Jonathan Capehart gets it right on Rob Portman

18 Mar

“Many parents don’t get there as my mother did or as quickly as Portman did. But when they do, they ought to be supported for doing the right thing, following their heart and moving our nation forward.”

I must ask: did we hold Obama to the same standard regarding his evolution on this issue? Did we charge him with a lack of compassion or empathy for gays and lesbians for the time in which he did not support marriage equality (even if we assume that his belief was only politically held, not personally held–which in some ways is worse)? Similarly, everyone has been sharing the Clinton DOMA op-ed, but I’ve heard very little criticism of his position on that issue from the left, and based on the number of people sharing the op-ed, everyone seems quite pleased that he changed his mind on that issue and we have left it at that. I understand that we do (and should) hold politicians to a higher standard on matters of policy than our friends and neighbors, but on a purely human level, how critical should we be of people whose hearts and minds are changed by the experiences of those who are close to them? Rights should not depend on whether we know or like those who receive the benefits conferred by those rights, but as any gay person knows, like it or not, the mere fact of being open to another person has an incredible ability to shape his or her beliefs on what gay people deserve. I’m much less interested in showing other conservatives what the negative consequences from the left will be if you support marriage equality than I am in continuing to get as many people to be on the right side of history as possible.


Video of the Day

12 Feb

Doesn’t get much better than this.


On repeat…

11 Feb

Prince George’s County, Maryland classrooms shown video promoting ex-gay therapy

7 Feb

“Starting last fall, some seventh grade health classes in the Prince George’s County Public Schools system were shown an anti-bullying video that promoted gay-to-straight therapy as an option for LGBTQ youth.”

The video has since been pulled from the curriculum, but when asked why, the school system replied, “We pulled the video because there was too much focus on alternative lifestyles.”


Frank Ocean permeates the consciousness of The New York Times Magazine readers

7 Feb

In an article that is at times embarrassing in its old-fashioned tone (not to mention its fear of curse words), the NY Times Magazine still manages to cull bits of insight from the genius that is Frank Ocean, including this incredible moment of clarity from the 25 year old:

“Ocean’s music is full of suffering, and there are any number of artists who define themselves that way. ‘I hope not to define myself by suffering,’ he told me. He repeated a few times that his Tumblr post had ‘cured’ his depression, that he was finally over the relationship and that he was happy now.

‘I don’t worry about where [the inspiration] will come from,’ he said. ‘I think even with that cured, there’s still so much to pull from.’ He didn’t think of the pain that he went through as a gift, he said. ‘I know people like to say that. You know, “It’s a gift and a curse.” It’s not a gift. I don’t believe that. I believe it’s just pain. The gift would be the gift whether I went through it or not. We’d just be having a different conversation.’”

Things better left unsaid

6 Feb

I look forward to reading the essays in the New York Times’ Modern Love section. There are few things I enjoy more than a good love story. My favorites include a woman who finally discloses her spanking fetish to her ultimately accepting fiance, and a father’s Day tale of one dad’s inspiration–his gay son’s fight for equality. They speak to me.

This week’s edition is told from the perspective of a woman, Anita, who had an almost decade-long crush on a man, Steven, whom she’d only met three times before agreeing to let him move across the country into her home to start a publishing house with her. This is an intriguing story, a true product of modernity, as the internet makes a nine-year connection with another person that you’ve only met in “real life” a handful of times incredibly plausible. However, what’s most interesting about this story is not the long-distance relationship that blossomed into a lifelong romance (if you read the story, you’ll see they end up married with a kid), but what’s left unsaid about these two people’s lives over the course of nine years.

I couldn’t help but feel distracted by the omitted details of this nearly ten-year “friendship”. When Anita and Steven first meet in person, in 2001, Anita admits she’s in a relationship, albeit a “bad” one. She’s faithful to her boyfriend, but she finds herself incredibly attracted to Steven, believes him to be the person she is going to marry (at least initially), and allows him to put his arm around her at a bar. They resume their respective lives, but she has feelings for him, and is thrilled by an email he sends her in which he insults her. If such an email is thrilling, what is the substance of that “bad” relationship with her boyfriend entailed. I was dying to know about that. I couldn’t help but wonder about this boyfriend. Do they live together? If it’s so bad, why doesn’t she dump him?

Undeterred by Steven’s insult, Anita emails him back and defends herself by telling him that 1) she’s attracted to him, 2) she felt uncomfortable because of it, and 3) she has that boyfriend, but if he gets to know her better he’ll change his mind about her. I love any sentence that begins, “I have a boyfriend, but”. We learn little else about the substance of Anita and Steven’s multi-year correspondence except that it happened regularly and involved “books and art”. Steven invites Anita to Chicago to see a Van Gogh exhibit. She declines because she’s already seen that exhibit in Amsterdam, but is that the real reason? Let’s be honest! I mean, you’ve already told Steven that you’re attracted to him and that you have a boyfriend, you might as well say, “Steven, I’m afraid I’ll cheat on my boyfriend if I go to Chicago, and in any case I don’t have a good excuse as to why I’m traveling to Chicago to meet a guy I’ve never mentioned to him before.” Isn’t that what’s really going on here?

Years pass, they email daily, and Steven gets into a relationship of his own. He ultimately moves in with this woman. But before the move he wants to swing by Anita’s place. Anita says: “A flurry of e-mails passed between us to try to arrange a time to meet, but we failed.” Why did you fail? Were you disinterested upon learning that Steven had a girlfriend? Were you worried about what your boyfriend would think?

A year later, both Steven and Anita are finally single and the rest is history. Anita mentions that she was dumped by her boyfriend, but doesn’t explain if this is the same guy from 2001 when she first met Steven, or someone else. What happened? Why did he dump her? And we never learn what happened to the woman Steven moved in with…maybe she found his emails to Anita. Those are the details I want to know.

Why are those details interesting to me? The story is about Anita and Steven’s love, not their respective failed relationships leading up to it, right? Well, sort of. But they clearly had other people in their lives over that nine-year period. The bad boyfriend, the woman Steven moved in with. These were  people intimately familiar with Steven and Anita during this nine-year love affair. It was a love affair. Steven’s telling of the story says as much: “that correspondence over those many years bound us together.” Those real people, real lives involved in this, I want to know what they knew. Did the woman Steven moved in with know that he wanted to stop and see Anita? Did Anita’s boyfriend know she wanted to travel to Chicago to meet up with a guy she’d only met one time before? A guy she had feelings for. When we read these stories, we’re expected to cheer and celebrate the outcome, the marriage, the child, the nine-year courtship, but we only get the lovers’ perspective. I don’t know anything more than Anita is willing to tell me. And I’m skeptical.


This American Life aired an episode about infidelity back in 2009. In the prologue, Ira Glass interviewed Jessica Pressler about similar skepticism she shared when reading the Vows section in the New York Times. Pressler said, “They always say, ‘their road to finding each other was a bumpy road..they encountered some obstacles along the way’ and it’s like, no! Those are people, those are other lives. They’re not speed bumps….I think it’s probably people, when they cheat on other people, tell themselves they’re doing it because they have to, because fate is involved. And whatever happened, you’re better off, and the person you broke up with is probably better off, and this is the way it was meant to be. This is fate.”

Mayor of Bloomington, Indiana, performs weddings of same-sex couples amid proposed constitutional amendment

29 Jan

“The ceremony coincides with the 10th anniversary of the PRIDE LGBTQ Film Festival in the city, and will take place at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater at 10 p.m. following the opening night of the festival.”

Back in the day (2006), while a student at Indiana University, I was a media and communications intern at the PRIDE Film Festival. It remains one of my fondest memories of Bloomington.


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