Monday, October 20, 2008
one of the new m-series motor graders,three different models of track-type tractors (bulldozers),the classic American backhoe (I think every small town in the U.S. owns at least one of these),a wheel loader,and a multiterrain loader.
That last piece of equipment--the multiterrain loader--receives the lion's share of my attention at work. I can't tell you how excited I am about the project. You can get a quick overview of it in the following video:
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Hat tip: American Family Association's OneNewsNow
As an example, pastor Gus Booth of Warroad Community Church in Warroad, Minnesota believes that
if you're a Christian, you cannot support a candidate like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.Booth has already told the 150 members of his church as much in a sermon in May. This weekend several other similar sermons will be delivered to church congregations around the country.
It's all part of a nationwide effort called the Pulpit Initiative led by Focus on the Family's legal activism arm, the Alliance Defense Fund. Says ADF attorney Erik Stanley,
if the IRS chooses to come after these churches, we will sue the IRS in federal court.You can read more about this action in the transcript of a NPR news article that aired last night.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I love my job. No exaggeration. The projects are deeply interesting, and the people are intelligent and motivated. I love it.
Well, except for one detail: Peoria is quite a conservative community--a jarring change from the progressive University community of Champaign-Urbana. It's not backwater by any means, though. I'm working for a Fortune 50 company with tens of thousands of employees. They have nondescrimination policies for race, gender, and--as of two years ago--orientation.
My office is quite diverse racially, but rather homogenous when it comes to gender (all male) and orientation (well, so I assume). I've met a handful of other gay folks, and they have been awesome welcoming me to the company. But almost all of them work outside of engineering. For the most part, engineering seems to still be (at least on the surface), a straight man's job.
I'm thinking about coming out at work to a select few people. I feel I should let my boss know. There are a few people on my team that it might be okay to tell. I don't expect any of them to be supportive, but I do expect they will be respectful. And I just want to kindly correct them so that they no longer ask me about my "wife."
Today brought something new. The rains in upstate Illinois from the aftermath of hurricane Ike have swollen the rivers in the Illinois river watershed. Although the rains ceased days ago, our portion of the river is just now experiencing the increase in water... and it's HUGE.
Already the water is 10 feet above its normal level. It's expected to rise an additional 10 feet. And this is where Peoria starts sounding like New Orleans--everyone's talking about seawalls and levies. Downtown has already flooded. Boats moored in the river are now at or above street level. Houses along my morning drive to work are flooded or beginning to flood.
Today after work, a dozen guys or so from the office drove out to the home of Adam, the old Intellectual Property expert in our group. He lives near the river--well, some 12 feet above its normal level. But his back yard has vanished under deep water. Above the lake that is his backyard we could see a few inches of the topmost branches of the large willow trees he grows by the river's (usual) edge.
The water is just inches below the top of his seawall. Today we filled sandbags to shore up the top edge of the wall. I don't see how it will possibly withstand the continually rising water, but he's hoping it will at least limit the affect of the waves.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
It's written by singer-songwriter and--interestingly enough--avocado farmer Jason Mraz. Here's a video of Jason (with a stunning case of hat hair) being interviewed about his avocado farm on a British television show. After the interview, he performs "I'm yours" live. If you're primarily interested in the music, skip the youtube video to the 5:00 mark, roughly halfway through the video.
Monday, August 11, 2008
You know I love you, I hope. Once you saved my semester by helping me get back on my feet my junior year when I came and stayed with you for a week. You've been such a loving friend, always remembering my b-day. You really know the love of God man. It really doesn't matter how long the backstory is, does it? [Joe Moderate], come back to us. I'm calling you back. I know about straying, but it's God's power that sets us free, not the wisdom of the world. So you tried what the church fed you, counseling, drugs. Its the Holy Spirit that sets us free. He's the only way. You know this, but its time to give Him a try. Sometimes the church doesn't know if they believe that or should really just rely on the world's wisdom. I speak from total experience that its only the Lord's power. Give me a call sometime and we'll pray and catch up. What did you want me to say? I love you so much man. The Lord has such a future for you. It's nothing like the future the enemy had you convinced of when we used to talk on the phone a couple years ago [he's referring to the year of depression and suicidality I went through at the tail end of my 5 years of ex-gay therapy]. It's true man. I'm telling you because I love you. Come home [Joe].Hmm. This may be weirder than I thought. I guess I need to tell my friend that I don't feel "away from home" with regards to God. And I'm not miserable. And I've been off of medication for two years now.
An Evangelical friend of mine from my undergraduate days contacted me on Facebook over the weekend. Upon learning that I am now married to a man, he sent me the following message:
I want you to know that I love you and that it's never too late and there's nothing the Jesus-fire can't do. Don't let the devil get the best of you man! The devil is a liar and wants to make us think there's no hope for us, but it's not true. We should keep in touch and lift each other up in prayer.Reading this message makes me feel sad and exhausted. Why exhausted? Well, I know what's coming: a lot of time on email or the phone explaining how I got from point A to point B in my thinking and how I don't believe that point B is against Jesus or involves the "devil getting the best of me" or anything like that. But numerous similar experiences lead me to expect it will not end well. My friend and I will probably come to an impass and unhappily agree to disagree.
This process has almost always wound up rendering a once vibrant friendship a more-or-less distant acquaintance. I hate that. It makes me not want to "waste" any time explaining myself and my evolution over the past few years since we were last in contact. But this guy was a great friend, and he deserves my time and care explaining to him. Time spent attempting to bridge the gap between us will not be "wasted;" No, he's worth my efforts. Unfortunately, I doubt it will prevent us going from friends to acquaintances.
Well, regardless of the outcome, here I go again. I hope for a better outcome this time...
Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Our otherwise peaceful stroll was interrupted twice by locals who made a point to jeer at us. At one point a rather scruffy 20-something on a bike passed by us, turned to face us, and yelled "hey, keep that shit behind closed doors, you fucking faggots." Now this isn't the first time we've been jeered at, so I wasn't surprised to receive the judgment of an ignorant passer-by. But I was surprised by the intensity of this guys' remarks. C and I hadn't even been holding hands for awhile. He must have seen one of us reach over to affectionately rub the other's back while we slowly walked along. That's "shit" that "fucking faggots" need to keep behind closed doors?
At another point, a guy in a passing car muttered a few derogatory sentences, most of which were unintelligible. But he definitely said the word "sodom" twice.
I'm still processing the experience. As I mentioned, this is not the first time that C and I have been mocked on the street. It's more like the fourth time.
But it has been quite awhile since the last time something like this happened. And I noticed our responses have changed over time. Today we weren't fazed or shocked. We didn't change anything about what we were doing. We kept walking at the same speed, chatting, holding hands occasionally, and humming together. A part of me is really surprised that we didn't change what we were doing. But I guess we just weren't afraid of this round of ridicule.
C and I recently returned from our honeymoon, and we had a marvelous time. We spent a week in and around Seattle, Washington and another week in Glacier National Park, Montana. We also had a chance to hang out with some of our dear friends and family who live in the Pacific Northwest.
Now we're back in Illinois. C returned to work immediately, but I've mostly been a lazy bum. I've got one more week of freedom before I begin work, so I'm enjoying every bit of R & R!
I'm also enjoying every moment I have in the same city as C. *sigh* The start of work marks a new phase for us: we'll be living in separate apartments in cities 90 miles apart. We'll certainly be spending every weekend together, but we're ruing the weekly separation. So I gotta store up my "C battery" before I leave :-)
Saturday, August 9, 2008
John Sidney McCain III (born in the U.S. Panama Canal Zone, August 29, 1936), prominent Conservative statesman and Vietnam war hero, is the senior Senator of Arizona. He has been an influential fixture in American politics since 1986, when he began his political career in hard-fought campaigns against pork barrel spending and campaign finance reform. As a pilot for the United States Navy and former Prisoner-of-War (POW), he served in the military for 22 years, meriting several accolades from the Armed forces. McCain, a Baptist, has impressive credentials on issues of foreign policy and national security, which have propelled him in the forefront of national politics as both an outspoken voice for the United States military and as a Presidential contender for the Republican Party since 1993. McCain is currently the presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 Election.Okay, so the choice of words seems slightly embellished, but no big deal. However, check out the first paragraph of the article on Barack Obama:
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. (allegedly born in Honolulu, August 4, 1961) is the presumptive 2008 nominee of the Democratic Party for president. Obama has served as a freshman Democratic Senator from Illinois for three and a half years. In 2007, Obama was the most liberal Senator. If elected, Obama would be the first Affirmative Action President.ROFL. "allegedly born" "most liberal Senator of 2007" "first Affirmative Action president". The article is so obnoxious it's hilarious. But the craziness doesn't stop there; check out the rest of the Obama article for yourself for some nonstop ridicularity that includes the following gems:
Obama has declared himself to be a Christian, yet never replaced his Muslim name with a Christian one as many do, casting doubt on his politically self-serving claim. Obama downplays his Islamic background by claiming that his Kenyan Muslim father was a "confirmed atheist" before Obama was born, but in fact less than 1% of Kenyans are atheists, agnostics or non-religious.
Obama was on the faculty of the University of Chicago from 1992 to 2004. He claimed that he was a constitutional law professor, when in actuality he merely held the title of "Senior Lecturer."
Thursday, July 17, 2008
If you think making a pro-gay argument from the Bible is difficult, try to make an anti-slavery argument from it. There is precious little in the Bible that can be made to speak against the owning of another human being as property. Not that the abolitionists didn't try. They did – valiantly.Of course, I don't agree with everything Chellew-Hodge writes. My own confrontation with the Bible's support of slavery, broad proscription of death penalties, genocide, and subjugation of women has left me why dubious of the authority of the Bible. I don't feel I hold the Bible in as high esteem as Chellew-Hodge does. I'm curious to know what you guys think.
And so it will be with gay and lesbian Americans. We will not win our rights by having the best biblically based argument. We will never triumph in that arena – but we don't need to. As the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison so boldly proclaimed, "Nothing in regard to controversial matters ha(s) ever been settled by the Bible," and neither should it.
hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
We were moved to tears during our wedding ceremony and overjoyed at our reception.
But why tell you all about it myself? Here is what some of our friends had to say about the wedding:
My Big Fat Gay Wedding Recap by Pomoprophet
The Big Fat Gay Quaker Wedding (parts I, II, III, and IV) by Selly
and you can find the marvelous recipes created for our reception by our brilliant chef friends over at Razzie's Food for Thought. So far, Razzie has posted his recipes for the Spanish Gazpacho, the Island Coconut and Sweet Potato Stew, the Strawberry-Spinach Salad, and the Georgia Pulled Pork BBQ with Mustard-Vinegar Sauce we enjoyed at our reception. Not only was this food postively mouth-watering, but the presentation was stunning. I've never seen a more elegantly set table!
Oh my goodness. Such warm, wonderful memories! We're still waiting on some of the photos from our photographers.
And we're still waiting to leave on our honeymoon. C and I decided to postpone honeymoon plans until after my defense. We leave on July 23rd for Seattle and Glacier National Park!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I am a husband.
And I just completed graduate school.
Words cannot express how happy I am about the former and how relieved I am about the latter!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
hat tip: Google News
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I don't want to make a bigger deal out of this than it actually is. Unlike the awful Jim Crow-era sign I've included as an image with this post, this issue is relatively minor. However, this situation still smacks of "second-class citizenship."
In its 36-page "Our Values in Action" document, my future employer (I won't give its name, but I can tell you it is a Fortune 100 company as well as one of the thirty companies comprising the Dow Jones Industrial Average) states
We build and maintain a productive, motivated work force by treating all employees fairly and equitably. We respect and recognize the contributions of employees as well as other stakeholders. We will select and place employees on the basis of their qualifications for the work to be performed, considering accommodations as appropriate and needed — without regard to their race, religion, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, and/or physical or mental disability. We support and obey laws that prohibit discrimination everywhere we do business. [emphasis mine]These words are striking me as sadly hollow right now.
I have learned my future employer has an employee affinity group for LGBTA employees. Last week I attempted to learn more about this group--partly to ask about the present situation with the relocation company, partly to simply inquire about the general corporate "vibe" towards gay folks. Unfortunately, in response to my request for information about this group (through the corporate website--googling the group did not turn up any external links), I received the following email
Dear [Joe Moderate],Doh! Looks like I can't contact the LGBTA affinity group until after I begin employment. What a weird catch-22.
[corporate HR guy]
It looks like I "lose" this round. However, you can bet once I am employed, I will see what I can learn--and maybe change--from the inside. I hope this affinity group doesn't turn out to be a canard.
I feel the need to tread softly about all of this. My position with the company is far from certain. I don't feel any job security to allow me to "rock the boat" at all right now. I don't want to act (or not act) out of fear, but I do want to see changes happen. Maybe I can be a part of making this experience different for LGBT folks my employer will hire in the future.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
I have been hired by a company and received several phone calls yesterday regarding plans for my relocation to begin employment in August. The company (or, rather, the relocation company that my employer contracts with) informed me that they will provide a lump sum of cash to facilitate my trips to the city to find a place to live--hotel stays, meals, gas money, etc. The dollar amount of that lump sum is significantly larger ($500 larger, in fact) if I will be married by the time I begin employment.
Yes, I told the company, I will be married before beginning employment.
Okay, they said, just send us a copy of your marriage certificate.
Well, I said, I'm not having a civil marriage--just a religious ceremony.
Okay, they said, we'll check and see if religious marriage is sufficient.
The company called back later and said "no." I must have a marriage certificate to receive the married benefit.
Hmm. I'm tempted to call them back and appeal to the nondiscrimination policy my employer has regarding LGBT employees. I could send them copies of the 6 legal documents C and I have had prepared to secure as many legal rights as we can. C and I could also register in our town as "domestic partners" (our town, Urbana, is one of only two cities in Illinois that have such registries. Quiz: what is the other city? Hint: it isn't Chicago)
But I'm wary of starting a snafu with the company just as I am beginning employment--particularly if my new boss is personally opposed to LGBT people. I don't want to get off on the wrong foot. I don't want to come across as greedy.
On the other hand, I don't want to be treated differently. It hurts a little to be informed that my relationship with C is not as important as my cubicle-mate's relationship with his wife. :-/
C will be traveling with me to the city to search for a new location. That's twice as many people in the hotel rooms, twice as many meals, and two butts in the car during the travel to and from the city. The extra $500 is probably more than we need, but it sure would be nice.
Ultimately, I think I'm gonna sit on my hands on this one. Am I selling out?
UPDATE: I decided I was acting (or rather, not acting) out of fear. Asking myself, "what would I do if I had no fear?" I again contacted the relocation company and asked if I would be granted the marriage benefit if I supplied them with copies of a city of Urbana domestic partner registry. The person I contacted said she would contact management and get back to me. That was near the end of the business day on Friday. I'll keep you posted.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
C'mon down to the farm
C'mon out to the barn
You won't see two roosters walking arm in arm
They couldn't make a chicken
They don't have an egg to hatch
When God said "love your brother I don't think he meant like that
"It ain't normal. I don't care what they say. It just ain't normal."Update: Ben has found the Lewis's email address. If you'd like to contact them, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org . Thanks, Ben!
hat tip: Peter LaBarbara
Friday, May 30, 2008
Although I ultimately agree with O'Reilly's conclusion (that the lawyer has no substantive argument), I am reminded once again that I detest O'Reilly's treatment of his guests.
Hat Tip: More Musings
Thursday, May 29, 2008
You can probably guess the direction this is leading. There is a lot of bizarre content in the article--including Harvey claiming Josh has "never heard or read an opposing viewpoint" on homosexuality and that he decides to give being gay a shot because, in part, "girls seems like a lot of trouble. It would be so much more fun to be physical with someone who likes the same things he does--Nintendo, movies, and role-playing games. And having sex without any thoughts of pregancy, commitment and all that serious stuff"--but I'll skip to the part that really turned my stomach.
In other words, Josh is a fairly typical American adolescent. His family only has casual ties to a church, and his parents consider themselves moderate politically, when they have time or interest to think about it.
Josh’s standards, therefore, are being formed not by parents of high character, but by the American culture, including television, his public school and the Internet. That’s where he developed a keen curiosity about sex and it’s also where he gets his information and values.
Warning: this is where the nausea started for me. According to Harvey, Josh, as a teenager,
Ugh. This reading this literally made me sick to my stomach.
will probably pair up with an older homosexual and begin homosexual sex...
Josh’s future probably holds a revolving door of sexual contacts, with his first visit to a clinic to be treated for a sexually transmitted disease at around age 17. Then, if he’s typical, he’ll be treated annually for an STD of some type...
He is already drinking heavily, smoking, and doing recreational drugs. Somewhere along the line, he’ll have several longer-term boyfriends, and may even move in with one or two of them. Their break-ups will happen after six months or a year, and be spectacular events punctuated with drama, screaming fights and threats of self-harm, contributing to the high rates of domestic violence cited for “gay” males.
He will go to a counselor for treatment of depression, anxiety or an eating disorder... Along the way, he may well become HIV-positive. In his thirties, he will start to have relationships with boys who are 16 and 17 [emphasis mine]... He may even transmit the HIV virus to one or more of them.
Josh is likely to die early, probably before 55 and very likely in his 40’s. His grandmother will cry at his funeral, knowing he would have made a great father and even grandfather. But it won’t happen for him.
In a way, I used to be like Harvey. I used to believe similar stuff to be true of gay people. I believed the average gay person's life was riddled with addiction, disease, casual sex, and no committed relationships. I thought this was the life that would be mine if I were to come out.
But I had never met a single openly gay person. The only "gay" people I knew were "ex-gay" people in the ministries I was a part of for five years. Similarly, the only "research" I had ever done on homosexuality was listening to James Dobson's radio broadcast and reading literature from conservative, openly antigay organizations like Focus on the Family, Exodus, the American Family Association, etc.
Like Harvey, I had been told the "statistics" that gays and lesbians live radically shorter lives than hetero Americans. I believed these numbers to be as true as the Gospel... until I started doing real "research." Once I started reading academic journals for myself, I learned these statistics--and many others like them--were the brainchildren of Paul Cameron, whose methodology is patently ridiculous and whose conclusions are grossly untrustworthy. I also started meeting openly gay folks and discovered their lives are nothing like the stereotype I once held--the stereotype presented by Harvey, Exodus, FotF, and others.
And then I began my own relationship with the man who is now my fiance. After more than two years together, I'm just a week away from our wedding. We have a wonderful, fulfilling, and enjoyable relationship. We love each other deeply.
I was wrong, just as Harvey is wrong. And this reminds me of the teachings of Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: Linda Harvey is not my enemy; ignorance is.
Harvey's antigay screed is filled with inaccuracies and falsehoods. The danger is not that this disgusting article exists; the danger is that people believe it to be true. The enemy here is the misinformation and misunderstanding rampant in what Harvey wrote.
I believe the two most powerful tools for the advancement of the gay rights movement are (1) coming out to family and friends and (2) education. The stereotypes, inaccuracies, and untruths must be replaced with real people's lives and solid, true facts about gay people.
And so I encourage gay and lesbian people everywhere to come out. "Come out, come out, whereever you are." Let your friends and family and neighbors and churchgoers know that gay people are no more unusual or monstrous than their sisters and brothers, their teammates and classmates, the two girls living in the apartment across the hall or the two guys living in the house down the street, the person sitting next to them in the pew.
And I encourage everyone--gay and lesbian or not--to do real research. Don't just read the soundbytes digested by conservative or liberal organizations or the general media. Read source material, the studies of orientation, health, mental adjustment, and fulfillment that have been conducted for the past eighty years.
We have, I believe, the "upper hand" in this struggle for justice, because we are on the side of truth. I believe our greatest efforts should be in making our personal selves known and learning and communicating the factual truth.
hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars
But I don't want to leave you on an unhappy note. So, in keeping with the "nauseating" theme, I give you Stephen Colbert and Steve Carrell in "Waiters Who are Nauseated by Food." Enjoy :-)
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
This finding is compared against six previous surveys of voter opinions on the same conducted by the same polling agency over the past 31 years. In 1977, more than twice as many Californians opposed gay marriage as supported it (59% to 28%). However, since that first poll, public opinion has gradually shifted.
The Field polling agency, which conducted the survey, has posted a thorough 8-page analysis of the poll results on its websites, including breakdowns of voter opinions by age, geographic location, and party identification. Not surprisingly, approval of gay marriage is highest among young voters, city dwellers, and Democrats and lowest among older voters, rural Californians, and Republicans.
This bit of news is balanced by the results of a recent L.A. Times poll of 834 Californians (only 705 of whom were registered voters) which reported public opinion opposed to gay marriage and in support of the proposed constitutional amendment.
hat tip: Mercury News
Friday, May 23, 2008
News recently broke that one of the pastors of Prestonwood has been arrested in a sex sting near Houston. On May 15th, Joe Barron, pastor of married adults at Prestonwood, drove 200 miles from Plano to the city of Bryan, where he had apparently made online arrangements to meet up with a 13-year-old girl for sex. That 13-year-old girl turned out to be a police officer, who promptly arrested Barron. Also confiscated from his car was a box of condoms as well as a webcam and computer headset that Barron was apparently planning to give to the girl to facilitate their online relationship.
Police report that Barron is one of 12 men arrested since the city of Bryan began its sex sting operation in November of 2006.
hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars
In spite of Colmes's bias, I felt the interview was excellent at teasing out the very reason why I left the ex-gay movement: confusion, misleading double-talk, baiting-and-switching terminology. In the following clip, see if you can understand Mike Ensley's convoluted explanation of his present orientation, his former orientation, and what Exodus actually claims to be able to do.
UPDATE: NG has posted links to recordings of the entire interview between Combes and Mike Ensley.
After five years with Exodus, I left because my orientation hadn't changed at all. The orientations of my friends in the programs hadn't changed. Moreover, I had come to learn that the orientation of the leaders of Exodus hadn't changed. Everyone was still gay. I was so disillusioned that the "change" Exodus had claimed was possible hadn't happened, and I was stunned by the fact that no one in Exodus seemed to have experience the "change"!
My questions about the elusiveness of "change" were met with confusing, convoluted explanations similar to Mike Ensley's words in the radio interview. On one hand, Exodus leaders argued that that gay orientation is a fiction--that it doesn't actually exist--and therefore, since no one in Exodus was ever "really" gay, there was nothing to change. This argument seemed deceptive. If this is the case, isn't it lying for them to advertise that "change" is possible? Shouldn't they instead advertise that "there's nothing to change" or "come discover that you're not really gay in the first place"? I guess those slogans aren't as catchy as "change is possible" though...
On the other hand, some Exodus leaders argued that change does occur, but that it occurs in sexual behavior not in orientation. These leaders would claim that they themselves had changed--not because they had different attractions, but rather because they had stopped having sex with people of the same gender. For me, having never had sex with a guy before or during my Exodus years, this argument was completely worthless. There was no sex for me to stop. This nuanced definition from Exodus's lexicon seemed extremely deceptive to me. This was not the operative definition of "change" that I had in mind when I entered the program. Perhaps they should put an asterisk in their slogan (i.e. "Change* is possible") and add some fine print with their in-house definition of change.
I would also like to draw attention to something Ensley mentioned that I think was passed over all too quickly in the interview. Ensley mentioned the core motivator of folks that enter the ex-gay movement: religion, "biblical" Christianity in particular. People with religious conflict over their gay feelings stream into the ex-gay ministries in hope of finding a way to make the gay part of them go away. They hang on the power and promise of the word "change": if they could only be straight, then the huge struggle between their faith and their orientation would disappear.
Since religious convictions are so deeply set among the people in Exodus, it seems they have developed all these complicated, elaborate apologetics to convince themselves that they have been able to rid themselves of "gay" in some sense. As bizarre and incomprehensible as Ensley's words may have sounded to your ears, I believe the number one audience of his complicated words is not Exodus conference-goers; it's himself. I believe Ensley has developed this strange double-talk as a part of an elaborate "self-talk" routine that he uses to convince himself that something about the gay part of him has changed and therefore there is no longer a struggle between his faith and his orientation.
Of course, I don't truly know the thoughts of Mike Ensley. But I feel reasonably confident in making these guesses about his thoughts based on a consistent pattern that appears in the testimonies of many who have left the ex-gay movement and have shared their personal stories of their experiences within Exodus. There seems to be a theme among these stories of people succeeding for a time in convincing themselves that the gay part of their identity had changed.
I do want to give props to the Exodus leadership for refusing to call themselves heterosexuals. While Ensley's description of his present orientation is complicated and confusing, I'm very grateful that he avoids claiming he is straight. This is a wonderful glimmer of truth (or at least an absence of falsehood) in the sea of Exodus double-talk. It gives me hope that all is not dishonest within Exodus.
Epilogue: Reading back over this post, I remember the religious conflict and deep sense of fear that drove me into Exodus in 2000. I was so scared of "being gay." I had so many fears of the "gay lifestyle" described by the leaders of the ex-gay movement: promiscuity, loneliness, addiction, disease, death. I feared rejection by God, by family, and by friends. Who in their right mind would choose such a life! I realize now that I wasn't in my right mind. I had been deceived.
I wish I could go back and have a conversation with myself fifteen years ago. I wish I could talk to myself back before my name changed--back when I was Joe Conservative. I'd love to sit down with Joe C and ask him to talk out his feelings, fears, and conflict about his gay feelings.
I wish I could tell young Joe C how much the lives of real gay men differ from what he believes all gay lives look like. I wish I could introduce him to the wonderful gay and lesbian couples I know--happy, healthy couples celebrating 15-, 17-, even 25-years together. I wish I could describe my own life to him--how thrilling and fulfilling it is and how entirely different it is from his expectations. I'd love to introduce him to my fiancé, the kind, attractive, affectionate young man I've dated for over two years now, the man who will become my husband in just three weeks now (Huzzah! The wedding day is so close!).
And I wish I could blow his mind by telling him how happy I am to be gay. How I would not choose a different orientation today if I were given the choice.
I'm grateful to God and the many people who helped me along the way (some of whom are reading this). God gave me many marvelous friends who helped me gradually deconstruct my fears and misconceptions and gradually identify and understand the truth. My life is immeasurably happier, richer, and more satisfying today. I am such a fortunate guy.
I wish the same for all who are presently in ex-gay programs or are considering them. May God also lead them into the truth, into lives of healthiness and happiness. :-)
hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch
Thursday, May 22, 2008
A similar saying seems to apply to the press releases coming from Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) folk: if someone suffers or dies, they'll celebrate it. Only it's not just suffering or death in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas. Phelps and company celebrate suffering and death around the world, from praising God for the death of American soldiers abroad to praising God for the deaths of thousands of Chinese and Burmese in the recent earthquake and cyclone in Asia.
But suffering and death need not be large-scale to warrant their celebration. For instance, last week a medical helicopter crashed in Wisconsin, killing three. Ever the opportunists, the WBC folks released the following news release:
Thank God for throwing the new Wisconsin Medical Helicopter out of the air, dashing it to pieces, and killing a surgeon, nurse, and pilot.Phelps apparently believes the helicopter crash was the justice of God meted out against Wisconsin after a WBC picket in that state was poorly received (in Phelps' words, he's upset about its "unlawful & sinful mistreatment of WBC for preaching God's Word on the mean streets of that evil state"). Promises Phelps about the dead surgeon, nurse, and pilot:
WBC will picket their funerals.hat tip: WBC website
Yes. WBC will picket their funerals in religious protest and warning; to wit: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." Gal. 6:7. Got Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers. Ergo, God hates Wisconsin and its violent, sinful citizens, sodomite students (like the wild beasts & incompetent copes at the Univ. of Wisc.--Stout), Military mutts, and law forcement [sic] thugs like Sheriff Todd Nehls. They don't believe in the Bible or the First Amendment in homofascist Wisconsin.
Satanic Land of the Sodomite Damned. [sic; I think there's supposed to be a "be" in there somewhere]
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I was stunned when I saw the interviews that appear between 1:50 and 2:30 in the video, but I figured John Stewart was just showing the most outrageous clips (as per usual). However, NPR carried some disturbingly similar interviews with West Virgina voters in its coverage of race issues in the West Virginia primary and throughout the Democratic primary season
"Mr. Obama doesn't have much of a chance here, because they will not vote for a black man in West Virginia. They can't stand the thought of a black man telling a white man what to do." Jo-etta CoonNPR added that these three West Virginia voters were not asked specifically about race. About 20% of West Virginia voters in the Democratic primary cited race as a factor in their decision.
"Whether he is a Muslim or I'll guess he's not, I guess it's just everything that's going on in the Middle East. It's a little scary being an unknown." Thomas Caldwell
"You know I didn't vote for no colored. [laughing]" Morris King
What's up with West Virigina? Is it just abnormally fearful of black people? Is it abnormally misinformed about Obama's faith? Is it abnormally afraid of Muslims?
hat tip: Right-Wing Watch
"I think it's very much a reflection of the fact that there was a very aggressive assault on civil liberties," said ACLU national deputy executive director Dorothy Ehrlich. "Over the past seven years, many Americans felt their own cherished values were under attack, and they didn't want to sit by."hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars
The ACLU counted about 250,000 members in the final year of Bill Clinton's presidency. Today, the organization has about 500,000 card-carriers
Monday, May 19, 2008
For evidence of the party's dismal standing, VandeHei points to the loss to Democrats of the deeply conservative, reliably Republican seat in northern Mississippi's 1st Congressional District.Now, the story is not yet over. Republicans continue to mobilize large blocks of voters with their positions on security, terrorism, and gay rights. However, if would appear that the party is "in the worst shape with voters that the party has seen in more than 30 years."
"Under no circumstances should a Republican lose that seat," VandeHei says. "The Republican brand is as damaged as I can recall."
Just for reference, dear reader, Joe Moderate is not celebrating this news. I have no fantasies about Democrats being able to save us. I still have yet to decide which party I will vote for in November.
However, I can only hope that the nation's apparent disgust with Bush administration policies will result in a shift away from war and unilateral diplomacy abroad and elimination of rights and freedoms and home. Whether that happens under President McCain or President Obama is fine with me. The devil is in predicting which potential future administration might actually pull it off well.
hat tip: NPR
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Frank Caliendo doing an amazing impersonation of presidents Bush and Clinton.
MadTV's sketch comedy about the English-speaking Al Jazeera network.
Another MadTV sketch, this one about a poorly pronounced, poorly acted Mexican version of Star Trek, "Estrella Viaje".
Friday, May 16, 2008
Reactions from the presidential candidates to yesterday's California Supreme Court decision:
Following Thursday's ruling by the California Supreme Court striking down that state's ban on same-sex marriage both Obama and Clinton released carefully worded statements saying it was an issue for the states.
McCain said it should not be a decision for judges to take.
At least on the issue of gay rights, there is not much different between the three leading candidates for the U.S. presidency.
All three are opposed but would grant varying rights to gay and lesbian couples. And all three oppose amending the US constitution to bar same-sex marriage.I am particulary impressed with John McCain, who has twice voted against the Republican party when U.S. constitutional amendments banning gay marriage have come before the Senate. He is on record as calling such measures "un-Republican."
Clinton would amend the Federal Defense of Marriage Act that was signed into law while her husband was president to remove sections that bar the federal government from providing benefits to same-sex couples.
Obama would repeal the law altogether and permit civil unions.
McCain would follow the Clinton lead by leaving in place the section barring the government from recognizing gay marriage but he would support benefits for same-sex pairs...
All three have been consistent since the campaign began.
I can only imagine how the leading Republican presidential candidate's position is further frustrating the Religious Right. Even three of the four California Supreme Court justices that voted to overturn the gay marriage ban are Republican.
Perhaps this is one more squabble that will finally lead to the collapse of the strange alliance of socially conservative religious folks and the Republican party. I sure hope so! I can only see benefit for all parties involved--the churches, the Republican party, and the United States as a whole--if the Religious Right falls apart.
hat tip: 365gay.com
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest. Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are unconstitutional.Oh happy day! Congratulations are in order for the people of California! I am so happy for them... and for what this court decision indicates for the rest of us--the gradual changing of the hearts and minds in the United States.
I'm so happy I can't sit still. I just called my fiance and my buddy Pomoprophet in California. I feel like celebrating!
May happy days like this come soon for those of us in other states. Indeed, may such happy days come for people around the world :-)
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
But we'll see. It would be wonderful if marriage becomes legal in California! However, it appears that state is not quite ready to make such a step (I'd love to be proven wrong on this!)
I will also be watching the blog of Pomoprophet, one of my closest friends. He's a CA resident, so this ruling affects him and his community directly. I'm interested to see what Pomo says in response to the Court's ruling.
Hat tip: Google news, Mercury news
I'm also flipping out because a ton of my closest friends from my years in ex-gay ministry are coming. Friends are traveling ridiculous distances from California, Texas, New York, Florida, Maryland, and even Ontario and British Columbia! I'm so honored. And I'm looking forward to a sweet reunion with those guys.
Things continue to be busy for me. I've taught the last class of my graduate career and now I'm working on finishing my dissertation. Looks like I'll be defending on July 10th! I can't tell you how good it feels to have the finish line in sight.
I've missed a number of interesting issues that I've wanted to blog about in the past two weeks. But the California Supreme Court's upcoming decision on gay marriage (tomorrow morning) is just too big a deal to pass up. So here I am: back in the saddle.
Good to be back,
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Actually, the article cites many statistics about the Southern Baptist Convention--some numbers pointing upward (attendance at services, construction of new churches), others pointing downward (baptisms, church membership). Yet the net conclusion is that the SBC is no longer growing and may, in fact, be declining.
Incidentally, the current membership of the SBC is a staggering 16,266,920.
"Many have predicted that membership (an inflated statistic anyway) would soon begin to decline, but the statement, 'Southern Baptists are a declining denomination' was not 'officially' accurate.
"Until today," [LifeWay president Thom S. Rainer] said in his blog on Wednesday.
Hat tip: Christian Post
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Timothy remarks at the strange paradox that convicted felons are considered fit for duty while gay people with no criminal records are not. Moreover, the Pentagon is actively discharging trained, capable gay Americans from the service.
So you can't be gay and serve, but you can have committed a whole slew of bad things and serve--a disturbing list of nasties including
You can find the complete list of convictions that are acceptable for military service (and the number of convicted felons in each category who are presently serving in each branch of the military) online here, courtesy of the House Oversight Committee. It's a stunning list!
- kidnapping or abduction
- rape, sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, incest or other sexual crimes
- indecent acts or liberties with a child
- terrorist threats including bomb threats
I should point out that, according to the House Oversight report, the Air Force stands alone as the one branch of the military that continues to reject felons from service.
Hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin
Pastor Byrd says the sign is not meant to be racial or political but rather to make people think. "His name is so close to Osama, I have a feeling he might be Islamic therefore he doesn't recognize Christ," Pastor Byrd said.This is so crazy it's hilarious.
Hat tip: Right-Wing Watch
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
A few notes on the faces that appear in the video. Obviously, the lead rapper is biologist Richard Dawkins ("Dick Dawk, Ph.D."). Also included are the faces of naturalist Charles Darwin, author Christopher Hitchens, anthropologist Eugenie Scott, biologist Paul "PZ" Myers, author Sam Harris, and tycoon Andrew Carnegie.
Dick to the Dawk to the Ph.D., he's smarter than you; he's got a science degreeWow, so catchy!
Dick to the Dawk to the Ph.D., he's still smarter than you; he's studied biology
Fun aside: I, Joe Moderate, am on the cusp of of completing a "science" Ph.D. myself! I'm so thrilled that the years of graduate school are coming to a close. I've got 100 pages of my dissertation written, and tomorrow my advisor and I will wrangle through the details of the outline for the last chapter. Woo-hoo! The end is so close I can almost hear the new lyrics...
Joe to the Mod to the Ph.D., he's finally done; he's got a science degree!Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Joe to the Mod to the Ph.D., no more grad school for him; he studied 'lectricity
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I refuse to limit my God, to lock God into my cultural understandings because culture is fickle. And culture is often wrong. Culture was wrong about slavery. Culture was wrong about women. Culture was wrong about Africans and Indians, and culture was wrong about Christ. I have been the pariah among many of my clergy colleagues who somehow see me as defective or not quite saved because I won’t join them in their homophobic gay bashing and misquoting of scripture.hat tip: Washington Blade
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The religion masks a worldwide attempt to exercise power and to subjugate the world to their way of thinking. They want a Caliphate, as they had once before; they want all people to be subjected to Sharia [law] and live under their rules and their domination.Wait a minute. It strikes me as incredible ironic, if not downright hypocritical, to hear Pat Robertson decrying another group's attempt to institute theocracy. After all, isn't this exactly what he himself has been attempting to do with the Religious Right in the U.S.?
hat tip: Right-Wing Watch
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I think the subject matter of this film is really interesting. What does a married couple do when it is discovered that they do not share the same orientation?
While I'm sure I disagree with the religious convictions of the filmmakers, I'm okay with some of the heavy religious content. After all, religious overtones are often present for the many American families that find themselves in such situations (e.g. the Haggard family).
Unfortunately, it appears this film may not address this question very thoughtfully. The acting and dialog seem campy and unbelievable. Daughter calling father a "queer"? Improbable, and an odd choice of language given the religious argument that dad's not actually gay. Father and son wrestling over dad's gay affair? Weird, unlikely, and has odd homoerotic subtexts.
I dunno. I'd love to see a film that explores these issues thoughtfully. This doesn't seem to be such a film, though.
But there's even more to this.
Apparently there is a YouTube "channel" set up for this film, containing a message from Alan Chambers which makes blanket assertions about the LGBT community. Frustrating. *sigh* More "noise".
I like how this (gay) video blogger discusses the film and its propaganda.
Hat tip: Peterson Toscano
Monday, April 7, 2008
Ridiculous story out of Bellevue, Ohio:
Police said an Ohio man has been arrested for allegedly having sex with a picnic table.I was tipped off about this story by Ed Brayton over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. Ed points out perhaps the most bizarre part of the story:
Police arrested Arthur Price Jr. after an anonymous tipster dropped off three DVDs that reportedly showed Price in the act.
According to NBC Toledo, Ohio, affiliate WNWO-TV, the videos show Price tilting the metal round picnic table on its side and then laying up against it to have sexual intercourse with the table. Afterward, he can then be seen cleaning the table and the deck.
During questioning, he reportedly admitted to having sex with the table. Police said he also admitted to bringing the table inside his home for sex.Outrageous. Well, we all know why crazy stuff like this is happening:
hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars