Friday, May 31, 2013

Good News: Jallen Messersmith Comes Out

I admit I’d never heard the name Jallen Messersmith, but now that I have I won’t forget it.

He is twenty, the son of Tim and Chantelle Messersmith. He was born  during March Madness and the 1993 run by Michigan's Fab 5 and was named Jallen—pronounced Jalen—in homage to then-Michigan star Jalen Rose. He was raised Mormon, and bullied so mercilessly as a child that he was home-schooled. Now he plays college basketball for Benedictine College, a Catholic school in Kansas, where he was fourth in the nation in his division in blocked shots this past season.

Oh, and he’s gay. Let’s recap, a gay, former Mormon basketball star playing for a Catholic university. It seems like he was tailor-made to be bullied, but he isn’t, even after coming out to his school, and his team, last fall.
"He's a very outgoing player and if you need an example of a hustler, it's him.  He's doing the dirty work for the team. He's getting the blocks on defense, he's getting every rebound. We like him on the team."— Brett Fisher, Messersmith's teammate and best friend
Messersmith appears to be the college basketball player to come out as gay while still playing; Villanova's Will Sheridan came out after he graduated.
"When I came out, there was nobody in my sport I could. I always wanted to put it out there and I had a great experience with it and I wanted to show people it could be fine."
He will admit that coming out scared him to death, but recalls a story he told his friends after coming out, and how they all made it easier for him.
"I had gone on a date the night before and Brett came up to me when there were a group of us and he asked, 'So how did your date go last night?' And I was like, 'Well, we just kind of did this and this.' And Brett said, 'What else did you guys end up doing?' And I said, 'Well, we kind of just did stuff and we had fun.' And he was like, 'No, if I'm going to tell you specifics about what I did on my date, you're going to tell me specifics.'  It told me that I can be open about my personal life and people would listen and give input. It's like nothing different. I'm just one of the guys, who happens to like guys. He eventually got it out of me, though it took some prodding."
It’s that kind of acceptance and camaraderie and chemistry he found in the locker room with his friends and teammates that showed Jallen he could be more open with them about his sexual orientation.

He has a sister, a brother, and two adopted brothers from foster care; there are 23 cousins on his mother's side. His is a big family, and the coming out process could have been a long one, and a difficult one, but his mother says she knew Jallen was different from an early age.
"When I did come out, my mom said she knew that I was different but that she didn't know why. Growing up, I was always the really quiet, shy, nice and sweet kid. The story she brought up to me is when I was younger, I was in dance and tap and I was the only guy in class. All the girls wore pink. I had to wear everything black. I came home one day and I said I wanted to have the pink shoes and they wouldn't let me. At that point, she knew something was different."
Jallen is no longer a part of the Mormon Church, but he grew up in the faith and heard derogatory remarks about homosexuals all his life; at home, however, as if they all knew, his family offered him only love and support.
"My mom had told me all growing up that if for some reason somebody was gay, they would support them. But going to church, all I heard was 'this is bad, this is bad, this is bad.' When I heard stuff like that, all I did was try to get away from it."
But he couldn’t get away from the bullying he endured in school. Even as an athlete from a young age, Jallen was taunted for his perceived differences from the time he was about eight until he turned thirteen.
"Growing up, I was always picked on. I seldom had a guy friend growing up. I was lonely and didn't have any super-close friends. Some days I would go to my room and just cry about it. It was something I kept to myself."
Jallen kept the bullying to himself, though his parents soon suspected he was being tormented, and they pulled him out of public schools and taught him at home. He went back to public school for high school, and while the bullying continued, it lessened enough that he was able to endure it through his love of basketball.
"The people making fun of me pushed me into basketball further and made me want to be the best at basketball and get somewhere with myself. After my sophomore year, I didn't care what people thought. I grew stronger because of it and it rolls off my back now."

Jallen was a good enough player to get scholarship offers, and chose Benedictine in part to stay close to his family, though his parents, who haven’t missed a single game, are now divorced. He was still not out, and it took a tragedy to make him look at himself, and understand himself, and find the need and the drive to be open abou8t his sexual orientation.
"My freshman year, one of my teammates passed away in a car accident. When that happened, I looked at myself and asked 'What am I? What am I doing?' At that point, I had accepted that I was gay. Seeing him die young and in such a sudden manner, I didn't want something that was such a big part of what I am to be hidden. I wanted it to be something I was out about, I was proud of being and that people accepted me more. I did not want that to be hidden for the rest of my life."
At the end of the spring semester, Jallen came out to his parents, who were only and always supportive. It was because of their reaction that he decided he could, and should, come out to his team and coaches.
"During the summer I was petrified to tell my teammates. I was scared to come back and I honestly didn't know what they were going to say. I was just scared and I didn't know what to do."
He first told his coach, Ryan Moody, who took the news in stride and, like Jallen’s parents, offered unconditional support. The next day, he told the assistant coaches.
"They were there 100% for me. They said it would not make any difference in the way the team was run. And they wanted to make sure it wouldn't change my experience at the school. That was awesome. After that, I felt like I could do anything."
Anything except have a big coming out scene in the locker room.
"I didn't want to draw a ton of attention. I was going to be gay and have this side of basketball. I wanted it to be that I was still a basketball player who just happened to be gay."
Jallen’s mother helped him come out to the team by telling the mother of his best friend, Brett Fisher, that Jallen was gay. She, in turn, told her son, with Jallen’s blessing.
"I actually was surprised to hear that, but I brushed it off. We were going to be friends forever. I accept him for the person he is. It's still a normal friendship for us."—Brett Fisher
And then the news that Jallen Messersmith was gay seemed to pass from one team member to the next without Jallen having to say a word. He still had mixed emotions about coming out to the whole team, however, because of an incident during his freshman year.
"A year before there was a locker room conversation and one of the guys on the team was having a kid. We discussed if we had a kid and they were gay, what would happen. Things were said like 'I would try and change them' or 'That's not OK.' It kind of freaked me out a little bit. I was not sure how they would respond to that kind of thing."
But his fellow players have also offered nothing but support for him once they learned he was gay; one team mate, in fact, who had expressed reservations about gay people during that discussion, says his mind was changed about gay people when he learned the truth about Jallen.

Now, Jallen Messersmith is gay, and no one really cares. His family doesn’t; his friends don’t; his teammates aren’t bothered. In fact, all anyone wants from Jallen is that he keeps playing basketball the way he’s always played it. Life is normal for Jallen, as it should be, and he even brings his dates to games.
"I would hug them and then I would get grilled by my teammates after. We would have locker room conversations and they would talk to me about guys just like they would talk about girls to each other."
It’s a normal rite of passage; you talk about your dates, you tell your friends what you did. It’s no different from a straight guy telling his story than for a gay guy to tell his; only the genders are different. And like I said, I think as long as Jallen plays basketball to the best of his ability, his being gay is, and will be, a non-issue. He’s not a gay player; he’s a player who is gay. And that way of looking at it is all the difference.

Messersmith and Benedictine had a good season this past year, going 18-12 before losing in the quarterfinals of the Heart of America Athletic Conference tournament. And, despite playing in about just half of his team's minutes, Messersmith led the team in blocked shots, more than the next three players combined. His blocks ranked him first in the conference and fourth nationally in Division I of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, a collection of small colleges that has seen players like Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman through to the NBA.

And, while his coming out story seems relatively easy and trouble-free, Jallen is cautious about advising others deciding whether to come out.
"You've just got to be comfortable with yourself. I wasn't very comfortable with myself for a long time and then when I was, if you put off the confidence and you are 100% comfortable when you tell someone, they will support you. They can't, as much as they can try, drag you down. It's all about you. It's what you think. If you are comfortable with yourself, you can do anything. I'm definitely happy and content where I am right now. It's awesome that I have the team support I do. It's awesome that no one has said anything [negative] and I haven't had anything change. I just feel really comfortable and it's really nice."

Welcome out Jallen.

And, as we like to do, we’ll be offering you a copy of The Gay Agenda and the obligatory Coming Out Toaster Oven. Perfect for dorm rooms.

Welcome out.

Lies Drive Mitch McConnell

Kentucky GOP Senator Mitch McConnell would be laughable, if he wasn’t so scary, and by that I mean scary stupid. And he’d be laughable if the good [?] people of Kentucky didn’t continue to send him back to Washington. I mean, after Obama was elected in 2008, didn’t McConnell say it was Job #1 for the GOP to ensure that Obama was a one-term president?
How’d that work out for him? Yeah, not so much. He gave himself one job and three-and-a-half years to do it and failed.

Still, while that in itself is laughable, it’s also endlessly fun to note that, despite his position of power in Washington, his ‘Red’ State home, and his nearly three decades of politicking, most recent polls show McConnell basically tied in his upcoming re-election bid with … wait for it … an unannounced, unannounced, Democrat.

So, what’s Mitchy to do? I mean, when it looked like he might have to run against actress Ashley Judd, McConnell the Turtles sent his Hellhounds after Judd, who subsequently announced she would not run; and then the desperation continued when McConnell, the incumbent, began running re-election ads a full 20 months before the election.

Then we’ll throw in that new video, hoping to exploit the IRS controversy into making Obama seem like this year’s Nixon. McConnell says, in the video:
"I think that the leader of the free world and his advisers have better things to do than to dig through other people's tax returns."
Of course, that never happened, There is no proof, nor any reliable allegations that Barack Obama dug through anyone’s tax information and doesn't appear to have had anything to do with the IRS's tax-exempt office in Cincinnati.

Still, it isn’t McConnell’s warped and untrue insinuations that are what’s wrong with McConnell. It’s his message at the end of the video where you see the words, "Intimidation. Retaliation. Secretive" and then hear President Obama say, "We're going to punish our enemies and reward our friends."

Sounds bad, no? Yes, it does, but the words in McConnell’s propaganda campaign ad are taken out of context.

The out-of-context quote is part of a comment made more than two years ago in an interview with Univision radio when Obama said this: "If Latinos sit out the election instead of, 'we're going to punish our enemies and we're going to reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us' -- if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's going to be harder."

McConnell's use of the quote is the height of desperation and dishonesty.

This is not a man who deserves to be re-elected. He’s spent the last four years working against the President in any, and every, way and yet has failed to do the one thing he said he’d do: limit him to one term.

This is not a man who deserves to be re-elected. He lies, plain and simple; he takes a person’s words and then inserts them into non-existent conversations, twisting what was said because it suits his need to be in office, collecting his salary, his future pension for life, and his lovely health care package.

This is not a man who deserves to be re-elected. He went after Ashley Judd on the rumor that she would run for office, and used some of her personal background and history in an attempt to make her seem unstable.

This is not a man who deserves to be re-elected. In fact, as I said earlier, recent polls show he tied with an unnamed, unannounced candidate.

Kentucky, when you know better, you do better, and you should know better.


I Didn't Say It ....

Riley Roberts, 18-years-old, speaking to the Nevada Assembly, asking for marriage equality for his two moms:
“My name is Riley Roberts and my life is amazing. Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you about the issue of gay marriage and how it affects my life. What issue? I see no issue. I was born in Reno, Nevada 18 years ago and guess who was there? My mom Pamela Roberts and Gretchen Miller, my loving parents. And who was there to watch me take my first steps? Pamela Roberts and Gretchen Miller. And who was there when I said my first words? My two loving parents. And who was there when I kicked my first soccer ball? My two loving parents. And who can I talk to when I need anything? My two loving parents. And who will be there to see me walk across the stage next month and receive my honors diploma? My two gay loving parents who have been together for 22 years."

How can anyone say that two women, or two men, cannot be good parents, when it’s quite obvious, again, that Pamela Roberts and Gretchen Miller raised an amazing son?
Madness, I tell you; that’s got to be the only reason.

Chelsea Clinton, on marriage equality:
"It just seems so fundamental to me. I'm able to marry the person I wanted to marry. That's the fundamental human imperative. Those of us who have been lucky enough should expand these rights to others."

Equality should be fundamental, eh?
I mean, wasn’t there something that went something like ‘all men are created equal’?

E.W. Jackson, GOP nominee for Virginia lieutenant governor, standing by his declaration that gay people are perverted and sick:
"I say the things that I say because I’m a Christian, not because I hate anybody, but because I have religious values that matter to me. Attacking me because I hold to those principles is attacking every church-going person, every family that’s living a traditional family life, everybody who believes that we all deserve the right to live. So I don’t have anything to rephrase or apologize for. I would just say people should not paint me as one-dimensional."

See what he does there?
He attacks gay people by calling them pedophiles and perverts and saying we’re sick, but when he gets attacked for his views, he pulls out a Bible to hide behind.
Judge not, asshat.

Brian Brown, NOM’s lapdog, on the recent half-assed Boy Scouts gay inclusion vote:
"Today is a sad day for the Boy Scouts of America. They have succumbed to political pressure and abandoned their historic roots in what will prove to be a failed attempt to appease gay activists and corporate donors. Unfortunately, what they have done is said to the world that their oath no longer means much. Their decision to admit openly gay scouts will end up sexualizing the organization. I am certain that having changed their policy on homosexuality, it's only a matter of time before courts order them to admit homosexual scout leaders. Meanwhile, countless thousands of churches will very likely pull their sponsorship rather than endorse homosexuality, and the entire organization will begin to collapse. All of this is happening not because of a true grassroots demand of gay youth to be part of the organization but by an orchestrated political effort by gay activists who want to punish any group or organization that does not embrace homosexuality. It's the beginning of the end for what once was one of America's noblest organizations."

I love how Brown says that by the Boy Scouts trying a little non-discrimination—at least until the scout becomes eighteen years of age—that they are advancing the homosexual agenda, or appeasing the homosexual community.
What they are doing, halfp-0assed though it may be, is treating all kids equally.
Then, of course, they’ll treat the gay adults as less than.

Bryan Fischer, AFA wingnut, on why the Mormon Church ended up supporting the, as he now calls them because name-calling works, the Boy Sodomizers of America’s decision to lift the ban on gay scouts:
"The LDS leadership, these people are smart, they're sharp, they're thinking all the time and I believe one of the reasons they may have gone soft on the homosexual agenda is that they believe that the homosexual agenda may be the secret to restoring polygamy to America and this would vindicate Mormon doctrine from the very beginning."

So, the Mormon Church sees the idea of letting young gay boys join an organization as a stepping stone toward legalizing polygamy.
Even for Fischer, who never met a lie he didn’t want to spread around like horseshit, that’s a stretch.

Harvey Fierstein, on the war against The Gays:
"The first prong is political. When a politician like Marco Rubio is willing to sacrifice his career defining immigration reform legislation solely to insure that gays and lesbians are denied equal protection under the law, we have to admit that we're under attack. This is not pragmatic politics at work. These are the policies of bias, exclusion and unfairness. 
The second wave is the steady barrage coming from those who would call themselves moral leaders. Shielded behind lecterns, they assign condemnation with impunity. Claiming to be brimming with the love of their creator, they spew forth the cowardice of the mob. Fundamentalism, whether raining down terror abroad or in homilies from our home parishes, is the enemy. It is the death knell of tolerance, progress and compromise. Fundamentalism is, in all practicality, nothing but an invitation to bigotry. 
And thirdly, when we excuse homophobia as a matter of opinion instead of treating it as a destructive social illness, we invite fear to explode into violence. How often are the perpetrators of hate-crimes discovered to be self-loathing? Valued individuals do not strike out against strangers."

Read those words.
As usual, Fierstein is perfection.

Frank Rich, on LGBT history:
"As we just learned, a man can still be murdered for being gay a few blocks away from the Stonewall Inn. But the rapidity of change has been stunning. The world only spins forward, as Tony Kushner wrote. And yet as we celebrate the forward velocity of gay rights, I think we must glance backward as well. History is being lost in this shuffle—that of those gay men and women who experienced little or none of today’s freedoms. Whatever the other distinctions between the struggles of black Americans and gay Americans for equality under the law—starting with the overarching horror of slavery—one difference is intrinsic. Black people couldn’t (for the most part) hide their identity in an America that treated them cruelly. Gay people could hide and, out of self-protection, often did. That’s why their stories were cloaked in silence and are at risk of being forgotten."

Just a reminder that, in order to move forward, we need to look back, and honor and remember and celebrate those who planted their feet in resistance to discrimination; those who chose not to hide, but to step into the light and demand equality.

James Blake, hot American tennis player, on becoming an Athlete Ally in the fight against homophobia:
“I am proud to be affiliated with Athlete Ally because they do exceptional work that can actually make a difference in the sports world and beyond. Inclusion doesn't have to be a political issue, but more a human issue. As a mixed background person, I have been told I could be hated by both sides. I have always tried to look at it the opposite way as a positive that I could be accepted and included. I am extremely lucky and feel that everyone should have the feeling of acceptance.”

It’s right in there: inclusion is a human issue. It defies religion and faith and politics.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Random Musings

Oh dear.

JCPenney has a new billboard advertising a designer tea kettle that has left many California motorists seeing, well, Nazis.

It seems that, to some, myself included, the Michael Graves-designed kettle looks a little like Adolf Hitler with right hand extended outward in the infamous Nazi salute.

♪♫I’m a little Hitler, short and stout …. ♫♪

C’mon, you were goin’ there, too!
A little update on the Kaitlyn Hunt story.

It appears that I, as well as other bloggers, and the mainstream/lamestream media, got the story, or at least, some of the facts wrong.

So, to update: Kaitlyn Hunt is a Lesbian who had a consensual affair with a fellow Lesbian student at their high school. But, contrary to initial reports, Kaitlyn was already 18 when the relationship began, and not, as some, myself included, arrested the moment she turned eighteen a few months later.

Does it make a difference, though? Not really. I mean, if a high school Senior boy dates a Freshman girl, and they have a sexual relationship, how often are the police called? How often is that boy arrested? How often is he expelled?

The fact is that Kaitlyn and this unnamed girl were in school together, played on  the basketball team together, and just because they had a sexual relationship does not mean that Kaitlyn is a sexual predator and should go to jail for fifteen years.

This is not the case of an adult, a legal, out of high school, adult, having an affair with a high school student. She doesn’t deserve the punishment she’s facing or the vitriol she’s experiencing.
Out there round Nevada way, the state Assembly passed a final vote on a constitutional amendment that would send same-sex marriage to the ballot in 2016. The Senate Joint Resolution 13 passed the Assembly on a 27-14 vote, bringing the process to get it to the ballot in 2016 to an end for this year.

Naturally, all the no votes were Republicans and just one lone Republican, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore voted with Democrats.

Nevada is on the move y’all. It’s still a couple of years out, but they are on the move.
I absolutely love this story.

The Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, an advisory panel tasked with determining whom, or what, to commemorate with U.S. postage stamps is said to be considering the late gay Supervisor Harvey Milk for such an honor.

The group has contacted Milk's family to gather more information about the San Francisco politician, who, back in November 1977, was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in a major U.S. city. Milk, as we all know, was murdered by Dan White a year later, along with then-Mayor George Moscone.

The committee also notified the Harvey Milk National Stamp Campaign that it was looking at issuing a Milk stamp at some point.

Milk's openly gay nephew, Stuart Milk, says his family has been asked by postal officials about upcoming significant milestones that the issuance of a Milk stamp could commemorate. November 8, 2012 would mark the 35th anniversary of Milk's historic electoral win, while May 22, 2015 would coincide with Milk's 85th birthday.

I say just pick a date and let me buy that stamp!
This kills me; in a highlarious way.

Last week California released its rates for the Affordable Care Act [ACA], aka “Obamacare” and guess what? The rates are lower, cheaper, and less costly, however you wanna say it, than the Congressional Budget Office’s original 2009 estimates.

Take that GOP.

And, not only are  the rates cheaper, but the ACA looks like it’s doing exactly what they said it would, by creating competition to make health insurance rates more competitive.


And now, while traditional—read  “conservative states”—have done everything possible to sabotage the ACA, more and more states like Oregon, Washington, and California are proving that the law is performing better than all those naysayers—read “GOP asshats—previously said.

It’s pathetic that millions of Americans living in these Republican controlled Red States will have to suffer without health care coverage, and many die due to a lack of treatment, just because conservative politicians would rather play partisan politics than just admit the truth.
And while we all rejoice in the news that Michele Bachmann won’t seek re-election, there is still that little Ethics probe thingy to deal with.

Bachmann, never one to lie … I kid, she lies every time she speaks … says her decision to flee like Mama Grizzly Bore™ has nothing to do with  that ongoing ethics investigation into misconduct during her 2012 presidential campaign:
"It was clearly understood that compliance with all rules and regulations was an absolute necessity for my presidential campaign. And I have no reason to believe that that was not the case."
Liar Liar yada yada yada.
Hey Michigan? What’s new?

Well, this week, Democrats in the Michigan state Senate introduced a bill to repeal the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The measure needs two-thirds support in the Republican-led House and Senate to make the statewide ballot, so it’s an uphill battle. But, in addition to that bill, another that would recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages in Michigan was also introduced.

A recent poll shows that 56% of Michigan voters support some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

Michigan is on the move, too.

Read that first headline and then follow up with the other. Oh, someone needs to be watched down there in the layout room.

Blatantly stolen from BosGuy.

On top, photographically speaking, Tom Hiddleston. I have no idea who is or what he’s been in, but I came across this picture from Cannes and I was intrigued.

Charlie Carrick, in the middle, played Pascal, Micheletto’s spy-lover on The Borgia’s. There he wears a beard and looks delicious.

On the bottom, also photographically speaking, Oscar Isaac, whom I saw in a Channing Tatum movie, Ten Years—which sadly had no Tatum ass shots. But it had Oscar, who was the best thing, eye-candy wise, and acting wise, in the movie.

A trifecta of film and TV hunkdom. You’re welcome.
I don’t shop at WalMart because they treat their employees like crap and, while they profess to be oh-so-patriotic, most of their merchandise is made Not-In-America. So, that’s why I love this bitchslap that Wally got this week.

The mega-store has agreed to pay an $82 million fine for improper disposal of hazard wastes such as fertilizer and bleach in cases filed in California and Missouri. 

As part of the California plea agreement, Wal-Mart must a $40 million criminal fine and an additional $20 million to fund community service projects including helping U.S. retailers learn how to properly handle hazardous waste; something WalMart doesn’t, or didn’t, do.

As part of the Missouri plea agreement, Wal-Mart must $11 million criminal fine and an additional $3 million to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Wal-Mart also must pay a $7.628 million civil penalty to the federal government.

More on Bachmann. As she heads toward obscurity, or a place on FoxNews, which is really the same thing, House Speaker John Boehner, boner, Tweeted his goodbye and his appreciation for all she’s done. So let’s take a look at what she did, shall we?
She sponsored 58 bills.

  • Of those, 53 were referred to committee, AKA they went nowhere
  • One, HR 850, which was to facilitate a proposed project on the Lower St. Croix Wild and Scenic River, made it out of committee.
  • Three [HR 373, which expressed support for the creation of a National Hydrocephalous Awareness Month; HR  923, which recognized Minnesota’s 150th anniversary, and HR 789, which honored public child welfare agencies] were agreed to.
  • One [HR 45, which sought to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act] passed the House.
  • None. Zip. Zero. Nada. Were signed into law.
So, to sum up: eight years and she did jackshit. And Boner, er, Boehner, applauds her.

A JC Penney Tweet in response to Hitler-gate. I gotta give it to them for having a sense of humor, though.

ExxonMobil Sticks To Its Anti-LGBT Policies

Sometimes, as we fight for equality, we get loud, and we get in your face, and we stomp and parade and demonstrate and get angry. But, sometimes, the best thing we can do is to close our wallets. I mean, do we eat at Chick-fil-A? I don’t—though I never did even before I knew about their anti-LGBT charity work. I also wouldn’t shop at florists who won’t work with gay clients, or bakeries that have a ‘thing’ about baking a same-sex wedding cake. And I won’t be buying gas, still, from ExxonMobil.

This week, once again, ExxonMobil shareholders voted down nondiscrimination protections for LGBT employees at their annual meeting in downtown Dallas by a vote of 81% to 19%. The 19% support for the resolution was reportedly the lowest ever. It marks the 14th consecutive year in which ExxonMobil shareholders have voted down an LGBT nondiscrimination resolution.

On behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, George Wong presented the shareholders with the argument that ExxonMobil should recruit from and retain the widest possible talent pool, including those from the LGBT community.  Wong called it “unacceptable” that ExxonMobil also does not accept the validity of New York state marriage licenses if the employee is gay.

And Wong stressed that a failure to do that leads to less efficient business operations, and that most Fortune 500 companies have inclusive nondiscrimination policies, including most other major oil companies; most other major oil companies who will be getting my business.

ExxonMobil is the only company to ever receive a negative score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates businesses according to policies and practices affecting the LGBT community. And, let’s also note that ExxonMobil used to have nondiscrimination protections for LGBT employees, as well as domestic partner health benefits, but that those protections were rescinded when the company merged with Mobil in 1999.

Cece Cox, Resource Center Dallas—an LGBT and HIV/AIDS service organization in North Texas—released a statement following the vote:
“The result of today’s vote by the shareholders of Exxon Mobil is sadly unsurprising. The company continues to incorrectly assert that it provides employment protections and an equitable workplace for its LGBT employees, and Exxon’s shareholders appear to believe that the company’s statement on a web page provides sufficient protections [but] the web statements fall short of true employment protections [and] the company refuses to budge. Exxon says it would comply with an executive order mandating LGBT employment protections for federal contractors if and/or when one is issued, and it is looking more and more likely that will be the only way to get the company to treat all of its employees equitably.”
And my wallet stays closed to ExxonMobil. Does yours?

Hidden Voices, Coming Out

Coming out as gay is a hard thing to do because you never know what might happen. You could lose your friends, you could lose your family, your job, and, sometimes, even your life. I can understand why some folks struggle with the idea, even though the view from this side of the closet door is much nicer.

One person who had a lot to lose by coming out was Gary Meier. In fact, Meier really struggled with staying closeted because the idea of making that announcement could cost him everything he held dear. So he thought about it, and thought about, and even took a leave of absence from his job so he could make a decision. And since we’re talking about it, it’s clear what decision he made.

Last June, the Reverend Gary Meier told his parishioners at Saints Teresa and Bridget Church in St. Louis that he was taking a leave of absence “to discern what ministry God was calling me to do.” He’d already told his boss, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson that he would no longer teach the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality.
“I have tried over the years to reconcile my silence as a gay priest with that of the Church’s increasingly anti-gay stance. I have been unsuccessful. I was hopeful that I could find a way to have integrity while remaining part of a hierarchy that is anti-gay — I was unsuccessful.”—Gary Meier, from his book, Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest
Hidden voices. An apt title because Meier had first published the book back in 2011, anonymously, in an effort to keep his job, and keep his identity a secret. Now, however, the book has been republished with one change: his name is on the cover.

His decision to out himself, in print, and in person, came from watching the Church harden their stance more vocally, and more actively, on the LGBT community. Meier firmly believes that the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality is a contributing factor in growing suicide rates among gay teenagers.
“My position is that our teaching is causing harm … We ought to own some of that. The church’s hard line against homosexuality causes that kind of damage.”—Gary Meier
Interestingly enough, the Catholic Church, while it has a very clear view on homosexuality, does not have an ‘official’ stance on gay priests; their belief is that a priest must be celibate, and that is all that matters; a good priest is a good priest. Of course, a good priest is also one who stays closeted, and silent, and doesn’t question the faith, but it was because of the Catholic Church’s stance against LGBT rights, including marriage equality, DOMA, ENDA, the Boy Scouts recent acceptance of gay scouts, etc., that Gary Meier questioned his church, and its leaders, and decided to come out.

While keeping the secret from his ‘boss,’ Meier—who recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of his ordination—says his sexual orientation was never a secret to his family and friends. In fact, during his interviews at the Kenrick Seminary, he answered truthfully to questions about his orientation. When he was asked if he could be celibate, he said, “I think so.”
“Celibacy is a rule the church imposes on its clergy. It’s always part of the package. This is not about celibacy.”—Gary Meier
Meier says his only relationship is “with the people of God,” and that he’s been faithful to his vows. He would like to continue with his work in the Church, continue leading his parishioners, those ‘people of God,’ but knows that it’s highly unlikely he’ll be allowed to do so.
“To be a priest and active in ministry, you can’t say what I’m saying. I don’t think I’ll be getting any more paychecks from the archdiocese.”—Gary Meier
And by saying what he says, Meier has effectively removed himself from the priesthood, By standing with gay Catholics, and against the Church’s teaching, and by taking a leave of absence to find himself, understand himself, and accept himself, he has stopped administering the sacraments. But, I doubt he’ll miss it, because what he says now, and what he does now, is the real Gary Meier, not the man behind the robes, the man who, in silence, often, stood with the Catholic Church against the LGBT community.
“I see my speaking out as an act of love toward a community which was born of God’s radical inclusivity.”—Gary Meier
Coming out is hard. You can lose so much, but, as Gary Meier says, he gained personal integrity. And that’s worth the price of stepping from the darkness into the light. He may have lost his job, he may have lost his voice within the Church, but he hasn’t lost his faith, and he hasn’t lost himself.

Plus, he gets a copy of The Gay Agenda and the obligatory Coming Out Toaster Oven.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Architecture Wednesday: The Butterfly House

I believe it can fly ....
The Butterfly house, Down Under, outside Sydney with a breathtaking view of the harbor. It soars!
A truly unique home, a state-of-the-art Ed Lippmann design, the Butterfly House is almost handcrafted to create an entertainer's home. The house was originally built in 2005, and has just been updated and modernized, with state of the art home automation.
The rooms are ginormous, all with amazing views, and each redesigned using Feng shui to enhance a sense of easy living. The curved design and glass walls no only bring in as much light as possible, but the curves help to maximize privacy.
It's not a big house, and not a small house; roughly 5900 square feet, along with what is called a 'Showrrom Basement' for garaging 5 cars. It also has a Precor equipped home gym, a home office, monitored video security, and state-of-the-art Crestron home automation. There is also a rooftop terrace, swimming pool, private grassed garden, screening room, Terrazzo finished kitchens with custom island and high end Miele appliances. The private master suite wing with built-in cabinetry and a luxury ensuite. 
It will soon be up for auction.
Do I hear an opening bid?

via HomeDSGN