Showing posts with label SHE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SHE. Show all posts

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hiatus

Dear Readers,

I apologize for being away for so long.  I thought a few months ago that I would be posting regularly again, but life through a few curve balls.   Good ones.  One was that my Super Husband Extraordinaire (SHE) and I finally went back to Iowa to make our marriage official.  The wedding was fantastic.  So in a handful of states, we are now equal citizens.

Also, I'm working on a project that has a completely different voice than this blog, so I've needed to distance myself from the blog's voice while I finish the project.  I do hope to return at some point to continue to challenge hypocrisy veiled in religion.

Until then, I remain your happy heretic.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Holy Blog's Anniversary and a Message about the Future

     Dear Heretics,

     The Gospel According to Hate had its first anniversary on October 2.  Since going online, the Holy Blog has received over 110,000 page views by more than 55,000 visitors.  I have published over 700 posts.  Thank you for reading, commenting, and confronting the hatred that some preach in the names of their gods.

     A special thank you to the blog's followers and those of you who comment regularly: Buffy, Doorman-Priest, Truthspew, Russ, FDeF, Deldachez, and, of course, Anonymous (who can really be a judgmental asshole).  Thank you to folks who emailed me to let me know I'd missed a typo.  

     A huge thank you and hug to my Super Husband Extraordinaire (SHE) for his assistance with research, proofreading, and all his support, when I doubted myself.  

     A very special thank you to my dear friend, Iowa Soup Mama, who's guest post during last year's Twelve Hates of Christmas, "I Hate Mall Rage," has been the blog's most visited post with over 5000 hits.


     I have a confession to make: this blog began as a graduate school writing assignment.  It wasn't my intention for it to become an unpaid thirty-hour-a-week job.  I've enjoyed the research, writing, and interaction with you, my readers.  That said, I need a break.

     Every morning, I awake peacefully.  Then I spend two to four hours combing through news stories that are infuriating and listening to the hatred that people spew in the names of their gods, churches, and dogmas.  I need a reprieve from that negative energy.  Also, I have a thesis that is currently demanding my full attention and focus.  Unfortunately, the blog has become a convenient distraction.

     That said, I'm going to continue to publish, but not with my expanded commentary and not daily.  I will still post links, videos, etc. when huge stories of hypocrisy, hatred and violence in the name of religion cross my path.  Please email me at gospelaccordingtohate@gmail.com if you see a story you think should be reported.

     It's also been a painful year.  Coming from a religious background, numerous friends and family members have taken great offense to me voicing my opinions.  Thank you to my readers and friends who understand the point of this blog.  Thank you for your support.  

     Despite some people's opposition, this blog has been a success and a place of refuge.  Numerous people have emailed me to confide their own stories of being abused by church leaders, to ask support after being cut off from family because of their sexual orientation or changed religious beliefs, or to ask for guidance because they are still priests struggling with the anti-gay rhetoric of the church.  I hope that I was able to help them.  My goal in writing the blog was to help people in situations such as these to find a voice.

     Again thank you for reading.  Please continue to stop by.  Don't stop confronting religious violence, bigotry, and hatred.  Get out the vote on Tuesday!

     As we say at USC: "Fight on!"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Same-Sex Couples to Kiss in Front of Pope: Facebook Censors Protest

     I have to go to Barcelona.  Good luck to the Queer Kissing Flashmob.

     SAME-SEX couples from all over the world have planned to snog each other in the Cathedral square in Barcelona in front of the Pope next month.
     A group on Facebook, Queer Kissing Flashmob, which managed to get 12,000 users to agree to go along on November 7 and display their love in public, has been shut down by Facebook, claim the organisers.  This has added more fuel to the fire, and one of the organisers, Maryl癡ne Carole, expressed her 'disbelief' that a couple kissing in public could be considered 'outrageous' in this day and age.
     “It's difficult to understand how the noble and loving act of kissing your partner can still be defined as 'revolutionary' in the 21st century,” she commented.  “It appears to be a form of censorship – and yet it was only started by a group of friends who have no connections to any political group or any kind of gay association.”
     Those who intend to go to Barcelona on November 7 say they will make a point of kissing their other halves in the Cathedral square just as Pope Benedict XVI walks out of the door.
     Spanish gays and lesbians have accused Facebook of censorship after an event being planned by the Queer Kissing Flashmob was removed from the social networking page.  The planned event is to get gay and lesbian couples to hold a ‘snog-in’ in front of the Pope during Benedict XVI’s visit to Barcelona Cathedral at 10am on November 7, as ‘a fight for sexual and affectionate rights, not from violence, but from passion, sensuality and love’.  The Facebook group had more than 1,500 people registered and 12,000 had been invited when the page was removed.
     The organisers, who are a group of friends who are not linked to any political group or organisation, have set up another Facebook page under the ‘Queer Kissing Flashmob’ name, which at the time of writing, remains in place.
     Here's the second Facebook group, which at this point has not been removed by Facebook.

     I agree with Ms. Carole that kissing is a form of protest.  I make a point of kissing SHE anytime anti-LGBT protesters cross our path. If they have the freedom to spout their hateful words at us, then I'm going to show them our love.

Friday, August 13, 2010

LGBT POV Article on Yesterday's Prop 8 Stay Roller Coaster Announcement

     Here's a link to the full article that I mentioned yesterday, where SHE and I were interviewed by Phillip at Unite the Fight for a collaborator at LGBT POV.

     Phillip Minton left for the Beverly Hills courthouse right after taping the cheering reaction. I called him to tell him the bad news. I could feel sadness wash over him. He interviewed Tom Rastrelli (who blogs at The Gospel According to Hate) and his fianc矇 Bruce Mayhall, who have been together for three years [32 months to be exact]. They were the first to make it to the courthouse that day anticipating that Walker would lift his stay, allowing the couple to get married.
This picture of us waiting for Judge Walker's announcement was taken by Adam Lau of the AP and is making the internet rounds.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Denied Marriage, SHE and I Ended up the News

     The Los Angeles Times reports:
     Bruce Mayhall and Tom Rastrelli were the first in line Thursday morning at the Beverly Hills Courthouse, ready to get a marriage license if good news came down from Judge Vaughn Walker.  They dressed in matching pink shirts and waited.

     As the hours passed, they watched heterosexual couple after heterosexual couple -- decked out in suits and white dresses -- pass them in line to get married. They waited off to the side for their turn. CLICK HERE FOR THE REST
     Here's a short interview of SHE and I after we were denied a chance to get a marriage licence today. The interview was done by Phillip of Unite the Fight, and will be part of an article on LGBT POV.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tea Party Candidate Rick Barber Calls Conservative Christians to "Gather Your Armies" against President Obama

     Rick Barber, Christian and Republican/Tea Party candidate in Alabama's second district for the House of Representatives, just released a new commercial in which he rants to actors shabbily dressed as the founding fathers.  First, Barber calls for the impeachment of President Obama while a hand fidgets a gun.  Then, over drinks and pistols, he bitches about progressive income taxes and healthcare reform, after which an actor in a powdered wig, supposedly George Washington, calls for the god-fearing people of Alabama to (cue melodramatic bass voice) "gather your armies."
Image via Facebook

     What would Jesus do?  Would he know that Rick Barber is a Christian by his love or by his not-so-veiled threats of violence against the President of the United States?


     If anyone still thinks that this Tea Party rhetoric is just speech, let me share this.  My fianc矇 SHE's father, who is a lifelong Alabamian, staunch conservative Republican, fan of Bill O'Reilly, and good Christian, refers to President Obama as "that colored black n----r president."

     This revolting and unabashed racism, homophobia, and xenophobia of the Tea Party America are real.  For those of you in the Tea Party, who aren't violence-inciting frightened racists, you need to get control of your allies.

     Barber's seditious cries for violence against our democratically elected president and government must be addressed.

     For a discussion of treason and sedition in light of Barber's call for war against the U.S. government, see the Democratic Underground.

     Here's Keith Olbermann's take.


     Here's the Rick Barber commercial in its full seditious glory.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A View from the Pew

     I've still received no word on Fr. Hate. It's as if he's been abducted by aliens. He's just gone. I'm very worried and doing all I can to find out what's happened.  The church his hiding something.  I hope he's okay.

     In lieu of my usual Sunday postings of my meetings with Fr. Hate, here's a reflection upon the funeral of the mother of my Super Husband Extraordinaire (SHE). 

            A View from the Pew


There is no god in the Huntsville Boulevard Church of Christ.  There are people.  There are pews.  There are bibles.  But there is no god.  Not for me.

Camouflaged by the tiny choir, I sit in the back corner of the naked church.  I wait to give voice to symmetrical hymns and latex lyrics.  A glimmer of grief grazes my consciousness, grief for the harmonies of my youth, my former life as a Catholic priest, days when there was no way out but through, no option but to deny oneself—the truth—for the glory of the kingdom, a kingdom in which I am no longer welcome.

Far away on the center aisle in the fifth pew from the front, my fianc矇 SHE sits alone, exposed.   The beloved Ms. Saint sits in front of him.  SHE’s family adores her—the ex— the last vestige of SHE’s “normal” life.  They never accepted him—for being a musician, for being gay.  They know nothing about his life.  Decades of atherosclerotic denial have dammed any flow of fondness for him that they may harbor in the bowels of their fear.   Instead, they venerate Ms. Saint, whom SHE has forgiven, to whom SHE remained true all those years that he knew Ms. Saint was cheating, when he knew that he was gay but was struggling to be straight for Jesus.  Divorce wasn’t an option in the Church of Christ.  Being gay wasn’t even on the menu.  And now, at his mother’s funeral, beatific Ms. Saint sits in front of SHE.

The pillow-like man to my right fidgets.  His pant leg grazes mine.  His fingers fumble through a stale songbook, although they’ve already located the first hymn.  His wedding ring needs a good shining.  To my left another married man with a permanent lemon-licking pucker keeps a more respectable distance like the evenly distributed married couples filling the pews, four inches of carnal security buffering them from their magnetic instincts.   Again, pillow-man’s leg punctures the body-space barrier kissing my knee.  He knows.  The forbidden voice from within is calling his name.  He can’t resist.  Still, he doesn’t inquire.  If asked, I am “a friend” of SHE’s old choir friends, for he’s in too much pain to speak the unspoken-yet-known truth, too weak to fight off the righteous condemnations that would ensue, and too exhausted to resist his shame, his function in the family’s dark dance.


SHE sobs alone in his pew.  I hate Alabama.  Each tear drives a reed under my toenails, spikes through my wrists, and a spear into my side.  I’m bound to the unfeeling pew by invisible chains, ancient chains.  I pull at them, but do not break away.  I remain in the chains for them: SHE’s dad, his sister and brother, and their families, the five generations that sit in the pews in front of my SHE.   

I know their stories.  I know about the deceased’s great-great-grandchild in the second pew.  I know of the hardships of his great-great-great-great grandfather, stories of generations past, family schism courtesy of the Civil War, the unceasing, unrelenting war.  Family stories mined from SHE’s exhaustive ancestral research come alive as I see his family for the first time, in the flesh, looking upon their matriarch, Ruth, who deceives us from the coffin with a blissful glow.  I sit.  I observe as the unknown entity, a nameless stranger who knows the intimate secrets and sin of their lives.  I’m a non-being, trapped in some out-of-body nightmare in which events progress, emotions drain, and daggers dressed as pious platitudes dance in the plastic preacher’s every other sentiment.

My body recalls, embraces even, how it felt—the closet.  My shoulders round forward.  My chest chokes itself into a knot.  Endorphins assault my extremities, pushing through capillaries into follicles.  My forearm hair stands erect.  My eyes dart, searching for signs.  Does anyone know?  Does anyone suspect who I really am?  My hearing sharpens as my comprehension clouds.  I filter through pleasantries, descrambling cadences for any indication that someone knows that I am other, I am gay, I am the scapegoat.  I sit alone in a sea of believers, people who profess that the truth sets one free and believe that Christ gave them the privilege to hit anyone different with their god-stick.  Drowning on the other side of the nefarious nave is my spouse, my SHE, and I am as powerless to help him as the corpse of his mother who stares peacefully at the stark rafters above.

There is no god in the Huntsville Boulevard Church of Christ. 

There is a preacher, who admires the sound of his voice as much as the crisp part in his greased mane, a preacher who would have failed my homiletics classes in seminary for his abuse of pious platitudes and random scriptural proof-texting, a preacher who knows only of Paul and Ruth what he wants to know in order to justify the rectitude of the prescriptions he hurls at his liver-speckled, white-haired, and white-skinned flock, a preacher who walks with an air of overconfidence and gestures with histrionics that betray the true nature of his closets, a preacher whose “inspired” wisdom has provided him with a kindergarten acrostic of a sermon.  

Ruth:  R is for reverent (Wife reveres husband.), U is for unselfish (Wife defers to husband.), T is for thankful (Wife thanks god for husband.) and H is for hospitality (Wife keeps house for husband).   

This preacher trains his flock to fear and condemn anyone different.  He continues the holy line of succession, the succession of bipolar bigots who hate their very selves “to the shame” and project their toxic denials onto the “gays and strays” of society.   

The preacher praises Ruth and Paul for what he knows them to be: reliable, loving members of the Church of Christ.  He omits half of the truth: they were parents who denied their children love and acceptance, a father who abused his children and belittled them as adults, a mother who let it happen, grandparents who put pious point-winning missionary travels above time with discarded grandchildren.  They are not perfect saints, as the preacher professes them to be, and there, SHE sits, an eternal void of saved souls separating us, skewering us.  Not a savior in sight. 

SHE weeps and wipes his wrinkled cheeks with a handkerchief.  My liver boils.  My spontaneously overgrown fingernail digs into the songbook on my lap leaving a mark, a divot that will never be repaired, a sign that I was there at Ruth’s funeral at 1:23 pm on Saturday, March 7, 2009.  I was there!  I am here.  We are here.  We will not go away.  You will not cure, erase, or crush our love, my love for SHE, his love for me.  We love.  We live.  You evenly-spaced stoic sour-faces catatonically propagating the status quo—you are dead, as dead as my lover’s mama in the casket before us.  You live in your closets, your fantasies.   I, for one, am finished.

I stand up and run down the aisle to SHE.  I embrace him, cradling the boy who misses his mama.  I don’t care what these religious bastards think.  I shout to the heavens.  The woman in front of me is an adulterer.  She’s not the saint Ms. Saint you have canonized her to be.  Paul wasn’t a loving father.  SHE hid under the bed when he came home from work.  My SHE was six!  He still has PTSD from the random beatings.  And on and on I preach the truth and expose the lies.


But I’m still in my pew with the choir, sight-reading another vacuous verse set to a three-tone bass growl.  SHE stares at the backside of the family that’s rejected him since his fourth birthday when he asked for paper dolls.  Together, everyone sings of the peace that the Lord Jesus Christ brings to those who confess the truth, and I bow once more to the god I have forsaken, the god I have outgrown, the god who failed to evolve with the truth of my human experience and history, a god who now takes his rightful place in the weathered acropoli of conquered civilizations, a god who is nothing more than myth grasping at power with fingers of dread, damnation, dependence, disgrace, and duplicity.  For one more day, I offer sacrifice to that god.   I bow and light fire to my dignity, my authenticity, my truth, and my love for SHE who wails abandoned to that heartless pew.  I sing Amen—and so it is—in Alabama.

My eyelid twitches.  My heart tightens.  My lungs resist breath.  I am in the closet.  I remain there a few more hours to spare people who know me not.  I spare them and sacrifice my love.  I loathe them, their preacher, their imaginary Santa Christ.  Never again, I promise myself.  Never again will I abandon my love, my SHE, to the jaws of their denial.  Never again.  


Postscript: The names of persons and places have been changed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More Reasons to Hate Traditional Marriage Laws: Adultery

     Give the people what they want!  Give them their traditional marriage law.  Let religious fundamentalists define and enforce the law.  Twenty-six of our nation's states have laws punishing adultery, and in four states adultery is a felony.  Why aren't the traditional marriage advocates going after those states that promote adultery by decriminalizing it?


     Our nation's civil marriage law was based on English Common Law (not the bible), which outlawed adultery, premarital sex (fornication), and sodomy. So, my traditional marriage supporting friends, let's go all the way.  Let's get adultery outlawed in all fifty states.  Let's outlaw premarital sex.  Let's make sure that the 38.2% of straight men who stick it in the 32.6% of women's asses, no longer deflower traditional marriage and sexual virtue, even within marriage.  (This does happen, as a certain Catholic in good standing, who shall remain nameless, told me that once her husband talked her into trying anal.  Of course, I'm the one who's Satan, gay atheist that I am.  But, I would never stick it in SHE's mangina.  That would be against Gay Natural Law.)

     If you are wondering what life in a nation that allows traditional marriage law to be enforced would be like, just move to Somalia.

     Last year in Somalia, traditional marriage law was enforced.  The BBC reported:
     A young woman recently stoned to death in Somalia first pleaded for her life, a witness has told the BBC. "Don't kill me, don't kill me," she said, according to the man who wanted to remain anonymous. A few minutes later, more than 50 men threw stones. Human rights group Amnesty International says the victim was a 13-year-old girl who had been raped. Numerous eye-witnesses say she was forced into a hole, buried up to her neck then pelted with stones until she died in front of more than 1,000 people.
     Yesterday, the BBC reported:
     Islamists in southern Somalia have stoned a man to death for adultery but spared his pregnant girlfriend until she gives birth. Abas Hussein Abdirahman, 33, was killed in front of a crowd of some 300 people in the port town of Merka. An official from the al-Shabab group said the woman would be killed after she has had her baby.
     "He was screaming and blood was pouring from his head during the stoning. After seven minutes he stopped moving," an eyewitness told the BBC.
     Moderate Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed accused the fundamentalist stoners of spoiling the image of Islam by killing people and harassing women:  "'Their actions have nothing to do with Islam,' said the moderate Islamist."


     But, they do!  Why is it that religious "moderates" are quick to blame fundamentalists' "craziness" whenever their common religious heritage is used to justify violence?  The root of the issue is the scriptures.  There is precedence for stoning adulterers in the scriptures of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, so don't be shocked when some of your followers choose to enforce that precedent.

     As far as I'm concerned, if you share those scriptures, you share the responsibility, just as those who supported the U.S. war on Iraq, share the responsibility for the estimated 100,000 civilian deaths of innocent Iraqis since the start of the war.  It's called social sin, according to the Catholic Church (unless, of course, it involves the Catholic Church; then, it's the fault of a few individually misled priests).

Image Credit: motifake.com

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Hate Incessant Commercial Jingles

     The brain is mysterious and fucked up organ. Why can't I remember the birthdays of my nephew and niece born less than a year ago, but I can remember every word to a commercial jingle that I heard thirty years ago?

     Why did I wake up this morning singing the Shower to Shower jingle?  Did I have a stroke in my sleep?  Am I developing some rare Rain-Man-like form of middle-aged autism?  Why can't I make it stop?  Somebody HELP!

I hate Shower to Shower.


     SHE has the same problem. It's been over fifty years since Pepsodent invented rap, but SHE still knows every word to this fabulous little jingle.  If you don't believe that Pepsodent invented rap, just click below.

Mothuh fuckuh, fuckin' Pepsodent will blow yo bitch-ass mind.  (No homo.)


What are your most hated retro commercial jingles?

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Proof that, once again, there is a thin line between love and hate.

Postscript: Enjoy having these jingles stuck in your head for the rest of the week.
 
Burn in hell, Coca-Cola!!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Confession #4


     Forgive me Father Hate for I have sinned.  It’s been two weeks since my last confession.  Oh…and welcome back from your cruise.  How was it?
     …
     I know that’s a boundary violation, but after what I heard from your sub, Fr. Boundarilessi, last weekend during my “confession,” I realized that you closeted priests need someone to talk to.  And being a former priest myself, who’s come out of the closet, left the priesthood, and is now an atheist, I have no sacred cows.  You can talk to me about anything.
     …
     Oh, cut the crap, Father Hate.  I just gave you an opening to vent—about anything!  How often in life do you get that offer?  And what priest doesn’t like to talk about himself?  Come on.  You have my word that I won’t tell anyone.  This can all be under the seal.  Hell, you can even blaspheme the Holy Spirit for all I care.
     …
     Seriously, I want to help you.
     …
     Because, when I left the priesthood five years ago, I was a wreck: crushed, clinically depressed, and suicidal.  Every paradigm in my life was in flux—in question—and I didn’t know if there was a life for me on the other side. 
     ...
     Didn’t I tell you about the sexual abuse I endured at the hands of trusted priests?  And how it was all covered up?  I lost my career, my livelihood, and my community because I told the truth.  So yes, it was scary to come out, the most frightening thing I ever did in my life, but it was worth it.
     …

     Well, the bishop and my superiors told me to shut up, to go back to my parish, back into the closet, and to be a good little obedient priest.  After all, why would I want parishioners to know what happened to me?  It would only scandalize them, and everyone thought that the guilty abusers were good priests.  Hadn’t we had enough scandal already?
     …
     Yeah, it was horrendous.  I didn’t know what to do, so I drove to the icy Mississippi with the intention of driving my truck out onto it until I fell through.
     …
     Well, as I sobbed, parked at the river’s edge, my internal counselor kicked in.  I knew I had to call someone.  I knew that even though I couldn’t see any alternative, besides going back into my parish and dying of depression, I knew that there had to be another alternative that the veil of my despair wasn’t allowing me to see.
     …
     People do die of depression, Father Hate.  If it’s left untreated it can be a terminal illness.  A depressed and closeted priest friend of mine drank himself to death.  Every year over a million people kill themselves, and upwards of 90% of those suicides are related to mental illnesses.  So if you are depressed, seek treatment.  But, I’m not here to lecture you, Father Hate.  I’m here to listen.   As someone who’s been on both sides of the confessional and clerical closets, I have something to offer men and priests like you who are struggling with their sexuality issues.
     …
     No.  That wasn’t a come on.  I’m happily engaged to SHE.  Remember?
     …
     I’m flattered, Father, but we’re not in an open relationship.  And, thanks for coming out to me. 
     …
     But you did.  And look, the world didn’t end.
     …
    Now you’re changing the subject, but that’s all right.  I’ll answer, but then you’re going to talk to me.  You need to talk to someone.  Okay?
      …
     Good.  Well what happened that night is that I called a friend, and he talked me down from my suicidal perch.  Then I called my parents, who came to move me out of the parish the next day.  I didn’t, but that’s a story for another time.  What’s important is that from that moment on, I chose to live and to start taking care of myself.  There wasn’t a future for me in the priesthood and the closet.  Is there for you, Father?  Talk to me.  I’m all ears.


Postscript:  If you or someone you know is ever feeling suicidal, there are people that can help you.  Please call 1-800-SUICIDE.  For LGBT youth, call the Trevor Project.

Heretic Tom: gospelaccordingtohate@gmail.com


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Hate that Jesus Hates the Yankees

     I root for the underdog. Perhaps it’s a gay-boy side effect of always feeling like an outsider in the world. Perhaps, it’s being from Iowa and witnessing the carnage of the Hawkeyes and Cyclones in bowl games every year and tasting the acceptance of mediocrity emanating each October from dejected, elderly Cubs’ fans.


When I was a priest working in nursing homes in the fall of 2003, there were so many old folks holding on just to see the 1908 World Champion Cubs get to that World Series again. “Just once before I die, Father, I want to see the Cubs win one. That’s my last will and testament. Just one World Series.” But the Florida Marlins had to go and beat them in the 2003 NLCS. The following week throughout Iowa and Illinois, there was a spike in funerals.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Hate Birthdays

      SHE turns sixty today.  Sixty!

      We’re going to celebrate his life, our life together, but, still, something’s changed. I’ve lost something. I used to love birthdays, but now, that feeling, it’s retired.

      Aging into my driver’s license, R-rated movies, voting, gambling, the right to gamble again (the law changed from eighteen to twenty-one in Iowa when I was nineteen), buying alcohol, renting a car, and finally coming into that ultimate age of twenty-five when the car insurance rate drops; all these milestones are long in the past. I’m in the purgatorial decades when the shiny novelty of aging has buckled and tarnished, and the grateful relief of being granted another year of retirement has yet to materialize.

       Looking in the mirror, I see the face of boy with the lines of a man; the thick, lush skin of a teen with the materializing age spots of my father; the musculature of an eighteen-year-old chest with the nearly drooping fatty chunkiness of my unforgiving genetic nipples.

      I turn from the mirror to the world. The black and white of my youth has matured to bountiful grays; but so have many of the fluorescents and pastels. The sweet milk chocolate and sour apple starved taste buds that spent countless quarters at Rooshy’s Candy Store, now tolerate only dry reds and bitter darks.

      I look back to the mirror. Running fingers along my hairy scalp, I’m grateful for the shaggy fullness inherited from my mother, but the coarseness of Grandma’s strands has taken a strangle hold that it will never relinquish. With wise surrender of the shame I felt at twenty-one, I pluck my monobrow weekly, but now, I also trim Grandpa’s flaring, ex nihilo curlicues that wind crazily towards my crow’s feet and furled brow. Blinking, the sparkling blue of my four-year-old irises giggle back at me, but the darkening bags, trophies of depression’s survival, sing songs of lament to their weighty reality.

      Seeing myself in the mirror, I think of SHE. What did SHE look like at thirty-five? I’ve seen pictures, but I want the full 3-D, tactile, surround-sense experience. What will I look like at sixty? Will SHE still be here to celebrate with me?

      Love.

      Love is.

      Love is to blame.

      Love is to blame for aging.

      Love is to blame for aging’s indiscriminate gut checks.

      I love SHE. We accepted the fact that our age difference is substantial and that we have no idea what the future holds; how many birthdays we will share. We will enjoy what we have, honoring; celebrating, in spite of the persistent frailty of the present.

      But, still, I don’t have to like birthdays.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Hate Balloon Boy's Parents

     I don’t have any kids. I probably never will.

     When I was in seminary this was something extremely difficult for me to accept. In counseling sessions I worked through my grief over the loss of children I would never have. I was told this was a natural thing for priests to feel and to do, because we were biologically hardwired for procreation. Because we had to be celibate and since the people in the pews were going to be our spiritual children, we had to open up our lives to be parents for all. There was no room even for adoption. Sure, a few priests managed to adopt, but that was viewed as questionable. Were they really going to be able to give their entire being to the church if they had a kid to care for?

     Growing up, I always thought I’d be a father. I neither thought I’d be a priest, nor that I’d end up being engaged to a man. While being a priest was in the collective imagination of my Irish-Italian Iowan roots, being a healthy gay man was not. Since kindergarten and my days of parenting various stuffed animals with names that rhymed with Jeffrey (Keffrey, Meffrey, Neffrey, Peffrey, etc.—I was very creative), I knew that there was something different about me.

     Was it the pink birthday hat that I requested? Was it the repulsion I felt when Tammy Schultz asked me to play Show and Tell and Touch under the bedcovers with her? Was it the fact that I got caught by my big sister and reprimanded by my parents for playing the same game with Chet Blackmore in the basement the next weekend? Or was it my fascination with the intriguing parts hanging between the legs of the plump daddy in the children’s book Where Did I Come From? Whatever it was, I didn’t call it gay. I didn’t know that word; except that it was something you called sissies on the playground.

     As I grew older, my fantasy life evolved as well. Nightly as I lay in bed, I got trapped in snowstorms with my He-Man and G.I. Joe guys (especially G.I. Joe arctic trooper: Snow Job). Snow Job and I were freezing to death. In order to survive we had to strip naked, share a sleeping bag, and lie close to each other for warmth. (I’d learned about that survival method from Latka on an episode of Taxi.) Eventually, the fantasy came to involve some of my male teachers, my friends, and their fathers.

     As a teen, I fantasized about being a father, about marrying my best friend, who looked like Ariel, The Little Mermaid (the wedding was going to be fabulous), and having beautiful auburn-haired girls to raise with her. (See the video below for the full fantasy.)  Of course, there was no sex in the marriage. They were virgin births apparently, because I was still getting accidentally stuck in blizzards with co-workers and football-loving buddies, luckily getting the last room at roadside motel, and unfortunately having to share the room’s only bed. (And did I mention the power outage?)

     Now, at 35, I’m engaged to SHE (Super Husband Extraordinaire) and there’s quite an age difference between us. He’s got grown kids. We’re not going to have children—nieces and nephews, yes; grandchildren, maybe. I know that I could be a great father, but in my life at this point, I cannot support a family financially. I’m in grad school. I’m a writer. There’s no money, no job, no stability. Love there would be, but we’d be living on the streets. I’m not going to introduce a child in to that kind of uncertainty. It wouldn’t be responsible or fair.

     So, when I turn on the news and see the latest Octomom saga: Balloon Boy; when I hear of parents using their children to get media attention or to make money; when I hear stories of parents verbally, physically, or sexually abusing their children; when an addict to whom I listening tells me he been addicted to heroin since age nine when his mom made him shoot up with her; and, when I see parents damaging children out of their own selfishness, I get angry. I want childhood protective services to rescue those children. I want the world to do something.

     But then, what am I doing? I make less than 30K in Los Angeles. I’m in school. I’m thirty-five and have no children. What am I giving to the world? How I am helping the situation? Is there salvation for the Balloon Boys of the world?



Image Credit: Snow Job from Hasbo