Monthly Archives: May 2020

Confessions of a boy who wanted to be a diva, in spite of the bullying

“Boys can be Princesses, too.”
“Boys can be Princesses, too.”

Sometimes a headline sends you into a weird internal spiral remembering traumatic moments, such as: A babysitter was caught on video slapping a boy for being a “gay a** b**ch” & his family went to war – For once, there’s a happy ending.

When I first saw the headline, I didn’t see the subhead about the story having a happy ending. Instead, I found myself reliving the times as a kid that I was teased and/or punished for acting wrong—and usually not understanding what I had done that was so wrong. For instance, I loved singing along to music played on the radio, my parents’ records, or the TV… and sometimes the reaction from family and friends was encouraging. And other times I would get teased or yelled at or even spanked for my antics. And to me there wasn’t a clear difference between the times that my dancing and singing would make people happy and the times when I would get called a sissy or freak or pussy.

The first time I remember anyone calling me a faggot was when I was nine years old… and it was a teacher who did it. He wasn’t my regular teacher. The school district I had just transferred to had elementary students spend a few hours each week doing fairly simply physical education activities under the supervision of a secondary teacher. We were lined up in the gym waiting to be taken back to class one day, and music was playing from somewhere. I don’t remember why, nor do I remember what the song was that was playing, but I recognized it, and I was doing jazz hands and bouncing to the music while singing along when the teacher walked up, grabbed my arm, and (at least how I perceived it at the time) yelled in my face to ask whether I was a little girl or a little boy?

I stammered back that I was a boy. And he shook me and growled, “Then stop acting like a faggot!”

When our regular teacher arrived to collect us, the phys ed teacher explained that I was in trouble because I had been acting up and distracting the other students. So for the next several days I wasn’t allowed to go outside for recess. I had to stay in the classroom with my head down on my desk. I was told that I needed to spend the time thinking about how bad it was to distract other students from lessons.

None of which made sense. The lesson was over. We were standing in line. Absolutely no education was going on, we were just standing in line waiting for our regular teacher to come get us.

That’s not even the worst of it. Because the phys ed teacher had called me a faggot, and it wasn’t a word I was familiar with, I asked my regular teacher what it meant. And I got in trouble even more for saying “dirty words” in the classroom. But I was just quoting another teacher!

It was only a month or so later when a Sunday School teacher gave me my very first own dictionary, and one of the words I eventually looked up in it was faggot. And in that dictionary the word is defined as “a bundle of sticks, twigs, etc bound together used for fuel etc.” Which didn’t help at all. How was me singing along to music acting like a bundle of sticks?

To get back to the story linked above, when it says “The child was participating in a viral “Savage” dance challenge with his sister. He looks longingly at her as she continues to dance.” I really understand that part about looking on longingly as others were allowed to do what I couldn’t do. It wasn’t always gender-based, which is what made it so hard for me to figure out what I was doing wrong all the time.

The end result was that those of us who didn’t conform to gender stereotypes—whether due to sexual orientations, or gender dysphoria, or simple statistical variance—all found ourselves crashing and burning between various metaphorical Scylla and Charybdis with neither map nor compass nor guide to see us through.

Which means that many over us spent years waffling between extremes around our own identity. Which brings me to another headline: Queer Rock ‘n’ Roll Legend Little Richard Is Dead at 87. Some versions of the blog post that eventually became this one started after I saw the first story a few daya ago about the death of Rock star Little Richard.

Little Richard was an extremely flamboyant rockstar whose stage persona inspired a large number of performers ranging from James Brown to Prince. At different times in he career he flirted with being out; other times he blatantly admitted to his queerness—for example when he said that “if Elvis is the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll than I am the Queen” as well so the several times he described himself as “omnisexual.” Unfortunately, at many more parts of his career he denounced gay/lesbian people, and transgender people, and referred to parts of his own life as a struggle against sexual sin.

I went through several drafts this weekend of a post about him… and then I found the blog post that covered most of my points more succinctly than I had been able to:

Although rock ’n’ roll was an unabashedly macho music in its early days, Little Richard, who had performed in drag as a teenager, presented a very different picture onstage: gaudily dressed, his hair piled six inches high, his face aglow with cinematic makeup. He was fond of saying in later years that if Elvis was the king of rock ’n’ roll, he was the queen.

…Little Richard will always represent a sad existence to this once-closeted gay boy of the 1970s and ’80s. If it had just been my own self-loathing that made me feel embarrassed for him then I would only fault myself. But his clear struggle between his faith and his sexuality — at one point he became a preacher and more recently he denounced gay and transgender people as “unnatural” — represented everything that is wrong with organized religion, and I found his willingness to go along with it humiliating for everyone concerned. Still, you have to believe that the joy his music brought so many people is something that will be remembered far longer than the harm he caused so many LGBTQ people — himself included — during his 87 years on planet Earth.

When Little Richard appeared on various musical variety shows during the 60s and 70s, he represented a painful contrast. Part of me loved his stage persona and performance, but another part of me was deeply ashamed, because while I was still struggling with my own sexuality, he was clearly far outside of the acceptable boundaries of gender expression. Yet I still identified with part of what he was doing.

It wasn’t until many decades later that I learned that the original version of his first top forty hit, Tutti frutti referred to the kind of black gay man who wanted to be sexually dominated by other types of men. When he decided to record the song, he cleaned up the lyrics, but there were whiffs of the meaning that carried through, nonetheless.

I guess what I’m saying is that part of me understands why Litte Richard was never quite brave enough to come out and stay out. While another (much smaller) part of me understands why he had so much trouble negotiating his shame. But the greatest part of me remains deeply disappointed that he kept retreating back into self-loathing.


Little Richard, Tutti Frutti:

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Weekend Update 5/9/2020: The Best of Cephalopods, the Worst of Cephalopods

This isn’t my typical Weekend Update. We’re all suffering from anxiety fatigue, outrage fatigue, bad news fatigue, and so on. So I’m not sharing any of the news stories that caught my eye after posting yesterday’s Friday Five. I’m going to post something cool and sweet and science-y that a friend brought to me attention:

This thread about a woman who is a squid scientist who put up signs in her window and set up sidewalk chalk so neighbors can ask science questions about squids and the like, and she would write answers!

Click on the tweet and read the whole thread. It’s adorable!

Danna Staff, the scientist in question, also has a blog. This is her post from which I stole the title of this update: The Best of Cephalopods, The Worst of Cephalopod.

She’s also got a book coming out this fall that you can pre-order now: Monarchs of the Sea: The Extraordinary 500-Million-Year History of Cephalopods.

Friday Five (wear a mask edition)

Well. Here we are. So, keep your end of the bargain…
It’s Friday! We’ve reached the second Friday in May, already!

I’ve been doing a better job of taking at least a few minutes at the end of each workday to practice playing the ukulele, but I am way behind on so many other goals I set for the year.

Meanwhile, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about the war criminal pretending to be president, five stories about deplorable people, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

That Squiggle of the Design Process .

The ‘Credibility Bookcase’ Is the Quarantine’s Hottest Accessory – The bookcase has become the preferred background for applying a patina of authority to an amateurish video feed.

LeVar Burton still loves reading aloud. His storytelling might be what you need right now.

Scientists explain magnetic pole’s wanderings.

How Apple reinvented the cursor for iPad. The fascinating part of this story is the analysis of cursors and computer interface before you get to the iPad part.

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

Instead Of Canceling, This Couple Had A Socially Distant Drive-In Wedding – Not wanting the coronavirus to interfere with their plans, this Austin, Texas, pair took their ceremony to the drive-in movie theater.

Under Lockdown, Parents Are Discovering Their Children Are LGBT And Dumping Them On The Street – “They’re trapped in the house, cooped up, and haven’t got anyone to let their frustrations out on.”.

Transgender ‘Rock Star’ Is Maine High School’s Valedictorian.

Netflix & Amazon Prime join forces to clap back at homophobes on Twitter.

What gay men can teach us about surviving the coronavirus – Frequent HIV testing is a fact of life for gay people. And even without a cure, we have found ways to lower risk and ease anxiety.

This Week in the Pandemic:

How the Pandemic Is Affecting the Navajo Nation – A conversation about the challenges facing—and the resilience of—the largest reservation in the country, which has become a COVID-19 hotspot.

Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying of strokes – Doctors sound alarm about patients in their 30s and 40s left debilitated or dead. Some didn’t even know they were infected.

Don’t Wear a Mask for Yourself . “Models show that if 80 percent of people wear masks that are 60 percent effective, easily achievable with cloth, we can get to an effective R0 of less than one. That’s enough to halt the spread of the disease.”

More people in District dying outside of hospitals during pandemic.

Trump and Tyson should do more to protect meat plant workers.

This Week in the Deplorable Thug Occupying the White House:

Minutes after pledging to not lie, the new White House press secretary lied a whole bunch.

Government orders 100,000 new body bags as Trump minimizes death toll.

Reporter Threatened With Retaliation For Mask Tweet.

Don Lemon Taunts Trump: ‘What is it About Obama That Bothers You? That He’s Smarter, Didn’t Need Daddy’s Help, is Better Looking, That He ‘Punked’ You?

The Trump administration botched the coronavirus response in exactly the shocking way everyone expected.

This Week in Deplorables:

Armed groups in downtown Raleigh protest virus-related restrictions.

Court filings show the NRA is in shambles — and Wayne LaPierre hopes his lawyer can ‘keep him out of jail’.

Loveland CO anti-lockdown protester had pipe bombs, FBI said. Was plotting to blow up a hospital because he believe medical professionals are lying about the epidemic…

NJ Councilwoman Has Obscene Homophobic Meltdown on Coronavirus Conference Call, Calls Gay Mayor a ‘Bitch-ass’ ‘Pedophile’ MF, Accuses Fellow Official of Sex Act.

Activist claims disturbing video depicts ‘modern day lynching’ of black jogger in Georgia — but suspects still not arrested.

In Memoriam:

King County Courthouse Screener Dies After Contracting the Coronavirus.

Things I wrote:

May the Fourth….

Midweek Update 5/6/2020: It’s not peaceful protest when you bring heavily armed vigilantes.


Seattle Abandoned: The Empty Streets of America. 4K Aerial:

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Trump’s Fox News Coronavirus Town Hall: A Closer Look:

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Coronavirus VI: Testing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO):

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Annie Lennox: A Thousand Beautiful Things (The Tonight Show: At Home Edition):

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Into The Woods – No One Is Alone:

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Midweek Update 5/6/2020: It’s not peaceful protest when you bring heavily armed vigilantes

“The U.S. just had the worse one-day death toll from the coronavirus pandemic yet as states begin to reopen. Never Forget. They are reopening to force you off unemployment, NOT because things are getting better.”
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Models shift to predict dramatically more U.S. deaths as states relax social distancing.

Top US companies lay off thousands of workers while rewarding shareholders.

Since Georgia began ‘reopening,’ risk of exposure to coronavirus has increased 42% .

“The Black Panthers were arrested and labeled terrorists after they carried guns into a capitol building. These guys, doing the exact same thing, are called patriots exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. Gee, I wonder what the difference could be?”
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‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists’: Trump destroyed for calling armed Michigan protestors ‘very good people’.

Hannity scolds armed Michigan protesters: ‘Dangerous’ show of force ‘puts our police at risk’. When Trump’s number 1 cheerleader agrees with the rest of us…

Majority of Americans Don’t Support Reopening, Poll Finds — as Coronavirus Continues to Spread. “…78 percent said they would not feel comfortable eating out at a restaurant…” among other things.

“If $600 a week is enough to make people to refuse to work for you, you're not a job creator, you're a poverty exploiter.”
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Profit Over People: The Meat Industry’s Exploitation of Vulnerable Workers.

Guest Opinion: Let the new normal be a better normal – The coronavirus pandemic has lifted the veil covering the pervasive injustices that corporate greed and exploitation have wreaked upon our nation and the world at large.

May the Fourth…

This and other greatness available here:
My husband is the punster in the family. And his Good Twin (yes, he is the Evil Twin) is also a punster. And one of the things that I and the wife of my husband’s Good Twin frequently bond over is rolling our eyes at the horrible puns our husbands come up with.

So here we are (at least on this side of the International Date Line) at the fourth day of the month of May, where one of the things that tends to happen on the internet are various references to Star Wars, because of the pun, “May the Fourth Be With You.” So, happy Star Wars Day to those of you who observe it.

The fourth of May has other significance for other people. And we would be remiss not to acknowledge these important events that ought to be commemorated on this day. So:

  • On May 4, 1436 Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson was assassinated. Englebrektsson was a Swedish nobleman who led a rebellion against the King of the Kalmar Union, an event which eventually led to Sweden becoming a kingdom of its own. Englebrektsson is considered a national hero of Sweden because his actions gave peasants a voice in government for the first time, creating a Riksdag (a deliberative assembly or parliament) structured so that peasants and laborers would have equal representation with the number of nobles.
  • On May 4, 1886, in the midst of a long-running strike, police marched on demonstrators in Hay Market Square in Chicago, Illinois. Someone threw a bomb. The police began shooting randomly. And I really mean randomly, because autopsies determined afterward that almost all seven of the policeman killed in the riot were the victims of a bullet from another officer. Four of the labor demonstrators also died from gunshot wounds, and more than a hundred other people were wounded by either gunfire or shrapnel from the bomb. While May Day parades and demonstrations by labor had been occurring for a few years before this occurred, this event is often credited as solidifying the significance of May Day as a Worker’s Rights commemoration.
  • On May 4, 1930, the leader of India’s civil disobedience campaign, Mahatma Gandhi, was taken into custody by the British police for the crime of making salt from seawater. His arrest sparked an upsurge in civil disobedience, generating world wide publicity and incredible pressure on the British to come to terms with the protestors.
  • On May 4, 1970, during a protest at Kent State University against the bombing of neutral Cambodia by U.S. military forces, the Ohio National Guard fired on unarmed students, killing four and wounding nine others. In response to this, students at other universities went on strike, shutting down many campuses. The event also was significant in turning more public opinion against the war in Viet Nam.
  • On May 4, 1983 the British warship, HMS Sheffield, was struck by missiles during the Falklands War. The excess rocket fuel in each missile ignited, killing 20 members of the crew. The ship’s diesel stores burned for days after the crew had been evacuated. The ship sank while it was being towed in for repairs.

Important historical events, all.

But while two of those occurred within my lifetime, one must remember that I am a white-bearded old man. The median age of the human race is currently 29 years old. Which means that half of the people currently alive on the planet were born in 1991 or more recently.

Which means that none of those events can be considered “current.”

Which isn’t to say that they shouldn’t be remembered, but there isn’t really a good reason that any of those events should be considered more important in history than the others.

Which also means that there is nothing wrong with people sharing a silly pun on this same day.

Regardless, we’re in the middle of a world pandemic. The more people you get wearing masks (and feeling socially shunned for not wearing masks), the more we reduce the spread of the disease. That’s just science. It’s also the moral thing to do.

So, wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep observing social distancing. Let’s all do our part to keep as many of us alive until there’s a vaccine as we can. Okay?

Friday Five (vice president disease vector edition)

It’s Friday! The first Friday in May.

Remembering what day it is shouldn’t be as difficult as it has become. Even though I check my calendar every morning, and if it’s work day review meetings and deadlines, it still feel like all the days are blended together.

Meanwhile, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about deplorable people, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Federal Appeals Court Declares Literacy a Constitutional Right.

This brilliant illustration shows how much public space we’ve surrendered to cars.

Sex doll sales soar with gay people and couples fuelling demand. I have some issues with this headline. Some couples are gay. Not all gay people are not in a couple. Who wrote this headline?

Pentagon declassifies Navy videos that purportedly show UFOs – The Navy videos have been leaked in recent years.

It’s Time for a Bluexit.

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

The sheriff fired her because she’s a lesbian so she ran for his office. She demolished him – There will be a new sheriff in town soon.

Rep. David Cicilline: Pandemic Relief Must Include LGBTQ Protections.

Puerto Rico government sharply criticized over response to LGBTQ murders.

A group is threatening legal action & demanding payment for use of the bisexual pride flag. A few problems with this: the creator of the Bi Pride flag back in 1998 officially put the trademark in the public domain. You can’t copyright a color combination. There is no record of a copyright. One of the articles you find if you search in Google for the guy who created the flag is one published by this group several years ago where he explains about putting it in the public domain…

What will Pride mean this year? – There won’t be rainbow floats in the streets, but Pride will still happen — online.

This Week in the Pandemic:

Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York’s Did Not .

Health Care Workers Stand Up To Anti-Lockdown Protesters In North Carolina – “They’re putting me and my family at risk,” a health care worker said of the “ReOpen NC” rallygoers in Raleigh.

30 million have sought US jobless aid since virus hit.

How high will it go? As Covid-19 death toll in U.S. blows past 60,000, there are no easy answers.

‘A phantom plague’: Evangelicals who defied social distancing guidelines are dying of coronavirus in frightening numbers.

This Week in Deplorables:

David Letterman Lambastes Mike Pence for “Taunting” Virus Patients by Not Wearing Mask at Mayo Clinic – The former ‘Late Show’ host also revealed Paul Shaffer’s wife was hospitalized with COVID-19.

Federal Judge Issues Scathing Ruling Against Jill Stein’s Lawsuit To Decertify 4000 Pennsylvania Voting Machines. Among other things the judge noted: “she seeks to promote only herself.” Truer words were never said.

Fox News Cuts Ties With Diamond & Silk, Unofficial Trump ‘Advisers’ Who Spread Bonkers Coronavirus Claims.

Once again we see, Red America wouldn’t last a week without daily bailouts from blue states.

NYT On Hannity’s Retraction Demand: That’s A No.

In Memoriam:

Gene Dynarski, Actor on ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ Dies at 86 – He also appeared on ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Batman’ and ‘The X-Files’ and ran a small theater in L.A.

Did the ‘Voices Carry’ Hunk Die of AIDS 29 Years Ago?

College HUNKS® Honors Ryan White’s AIDS Legacy on the 30-Year Anniversary of His Death with ‘Hope’ Sculpture by Bill Mack – Moving Franchise Displays Newly Discovered Rare Sculpture at World Headquarters.

Things I wrote:

Confessions of the child of rednecks, or, not all kids had access to the same resources.

Weekend Update 4/26/2020: Bleach Bum and Son of a Mitch.

I’ve already survived one plague… part 2.

Tuesday Tidbits 4/28/2020: Skipping pants is better than pants on fire, I suppose.

Watch the skies! — and keep your terminology correct.

Why I hate hay fever reason #6529 (plus reason 3786 & 3113 & 2488 & 2149 & 1364, and don’t forget #47).


Trump Ignored Coronavirus Warnings; Pence Refused to Wear a Mask – A Closer Look:

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Jared Kushner Declares Trump’s Coronavirus Decision-Making “A Great Success Story”:

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Something Happening Here: Billy Porter Drops Cover of Stephen Stills and Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’:

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Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrubs (Official Video):

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Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski& Audra Mcdonald| Ladies Who lunch @Sondheim90concert:

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