You Were Born

Yup. It’s my birthday.

I’m 46 today and it’s been a year of dramatic change, to be sure. Birthdays are the greatest. I’ve always loved them, even when they weren’t my own. I would always love a cake with candles on it more than Christmas. My Gramma used to say, “Nobody enjoys a birthday more than Greg”.

It’s true.

Upon reflection, I think I love birthdays because they’re a celebration for one simple reason- you were born. Birthdays simply commemorate your arrival on this planet. They don’t celebrate the things you did, the people you know, the money you make, the influence you have. They just celebrate your being. I think we need that reminder. At least once a year. To celebrate the grace of just existing- and the fact that everyone else here is doing the exact same thing.

So, today, I’ll give in to that grace again. And for all the beauty in my life- family, friends, dogs, doctors, my breath and my heartbeat, I am truly grateful. Thank you.

Here’s a little poem I wrote once:

Born

Today, in a year past,
You were born.
Didn’t do anything to deserve it-
Or did you?
And parents who look upon a newborn
Face etched with the promises and
Dreams of fettered hearts
Sigh, knowing they will let go
Sooner than most of them want to
And later than any child would like.

You were born.
Celebrate.
Call your mother-
She did all the hard work.
Then breathe.
Listen to your heart beat.
Eat the cake.
Smile at your life
And go to bed.

The day, much like any other-
except that you noticed it.

~D Gregory Smith

Sunday Signs 5/29/11

This one comes from rockin’ reader Sara in response to my previous post and was taken at the Pear Blossom Parade in Medford OR:

It says:” Just another SMALL TOWN church-goin’, Oregon-lovin’ DYKE.”

Anyone else have some cool rural Pride pics? send ‘em to me at Dgsma@hotmail.com

 

Calling All HIV Negative Men- This Is Your Time

Damn! Mark King scooped me again. I was thinking about saying this for a while, but my friend did it beautifully, so why bother? I’ll just reprint it… :)

This is directed to HIV-negative gay men. Listen carefully. This is your time.

I’ve lived with HIV more than half of my life, and people often praise me far more than I deserve, simply for surviving. They use words like brave and courageous.

You know what takes courage? Getting an HIV test every few months. You, waiting nervously while your most personal sexual choices are literally being tested, waiting to find out if you’ve been good – or if you’re going to pay for a single lapse in judgment by testing positive, when the look on the faces of your friends will say you should have known better.

I have no idea what that must be like. I took the test over 25 years ago. The positive result was traumatic, no doubt about it, and I soldiered on during some awfully frightening times. But I have a significant psychological advantage over my HIV negative friends: I only took that damn test once.

Read the rest here. It’s excellent.

Limitations of Clergy Sexual Abuse Report

I haven’t gotten through the report itself yet, but there has been some welcome clarification on one point:

The researchers conclude that there is no causative relationship between either celibacy or homosexuality and the sexual victimization of children in the Church. Therefore, being celibate or being gay did not increase the risk of violating children. So, blaming the clergy abuse crisis in the Catholic Church on gay men or celibacy is unfounded.

Psychologists (and LGBT persons) have realized that this was the case, and despite their protestations, certain bishops and Cardinals have placed the responsibility for the sex abuse scandal squarely in the laps of gay priests. Not so. Completely refuted and repudiated.

Hopefully, for the last time.

Yeah, you’re right. Religious homophobes are unlikely to let this go….

The NCR has an excellent synopsis- and gives a critical eye:

Release of the John Jay College study on the causes of sexual abuse by Catholic priests signals the end of the U.S. bishops’ five-year, $1.8 million inquiry into the institution they govern and the priests in their charge. But the new study hardly quiets the fundamental questions that have dogged the church and its leaders since the crisis was first publicized in the mid-1980s.

The conclusions of the study were immediately challenged by victims of abuse, their advocates, and those who maintain an enormous archive of documentation related to the scandal. Among the reasons they say the report should be approached with caution or skepticism:

  • Questions persist about the reliability of the basic data that underpins both the most recent study, as well as one on the nature and scope of the scandal that was released in 2004, because the researchers relied principally on reporting by bishops. The reliability of such reporting is called into question on a number of fronts and was most recently challenged by a grand jury report that claimed that officials of the Philadelphia archdiocese had not reported dozens of credibly accused priests. Doubts about the reliability of the numbers were even given credibility by one of the John Jay researchers in a recent interview.
  • The conclusion that priests’ behavior was influenced by and reflected turmoil in American culture during the 1960s and 1970s is called into question, or at least qualified, say experts, given revelations of similar widespread scandals in the United Kingdom and several European countries. The dimensions of the scandal in those countries surfaced in recent months, at a point when the John Jay researchers were concluding research on the U.S. church.
  • The lack of any in-depth look at institutional dynamics, particularly clerical/hierarchical culture, an element some think is integral to understanding why and how abuse of children was covered up and tolerated for so many years.

Beyond the limited dimensions of the study — it covered the years 1950 through 2010 and concentrated on the behavior of priests — questions persist about the bishops’ role in protecting perpetrators and shuffling abusive priests.

Read the full story here. And when you hear that this crisis was precipitated by gay priests- you can comfortably tell anyone spreading this lie that they’re full of shit.

“Can I blame gay culture for my drug addiction, please?”

That’s the question my friend Mark King asks in a provocative piece that I wanted to share with you all. It comes from his blog, My Fabulous Disease, which is linked on my blogroll. Excerpt:

After a lifetime of sporadic, recreational drug use, I became a full-blown crystal meth addict ten years ago, and then eventually got clean and sober in January of 2009. But why would I, or anyone as engaged in life as I was, morph into a drug addict?

It seemed an unlikely turn of events for a gay advocate and outspoken community leader living with HIV. Was my drug addiction some sort of post-traumatic stress from the AIDS horror show of the 1980’s?

Maybe it pre-dated AIDS, and resulted from the stress and shame of growing up gay. It’s easy to understand why anyone who came of age believing they were perverted (and going straight to hell) might need a stiff drink. Research indicates that gay men and lesbians are more likely to smoke, drink and use drugs. Was I born this way, GaGa?

So I was immediately drawn to the new book, Gay Men and Substance Abuse: A Basic Guide for Addicts and Those Who Care for Them. I thought the book might bolster my hypothesis that I was a victim of gay culture and doomed from the start.

Does he answer the question? Read the rest here. I liked it a lot- it made me think.
How about you? Comments please….

Same Sex Sunday 5/22/11

In this special interview only episode, Phil Reese, Joe Mirabella, and D Gregory Smith interviewed some outstanding leaders in the gay community.

Joe Mirabella interviewed Terrence Meck, the Executive Director of Palette Fund, an outstanding organizing that grants hundreds of thousands of dollars to deserving LGBT organizations. Learn what the Palette Fund looks for in non-profits and what inspired Terrence to found the organizing.

Phil Reese interviewed Eric Ross the author of the outstanding child’s book “My Uncle’s Wedding“. This book is perfect for younger audiences discovering same gender marriage for the first time.

We finished the episode with an impressive young man, 16 year Caleb Laieski. Caleb is confronting his school in Arizona for their lack of response to the bullying he suffered for his sexual orientation. Don’t miss my conversation with Caleb. It will inspire you.

New Scooby Mix: Summer Spinnin’

Just in time! Scooby’s got the beats you need for summer! Click the title to download…

Summer Spinnin’ [2011]
a continuous mix
by 
DJ Scooby

  1. What A Feeling (I’m Still In Love Mix) – Alex Gaudino feat. Kelly Rowland
  2. Give Me Everything (Sex Ray Vision Mix) – Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo
  3. I Wanna Go (Justin Sane Remix) – Britney Spears
  4. Blow (Cosmic Dawn Club Mix) – Ke$ha
  5. Judas (Guena LG Club Remix) – Lady Gaga
  6. I’m Into You (Low Sunday Club Mix) – Jennifer Lopez
  7. Freak Of Nature (Mas) (Ralphi Rosario English Club Mix) – Ricky Martin
  8. The Edge Of Glory (Toy Armada Club Mix) – Lady Gaga
  9. Heartbreak Down (Funk 3d Club Remix) – P!nk
  10. Still Cryin’ (Cahill Extended Mix) – Nightcrawlers feat. Taio Cruz
  11. Right There (Wideboys Club Mix) – Nicole Scherzinger
  12. Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) (Liam Keegan Extended Mix) – Katy Perry
  13. Put Your Hands Up (Brian Cua Extended Pride Mix) – Kylie Minogue
  14. Everybody Needs Love (Moto Blanco Mix) – Jennifer Hudson

Caleb Laieski: Teen Advocate

You may have heard of the 16 year-old student who is fighting to protect other students, after he himself was forced to drop out of high school because of bullying and threats of violence.

Photo courtesy of Brody Levesque

Caleb Laieski, 16, of Surprise, Arizona, started his anti-bullying activism when he was forced to drop out of school when teachers and administration wouldn’t protect him from bullying and threats- even after repeated incidents had occurred. He was being threatened with violence and death threats because he happened to be gay.

Laieski, who has since received his GED, brought the fight to his school district starting with a legal notification that he would bring suit to protect himself and others in the same situation. After the school district agreed to change its policies, he sent a similar notice to every other school district in Arizona, and then went to the Arizona Legislature to fight for laws to protect all students.

He was invited to the White House’s first ever, Conference on Bullying Prevention and is now advocating for the Student Non-Discrimination Act, in Congress and is currently in D.C. “for those who are afraid to speak up.”

Laieski says the bill would “include sexual orientation and gender indentify into the current federal law under education, guaranteeing all students a safe place.” Laieski also pointed out that “when some have opposition to these categories being protected, we must get past that and realize that it’s about giving ever student the right to his/her education a safe place to learn.”

Caleb successfully met with over 30 Congressional Representatives in his first week in D.C., and plans to keep the pace for the remainder of his time in our nation’s capital.

Brave kid.
You’ll get to meet him this week on Same Sex Sunday- I interviewed him today.

Study: Bullying Leads To Dangerous Risks For LGBT Youth

A new study in The Journal Of School Health gives another reason to protect school-age LGBT’s from bullying and threats of violence. This is the first study to examine school victimization in adolescence in relation to physical and mental health in later life- and the results are not surprising:

“We now have evidence of the lasting personal and social cost of failing to make our schools safe for all students. Prior studies have shown that school victimization of LGBT adolescents affects their health and mental health. In our study we see the effects of school victimization up to a decade later or more. It is clear that there are public health costs to LGBT-based bullying over the long-term,” said lead author, Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, University of Arizona.

Those public health costs include higher suicide attempts, increased risk of contracting STD’s (including HIV), and greater levels of anxiety and depression- mostly due to decreased levels of self-worth directly related to victimization.

Key Research Findings:

  • LGBT young adults who reported high levels of LGBT school victimization during adolescence were 5.6 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.6 times more likely to report a suicide attempt that required medical care, 2.6 times more likely to report clinical levels of depression, 2.5 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, and nearly 4 times more likely to report risk for HIV infection, compared with peers who reported low levels of school victimization.
  • Gay and bisexual males and transgender young adults reported higher levels of LGBT school victimization than lesbian and bisexual young women.
  • LGBT young adults who reported lower levels of school victimization reported higher levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction and social integration compared with peers with higher levels of school victimization during adolescence.

This provides substantial scientific evidence to create safer environments for our youth. Please share with school administrators, teachers and parents.

San Francisco State University. “School bullying, violence against LGBT youth linked to risk of suicide, HIV infection.” ScienceDaily, 16 May 2011. Web. 17 May 2011.

Dear Moms and Dads,

Parents of LGBT kids don’t have an easy time of it. Parenting a child is difficult at the best of times, but adding the complexities of sexual diversity to the mix can make parenting downright terrifying.

It’s worse if those parents are practicing Christians.

Kathy Baldock writes clearly and firmly to Christian parents of LGBT kids in her latest post at CanyonWalker Connections. She’s not advocating marching in parades and becoming a fierce advocate and PFLAG zealot, she’s advocating simple acceptance.
Excerpt:

Kathy and friends

If God has given you a gay child and you are trying to make that child heterosexual, that is not “the way of him”. If you try to impose change on your child or reject who he is (yes, that is really what you are doing when you tell them to “not be gay”), there are some general , predictable consequences.

If you reject your glbt youth they:

  • Are EIGHT times more apt to attempt suicide than those who are accepted
  • May suffer depression SIX times more often than those who are accepted
  • Are THREE times more likely to get involved in drug abuse than those glbt that are accepted
  • May contract HIV and STD’s THREE times more than accepted glbt youth

Are you catching the key words here? “than those who are accepted”   The unhealthy, risky behavior is a result of rejection.  Mom and Dad, you are completely in control of that dynamic.  If you withhold love, acceptance or security from you glbt youth because of their sexual orientation, you will, in all likelihood, be damning them to these statistics. I cannot imagine any parent knowing this and choosing to ignore it.

If you’re the parent of a gay kid and don’t know what to do, contanct me. I’m available.

If you’re an LGBT kid who’s been rejected and kicked out of the house- or is about to be, contact me. We’ll find a safe place for you to be. Promise.

My email: Dgsma@hotmail.com.

Please read Kathy’s full post here.
And then share it with your friends and Christian parents.