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Archive for March, 2012

Matt Moore on the Straight and Narrow

29 Mar

Oh joy, here we go again… Another article from The Christian Post that talks about a young man who’s “seen the error of his ways and turned away from his [homosexual] orientation.”

It never ceases to amaze me, how some people are so quick to embrace the hypocrisy surrounding the belief the Bible “states” homosexuality is a sin. Untold damage has been thrust upon youth and some adults who find themselves struggling to accept their same-sex attractions as “normal” (for them). “Old-school, traditional churches” have tried to impress upon these same young men and women, throughout their lives, that it’s a terrible sin and surely one cannot find grace and redemption unless he/she chooses not to act on such attractions.

Many churches have re-engineered their message of bigotry and bias, now professing that “being gay (homosexual or same-sex attracted)” isn’t a sin that’ll condemn you to a life-everlasting in hellfire and damnation but “acting upon” the attraction will.

Translation:  You can “be” gay but must choose not to “act” on your natural inclinations. If successful, you get an A+, can pass “Go” and proceed directly into the arms of the heavenly Father upon your earthly demise.

It’s really sad that a lot of LGBTQ youth and young adults buy into that line of reasoning. Not because we “need more queers to make ourselves the mobile, ever-more-formidable force that we can be” {sarcasm} but only because such a reaction means they’ve given up any hope of realizing a full, loving and productive relationship with someone they can be “FULLY” attracted to. There’s nothing wrong with love, people.


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Giving up on Virginity?

25 Mar

Tim Tebow, Bronco's quarterbackThere’s a lot of peer pressure on teens to lose their virginity. It shouldn’t be that way but in most towns, cities and rural areas across the U.S. — it is.

Kids are growing up way too fast these days. Part of the problem is simply nature. Let’s face it, when you’re a host to an onslaught of testosterone every waking hour (and even when you’re asleep), all you pretty much want to do every day is get your rocks off. Then your friends start talking about their own sexual adventures (some of which most likely exist ONLY in their minds) and the pressure to keep up is on.

Today’s blog entry is in response to another blogger’s talky blog (video).

Most of what I’ve written is for the benefit of those feeling pressure to lose their virginity. Don’t be in such a hurry; that’s my advice but read the response so that you understand why.
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Testicular Cancer: Get a Grip!

24 Mar

Adam Levine for Testicular Cancer Awareness

Self Exam for Testicular CancerTesticular cancer is the number one cancer found in men between the ages of 15 and 40 (and isn’t something to be taken lightly). If you’re a guy, know what to look for. Familiarize yourself with the disease and learn how to recognize the symptoms early on. Regularly conduct self-exams and see a physician if anything at all seems out of the ordinary. Your own vigilance with regard to what is going on with your body may just be what saves your life in the end.

If you’re a parent, teach your son(s) how to look for any signs of trouble. One young man, Jordan Jones, was diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer at the very young age of thirteen (13). You can read all about his harrowing story here. Fortunately, Jordan’s story has a happy ending and he is alive and well today.

Testicular Cancer Awareness (facebook page)

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Posted in Health

 

HIV Criminalization

24 Mar

HIV is not a crime.We need to prosecute people who have been diagnosed as having the flu, who then knowingly walk amongst the rest of us in public. After all, influenza can have devastating effects on a person’s ability to function and worst-case scenario, some persons even die because of the flu. Keep your sick self at home; don’t you dare take a chance on infecting the rest of us who are healthy and for lack of a better word, “clean” you dirty, dirty person you!

This same attitude should be adopted as regards people who test positive for human papillomavirus (pap-ah-LO-mah-VYE-rus) (HPV). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links several types of cancer to HPV and they estimate that at least 50% of sexually active people will test positive for the virus at some point during their lives. Oh my God! I’m so afraid – I feel the need to crawl back under my rock and never, EVER take a chance on “experiencing the blessing that is life” ever again.

Now let’s talk about Hepatitis (A, B and/or C), another virus of varying strains that affects a growing number of persons in the world today. We should do our part to further stigmatize and criminalize those living with hepatitis. After all, approximately 100 Americans die each year from Hepatitis A and the disease is transmittable. For shame; you people should stay home and keep your tawdry disease to yourselves!

If you’re reading this blog entry and thinking to yourself, “Michael is frikken’ nuts” — rest easy.

I haven’t (lost my mind); I’m just being very, VERY sarcastic in an attempt to demonstrate how RIDICULOUS the criminalization laws affecting persons who are living with HIV truly are.


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HIV: Cross-Infections

22 Mar

HIV-AIDSI’m pretty much an open book about my life (though there are some things that I prefer not to talk about, especially here on the Internet in an open forum). Friends find it surprising that I’m as open about my HIV status as I am. I’ll admit being open about my status on the Internet does give me “some” cause for concern occasionally (especially whereas future employment is concerned) but I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to do what we can to share with others, the lessons we have learned over the course of our lives to date.

I’ve made many mistakes; I’m no angel and certainly not perfect by any reach of the definition. However, I try to live my life as genuinely as possible (meaning simply that I try to be authentic and honest at all times). Sometimes fear gets in the way and I might permit the rare “white lie via omission” (provided, doing so doesn’t put anyone’s life at risk).

At any rate, I’m a member of a group of POZ members on a popular social networking site where a recent discussion resulted in comments about having unprotected sex with your partner, provided both parties are already HIV-positive. The suggestion was that there was no risk if both persons were already exposed to the virus. Speaking only for myself here and not being a trained medical profession, I had to take exception to the direction in which the conversation was going. All that I’ve been told, since being advised in 2001 of my own exposure, suggests that “cross-infection” is and remains a real concern for those living with HIV.


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Faith’s foot in the door

13 Mar

This is in response to Davey Wavey’s blog entry of yesterday (2012-Mar-12). DW has always been rather … well, anti-religious and I can understand why he feels the way that he does.

As gay men, women and teens, most of us have experienced the kind of Bible-bashing that pretty much turns the majority of LGBT persons “off” to the slightest possibility of faith and especially, organized religion. You condemn a group of people for just being themselves long enough, you shouldn’t be surprised when they turn and say, “Screw you.” There have been times when I myself have felt this way and I’m a person who considers himself spiritual and faithful (but it does get old after a while, having to constantly endure the prejudice of others who use the Bible as their weapon of choice against you).

Think of it this way; an entire class of people (described by most fundamentalists as “sinners” just for being gay) are made to feel completely unwelcome in the very places of worship that could provide for their/our spiritual needs. Somehow, I don’t really think that was the message that Jesus Christ was attempting to convey all those years ago.

The real problem is that once the damage is done, it’s very difficult to undo. Why else do you think that LGBTQ persons are so quick to lump those who judge us, justifying their bias and prejudice (with religion), into the same category? What started out as prejudice continues to evolve and feed into further prejudice (directed toward the very people who seemingly began the judging). It really is a never-ending, vicious cycle and it doesn’t serve anybody’s best interests.


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Ellen Degeneres and two-million moms

11 Mar

I don’t watch the show regularly but I have a lot of respect for Ellen DeGeneres. Her talk show is always positive and upbeat. When she is addressing a serious topic that has made the news, she doesn’t “react” irrationally but rather instead, she gives her opinion and [often] even interjects a bit of humor simultaneously.

So, what’s the problem?

Oh my God… She’s (dare I say it?) a lesbian! And a group of mothers on Facebook who’ve banded together under the banner of “One Million Moms” is taking exception to JC Penny’s hiring Ellen on as a spokesperson. By the way (and as Ellen points out in the above clip from her show), it’s interesting that the membership of “One Million Moms” falls FAR SHORT of “one million.”

I really want to thank everyone who is supporting me and if you don’t know me very well, if you’re just watching maybe for the first time or you’re just getting to know me I want to be clear and here are the values that I stand for.

I stand for:

  1. Honesty;
  2. Equality;
  3. Kindness;
  4. Compassion;
  5. Treating people the way you want to be treated; and
  6. Helping those in need.

To me, those are traditional values; that is what I stand for.

—Ellen Degeneres

At last count the page indicated there were 45,152 members posting. (I suppose it’s alright to round up to the nearest million. After all, who needs truth, honesty and personal values, right?) Just sayin’…

What’s equally interesting is that in response to the above group’s attempt to divide JC Penny and Ellen, another group of moms have appeared on the horizon in support of Degeneres. Let’s give a big shout-out for “One Million Moms Behind Ellen” (who likewise, need to shore up their numbers). Show them some love; go to their page and click on the “Like” button.

And if you’re not a Mom there’s another group on Facebook called “1 Million people who support Ellen for JC Penny” that, at last count, has garnered 199,688 likes with 6,486 people talking about the page. Click on the link and Like their page if you are of the mind. Show Ellen the support she deserves.

I now want to take a moment (specifically) to encourage you to watch one of the episodes of The Ellen Show, which is available via the Internet here. In this episode, Carrie Agnew and Rebecca Johnson talk about what happened during the birth of their daughter, Ruby. Rebecca had a wonderful pregnancy but in her own words, the childbirth was anything but. (She had to have a C-section without any anesthesia due to the need to get the baby out immediately Why am I talking about this? Simply put, this is but one of the reasons why we need to achieve Marriage Equality across the nation. Ruby was close to death after delivery but Carrie, not being the “birth” mother, was unable to make the life-saving decision that needed to be made in that moment. Fortunately for the entire family, Rebecca (who had passed out from shock from having to be opened up without anesthesia), awoke just in time to give the necessary consent — but did it really have to be this way?

Personally speaking, I am convinced that in the end we (LGBT persons) will have the right to marry our loving partners, regardless of what those who oppose such equality across the nation might feel. It’s simply a matter of time (and if the desperate cries of the ultra-conservatives is any indication, we’ll attain such sooner rather than later).

Think about it.

Namaste and peace be with you,
Michael

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Catholics Beware

11 Mar

I’ve tried (really, I have) to be patient, understanding, TOLERANT, accepting and even forgiving of the Catholic Church. It’s important to note the distinction here that I’m speaking of the “Church” — not the faith in general and its membership (though my patience with some among its members has been tested, as well).

I readily admit I don’t understand all of the trappings, rituals and traditions of the Catholic Institution but in this instance and in this writer’s opinion, that really doesn’t matter.

This [blog] entry is about hypocrisy. Certainly, it’s fair to say that each one of us is occasionally guilty of being a hypocrite. We wish to believe the best about ourselves but even the best of intentions can fall to the wayside on occasion when our principles are thoroughly tested.

If you claim yours are not; that you never waver from your path great for you! (That either makes you a liar or a saint.)

My own principles have been tested often and I’ll be the first to admit that on more than a few occasions, I’ve failed the test miserably. I’d like to think I’m too good to fail; that my morals are as strong as steel but the truth is [sometimes] when the cost of having to live by those principles is too great, I falter and take the easier route. I’m not going to beat myself up for it since I know I’m no saint; that I’m only human and as such, have fallen far short of being perfect by any measure of the definition.


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A Resource for Labyrinths

10 Mar

A number of people reading my blog (and commenting over on Facebook) have been asking me about labyrinths; what the purpose of same is, as well as where they can find a labyrinth of their own to walk.

I can name a few in the Dallas area (see below) but if you live elsewhere, you’ll need to either do a Google search or ask around. A likely source that might know would be one of the Unity churches in your area.

List of labyrinths in the Dallas, TX area:

  • Unity Church of Dallas: The labyrinth is a painted circle (actually, I believe there are two labyrinths located here) on the back parking lot, furthest away from the church. Unity Church of Dallas is located at 6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75230. I walk this labyrinth regularly; it isn’t a “beautiful” labyrinth, necessarily, but it serves my purpose. The contact for the church is John Barnes at (972) 233-7106 or via email at jrbarnes@swbell.net
    Location: Outdoors
  • World-Wide Labyrinth Locator: I stumbled across this link while compiling this list tonight and hope to check out a number of the labyrinths that are listed on the page. Upon visiting, I’ll update my list here and make my comments about the experience. To use the locator, click on Home and complete the search criteria in the box on the right side of your screen.
    Located: N/A
  • TLC Labyrinth: Located on the northeast side of the lake near the Richland College Teaching-Learning-Community (TLC) Building, located 12800 Abrams Road, Dallas, Texas 75243. I haven’t visited this labyrinth yet but hope to soon.
    Located: Outdoors
  • Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration: Located at 14115 Hillcrest Road (NW corner of Spring Valley and Hillcrest Roads), this church has what appears to be a BEAUTIFUL labyrinth (located inside). I haven’t walked this labyrinth yet but have heard about it on a couple of different occasions now. I plan to visit and walk this labyrinth soon. The church may be contacted at (972) 233-1898.
    Location: Indoors
  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Oak Cliff: Another labyrinth I would like to visit soon (primarily because it is located outdoors and in a woodsy setting). The church is located at 3839 West Kiest Blvd. in Dallas, Texas; Reverend Mark Walz (waltzact2@aol.com) may be contacted at (214) 755-4315.
    Location: Outdoors
  • Cathedral of Hope: I’ve been a member of this church since 1986 (formerly known as Metropolitan Community Church of Dallas, affiliated with Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches). While the “Labryinth Locator” (above) indicates our labyrinth is made of canvas and that you need to call for availability, there IS a “small” outdoor labyrinth that is located off to the right of the church as you are facing it. The church is located at 5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas 75235 (behind the Taco Bell on Inwood Road) and may be accessed from both Inwood Rd. and as well, from Cedar Springs Road. The church may be reached at (214) 351-1901
    Located: Outdoors

I encourage all who are reading to try some form of meditation. We live in a busy and tension-filled world these days and quieting the mind is truly necessary for your own well-being. Walking a labyrinth “may” help you to accomplish this task to some extent. As my own faith is important to me, this is but one way I attempt to quell the everyday stresses and frustrations that find their way into my own life (labyrinths and meditation).

Perhaps the same will be of some use for you.

Namaste and peace be with you,
Michael

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Left vs. Right

04 Mar

 Flag and profile of Bald Eagle I’m a little unclear on what many people mean by the “Left” and the “Right.” In my experience, the Left has often been used to describe anybody who identifies as a Democrat and/or is liberal, while the Right is the catch-all phrase for those who identify as Republican and/or conservative.

But is it as simple as all that?

I don’t mean to stir the pot (okay, maybe I do) but I’m a registered Democrat who likely identifies more so as a Libertarian. I have friends who are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and some who likely don’t wish to identify with any of the above for good reason.

Truth is while my opinions are liberal whereas some issues are concerned (such as marriage equality, etc.), I am also quite conservative with regard to other issues like fiscal responsibility.

(For the record, George Walker Bush screwed us on that particular issue. Bill Clinton decreased spending and the deficit while GWB wasted dollar upon dollar on Middle East tensions, in the form of wars, etc. People like to blame the Democrats for out of control spending but the truth is that BOTH parties have been equally guilty of not giving a crap about OUR working class families.)

Moving along…

It’s my opinion that we do a disservice to ourselves and to our communities when we give in to prejudice and lump people in to one category or another when in truth, their values are comprised of many different opinions (that differ, one from the other) making each one of them uniquely different. Rush Limbaugh’s conduct has been atrocious for as long as I can recall; when I think of him, the labels “douche bag” and “hypocrite” come readily to mind. Mark Levin is another who has said things I find offensive, but on the other hand he has ALSO said some things I am in total agreement with him over.

On the Left, we have the likes of Dan Savage. While I agree with “some” of the things Savage may say … much of his conduct, like Rush Limbaugh, is offensive and causes me to have a rather low opinion of him. (For instance, it’s no secret I cannot stand Rick Santorum; he’s a creep that has no clue how to carry himself as an elected representative without FORCING his own brand of religious viewpoints upon others, at the expense of their own secular rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.) Even so, Dan Savage’s “below the belt” tactics to manipulate technology in such a way as to attack the man’s name via Internet pages that were created to result in his being compared to a mixture of lube and fecal matter was crude, gross and uncalled for.

I’m gay; I’m also faithful/spiritual and identify as a Christian. I’m ALL FOR marriage equality and do not believe women or any other group of people should be singled out and disrespected (judge people for who they are, not what they are). I’m also quite conservative in many respects; I fully support monogamy and while I respect other’s rights to conduct their own relationships as they see fit, I myself can’t fathom being in an “open” or “polyamorous” relationship. I’m not wired that way but if others are, I respect your right to live your own lives as you see fit.

As regards birth control, I’m for it. I’ll admit that I’ve some reservations as regards the subject of abortions but I suppose when all is said and done, I come down on the side of pro-choice. My own criteria is fairly simple; so long as (1) the woman having the abortion isn’t demonstrating a “habit” of getting pregnant, only to then depend on “the quick fix” to get rid of the fetus and (2) so long as the abortion is NOT a late-term procedure… I can get behind that. My reservations are simply that I believe mankind has become “too comfortable” with the idea of aborting rather than acting responsibly from the beginning (a problem that persists in other areas of our lives, as well). If you want to have sex, fine, take some precautions. People should be doing that anyway considering the number of sexually transmitted diseases that are out there! But yes, I’m pro-choice provided certain conditions are met and adhered to. I won’t argue about this here; if you disagree and are pro-life, fine. I can respect that; just don’t get in my effing face yelling that I’m an enabler of baby killers, etc. From where I stand, because I’m no advocate of late-term abortions – I’m not talking about “babies” (I’m talking about “fetuses” – big difference, regardless of what others on the opposite side of this issue want us to believe).

Religion

Many people condemn the Catholic Church. I’ll admit that I don’t understand where the heads of its leaders are at most of the time. However, the Church has also done some great things. Not every priest, bishop or laity, etc. within the church are child molesters (I assume that the vast majority are NOT) and not every person of influence within the Church has gone out of his way to try and sweep these events under the rug (although it may sometime look that way from a historical perspective). My biggest beef with the Catholic Church is that I believe that the prevailing attitude of its leadership, toward those who exhibit any kind of sexuality that is not strictly “heterosexual” — is harmful to LGBTQ persons (both, within the Church and otherwise). The “hate the sin; love the sinner” attitude is unacceptable to me and quite honestly, I feel sorry for anyone who considers him- or herself a practicing Catholic who identifies as LGBT or (by the Church’s definition, one with a same sex attraction). I don’t pity them; I simply feel empathy and sorrow for that person because, in my opinion, there is no way for an LGBTQ person to reconcile his/her sexual orientation with orthodox Catholic beliefs and still get the most out of their life, secularly OR spiritually (but that is my opinion and I know there will be some reading who disagree; that’s your prerogative). Setting aside the Church’s attitude toward sexuality, however, I recognize that it is responsible for a great many good works also. Helping those in need, hospitals, schools, etc. It isn’t as cut and dried as many would like any one issue to be.

There are those who say I should be behind Barack Obama simply because I’m gay.

Please, get a damn clue already. I am happy that Barack Obama has accomplished “some” of the things he has but I still do not respect the man for attempting to side step Congress at every opportunity. We have a system of checks and balances for good reason; Barack wasn’t elected to show contempt and disregard for that system, to do whatever the hell he wants on his own. Because of this, I’m glad that I did not vote for him in the last election – and I have no intentions of voting for him in the forthcoming one either. (I’ll probably end up writing in somebody who isn’t affiliated with either of the major parties as the Republican candidates are all assholes also, inasmuch as I’m concerned.)

The point is, as I have been saying ALL ALONG, there are good people and those we consider to be bad among ALL of the categories of human beings. We would do well to remember that before giving in to the temptation of making “unfair, ambiguous and sweeping generalizations” of people just because they happen to share “one” thing in common.

Namaste and peace be with you,
Michael

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Posted in Attitudes