach. And even as we left the mother just sat their taking it. I would say, “at least mom stood by her guns”, but watching this woman get verbally abused (and then some) by her daughter long after the appropriate expressions of anger had passed made me suspect that the girl would probably get what she wanted in the end.

I hope things get better for them in the future. If they don’t, they’ll be worse for everyone else this little girl meets.