Thursday, December 31, 2009
Now, of course, I realize all of that was a direct result of all the internalized homophobia I was living with. If the whole world - even God himself - hated me, how could I possibly like anything about this miserable wretch that I was, who absolutely did not deserve to live?
The first pic is from oh, about January of 1973: at the height of my young Mr. Christian routine, so nice, so devout, so good. At least that's what other people said; only I knew different. My cheap little Kodak didn't take such great pics, but you can get the general impression here of how upright and uptight I was then, growing too fast for my clothes.
The haircut may not seem remarkable now, but my contemporaries will recall that in 1973, everyone else under 30 was growing their hair down to their shoulders, a la Tony Orlando, and sprouting beards and mustaches. So my very old-fashioned look stood out from the crowd very much at that time.
Then the other photos are from a trip my mom and I took to New Orleans after my grandmother's funeral in May, 1974. And here's the footnote to all I said in the last post about not ever seeing any other gay people back then: when we got to New Orleans . . . OMFG! I saw plenty of 'em then, buddies, I tell you what.
My God, there was more than you could shake a stick at, in the stores and shops, on the streets and everywhere, in front of God and everybody - and not even trying to act straight! Country boy got his eyes opened there. Now, I wish I could tell you a wonderful story right about here - about a look, a wink, a touch, a kiss - and mad passionate love under the moon and the Spanish moss in some dark, fragrant courtyard.
But hell, guys - I was there with my mom, you know? I didn't come out to her till five long years later.
Besides, as enlightening as it was, seeing all those gay guys - it was more terrifying than anything else. If anybody had made a move on me, I'd probly have run like a scalded dog, all the way home.
But here's me at 18, having a good time in the Big Easy - a nice, polite time squiring my mom around to Pat O'Brien's, the Court of Two Sisters, and Antoine's - the first of several delightful visits I've made to that lovely town.
I just wonder if any of you guys under 40 can really understand the enormous difference between 1973 and now. Back then, nobody was out - not anywhere in Texas or across the Deep South. You never saw any other gay people - not on TV, very rarely in the movies (and they were always villains, or came to a bad end), and most certainly not in daily life at school, at work, anywhere.
Once in a great while you might see someone you thought was a little "swishy," but never anyone who admitted being gay.
A very short true story from May of 1974: I was 18, en route back to Texas where my nanaw was dying. Had a layover in the Birmingham airport for a couple hours. Went in the men's room to use the john. There in one of the stalls, somebody had written a typical vulgarity (why is there rarely any grafitti in restrooms nowadays? the walls used to be covered with it, everyplace) - probably "I want to suck your dick," or something like that.
And there beneath it, very untypically, somebody else had written: I wish I knew you, or someone like you.
Man, that hit me like a shot. Somebody else is gay, somebody else feels as lonely as I do, I thought.
In a way, that was a kind of comfort or reassurance at least, knowing I wasn't the only guy in the world who felt these things. But in 1974, how could you ever hope to meet another gay man? Especially if, like your Head Trucker, you had no gaydar and no idea of "cruising." There was just no way to ever meet anyone else; you were just stuck, all alone in your gay soul.
I wish I knew you. So many times over the years, I've thought of that plaintive wish in the depths of Alabama, from the depths of someone's heart. I hope he did live to come out, make friends, have lovers, be happy and gay and free. I did too, eventually - but it was a long road ahead from that point in time, and I have to tell ya guys, it took some guts and grit to reach a better place.
And yes, it still takes some gumption and a truckload of bravado to be out in a little Texas town, even in 2009. My husband and I were effectively out where we lived, though we didn't talk about it; but the simple fact of two men living together and going and doing everything together - even the church potluck dinners - was a pretty loud advertisement. And so we pretty well "integrated" that town.
Where I am now, though, quite alone and - irony of fate - pretty well isolated again, I keep a low profile. I suppose my closest work associates have it figured out, me living alone and never any talk of a lady friend. But all that big-city activist talk aside, there's no good reason for me to "come out" here; there is simply no point making yourself a victim, when it would not serve any useful purpose.
Still, my little doings aside, the world has changed profoundly in its attitudes towards gays in these last forty years; a wonderful change. But that's just our corner of the world; our brothers and sisters in Africa, for example, are still going through what we experienced all those years ago, and worse.
So as we look forward now to a new decade and more progress on winning our full civil rights, it's good to recall how far we've come already, in less than one lifetime - and be glad, very glad. I hope before too many more years pass, that red line will be way above the black one.
And about damn time, too.
This ain't Gone With the Wind, but I'm having a helluva good time making videos. Thinking 'bout heading back to wally world and getting a real video camera, actually. We'll see; meantime, here's my first big goodie I wanted to share with you guys.
Andrew Sullivan on how the President is reshaping America, a step at the time:
[The healthcare reform bill] is the biggest single piece of social legislation in 40 years. The Congressional Budget Office predicts it will indeed insure 30m people.What I Say: No matter how disappointed we may be with Obama for one reason or another, just remember those eight long, long, looooooong dark years of Bush, fellas - and then smile, why don't you.
And this is only the end of year one. In the stimulus package in the spring, Obama invested an unprecedented amount of federal money in infrastructure, with an unsung focus on non-carbon energy sources. He engineered a vast and nerve-racking banking rescue that is now under-budget by $200 billion because so many banks survived. He organised the restructuring of the US car industry. He appointed Sonia Sotomayor, a Latina Supreme Court justice, solidifying his non-white political base. If market confidence is one reason we appear to have avoided a second Great Depression, then the president deserves a modicum of credit for conjuring it. Growth is edging back into the picture. . . .
The disillusioned are those who weren’t listening in the campaign or not watching closely in the first year. The right has failed to register his steeliness and persistence and the left has preferred to ignore his temperamental and institutional conservatism. Both sides still misread him — hence the spluttering gloom. And there is indeed something dispiriting about the relentless prose of government compared with the poetry of the campaign. But Obama is a curious blend of both: a relentless pragmatist and a soaring rhetorician.
In time, if the economy recovers, if black, young and Hispanic voters see the benefits of their new healthcare security, if troops begin to come home from Iraq in large numbers next summer, if jobs begin to return by the autumn, then the logic of his election will endure. His care to keep the tone civil, to insist on impure change rather than ideological stasis has already turned the Republicans into foam-flecked nostalgics for a simpler, whiter, easier period and has flummoxed those leftliberals who wanted revenge as much as reform. Both are part of an embittered past that Obama wants to leave behind. His clarity on this, and his refusal to take the bait of divisiveness and partisanship, is striking. That takes an enormous amount of self-confidence and self-restraint.
He has failed in one respect: the political culture is still deeply partisan, opportunistic and divided. But this, I believe, is not so much a function of his liberal pragmatism as it is a remnant of an American right in drastic need of new intellectual life and rhetorical restraint. In this respect, Obama has made the right crazier, which may be a necessary prelude to it becoming saner.
It’s worth remembering that America is a vast and cumbersome machine, designed to resist deep change. That this one man has moved the country a few key, structural degrees in one year, and that the direction is as clear and as strategic as that first embraced by Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (in the opposite direction), is under-appreciated. But the shift is real and more dramatic than current events might indicate. I wouldn’t bet on its evanescence quite yet.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Here's Toby Keith singing about that blue moon kind of love, that only comes around once in a long, long time.
P.S. - Here's what the "blue moon" looks like from my kitchen window:
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
When Santa Claus forgets those special items on your list, what's an old shitkicker to do?
Go a little crazy at Wally World, a-course.
Watch part II and submit your guess to win a special prize from Russ . . .
PS - Reckon I do need a good dialogue writer, for a fact. Any you fellas want to apply for the job? Hell, I promise not to say "ain't that purty" again till, oh, at least next year.
BTW, anybody needs a written translation from Texan to English, no problem, just sent a stamped, self-addressed envelope to your Head Trucker. For quicker response, include pictures.
Monday, December 28, 2009
- film cameras
- fax machines
The Yellow Pages is still very handy here in a small town. And once in a while I buy a CD, but I'm getting around to buying music online. Have to tell you, it's an odd feeling when I think about it - owning a song but no physical disc that it belongs to. Strange.
This thought comes from a man who still has about 200 LP's sitting in boxes. All that great music - I can't just throw it away, even if I don't have a record player to play them on.
And I'm not even going to tell you about my 8-track collection. . . .
The Washington, D.C., Metro Weekly, an LGBT paper, reports this December 12 post from Full Equality Now's website:
The bus is a particularly painful place for these advertisements to be located, as they cannot be avoided. Because of these advertisements, countless LGBT citizens are forced to stare down discrimination as they board the bus to go somewhere or are even passed by an advertisement on the street. The irony is that public buses were the birthplace of another struggle for equality under law not too long ago. For LGBT citizens to have to experience discriminatory messages as they go about their daily life is unacceptable and must be stopped. For this reason, we demand that WMATA remove all advertisements posted by Stand for Marriage DC as soon as is possible.What I Say: Oh fuck you, Miss Mary. What a whining, sniveling complaint - just like the Princess and the Pea. This is a democracy, not a gay Disneyland; every political ad in the whole freaking world is "offensive" to somebody - grow up and deal with it, honey. And buy a case of Kleenex, if you're that pitiful and sensitive; you'll need a lot of them in this cruel world.
Your Head Trucker is seconded by the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance - who express themselves more politely:
As supporters of civil marriage equality, we also embrace the principle of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which makes our own advocacy possible. Indeed, the then-named Gay Activists Alliance thirty years ago won a court battle against WMATA for the right to place educational posters in Metro buses with the message, 'Someone In Your Life Is Gay.' WMATA is a quasi-governmental body and is thus subject to the First Amendment. We, the undersigned, therefore urge you to reject the misguided censorship advocated by Full Equality Now DC.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
No matter what comes or goes in life, never stop believing in your power to love.
The world may condemn or dismiss it, ridicule or hate it. But you know - you know in the depth of your soul that it is true and good and real. And no one can take that conviction away from you.
Stumbling down the long, dusty road of life, with more than a few wrong turns and dead ends, I can tell you this, boys: the times I've connected with another man completely - physically, yes, but also mentally and emotionally - have been the very best moments of all. Those are the moments when I have known what joy and beauty are; the times when I have felt most alive, and most worthy to be alive. And glad - so very, very glad.
I'm thinking right now of some few men I've embraced and cherished to the root of my being - even if only for an hour, their memory shines still, here in my heart. There haven't been near as many of those moments as I would have liked. Now at this late age, who knows if there will be any more.
But I have had what I have had, and I'm grateful. I had the Great Romance. And then, another time, I had the Great Marriage. Some folks never have either.
So I can't complain. I just have to thank the Lord for all I have known of love, wherever and whenever it was found. And for all the loves He has loved me with.
For God is Love. The Word made flesh.
And we are his eyes and ears, His hands and feet.
National Geographic via Andrew Sullivan, who remarks:
If anyone can look at this and not see a simply insane way to distribute health care, a system so inefficient no socialist country could ever replicate it, then they have stronger rationalization skills than I possess.A further thought. Notice the chart includes "all public and private spending on care . . . [including] hospital infrastructure." Hmm. Well I would like to see the figures without that last bit included. Because hospital construction in this country is no doubt a lot more expensive than in some other countries: just stop and think about the real estate values in urban areas of the U.S., for one thing. So that distorts what we are really interested in, the amount people and insurers and government pay for health services and supplies, you know?
Americans are being ripped off. The current reform will only move this line marginally, but it will begin that vital process - because it will almost certainly improve the health outcomes of the 30 million or so people who will soon have access for the first time to insurance. And its cost-control measures, pushing back ever so slightly against fee-for service medicine at a time of limitless healthcare potential, might help too.
What this this graph does do is show why the current system, while providing excellent care for many, nonetheless does so at crippling expense to everyone. Without the kind of reform Obama has initiated, there's no way this will get better. We should think of this health insurance reform as the beginning, not the end, of some public policy sanity. And conservatives would do better to help add more cost-controls than run around screaming socialism when the current system has failed so dramatically in any collective or economic sense.
The situation over there is complex, and I'm not in a state of mind to keep up with all that here in the Blue Truck, though my sympathies are entirely on the side of the people fighting against a corrupt, brutal, theocratic dictatorship. As much as I've blogged in the last week or two about my personal religious convictions, that's a matter for inward contemplation. As history has amply shown, it just doesn't work well in the long run to try to impose a religious ideology on the workings of government. Government should be entirely secular: of, by, and for the people, with equal justice under law. Putting religion into the mix results in inequality and oppression, sooner or later.
The significance of this day, Ashura, the day Khomeini regarded as the turning point against the Shah, cannot be under-estimated. Its symbolic power in Shia Islam, its themes of resistance to tyranny to the last drop of blood, its fusion of religious mourning and political revolt: this makes it lethal to the fascist thugs who dropped any pretense of ruling by even tacit consent last June.
We cannot know yet, but this might be it: the pivot on which our collective future hangs.
I refer my Truckbuddies to the New York Times news blog, The Lede, for continuing updates on events, as well as Andrew Sullivan, who as he did last summer is live-blogging the historic developments around the clock, with the help of his small staff. Both provide links to many other blogs and sites that are receiving updates out of Iran minute by minute.
Also of note: today the White House, in contrast to the cautious statements made by the President in June, has issued a blunt condemnation:
"We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights," National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement. "Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States. Governing through fear and violence is never just, and as President Obama said in Oslo -- it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation."However, your Head Trucker is a little mystified over Mr. Hammer's wording: "universal rights"? Is that the Next Big Thing? All my life, people have been talking about civil rights and human rights - what's with this new lingo - or was he just in a hurry, and thinking of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights? The adjective applies, however, to the declaration, not the rights. Am I the only one who pays attention to sloppy thinking like this?
Anyway - the very interesting thing here is the seismic change this country boy is seeing in the way news is gathered, transmitted, and recorded. When I was a kid, there were only three TV channels: ABC, CBS, and NBC. I was in high school before anyone ever heard of PBS. There was the news on local radio stations, which was usually tied in with a major radio network; and the local newspaper. That was it. There was no USA Today, and the only place you could read the New York Times was in the public library - and of course, nobody bothered to go do that.
Now all of a sudden the bloggers - with the help of thousands of people with cell phones and digital cameras - are taking the lead in news reporting, with or without formal credentials in journalism. And even Facebook and Twitter - which I only heard about last year, and thought was too silly to last - are turning out to be extremely valuable sources and conduits for information. The revolution in Iran simply highlights the enormous worldwide revolution in communication that's taken place in the past decade.
Even more shocking - and your Head Trucker doesn't get satellite TV, so I wouldn't know from watching, myself - it seems the big networks today are NOT covering events in Iran. I'm flabbergasted; how can this be - and why the hell not? What's wrong with this picture? It seems just not very long ago I and the rest of the country were watching enthralled as the major news networks showed live coverage of the Berlin Wall's overthrow, the protests in Tiananmen Square, and so forth. So what gives here?
As Sullivan says: "If you want actual news, don't switch cable on. Go to the blogs." The times, they are certainly a-changing.
P.S. - Do keep American soldier Bowe Bergdahl in your thoughts and prayers; he's being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan and was made to participate in a propaganda film, in which he says he's being well treated. Sullivan:
If and when he is released or rescued, we will know the full story. But it stings deeply to realize that the Taliban can now preen as morally superior in their treatment of prisoners than the US under Bush and Cheney - and have a smidgen of a point.
Until his rescue, please pray for him and his family - and for all the servicemembers out there today, risking their lives for us, and for all those military families who spent this Christmas with someone missing, and in harm's way.
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names.
The LORD lifts up the lowly, but casts the wicked to the ground.
He is not impressed by the might of a horse;
he has no pleasure in the strength of a man;
But the LORD has pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who await his gracious favor.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.
From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.
Somewhere in a winter night
The angels begin their flight;
Dark skies with miles to go,
No footsteps to be lost in snow.
They fly to you, O new-born king
They fly to you, oh angels sing
One is sorrow, one is peace
One will come to give you sleep
One is comfort, one is grief
One will take the tears you weep
New star in a midnight sky
In heaven all the angels fly
Soft wings so true and all things
They will give to you
Somewhere in a winter night
The angels begin their flight
Tonight all sing
Oh angels, a new-born king
Saturday, December 26, 2009
2. What makes my blog interesting? The pics, writing, or something else? Anything you would like to suggest?
Speaking only for myself, your blog is lighthearted and
3. Are bad people born or created? Do they know they are bad?
Answer 3A: Both. All human beings are a mixture of good and bad, we’re born that way: the human condition. Badness, when you boil it down to essentials, is selfishness (theologians call it Pride); every baby and toddler is extremely selfish, the center of the universe – he thinks. If you have good home training, you learn to think of others. The degree of badness in a grown-up increases, the more selfish you are.
Answer 3B: The badder you are, the gooder you think you are. The great saints are all very aware of their limitations, and admit them; evil people have no limits. Just like a baby, who will keep you awake all night just because he can.
4. How do you tell if someone is just being nice or friendly or really interested in you? Are there signs to watch for? Is it possible to move from friendship to romance and how?
When his hand is on your crotch, that’s a super good sign, Dave. Unless he’s just horny. The rest of your questions on this one – who the hell knows, it’s all a crap shoot, son. Go with the flow and deal with it. And don’t set your heart on anything until he puts a wedding ring on your finger. Up to that point, it’s all just talk and hormones and wishful thinking. Come on, you’ve done the same, admit it. We all have. It's only human.
5. Why is everything that is yummy and tasty, filled with so many calories?
Because among all His many other attributes, God is a great practical joker. And besides – “thin people are crunchy and dull, like carrots.” (Suzanne Britt)
Got questions of your own? Write to Dear Russ, care of this blog. For quicker response, include pictures.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Not me, buddy. I'm happy to be an obscure peckerwood. But I think you have to hand it to the old girl for endurance and fortitude: she's been criticized a lot in recent years on family matters, but as far as her job goes, she's really not ever put a foot wrong, that I can tell from what I've read. And I think she's been an influence for tolerance, good sense, and peace around the world.
In Britain, the Queen's Broadcast is a Christmas Day tradition. Here's the Queen's first televised broadcast from 1957; compare with today's and see how far technology and Her Majesty have come in fifty-two years.
I threw in a favorite tune of mine by George Strait to let you hear how it feels today in Texas: a happy, down-home day.
As far as the cinematography goes - okay, okay, so Spielberg has nothing to worry about, right . . . but hey, it's my Christmas and I'm just enjoying the hell out of it here - even without a turkey on the table and a big crowd around.
Are you enjoying yours half as much as I am? Hope so.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Hell, I wasn't gonna play this tune, but what else can I do now? Grin.
P.S. - It weren't no real blizzard, all the snow stopped by 9 o'clock or so; we got about 2-3 inches here, that's all. Them old boys up at the Weather Bureau was just joshin', they like to mess with people's heads that way ever once in a while.
Update. 4:30 p.m. Still snowing. The poor doves and a pair of cardinals crowd the feeder tray:
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
What the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community has learned this year is that the president is ultimately a pragmatist. Although his very presence in the White House is the stuff of culture wars, Obama himself is reluctant to wade into one. Moreover, if socially divisive policies have the potential to compromise his legislative agenda, Obama has proven that he simply won’t pursue them. Expect this tension to become more acute as the 2010 elections loom—and for gay rights to be shunted aside again. The last thing this pragmatist president will do is hand election-year ammunition to an already energized conservative base that’s venomously opposed to gay marriage.
Which is probly just as well; seeing all that ballet stuff might have turned me queer or something, ya know? Which is what some ignoramuses out here on the prairie - mostly men - still think could happen to their sons down to this day.
Anyway, a couple of faves here for all you fairy lovers out there. Enjoy. And try not to get no perverted thoughts about penises and lower intestines while you listen, okay? Mind your daddy, now.
From Fantasia, 1940:
What I Say: Sigh. Don't take anything in this chart as gospel truth, guys. That high-level economics and accounting is infinitely convoluted, who knows what the real fall-out will be when and if all this gets enacted and trickled down to us peons.
What I do know is that the vast majority of people in this country cannot afford to pay $10,133 a year for health insurance, if that's what's required by law. There is no fucking way. That's nearly $850 a month! Who the hell thinks this shit up? That might be what some fine folks on the East Coast making over 100K a year could pay, but I can tell you for a certain fact that the single mom down the street raising two kids on 30K a year or less - and millions and millions of other people, single or married, with or without kids - flat cannot pay that kind of money.
Anybody wants to encourage the shitheads who are drooling at the mouth to start Civil War II, well you just keep on with stupid stuff like this.
Where I work, an employee with a spouse and kids gets Blue Cross for about $350 a month, I believe. Which is a big chunk of money, more than it ought to be; but people manage to pay it somehow. I lucked out - because I'm single, I don't have to pay out of pocket, the employer covers it, which I think is worth about $150 a month.
Still, your Head Trucker has to shake his head at these ridiculous figures coming out of Washington. I say the only fair and responsible way to do it - not that anybody will listen to me - is to impose a flat healthcare tax of 5 percent on Adjusted Gross Income for everybody* making between $20K and $100K a year; zero if you make less, double that if you make more, triple if you're a millionaire. And then you get all your healthcare free.
Which, according to my reading, is basically how it works in France and some other places. You might have to pay ten bucks for a doctor visit, and fifty for an ER visit, something like that, but otherwise except for some nominal charges here and there, it's all free. Which gives the government a great incentive to keep everybody employed AND to keep healthcare costs down.
That includes drug costs. If Wal-Mart can give out generic prescription drugs for 4 bucks a pop, the government can too. It's a sin to be making a profit out of people's illness. Do y'all agree with me on that?
- 82,611,000 make less than $20K a year.
- 116,006,000 make between $20K and $100K a year.
- 13,215,000 make more than $100K a year.
- Median income of the 155 million persons over the age of 15 who worked with earnings in 2005 was $28,567
- Of those individuals older than 25 with income, over 42% have incomes below $25,000.
- Median personal income for the population 25 and older is $32,140.
- Median household income for the whole country is $46,326.
- 92.5 percent of all households (some have more than one employed member) have a total income of < $92,000.