Today's Mighty Oak


Currently, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is hosting the Festival of F1rsts, and I’ve been lucky enough to catch four premiers!

First up, was “Manifold” a live concert and projection onto the side of the Benedum.  It was live after the performance of “The Show That Goes Wrong” and was pretty neat, although sadly, I didn’t realize it was a live orchestra until after.

Just a few steps away, we stopped by to see “Beyond” which I really loved.  You step into this corridor and the screen at the end, as well as the sound, lights and fog surrounding you give you a ten minute show!

Next, I saw Cirque Eloize’s “Hotel.” I’ve never seen a circus show before, and if Beyond din’t make me miss my Burner friends, this certainly did!

And finally, I was able to see Quantum Theatre’s “Chatterton.”  Much like their production of “TAMARA,” you move about the space and don’t see the whole show, following different characters as they interact with each other.  “Chatterton” took place in three time periods, and was a wonderful mystery to piece together, it’s still playing, so if you get a chance to go see this world premier, do it!

As a bonus, not specifically part of the Festival of Firsts, but after The Great Race Expo, I stopped by Rethink Perception, a small, temporary art gallery filled with works from the US Veterans’ Artists Alliance.

To see all the photos and short videos from my Festival experience, you can find the gallery here.



Let’s take a moment and talk local politics.

Last month, an East Pittsburgh police officer shot and killed (and thankfully is being charged, although we’ll see what comes of that) an unarmed 17 year old boy.  Since then, protests have rocked the area (I’ve been detoured many times due to said protests, and honestly, that minor inconvenience is nothing compared to a parent waking up without their son, so I’ll deal).

In the wake of this, a challenger decided to run against the sitting District Attorney.  This is great news, our current DA has a less than stellar record with charging police for crimes.  But as it turns out, the person running thinks that being queer is a sin.  His half-hearted apology does nothing to change the fact that if he were to be the DA, he would be viewing a large class of citizens as ‘sinful’ and would treat us differently.

DA’s are really important (and as a quick side note, I like to think that since the Batman Begins trilogy, we understand the role of a DA better.  Or maybe the over abundance of Law and Order’s.  Either way, I’m glad that we as a society at least better understand what kind of a role the DA plays and how important they are), and we need to make sure that who we elect treats everyone equally under the law.

While we’re talking about politics: are you registered to vote?  Seriously, you have to vote.

When women, queers, POC, immigrants, religious and economic minorities urged you to vote for Hillary because our lives depended on it, you could hide behind your privilege. Are you listening to us now?

Click here to register to vote, and do it now!



Alright, let’s see what we have today, little bit of a video heavy one, but let’s go with it!

For Star Wars Day, Heathrow added flights to destinations in the Star Wars galaxy to their boards.

In good news, Ireland is looking to prosecute practitioners of gay conversion torture.

The trailer for POSE looks so good:

Spoilers for Infinity War, but here’s a great break down of the real villain.

In that vein, want to see if you survived the final events of Infinity War?  Click here.  Spoiler, I didn’t make it.

Also related: straight people shouldn’t write about gay ‘culture’ if they don’t know what they’re talking about.  Bad NYTimes.

The music video for Deadpool 2 is amazing:

It’s a little heavy handed, but good on AIG and the All Blacks for these awesome new jerseys!

Two classic Mega Man games are being re-released….on cartridges!

I ran the marathon a few weeks ago and had a blast!  I talked with the guy filming this, but we didn’t make it in, but still a really cool video!

Required reading: Dan Savage eviscerates a gay republican and it’s so perfect.

Also, conservatives are sad because people don’t like them.  If I wasn’t busy trying to save the world, I still wouldn’t give a shit.

Arrested Development is coming back for season 5, and I’m so, so excited:

That’s it for now (hopefully these video links work, Youtube was acting strange for me), have a great one!



Race information

Goals

Goal Description Completed?
M1 Mandatory: Thank volunteers Oh yeah
M2 Mandatory: High five some people Epic high fives!
M3 Mandatory: Have a happy run Of course
A Finish uninjured Yes

Training

This was my first marathon, and with the success I’ve had with his plans before, I did Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 marathon plan. It increased my mileage in a smart way, and for the first time ever, I’ve run over 100 miles a month (actually, for four months in a row!).

Generally I’ve felt pretty good, my legs have been sore, but in a good way, and I’ve been diligent with stretching and rolling, which has really helped, as I feel like I’m prone to ITBS. While I didn’t have any real ITBS problems this time around, my knees took a bit of a beating, but never more than normal wear and tear I think. After all, this was a big increase in mileage for me. I added in some body weight work each day, and that helped a ton too. January I did planks, February and March I did squats and April I did push-ups. I need to keep that up!

Due to the strange winter/not-spring we’ve had, I did a lot of winter running. I did a long run on a treadmill due to icy roads, and a long run doing ⅓ mile loops in my neighborhood with a windchill of negative eight, but all things considered, those were good mental exercises as well. For the vast majority of my runs, I could enjoy being basically alone (or dodging college students or cyclists. I ran a super windy half marathon halfway through as a tune-up race, and set a PR there. I only missed one run due to waiting on a plumber (but at least I had hot water after that!), although there is always some shuffling of days due to work travel.

I ran a 20-miler, and had hoped to turn my second 20 into 22, but the weather spiked and so did the pollen and I bonked hard after 18 miles. It was good training to know that that felt like (I was either going to throw up or pass out if I hadn’t stopped running and the chills I couldn’t seem to shake freaked me out), but I was still disappointed in myself. But, just passing the 20-mile mark the first time was a huge mental boost, and really increased my confidence since I felt pretty good afterwards.

Pre-race

Like always, a couple of us headed downtown to volunteer with expo set-up, getting the registration area ready with over 40,000 shirts A friend came in from out of town (sadly he couldn’t run, he injured his ankle), but we headed down the expo to grab bibs, shirts and all the commemorative stuff they were giving out since this is the 10th anniversary of the race being back. I enjoyed this motivational shirt and picked one up for myself.

I love how the city comes out for the marathon and love how I will just randomly run into people I know at the expo and all throughout the weekend, it’s such an amazing time!.

Race – Saturday: 5K

Saturday morning I headed downtown for the 5K, and met up with a couple Frontrunners at the start line. I do have to say, they got a much better DJ for this race than year’s past, and we were all dancing beforehand, so kudos to P3R for that! I lost them after the gun went off, and even though I tried to hold back, I just kind of enjoyed the race, not really pushing. There were a ton of high fives given out and I had a great time interacting with the crowd.

Two very sad things through. One, the woman I look for every year on a specific corner with a pot and a wooden spoon cheering was not there. I’m hoping she’ll be there on Sunday, but if not, wooden spoon lady will always be in my thoughts when I run past that corner. And two, I think I landed weird trying to dodge potholes and my shin was sore the rest of the day. Hopefully it’s nothing major and won’t affect my Sunday race.

I was less than 25 seconds off my PR, and with a new course (which, after having the same course for so many years, having to change for road construction made it weird to figure out my pace/relative distance), and without really pushing myself, I’m really happy with that.

These two are my biggest cheerleaders. Sean paced me in the first race I did a training plan (10-miler) and paced me to my first sub-30 5K. Both he and Cat never once stopped believing in me and both encouraged me to do this crazy thing, so it was awesome that the three of us were there together at the finish line of the 5K.

Spent most of the day catching up on some TV and then headed to dinner with some wonderful Redditors! I was super excited to host Craig for the night while he was in town for the Half and we met up with Jill and Mike for a delicious meal!

Race – Sunday: Marathon

Sunday morning woke up with no calf/shin pain thankfully and we took the bus in, which was pretty easy and we got dropped off across the street from the hotel we had access to through the Running Club Rally or as members of Steel City Road Runners. They put out a spread of breakfast foods, coffee, water, juice and give you access to indoor bathrooms as well as a private gear check, so it’s a good deal. At the end, you have catered food as well as private port-a-potties and massages.

We checked out gear and headed down to our corral, saying hi and bye to a number of friends and other Frontrunners. When we made our way into the corral, we stopped right next to a former co-worker of mine from camp who had decided somewhat last minute to come into Pittsburgh to run, so myself, Alandra and Justin took off together.

Start-Mile 5

It was super humid. The cloud cover and temperature were great, but it was kind of like running through soup, and I was drenched within a mile. Knew that wasn’t going to change so I just tucked in and went with it. Lots of crowds, but normal for the first part.

My friend Alandra and I have identical paces and we’re consistent, so we race together a lot. We also both give tours to whoever is around us and each other by researching historical facts about the course. As we went over the 16th Street Bridge at mile 3, we were discussing it, and two people behind us asked for some more details and we obliged. They were from Chicago and had never been to Pittsburgh before, so we happily chatted until Alandra and I stopped to pee at mile 5. Also of note, the woman with the pot and wooden spoon was not on the course on Sunday either, making me sad. We said goodbye to Justin (coworker) and Elaine and Jeff (Chicago) and said we’d try to catch up.

Miles 5-10

Chugging along, ticking off miles. A random woman who was in line to pee with us was really upset she was losing time and we’re pretty sure she wanted to guilt us into letting her cut. No one did, and she left in a huff. Crossing the West End Bridge, we heard polka music (and then saw runners polkaing in the street), and we arrived in one of the best neighborhoods on the course: The West End.

From there, things were pretty standard until we reached the South Side, which is always a party, and it didn’t disappoint. While some of the other neighborhoods seemed damped due to the intermittent rain (looking at you, Homewood), the South Side was rocking and at one point I was dancing down the street to one of the DJ’s. I made a woman’s life when I read her sign for a friend that read “run, whore, run (and then her friend’s name)” when I told her that “I’m not a whore, I’m just friendly with my mouth!”

Miles 10-17

As we came up to the half/full split at the end of Carson, Alandra and I wished each other a happy run, and off we went. The full goes around a block before heading onto the toughest mile of the course, the Birmingham Bridge and the Monster hill up into Oakland. I had run The Monster two years ago in the relay, in preparation for this race, and I’m really proud to say I ran the whole thing again.

When I got to the top, I caught back up to Elaine and Jeff! We tucked in together and ran together the rest of the way. I facetimed with other members of their running club who came to Pittsburgh and we talked about Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars, social justice, cute butts, Pittsburgh history and craft beer for 14 miles. Remember how I said Alandra and I are consistent? Even though we ran the last three miles of it separately, my half split and her finish were only five seconds apart, even with the varied elevation. We really should be pacers!

Jeff was a little faster than us, but wanted to run with Elaine, so he would run ahead, see if he could find beer (for a bet they had with their club) and would wait for us, where the two of them would split it and I’d take a sip. All in all, we had six beers like that on the course. At one point in Homewood, Jeff went into a front yard of a family who was outside grilling and cheering and asked for a beer. Yinzers are awesome and they gave him one for us to split!

Miles 17-26

Miles 17-23 were the only parts of the course I hadn’t run before. So that was neat to see parts of the city on foot I’d only seen in a car before. Jeff sat down and petted some of the greyhounds who were at a cheering station, and in the most adorable fashion, when he tried to stand up, he found himself held down by paws and sad puppy eyes. Around mile 21, Jeff took off (giving me a pat on the butt, which I appreciated), he was starting to cramp a bit, and wanted to finish to see if he could stave that off, and by mile 22, the humidity was getting to me as well, my left thigh and calf alternating between which one was trying to cramp up. I adjusted my gait on the fly and dared it to cramp; I was not going to stop at this point!

Saw a friend I volunteered with earlier in the week who had randomly come out to listen to the bands on the course, and ran past another acquaintance’s house as he was outside talking to a neighbor. I had a conversation with a Boy Scout Troop to tell them to go to camp, and one of the Scouts volunteering will be working at the camp I used to run! As we hit the last couple rolling hills, I have to say, the crowd support, which had been amazing, was taken up to a whole new level by Bloomfield at mile 23. There was a huge crowd, some holding out drinks or oranges, others beer, and a huge line of high fives were waiting for me, and it was the boost we needed! We also finally passed Church Brew Works, which Elaine was going to go eat at that night.

I was in for one more surprise, as Mike and Jill, after having finished the Half, circled back to cheer me on at mile 25! With signs that Steve designed that…are me! That was a huge boost and pretty soon we had less than a mile to go, running through downtown.

Elaine was amazing, this was her 10th marathon (in 10 states) and she said she was super proud not only of my steady pace, but also my enjoyment of the run and overall demeanor. If I’m not having a happy run, something is really wrong! With about .7 to go, she told me to start my kick. I wasn’t sure I had it in me, but she knew exactly when to send me on my way.

Finish

I actually did have a kick left in me, and even though we had sped up to my 5K pace for the last mile, I pulled away a bit (and waved to an old college friend in the crowd at the finish line I wasn’t expecting to see) and I crossed the timing mats of my first ever full marathon! I slowed down, waited for Elaine to finish and she proudly put the medal around my neck and we grabbed a photo. We found Jeff and got a photo of the three of us.

Mental

Honestly, bonking on the second 20-miler was rough for me. Looking at it rationally, it was a 40-degree swing and I just wasn’t acclimated to that temperature yet and the pollen made it impossible for me to take a full breath. I still had one 20-miler under my belt, and people run marathons on plans that only go up to 18, and I did two of those, but I’m just prone to not believing in myself.

Otherwise, this plan fell during just a shit-show mentally for me. Some of it was work, some of it was family and some of it was relationships. And most of it was just my brain just not being cooperative. I’m better at accepting that and moving on, but it’s still a struggle in each moment.

If I’m being honest, I’m been trying to decide if I want to explore some medication options again, and for how long it’s been on my mind, I’m pretty sure that should be pushing me to yes. But it’s such a process and I’m scared to go through the trial and error again, and honestly, I have no idea if there would be any side effects that would affect my running. I mention that because running augments my therapy and I need both to stay healthy, so adding medication is something I need to approach with a plan.

Post-race

I grabbed my Steel Challenge medal for doing a Sunday race and the Saturday 5K, and then headed to the Running Club Rally hospitality tent to celebrate with friends!

My nutrition plan seemed to be pretty spot on, my stomach was a little queasy at time, and I’m still trying to get my appetite back, but that all matches up with my long training runs as well. I took gels at miles 7, 12 (with extra caffeine), 17 and 22, and salt tabs every 5 miles. I used my handheld bottle, keeping it topped off with gatorade, and I grabbed water at most of the stops. I also grabbed orange slices I think four or five times from random people in the crowd. Still ended up a little crusty at the end of the race, but all things considered, including the high humidity, I was super thankful for having locked in that nutrition plan ahead of time.

I’m a little sore, but honestly, nothing more than I really expected. I’m probably still a bit dehydrated, so I’m trying to force myself to drink more water. I was really diligent for two weeks leading up to the race, and I need to keep that going to make sure my recovery is effective.

What’s next?

I’ll be crewing again for the runnit meetup at an ultra marathon in June and I’ll be running the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) Relay in the fall. My Burn is coming up and would be the first week of my next training plan (Memorial Day Weekend), so I’m going to start a week early and just repeat what I can that week. I’m not really looking forward to summer running, but maybe actually being on a plan and forcing myself to get out there will be good for me!

Since this was my first full, I just wanted to run without getting injured. I had two super-secret time goals in my head, and I finished between the two of them, so now I have a new time goal to work on, maybe I’ll be able to find a fall marathon to see if I can break that time barrier!

Here’s the full album of pictures from race weekend which I have to get a picture of all the medals and shirts, so I’ll be adding that later!



Alright, let’s see what we have today, first up, amazing wood-carved nintendo cartridges!  That you can really play!

Two Political Junkies fixed a recent Post-Gazette headline.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, there is going to be a Mr. Rogers biopic!  I am so, so excited about this!

My favorite Super Bowl ads were from Tide:

Philadelphia Eagles flocked to a bar called ‘The Eagle’ due to its name.  Here’s a hint, if there’s a bar named ‘The Eagle,’ chances are it’s a gay leather bar.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, Deadpool live tweeted it.

And speaking of Ryan Reynolds, as much as I’m against the remake, he will be staring in the new Clue, which I think he’ll do well in.

An amazingly cute and heartwarming story of a woman who called a gay bar after her son came out to her.

The new Harry Potter movies are hiding the fact that Dumbledore is supposed to be gay, and it’s bullshit.

There is going to be a Harry Potter cruise however.

The Olympics may be over, but this video will be with us forever:

I’m calling bullshit on the ‘gay Porgs’ in Star Wars.  The fact that this is a multibillion dollar franchise so embedded into our culture and we get gay background animals if we squint and know some obscure fact, instead of actual representation is humiliating.  LucasFilm and Disney can do better.

Bermuda has rescinded their marriage equality, much like California did with Prop 8.

Trulia now shows you the rights you’ll have as a queer person when looking at homes on the market.  Our rights are a patchwork and it can be really confusing remembering what rights I have where, so this is a really nice feature, but so sad that it’s needed.

A California court has sided with an anti-gay baker.  I will remind you that this is not really about cake.  It’s about basic human dignity.  And the fact that I have to worry about what hospital and doctors I see, because they can turn me away.  It’s about the fact that funeral homes can turn loved ones away all by citing religious freedom.  It’s about bigotry.

And research has showed that acceptance of the queer community has actually dropped.  Less than half of the adults surveyed are comfortable with my existence.  Neat.

Alright, that’s it for now, go back and watch those Olympians strip down!



Alright, let’s see what’s been going on.  First up, did you know that Harry Potter makes you more understanding of others?  It’s true!

Joseph Gorden Levitt writes about Star Wars: The Last Jedi (spoilers,obviously).

Like me, do you need a chart to see who owns the rights to which superhero?  Well this chart is handy (but won’t be accurate for long, I’m sure).

Super Mario Bros. in ragtime:

These are really bad times for queer people.  Just recently, the federal government has taken steps to allow doctors to deny services to anyone because they’re part of the LGBT community.

A new study has shown that 40% of LGBT high school students have considered suicide due to bullying because they’re queer.

The majority of people still think it’s okay for businesses to discriminate against queer people.  And the Supreme Court denied an appeal and Mississippi’s law allowing businesses to discriminate is able to stand.

Waste of oxygen and poor excuse for a human being, Mike Pence, will officially lead the US Olympic delegation and openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon is having none of it.

And in other slightly better news, Senator Doug Jones’ son, who is gay, stared down Mike Pence at his father’s swearing in and it made my day.

Here’s the Star Wars Cantina Theme played with pencil and paper, writing out a math equation:

In better news, a new ruling from the International Court of the Americas (didn’t know that was a thing) is bringing marriage equality to a lot of different countries (potentially)

And new year’s resolutions for gay men (and everyone, in some cases).  And speaking of resolutions, Surviving the World has a great coming about them.

Watch a Katana disappear.  Makes me think of the novel, “The 50 Year Sword”

Quite possibly the best thing ever, a T-Rex conducts the Jurassic Park theme music.

Pittsburgh non-profits come out hard against the PG and it’s owner’s racist editorial, published on MLK Day.

And finally, a great little comic about our place in the universe.



Civil marriage is very different from matrimony, although the two have become somewhat intertwined over the years. The fight for marriage equality is for civil rights: building a life together, joint property and taxes, medical powers of attorney, all the really boring but important things that seem to take effect during an emergency, as well as the social recognition of your spouse and validation of the important of that relationship.

But that is separate from the ceremony/sacrament of matrimony performed in a house of worship. True, a member of the clergy may file a marriage certificate to the state, but that is just as often done by a judge, justice of the peace or other officer with legal standing in their place, and the marriage certificate is a legal, not religious document. Matrimony is the faith’s recognition of a legal relationship, the two can just be taken care of in the same ceremony if the couple wishes.

Religions are free to decide for themselves what constitutes a union they would like to bless, with or without the state’s approval. Already, we have seen some churches like the Universal Unitarians who fully endorse and bless same-sex marriages, and are a great flip to the right-wing talking point that marriage equality impedes religious freedoms: the state’s refusal to recognize marriage equality impedes the freedom of religious institutions that wish to recognize them. And yes, that is a stretch, since faiths are free to generally do what they like, but it’s a good counterpoint in a pinch.

But this post is not about either end of the spectrum, it’s about the messy middle, the conversations happening there, and what we lose by not recognizing the dignity of us all.

The Episcopal Church, and specifically the diocese of Pittsburgh, has been one of the epicenters of the maelstrom of same-sex matrimony. The diocese of Pittsburgh itself is massive, covering 11 counties, so it covers a wide berth of viewpoints and the state.

For those not following the politics of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (read: everybody), here’s the condensed version: In 2003, Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a committed relationship, was confirmed by the General Convention and then consecrated a bishop in New Hampshire. The bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan was very vocal in his displeasure at this.

In 2008, after Duncan criticized the Archbishop of Canterbury and worked to start a schism, along with other various offenses, he was deposed by the Episcopal Church. He then formed the Anglican Church in North America and was elected their first archbishop and primate, although whether or not his church will be fully recognized by the See of Canterbury has yet to be seen.

At the 2009 General Convention, a “Blessing of Same Sex Union” 1was approved, which included my former (now retired) rector as an author. The General Convention approved its use, contingent on the consent of the local Bishop.

After going through a lengthy and very public lawsuit process (to get our property back that Duncan’s new church was trying to claim as their own), the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh went through a search process and selected Bishop Dorsey McConnell.

Bishop McConnell, knowing he was coming into the maelstrom of Pittsburgh, decided to take an inquisitive approach, putting in place a series of discussions to discuss the matter and come to an agreement as to whether or not to offer the blessing ceremony. That agreement, would not dictate his final decision however, but more served as a barometer for him to take into consideration.

I personally found the discussions themselves to be insulting. We’ve spent a decade discussing this in Pittsburgh, and we were finally moving on and putting the harmful past behind us. A new bishop, at least to me, was a fresh start, a chance to move forward and continue to heal, not reopen these wounds.

But instead, we had this period of discussion where both sides were required to be represented equally, a requirement which was found to be difficult to fulfill: opponents against same-sex matrimony either are few and far between or did not want to discuss their position, even in groups of completely like-minded individuals (the first stage of this three-stage process was discussions in groups where all participants agreed on their position, to better understand the process to be followed in stages two and three).

I would have thought this would have been an indication as to where the diocese was, but onward we trudged through the rest of the process, Episcopalians, if nothing else, love tradition and ceremony (and to drink. Seriously, we love to drink). Bishop McConnell’s decision was actually delayed as he spent more time going over the discussion groups’ findings, and while it appears he showed some restraint in his letter to the diocese, it is apparent where he falls on the issue.  He addressed the diocese in this pastoral letter and accompanying writings 2.

Bishop Dorsey does not want this to be seen a stepping stone to matrimony, and shows a strangely sex-obsessed viewpoint, writing that “There is no reference to bodily union” in the same-sex blessing ceremony. I’m typically used to observing sex-obsessed theologians in the Catholic Church, not the Episcopal, so I was caught off guard by the comment.

I suppose reference to bodily union could have been inserted (okay, I have the mentality of a five year old) into the ceremony, that is of course, unless the Bishop feels that only cis-man/cis-woman intercourse is allowable bodily union: I can guarantee there is plenty of “bodily union” in same-sex relationships, but again, why this obsession with gay sex? Seriously, I have a hard time when opponents of LGBT rights think about gay sex more than I do.

Bishop McConnell writes, discussing at length the subject of children in matrimony, and in the rite itself. He questions what type of love is being revealed through the same-sex blessing, apparently not able to understand love and commitment outside of rearing children.

The Bishop continues:

“The couple signifies the totality of humanity, representing the image of God – once shattered in Eden – now restored in Christ.”

Before we get to the meat of this sentence, let’s remind everyone, that the first 12 chapters of the Bible are myth, myths that every culture and religion have in some form: Creation (go back and read Genesis, the world is created twice, in different orders each time), original sin/cast out of paradise, flood and the scattering of people/languages (tower of Babel). So it’s great to look back on and pine for the paradise of Eden, but it is still a (remarkably common) myth.

Now, if this is a backhanded reference to procreation, as Adam and Even apparently went on to populate the Earth, I’ve never known the Episcopal Church to deny matrimony to couples past menopause, or even those not wishing to have children. But I take this more of a slap to the face that same-sex couples are somehow not equal to heterosexual couples.

As academic biblical scholars, we wish to clarify that the biblical texts do not support the frequent claim that marriage between one man and one woman is the only type of marriage deemed acceptable by the Bible’s authors.

So, while it is not accurate to state that biblical texts would allow marriages between people of the same sex, it is equally incorrect to declare that a “one-man-and-one-woman” marriage is the only allowable type of marriage deemed legitimate in biblical texts.
This is not only our modern, academic opinion. This view of the multiple definitions of “biblical” marriage has been acknowledged by some of the most prominent names in Christianity. For example, the famed Reformationist Martin Luther wrote a letter in 1524 in which he commented on polygamy as follows:

“I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not oppose the Holy Scriptures.”

Accordingly, we must guard against attempting to use ancient texts to regulate modern ethics and morals, especially those ancient texts whose endorsements of other social institutions, such as slavery, would be universally condemned today, even by the most adherent of Christians 3.  Perhaps Bishop McConnell doesn’t personally know any gay couples: coming out to friends and family is the most powerful political action a member of the LGBT community can do because it forces others to see us as fellow human beings instead of an abstract concept.

The fight for equality has many fronts, and while basic civil rights and safety are the most important, there is something to be said for religious rights as well. Being able to celebrate love and commitment, with your faith community, is another important validation, not just of your relationship, but your existence as well.

The institutionalized bullying and discrimination that we see so often come from faith communities is very much a contributing factor to the epidemic suicides of LGBT youth. So when we, as a faith community, fight for equality, it’s not only to move forward as a group, but to also save lives. And the influence that the faith community can have on society as a whole is further proof that these internal struggles are important.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Jesus Christ never spoke a word of condemnation against homosexuals. Churches don’t have any need to condemn LGBT people, or fight against our equal treatment in our country. A growing number of church communities have chosen to be affirming and supportive of LGBT people. I have the joy of experiencing this directly in the numerous church groups who send volunteers to cook in our shelters and collect clothing and even Christmas gifts for our young people.

A healthy society prioritizes the safety of children. Decent people do not stand by in silence when children are being abused. We need to recognize that the condemnation of LGBT people in churches leads to the abuse and rejection of LGBT children in far too many Christian homes 4.

“Not all Christians are like that. 5” One of the things I’ve always like about the Episcopal church, or at least my own parish, is that I am welcomed, fully. And while we still have work to do, and while we in Pittsburgh tend to work things out in big, messy, public ways, moving forward to a place where we’re all welcomed in God’s love, without conditions, is what we strive for.

So I hope that while he is here, Bishop McConnell can get to know more of us, not just members of the LGBT community, but the Yinzers we all are: genuine, hard-working individuals, just looking to be treated equally.

I don’t expect Bishop McDonnell to perform any same-sex blessings himself, and I do appreciate him extending the option to each priest, but it still seems like he only begrudgingly allows even that. And the same-sex blessing is not matrimony: while civil unions usually offer the same rights and responsibilities of marriage, without the significance and weight of the word, this blessing ceremony seems to fall much shorter, which is something we can both agree on.
I was the lone Episcopal student at a Catholic college (it was me and two professors), and I spent four years making them examine their faith, defend it, and hopefully be more welcoming in it, all while expressing my love for my own church, one that “never put barriers on God’s love.”

The Episcopal church is a refuge. A place of peace and love. Let’s keep it that way.

I’ve never met the bishop personally. But I would bet that he’s a kind, caring, passionate man. And I certainly appreciate the work that he does. And I don’t want to turn this into a personal attack, but reverse our roles for just a moment: let’s have some “discussions” to figure out if his love, his marriage should be recognized, should be allowed in God’s eyes. Of course that is going to hurt.

But he’s not inside my head. He doesn’t know what it’s like to see a constant barrage of hatred and bigotry thrown at you and your community, just for trying to live your own lives. He does not know how that can damage a person, damage a child. Those aren’t scars one can easily heal from.

And aren’t we a bit presumptuous to proclaim we know what God is thinking, anyway? Yes, yes, he has advanced degrees in theology, and I just took a couple courses during my time at college, so he actually does have a much better grasp on intellectually understanding God and religion. But I still have a hard time moving past God wanting anything except love from us: love for Him and love for our fellow man. Let’s leave the judgement and damnation to Him.

But what if we were to take this back in history a bit. Let’s say we’re discussing interracial matrimony, would we demand that both sides be equally represented?*

I’m sorry, bishop, but your bigotry is showing.

It’s dehumanizing to have “discussions” set up to talk about you, like you’re not in the room, to examine an entire group of people, to pass judgement on them.

Pittsburgh is tired of this debate, and Bishop McConnell had to have known that in coming here. We’ve been through this time and time again, and we were finally healing, finally coming out the other side, putting angry and lengthy legal battles behind us.

It took me a while, but I finally figured out why I was so uncomfortable thinking about attending the discussions, even in my own church. Having to face a group of people, that somehow thinks that I’m broken is not something I would willingly do, not any more.
I’m not broken. This is how God made me. And if you can’t see that, then you can’t see my basic humanity.

I’ve dealt with a lot of hate and intolerance, and I’m not saying the Bishop is approaching this with either consciously. But it is there, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not. When we insist that both sides have equal representation, when one only seeks to damn the other, we’re not in a welcoming place.

Since this is on the Internet, and as I’ve always said, “if you can’t laugh at sex or religion, you’re doing it wrong,” I feel compelled to include a few images to close. Mature? Probably not. But even through their humor, they have some truth to them, and besides, we need to laugh:

Jesus Christ never spoke a word of condemnation against homosexuals. In fact, I only really remember His message being about love. Love for God, and love for your neighbor.

 

*I got some great help in researching the history of interracial marriage in the Episcopal Church from @revlucymeg 6 (with assists from @ChurchSnobTEC 7 and @MapleAnglican 8) who pointed me to the correct Canons of the church: in the 1930’s the church adopted canon law to make matrimony correspond with local law, so with the Loving v. Virginia ruling (and probably many priests before that ignored anti-interracial marriage laws), and others around the country as laws evolved, the church was in accord with civil society.

There is a separate Canon stating matrimony is only between one man and one woman, although with the growing number of states that offer marriage equality, a task force is working on the wording of a new Canon to rectify the situation. My guess is we will see that resolution in a the next General Convention.


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Notes:

  1. https://www.churchpublishing.org/products/index.cfm?fuseaction=productDetail&productID=9743 
  2. http://www.episcopalpgh.org/docs/PastoralLetter131125-FINAL.pdf
  3. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130603/OPINION01/306030016/Iowa-View-1-man-1-woman-isn-t-the-Bible-s-only-marriage-view?gcheck=1 
  4. http://www.towleroad.com/2013/03/lgbt-homeless-youth-describe-rejection-from-christian-households-videos.html 
  5. http://notalllikethat.org/ 
  6. https://twitter.com/revlucymeg 
  7. https://twitter.com/ChurchSnobTEC 
  8. https://twitter.com/MapleAnglican 


Preview: The story of this race report actually began more than a decade ago, when the Port Authority closed off a section of the T track…

Race information

Goals

Goal Description Completed?
A 5K: PR Yes
B 5K: Sub 30 Yes
C Half: Finish Yes
D Half: Don’t walk Yes
E Half: Enjoy it Yes

Pictures

Training

After running the EQT 10-Miler in the fall, I decided to use another HH training plan, this time going for his Novice 2 Half plan, since one of my goals was to bump up to running four days a week. I hit every single one of the runs, although had to do a lot of moving the days around due to travelling for work. While not ideal, it still got me through injury free, so I was thankful for that for my first half. Most of my long runs were half on pavement/cement and half on trail. In hindsight, I wish I had done more time on the pavement, but otherwise I was very pleased with my long runs, I really came to enjoy them, except for my final 12 mile run, but that was due to the temperature being in the high seventies and muggy as all hell.

A friend from the Frontrunners and I also became accountability buddies about three weeks out from race day, and we texted each other each day to make sure were foam rolling, which helped a lot to ease quite a bit of stiffness that I had accumulated.

Pre-Race: 5K

Friends and I always volunteer Thursday night, helping to set up the expo (we unpack every single shirt. Good lord, there are so many) and going back down Friday, packet pick-up was a breeze. I ended up playing the part of “packet mule” picking up seven total (including two for myself). I had quite a collection of drawstring bags on my back walking through the convention center! Normal assortment of vendors, although to be honest, I was sad that this is the first festival (of any kind) that I didn’t see Gutter Helmet. If there’s a place to buy booth space, they are usually there, I’ve seen them at Pride and at alternative-fuel vehicle conventions.

My best friend’s wife comes over the night before this race every year and we made waffles with peanut butter and honey and watched an animated movie. The “movies for ages 3-4 and 5-7” fit us just right on Netflix.

Race: 5K

It rained. It was gross, but we knew it was going to be going into it. I’ve run enough in the rain and snow that it didn’t bother me, although other friends I was running with complained. In my mind, this was actually the A event for me to race. I’ve run a sub-30 5K on a track many times, but never did in a race. This was the very first race I ever ran, so it’s a great benchmark for me each year, and I really wanted to break 30 this year. /u/ahf0913 even predicted that I would so in my mind, the pressure was on.

My friend who paced me at the 10-miler ran with me, as my ‘almost full out race pace but not quite since I’m running my first half tomorrow’ pace fits neatly into his shake-out race for the full the next day. We settled in, and because of the crowds, fell a bit behind the 10:00/mile pacer. Which I enjoyed: he was great eye candy. But eventually we passed him after the first mile. My friend looked at his watch and said that we were actually running a 9:30 pace, which was great for me! There was an unexpected bottleneck going across one bridge (one side was closed for construction), but otherwise, just normal foot traffic in a race that size. The rest of the race was typical, lots of great cheering fans, including the woman I look for every year as we leave Allegheny Commons and head for the bridge. She always has a pot and a metal spoon; last year I called out that I look for her ever year, and we had another moment this year, she really is just my favorite spectator on the course!

We cross the bridge and take in the last mile. As we turn onto the Boulevard of the Allies, I see the clock time, try to do some quick mental calculations, hurt my brain, and just give it a great kick. Chip time: 29:33, knocking a minute off my 5K race PR and a minute and a half from my time last year!

Post-Race: 5K

The weather was raining and cold, so we skipped the finish line festival, and like so many others, ducked into the T to go back to the North Shore, we did however meet at Lost Child, as is our tradition, since we have the mentalities of children. Crammed onto the subway, as we were headed under the river, I glanced up and saw a friend from the Frontruners and his we chatted through people’s arms until we could get off at the platform. I met his husband, they congratulated me on my PR and wished each other luck for the next day.

We did a quick change and stretch at a friend’s hotel, I lost my voice cheering for the Kid’s Marathon as we walked back to the Expo where I cheesed for a picture with a giant 13.1. Also of note, there is another giant cut out of Dick’s (they sponsor the race) where you stand in as the I. Of course I did that, because it was a giant dick, just calling to me….but my friend hasn’t sent me that picture yet.

Pre-Race: Half

I spent the night before anxiously refreshing the weather. It was on the cusp of me needing long sleeves, and while I had worn long sleeves during the 5K, I got a tad overheated at the end, so I finally decided to go with short sleeves. I do a really good job over-hydrating the weeks before a race, so I got up four times in the middle of the night, otherwise though, it was a restful night. I take the busway into town, I don’t want to deal with traffic, so head to the park ‘n ride and catch the 5:00 bus.

Pre-Race: Super Secret Subway

Okay guys, here’s the thing: I’m a closet public transportation nerd. Like, big time. When I used to work in the Hill District, I would take the busway into town then walk up, sometimes cutting through the Steel Plaza subway station if I had gone to the gym. I’m still looking into it, but from what I can tell, at least ten years ago (although probably longer), the subway connector between Penn Station (at the end of the busway) and Steel Plaza was shut down, cutting off direct access to the busway from the subway. They took out the track allowing cars to loop around, but left the rest. Well, for race weekend, THEY OPENED IT BACK UP! One-day, special edition, never before have I ridden, hidden subway track! Here’s a map in case you were interested. It’s okay, you can skip ahead to the next section, I’m going to continue to nerd out for a bit here.

So I get off the bus and head over. I’m the only one. It’s not even the way I’m going, I just want to say that I rode it. It was glorious, and really, really short, but totally worth it. Spoiler: I rode it again that afternoon after the race!

Because the Frontrunners had over 20 members running on Sunday, we were part of the Running Club Rally, so I got to head to the SCRR lounge, have some fruit and use the bathroom, all while looking around awkwardly for someone I knew.

Race: Half

I joined some friends in Corral D, which honestly, was a great decision, I wanted to try to stick with a 10:30 pacer. We got started late (compared to previous years, I was told) and didn’t cross the start line until about 7:45, but I did hear some Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga as we waited, so that was good. During the first mile or two actually was able to see both /u/karmicbias and /u/miikermb which was so awesome! My friend was amazed I had actually met people from Reddit in real life, she thought that was just an urban legend that never actually happens!

My goal was to just enjoy my first half and have fun. A good friend stuck with me, and we kept each other motivated and entertained. I’m kind of a goof-ball and play off the crowd, so I spent 13 miles cheering on spectators and complimenting their signs and hats. A few times, other runners commented that they wanted to stick with us for the entertainment value, and we put in plugs for other races we run together.

We stopped so she could use the bathroom once, and between the wait, and my legs tightening up, we lost a bit of time, but I’m taking that as it will be easier for me to get a new PR the next time I run a half!

The crowd support was great, although there were certainly stretches where it was sparse, but that was to be expected. South Side was a lot of fun, as was the polka band in the West End. The crowd at Station Square was pretty awesome as well.

The big hill for the half course is the Birmingham Bridge, which I’ve run enough times that I was prepared for it. Although by then, the sun was out in full force and it had warmed up a bit into the 50’s, and it affected quite a few. After that, there was a small hill into Uptown, which was where I failed pretty hard during a training run, so even though I slowed down, I made it without stopping, which was huge for me.

Coming down the last mile, through downtown was amazing. I had one earbud in for the race, just for some music for the quiet periods, but as we passed The Paint Bucket, I tucked it away, taking in the screaming crowd. We took a left onto Grant and then the right onto the Boulevard towards the finish line. As we were coming down Grant, the crowds were packed, and I yelled out “Pittsburgh, show me some love!” getting them riled up even more and getting quite a few high fives out of the deal, so it was a win-win!

All in all, I cheesed for the camera quite a bit, ran a solid, consistent race and had an absolute blast doing it!

Best sign: Run like United needs your seat

Race Day Bingo boxes checked: Happy cop, angry cop, happy EMT, bored EMT, barefoot runner, Vibram 5-fingers runner, running in costume, over-prepared guy (about 17 GUs on his belt), under-prepared runner (walking in jeans and a heavy rain coat less than a mile in), and somehow: runner reading a book. That one hurts a lot, like I’m going to get an aneurysm if I keep thinking about the how and the why.

Post-Race: Half

Collected all the food and things. While we had bags to collect the water and chips and fruit and Smiley Cookies, they were the last things we got, which was dumb. Should have been medal, heat sheet, bag then the rest, hopefully that is changed for next year.

Met up with friends, helped them find their gear check bags, got my Steel Challenge medal from one of my favorite P3R employees (and promised to volunteer at the Triathalon again this year) and then headed to the hospitality tent as another reward for the Running Club Rally. The Frontrunners took a group photo with the PR bell and then we all headed home our separate ways. I traveled via the T back to the busway with a fellow club member, and we rode the special edition connector again! This time, we paid special attention to the sparks the track was throwing off. I think it needs some more maintenance if it’s going to be in regular rotation again.

What’s next?

It was a great weekend, one that I look forward to every year. I love the celebration of our personal achievements and the hard work we all put into ourselves paying off in such a fun way that brings the whole city together.

My feet are toughening up too, only had problems with one toe, but the nail doesn’t even look like it will fall off. My big goals are to further work on my nutrition and I desperately need to improve the hours of sleep I get each night. After a week off, I’d like to keep building my base, and maybe even add in a fifth day of running, but I’m not sure about that yet, but looking at my schedule, if I keep doing the four mile runs with the Frontrunners Saturday mornings, I could move my long run to Sundays, giving me five days a week. I also want to switch up my cross-training (and add in more stretching yoga) and strength training days, just to improve a little bit more in those areas as well, but I’m taking it all one thing at a time.

I’m eyeing the Greensburg Half in the fall, but they don’t have a date for that yet, and there’s a few small races coming up that I’ll be doing (Rainbow Dash, Great Race, Stride for Pride, Mario Lemieux, plus a couple virtuals for Zombies, Run and Beat the Blerch). My pacer friend gave me his old GPS watch (a Forerunner 10) so I can use that to help me with speed work going forward.

As I mentioned before, one of the reasons I run is that it helps me manage my depression. I work through things and it helps me make connections, as well as improve my mood. My long runs were perfect for that, I would figure things out and really see a considerable improvement in my mood, as well as solutions to problems I was facing. Races do not provide me the time to think like that. I worked at a camp for 11 years, and I used all that experience to make an ass out of myself for 13.1 miles to entertain those around me. I loved every second of that, but that was for others, not for me.

I need to remember that I do need to race, to mark my improvements, but also as a way to give back, just a little. But I need to go into it with the mindset that I’m not going to have any mental revelations, that way, I can just enjoy it for what it is. After the race, lots of people told me how proud they were of me and that was amazing (although a bit uncomfortable, since I hate having the spotlight on myself), but I tried to take it all in. Hopefully that’s a lesson I can better learn with each race.



Short update, let’s see what we have today.

Sometimes North Korea makes shit up to amaze its populace.  This one may take the cake though: they have “found” a unicorn lair.

The Advocate ranked Pittsburgh as the 15th gayest city in America.

Kansas City is getting a new 17-story waterslide.  Yeah, not happening:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdKI6WS7ghE

The cast of Orange is the New Black do an awesome photoshoot for Elle magazine.

The Manliest (Gay) stuff on the planet.  Great list from the Good Men Project.

That’s it for now, have a great one!



Short update today.  First up, the big news here in Pittsburgh is Luke v. UPMC.  Ginny talks about it, and you should give it a read.

Sounds like something I came up with: replacing guns with thumbs up.

Chiptole has cancelled their sponsorship of a Scouting event in Utah because, you guessed it: the BSA discriminates against children.

And in a week, the arguments will take place at the Supreme Court against Prop 8 and DOMA.  It’s a big deal, and to help support it, a young man wrote a letter to Chief Justice Roberts, who has adoptive children:

That’s it for now, have a great one!

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