C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jack O'Lantern

The other night, the ex-roommate and I had our monthly supper:  this time, he stirred up some scrumptious beef stew, and of course being Cajun, he started with a roux, the way all good dishes begin.  My contribution was to make the cornbread - which wasn't much work, coming straight out of the Jiffy box.  But the two things together were just larruppin' good, boys.  I tell you what.

Later, after much good talk and good wine, we had fresh pumpkin pie for dessert.  The ex-r scooped out a great big pumpkin as usual, and being an artist made another lovely jack o'lantern, which he is rather good at.  Here's this year's Jack:

Which has gotten to be a little tradition between us.  And so a good time was had by all, and I came home with a quart jar of stew that I'm still working on, very happily.

And to make another tradition for this blog, here's something I wrote for the first Jack, reprinted from the original post in 2008:

Jack O'Lantern

What was it like, growing fat and lopsided, a homely thing
there in the warm, dark earth, leaved over and hardly noticed?

Only a pumpkin, you said to yourself, and sighed,
earthbound, tethered by a restraining vine,
wistfully admiring the tall apple trees,
the high, bright cherry boughs
dancing in the sky,
the glinting fruits and nimble berries,
all so sought-after, all so prized.

But you knew your fate
was never to be loved like that,
never praised and petted,
tenderly handled, highly graded,
stamped with approval,
waxed and polished to a shine,
wrapped in tissue paper,
carried home in exultation,
exclaimed over and delighted in,
savored in merriment, enjoyed in laughter.

You knew you were too heavy, too big, too dull, too low:
At best, to end up part of a pie, half baked or overdone,
the afterthought of a glorious meal, waiting lonely and
untouched at the end of a groaning board.

A humble end, a small purpose.
Not much to speak of.
And so you grew, silent,
Waiting for the knife
To end the wait.
Quiet. Still.
Expecting not.

And yet one day, against all hope,
when pumpkin time was nearly at an end
and you had grown beyond your ripeness,
The hand of the Artist picked you up,
set you high, and with the tenderest knife
in all creation gave you, finally,
a face,
a lovely one,
oh surpassing lovely.
Made you smile, at last,
as you never believed you could.

For once,
Your lowly pumpkin heart
thumped a bright rhythm of joy:
Touched, healed, redeemed,
perfected there at the last,
so unexpected, against all hope.

And that smile lit up the night,
banished darkness, engendered joy.
Delight beamed from you, filled with light;
and delight and exultation glowed back upon you.

For that one lovely, shining moment you were born
and grew and ripened, all unknown, unknowing,
all unaware.

And now your light is spent, your smile
drooping, sagging, melting in decay.
But you return to earth happy,
oh so very very happy:

"I lived and I was loved,
I had a purpose after all,
I gave delight.
I did not sprout in vain,
I had a face, I had a name—

I was Jack o'Lantern."

poem and photo copyright 2008 by Russ Manley
artwork by the Moon King

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Highlights from yesterday's gathering on the National Mall in Washington, hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Signs seen at the rally:

BTW, Your Head Trucker's favorite, which I saw on some site yesterday but can't find again, looked something like this:




Some interviews among the crowd:

Jon Stewart's closing speech:

Georgia Megachurch Pastor Comes Out

Queerty reports on the story of Bishop Jim Swilley in Conyers, Georgia, part of the Atlanta metro area:
Swilley, who created the Church In The Now some 25 years ago, is a divorced father of four. But he's known he's gay since he was a boy, says the Rockdale County man of the cloth, and even his wife Debye — whom he divorced earlier this year — knew when they got married (!). The couple kept it a secret for more than two decades, but Jim says Debye recently pushed him to share his story.

The pastor made the announcement to his congregation two weeks ago (yes, it takes time for some stories to trickle), with his family in the audience and decided to come out now after witnessing the rash of gay youths killing themselves. One Internet forum poster says that unlike Atlanta's Long (whom Swilley won't speak about), Swilley has not used the pulpit to denigrate gays: "For those of you familiar with Church In the Now, while never discussing his own sexuality, you know that Swilley has always preached a message of inclusion, love and abundance for all God's children. Bishop Swilley has been asked to step down as Bishop, but will remain as Pastor." (That last part we haven't confirmed.)
Swilley's Blog in the Now is here. The church's website, here.  Report by Atlanta's WSB-TV here:
So Swilley came out to his kids and his congregation. He said he knew he might risk everything, but the recent rash of gay teen suicides pushed him over the edge.  "As a father, thinking about your 16, 17 year old killing themselves. I thought somebody needed to say something," Swilley said through tears. . . .

“I know all the hateful stuff that’s being written about me online, whatever,” Swilley said. “To think about saving a teenager, yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that.”
In this lengthy but moving video, Swilley very honestly discusses his sexuality with his congregation, and his ex-wife and others also speak; the talk gets personal beginning around the 8:00 mark.

Sunday Drive: Firework

Kate Perry has dedicated her newest video to the It Gets Better Project.  It's not exactly your Head Trucker's style, but there's a beautiful message here in the words and images that I think my truckbuddies will all appreciate:

 (best viewed in full screen)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dr. Phil Slams McCance's Apology

What I Say:  My stars, I have lived to see the day that one old straight boy slams another one for being homophobic, and in no uncertain terms. Kinda hard for your Head Trucker to get his mind around that.

But while I think Dr. Phil's observations are pretty much true, as I said yesterday, it takes time for a big, hard lesson to sink in - for you and for me, as well as for any ignorant redneck.

My religion teaches me that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Yes, McCance did a truly wicked thing, and has had his nose rubbed into it really hard.  Now let the better angels of his nature go to work.

Give him some time to process it. That's what you and I would need, too - you know you would.

Who knows - down the road, he just might turn out to be a wonderful, outspoken advocate for gay youth.

If Fox News and the Christianists don't turn him into another Joe the Plumber with a truckload of cash first. But we'll see. Give it time.

It Gets Better: This Week's Faves

Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, father of six, grandfather of four:

Rabbi David Bauer in his thoughtful message says God loves you for being queer, and your sexuality is a blessing:

First Lady Michelle Obama discusses the problem of bullying with Ellen, beginning about the 7:15 mark:

Staff at the Democratic National Committee share their stories:

Google employees spread the message:

Facebook employees tell their experiences:

Drag entertainer Craig in Calgary, Alberta, tells how he survived boarding-school hell, and has heard apologies from some of the bullies:

Summer says after she left Louisiana and her Southern Baptist family, she found the peace, acceptance, and love she needed:

Randy and Cosmo say things got exponentially better after they got away from the bullies and Bible-thumpers:

Some of our wise gay elders share their refreshing point of view:

And I think everybody would love to adopt Harry and Wayne as their gay grandpas:

The cast and crew of the Jersey Boys national tour speak out:

And to end this post on a beautiful note, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles shows their True Colors :

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fear and Loathing in East Texas, Cont'd

Kudos to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) for prodding NBC affiliate KETK in Tyler, Texas, to apologize for their outrageous simulcast Wednesday with sister station KTBB, asking whether "gays will be the downfall of America."

Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God. uploaded the original clip to YouTube, but KETB has had it removed, ostensibly as a "copyright violation."  Nevertheless, you can still see the smear piece over at the Courage Campaign's site here - where you can also sign a petition to ask NBC Universal to end its corporate relationship with KETK, if you like.

The apology - and I leave it up to my truckbuddies to say whether it's a half-ass one or not - by KETK general manager Dave Tillery is here on their own site or here on GLAAD's.  In writing it goes like this:
This past Wednesday, our radio partner – KTBB – presented a Talkback question regarding homosexuality. That question was also simulcast during our morning news broadcast. Many of our viewers and their listeners found the wording of that question to be offensive. We understand and respect their comments. We have discussed these comments with KTBB and agree that the question was poorly worded. For that, they have apologized. And since the question also appeared on our air, we are sorry for any offense that was taken.

Clint McCance Apologizes, Admits Ignorance, Plans Resignation

A great big bouquet of props to Anderson Cooper who last night not only held McCance's feet to the fire, but roasted him up one side and down the other, not letting him off lightly.  GOOD WORK, I say; a mindless, arrogant bully like McCance ought to be made to feel, at least once in his life, what it is like to be publicly humiliated and beaten up - metaphorically, if no other way. 

Like the old joke about the farmer who hit his stubborn mule over the head with a two by four, it takes a really big knock to get the attention of someone like this, and McCance has gotten it right in the face:

Part II includes a moving interview with David and Amy Truong, the parents of Asher Brown:

Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times has a further report on the story here, including this statement from HRC president Joe Solmonese:
Clint McCance's decision to resign from the school board is a step forward for the community he represents. We are hopeful the wounds that were inflicted will soon be healed.  What remains troubling is that Mr. McCance focused his regret on particular word choices not the animus behind those words. We hope he will take this time to reflect not only on the language he used but on what he can do to make the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people better.

What I Say:  We should not expect anyone to be completely healed and changed overnight; you know from your own experience, guys, that big lessons take time to sink in.

But it's a wonderful thing that McCance has been befriended by the father of a child lost to suicide. This is a learning moment for McCance, steeped so deeply in the dark, unreasoning, unreflecting prejudices of his culture. We should all pray, or at least earnestly wish, that he will by steps and degrees continue the journey he has now begun, unwillingly, towards light and knowledge and repentance, and thereby convert many like him.

That, on our part is the truly civilized, humane response; it is also the truly Christian and Jewish one:
As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live. -- Ezekiel 33:11.
Believer or atheist, repentance and forgiveness are what it's all about, fellas. Otherwise, human society is no more than a collection of wild beasts endlessly tearing at and devouring one another.

Think about it.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Halloween Edition

Steve Hayes opens the movie crypt and unearths two classic spine-tinglers for us this week:
Halloween shakes and shudders settle in as TOQ salutes two Universal horror classics; Todd Browning's DRACULA, starring Bela Lugosi and George Waggner's THE WOLF MAN, starring Lon Chaney Jr.

Lugosi had played the vampire on Broadway, where he was considered a matinee idol because of his on stage sex appeal as the evil count. Although he played everything in horror movies from a hunchback to the Frankenstein monster, it was Dracula that influenced and stunted Lugosi's career.

The yak hair for Cheney's werewolf make-up took six hours to apply and itched him constantly. Chaney came from a background of horror. His father was the legendary Silent Screen star Lon Chaney. Though he'd made a huge impression as Lenny in the film version of John Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN (1939), once Lon Jr. played a werewolf, there was no turning back.

Both films feature terrific supporting casts; Everett Van Sloan as Dr. Van Helsing, Dwight Frye as the maniacal Renfield in DRACULA , and in THE WOLF MAN, Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Evelyn Ankers, the best screamer in horror movies and the great Maria Ouspenskaya as the gypsy fortune teller who knows too well the werewolf's fate. So carve a pumpkin, grab a crucifix and curl up with a warm monster . . . of some sort.

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It Gets Better: Oral Roberts' Gay Grandson

Randy has also written an article about growing up in Tulsa with his evangelical family: "Something Good Is Going to Happen to You."

And here's a clip of Oral talking about homosex, from a post I made last year, which should tell you all you need to know about Ronnie's and Randy's struggles as gay teens and men in that family:

Joel Burns, Anderson Cooper slam Arkansas Bully Clint McCance

Clint McCance and his buttboy friend

Last night, Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns responded to Clint McCance's abominable "I-wish-all-the-fags-would-die" rant:
Hate and violence born of ignorance must not be allowed to harm the youth of Midland, Arkansas or anywhere in America. Two weeks ago I shared at our Fort Worth City Council meeting that the words and attitudes expressed by those like Midland School Trustee Clint McCance result in misery and even death for America’s youth. At that council meeting and in the days since, I have asked people in communities across the nation to take responsibility and stand up to these hateful bullies. I encourage adults to tell our children they are whole, perfect, and complete. And I try to remind those bullied youth that things will get better and that they will make a lifetime of happy memories. I can assure you that changing the course of just one potentially lost life is worth our standing up to the bullies like Clint McCance. Trustee McCance is a failure as a responsible adult, an embarrassment to the good citizens of Midland, and he has betrayed his community’s trust.
Also last night, Anderson Cooper aired a sharply critical report about McCance, including an interview with Anthony Turner, the local resident who first brought McCance's remarks to the notice of the media:

In other developments, the Arkansas Times reports that the Midland School Board - most of whose members are avoiding the press - has disassociated itself from McCance's remarks; and the head of the Arkansas Department of Education has strongly condemned the statements, suggesting that McCance resign from the school board.

Also, a gay and lesbian group in Little Rock plans to protest at the Midland School District this morning.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fear and Loathing in East Texas - and Elsewhere

Just to show you that the next post about the Arkansas Asshole, Clint McCance, is not unusual at all in these parts, here's proof.  The NBC affilliate in Tyler, Texas - about a hundred miles southeast of Dallas - asked its viewers today, "Will the gays destroy America?"

The listener comments start at the 2:40 mark.  And no, the voices you hear are not from Central Casting - trust me, they're real, and that's what I'm surrounded by down here, guys.  My own people, my fellow Texans and Southerners - I'm ashamed to say.

Although there are, surprisingly, some supportive voices too.  I'm surprised the station included them.

Honk to Joe.My.God.

And in this context, it's fitting to note that by curious coincidence, today is the anniversary of Allen Schindler's stomping death at the hands of fellow U. S. Navy sailors in 1992:
Airman Apprentice Terry M. Helvey, who was a member of the ship's weather department (OA Division, Operations Department), stomped Schindler to death in a toilet in a park in Sasebo, Nagasaki. He was left lying on the bathroom floor until the Shore Patrol and the key witness to the incident carried out Schindler's body to the nearby Albuquerque Bridge. Schindler had "at least four fatal injuries to the head, chest, and abdomen," his head was crushed, ribs broken, and his penis cut, and he had "sneaker-tread marks stamped on his forehead and chest" destroying "every organ in his body" leaving behind a "nearly-unrecognizable corpse" that was only identifiable by the tattoo on his arm.

Any mother's son from Mari Fagel on Vimeo.

Don't think it can't happen here.  Don't think it can't happen to you, fucker.  It can, very easily.  Especially if the Tea Party comes to power.  They're already starting to stomp on people's heads.

I'm doing early voting tomorrow.  The Republicans will as usual win nearabouts every office, but by God I'm not going to just hand it all to them for free.

You are planning to vote in this election - aren't you?

Twisting the Knife: School Board Member Gloats over "Fag" Suicides

This big-mouthed motherfucker - the one on the left, I mean - is Clint McCance, a sitting member of the Midland School Board in Pleasant Plains, Arkansas (about 80 miles northeast of Little Rock).

He left these evil comments on his Facebook page last week:
Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.

No because being a fag doesn’t give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. It you get easily offended by being caleld a fag then don’t tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I don’t care how people decide to live their lives. They don’t bother me if they keep it thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make special purple fag day for them. I like that fags can’t procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other AIDS and die. If you aren’t against it, you might as well be for it.

I would disown my kids if they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infect everyone.
Human Rights Campaign has posted a PDF of the Facebook page here.   HRC's Joe Solmonese says:
Clint McCance has put a face on the hate that devastates our young people. McCance and his hate shouldn’t be allowed near children, let alone managing their education. We call for his immediate resignation from the school board.
A Facebook page called "Fire Clint McCance" has been set up here.

Queerty has published the name of the bigot's business and says:
Without question, this man must lose his board seat. It is not a matter of his First Amendment rights. Let this guy spew all the bile he wants on his own free time (and Facebook page). It is the matter of what's in the best interest of children — and it is certainly not a man who thinks gay youth should kill themselves. This man just wrote himself into history as a human stain.
The Advocate reports:
It's not clear if McCance has taken down the thread, since his Facebook page is private — the messages were made available to The Advocate via a forwarded screen capture. The superintendent of the Midland school district was unavailable and a phone call to the principal of the Midland High School was not returned. There was no response to e-mails to the superintendent and to the secretary of the Midland school board.
Joe Jervis says:
It looks like the Midland School District has wiped the names of its board members from its website, but Midland Superintendent Dean Stanley can be reached at dstanley@midlandschools.org. Be polite, yet forceful.

What I Say:  Oh no.  We are not going to take this lying down.  It's 2010 and it's a new day, boys - we are not going to let an elected official get away with this filthy talk and still keep his job.  In backwoods Arkansas or anywhere else.  Oh no.

Oh hell no.

Update:  Wayne Besen over at Truth Wins Out has dug up this very revealing photo of Clint - apparently posted by Clint himself at this site - presented as a public service by your Head Trucker:

Clint is the one with his, um, finger poking through his pants.


Update 2:  Max Brantley, editor of the Arkansas Times, is interviewed by openly gay newsman Thomas Roberts of MSNBC:

Read Brantley's report of his conversation with McCance here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Today's Quote: C. S. Lewis

Birds10/021202 -- Savannah Sparrow

From Mere Christianity, Book 3, Chapter 4:
One man may be so placed that his anger sheds the blood of thousands, and another so placed that however angry he gets he will only be laughed at.  But the little mark on the soul may be much the same in both.  Each has done something to himself which, unless he repents, will make it harder for him to keep out of the rage next time he is tempted, and will make the rage worse when he does fall into it.  Each of them, if he seriously turns to God, can have that twist in the central man straightened out again:  each is, in the long run, doomed if he will not.  The bigness or smallness of the thing, seen from the outside, is not what really matters.

It Gets Better: A Message to Those Who Love Me

As Bishop Robinson wrote last week:

Silence = Death.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

No More Debate: John Shelby Spong

A manifesto by the retired Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Newark, John Shelby Spong, a longtime advocate for LGBT people:
I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.
Continued after the jump . . .

"I Came Out First to God"

Andrew Sullivan on faith, honesty, and grace:

Part of a longer interview at Big Think on blogging, politics, religion, and gayness - worth watching in its entirety.

Sunday Drive: Chris Salvatore

Never heard of this young'un before, but man, what a beautiful message in this song. Sings good too, he ought to put this on a 45, carry it around to some radio stations, might get a career going that way, ya know?

Think he might even turn out to be kinda hot, once he's able to grow a real beard.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

It Gets Better: You Are Beautiful

Father Wallace Adams Riley, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia:  "God made you the way you are, to be who you are. And you are beautiful." 

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi: "Diversity is an American strength."

And the Turtle Creek Chorale, which is effectively the Dallas Gay Men's Chorus - only it ain't polite to say so out loud, down here in these parts.  What would all the rich old blue-haired church ladies think?

When Did You Choose to Be Straight?

A search for the answer to this burning question through sidewalk interviews with residents of Colorado Springs:

Honk to Ray's Cowboy

Compare with this brilliant analysis of the reasons for criminalizing gayness:

Any questions, class?

Florida's Anti-gay Adoption Law is Dead

The Florida law forbidding homosexuals in that state to adopt children, adopted in the wake of Anita Bryant's infamous anti-gay campaign in 1977, was overturned last month by a state appeals court. Governor Charlie Crist suspended enforcement of the law, and the Department of Children and Families declined to appeal. But Attorney General Bill McCollum had the right to file an appeal within thirty days of the ruling; yesterday, he issued a written statement saying he would not do so, marking the end of this bullshit law.

Suck it, Anita.

Mike Thomas, writing in the Orlando Sentinel, details the story of foster parents Mike Gill and his partner from the moment two sick, dirty, extremely neglected kids were thrust into their hands by the State of Florida at Christmas, 2004. Will break your heart and make you furious, but it's good reading.

Video report on the family from the ACLU:

In The Life Media gives further background on the political history of Florida's homophobic adoption ban from Anita Bryant's campaign up till now. Part I:

Part II:

Dan Savage goes straight to the heart of the matter with a brilliant explanation of the truth about gay adoption:

What I say:  Your Head Trucker thinks Florida has come a long way just in my lifetime. Here's a clip of a police officer from the Miami vice squad threatening to make life "a living hell" for an auditorium full of middle-school kids in 1966 - and your Head Trucker was exactly that age at the time. Thank God I never was subjected to a speech like this, which would have scared the bejeezus out of me; it was bad enough picking up the generalized homophobia from the culture, without a direct threat from an arrogant police bull. 

This isn't a put-on.  He wasn't some weirdo spouting strange ideas:  he was the norm at that time, before Stonewall, when nobody was out.  How could they be?  Imagine being a young person as I was then, and the horror of your true sexuality dawning on you - making you not a fully human person, but a hideous, monstrous thing in the eyes of everyone, if they only knew.  Including your best friends.  Including your own parents.  Including God Himself.

Watch this and realize the overwhelming hatred and fear of the era - which your Head Trucker has never forgotten:

Friday, October 22, 2010

The President Says It Gets Better

Contrary to what I said the other day, I guess Hillary did speak to her boss. Going to go eat my Stetson now.

Update:  Dan Savage responds to the President's message:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Waitin' for the Weekend

Tom Vaccaro

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Steve Hayes reviews the 1947 classic, which includes child star Natalie Wood in one of her earliest roles:
Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison portray star crossed lovers living in different worlds in one of the most romantic ghost stories ever filmed; Joseph L. Mankiweicz's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Set in Cornwall at the turn of the twentieth century, a young widow rents the cottage of a dead sea captain , only to discover that his spirit is still very much alive. This produces a battle of wits and wills, that eventually turns to love thanks to a brilliant cast, marvelous direction, shimmering cinematography and a luscious score by Bernard Herrmann. It's the perfect picture to warm up a cold autumn night.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ellen Talks with Joel Burns and His Mom

Just for the record, fellas, when these suicides started happening last month, I wrote several emails - with links and videos - to some of my last remaining kinfolks and said pert near everything that Joel said later, and what Gene Robinson said, and so many others. In practically the same words, mind.

Difference being, while Joel and the rest are praised and applauded by all the world, my relations wrote back that they thought I should go see a counselor; being an "activist" - code word, right? - had obviously unhinged me.  In other words, guys, they think I need professional help, pronto.

What can I say? It's kinda scary when your own flesh and blood think you're a crazy man for talking the way you do. Even though I emphasized this wasn't just about me, it was about dead children - which I thought they might consider important enough to care about.  But no.  So I just STFU and they ain't wrote me no more, guess we'll leave it at that down here in Redstatistan.

Really hurt this old shitkicker, but what the hell. Ain't the first time I got my feelings busted, probly won't be the last, neither.

But here's the clip from Ellen, thought you boys would enjoy this:

Update:  My fellow Texan hits the nail on the head when he says, "You know you're a redneck when your mom is more excited about meeting Jeff Foxworthy than Ellen DeGeneres."  Yup - I tell you what.

Honk to Joe.My.God.

'Nother update:  Joel and husband J. D. Angle, a political consultant, appeared on MSNBC's The Last Word on Wednesday; video here.  Burns says he has "a small army of friends and family" working on responding to the more than 20,000 messages he's received from gay teens so far.

It Gets Better: Hillary Clinton

The Secretary of State - who was my choice for President in the primaries - adds her voice to the It Gets Better Project.  Plus a couple of other good presentations.

From the University of Cincinnati:

From the Oregon Shakespeare Festival:

And fellas, you have to stay tuned for the punchline at the 3:58 mark on this one.  Your Head Trucker spewed coffee all over his damn keyboard:

P.S. - Just had a swell thought.  Gee, wouldn't it be nice if Hillary could talk her boss into making a video too?  You know - interracial parents, skinny kid, big ears, a bit nerdy.  I'll bet he knows something about being bullied too, ya think?

But I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bishop Robinson: Religion Kills Young People

NEW YORK - JUNE 17:  Bishop Gene Robinson attends the Stonewall Vision 2009 Stonewall Community Foundation Annual Dinner at UN Delegates Dining Room and Terrace on June 17, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Stonewall Community Foundation)

Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire - the gay bishop whose 2003 election has caused the Anglican Communion to splinter into pro- and anti-gay fragments - writes in the Huffington Post:
An increasingly popular bumper sticker reads, "Guns Don't Kill People -- RELIGION Kills People!" In light of recent events I would add religion kills young people: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people.

Perhaps not directly, though. And religion is certainly not the only source of anti-gay sentiment in the culture. But it's hard to deny that religious voices denouncing LGBT people contribute to the atmosphere in which violence against LGBT people and bullying of LGBT youth can flourish. . . .

With the exception of [Asher] Brown in Texas these suicides are not happening in Bible Belt regions of the country, where we might predict a greater-than-usual regard for religious thought. Instead, they are occurring in states perceived to be more liberal on LGBT issues: California, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

The case of Tyler Clementi is especially instructive about how far we have to go in accepting our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children. Clementi was an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University whose roommate secretly filmed a sexual encounter he had with another male student and then posted it on the internet.

Think about it. If Tyler had been heterosexual and instead filmed having sex with his girlfriend, it would still be an inappropriate invasion of his privacy and tasteless to post the video online. And it certainly would have been embarrassing for Tyler and the girl. But chances are he would have been the recipient of some congratulatory remarks from friends about what a stud he was. And if he was straight he likely wouldn't have contemplated -- not to mention successfully accomplished -- his own suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

No, Tyler was a victim -- not of an inner disturbance of depression or mental illness--but of an external and in part religiously inspired disdain and hatred of gay people.

Despite the progress we're making on achieving equality under the law and acceptance in society for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, why this rash of bullying, paired with self-loathing, ending in suicide? With humility and heartfelt repentance I assert that religion -- and its general rejection of homosexuality -- plays a crucial role in this crisis.

On the one hand, Religious Right hatemongers and crazies are spewing all sorts of venom and condemnation, all in the name of a loving God. The second-highest-ranking Mormon leader, Boyd K. Packer, recently called same-sex attraction "impure and unnatural" in an act of unspeakable insensitivity at the height of this rash of teen suicides. He declared that it can be cured, and that same-sex unions are morally repugnant and "against God's law and nature."

Just as many gay kids grow up in these conservative denominations as any other. They are told day in and day out that they are an abomination before God. Just consider the sheer numbers of LGBT kids growing up right now in Roman Catholic, Mormon, and other conservative religious households. The pain and self-loathing caused by such a distortion of God's will is undeniable and tragic, causing scars and indescribable self-alienation in these young victims.

You don't have to grow up in a religious household, though, to absorb these religious messages. Not long ago I had a conversation with six gay teens, not one of whom had ever had any formal religious training or influence. Every one of them knew the word "abomination," and every one of them thought that was what God thought of them. They couldn't have located the Book of Leviticus in the Bible if their lives depended on it yet they had absorbed this message from the antigay air they breathe every day.

Add to that the Minnesota Family Council's Tom Prichard recently saying that the real cause of the suicides is "homosexual indoctrination," not antigay bullying, and that the students died because they adopted an "unhealthy lifestyle." . . .
Continued after the jump . . .

Monday, October 18, 2010

It Gets Better: Spirit Day, October 20

From GLAAD :
The idea behind Spirit Day, first created by teenager Brittany McMillan earlier this month, is a simple one, not dissimilar to the idea of "Spirit Week" held in many high schools, and can be summed up in three words: Everyone Rally Together.

Spirit Day honors the teenagers who had taken their own lives in recent weeks. But just as importantly, it's also a way to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support them.

Purple symbolizes 'spirit' on the rainbow flag, a symbol for LGBT Pride that was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978.

As one of the event's Facebook pages says: "This event is not a seminar nor is it a rally. There is NO meeting place. All you have to do is wear purple."
There are links on the GLAAD page to purple up your Facebook or Twitter profiles. Whatever those are.  Your Head Trucker ain't into all them newfangled contraptions. Where do you buy a facebook, anyway?  I never see any on the shelf at wally world.  But if ya got one, go purple with it and show your support.

While we're on the subject, a few well known faces speak out for the It Gets Better Project:

Adam Lambert:

Gloria Estefan:

Governor David Paterson of New York:

And a cute, happy young couple - something many of us could hardly believe would ever be possible for us, way back when:

Honk to my truckbuddy Dwight for the Spirit Day image.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Drive: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

In memory of those who have died.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In Memoriam: My Father

Circa 1965
Forty years ago today, my father died suddenly, tragically, unexpectedly.  He was 56.  I was 15.  Just barely beginning to know him as a person and not merely as Dad.

I'm just a year younger now than my father was. Strange to think. He would have been 96 now, had he lived so long.

I don't want to go into the story.  Just remembering now - and wondering about all that would or could or might have been different had he lived. 

Certainly it was very difficult growing into manhood an only child with no other father figures around, no uncles or brothers or cousins or anyone nearby to emulate.  Or care.  I felt that lack very deeply for many years. 

Lots of female relatives, and of course my darling Mama - but not a father.  There's just some real important stuff you can't learn from women, ya know what I mean fellas?

Eventually, at the end of high school I found a couple of butch buddies to more or less model myself after, which helped some.  I've always been grateful for what I learned from them, just by association.  But it's not the same thing. 

Rest in peace, Daddy.


Last of the Pink Triangles

Via Joe.My.God.:  Rudolf Brazda, last known gay survivor of the Republican Teabagger Fox News Christianist Nazi concentration camps, tells his story:

If you've not seen it already, your Head Trucker highly recommends watching Paragraph 175, which contains interviews and stories of many pink-triangle survivors, and some who didn't survive.  Unlike the interview above, it's done mainly in English.  This is essential knowledge of our history, boys - see the full video, and don't look away. 

Paragraph 175

The title refers to the section of the German law code that outlawed all homosexual activity.

Interview: Joel Burns

A follow-up to his moving speech in the Fort Worth City Council meeting last Tuesday:

What a man. Now if only I could find a shirtless pic of this wrangler. Grin.

Update, from Box Turtle Bulletin:
Burns, who gave out his phone number during the powerful, deeply moving speech, has reportedly received over 800 calls from young gay and lesbian young people, many of whom were contemplating suicide.

One such call was from a young woman in Australia who told Burns that she had urged her young gay friend to watch the speech, knowing that he was struggling with his own sexual orientation.

After he had done so, he confided in her that he had been planning to take his own life that weekend, but had decided against doing so after watching what Burns had to say.

The speech, which the brave Burns assumed would only make local news, has now been viewed over 1.2 million times on You Tube. It's worth watching.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: The Dark Corner

Steve Hayes reviews the 1946 film:
Lucille Ball and Mark Stevens find themselves in a whirlpool of suspense in Henry Hathaway's classic Film Noir, THE DARK CORNER. A Detective (Stevens) knows he's being set up. But what for? By whom? And where can it lead, except of course, to murder? With the help of his faithful "Girl Friday"(Ball), he sets out to unravel the mystery before the cops get to him.

The cast is top notch and so is the acting. Clifton Webb reprises the acid-tongued sophisticate he'd played in LAURA as a sardonic gallery owner with an obsession for his young and beautiful wife. William Bendix, a noir veteran, plays the hired muscle and Kurt Kruegar plays the suave, blond playboy, who's sleeping with the wrong man's wife. The dialogue is snappy, the action is fast paced, the New York locations are spectacular and Ball, Bendix, and especially Webb are at their very best. Everything comes together to make THE DARK CORNER top flight entertainment.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Joel Burns: It Gets Better, Even in Texas

Openly gay member of the Fort Worth City Council Joel Burns shared his moving story with tears in his eyes but got a standing ovation from his fellow councilors and the audience last night. Well worth watching the whole speech.

This has got give some of our Texas kids the hope and courage to hold on through the hard times. My hat's off to Joel, big time.

Ya know fellas, it's almost like we're all coming out of the closet all over again, all over the country. Never before have we been able to share our stories - our pain, our grief, our hope, our dreams - with everyone, everywhere. A monumental event in gay/queer history, maybe a turning point that should rank up there with Stonewall and other events.

Now, no one in the straight community can say, "I didn't know, I didn't realize what it was all about." All they have to do is listen - and learn. In the long run, this helps not only the hurting kids, but all of us.

A couple more excellent videos today from the It Gets Better Project:

Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire:

And Broadway says it gets better too:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Matthew Shepard: 12 Years

Yesterday was the twelfth anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death, which for a time seemed to galvanize the attention of the nation on the problem of homophobia.  Perhaps the recent teen suicides will have a similar effect.  Matthew's mother Judy Shepard speaks on this topic:

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Stage Fright

Congrats to Steve Hayes on his first full year as the Tired Old Queen at the Movies. Here he reviews the 1950 Hitchcock suspense flick:
In 1950, Alfred Hitchcock went back to London for the first time in years to film STAGE FRIGHT with Oscar winner Jane Wyman, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd and the divine Marlene Dietrich. Alistair Sim rounded out the cast, along with a host of talented British character actors including Kay Walsh, Sybil Thorndyke and the hysterical Joyce Grenfell. In this tale of deception and murder with a theatrical background, lies upon lies are told and retold as a suspected murderer hides out from the police with the help of a girl who loves him and is determined to prove his innocence. Then, love turns the tables on her. Dietrich, turns in a slyly glamorous and comic performance as the widow of the victim, and as Hitchcock later stated; "She was the best director I ever worked with." It's all great fun as only Hitchcock could conjure.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It Gets Better, #7

More of your Head Trucker's faves from the It Gets Better Project:

Your lesbian fairy godmothers have a special message of life and and love and laughter to share:

Kyle Dean Massey survived small-town Arkansas and made it to Broadway:

Funnyman Jim David escaped small-town Carolina and gives the raspberry to all that anti-gay talk:

This message from the cast of Wicked made your Head Trucker lose it for a moment, but just watch and feel empowered, will ya?  I sure as hell would have, if I could have seen this forty years ago as a scared, isolated teen.  Hell, I might even have tried out for drama club:

Comedian Mike Diamond spreads some New York sass all over his no-bullshit message:

Outwardly, Rich Tafel had everything going for him but inwardly the pain was growing, and he couldn't take it anymore.  But then he was stopped by something unexpected when he was at the point of killing himself over the gay he couldn't accept:

AfricanoBoi says just be yourself and don't let anyone bring you down - among other choice bits of outrageous and highly profane wisdom that's totally NSFW:

Voice director Chris Brown survived death threats, rape threats, and continual harassment in high school, but has a message of love and forgiveness, and acceptance of yourself:

Filmmaker Paul made two painful suicide attempts to escape the torment of high school hell, but lived to share a very moving message of hope and courage:

For Nate, the trouble started all the way back in kindergarten, but he went on to have a wonderful life, and tells how he did it:

And finally, even though the volume's a little low, can't resist posting this video by Australian stud Garry - who makes your Head Trucker's engine rev and shifts my stick big time.  Totally jealous of the awesome beard, major woof.  Oh, and um, he has an awesome message too, listen to it . . . I did try, honest, but it was hard to concentrate on what he was saying, with a full-volume fantasy playing in my head . . . grin.
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