Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The best years of your life (or something...) (part 1)

For the fun of it, a few things I'd tell myself through 9th grade:

-- Seriously, I know it's so fresh in your mind and you're still soaring on endorphins, but move on to life after the bee, okay? The sooner, the better. And for GOD'S sake, do not write that letter to you-know-who!

-- So, um, if you're so against popularity contests, then why the hell are you running for freshman class president? Let stuco go.

-- I know you'd like to think you're all badass, but a single shot of Bailey's every afternoon does not a rebel make. Especially if you're concerned that your parents will find out once the bottle's empty.

-- You want that cashier job at Alfalfa's? Get it. Damn your parents. They just want you to get a job that's socially acceptable. Catering is sooo high society snooty Muffy Piddlewaters and Skippy McGillycuddy, Esq. Not your scene, right? And by the by: the whole Alfalfa's gig will be very influential in the future, in a tangential but awesome way.

-- Dunno what to say about that 2.9, ol' buddy. Let's head out to Perkins for some coffee and shoot the shit. Get away from the parents and let their heads stop spinning. I'll buy.

-- Don't do speech and debate. You’re destroying yourself for no reason and learning absolutely nothing in the process. Honestly. Find something else to do that won’t require you to wake up at oh-fuck-early on Saturday mornings and subject you to long, boring, useless days that aren’t doing jackshit for your speaking skills. Not doing speech and debate doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re respecting your health. And fuck how it looks on your transcript.

-- Speaking of respecting your health...so you hate these colds that last forever, right? Jeebus, where to start? You love sleep, right? Do it. REST. (See above about quitting speech and debate already.) Have lots of the herbal tea that you're gonna get at Alfalfa's with your employee discount (hint, hint). And, uh, notice how you feel after you eat those pork chops with tons of gravy and a full glass of milk for dinner, ok?

-- Get into the Who over the summer. As much as you are into Led Zeppelin, the Who may possibly rock your world even more. I haven't heard much, even at my age, and I think I'm too old now to totally appreciate 'em. Still, "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" are pretty awesome, no? Oh, you haven't heard them. Hmm.

-- I know and you know the real reason you're staring at your girlfriend's big burly linebacker brother as you pass in the hall. (By the way...dating someone simply because she looks like Julia Roberts? Seriously?) And yes, you can tell yourself it's because you're afraid he'll squash you into a grease spot on the sidewalk. Which is a remote possibility. But that's all I'll say and your secret's safe with me. Until college. Then it's open season. (Just kidding.)

-- And for God’s sake, print out your journal! You know, the one that starts “Do you suppose anyone out there can hear me?” Save it. Put it in a safe deposit box if need be. You’ll want it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Don't I wish...

funny pictures of cats with captions

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I love this church...

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
- Mahatma Gandhi

"For all of those who don't fit in; who follow their instincts and are told they sin...this is a prayer for a different way."
- Neil Tennant

======================

Last night, I found myself down at the Wrangler, perhaps my favorite bar in Denver, where the types of guys I like (big beefy bears) tend to congregate. One of my friends, a fellow choir queer and director of Mosaic, the only queer youth chorus in Denver, happened to mention that a very, ah, shall we say interesting service was gonna go down at First Plymouth Congregational Church the very next morning. I knew the director of music down there, so I put it in my mind to perhaps go.

As it turned out, I was singing at another church down around the area, so once we sang our (maybe 90 second-long) spiritual, I meandered on down to this church to see exactly what was going on.

The last thing I expected to see was this music director clad entirely in his ├╝bermasculine tight-fitting black leather Tom of Finland regalia. (That link is rated R, by the way.) But there he was, looking...good god-DAMN, hot as hell! And what a mindfuck it was to see him behind the organ, playing the doxology and hymns with all the flourishes you'd expect from a serious church organist. A really cool mindfuck.

It's one thing to have a church claim that it's open and affirming, which is your standard basic code for "welcoming all sexual orientations." And most churches that claim this really do follow through on it. But the service today totally blew away any other service I've been in.

First off, the pastor was wearing a rainbow-colored stole. Second, his sermon could not have been any more affirming and accepting of us queer folk...not to mention his continual linking said sentiment to what Jesus taught and how he acted. And third, he invited a woman to come up front and tell her difficult story of her struggles with being a lesbian, growing up in pre-Stonewall America, trying to exorcise her demons with alcohol, and finally accepting herself for who she is, and kicking alcohol to the curb once and for all. (She is now getting married to her partner in Iowa next weekend. What a beautiful thing that is.)

But it was the music that really brought the house down. After the sermon, the choir did an awesome version of Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar," reworded as "I Love This Church," echoing all the inclusive language that the original song has. So fun. But seriously, how can you top an affirming service like this that uses a wicked version of "It's Raining Men" as the postlude? With choir members dancing in the aisles and handing out rainbow-colored scarves for everyone to wave around? Damn. You'll never see this in a good Lu-the-ran church, like I'm so used to.

Afterward, I talked with a few women, none of whom could have been any less than 70. They all talked about how they couldn't wait to start on their "bar ministry," going to gay hangouts and...well, not proselytizing per se, but just establishing their presence as a church that is on our side and welcoming. First stop: Hamburger Mary's.

Mindblowing.

======================

Now. I've been to other affirming churches all through my life. Lutherans are genuine and willing to debate the question of how sexual orientation fits into the Christian tradition, and I give them major props for that. The Religious Society of Friends (aka Quakers) have a long-standing tradition of radical social activism. They may have been the first Christian-based church to consider unions between two men or two women as equal to a union between a man and a woman, if I correctly remember what I read years ago. (Alas, Quakers as a whole are deeply divided on this issue.) And the United Church of Christ (jokingly sometimes referred to as "Unitarians Considering Christ") also is quite welcoming, including openly gay men and lesbians as pastors and other clergy. Indeed, one of my favorite churches up to this point (a UCC church) has been Spirit of the Lakes in Minneapolis, with Rev. Rebecca Voelkel as perhaps the most excellent and passionate pastor I have ever had the great fortune to worship with, regardless of sexual orientation. I've been blessed.

Incidentally, the Metropolitan Community Church is also a fully affirming church, though I've not been to their services as much. I've also been blessed to worship as part of the community at a "More Light" Presbyterian church in Portland called St. Mark Presbyterian - small, tight-knit, and wonderfully welcoming and compassionate.

I have never experienced first-hand any Southern Baptist, pentecostal, or charismatic bigotry or homophobia in my life. Maybe I've been sheltered, but at some point, I just wanted to see for myself if there were churches that really were welcome and affirming of who I was - a gay man who had recently come out. The good news is that there were, and still are, all over the place.

The evil view that gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered folk are hated by God and condemned to hell after their sinful life on this plane is deeply wrong, but unfortunately still alive and well. It's seriously damaging Christianity as a whole, and is being used as the basis for breaking apart families. It's permanently and needlessly wounding individuals who otherwise could be whole. It's causing untold amounts of fear, anger, and anguish. And in some cases, it's contributing to murders and suicides of our queer brothers and sisters. It needs to stop.

Churches like the ones I've described above are wonderful, and so highly recommended to anyone who, because of their sexual orientation, have been cast out of their church and feel like their God has condemned them. Not all Christians are homophobic. Some do take Jesus' teachings to heart and openly show love and compassion for everyone, regardless. And this, really, is what Christianity is, and should be, about.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

OK Go - Here It Goes Again

In which our heroes create one of the most perfect videos ever. Who knew that treadmills and bright pink clothes could prove so central to choreography?

(Damn the powers that be for prohibiting embedding this video.)