Churchquake ~ A Month Late, But Still Important

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2013 by scottsteaux63

I have been meaning to post about Churchquake, the Reconciling Ministries Network Convocation that John and I went to over the Labor Day weekend, ever since we returned.  Unfortunately I’ve been sick, first with a sinus infection and bronchitis combined, and now with colitis that apparently was caused by the antibiotics I took last month (the wonders of modern medicine).

The Reconciling Ministries Network is a group of congregations within the United Methodist Church that is working towards full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the Church.  The United Methodist Book of Discipline, while it does call homosexual persons “persons of sacred worth,” also says that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”  This is what we in the RMN are working to change.  The church I attend, and where my husband works, became the first Reconciling Congregation in what is now the Upper New York Annual Conference (formerly the Wyoming Conference, don’t ask me why lol).  That was more than thirty years ago.

I have only been to one previous convocation, back in 2005.  They are held every two years.  2007 and 2009 were too far to travel, I did go in 2011 but went down sick the second morning and missed almost all of it, so when Churchquake came along and we discovered it was to be held in Chevy Chase, MD, a little over five hours’ drive away, we jumped at the chance.

How to describe a church convocation…worship service every morning (lots of music and of course we both joined the choir), workshops and focus groups on different issues which one may attend or not as one chooses, Bible studies (on this occasion led by the great Peterson Toscano, a performance artist whose theology has a distinct LGBTQ twist and whose Bible studies were provoking, energizing, and exhilarating), and on one day a series of trips to the local sights of one’s choice:  we chose the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and it was a deeply moving and sobering experience; our only regret was that the visit was only two hours long, because one really needs a couple of days to do justice to that museum.

The final event of the last day was the worship service, with a brief but fiery sermon and music that left us literally soaring out of there on eagle’s wings.

I will take a great deal away from that weekend, but the one thing I will remember the most is the love.  There were some familiar faces there, and more that we probably had met before but did not remember, and naturally some we did not know at all, but I cannot describe the feeling of love for everyone there that I experienced.  Perhaps it was partly being in a Safe Zone.  But I think it was more close to this:  for those few days we were very nearly the Beloved Community that Jesus spoke of so often.  A disparate gathering of souls, committed to one idea:  that in God’s kingdom no one is unwelcome.

Amen and Amen.

Still Trying To Convince Myself That It Really Happened

Posted in Uncategorized on June 27, 2013 by scottsteaux63

I slept late yesterday, having had a rough night.  So I was awakened by my husband’s usual “I’m coming home for lunch” phone call.  I mumbled something that I thought sounded like “Hello?” and heard my husband’s voice, so excited I could barely make out what he was saying:  “DOMA is DEAD!”

A tad bit befuddled, as I always am in my uncaffeinated state, I made a noise that sounded something like “ohuh?” and he repeated what he had said a second time.  This time it sank in, and I sat there on the edge of the bed.  John was still talking, elaborating on the SCOTUS decision and the concurrent ruling regarding Prop 8, but I couldn’t make much sense of what I was hearing.  For one thing, as I said, I had not yet had my caffeine ration, and in that state even “good morning” can sound like ancient Aramaic to me.  But the other thing keeping me from hearing him was that I was suddenly choking back tears and trying not to sob out loud into the phone.  John asked me to boot up his laptop and said he’d be home in a few minutes, then we hung up and I took several deep breaths, put on my robe, and went to make the coffee and boot up our computers; the usual morning routine steadied me a bit and by the time John got home I was actually able to talk about it.

Yet even now as I type these words, my mind is still racing with the magnitude of what just happened.  I have lived to witness history.  For the first time in the fifty years I have been on this planet, I heard the highest court in the land tell me that I was no longer a second-class citizen.

For most of my life, the idea that the “institution” (God I hate that word; sounds like getting married is the equivalent of being hospitalized) of marriage would ever be open to me was about as foreign as one of those bizarre flavors of ice cream that I understand the Japanese are so fond of (octopus gelato, anyone?).  Despite this, I was married to all intents and purposes from the time I was twenty-one.  He was manipulative, passive-aggressive, and could be extremely cruel, but I was no angel either:  I had inherited my mother’s hot temper and on more than one occasion our fights broke out into outright brawls.  And yet we stayed married for fifteen years, in spite of our problems and in spite of the fact that we had no legal document tying us together.  We lasted longer than many of my straight high school classmates did in their first marriages; most of them were filing papers before the fifth anniversary and none of them made it to the tenth.

So we never used the words “married” or “husband;” we usually referred to each other by the generic term “partner” which sounds rather passionless but which I preferred to “lover,” which sounded like a passing fling, and “longtime companion,” which looked good in the AIDS obits and made a great movie title, but as a term to be used in casual conversation it was much too cumbersome to ever catch on.  But on the rare occasions when we actually talked about it, we agreed that we considered ourselves married; like many LGBTs of our generation, we told ourselves that we did not “need” that piece of paper to validate our relationship (heterosexuals were doing the same thing, but for such different reasons that I really do not count them here).

So after fifteen years I found myself single and on the slippery slope to age forty.  I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and looked round to see what I ought to do next.  The thought of dating made me ill, but I’ve always been a social person, so when I was not out with friends, it was perhaps inevitable that I would go to the local gay club, a place called The Den that in its heyday had three main bars:  one on the dance floor which was closed off by heavy doors from the large central bar where the music emanated from a jukebox and people could at least communicate even if it did require shouting, and a small, cozy bar in the center of the square building, also with doors that closed, that was my favorite of the three because there a person could actually have a conversation with another person, even if all that was said was “Your place or mine?”  Not that that was said all that often anymore; for one thing, I was not the cute young thing I had been when my first husband and I met; for another the AIDS pandemic had put the kibosh on casual sex for many of us (but of course by no means all).

Unfortunately, the Den had by this time removed the doors that separated the three bars; I was never to find out why, but the effect this had was that the entire place vibrated with the sounds blasting from the dance floor and there wasn’t a single place in the entire establishment where people talk without having to shout (and that included the rest rooms). 

Still, it was all we had in the section of central New Jersey where I lived, and they did have happy hour from five PM to eight PM on Thursdays, where food was served and the music was mercifully cut off.  But it did not take me long to realize that the bar scene was no longer the place to meet a potential partner.  Not that I was actually looking, mind you, but when I compared it to the bar scene of sixteen years earlier, it was not too hard to figure out.

In the end I stopped going; it got boring, and worse, no one seemed to want to talk to anyone anymore.  It was as if each person was walking around in a protective bubble with a “Keep Out” sign on it (or at least “Keep Your Distance,” which amounts to the same thing).

So I turned my attention elsewhere.  Moving from the town where Dennis and I lived to a place closer to my job also entailed changing doctors, and I soon found myself at the Ryan White Clinic in Somerville NJ.  The Clinic had a weekly support group, which I joined, and I was encouraged by the Nurse Practitioner who ran the place to get involved in the Ryan White Planning Council.  Which I did, but that is a topic for another day.

I made the colossal mistake of going out on a few dates with one of the guys from the group.  I should have known better; it was too soon, and it was not long before I was in over my head.  I was not ready, and I realized that the relationship was not going to go anywhere, but he had gone and fallen in love with me.  I had to let him down gently, but I felt almost worse than when I had been the one getting rejected.

Then one day a friend of mine from group mentioned a friend of his that he thought I might like to meet.  I was wary, but I thought, “What the hell, at least I can make another new friend,” so I agreed to meet the guy.

Well I certainly was not prepared for what happened.  I always thought “love at first sight” was a device of bad romance novelists and B movies, but I took one look into John’s baby blues and it was something very like it; my knees actually went weak.

We went from “Nice to meet you” to “Would you like to go out with me?” to “I love you” to “Will you marry me?” in a little over a month; our friends thought we had taken leave of our senses, but I had never seen anything so clearly in my life as the fact that I wanted to marry this man.

So we located a Unitarian Church, at the time one of only three denominations that were performing same-sex unions (the others were the United Church of Christ and of course the Metropolitan Community Church), and on 21 December 2002 we got married.  It was not legally recognized, but when we slipped those rings on each other’s fingers and clung tightly to each other, I realized that I had actually done something I never thought I’d be able to do.

Then came the summer of 2011; we were in our ninth year together (and had moved to New York in 2005) when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed marriage equality into law in New York State.  Four days after the law went into effect, we went down to City Hall and made it legal; the really great moment of that day was the large group of people from our church who came to celebrate with us.

Our anniversary is still 21 December; as far as we are concerned we’ve been married going on eleven years.  The law is finally beginning to catch on to the fact that equal means equal.

It has been a long time coming, but if anyone had told me thirty-five years ago, when I was a fifteen-year-old crying himself to sleep at night in terror of the prospect of life as a Gay man, that some day I could marry the man I loved, without shame and with the full recognition of the State, I would not have believed it. 

Miracles do still happen.

12 May 2013: Happy Mothers’ Day Mom; Happy Birthday Dad

Posted in LGBT Issues and Stuff, Uncategorized on May 12, 2013 by scottsteaux63

My parents have both been gone for many years, but today I find myself thinking of both of them.  Because it is Mothers’ Day, of course, but by coincidence this year it also falls on 12 May, which was my Dad’s birthday and if he were here to celebrate it this would have been number eighty-five.  I miss them both very much; to this day there are those “gotcha” moments when I almost reach for the phone to call them.  I don’t suppose those moments will ever end completely. 

I was not the easiest kid to raise, I suppose:  I inherited from my mother a quick temper and a mouth to go with it, and from my father a dogged sense of who I was and what I wanted that made me nearly impossible to turn from a path once I had chosen it.  The only excuse I can make about these flaws in my character is that I came by them honestly.

Ultimately, however, their biggest headaches came from something outside the home:  from the first day I stepped foot on the schoolyard, I was the “class faggot” and was treated as such right up to and including my freshman year of high school.  Why it stopped then, and as abruptly as it had begun, I shall never know.  What I do know is that it would color everything I did for the better part of a decade.

Unable to fight on the schoolyard, I came home and took my anger out on my younger brother.  And when, in middle school, the bullying and abuse became unbearable, I simply stopped going to school.  The thought made me physically ill, and it took more than a year of therapy to bring back the strength I had lost.

So it might seem odd that I chose to major in Drama at University.  I had ambitions to become an actor from the age of five, and had been studying both piano and voice privately for some years.  It was in Drama in high school that my talents finally gained me a measure of respect from my peers, even from some of the jocks, who may have thought what I did was “faggy” but who could not help but respect the talent and dedication it took.

Of course Mom, being a Mom, thought everything I did was wonderful; once when I spent a year touring with a kids’ musical at schools around the Metro New York area, she followed me everywhere and I think never missed a performance.

Dad took some more convincing.  Oh, he knew I was talented; he also knew that I was proposing to enter an industry that is cutthroat to the point of nastiness and in which the competition is so fierce it can eat you alive.  I think he was waiting more to see if I had the balls to follow it through:  I had already showed that I had the talent, though up to my junior year at University nothing I did really stretched my abilities.

Then along came a play, written by a member of the playwrighting class, a long one-act, one-set character study about four inmates of a nursing home, trapped not only in the institution but in their own aging bodies (my character was eighty and the makeup alone took three hours to get into) and failing minds.  I shall never forget the opening night of that play.  My parents were as usual in the audience, and the lights came up on a stage that was empty except for a cafeteria dining table and four chairs.  My character entered first, barely moving, using a walker; I had been specifically instructed by the director to make the walk to my seat the longest walk I could make it.

That play has always remained one of the most intense experiences I’ve had; certainly the most intense one of my student days.  But it was after the curtain fell that the significant moment happened for me.

My father was not a man who gave out praise easily; he was somewhat in awe of my musical talent because he had always wanted to play the piano but he grew up in the Depression and there was no money for lessons on an instrument the family could not have afforded anyway.  My acting was somewhat more doubtful; while it had always been an inside joke in the family that I would grow up to be an actor and Dad would be my agent, he did not see me really give a performance until that evening.  And he told me point-blank that he had not been sure until that night that I could act, that I had what it took, and that he was now convinced.  After that both of them bore a slight resemblance to Mama Rose in GYPSY; Mom had the big mouth but Dad was the sharp-minded business man to whom I could always turn when I needed advice.  It might not always be pleasant, and he never minced words, a trait which I came to value because I could always count on him to tell me the unvarnished truth.

So as I think of both of them today, this Mothers’ Day and what would have been Dad’s eighty-fifth birthday, I remember that in spite of whatever heartache I may have given them, they spent most of my life celebrating me.  Celebrating not only what I could do, but who I was.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  Happy Birthday, Dad.  I love you both and I will always miss you.  God truly blessed me when He gave me you two as parents.

Ramblings of a 102° Fever

Posted in LGBT Issues and Stuff, Uncategorized on May 8, 2013 by scottsteaux63

I am a bad patient.  No, scratch that:  I am a TERRIBLE patient.  Women are always saying what big babies men are when they are sick, and my conscience forbids me to deny the obvious.

The only thing that partially redeems me, I think (you’d have to ask my husband), is that when I am ill I tend to hide.  I crawl into bed, pull up the covers and basically surround the entire perimeter with “do not enter if you value your hide” vibes.  You know, cheery stuff like that.

My husband, naturally enough, IS the stereotypical bad male patient.  He lies in bed groaning while I do the fetch-and carry.  I don’t really mind, but it was rather funny when we BOTH got sick at the same time once.

Anyway, this upper respiratory thing I have has made the rounds of the town of Oneonta this time every year four years running and it usually decimates the entire population for at least a week and sometimes two. I’m on Day Four; we shall see how long it is before I start calling the doctor begging for a Z-Pak.

You would think that after twenty-four years of HIV/AIDS and almost twenty with Bipolar Disorder, a respiratory bug wouldn’t faze me.  And it wouldn’t if not for the fever:  my normal temp runes exactly one degree low (97.6°), and last night I spiked at nearly 103°. That’s enough to make anyone miserable.

Oh well, rant over.  We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

 

Bullies

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2013 by scottsteaux63

I have been meaning to talk about this for a long time, but lacked the courage.  It’s time to reclaim what was once mine.

I was fearless as a child.  I am sure I gave my mother more than her share of anxiety attacks because I was always the kid who would swim out too far, jump into the deep end of the pool even before I was a really good swimmer, and dive off the high diving board just for kicks.  I also drove my rather frugal father wild when we went out to eat in restaurants by zeroing in on and then demanding the most expensive and the most obscure (at least to a young kid) item on the menu.  I recall one memorable dinner at which I ordered a whole steamed lobster (I was about seven and no bigger than a minute).  When Dad tried to talk me out of it, Mom said “Let him have it; if he doesn’t like it, I’ll eat what he doesn’t.”

(P.S: She didn’t get any.)

 That lack of fear, that sense of self-possession, took its very first hit the day I stepped foot in first grade.  I don’t know if it actually happened that day, but by the end of the week I was the class faggot and thus began a nightmare that would peak in middle school.

I was both active and athletic, but I disliked team sports; I saw no reason to be competitive in that context and frankly, baseball bored me to death and I did not then and do not now understand the first thing about football.  The fact that almost from Day One someone told me I “threw like a girl” did not help matters.  Neither did the fact that I was a top student; my parents would have killed me (figuratively speaking of course)  had I brought home anything less than a B.

Athletic I was, but violence was not something I could bring myself to.  As the years passed and the kids got more sophisticated and the harassment and bullying more brutal, all I could do while at school was avoid the bullies as best I could; I had fantasies about killing the lot of them, but I only got into one real fistfight in all my years of school and THAT was between me and my best friend over some nonsense that to this day we cannot remember (yes, we are still friends after forty years) and we BOTH got suspended for that bit of shenanigans.  My parents were less than thrilled; I ate standing up for about two days and so did my friend.

The only person besides me who suffered during these years was my brother.  Just a year younger than I, he was of an even gentler nature than mine and to my deep and everlasting shame I took all the anger and aggression I couldn’t express towards my bullies out on him.  At one and the same time, we were inseparable and when my mood got ugly I sometimes beat him mercilessly.  Looking back, I may be making this worse than it was; it isn’t as though I ever drew blood or knocked him unconscious, but it wasn’t until we were both in high school and I went for him one day only to have him throw me across the room that we finally started to be real friends.

(Sadly, we aren’t speaking anymore, but it isn’t about my sexuality; I told him I was gay when I was nineteen and that did not stop him from sharing an apartment with me for five years after my parents left New York; about ten years ago I had a falling out with his wife and our relationship appears to be broken for reasons which I do not even know.)

The verbal teasing became more and more relentless, and that old saw about sticks and stones is pure bullshit: sometimes words hurt even more than a fist.  There were plenty of fists, too; I am not now and never have been a good fighter and I was the kid bullies just LOVE to zero in on.  Bullies are basically cowards and had I just once done a number on one of them like I used to give it to my brother I probably could have changed things for the better, but school increasingly became a trap.  And don’t tell me about telling a teacher or the principal; that only got you retribution from the kid you ratted on and it looks as though THAT has not changed in forty years either.

But the final straw came in eighth grade.  Middle school was by far the worst time of my life; the bullying and brutality kept getting worse and worse until one day in eighth grade.  There was a fire drill, and the kid who sat behind me in homeroom was a particular nemesis of mine.  That day, while we assembled on the street corner, he stepped in a pile of dog droppings.  Other kids laughed, but I tried to pretend I had not seen it.  It didn’t work: he started trying to shove me into stepping into it myself, and after several minutes of shoving and failing to move me, he did something even worse: he wiped his shoe on my pants.  And when I went to the Assistant Principal and asked to be allowed to go home and change I was denied; I went to the Principal and got the same denial.  I was not even allowed to call either of my parents; I had to walk around with dog shit on my clothes for the rest of the day.

My parents were so livid that they both took the next day off and barged into the Principal’s office and I am not sure of this but I think my Dad actually threatened him with something.  Knowing Dad it could have been a good beating or a nasty lawsuit; Dad was almost never a violent man but I was his firstborn and he would have died for me and for my brother.  When I finally came out to my parents at twenty-one, he was the one who accepted me.  Mom kicked a bit but she eventually came around; at least there was no question of losing their love.

But eye digress.  That degrading incident was my last day at that school; I had a full-out nervous breakdown and could not even approach the school building without having a panic attack.  Fortunately the semester was more than half over, and I suppose the administration was looking out for their collective ass, but a couple months later they graduated me.

Going to high school should have changed things; due to a quirk in zoning I was the only student from my middle school to go to my high school; all the rest went to one of three others.  So I started out knowing no one.  But the first day the kid in front of me in homeroom asked me if I gave head and then implied that I didn’t know what it meant (I did), after which he proceeded to tell everybody within ear shot, “he gives head.”

Clearly I was still too fragile, because I left as soon as homeroom ended and never went back until the following September.  During the year between those two Septembers I went through some really rigorous counseling and the Scott who went to school as a sophomore was a much different kid than the Scott of the previous year.  The school was somewhat different, too: the nasty comments were much fewer, or perhaps I simply shrugged them off; for the first time, words could not hurt me and I was NEVER attacked physically.  And in high school I excelled in most subjects, but in music and drama I was one of the stars and even the jocks had to respect the talent, and if they thought such talents were “faggy,” no one ever said anything like that.

As for me, I had always known I was different, and at fifteen I went to a cruising place I had heard of, seduced a guy who, looking back, must have been about twenty-five, and went home with him.  I lost my virginity that day and also for the first time the words “I’m gay” went through my mind, though I was not yet ready to say them.  I dated a couple of girls in high school, and even had sex on a regular basis with one of them, but I don’t know a gay man of my age who didn’t try sex with a girl at least once.  Part of it was a need to prove I could actually do it; it was of course mixed up with my sense of masculinity.  But it was mostly a desperate attempt to “go straight.”  As I look back on those days, I am thankful that I never heard of the “ex-gay” movement until years later.  At any rate I discovered all on my own that if it were possible to “pray away the gay” there wouldn’t be anyone left in the LGBT community.  I prayed, I cried out to God, I wept more tears than my parents ever even knew.  I did not want to be gay, and I even went so far as to get engaged to the girl I was then dating, but I think that was what did it: I saw myself as a self-loathing idiot who, if I followed through and actually married the girl, would create a mess that would eventually turn my world upside down, and worse, possibly ruin the life of an innocent bystander.

So I came out.  First to my friends (not a single one of them was the least bit surprised and I didn’t lose any of them either), and a bit later, when I had met and fallen in love with my first husband, my parents.  The one lesson I learned is that (speaking for myself at any rate) you go through life thinking you’re keeping this deep dark secret, but the only one you’re fooling is you, and you’re not even doing that as well as you think.  Certainly you aren’t fooling anyone close to you (I don’t believe for one minute that parents who react with shock are being real with their kids; parents know, and if they don’t they have already failed their kids in more ways than anyone can count), and we all know you’re not fooling God; after all, as I soon came to understand, God made me the way I am so (S)He knew what I was “from my mother’s womb,” as the Bible says.

Being gay is not the ticket to hell the Fundies so desperately need to believe it is; more than anything else, they cannot survive in this world without having someone to feel superior to; without the mythical “other,” their whole worldview collapses and they will do, say, shriek, anything at all, not to have that happen (look at the WBC).

 You know what hell is?  The closet.  The closet is a place of torment, both internal and external.  So when I finally came out, I took a hatchet to it and chopped it up for firewood.  And I never looked back.  There are no words for the freedom.

 My life since then has not been perfect; my first marriage ended up being something out of Edward Albee, and my serial promiscuity during the early years got me infected with HIV at a time in the epidemic when I should have known better.  But what’s been good has been wonderful, including finally meeting the soul mate and best friend I had dreamed about since my earliest memories when I was nearly forty (our timing is not God’s timing, but God’s timing is always perfect).  My life has been mostly good since I came out, but the last ten years have been the best years of my life.

It really does get better; for me it began to get better while I was still in high school, and by the time I was twenty-one I was completely out, comfortable in my skin, and I had learned not to give a good Goddamn about what anyone thought of me unless they were teaching me, learning from me, or employing me.

Facebook: Hate Speech Not Allowed…Oh Wait That Depends Who Is Talking.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2013 by scottsteaux63

I have been on Facebook for close to five years now.  Prior to that I was a chat room host on AOL in the GLBT area.  My Host name Was HOST GLBT Keys and I hosted several chats in the Pozitive Living Room, a safe space for people with HIV to come and talk about the effect the virus has had on our lives (I have been poz since 1989), and one whose safety was carefully guarded not just by us hosts but by the Community Leaders we reported to.  We  did not tolerate hate speech and AOL even provided us with tools to silence and even eject from a chat room anyone who came in to harass, belittle, or otherwise troll the rooms looking for trouble. 

In order to become a host at AOL, a member had to be six months free of Terms of Service (TOS) violations.  To give you an idea of just how important TOS was back then, printed out it came to something like thirty eight and a half by eleven pages and in order to qualify as hosts we had to know that stuff backwards, forwards, and in our sleep.

Sadly, AOL eventually did away with hosted chats when they went from charging members a monthly subscription fee to being an advertiser-supported free service.  With the chat hosts gone, the regulars in the GLBT area, most particularly those who came to our chats in the PLR, dwindled down to nothing.

It broke my heart to see the demise of AOL as a community, but as it happened, Facebook, which started out rather quietly as an alternative to the more flashy MySpace, filled the space left by AOL; over the years I have reconnected with many people I was friends with on AOL.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Facebook, in both its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and its Community Standards, states unequivocally that hate speech is not allowed.  And there was a time when they actually backed that up; I am a member of a Facebook page called Wipe Out Homophobia and over the course of four years or so we have managed to get something like two hundred racist and/or anti-gay pages or groups removed from Facebook.

Then one day there came this page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-gays-from-obtaining-special-rights/443197972416032

This page showed up some three months or so ago and despite a bombardment of reports, Facebook flatly refuses to remove this monument to anti-Gay hate speech, even though their Terms and Community Standards still claim that hate speech is unacceptable and not permitted!

When a report is filed, Facebook offers the reporter the option of receiving a response from Facebook.  In the case of the above page, I have so far counted at least fifty members who have submitted reports and have received a lame, unacceptable email that says in so many words that the page “does not violate Facebook’s Community Standards.”

Interestingly enough, all these replies are signed “Viki.”  Now it does not take a math whiz to grasp the concept that a company with a billion subscribers is hardly likely to have one little employee sitting in a cubicle somewhere dealing with all the millions of reports of Terms violations.  I can’t prove this, but to me what it smells like is that reports are dealt with by a computer which generates the aforementioned email. 

There is one bright spot though:  along with the email saying the page is not in violation of their Standards, they also ask for Feedback.  And I have been giving them the rough edge of my tongue (fingers??) for a couple weeks.  So far nothing has changed, and frankly, I cannot say I am surprised; I suspect that the “feedback” goes directly into the Recycle Bin.

I am far from finished with this issue.  Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire ten times over on the backs of the people who keep his website going; for a man as young as he is, the sheer ingratitude and arrogance of his failure to maintain the standards that one presumes he had something to do with creating in the first place is unconscionable.  I only have one warning for him:  you might think you and your brainchild are the king of the world right now, but there was a time when AOL thought the same thing and if they had not branched out into cable television and Internet service they would have died an agonizing death a long time ago.  In fact the AOL brand is all but dead; the merger with Time Warner finished the death knell that had already begun to sound when AOL as a community dissolved.

Mr Zuckerberg:  No one is invulnerable.  Everyone can get got.  In all probability you can’t be ruined financially as you have more money than a small city could spend in a century, but you and your brainchild can easily be dragged through the mud unless you quit wallowing in it and start upholding the standards your company claims to uphold.

Love is the Most Powerful Thing There is.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 23, 2012 by scottsteaux63

Yesterday John and I went to the wedding of our friends Katie, a fellow organist, and Carol, a doctor at Bassett Hospital. They’ve been together for nearly thirty years and had a ceremony back at the beginning in their backyard; yesterday they did it at the Presbyterian Church in Cooperstown, and made it legal at last, if only here in New York State. That church had so much love in it during the hour or so the wedding took that it seemed as if it would pour out the doors and windows and surround the whole village. Afterward there was a reception given at a local nursery and garden center, of all places, with local beers and wines and all the food locally grown and much of it vegetarian or vegan, though there were a couple of meat dishes as well. And along with the food there was music and much, much joy.

It occurred to me during the ceremony that the Fundamentalists would probably be appalled, but I couldn’t for the life of me see how or why. It was a lovely ceremony and a testament to the love these two women have shared for nearly thirty years and will continue to share for many more.

I have been a Christian practically from the cradle; what we witnessed yesterday (and did ourselves last July) was something that as kids we thought was permanently closed to us and would remain so.  The possibility of actually getting legally married to another man, even if it only applies in my home state, was a concept that most of us LGBTs who were kids and teens in the Sixties and even the Seventies couldn’t even conceive of.  It is instructive to take a look at the words used to describe our relationships in our youth:

Lover:  This one was common parlance when I was a small child in the Sixties and remained the term most used during the Seventies, which were my teen years.  I never liked it much; it has the word “love” as its root, to be sure, but it also implies illicitness and impermanence.  Is it any wonder that we LGBTs developed a reputation for relationships that did not last?

Longtime Companion:  Despite the 1989 film of the same name, or perhaps because of it, this one was used primarily in newspaper obituaries to describe the surviving partner of a person who died of AIDS.  Which is a pity in a way, because in a lot of ways it is better than the next one.

Partner:  This one is probably the one most used these days; at least it has become common enough that it has lost some of the ambiguity it had in the beginning.  And it continues to be widely used, though I have never liked this one much either; it makes my marriage sound like a business arrangement.

The word “spouse” shows up from time to time, but has not really caught on, as it has a certain sterile quality that doubtless arises from its status as a legal term.

At the end of the day, only two words really describe the relationships I am discussing:  “husband”  and “wife.”  Now I know the idea that a man can have a husband, or a woman a wife, has been a bitter pill for some to swallow.  But that is what John is to me.  He is my husband, and I am his.  No other word states so clearly what we mean to each other.  The same goes for “wife.”  And in our circle, which includes straight people and LGBTs in almost equal numbers, the use of the proper terms has become the accepted parlance.  No quotation marks.  And it’s spreading; doctors, customer service people in stores and over the phone, more and more we can use the words freely and not have the person we are addressing flinch.

This December 21 will be John’s and my tenth wedding anniversary; the legal marriage is only a little over a year old, it’s true, but as far as we are concerned, that sunny December afternoon at the Unitarian Church in Summit NJ was the day we got married.  Not that the piece of paper is insignificant; far from it.  But the fact that we made it so long without that piece of paper (as did Katie and Carol, for nearly thirty years) states more clearly than anything else the real bottom line:  at the end of the day, love is the most powerful thing there is, and love is what matters most.