Apr 30, 2013

NO MORE PRETEND: ¨Jason Collins & the Triumph of Gay Men¨ by Josh Thomas

The Washington wizard. (Jim Young/Reuters)
The Washington wizard. (Jim Young/Reuters)
¨Jason Collins is no Charles Barkley or Kobe Bryant. He is a journeyman center in the NBA, not a superstar – but he was a first-round draft pick coming out of Stanford, and has lasted 13 years as a banger in the world’s toughest basketball league. Now he has come out, and commentators are scrambling to tell us what this means. But you can save yourself the trouble and just ask me.
Whenever you’re in doubt on any subject, you can just ask me.
It doesn’t mean “he has changed the NBA forever.” He has, but so what? It doesn’t just mean he has “changed sports.” It sure doesn’t mean the Supreme Court will throw out DOMA and endorse same-sex marriage, or Congress will now pass ENDA out of sheer unadulterated admiration for the man. Would that it did.
It doesn’t even mean he’ll play next year – although as a career ploy for a free agent who’s 34, this was brilliant. If no team picks him up, people will say, “See, the players wouldn’t accept a Gay teammate.” No, it will mean he’s 34, doesn’t score and doesn’t rebound.
His job is to come off the bench “with six hard fouls to give,” just as he describes it. If he gets another contract, he’ll play the same way next year as he did this year and the previous dozen. 
I bet he does get a contract, actually. The NBA owners know they’re in the popularity business, and Jason Collins has just become a star. He got more publicity for coming out than he ever did for playing – in a league where the average player lasts five years. Joe Wertheim, an editor at Sports Illustrated, was on MSNBC’s “Hardball” last night predicting Collins will be the most popular player wherever he goes, not just for having the courage to come out and be the first, but for his intelligence and character as well as his play. 
So what does his coming out really mean? (Drum roll for my big reveal.)
He just proved Gay men are men.
Jason isn't Nathan. Jason isn't The Nance.
Jason isn’t Nathan. Jason isn’t The Nance. The Nance is a man too, but he’s not Jason.
I mean no disrespect whatever to the great Nathan Lane, or to nances in general. Some Gay men are naturally effeminate, that’s how God made ‘em and how God loves ‘em. Me too.
But the stereotype of Gay guys is that we’re all sissies, and Jason Collins has just destroyed that stereotype, once and for all.
That’s what his coming-out means. Straight men can no longer protect themselvesby oppressing us, as if they’re better than we are. They’re not; Jason Collins has 13 years and a ring, while Joe Sixpack ain’t got nothin’.
The entire edifice of socially-constructed, brutally-enforced Masculinity has now come crashing down. That’s what Jason has given the world.
His first beneficiaries will be Straight men, who have been horribly oppressed, in their own minds, bodies, jobs and social roles, by the whole stereotype that tells them they’ve got to out-butch each other 24/7 for their whole entire lives or they’re worthless.
As Leonardo Ricardo would say, “No more pretend!” (I bet he’s said it incessantly since Jason’s news broke – considering Leonardo’s been saying it incessantly these last many years, and rightly so.)
No more pretend. Think about that. No more bullshitting your way through life, trying to be what you’re not.
No more having to live that lie. What a relief to billions of Straight guys! Now they can be their whole selves; incorrigibly Straight, weepy or emotionally constipated, whatever they turn out to be.
This makes me think of my brothers, Dick especially. Rather by accident he’s taught me a lot about what Straight guys go through. They’re trapped, most of them; prisoners in a concentration camp, run by a tyrant existing only in their minds.
Dick once said he thinks men are more emotional than women. They accuse women of being “emotional” all the time, but men feel their emotions more strongly than women do, and have a very hard time handling them.
Dick is an honest man, with enough insight and intelligence to call ‘em as he sees ‘em. He’s also the first person I came out to in my family.
As soon as he said men are more emotional, I knew he was right; I brought up our brother Steve, the best athlete of the three of us. Steve could never handle his feelings, and is dead now because of it (alcoholism). Dick had the best athletic mind of the three of us, Steve got the best athletic body, and I’m the one who played sports the longest. I was never any good but I enjoyed it.
After we talked I started checking with the women I knew, and they all agreed, men are the emotional ones.
John Wayne was all an act. He had scriptwriters and choreographers and lighting designers that regular guys don’t have.
So yesterday, Jason came out. TA-DA! “I’m a 34 year old center in the NBA. I’m Black. And I’m Gay.”
Perfect. What a smart fellow – and not for the reasons Frank Bruni thought in his column this morning in The Times. (I don’t care for Bruni. He’s an assimilationist. He thinks Gayness is like your appendix, not your appendage.)
The most important thing to any man is his appendage. It’s not the most important thing about him, just to him. Whatever gets him hard is right, it’s true, it’s reality. How relieved Jason must feel today.
For centuries now women have been wanting to smash the patriarchy. But he just did!
Maybe it took a man to do that. Maybe women will become Jason’s ultimate beneficiaries. Wouldn’t that be an achievement! Jason the World-Beater.
Meanwhile let’s give him enough space that he can be a human being, not a superhero. He’s just a guy who plays hoops, that’s all. But he’s smart enough to know the huge symbolic importance of what he’s done, coming out in a glamour sport that’s all about masculinity, competition and therefore sex.
There are a few players and commentators who are saying stupid things (including one guy on ESPN, to the network’s shame), but The Reaction From Players is not the important thing going on today, or ever. It’s worth noting that Jason’s managed to take showers with Straight guys for 13 years and nobody noticed him, because he didn’t notice them either.
Another guy on MSNBC last night – part of a panel on “All In with Chris Hayes” – was Hudson Taylor, a very cute guy who used to wrestle in college, and now fronts an organization for “allies” of Gay people in sports. He didn’t say whether he’s Gay or Straight; apparently he didn’t feel the need, which is occasionally refreshing. Anyway he started wrestling when he was six and loved it, so he kept on, despite the homophobic atmosphere in locker rooms that “denigrates, isolates and emasculates” Gay guys. He didn’t like it; now he’s doing something about it.
Dan Savage pointed out, as Jason also did in his article, that it’s been just a few months since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. If it’s butchness the world is looking for, try all those Gay Marines. They came out, their fellow troops supported them, The End. Savage reminded us that anti-Gay bigots predicted half a million soldiers would resign; instead there were only two, “both chaplains, who could be spared.”
Watch it yourself here. I especially recommend Hayes’ quote from the boxer Orlando Cruz, who’s also Gay, then stay tuned for the second segment.
Thank God for this current generation, finally getting the human race’s act together about male and female. (This is not “silly,” as William C. Rhoden claimed; it’s momentous. Is racism silly? Not when a cross is burning in your yard.) What a gift to posterity, a watershed moment in human history. Jason Collins crystallizes that, but so do those LGBT soldiers. He just happens to work in the glamour industry, and man, what a difference that makes.
We can finally begin to think of the day when overcompensating men don’t feel like they have to rape a woman to “be somebody.” Maybe next timea 4-year-old girl in India will be spared, instead of being raped to death.
Maybe we can begin to think of the end of religious fundamentalism – which exists solely to enforce male dominance and gender norms. Whether the fanatics are Christians, Jews, Muslims or Hindus, they’ll kill you if that’s what it takes for a frightened, submissive “man” to feel like a man.
My brother Dick has never not been a man, and neither have I. I’m sissier than some guys and butcher than others – as are we all!
The end of fundamentalism, if and when it ever comes, will allow genuine religion and spirituality to flourish.
Of course it will take decades and centuries for humanity to get to enlightenment (and there will always be flat-earthers), but today the news is Jason’s. Gay men are real men, it’s natural to admire our prowess and uniqueness whether we’re a Collins, a Cruz or a Lane, and sports are mostly about the body you’re born with, just like sex is.
Way to go, Stanford Man, you’ve led us all to the promised land. Enjoy your triumph; the rest of us are.++

Apr 29, 2013

ANOTHER ALL-AMERICAN HERO: Jason Collins´ courage and honesty will heal family relationships, enhance many friendships and save many, many young lives! Thank you, Jason!

NEW YORK — NBA veteran centerJason Collins has become the first active male professional athlete in the major four American sports leagues to come out as gay.
Collins wrote a first-person account posted Monday on Sports Illustrated’s website. The 34-year-old Collins has played for six NBA teams in 12 seasons. He finished this past season with the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent. He says he wants to continue playing.
Collins writes:
I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.
I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand...¨  please read it all

Apr 27, 2013

Hong Kong action superstar Jackie Chan has come out as an ally of LGBTs and is urging others to do the same.

Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan comes out... as a LGBT ally

In the new public service campaign video by GLAAD, titled "Jackie Chan comes out…", Chan is heard saying, “It’s not enough to talk about those fighting for freedom, for equality, until you are one of those fighting.” He continues as he is seen literally walking out of a closet, "I'm Jackie Chan and I'm coming out of the closet as a friend fighting for equality."
Jackie Chan
While Chan is a household name across Asia, the 58-year-old isn't known to be an advocate for LGBT equality or human rights in general in his native Hong Kong. In fact, the Hong Kong-born star was embroiled in some controversy last year and in 2009 when he suggested that the right to protest should be limited.
GLAAD us an US non-governmental media monitoring organisation which promotes the image of LGBT people in the media.
Titled Coming Out For Equality and helmed by director Brett Ratner, other participants of the campaign Tamala Jones (Castle), Giada De Laurentiis (Food Network), DeRay Davis (21 Jump Street), Hudson Taylor, Jaime King (Hart of Dixie), Jason Alexander (Seinfeld), Kristen Johnston (The Exes), Sarah Shahi (The L Word), and Pauley Perrette (NCIS). Additional participants and videos will be released later this month...¨ 

Thanks to Fridae Asia, sidebar

Apr 25, 2013

THE DEPARTMENT OF I TOLD YOU SO: ¨Lower Cognitive Abilities Predict Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology.¨

Do Racism, Homophobia, Conservatism, and Low I.Q. Go Hand in Hand?

¨Hodson and Busseri (2012) found in a correlational study that lower intelligence in childhood is predictive of greater racism in adulthood, with this effect being mediated (partially explained) through conservative ideology. They also found poor abstract reasoning skills were related to homophobic attitudes which was mediated through authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact.

What this study and those before it suggest is not necessarily that all liberals are geniuses and all conservatives are ignorant. Rather, it makes conclusions based off of averages of groups. The idea is that for those who lack a cognitive ability to grasp complexities of our world, strict-right wing ideologies may be more appealing. Dr. Brian Nosek explained it for the Huffington Post as follows, “ideologies get rid of the messiness and impose a simple solution. So, it may not be surprising that people with less cognitive capacity will be attracted to simplifying ideologies.” For an excellent continuation of this discussion and past studies, please see this article from LiveScience.

THANKS TO Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D. - Psychology Today:


ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN LOONS #523; ¨There is little doubt that the entire gay and lesbian community is guided by a powerful demon spirit who is subordinate to Satan.”

Diagnosis: Amazingly deranged and ignorant Taliban fundie with a strong nostalgia for early Medieval Times and the appurtenant cartoon interpretation of the Bible. Dangerous.

Michael Bresciani has some serious issues with … you guessed it: gays and lesbians (probably mostly gay men):

In our world most of those spreading the gay lie are liberals, activists, spineless academicians, Hollywood sellouts, and now we can throw in a president and a large contingent of fully duped politicians … There is little doubt that the entire gay and lesbian community is guided by a powerful demon spirit who is subordinate to Satan.don't miss a SLUR:

Apr 24, 2013

COUNTLESS PEOPLE ARE HARMED BY GAY REPARATIVE THERAPY: Parents, families, and loved ones are negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy...¨

Noted ex-gay activist John Paulk has apologized and recanted his earlier assertions that sexual orientation can be changed if you just love Jeebus enough
Paulk and his wife (also supposedly ex-gay) were featured on the cover of Time and are still regularly held up as the poster children for the movement. Paulk was busted leaving a 
john-paulk-catering.jpgDC gay bar in 2000 by former HRC staffer Wayne Besen and was forced out of the leadership of Exodus International shortly after.
For the better part of ten years, I was an advocate and spokesman for what's known as the "ex-gay movement," where we declared that sexual orientation could be changed through a close-knit relationship with God, intensive therapy and strong determination. At the time, I truly believed that it would happen. And while many things in my life did change as a Christian, my sexual orientation did not.
So in 2003, I left the public ministry and gave up my role as a spokesman for the "ex-gay movement." I began a new journey. In the decade since, my beliefs have changed. Today, I do not consider myself "ex-gay" and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.
I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past,
Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused...¨
Thanks to Bilerico Project, sidebar
Thanks to Bil Browning


Apr 22, 2013

FROM VIET NAM WITH LOVE: (The health ministry) maintains that homosexuals, like everyone else, have the right to live, to dress, to love and to be loved, and to pursue happiness...¨

From the Tuoi Tre newspaper. Photo courtesy ICS
(Information Connecting and Sharing) Facebook page

Vietnam's largest news newspaper Tuoi Tre reported in its English-version website today that the country's health ministry has declared its support of same-sex marriage. The government is considering amendments to the Law on Marriage and Family which currently prohibits same-sex marriage.

The issue will be discussed at the national conference on reviewing the implementation of the Law on Marriage and Family in Hanoi on April 16 while amendments to the law will be submitted to the government in June and the National Assembly in October for consideration and approval.

Tuoitrenews.vn reported:

(The health ministry) maintains that homosexuals, like everyone else, have the right to live, to dress, to love and to be loved, and to pursue happiness.

As citizens, homosexuals have the right to have their birth and death certified, to get married, to go to school, and other rights, as well as obligations, to the State and society.

However, because they have not yet been recognized by law, homosexuals usually hide their real identities and most of them face discrimination from their families and society. They are even forced to go into mental hospitals for treatment because their orientation is sometimes viewed as a mental disease.

After all, the Health Ministry concluded that same-sex marriage should be allowed since it is a human right.¨

PRESIDENT-ELECT of PARAGUAY: Horacio Cartes compares gay people to ¨monkeys¨...

Horacio Cartes -- Does he believe it's the end of the world in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and the U.S.A.?
Paraguay voters on Sunday elected Horacio Cartes of the conservative Colorado Party as their new president.
The 57-year-old Cartes beat Efrain Alegre of the Liberal Party by 9 points.
In his acceptance speech, Cartes, with the Paraguayan flag wrapped around his neck and tears in his eyes, said he would be the president of all Paraguayans.
“I didn't come to work alone, this country is going to make strong progress once we all realize we have to work together,” Cartes, a businessman, said.
Cartes' election dampens the hopes of gay rights activists lobbying for passage of a marriage bill.
In a radio interview last week, Cartes compared gay people to “monkeys” and said that when being gay became normal he would begin believing in the “end of the world.”
“I still believe in normalcy and if someone chooses to, well, everyone does what they want with their life, but take it to normal and I think I'll start believing in the end of the world. Let's maintain normalcy, and whoever wants to be happy swinging from branch to branch, can return to monkey.”
He went on to threaten harm to himself if his son were to marry a man.
“I would shoot myself in the balls, because I do not agree,” he said during the interview with Radio Chaco Boreal. “I'll shoot my own balls, sincerely! [My son] isn't short of anything in life.”

Apr 19, 2013

THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe unlocked and on display after nearly 60 years

When she died, her husband Diego Rivera ordered her clothes be locked up for 15 years. When Diego passed three years later, a philanthropist, art collector and old friend of the couple, Dolores Olmedo became the manager of their houses. She kept all of Kahlo’s belongings secretly guarded under lock and key for decades until she too passed away in 2004 and the fashion time capsule of an icon; a treasure chest, was finally unlocked.
Defiantly beautiful, tenacious, and veracious, Frida Kahlo was and still is one of the most revolutionary and influential women in modern culture. The Mexican artist, known for her surreal self-portraits, emblematic of her indigenous Mexican culture, her great love for her husband and her tragic disability, are still celebrated in exhibitions and retrospectives around the world...¨  don't miss a word:

Apr 16, 2013

THE SUN WILL COME UP TOMORROW? Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss gay rights with Peter Tatchell on Thursday

Justin Welby is the first Archbishop to meet with Mr Tatchell
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is set to discuss gay rights with Peter Tatchell on Thursday at Lambeth Palace.

Commenting on the Archbishop’s decision to meet him, Mr Tatchell said: “I applaud the Archbishop’s willingness to engage in dialogue – all the more so because he comes from the conservative evangelical wing of the church.
“I hope our meeting is not mere window-dressing and good PR for the church. I’m expecting more than tea and sympathy.
“I will be urging a rethink of the church’s opposition to same-sex civil marriage and an end to Anglican collusion with the persecution of gay people in Nigeria and Uganda.”
“I plan to call on the Archbishop to embrace a new historic compromise with the gay community: that the church can continue to believe that homosexuality is wrong but will agree that homophobic discrimination is also wrong – and actively oppose it.”
Mr Tatchell added: “The Church of England’s opposition to same-sex civil marriage is a direct and un-Christian attack on the human rights of gay people.
“While Anglicans have every right to refuse to conduct religious gay marriages, they should halt their campaign against gay marriages hosted by civil authorities. The church should have no jurisdiction or veto over marriages in register offices.”
It is the first time an Archbishop has offered to meet with Mr Tatchell – who is synonymous with Britain’s LGBT rights movement.¨
Thanks to Pink News, sidebar
Thanks to Peter Tatchell, United Kingdom
Thanks to Archbishop Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury

Apr 14, 2013

WHEN FAITH AND SEXUALITY COLLIDE: ''The church in general needs to reach out with the love of God for all people...''

Jill Stark
Published: April 14, 2013

Right to the end, Damien Christie feared that the God he worshipped did not love him back.

Rejected by his Pentecostal church for his sexuality, he underwent gay ''conversion'' therapy at a Christian ministry in Melbourne. If the program's aim was to ''pray away the gay'', it failed. He remained a homosexual man with a strong faith, and found a new church that embraced him.

Yet the turmoil of trying to reconcile the warring parts of his identity left an indelible mark.

On March 27, Damien took his own life. Nobody can know with certainty what triggered the decision, but those close to the 43-year-old personal carer believe ''reparative'' therapy at Mosaic Ministries in Melbourne's south-east scarred him deeply.

''It troubled him right to the end,'' said friend and counsellor Matt Glover, a former Baptist pastor sacked from his Lilydale church in 2011 for publicly supporting same-sex marriage.

''I saw him every two weeks for counselling and he would often ask the question, 'Does God still love me, Matt?' Despite me reassuring him every time, it just couldn't stick. He was a very sensitive, kind, compassionate man. So many people loved him but life was just too hard. It's tragic.''

Mr Glover, who conducted Damien's funeral last Wednesday, hopes his death will be a wake-up call for church leaders in denial about the damage caused when they reject gay members of their flock.
It's a view backed by other Christian counsellors and health experts, who say the phenomenon of what they call ''gay religious suicide'' is vastly under-reported.

While conversion programs are at the extreme end of the spectrum - and relatively rare, with fewer than 15 believed to be operating in Australia - rejection of gay church members is common as religious leaders from all denominations grapple with homosexuality within their ranks..¨.

Thanks to Ex-Gay, Australia:

Apr 13, 2013

U.S. BUREAU OF WESTERN HEMISPHERE AFFAIRS: ¨...directs all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons¨

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights.”
–President Barack Obama

Secretary of State John Kerry has committed to advancing the human rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals as a central part of our human rights engagement. Taking into account the Secretary’s commitment as well as the Presidential Memorandum issued December 6, 2011, that directs all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs has developed a regional strategy that strives to eliminate violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Respect for the human rights of LGBT persons in the Western Hemisphere varies dramatically by country. Some countries offer legal protections for LGBT persons, whereas others have laws that criminalize same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults. Recognizing that violence and discrimination based on a person’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity hinder the prosperity of countries, WHA has developed a four-part strategy to:

  • Expand public outreach and awareness of LGBT issues;
  • Create and leverage existing partnerships and programs;
  • Collaborate with multilateral partners; and
  • Engage directly with host country governments.
  • ANTI-GAY AMNESTY PROGRAM: ¨Stop. Just stop. Stop fighting. Stop saying horrible things about us. Stop trying to take our children away. Stop trying to get us fired from our jobs. Stop attacking us, and demonizing us, and trying to make our lives difficult and miserable...¨

    anti-gay amnesty program. The idea here goes beyond a simple armistice. This is about absolution and forgiveness. It gives bigots a convenient exit from their opposition, while at the same time lightening the load for the equality movement. Everyone wins.

    ¨LGBT equality is happening. For it or against it, the perception battle has been resolved. For decades both sides of this conflict have been making their cases to the American people. Equality fans have argued that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is immoral, and in no way holds up to the Jeffersonian standards our society is built on. It is also impractical, mean spirited, costly and generally shameful in just about every conceivable way. On the other side, our opponents maintain that it is in fact LGBT people that are immoral, because of Jesus. Over time, more and more people have come to embrace the concept of LGBT equality over the mean spirited prejudicial view of homosexuality, in increasingly dramatic numbers. At last count, some 54 members of the Senate now support marriage equality...


    Thanks to The New Civil Rights Movement, sidebar

    Apr 12, 2013

    RICHARD SOCARIDES: Coming out gay to father who was one of the founders of conversion therapy

    ¨Richard Socarides, a New York attorney who served as President Bill Clinton’s senior adviser from 1993 to 1999 in a variety of senior positions including advising the president on gay and lesbian civil rights issues, speaks about his coming out experiences to his father, Dr Charles Socarides, one of the founders of conversion therapy who believed homosexuality is a mental illness and can be cured.
    Richard Socarides
    The senior Socarides, who passed away at 83 in 2005, was the author of a half-dozen books about homosexuality which includes The Overt Homosexual (Grune & Stratton, 1968) and Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far - A Psychoanalyst Answers 1,000 Questions About Causes and Cure and the Impact of the Gay Rights Movement on American Society
    He said during a filmed lecture: >Homosexuality is in fact a mental illness which has reached epidemiological proportions.
    He was also an outspoken critic of the American Psychiatric Association's 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
    In an interview published by Imfromdriftwood.com, a site that "aims to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people learn more about their community," Richard, 59, recalled that his father was initially angry when he first came out to him and a few months went by before he received a 4-page letter from his father. In the letter, he apologised for getting angry, expressed his desire for his son’s happiness and offered him support although he did not change what he was saying publicly about the treatment and cure of homosexuality...¨

    Transcript of the interview:

    Thanks to Fridae Asia, sidebar

    Apr 10, 2013

    JAMES BALDWIN: ¨I think white gay people feel cheated because they were born, in principle, in a society in which they were supposed to be safe.¨

    Gay Will Never Be the New Black: What James Baldwin Taught Me About My White Privilege

    ¨I'd never even heard the name James Baldwin until my first semester at Union Theological Seminary. As a white, middle-class American, I was the product of a predominantly white, middle-class education that didn't assign The Fire Next Time and Giovanni's Room, two of Baldwin's masterpieces, alongside 1984and The Scarlet Letter. It wasn't until I moved to New York and took a class on Baldwin's life and writings that I was transformed by the black, same-gender-loving, 20th-century author's honesty and candor.
    Baldwin grew up on New York's Fifth Avenue -- not the Fifth Avenue of Saks and the Social Register but the Fifth Avenue of 1930s Harlem, where black Americans like Ellison's invisible man were kept at a safe, 60-block distance from fearful, prejudiced whites. The child preacher turned writer experienced racism and homophobia firsthand and possessed an unflinching eye for the injustices of American life. Unlike many authors I have read before, Baldwin was filled with love, courage and an unrelenting imagination. It was precisely because of his abiding care for his country that Baldwin retained the right to critique her so harshly. He had faith that the United States could be better, not only for him but for all people.
    I couldn't help but be captivated by his audacity. He quickly became a sage for me and left behind a signet of courage on my conscience. "[Y]ou have to decide who you are," he said in 1961, "and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you..."  please read it all,



    Thanks to The Huffington Post, sidebar
    Thanks to The Reverend Dr. Jerry Maneker, sidebar