Today's Mighty Oak


Yesterday it was announced that the magazine/journal “Hello Mr.” will publish one final issue before shuttering their doors.

Over and over again, through six years and their soon to be published tenth issue, “Hello Mr.” provided the widest breadth of queer writers and I was always impressed with the quality of the writing.  Combine that with innovative photo spreads and entertaining layout, and it was always something I looked forward to.

From their announcement:

From the start, Hello Mr. was a space to understand each other better through a deeper understanding of ourselves. But I was determined to create something bigger than that. With the support and validation from this community, we built a platform to showcase new stories on a global stage. We may not have “rebranded gay,” but we exposed some flaws in the existing models, and opened the door for queer people to demand more, by showing them how.

Whether you contributed or consumed it, the content we produced, issue after issue, amounted to something truly powerful. I can’t thank you enough for believing in it unconditionally. The world we live in today is a very different place than the one that originally afforded me the space to subvert gay media through a branding exercise. “Marriage can wait” meant something different in 2012 than it does now. After six dedicated years pushing our queer stories forward, I’ve learned a few things about my place in this conversation. When I came out a decade ago, for instance, I could have never imagined that my visibility, the thing I feared most, would become such a powerful form of activism.

It’s certainly a sad day, but also a time to look back on what they were able to produce an where we are now as compared to 2012.  The world has changed, and the world continues to change.  I’m happy to have been along for the ride as a dedicated reader.

Looking back helps move us forward. Decades of various kinds of activism paved a way for me to make the most of the chance I was given. Now, it’s up to you to continue defining the future you want to live in. You already know what’s possible, so trust yourself and manifest that shit already! I’ll be seeing you.

Back issues are available at hellomrmag.com, I’d suggest anyone looking for some amazing writing to check it out.

All my best,

Mike



Note: Yesterday’s Camp NaNoWriMo writing was a recap for one of my DnD games, so it’s nothing published here, but I’m still on track for the month!

This morning was the Second Annual Pittsburgh Frontrunners Back of the Pack Fourth of July Run and Brunch (For a Cure).  Note, it’s not really ‘For a Cure,’ I just add that.  Anyway, our little pace group is wonderful.  The tradition started last year when the Fourth fell on one of our normal running days we go out with the Frontrunners, and instead of skipping the day, we got together, and a tradition was born.

There’s something to be said for being with groups of the same people.  Yes, safe spaces are vital and needed, but that’s just one step.  Actually being with other people that are also considered ‘other’ is hugely gratifying.  It helps us remember that we’re not alone, that we’re not wrong in any way.

As brunch continued, the conversation turned to queer theory, and in this case, the actual use of the word, ‘queer.’  We were able to discuss, in a candid way that I think would have been prohibitive if there weren’t other queer people there, the evolution of the word, it’s use in the lexicon and how different generations view and use the word.  That spawned side conversations that spanned coming out stories, workplace discrimination, travel, safety precautions, family dynamics, therapists and Netflix specials.

We talked freely about going to different parts of the county and being cognizant of hiding who we are in order to remain safe.  Even in places like San Francisco, the world is dangerous, and though we’ve come so far in the 49 years since Stonewall, we still have a ways to go.

But maybe, just maybe, earnest conversations, with friends and way too much food, will help to bring us all a little closer together.  A little tighter community.

All my best,

Mike



Today marks the 49th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which launched the LGBT-rights movement.

If you’re not familiar with the riots, here’s what happened:

We owe so much to those brave trans-women of color, homeless youth and drag queens who launched the riots and the queer revolution.

People ask why we celebrate pride.  NoFo writes it much more eloquently than I ever could, here is an excerpt:

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of selective morality, when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states codify our families into second-class citizenship, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We’re proud because—thanks to the incredible bravery shown by gay people who lived their lives openly in the decades before us—we can live our lives more and more openly at home, at work, with our families, on our blogs … and even on national television.

We’re proud because after all we’ve been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we’ve assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We’re proud because this weekend we’ll celebrate with drag queens, leather queens, muscle queens, attitude queens and you’d-never-know-they-were-queens queens, and together we can see through the “pride” in our parade and enjoy the underlying Pride in our parade.

Quite simply, we’re proud that we have so much to be proud of.

We can take some time, and even in the face of hatred, bigotry and discrimination, we can carve a place in this world, claim it our own and celebrate.

We can celebrate, because this is our party.  We don’t need anyone’s permission to celebrate:

Because even if Pride doesn’t change many minds in the outside world, it’s our PARTY, darlings. It’s our Christmas, our New Year’s, our Carnival. It’s the one day of the year that all the crazy contingents of the gay world actually come face to face on the street and blow each other air kisses. And wish each other “Happy Pride!” Saying “Happy Pride!” is really just a shorter, easier way of saying “Congratulations on not being driven completely batshit insane! Well done, being YOURSELF!”

We can celebrate the community that we have, the radical acceptance that we embody and the fact that we’ve survived.  We have a chance to come together, remind ourselves we belong to a larger community, have some fun and take back our city; just for a little bit.  We know that hatred will continue, but still we march forward.  We have pride because it helps those coming after us.  In the words of Harvey Milk, it gives the next generation hope:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWo8BKJCxYQ

And this is a chance to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived.  A chance to celebrate the fact that I’m a proud gay man.  And even that act, powerful unto itself, has hopefully made a difference.

The most important and powerful action a person can make is to come out to those around them.  Then the LGBT community isn’t a scary abstract anymore, it has a face.  If you know someone who is openly LGBT, you see their humanity.  You can understand that we’re not asking for anything special, just the same rights everyone else is guaranteed by the constitution.  A chance to be happy.  A chance to live the life we want, surrounded by those we love.

When will we stop talking about coming out?

“Many of us want to, and will: when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn’t at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide.

“When a gay person’s central-casting earnestness and eloquence aren’t noted with excitement and relief, because his or her sexual orientation needn’t be accompanied by a litany of virtues and accomplishments in order for bigotry to be toppled and a negative reaction to be overcome.”

We will stop talking about coming out when it’s not news anymore, when the last barriers have finally been broken down.  We’ll stop screaming for our rights when we’re finally treated as equals by our government.  We’ll only stop telling our stories when they don’t matter.

The anniversary of Stonewall comes just two days after marriage equality came to all 50 states (and the anniversary of decisions in Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor v. United States), a major piece of the equality dream the drag queens, homeless youth and the rest of Stonewall protesters had less than 50 years ago.  In 11 years, we’ve gone from no marriage rights to full equality across the country.  We still have a lot to fight for, ENDA being at the top of that list, but for now, we can celebrate the ‘thunderbolt’ of equality that we have achieved:

So we keep fighting for progress, wherever we can.  We celebrate our advances and keep chipping away at our obstacles: and this month we can celebrate both, as well as the individuals that make up our amazing community.

In light of the Orlando massacre, it’s more important than ever to celebrate Pride.  To not be intimidated by the hate, but to instead keep rising, demand equality and fight for our very right to exist.  What hurts the most about Orlando may be the reminder that even our own spaces, which we thought were safe, aren’t.  Or maybe they never really were, not while hatred and prejudice still exist.  But as we face, united, the epidemics of gun violence and homophobia, we can at least take solace in the fact that we, as a community, know how to win epidemics.

We’re proud of how far we’ve come.  We’re proud to keep fighting.  We’re proud.



It’s bad.  Really bad.

After the election, I knew four couples who quickly got married, afraid that we would lose the right.  And that’s a fear that straight people don’t understand.  The few civil rights we have are new, and are still fragile.  And as it turns out, they might have been right to be so worried:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a Texas ruling that said the right to a marriage license did not entitle same-sex couples to spousal benefits under employee insurance plans.

This is certainly just the beginning, and Sue over at Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents sums it up:

Limiting same-sex marriage is the objective here – benefits, adoption, tax deductions, legal rights, etc. Restricting LGBTQ people across the board is the goal.

That decision was followed up with the arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop which looks to use the bullshit idea of ‘religious freedom’ to hide bigotry and legal discrimination.  There are a lot of lines being drawn between this case and the racial discrimination case Piggie Park Barbecue from the sixties.

If a business is open to the public, what they sell should be available to all of the public.  The baker would be just as wrong if he declined to make a wedding cake for a black couple, citing his religious beliefs.  If you sell a product (in this case, wedding cakes), you should not be able to put restrictions as to who you will sell it to, that would take us back to the times of delis with signs saying they would not serve Irish and lunch counter sit-ins.

Although, to no one’s surprise, the white house would be all for bakeries (and other businesses) hanging up “no gays” signs.

Slate has a great article going through the myriad of reasons why this is insanity, give it a read.  It rips apart most of the arguments I’ve heard, including this quote:

Telling minorities who have suffered a history of discrimination that it’s unneighborly, unseemly, or discourteous to fight for rights that they’re being denied but you’re enjoying is shameless—ultimately just another mechanism for denying those rights in the first place. Do you actually think the minority members love always having to be the loudmouths reminding the world that they deserve the same rights as you already have? And to the extent that some activists become almost permanently wedded to the “angry activist” position, can you really blame them?

Sadly though, legal scholars (and myself, not a legal scholar) are not optimistic about the outcome, which will open a floodgate of further discrimination where literally any business could turn me away at a moment’s notice.  Not exactly a world I want to have to navigate.

We’ll find out over the summer when the ruling comes down, until then, I’ll be a ball of nerves over this hugely important case.

All my best,

Mike



Thank you to the woman who fought for love and brought down DOMA.  She leaves a giant legacy behind, and we keep fighting in her memory.



If you follow along with gay men’s health topics as much as I do (so you probably don’t, and that’s okay), you may have heard about PrEP.  Basically, it’s a pill, that prevents someone from contracting HIV.  The science behind it is much more complicated, but it’s kind of like a vaccine.  Side note, there’s also PEP, which is taken if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, to prevent yourself from seroconverting (acquiring the infection).

It has had its detractors, some saying it will lead to an increase of other STIs, although you’re still supposed to use condoms when on PrEP, since it does not protect against anything else, and new research has showed that it actually has brought down the rates of several STIs, by as much as 40%  To continue being on PrEP, you have to be tested every three months, and knowing your status is the best and most effective way of stopping the spread of these infections.

There’s a new ad campaign out about PrEP, and while overall I really like it, the first ‘episode’ of it seems to paint condom use in a bad light, but they correct that in the next videos.  It’s also refreshing to see some more explicit images, especially since it’s a drug mainly targeted to gay men, as we’re a high risk group (but also any couple in a serodiscordant relationship, meaning one has HIV and the other partner does not).

Episode 1:

 

Episode 2:

 

Episode 3:

 

Episode 4:

 

There’s more info available here, as well as some awesome behind the scenes discussions about the project and PrEP itself, and how it fits into a full, healthy regimen of safer sex.

All my best,

Mike



Today marks the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which launched the LGBT-rights movement.

If you’re not familiar with the riots, here’s what happened:

We owe so much to those brave trans-women of color, homeless youth and drag queens who launched the riots and the queer revolution.

People ask why we celebrate pride.  NoFo writes it much more eloquently than I ever could, here is an excerpt:

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of selective morality, when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states codify our families into second-class citizenship, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We’re proud because—thanks to the incredible bravery shown by gay people who lived their lives openly in the decades before us—we can live our lives more and more openly at home, at work, with our families, on our blogs … and even on national television.

We’re proud because after all we’ve been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we’ve assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We’re proud because this weekend we’ll celebrate with drag queens, leather queens, muscle queens, attitude queens and you’d-never-know-they-were-queens queens, and together we can see through the “pride” in our parade and enjoy the underlying Pride in our parade.

Quite simply, we’re proud that we have so much to be proud of.

We can take some time, and even in the face of hatred, bigotry and discrimination, we can carve a place in this world, claim it our own and celebrate.

We can celebrate, because this is our party.  We don’t need anyone’s permission to celebrate:

Because even if Pride doesn’t change many minds in the outside world, it’s our PARTY, darlings. It’s our Christmas, our New Year’s, our Carnival. It’s the one day of the year that all the crazy contingents of the gay world actually come face to face on the street and blow each other air kisses. And wish each other “Happy Pride!” Saying “Happy Pride!” is really just a shorter, easier way of saying “Congratulations on not being driven completely batshit insane! Well done, being YOURSELF!”

We can celebrate the community that we have, the radical acceptance that we embody and the fact that we’ve survived.  We have a chance to come together, remind ourselves we belong to a larger community, have some fun and take back our city; just for a little bit.  We know that hatred will continue, but still we march forward.  We have pride because it helps those coming after us.  In the words of Harvey Milk, it gives the next generation hope:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWo8BKJCxYQ

And this is a chance to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived.  A chance to celebrate the fact that I’m a proud gay man.  And even that act, powerful unto itself, has hopefully made a difference.

The most important and powerful action a person can make is to come out to those around them.  Then the LGBT community isn’t a scary abstract anymore, it has a face.  If you know someone who is openly LGBT, you see their humanity.  You can understand that we’re not asking for anything special, just the same rights everyone else is guaranteed by the constitution.  A chance to be happy.  A chance to live the life we want, surrounded by those we love.

When will we stop talking about coming out?

“Many of us want to, and will: when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn’t at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide.

“When a gay person’s central-casting earnestness and eloquence aren’t noted with excitement and relief, because his or her sexual orientation needn’t be accompanied by a litany of virtues and accomplishments in order for bigotry to be toppled and a negative reaction to be overcome.”

We will stop talking about coming out when it’s not news anymore, when the last barriers have finally been broken down.  We’ll stop screaming for our rights when we’re finally treated as equals by our government.  We’ll only stop telling our stories when they don’t matter.

The anniversary of Stonewall comes just two days after marriage equality came to all 50 states (and the anniversary of decisions in Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor v. United States), a major piece of the equality dream the drag queens, homeless youth and the rest of Stonewall protesters had less than 50 years ago.  In 11 years, we’ve gone from no marriage rights to full equality across the country.  We still have a lot to fight for, ENDA being at the top of that list, but for now, we can celebrate the ‘thunderbolt’ of equality that we have achieved:

So we keep fighting for progress, wherever we can.  We celebrate our advances and keep chipping away at our obstacles: and this month we can celebrate both, as well as the individuals that make up our amazing community.

In light of the Orlando massacre, it’s more important than ever to celebrate Pride.  To not be intimidated by the hate, but to instead keep rising, demand equality and fight for our very right to exist.  What hurts the most about Orlando may be the reminder that even our own spaces, which we thought were safe, aren’t.  Or maybe they never really were, not while hatred and prejudice still exist.  But as we face, united, the epidemics of gun violence and homophobia, we can at least take solace in the fact that we, as a community, know how to win epidemics.

We’re proud of how far we’ve come.  We’re proud to keep fighting.  We’re proud.



Today marks the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which launched the LGBT-rights movement.

If you’re not familiar with the riots, here’s what happened:

And just this week, President Obama and the National Park Service has named the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park a national historical monument (number 412 if you can believe it).  We owe so much to those brave trans-women of color, homeless youth and drag queens who launched the riots and the queer revolution.

People ask why we celebrate pride.  NoFo writes it much more eloquently than I ever could, here is an excerpt:

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of selective morality, when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states codify our families into second-class citizenship, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We’re proud because—thanks to the incredible bravery shown by gay people who lived their lives openly in the decades before us—we can live our lives more and more openly at home, at work, with our families, on our blogs … and even on national television.

We’re proud because after all we’ve been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we’ve assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We’re proud because this weekend we’ll celebrate with drag queens, leather queens, muscle queens, attitude queens and you’d-never-know-they-were-queens queens, and together we can see through the “pride” in our parade and enjoy the underlying Pride in our parade.

Quite simply, we’re proud that we have so much to be proud of.

We can take some time, and even in the face of hatred, bigotry and discrimination, we can carve a place in this world, claim it our own and celebrate.

We can celebrate, because this is our party.  We don’t need anyone’s permission to celebrate:

Because even if Pride doesn’t change many minds in the outside world, it’s our PARTY, darlings. It’s our Christmas, our New Year’s, our Carnival. It’s the one day of the year that all the crazy contingents of the gay world actually come face to face on the street and blow each other air kisses. And wish each other “Happy Pride!” Saying “Happy Pride!” is really just a shorter, easier way of saying “Congratulations on not being driven completely batshit insane! Well done, being YOURSELF!”

We can celebrate the community that we have, the radical acceptance that we embody and the fact that we’ve survived.  We have a chance to come together, remind ourselves we belong to a larger community, have some fun and take back our city; just for a little bit.  We know that hatred will continue, but still we march forward.  We have pride because it helps those coming after us.  In the words of Harvey Milk, it gives the next generation hope:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWo8BKJCxYQ

And this is a chance to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived.  A chance to celebrate the fact that I’m a proud gay man.  And even that act, powerful unto itself, has hopefully made a difference.

The most important and powerful action a person can make is to come out to those around them.  Then the LGBT community isn’t a scary abstract anymore, it has a face.  If you know someone who is openly LGBT, you see their humanity.  You can understand that we’re not asking for anything special, just the same rights everyone else is guaranteed by the constitution.  A chance to be happy.  A chance to live the life we want, surrounded by those we love.

When will we stop talking about coming out?

“Many of us want to, and will: when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn’t at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide.

“When a gay person’s central-casting earnestness and eloquence aren’t noted with excitement and relief, because his or her sexual orientation needn’t be accompanied by a litany of virtues and accomplishments in order for bigotry to be toppled and a negative reaction to be overcome.”

We will stop talking about coming out when it’s not news anymore, when the last barriers have finally been broken down.  We’ll stop screaming for our rights when we’re finally treated as equals by our government.  We’ll only stop telling our stories when they don’t matter.

The anniversary of Stonewall comes just two days after marriage equality came to all 50 states (and the anniversary of decisions in Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor v. United States), a major piece of the equality dream the drag queens, homeless youth and the rest of Stonewall protesters had less than 50 years ago.  In 11 years, we’ve gone from no marriage rights to full equality across the country.  We still have a lot to fight for, ENDA being at the top of that list, but for now, we can celebrate the ‘thunderbolt’ of equality that we have achieved:

So we keep fighting for progress, wherever we can.  We celebrate our advances and keep chipping away at our obstacles: and this month we can celebrate both, as well as the individuals that make up our amazing community.

In light of the Orlando massacre, it’s more important than ever to celebrate Pride.  To not be intimidated by the hate, but to instead keep rising, demand equality and fight for our very right to exist.  What hurts the most about Orlando may be the reminder that even our own spaces, which we thought were safe, aren’t.  Or maybe they never really were, not while hatred and prejudice still exist.  But as we face, united, the epidemics of gun violence and homophobia, we can at least take solace in the fact that we, as a community, know how to win epidemics.

We’re proud of how far we’ve come.  We’re proud to keep fighting.  We’re proud.



I’m Episcopalian.  Our church belongs to The Anglican Communion, a collection of churches around the worlds (mostly, but not entirely, former British colonies) that all work together.  We’re not like the Catholic or Orthodox churches, we don’t have a Pope.  The Archbishop of Canterbury acts as the default head of the Anglicans, but each church makes its own decisions.

The Primates (heads of each member church, I believe 38 in all: some represent one country, others represent many, like the Primate of South America, and the Bishop of York, because that office is kind of like second in command in Church of England), met at the ABC’s request to discuss the Episcopal Church’s recent adoption of same-sex matrimony.  The meeting pretty much went exactly as we’d all expect: a bunch of African Primates were upset, and the group decided to impose some de-facto sanctions on the Episcopal Church, with a few caveats.  Basically, we won’t be allowed to participate in a legislative body, but we haven’t been included in that for a while, since Gene Robinson was made a bishop.  The only change is that there is an end date on that now.

However, once that three year time period (as opposed to indefinitely, as it was before) comes up, I can only imagine some sort of larger schism happening.

The Primates were also going to impose these restrictions on the Anglican Church of Canada, but since they have not officially approved of same-sex matrimony through their process, nothing was done.

Those facts make me think that the Primates, even the most conservative ones, are being pragmatic about the whole thing.  They can say their hands are tied because of ‘process’ and ‘paperwork.’  Will that three years make that much of a difference?  I don’t think so, but it may buy them some time.

At the same meeting, the ACNA, the group that split off from the Diocese of Pittsburgh was there for part of the time.  They are not officially recognized by Lambeth/Canterbury, and their participation was unsettling to me, but I take most of that is due to me living in the epicenter of it all.

In the US, we just installed a new Presiding Bishop (our Primate), and he’s pretty awesome.  He released a video from England about the meeting, and had pledged that we will not go backwards:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmNnzEW_oaY

In the grand scheme of things, most members of local churches don’t even think about the larger Anglican Communion.  Here in Pittsburgh, maybe things are a little different.  Or maybe I think about them because I’m gay.  Or a combination of both.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t think or worry about things like this, but I know we’re in good hands.  Integrity USA, the internal LGBT lobby of the Episcopal Church has a wonderful open letter, and response, to the meeting.

And of course, since this is the Internet, two friends (one I’ve worked with in person through Circle of Faith, the other, a true Internet friend) have posted their amazing sermons from last Sunday where they talk about the meeting.  Both are worth reading: Scott in Franklin Park, and Megan in Kansas City (Missouri, mind you).

All my best,

Mike

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