Monthly Archives: September 2008

Clay Aiken is out! Clay Aiken is out!

Clay Aiken officially came out of the closet in the new issue of People magazine, set to be released this Friday. Sure, this is one that most people had figured out, but it’s still good to see the former American Idol runner-up come out of his closet, and on his own terms to boot. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“It was the first decision I made as a father,” Aiken, 29, tells the upcoming issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. “I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn’t raised that way, and I’m not going to raise a child to do that.”

The born-again Christian singer also reveals how he told his mother Faye he’s gay four years ago. After dropping off his younger brother Brett, who was being deployed to Iraq, at Camp Lejeune, “I started crying in the car,” Aiken remembers. “It was dark. I was sitting there, thinking to myself. I don’t know why I started thinking about it … I just started bawling. She made me pull over the car and it just came out.”

So what was his mom’s reaction? “She started crying. She was obviously somewhat stunned. But she was very supportive and very comforting.” Even now, Aiken admits, “She still struggles with things quite a bit, but she’s come a long way.”

Welcome out, Clay. Hang on through the negative nonsense that you’ll get from anti-gay groups and rejoice in your newfound freedom.

Now go give that baby a hug.


More Lies from the AFA; Nobody Even Surprised Anymore

I got an article from One News Now (the fake news service from the American Family Association) in my inbox last Saturday. I’m never happy to see that; they’re just so transparent in their bigotry over there it’s not even amusing anymore. So I clicked over to the article that the AFA reprinted from Life Site News (their fake news service compadres from Canada) and found that surprise, surprise, they’re lying again.

So few words, so many lies.
So few words, so many lies.

My blood got all boiled up and I started writing this post in my head, but before I got to it, Alvin McEwen, author of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, did a much better job than I could ever hope to. Rather than duplicating efforts, I’m going to be lazy and link to his detailed analysis. Here’s a brief sample:

Warning sign 3: One News Now cites the work of discredited researcher Paul Cameron:

These findings strongly support the results of similar studies conducted in the United States, which have unveiled the severe physical and psychological health risks associated with homosexual behavior. Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron of the Family Research Institute revealed in 2007 that research shows that the lifespan of a homosexual is on average 24 years shorter than that of a heterosexual. As a health threat, even smoking pales in comparison, as studies show smoking can shorten one’s life by only 1 to 7 years on average.

No, sorry. One News Now is telling a boldfaced lie. The study in question was actually conducted in the early 1990s. In addition, the study is indicative of why Cameron has been discredited, censured, and mocked by so many legitimate physicians, researchers, and other folks (this blogger included).

To read more of McEwen’s spot-on analysis of One News Now‘s par-for-the-course distortions, lies, and other non-Christian nonsense, head over to his blog.

Update! Professor Michael King, the author of the study that One News Now and Life Site News lied about, has weighed in at the Box Turtle Bulletin. (emphasis mine)

LifeSite News and OneNewsNow have misinterpreted our review. Evidence from around the world identifies the main stressors leading to mental distress in gay and lesbian people as discrimination, prejudice, bullying in schools and colleges, and the consequent need for many LGB people to keep their homosexual identity secret, even from their families.

Our review did not examine links between mental disorder and homosexual “behaviour” or “lifestyle”. Our work reviewed studies of the mental health of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and sadly, those studies showed that it is people (not behaviour) that are discriminated against, and not least by religious groups and organisations.

Discrimination on the grounds of sexuality is even more devastating than other forms of discrimination such as racism, as it reaches right into families and leaves no refuge for its victims.

We suggest in our review that the availability of alcohol and drugs at gay social venues may be a factor in the greater risk of drug and alcohol misuse in LGB people. Reducing this problem is something for which LGB people must take greater responsibility. However, the fact that discrimination still exists in our societies means that many are forced to use such venues to meet each other rather than through more common ways available to heterosexuals, such as at work, during the pursuit of hobbies and past-times, or at church.

There is now abundant evidence that homosexuality is not itself a mental disorder and that it is compatible with a healthy lifestyle. We shall only begin to see a reduction in mental distress and deliberate self harm in LGB people when all sectors of society welcome them as equal and valuable citizens.

There’s more over at the Box Turtle Bulletin. Click here to read on. My thanks to Dr. King for weighing in on this gross misrepresentation of his work.

On Confronting The Bigots

Since last Saturday’s post about Ray Boltz’s coming out, I’ve been busy on the intertubes. To a certain extent, I took it upon myself to go to the blogs that were, shall we say, less than congratulatory to Mr. Boltz and give some sort of counterpoint to their finger-wagging and oh-so-disappointed rhetoric.

That was a bad decision. Very bad.

It’s bad because I knew better than to think I could change their minds. I learned a long time ago that if someone is convinced that they know better than my first-hand knowledge and lifetime of experience, there’s nothing I can say to un-convince them. They won’t trust anything I say because at best they think I’m just trying to make myself feel better, and at worst they think I’m the devil. (And yes, I’ve gotten that one.)

I had typed up a list of 21 hateful, idiotic, and embarrassingly anti-Christ comments I’ve seen in the last six days, but after sleeping on it, I realized that I was still missing the point.

The point is this: I can spend my energy railing at and correcting the bigots to no benefit, or I can choose to spend it talking to the people who either aren’t sure or who need a nudge to be more vocal with their church or governmental leaders.

My goal must not be to shout anybody down, but to inform and educate the people who are still reachable. Those are the people who will help change the world, not the bigots who want only to maintain their superior position in society.

Still drives me nuts, though.

CCM Icon Leaves The Closet

Contemporary Christian Music icon Ray Boltz came out of his closet yesterday in an interview with the Washington Blade. The singer/songwriter, best known for perennial Sunday School Appreciation Day anthem Thank You For Giving To The Lord, has been out to family and friends since late 2004, but this marks the first public acknowledgment of his sexuality.

So much of Ray Boltz’s story is similar to the stories of other gay men, especially ex-ex-gays, and to a certain extent, my own. I had the same conversation with myself when I realized that this is the way God made me, and that no amount of prayer or begging or trying or wishing had made a dent in 25 years. I finally accepted that I wasn’t broken, that in fact, I would become closer to God’s intention for me by telling the truth about my homosexuality. I’m so glad Ray had the same epiphany.

From Joey DiGuglielmo’s interview:

“I really had no master plan here,” he says. “I’ve just been trying to go with the idea that you can either live your life out of love or out of fear. I could just stay here in Florida and be pretty anonymous. I could go work at Wal-Mart or something where nobody knows who I am, but to me, that’s kind of living in fear.”

Even though Boltz plans no triumphant homecoming to Christian music, there may be rough days ahead. The Contemporary Christian Music scene has traditionally held its artists to much higher standards than their pop counterparts and it’s only been those who’ve shown repentance for their perceived sins, who have been able to rebuild their careers.

Even [Metropolitan Community Churches executive director] Cindi Love anticipates tough times ahead for Boltz.

“He needs to get through this initial coming-out process and just see how that feels,” she says. “A lot of people will probably throw a bunch of stuff at his family. I pray they don’t, but I bet they will.”

[Producer Joe] Hogue, who worked with Boltz on his 1991 album “Another Child to Hold” and has helped him record a few new songs for a still-evolving possible new project, says he hopes for a day when Christians will see homosexuality as no more a perceived sin than it used to be for women to be ministers or for divorced Christians to hold leadership positions in churches.

Boltz admits to some nervousness, but says ultimately, he isn’t worried.

“This is what it really comes down to,” he says. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be – I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”

For more information on Ray Boltz’s coming out to his family, as well as what’s happened between then and now, please click through to the extremely thorough article from the Washington Blade.

Welcome out, Ray.

Maurice Sendak: Gifted. Grumpy. Gay.

In a recent interview with the New York Times shortly after his 80th birthday, Maurice Sendak had this to say:

Was there anything he had never been asked? He paused for a few moments and answered, “Well, that I’m gay.”

“I just didn’t think it was anybody’s business,” Mr. Sendak added. He lived with Eugene Glynn, a psychoanalyst, for 50 years before Dr. Glynn’s death in May 2007. He never told his parents: “All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew.”

Children protect their parents, Mr. Sendak said. It was like the time he had a heart attack at 39. His mother was dying from cancer in the hospital, and he decided to keep the news to himself, something he now regrets.

A gay artist in New York is not exactly uncommon, but Mr. Sendak said that the idea of a gay man writing children books would have hurt his career when he was in his 20s and 30s.

I’m so excited that Sendak has taken the big step (rumors had apparently been circulating for ages), but there’s sadness here as well. Sadness because he’s in mourning for his partner of 50 years, and sadness that he never felt comfortable enough to tell his parents that he was gay.

But most of all, sadness that he’s probably right about the impossibility of a gay man writing children’s books, especially in the 1940s or 50s.

Depression permeates his thoughts in this interview, and I can’t help but think back to the line Mr. Sendak penned 44 years ago in his Caldecott Medal winning Where The Wild Things Are:

And Max the king of all wild things was lonely
and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.

Linda Harvey Really Hates The Gays

An interesting press release found its way into my mailbox this morning. I’ll post the release here with my comments interspersed.

California ‘Corruption Footprint’ Not Wanted in Middle America
Contact: Linda Harvey, Mission America, 614-442-7998

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 9 /Christian Newswire/ — Traditional families, especially children, will be harmed if California forces its sexual deviance on the rest of America, says Linda Harvey of Mission America.

Harvey joins other pro-family groups later this month in San Francisco to protest and expose the Folsom Street Fair, a public street orgy which includes sado-masochism, full nudity and homosexuality. They will also discuss the urgent need to pass Proposition 8, the ballot initiative upholding traditional marriage.

First things first, the Folsom Street Fair is not a LGBT-specific event. It contains elements that are driven by the B&D and S&M communities. I’m not about to go into those things here except to say that while there is overlap amongst the communities, they are not the same. Ms. Harvey’s release acknowledged that separation, then promptly began lumping them together.

Secondly, could we stop with the pro-family nonsense? Pro-family doesn’t include the withholding of Civil Rights.

Third, a law’s traditional nature doesn’t necessarily translate into intrinsic right-ness. It just means it’s something people have been doing for a long time. Laws that prohibited women from voting were repealed ages ago, for example.

The event falls on Sunday, September 28, following “Leather Pride Week.” The alleged crowd estimate of 400,000 has no age restrictions, merely warnings about the “adult oriented nature” of activities. Last year, children were observed in the crowd where they could witness, for example, bare-bottomed men being whipped.

“There’s one big question: why?” said Harvey. “How can Mayor Newsom, city officials and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (who represents San Francisco) tolerate disturbed people publicly displaying this deviance as police stand by and do nothing to stop it?

It’s always interesting to me that people don’t get their knickers in a twist over that Festival of Hetero Hedonism we call Marti Gras. They certainly don’t release nonsense press releases about outlawing traditional marriage because they don’t like what traditional people do in New Orleans.

“California’s unsustainable sexual license is not an export we welcome in middle America,” said Harvey. “We don’t want same sex ‘marriage’ legalized, nor to have our children taught to praise homosexuality, as California children now must do after the passage of SB 777 and AB 394. And we don’t want naked people having sex in our streets.” Under the new laws, children must be taught favorable viewpoints about homosexuality and transgenderism. Other opinions are banned.

Linda just told a big lie about SB 777 and AB 394. Neither law requires anybody to “praise homosexuality”, as Linda suggests. Both laws are aimed at protecting LGBT kids from harassment by peers or teachers in California’s schools. For more information, go here for SB 777 and here for AB 394. (Both links are pdfs)

Again, nothing in either law requires anyone to “praise homosexuality”. They simply require people not to abuse LGBT kids. This is a good thing.

If Proposition 8 fails — and Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama succeed in their stated goal of repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act — all states could be forced under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution to recognize homosexual ‘marriages’ legalized by a CA court ruling in May.

Joining Mission America for the protest are Americans for Truth, American Family Association of Pennsylvania, the St. Joseph Men’s Society and other concerned groups.

James Dobson is on Linda’s side. I don’t think I need to say any more about that.

“The ‘corruption footprint’ of California is staggering,” Harvey stated. “Sadly, San Francisco is a dying city discarding its children. Its only hope is the ‘offset’ provided by the fresh air of California’s traditional, caring families. Hopefully, these families will turn this state around and spare the rest of America from the polluting effects of California’s moral decay.”

Do I really need to go into all the atrocities some traditional parents do to their kids? Do I really?

Linda, you seem to have a real problem with Civil Rights for all Americans. Your entire press release is one offensive jab after another. You should probably cut that out.

Please see Box Turtle Bulletin for more information on Mission America and founder Linda Harvey. I’m not linking to her organization, but she included her phone number on the press release, so it’s fair game. In case you missed it at the top, the phone number is 614-442-7998.

Matt Has A New Hero

I have a new hero today, a young man named William Sleaster. This happened in early September 2007, but I didn’t find out about it until today in early September 2008, which is kind of confusing to keep pointing out, so let’s throw caution to the wind and treat it like it happened today. It’ll be an adventure!

The set up: John McCain photo op/Q&A session with high school kids.
The place: Concord High School in Concord, New Hampshire.
The problem:
John McCain is a bigot who doesn’t know what LGBT means.
The other problem: The brave William Sleaster, bisexual sophomore at Concord, is at the microphone.

Let the games begin!

I’m pulling from two sources, beginning with the New York Times:

William Sleastor, 16, asked Mr. McCain what he planned to do about “L.G.B.T. rights.” When Mr. McCain looked puzzled, the student explained that the initials stand for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.”

“I had not heard that phrase before,” Mr. McCain said.

A national leader who has voted on (usually against) legislation on civil rights for LGBT people doesn’t even know what LGBT stands for? If that isn’t evidence of McCain being a bit out of touch, I don’t know what is.

Returning to the Concord exchange with CNN’s truncated transcript:

SLEASTER: Do you support civil unions or gay marriage?

MCCAIN: I do not. I do not. I think that they impinge on the status and the sanctity of marriage between man and woman.

SLEASTER: So you want to take away someone’s rights because what you believe it’s wrong?

MCCAIN: I don’t put that interpretation an my position, but I understand yours.

It could have ended there, but in a bold move, Mr. Sleaster pressed forward. Again from CNN’s interview transcript:

MCCAIN: You want to have one more? You’re doing great.

SLEASTER: I came here looking to see a good leader. I don’t.

May he never lose his chutzpah.
May he never lose his chutzpah.

Sleaster was immediately booed by other students and a teacher pulled him aside. The story was picked up by CNN and others, and some (including CNN anchor Kiran Chetry, in a disappointingly inappropriate exchange) called him disrespectful, on which I disagree. To begin with, McCain’s “You want to have one more?” line was not intended as a compliment, as Chetry claimed. It was a not-so-subtle “you annoy me, kid” delivered because Sleaster had asked several questions already.

That aside, the opinion that the federal government should withhold civil rights from a minority group should be challenged.

If anyone’s being disrespectful here, it’s John McCain. He’s disrespectful of me by claiming that my theoretical legal marriage to a man causes damage to his legal marriage to a woman. It’s disrespectful to suggest that the legal contract of marriage has any impact whatsoever on non-legal religious marriage.

So good on ya, William Sleaster. Keep fighting for what’s right. Keep holding their feet to the fire. And keep living your life without compromising your self.

Church Sign Not Punny

I’m not a big fan of church marquee signs anyway, but this one’s worse than all the horrible puns and pseudo-Christianity combined.

(It's from a song. Don't worry, I'm old too.)
(It's from a song. Don't worry, I'm old too.)

From yesterday’s Columbus Dispatch:

“It’s not something that is really a shock if you’re a scriptural person,” said the Rev. Dave Allison, pastor of the 100-member church at Havens Corners and Reynoldsburg-New Albany roads. “We meant that as a loving warning to teens. … The Scriptures tell us that you should not do what the song tells you to do. The Scriptures are not ambiguous on this issue.”

The song, which has topped the charts and become an international hit, is about a girl kissing another girl.

Allison said he has heard from people who, he said, either were not familiar with the song and didn’t understand the cultural reference, or didn’t understand the message.

Lynne Bowman, director of Equality Ohio, a gay and transgender advocacy group, said every church has a right to its beliefs. Havens Corners has made it clear to everyone who drives by that it is not a welcoming place that accepts all people, she said.

She noted that the church’s vision, stated on its Web site, is to grow in membership. “Obviously they’re making a statement as to how they don’t want to do that,” she said.

She said Equality Ohio has identified at least 300 churches in Ohio that welcome gay people looking for a church home. “That sign just tells them where they cannot go to find the love and faith in Christ,” she said.

Ms. Bowman got it exactly right. I’m glad Mr. Allison put it out there. Now I know where this minister and this congregation stand on the issue, and I know where I’m not welcome on Sunday morning.

As of this afternoon, the church’s website is down for exceeding their bandwidth limit following local and regional attention from news media and the blogosphere. (They’re back now! Hooray!)

The sign was changed yesterday due to the pressure, but the message remains.

(hat tip to Good As You, which everybody should be reading anyway)

Remembering the Closet

I’m coming up on my one year Out-iversary, and I’ve been thinking about the closet lately. Mostly mine, but also the closet of a man I used to know.

Ten years ago, I had a coworker (I’ll call him Tony). Tony was what you would call FLAMING. He was a gym bunny with blond highlights, a bad half-handlebar mustache, and a major lisp. He often wore tight jeans that showed off his pert buttocks that swished back and forth when he walked.

It’s awesome that he was so free with his appearance and whatnot, but Tony was also in the closet. Deep in the closet. As in, he even had a fake girlfriend back home.

Every couple weeks Tony would take a long weekend and drive north to see his family and his girlfriend Carla. Every time he mentioned her name, people exchanged sideways glances in disbelief.

Then in 1999, Tony died. Tony was an über-health nut, almost fanatical. Turns out there was a history of heart problems in his family that he couldn’t get away from. His death was a complete shock to everyone.

There was another surprise awaiting me at the funeral home. There with his parents and siblings sat Carla. Except it wasn’t Carla, it was Carlos. Tony had changed his boyfriend’s gender to stay in the closet at work. I was dumbstruck.

I didn’t speak to Carlos that day and of course I haven’t heard from him since. But every now and then I wonder about him. How long had they been together? How did they meet? Were they a cute couple? How did they decide on the work-closet, or was Carlos even aware of it?

While I researched the David Davis case, I ran across a blog comment that I’ve seen before. “Why do you have to tell people? Everything was fine until you started telling everybody!” Tony is the reason I know the comment is wrong. Because everything wasn’t fine. It was fine for people on the outside, but it must have been painful for Tony and Carlos to hide what I can only assume was a loving, caring, wonderful relationship.

That’s what makes me so sure that throwing our society’s closet door wide open is a good and righteous thing to do. No one should have to hide a loving relationship for fear of rejection in another, be it personal, professional, or spiritual. No one should have to hide who they are because of the very real possibility that someone might hate them.

Yet the Jimmy Dobsons of the world continue to wield their hate, and too many gays and lesbians continue to live in their closets in fear of that hate.