Welcome to Jay in VA

This is my spot in the blogworld to rant and rave and ramble - three things I do extremely well - and to just talk about my life in general. My blog has opened up a whole new world to me, and I hope you enjoy reading and commenting! Please feel free to do both. I appreciate your feedback.

Monday, July 21, 2014

I Did It Again...I Think...Twice?!

It's been over a week since I posted last, an eternity for me, but given the nature of that post, and how much it pulled out of me, it was just tonight I noticed how long it has been!

Work has been a jumble. I moved cubicles - I finally moved into the "penthouse" - I have a window! It looks out into the room of cubicles, but this is so much better than the last 5 years of cubiclism for me. More room, more privacy (as much as you can expect in cubicle city), a better workspace all together. Moving was a beast. Five years of crap to sort through, a former co-worker's mess to clean up and sort out, and finally, just the act of carrying it all ten feet to my new abode has worn me out. This morning was the crowning glory. I finished the final hookup of everything to the docking station, plopped the laptop onto it, and fired it off. And 2 minutes later I had 2 black monitors with a mouse moving over them. I force powered it off, and restarted. Of course, Windows wanted to know if I wanted to start it normally, so I hit the ENTER key and off we went. This time, it wants to run CHKDSK (CheckDisk). Who knows why. But get this, the keyboard is no longer enabled, so I can't tell it no. So 3 hours later, I am still looking at  2 black monitors with a cursor moving over it. I decide to swap out the docking station that the former left behind with the identical one from my old cubicle. Lo and behold, I had two 17" monitors filled with Windows 7 goodness! Identical my ass! Who knows why one worked and the other wouldn't.

Now on to the title. If you've been following me for any length of time, you probably realize that I have only been "officially" out for going on 4 years now. That's 51 years in the closet, give or take a few at the beginning before puberty kicked in and I started realizing something was different about me. This has been a process, to say the least. And it seems more times than not, my coming out to someone has been more an accident rather than a conscious decision.

Last Saturday, if in fact I did out myself, was no different. Though it might be more conscious than I give myself credit for. My latest project has been cleaning out the loft where my office space (and pretty much my living space is, given that I haven't watched TV downstairs in years), as well as the closet, and finally, the attic whose entrance is in the rear wall of the closet. My new friend, the 18 year old, with strong arms and back has been here carting junk to a trailer, then we take it to the dump. Last Friday: EIGHT old computers (total of 11 now, in two trips), 2 printers (total of 4), 2 monitors (total of 4), 2 scanners (total of 2), and countless boxes of useless accoutrements. This makes TWO 6'x10' trailer loads to the recyle piles and the skips. Goal accomplished: We found my boxes of slides, and several other "long lost" items I wanted to retrieve! Next step: How to keep the closet straight. I decided a set of shelves on wheels would be the solution. So I got another friend to help me. Here is the result:
I still can't believe that 2 weeks ago this was a jumbled pile of crap that spilled out into the loft by 3 feet or so! Thank you, RB, for all that hauling!!!

Anyway, the friend who helped with the sawing and screwing happens to be one of my best friends. He also happens to not look at the "homosexual lifestyle" with much more than disdain. I hate to dis him, but he's a Catholic that picks and chooses. It's OK to use birth control, same-sex marriage is not. After we built the platform with casters and the bottom shelves on it, we loaded it into my truck. I closed the gate, and as we stood there and talked, I could tell he wasn't concentrating on me, he was staring, nearly agape, at the stickers on the window of the truck.
 His eyes went up and down. They stayed mostly on the RainbowRVA sticker. Maybe I've saved an awkward conversation. But if he was ever wondering, I'm sure he's not now. And even if he wasn't, he has probably figured it out by now.

The same thing kind of happened at work today. I walked out with one of my co-workers at lunch time. We smelled smoke in the air, and took a few steps over to the end of the building, which parked us right behind my truck. He is sorta the one I figure for at least a far right winger, and he's religious, too. So outing myself to him would not be my first choice. He asked where I got the multi-colored RVA stickers. I told him the bottom one was from a rescue squad, and the other one was from my "youth group", and they are fundraisers. He hmm'ed and said he'd keep that in mind. I don't know if he made the connection between Rainbow and GAY, or if he noticed the rainbow ROSMY sticker at the bottom. But I suspect I've managed to out myself to him.

Meh, who cares? If my best friend has a problem with me, he'll have a tough time explaining himself to our circle of friends, many of whom already know (including HIS best friend). If my co-worker has a problem, I think he'll be respectful enough to keep it to himself. And in either case, it's a win for being out!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Us Gays - Us Christians

^ Flameproof Suit ^
My Story      I know this could start a firestorm, so I am donning my flameproof suit. I know I have readers that are atheist. I know I have readers that are Christians, too. I'm perfectly OK with both. I hope you will be OK with my beliefs, too. Please? Also, this is probably the most personal post I've written in a long time. Be prepared. (Hmmm, where have I heard that before?)

I have stated this before; I will restate it for newer readers.
     I am a Christian. 
I was born, bred, baptized, and raised a Southern Baptist. It was an SBC church camp sex ed program - go figure - that gave me the words to describe the feelings I was having as puberty kicked in, even at 12-13 years old...with no condemnation, just "this is how it can be". My more formative years between 9th grade and college graduation were in an American Baptist church ("Southern Baptists who admit they drink" I was told one hot Saturday at a youth choir car wash as I vacuumed out a car whose backseat was filled with cases of beer). Once again, there was no condemnation, and total acceptance - even though I wasn't out, some of my friends in the youth group were "obviously gay" and no one cared. We were just "the youth". When I moved to Virginia, I attended and participated with an Episcopal Church, and worshiped in whatever denomination my scouts were in depending on the location - including Roman Catholic, Judaism, Lutheran, and one Christmas service at a Reformed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (NOT the Mormons - this is LDS at it's worst - and a whole other {horror} story).

I remained pretty active in church activities until I joined my last scout troop in late 1986. The United Methodist Church where we met was pretty standoffish towards the "outside" groups that met there, and had a multitude of strict rules that had to be followed. It was a rather strained relationship, so I tended to stay a little farther away from "church". (I later found out why they hated me in particular which had nothing to do with me being gay, but that, too, is a whole other story.)

All during this time, the Bible was never used as a weapon against me (not that I was acknowledging that I was a target); gays weren't even mentioned. It wasn't an issue. Of course, I was completely suppressing the fact that I was gay. 100%. No one could or would ever guess. So who knows. I sure wouldn't have known. I wasn't going to church every Sunday like I had for so long. In fact, I was out with the scouts 2-3-4 weekends a month, damn near year round, and on those other 1 or 2 Sundays, I bloody well slept in! Nor did I follow "gay news".

Psalm 22:1 (KJV)
Then March 2007 came along, and my life changed forever. Gone was the nationwide extended family (save some close friends) that I had embraced for 30 years. For the first time in my life, I honestly questioned my beliefs, my faith, my God.

After three years of therapy, alcohol, and self-loathing (how could I possibly be in this situation? I truly am a complete loser...etc.), I generally decided that life was now past me completely, so I finally made a decision that today I consider one of the most profound in my life. I decided to step out of the closet. At first, just with a blog. This blog. Anonymously. At least, in the beginning. Eventually, a few months later, I told a few people IRL, some accidentally! Overall, this was a cathartic decision. But there was one thing. As accepted as I was amongst my friends in real life, SOOOO many of the gay blogs I was reading that led me to this decision to come out were anti-Christian.

I think I get this now.

Yep, this is the face of Christianity that many gays
see today, and it's all they see.
Good grief, so much hatred spewed by people who profess to love Jesus and God the Father. You know all the culprits. Unless you live under a rock. I'll forgive you for that, as long as you admit it. There are people who make their living hating us gays, denouncing anyone that claims to be a gay Christian. "You can be changed" is the mantra they preach, unless it's just "fuck you, you suck" (yeah, I do...what's it to you?). "You are not a human who deserves anything like recognition". And let's not forget our favorite bigots: "GOD HATES FAGS" (see picture, right). This includes my beloved Southern Baptists who have now come out as virulently anti-gay. I'm ashamed of how much I now loath my former brothers in Christ, who denounce us, and clearly - against all Biblical Commandments - hate us. I almost went to work for these people!!! YEESH! Thank God I didn't accept the job! (Maybe He got it right that time, ya think?)

Now, years later, I'm sort of immersing myself in a lifestyle that I suppressed for so long. Making up for lost time? Perhaps. Does it matter? I read a lot of news about gays issues, gay lifestyles, gay anything. Most of the sites I watch for "the gay stuff" are:
http://slog.thestranger.com (Dan Savage)

Sometimes there's a lot of repetition. And one thing they all do well is showcase the anti-gay haters out there. Religiously. So it's fairly easy to get the idea that being gay and Christian are biblically opposed and completely imcompatible. It took me a while to realize why they trumpet this nonsense. It has to do with keeping your friends close and your enemies closer (this will be a surprising link...click it, I dare you). If you don't know what they're up to and what spittle-flecked nonsense they are spewing this week, you simply won't know when to DUCK!

But that is no consolation to someone who identifies as being a Christian, and is trying to reconcile those beliefs and choices with things that are not either. They're ingrained.

Then I discovered The Closet Professor. Here is his profile:
I am a graduate student (working on my PhD) and a teacher (high school and college adjunct) who lives in the South. Life is not always easy. Sometimes it is quite stressful, but my blog helps me to procrastinate and (sometimes) get my creative juices flowing. Life will work out the way it is supposed to in the end, I just have to be patient.

My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces.

Joe is also a Christian and has spent a fair amount of time, and devoted many blog posts to the "issue" of Gay Christians. Every Sunday, he writes a post about something Biblical, always about how the Bible and Christianity are supposed to make lives better, not tear them down. You can see these posts here: http://closetprofessor.blogspot.com/search/label/Religion.

A few of the more pertinent ones are:

10 Bible-Based Reasons to Support LGBT Christians

1.     Condemning same-sex relationships is harmful to LGBT people. 
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that good trees bear good fruit, but the church’s rejection of same-sex relationships has caused tremendous, needless suffering to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

2.     Sexual orientation is a new concept, one the Christian tradition hasn’t addressed.
Many Christians draw on our faith’s traditions to shape our beliefs, but the concept of sexual orientation is new. Before recent decades, same-sex behavior was understood along the lines of gluttony or drunkenness—as a vice of excess anyone might be prone to—not as the expression of a sexual orientation. The Christian tradition hasn’t spoken to the modern issue of LGBT people and their relationships.

3.     Celibacy is a gift, not a mandate. 
The Bible honors celibacy as a good way of living—Jesus was celibate, after all—but it also makes clear that celibacy must be a voluntary choice made by those who have the gift of celibacy. Requiring that all gay people remain celibate because their sexuality is “broken” is at odds with the Bible’s teachings on celibacy.

4.     Sodom and Gomorrah involved an attempted gang rape, not a loving relationship. 
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is commonly assumed to have been the result of God’s wrath against homosexuality, but the only form of same-sex behavior described in the story is an attempted gang rape—nothing like the loving, committed relationships that are widespread today. The Bible explicitly condemns Sodom for its arrogance, inhospitality, and apathy toward the poor, but never for same-sex behavior.

5.     The prohibitions in Leviticus don’t apply to Christians. 
Leviticus condemns male same-sex intercourse, but the entire Old Testament law code has never applied to Christians in light of Christ’s death. Leviticus also condemns eating pork, rabbit, or shellfish, cutting hair at the sides of one’s head, and having sex during a woman’s menstrual period—none of which Christians continue to observe.

6.     Paul condemns same-sex lust, not love. 
Like other ancient writers, Paul described same-sex behavior as the result of excessive sexual desire on the part of people who could be content with opposite-sex relationships. He doesn’t have long-term, loving same-sex relationships in view. And while he describes same-sex behavior as “unnatural,” he also says men having long hair goes against nature, and most Christians read that as a reference to cultural conventions.

7.     The term “homosexual” didn’t exist until 1892. 
Some modern Bible translations say that “homosexuals” will not inherit the kingdom of God, but neither the concept nor the word for people with exclusive same-sex attraction existed before the late 19th century. While the Bible rejects lustful same-sex behavior, that isn’t close to a condemnation of all gay people and relationships.

8.     Marriage is about commitment. 
Marriage often involves procreation, but according to the New Testament, it’s based on something deeper: a lifelong commitment to a partner. Marriage is even compared to the relationship between Christ and the church, and while the language used is opposite-sex, the core principles apply just as well to same-sex couples.

9.     Human beings are relational. 
From the beginning of Genesis, human beings are described as having a need for relationship, just as God himself is relational. Sexuality is a core part of what it means to be a relational person, and to condemn LGBT people’s sexuality outright damages their ability to be in relationship with all people—and with God.

10. Faithful Christians are already embracing LGBT brothers and sisters. 
From denominations like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (USA) to organizations like the Gay Christian Network and the Reformation Project, Christians across the country are already putting their commitment to LGBT equality in action. They’re showing their fellow believers what it looks like to be a faithful Christian who fully affirms LGBT Christians.

These ten statements are from The Reformation Project which exists to train Christians to support and affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Through building a deep grassroots movement, we strive to create an environment in which Christian leaders will have the freedom to take the next steps toward affirming and including LGBT people in all aspects of church life.  The Refprmation project was begun by openly gay, LGBT activist Matthew Vines. Vines, who recently released his book God and the Gay Christian, is perhaps best known for the viral YouTube video "The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality."
You'll see that video mentioned again later.

A few others:

And especially these:
http://closetprofessor.blogspot.com/2013/08/questions-and-answers.html (Pt. 1) &
http://closetprofessor.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-defiles-person.html (Pt. 2)

A comment I made on the site resulted in this post:

I believe one of the most important posts is here, because it discusses how misinterpretations of the language of the original books of the Bible have caused so much grief amongst us:
No one has really ever known what to make of the Greek word arsenokoitai that Paul seems to have originally came up with. The exact meaning of this word is lost. It seems to have been a term created by Paul for this verse.  Rick Brentlinger, of GayChristian101.com, says:

Arseno is the Greek word for man and koite is the Greek word for bed, used euphemistically to mean having sex. We say 'he slept with her' when we mean, had sex with her. In the same way, koite-bed was a euphemism for having sex.
It does seem to be a compound word in which the original meaning has been lost to us.  Arseno has the same meaning today as in Ancient Greek which is man or male.  Koitai though is a little more difficult.  I am not a scholar of Ancient Greek, but I have tried to understand the use of words (historians have to do that if they want to remain as accurate as possible).  Brentlinger states that it means “bed,” whereas modern use of the word translate it to mean “looks.”  White has a differing interpretation:
As for arsenokoitai, Greek scholars don’t know exactly what it means — and the fact that we don’t know is a big part of this tragic debate. Some scholars believe Paul was coining a name to refer to the customers of “the effeminate call boys.” We might call them “dirty old men.” Others translate the word as “sodomites,” but never explain what that means.
I know, there's a lot of reading material here, and I do so wish all the haters would converge on this page and read it all. But they won't. They don't want to change their views. And I know that I am pretty much preaching to the choir otherwise. But I did want to get this out.

Then the other day, I saw this article on Politico.com:
Over the past decade, evangelical support for gay marriage has more than doubled, according to polling by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. About a quarter of evangelicals now support same-sex unions, the institute has found, with an equal number occupying what researchers at Baylor University last year called the “messy middle” of those who oppose gay marriage on moral grounds but no longer support efforts to outlaw it. The shift is especially visible among young evangelicals under age 35, a near majority of whom now support same-sex marriage. And gay student organizations have recently formed at Christian colleges across the country, including flagship evangelical campuses such as Wheaton College in Illinois and Baylor in Texas.

This is freaking amazing. One of the denominations of Christianity that has continuously fought and preached against homosexuality is experiencing a sea change. And as sea changes go, it's slow, but very real. The article led to this Youtube video. Now here is a young man who's put it all together in one place. It's an hour (actually 67 minutes) long, and it caused me to take a rather long lunch break the other day.

Bottom line: I'm no longer ashamed to be gay and a Christian. I'm no longer afraid to let people know either of these fundamental facts about my make up as a person. I have Joe and many others to thank for this. It sure is freeing not to have to hide! And I would hope, in time, others might also come to this realization. Even more than I hope that all the denominations and congregations that spew the "hatred of God" find the truth before they have no choice.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What the Hell is Wrong with Us?

I found this blog post last night. Let's not get into how or why I stumbled over this, but it's simply not right.

From milkboys.com...here is the full URL: http://milkboys.org/why-is-a-kid-whos-a-first-time-nonviolent-offender-sent-to-a-death-row-high-security-prison/ :
     Last year, a group of teens in Utah entered a home and held two people at gunpoint with the intent to commit robbery. The youngest of the boys, 16-year-old Cooper Van Huizen, provided his father’s guns to his cohorts but did not use them himself. In the end, the boys left with a cell phone, a bag of marijuana, and $10 cash. The victims were were terrified but physically unharmed.
     Under a plea deals, two of the older boys, are serving 210 and 180 days in jail respectively after admitting guilt to second-degree felony counts. The two other teens are awaiting sentencing. In March, after his case was removed from juvenile and sent to adult court, Van Huizen took the same plea deal as the first two teens. The defence attorney told his parents they would petition to reduce the charges to misdemeanours after he completed his probation. They were also told it was very likely he would not have to serve any jail time as he was a first time offender.
So what happened?
     On May 7, Van Huizen appeared before the same judge that sentenced his co-defendants. In a move that surprised the defence and prosecution, District Judge Ernie Jones deemed the plea deal illegal and “too soft” for his crimes. He sentenced the first time 16-year-old offender to two 1-15 years to Utah’s maximum security prison.
Unitah 1 is the highest security building in Utah’s state prison system. It houses 93 inmates, including gang members, sex offenders and those serving on death row. Inmates spend 23 hours a day in a solitary cell, with a single window allowing natural light. Reports from prisoners in Unitah 1 have included round the clock victimization, suicide attempts, rotten food and “every kind of psychological, social, and verbal dehumanization known to man.”
     The inmates now include first time, nonviolent offender, 16-year-old Cooper Van Huizen.
There are a lot of news stories about this. Here's one:
And another:

Cooper is NOT innocent. But to place a 16yo boy, who has never committed a crime before in his life, into an adult maximum security prison, is an abomination. All too often, we place teenagers in adult situations. Every study ever done shows that teens' brains are not developed to the same extent as adult brains.

I just think that rational adults need to protest against adult treatment of juvenile offenders. Yes, there are exceptions. But this isn't one of them. I am asking you to please help in any way you can. I've asked two other blog and Facebook friends, Michael Bowler and Michael Hamar, the first an author that works with incarcerated youth and fights for equal rights for juveniles, and the latter a local attorney who works with activists to help. I'd like to ask you to sign the change.org petition asking the judge's superior to intervene and help. You can find the petition here:

PLEASE!!!! Do you want YOUR teenage child sent to an adult maximum security prison for a moment of indiscretion when, especially, his "co-conspirators" received sentences an order of magnitude below this? Please try to help Cooper. If you know lawyers, if you know anyone in the ACLU, if you know anyone in Utah...and SPREAD THE WORD!!!! PLEASE!!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

It is July 4th. The officially recognized date of our country's founding with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was nice that Hurricane Arthur bypassed us, and the weather this morning was WONDERFUL! I went to a local community's parade, mostly to take pictures of the Greater Richmond Pipes and Drums. My new friend plays in this group, and to be perfectly honest, the chance to see him in a kilt was irresistible. Plus, to be perfectly odd, I love bagpipes. They led the parade, and I got some decent shots of them. None great, but they love getting anything!

I shot 199 pictures total, every unit in the parade and multiple pics of many of them. I sent a link to the community association, if you want to see them all, click here: http://wlphotog.com/2014_Brandermill_4th_Parade/. Here was the weirdest parade unit:

The noises this guy made were...well...disturbing. Though I did like his rainbow socks! This is, by the way, a pink elephant as near as I can tell and he rapped that poor kid on the head with that oddball tentacle! There were a lot of political parties and candidates, including the only one I could stomach:
God, in this 98% Repuglican county, the Republicans, Tea Partiers, and Libertarians were out in force. Though I happy to see that our Democratic State Senator Henry Marsh was in attendance:
We even had Santa Claus!
This fine morning was preceded by a Thursday that was outstanding! The new friend (OK, heck, "RB"), a rising freshman in college, is money hungry. I was talking about needing some help to carry some heavy old crap (think 21" CRT computer monitor, and a 19", and a 17") down my stairs since my knees are probably not up to the task. RB raised his hand. I took him up on it. We cleared out a 6'x10' trailer worth of crap out of my loft! Five old computers (took the hard drives out), 2 bags of old clothes that charity wouldn't want, a dead desk chair, and several boxes worth of total and complete junk! RB worked his skinny little ass off. (I hope he sees this.) Now, I intend to get to Target tomorrow and buy some shelves to place in the closet so the boxes of good stuff we unearthed and consolidated can be placed in an organized manner. The most important thing is that now the attic door is accessible. The worst thing is that there is at least one more day finishing up the loft cleaning, then one or two more in the attic itself, with the goal being the divestiture of all junk, and the retrieval of the two refrigerator sized boxes of slides so I can begin to get them digitized.

Anyway, I don't think I'm going to venture out for fireworks tonight. That's a function of the dinner (mostly the beverages) I had tonight:
Great 4th of July so far!