Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ramadan and Rosh Hashashanah: Even More People Walking Hand in Hand

I have thoroughly enjoyed being in this part of the world during these two high holy days. During Ramadan, walking through East Jerusalem I saw young girls holding hands and walking arm in arm. Young me (18+ y.o.) are walking arm in arm down the street, or arms around each other's backs as they walk down the street.

Likewise, coming up from the Western Wall Esplanade, I have seen young boys tugging and hugging each other, while Israeli soldiers josh each other playfully and physically.

But are they gay per se? I would have to say "no." There have been the slightest, subtlest forms of flirting with some men on the street, but nothing overt like the streets of the USA. Jerusalem is not a safe city to be gay in, from what I can tell so far. I've not seen a rainbow flag, seen any dating among same sex folks, or heard any music that would inspire such outward signs. I knew of one gay bar in Jerusalem, but we aren't going there. I know one of the mayoral candidates was anti-gay.


Pace, B

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jerusalem the Old

My friend John Leonard taught me the difference between LGBTQ cultures in Tel Aviv--where he lived--and Jerusalem when he was blogging "www.mideastpiece.com. From all that I've read, Jerusalem is not a friendly place for LGBTQ people as is Tel Aviv. This City has struggled with Pride Parades for years, and I know of only two gay bars in the City. I believe one of the recent mayoral candidates is also not open to LGBTQ people.

It is good to be abroad and see the contextual shifts in the welcoming of LGBTQ people.

Pace, B

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Holding Hands and Arm in Arm in Israel

What is fascinating to see among Palestinian men is the holding of hands, the three kisses on the cheeks, the physicality of affection, which is so a-typical in and among Western men--gay and straight. I enjoy watching young Palestinian girls holding hands from school as well, but am especially drawn to the young adolescent males walking arm in arm. It catches me off guard, giving my background in American culture in which such affection is a no-no.

Pace, B

In Israel

For the next 12 days I'll be posting from Israel.

Fascinating land and people. I get confused between gay men and Jewish mams' boys. They all blend in and seem the same.


Pace, B

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Off to Israel

I'm off to Israel for the coming 12 days. I leave on Monday afternoon and will be back on October 4th. Part of my job portfolio is leading pilgrimages, and this is a pilgrimage.

It is also a time of re-connecting with the "Jewishness" and "Palestinian" aspects of my faith. After all, Jesus was a Jew...a Palestinian Jew at that. I envision--through modern eyes--the young Jesus running around with a yarmulke, perhaps prayer shawl on.

It is also interesting to watch and listen to the LGBTQ culture in Jerusalem. Last time I was there it was, by and large small and hidden, but LGBTQ folks are more "out" in Tel Aviv. And this is a country in which gays and lesbians are able to serve in the military service with no DADT.

Shalom and Salaam...Brett

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) : Banning It In Military Service and Church

Reading advocate.com, there was an article on Barack Obama's position re: DADT (he is against it), and John McCain (he is for it). Thousands of trained specialist in the military services have been kicked out of their field of work not because of their job performance but because they are LGBT. Click here.

What is amazing is how much the private business sector, along with public service, and many non-profits are pro-LGBT and not playing the game of DADT.

Here's a thought: military service and communities of faith have something to learn from private industry and public service: DADT is passe, "yesterday policy," an antique. Just being straight or LGBTQ does not determine the way one works at a job per se.

It is time to change!

Pace, B

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maureen Dowd Column Today: Palin Wanting to Ban Gay Books

There was this snippet today in Maureen Dowd's column on nyt.com about then-Mayor Palin who wanted to ban certain books from the public library:

"In Anchorage Saturday, I went by a conference conducted by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and supported by Sarah’s current church, the Wasilla Bible Church, about how to help gays and lesbians “journey out” of same-sex attraction.

(As The Times reported recently, in 1995, Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues she had seen “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelf of the library and did not approve. The Wasilla Assembly of God tried to ban “Pastor, I Am Gay” by Howard Bess, a liberal Christian preacher in nearby Palmer.)

Anne Heche’s mother, Nancy, talked about her distress when her daughter told her she was involved with Ellen. Jeff Johnston told me he had “a struggle” with homosexuality “for a season,” but is now “happily married with three boys.” (Books for sale there included “Mommy, Why Are They Holding Hands?” and “You Don’t Have to Be Gay.”)"

So we could go from the days of having the First Lady Librarian who supports reading (of all kinds of books...I'm not aware of her advocating banning books) to a possible VP who is in support of banning "certain" books.

Click here for the column.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

LGBT and College Life: Frats and Sororities Included!

On 365gay.com, there was an interesting article on a conference of LGBTQ folks in fraternities and sororities at DePaul University in Chicago, IL in November, 2008 (Click here). With a daughter in college (without being in a sorority), and a son who is starting to look at colleges, and a partner who works as the Asst. Dean of Student Life, we know that being self-identified LGBTQ in some fraternities and sororities is still a risk, bringing its own code of discrimination. This is quite novel. Good for them.

If only these things were happening when I was in college...sigh...



Monday, September 15, 2008

Governor Palin and the Rev. Bess: Who Would Let ON BEING A GAY PARENT in the Wasilla Library?

I've contacted my publisher about having my book, ON BEING A GAY PARENT sent to Wasilla Library in Alaska. I think that all of us who are authors who have written LGBTQ books should have our books sent to Wasilla Public Library, so that the shelves are weighed down with such good and helpful books. And once Wasilla Public Library has its quota of books, we move to each and every public library in Alaska.

If you are reading this blog, and you support McCain-Palin and you are either LGBTQ or a straight ally, then please read this article from salon.com (click here). The Rev. Bess, who wrote PASTOR, I AM GAY, knows Ms. Palin well. And as he refers to her in this interview, and to paraphrase and add on something to his comment, Ms. Palin is "Jerry Falwell..." with lipstick. Or what is the difference between Ms. Palin and Jerry Falwell? Lipstick.

Time to act.



Friday, September 12, 2008

Continuing "Born Gay."

What is interesting about scientific studies of being born gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer expressing, or straight--otherwise known as being and having attractions to certain kinds of people that are physical, relational, intellectual, and sexual--is, well, full of questions and moments of reflection:
1. What role does nurture play in this this nature-based premise?
2. The construction of being "gay" or "lesbian," as well as "straight," which may have more to do with nurture than nature.
3. The role of Kinsey's work in terms of a spectrum or continuum of sexual or relational expressions.
4. The possibility of changing one's attractions over a period of time between same sex interests along with opposite sexual interests;

This article raises more questions than settles it.

Then there is this: as people look for the genetic "fixing" of certain disabling conditions, e.g., Down syndrome, if there is a gene for making one LGBQT, and society deems being LGBTQ a "bad," does that mean we are considered, a) disabled, and thus b) needing to be fixed, e.g., genetically modified?

Is this not genetic essentialism, e.g., we are essentially our genetic code?



Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Born Gay"

When I was a little boy, the movie and sound track that captured an age was "Born Free."

Well, "Born Gay!" It seems to be scientific fact. Call it gay neurology. We are simply born gay.

Of course, there is much to question about the cultural construction of "gay." But I'll follow up with that in the next email. As male and female are cultural constructions, so is being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans.

Click here for more!



"Saint" Fr. Mychal Judge

Amid the "saints" in the Church--and the very heterogeneous LGBTQ community--the one person who stands out on 9/11 is Fr. Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest and brother, who also happened to be gay, who served with the fire station personnel. He went into the calamity of 9/11 in NYC, administering last rites to those on the streets and rushing in to World Trade Center North to help when it too collapsed, and he died in the midst of helping others. He was the first recorded fatality or victim of 9/11 among those who went to rescue others.

Pace, B

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Year of No-Culture War Has Become Another Culture War Year!

When I read the various blogs--and I read way too many--concerning the presidential race, it appeared that Iraq and the economy (stupid...or so I think that's how we're to say it these days), were going to be the crucial issues in the race. No Rove-Bush wedge issue like gay marriage and amendments to Constitutions.

Well, that was then, and this is now.

PFLAG is going to counter ex-gays at a "Love Won Out" a.k.a., Dobson inspired conference in Anchorage this coming week (click here); CA is going to vote on gay marriage, and VA might amend their constitution as well, outlawing LGBTQ partnership of any kind.

Voila! We're a wedge issue again.

These politics are not helpful anymore to the largely body politic, let along communities of faith. They divide and bitterly split families and communities.

Enough is enough.

Stop the madness...we have more pressing concerns on our plate.

And stop with the lipstick already...both sides.

Pace, B

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I'm working on tomorrow's sermon, though I've been living it for the last ten days. The Gospel of Matthew is the Gospel reading, 18:15-20: "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there."

Jesus is alive and well in a church in northeastern North Carolina, where I've been called to be interim pastor as an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in a long term, partnered, relationship. Between the good Christian people I am working with and serving, Jesus is there. The Spirit of Christ flows through the lives of the many who come and are "church" with each other.

Something strange and wonderful is happening in this world, in spite of some of the politics of this land: God is doing a new thing as we all live honestly and openly with each other.

The Scripture/Gospel verse preaches well all by itself: "Two or three, gathered, Jesus name."

Pace, B

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Another Step: NY Gov. Paterson Did the Right Thing

NY Gov. Paterson did nothing illegal by signing the order that let the state of NY recognize gay weddings from other states!

“To recognize same-sex marriages legally solemnized in other jurisdictions is consistent with New York’s common law, statutory law, and constitutional separation of powers,” said the ruling by Justice Lucy Billings in Bronx Supreme Court. "

Click here for more.

Soon enough, NY and NJ, along with CT, NH, VT and ME, there is movement toward gay-marriage.

This movement is moving forward, one step at a time.



Monday, September 1, 2008

OMG: Sex Education Matters!

From today's latest headline news, e.g., Bristol Palin's pregnancy (and I didn't know who or where she lived until Friday of this past week!), along with the ups and downs of HIV rates among LGTBQ people, I want to get on the top of my soap box a minute and say that sex ed. matters...or education about sex, sexuality and sensuality matters in today's world. I am not for "abstinence only" approach because of the very truth that we are human, in which the only thing we can predict about ourselves is that we are unpredictable (thanks Alisdair MacIntyre for that little bit that has remained firmly entrenched in my academic psyche). I'm for full-throttled, tell-all, tell-everything, leave no details undescribed, with lots of moral, theological, and anatomical and biological discussions and talking points peppering the conversation.

Whether one is heterosexual or homosexual (bisexual, transgender, and the list goes on according to Kinsey), knowing how and what sex is, what those impulses (hormonal and intellectual), desires and drives are from the "get go," e.g., early on, is important for the health and well-being not only of the individual, but for us as members of the body of Christ, and the greater good of this society.

Imagine living in a world, a church, a community of faith, a family, a school, in which sexual education is not a laughable topic of discussion but is of great importance, in which we talk openly and honestly! Imagine!

Imagine a world in which people have the knowledge at hand to know what they can choose to do in order for their own well-being and the well-being of the one they are engaged in a sexual act with at the time! Imagine that people understand the difference of intimacy and sex and love!

When did we start teaching our children about sex? In the crib! "This is your leg, your nipple, your..." you get the point. Education about our bodies, our drives, our desires, our hormones, what makes us tick-tock, is best done at the earliest of ages.

I don't like STDs, HIV, AIDS, which both heterosexuals and homosexuals can spread and contract. Don't like them at all. I want a world in which they simply did not exist.

But that's not this world.

Let's deal with it for the good of all.

Sex Ed. Matters!

Pace, B