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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sealed with a Kiss

Not once, not twice, but three times, hooray!

Of course I watched.  I saw his parents' wedding, so I wanted to see Diana's boy married off too.  And it was all very simple, almost low-key as these things go - but very lovely.  Of course, I smiled and laughed and wept; Diana would have been so proud.

Long life and much happiness to them.

God save the Queen.

P. S. - Who knew Kate had a brother? And James is quite a looker himself:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Marines Get Gay Training

Los Angeles Times:

WASHINGTON – Training for the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibits gays from serving openly in the military is going better than expected, military leaders told Congress on Thursday.

Top officials from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force testified before the House Armed Services Committee, with several telling committee members that training would be done as early as June.

"I'm looking specifically for issues that might arise coming out of the training, and the reality is that we've not seen them," said Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. "I've asked for feedback . . . the clear majority of it is very positive."

This attitude is a turnaround for several of the generals who vocally opposed the repeal when it was being debated during last year's lame-duck session. Last November, Amos said he was concerned about a possible loss of unit cohesion and combat readiness in the case of a repeal. . . .

The repeal will take effect 60 days after President Obama, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that it will not be harmful to military operations to reverse the ban.

"Orange Crush" Making Big Waves in Canada

Today's latest chart of election polling, from CTV.com

Your Head Trucker admires a great many things about Canada, not the least of which is their public healthcare system, as well as their legalization of same-sex marriage back in 2005.  So I take a friendly interest in the political happenings of our neighbor to the north; and this week, the rather placid (by American standards) political waters are rising fast in what might turn out to be an unexpected tsunami that will reshape the landscape for some time to come. 

It appears that the New Democratic Party (softcore Socialists, shhhh!), led by Jack Layton, hitherto always in third place, is riding a wave of disgust with politics-as-usual that might put them into office as the official Opposition for the first time ever at the national level.  Experienced pundits say there's slim-to-no chance of Layton becoming Prime Minister - but there is a chance that Conservative leader Stephen Harper might lose his grip on the office somehow, and the Liberals could be reduced to third-party status for the first time since Confederation in 1867, a major upset - all depending on just how the election returns shape up on Monday, May 2.

Speaking of which, they've only been campaigning since the end of March up there:  Canadian elections last only about 5 or 6 weeks.  OMG, isn't that a blessed thought?

Anyway, here's a clip of the Canadian leader's debate that was held a couple of weeks ago.  Your Head Trucker watched the whole thing on youtube, and this short video montage is a fair representation of the tone of the whole.  One Canadian journalist described it as something like "Jack Layton, a smiling, postive guy surrounded by three angry men," which is about right. 

Harper, as you'll see, tries to smile angelically and play the abused-but-saintly leader, but don't be fooled:  he came into office five years ago pledging to revoke the marriage-equality law.  Some people up there call him the George W. Bush of Canada, for that and other reasons.  But fortunately, when he tried to reopen the issue, Parliament voted down his nasty plan, 175-123, a moment your Head Trucker watched on live television and will never forget:  imagine a nation's elected representatives resoundingly approving, for the third time in three years, under three different prime ministers, equality and justice for all.

What a concept.  Imagine!

The NDP was solidly in favor of gay rights on that and all other occasions.  I like Jack; he's a politician, but he seems very sincere, very down to earth, and clear on what's the right thing to do.  Give him a try, google up the NDP platform, see what you think. 

Below, Layton in an iconic picture saluting his supporters at a rally in Winnipeg yesterday, brandishing his cane.  He's recovering from both prostate surgery as a well as a busted leg, but he's a scappy guy.  Good luck to him.  Maybe Canada, at least, will find some Change they can believe in.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Funny Face

Steve Hayes reviews the 1957 classic:

It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely, when Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson hit the streets of Paris singing Gershwin in Stanley Donen's classic FUNNY FACE. Audrey plays a seemingly ugly duckling transformed into a swan when she becomes a fashion model who's taken under the wing of fashion photographer Astaire. Playing a character based on Richard Avedon, who oversaw the production and filled it with his classic images, he teams up with Thompson, in her screen debut as a powerful fashion editor, based on Diana Vreeland. Shot in Technicolor, on location in New York and Paris, it's a glorious, music-filled eyeful. Hepburn more than keeps up with Astaire. Thompson commits grand larceny by stealing the film from under both their noses. You'll be swept away with the singing, the dancing, and the magic of April in Paris when you see FUNNY FACE.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Day: Exsultet

A friend writes:

My Exsultet blessing for you.  You know how, especially this excerpt, it seems to still renew me again every year since I was a teen. And it makes me want everyone to feel the same blessed way.

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Listen to the World

Today is Maundy Thursday.  I always found the Episcopal service held in the evening of this day to be the most moving event of the entire religious calendar.  At the heart of it is the breathtaking concept of a God who, instead of simply demanding that humans make sacrifice to Him, beyond all understanding sacrifices Himself on their behalf.  A deep thought, and a stunning one.

And somehow in this sacrifice, as Christians piously believe, all the world is brought together, united in God and in one another, unbreakably, beyond all pains and perils, through all time and space and eternity.  Of course, Love is the reason; for God is Love.  And all that is not Love is not God, either.

Now your Head Trucker is no theologian, and I dare say no more on so profound a subject - which you may take poetically, if you please, or ignore.  But somehow today it seems fitting to share with you all this film I just came across for the first time:  The Listening Project.  A series of interviews with people all around the world, asking simply what they think of America.  It was made in the last years of the Bush regime, and perhaps some attitudes have changed since then; but even then, the surprising thing is that so many people have such a good impression of what America is - or should be, could be, can be.

I highly recommend watching the whole film, which you can see by instant view on Netflix.  I think you fellas will find it fascinating, as I did.  Growing up in the early Sixties in the deep South, I realize now that what we learned in school about the rest of the world was sadly limited.  We learned the names of the continents and the major countries and capitals, of course; and some scattered facts about various rivers and mountain ranges, and what grew where, and which nations had been allies in the world wars, or not.

But in memory, at least, it seems that time and again when we studied other countries, the gist of what we learned was that X was located here, which used to be a colony of Z, and was full of happy, peaceful natives carrying jars on top of their heads, or weaving baskets, or pulling rickshaws.  Of course, all such godforsaken, backwards people were in the gunsights of the Communists, who had nothing better to do than plot night and day to enslave happy, peaceful natives.  I suppose they were just mean that way.

Certainly we were not interested in disturbing all the happy, peaceful natives with their quaint little ways.  Though naturally, we would be glad to sell them all the Coca-Cola and transistor radios they could use - er, that is, I think we were selling radios, although every radio I saw came stamped with "Made in Japan" on the back.  Oh well, it was nice to think that the happy, peaceful Japanese natives had something productive to do, so they could stay all happy and peaceful, as good natives should.  Besides, what else could people living in paper houses do? 

At least, that's what teacher said.  And that lions roamed the streets of Johannesburg.  And at the heart of the British Empire - for so all our teachers called it, invariably - London was still pockmarked with bomb craters from the Blitz.

So deeply impressed upon my mind were these facts that years later, when I visited London at age 21, I looked eagerly for bomb craters everywhere I went, hoping to get a picture of one.  And indeed, when I returned home, a friend the same age as me inquired whether I had seen any bomb craters there.  Alas, not a single one, I had to report with disappointment.

Apart from all these inaccuracies, the thing that strikes me now is that all through those long, sunny, somnolent afternoons we spent poring over our social studies books and learning where all the different happy, peaceful natives lived, we never once were able to read anything written or said by one of them.  Our textbooks were fairly new - and I grew up in a small city, not the boonies - but they were all summary, and very little pertinent, current detail.

We kids knew there was a world beyond the oceans - it was the age of television and Telstar, air-raid drills and Sputnik and the British Invasion, for goodness' sake - but we saw very little of it in our books, and heard even less.  Where I grew up, television was never used as a teaching medium; except that once in a very great while, when John Glenn or some other astronaut was about to blast off, teacher would bring a portable set from home and let us watch the countdown live from Cape Kennedy.  Quite a thrill, even better than the Jetsons.

We did have school-provided record players and movie projectors, of course, and occasionally we would get to see an Encyclopedia Britannica film of some faraway land.  But even though they were welcome breaks in the scholastic tedium for us kids, they failed to give us a clear sense of the actual people living in those lands - all those quaint, anonymous, faceless, but happy and peaceful natives.  I remember one film we saw - it's strange what the mind retains, isn't it - was about Libya, of all places. 

Which in those days was a real nowhere place, where apparently nothing whatsoever had happened since the days of the Roman Empire.  I think we saw a shot or two of Roman ruins; and then about forty minutes of long shots panning across the trackless wastes of the desert, while in the middle distance, the droning announcer told us, some happy, peaceful natives swathed from head to foot in sheet-like clothing swept the desert with some American-supplied equipment to uncover all the land mines left over from World War II.  Through carelessness, I suppose; no reason was given why anyone would want to leave a lot of perfectly good land mines out in the middle of nowhere like that, but there they were, somewhere under the sand dunes.

No doubt there was the obligatory shot of the front end of a camel, and some more long shots of shrouded but happy, peaceful natives bustling around in some crowded bazaar, the way happy, peaceful natives always do.  And that was that.  All those educational films, even the ones in - wow, color! - were like that.  It was not the sort of education that would or could engender any feeling of common interest or brotherhood with all those swarming, bustling people in faraway, foreign lands.  Our young minds were much more intrigued with the thought of rocket ships and space travel, and whether we could be taking vacations on the Moon by the time we grew up.  Certainly we young Americans had no intention of living like quiet, mute, voiceless but happy, peaceful natives, sans rockets, sans television, sans cheeseburgers and french fries and milkshakes, even sans rock and roll.  Please.  How dull would that be?

Of course, nowadays - I do hope - young people learn a lot more a lot earlier about people in other countries, and that they are real people, just like us.  Or do they?  Well, now that I've digressed long enough, watch the trailer for The Listening Project, and see if some new insights come into your own mind about happy, peaceful natives our fellow human beings around the world.  Finally, the "natives" talk!  Will wonders never cease?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Many Queers, Cont'd

As a follow-up to my recent post on the latest figures from the Williams Institute, here's the Wall Street Journal's explanation of why it's so damned hard to come up with a reliable estimate of the number of gays (and other queer people):
In recent years more surveys have included questions about sexual behavior and identity, giving researchers a better shot at making an estimate. They also have learned how difficult it can be to define homosexuality, and to determine to what extent survey answers are affected by the way the questions are asked.

The Census Bureau, for instance, says it saw the number of people who identified themselves as spouses to someone of the same sex drop by more than 50% in 2008 from a year earlier just because of how the questionnaire was organized. "It's a very difficult statistical issue," says Howard Hogan, the agency's associate director for demographic programs, of counting same-sex couples. . . .

One problem [that demographers have noted about the Williams Institute] findings is that they combine results from surveys with different sample sizes and interview formats. The California Health Interview Survey canvassed about 50,000 Californians in 2009 by phone, finding that 3.2% identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. In contrast, roughly 5,900 people took Indiana University's online National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior in 2009, and nearly twice as many— 5.6%—identified themselves that way.

"I think there are a lot of problems with every one of those data sets," says Randall Sell, associate professor at Drexel University's school of public health. A concern, he says, is that people are more likely to reveal their sexual identity via computer than by phone or in person.

Dr. Gates [author of the Williams Institute report] says without more information about the validity of each survey, averaging the results is the best compromise. "You can make an argument they're all credible," he says.
So.  If a stranger knocks on your door, or calls you on the phone, and asks, "Are you gay?" - how many people will give a straight answer to that question?  Online and anonymous, more people might be comfortable telling the truth - but that limits your field to people who are young and smart and affluent enough to own a computer - and who care about answering that kind of survey.  Which is not reflective of the whole population. 

And what does "gay" mean, anyway?  Having come out in 1980, the question has long been settled in my own mind.  But ya know, guys, I have met friends in recent years who put off coming out till they were past 50; and meanwhile were married or had girlfriends, maybe some kids too.  Think of Jack and Ennis in Brokeback Mountain, which is very true to life out here on the prairie. 

Likewise, I've also known mature women who were happily married, doing the wife-and-mommy thing; then one day woke up to the fact that they liked girls.  Women's sexuality is often much more nebulous and fluid than men's, I've concluded, for reasons that have a lot to do with the plumbing and wiring.

Then too, I've, um, known guys who merrily fooled around with other guys in the rush of teenage sexuality; but later married a girl and have lived happily ever after with never a backward glance.  So the question of "how many" is not totally clear until you decide on the "what" to count, see?

Which is why Kinsey - who is constantly misquoted by the media on this subject - brilliantly came up with the Kinsey Scale.  Which is much more reflective of the reality of sexuality, I think, than any simplistic gay/straight dichotomy.  A truly accurate survey would have to be based on something like that, seems to me.

Bottom line:  Your Head Trucker's experience strongly suggests that no more than 3 to 5 people out of a hundred, at most - depending on where you are, and what kind of group you are in - are gay enough to raise a blip on my gaydar.  Which is not all that good, I'm sorry to say - but that's been my consistent experience for the last thirty years or so down here in Dixie.

The Kinsey Scale

No, Not Really

Via Joe.My.God.:  New Hampshire teabaggers could care less about gay marriage.

Defense Motion

Honk to The Slabber.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Drive: I Know That My Redeemer Liveth

For Palm Sunday, a favorite of your Head Trucker's, performed by the King's College Choir, Cambridge, and the Academy of Ancient Music.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What Does It Matter?

An old man walked across the beach until he came across a young boy throwing something into the breaking waves. Upon closer inspection, the old man could see that the boy was tossing stranded starfish from the sandy beach back into the ocean.

“What are you doing, young man?” He asked.

“If the starfish are still on the beach when the sun rises, they will die,” the boy answered.

“That is ridiculous. There are thousands of miles of beach and millions of starfish. It doesn’t matter how many you throw in; you can’t make a difference.”

“It matters to this one,” the boy said as he threw another starfish into the waves. “And it matters to this one.”

Honk to Porncake.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Waitin' for the Weekend

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Southern Boys Say It Gets Better

Nate from South Carolina:

Matt from Maryland:

Kenn from Florida:

Larry from Texas:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tired Old Queen at the Movies: Notorious

Steve Hayes reviews the stylish Hitchcock thriller, which your Head Trucker recommends too:
Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman find themselves in a web of intrigue and a nest of Nazis led by Claude Rains in Alfred Hitchcock's suspense classic, NOTORIOUS (1946). With a script by Ben Hect and a superb supporting cast including Louis Calhern and the wonderful Madame Konstantin as the meanest mother that ever raised a Nazi, this is Hitchcock at his absolute best. Bergman has never been more radiant and Cary Grant never more gorgeous...or visa versa. The cinematography shimmers and so do their love scenes. You'll be at the edge of your seat, swept up in the glamour, romance and suspense of NOTORIOUS.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Pork Boys Do Porkchops Jambalaya

One night last week.  The food was so damn good, we forgot to take pics of it on the table.  This is one of M.P.'s all-time greatest hits, I tell you what boys.  Thin, tender, juicy slices of fried pork chops mixed in with a variation of traditional Cajun jambalaya - the real jambalaya from the bayou country, not what you get in stores or even restaurants. 

Starts with rice, of course; Ro-Tel tomatoes, which you Yankee boys don't know anything about; three colors of bell peppers (red, orange, green); hard-boiled eggs; crumbled fried bacon; various herbs and spices, including the mandatory dash of Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning.  Plus the secret ingredient that starts the chain reaction (shhhh!):  caramelized onions sauteed in butter with a little sugar sprinkled over them.

Oh.My.God.  Beyond larrupping good.  So sorry I couldn't save you boys a plate, we damn near killed ourselves wolfing it down, with some fresh French bread and real butter on the side, and of course some smooth White Zin.  If you're ever asked what you want for your last meal, this is what to order.  Grin.
M.P. has a thing for colored bottles, very pretty when the evening sun shines through the window of his neat little bungalow. 
He built that table himself.

M.P. picked the roses and irises out of his garden that afternoon, and they made a lovely centerpiece together.

As you can see, M.P. is a wizard at napkin folding; he did these to match the irises.
Porkchops jambalaya.  Sweet, spicy, incredibly good.
It may not look like much, but trust me fellas -
you ain't never had something this good in your mouth.

My contribution:  fresh, ripe strawberries with whipped topping over Sara Lee pound cake.  A fine, simple ending to a fabuous meal. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

How Many Queers, Did You Say?

Which of these men represents the gay 1.7 percent of the population of Dallas?

Okay guys, there's lots of loose chatter going on about the new report from the Williams Institute on the number of LGBT Americans.  And much of the chatter is being slung around by people who have never read the frickin' report.

Don't you be that dumb.  Here is a link to the 6-page PDF report itself, which contains lots of stats and charts.  Read it for yourself, bro - don't let other people tell you what it says.

And here's the institute's own summary of its findings:
Drawing on information from four recent national and two state-level population-based surveys, the analyses suggest that there are more than 8 million adults in the US who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual, comprising 3.5% of the adult population. There are also nearly 700,000 transgender individuals in the US. In total, the study suggests that approximately 9 million Americans - roughly the population of New Jersey - identify as LGBT. Key findings from the study include among adults who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay); women are substantially more likely than men to identify as bisexual; estimates of those who report any lifetime same-sex sexual behavior and any same-sex sexual attraction are substantially higher than estimates of those who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. An estimated 19 million Americans (8.2%) report that they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and nearly 25.6 million Americans (11%) acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction.
Also important to note:

  • This is a survey of surveys, so to speak.  It's not a direct count.  It's a statistical best-guess of how many adults fall on this side of the rainbow - like so many other estimates in this world, it's playing with numbers, on a very high level of math - but not a direct count.  And the numbers given above totally ignore the thought that people under 18 also have an innate sexuality - as if nobody is "born that way," ya know?
  • A lot of news stories on this topic are making reference to the Kinsey Report of 1948, which allegedly said that 10 perecent of men were homosexual.  But that's not what Kinsey said.  Read up on that too, and be informed.
  • The Williams Institute is not a right-wing think tank, as some ignorant commenters have said.  It's part of the UCLA School of Law, and has published many, many reports on LGBT people.   For example, at the bottom of their homepage, you can find a clickable map with detailed demographics on gay couples in all 50 states, along with many other interesting reports.

And finally, I'll say this:  your Head Trucker is no mathematician, but some 15 years ago when I was living in a small city back east, I did a thought experiment - considering that the maximum number of guys who showed up at the bar on a big night probably represented only one out of ten or twenty gay men in the area, divide that number by the adult population - which gave me a figure of 2 or 3 percent gay.  Of course, that doesn't take into account closeted guys and all the other flavors of the rainbow. 

But it does explain why gay society is like a small town everywhere you go.  Even in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country at 6.3 million, bigger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined - yet in the gay community, you always find people who know somebody you know.  So we're not that big a chunk of the population.   (Pity.)

Bottom line:  When you consider all the pyschological and social complexities of fear and loathing, married bisexuals and closeted singles, transthis and transthat, late bloomers and liars and simple souls who really haven't a clue - nobody but God knows exactly how many gays there are in the world.   But before you get into a discussion on this point, at least be up to date on the facts.  I've made it easy for you here, so you got no excuse now, fellas.

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