Yes, Mr. President, You Can

I spoke to my friend, Rev. Candy Holmes, yesterday as she and her partner, Rev. Elder Darlene Garner, and Rev. Elder Troy Perry and his partner, Phillip DeBlieck, were leaving the White House. They were part of the several hundred LGBT leaders invited to a reception with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to celebrate Gay Pride Month.

I know the President is committed to liberation.

DanChoi3In that spirit, I ask him to do one thing: suspend Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), for one year and ask Congress to send him a bill to overturn it in that time. He can do that because of wartime necessity. We need all the soldiers who are willing to help in Afghanistan and Iraq that we can find.

In the meantime, I urge you to write a letter in support of Lt. Dan Choi, who at 8:00 am today will face a panel of colonels who will decide whether or not to fire him — to discharge him for “moral and professional dereliction” under DADT. Even if you see this post after 8:00 am, write in support of Lt. Choi.

Justice demands it.  And our national security does, too.

Priorities, Even in Mourning

I’m going to displease a few folks today.

I am sad that Michael Jackson died. I wish he had had a chance for a do-over. He surely was filled with talent.

I am sad that Ed McMahon died. I am sad that Farah Fawcett died.

Cambodian child sleeps on an empty stomach because his mother, without food herself, has no milk

But I am also aware that in this day alone, 4,500 children will die in our world, most of them because of preventable disease and malnutrition.

I also admit to a generational prejudice, when it comes to Michael. There is only one King (other than Jesus) and for me that is Elvis.

My daughters undoubtedly feel otherwise. They grew up with Michael. I do remember being pleased at how much they enjoyed him. Anything that made my “girls” happy made me happy.

So, I am sad.

But I am concerned about a world that goes through momentary spasms of grief for celebrities while not ending the slaughter of children.

Maybe my age is showing–becoming an old grump. Or maybe I am just wondering if we have our priorities right?

Simple Morality

Life is full of ironies.

As LGBT folks prepare to celebrate sexual integrity as manifested at Stonewall, another politician is caught in sexual hyprocisy.

Governor Mark Sanford
Governor Mark Sanford

Of course, Governor Sanford of South Carolina is not alone in trying to have it both ways. Senators get caught, other governors, too. I remember when the somewhat elderly Chair of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee–a real powerhouse in Congress–was brought down by his escapades in a fountain with an exotic dancer.

And it is not just straight folks, right? LGBT people have affairs, too.

But it is the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou attitude that leads to the irony: as a member of the U.S. House,  Governor Sanford voted to impeach President Clinton because he broke his promise to Hillary. 

The morality is pretty simple, whether you are Governor or locked up in jail, a millionaire or a pauper, straight or gay, Democrat or Republican, of any or no religion: don’t do something that hurts someone you love.

And, if you do, get on your knees right away, confess, ask for forgiveness, and let God change your life.

Prophets in Drag

Various pics June 2009 023Sometimes people say, “Drag queens don’t belong in church.”

I think I understand the feeling. I know I don’t agree.

The feeling is that church is supposed to be sacred, and that drag queens . . . well, drag queens belong only in bars.

Still, I don’t agree. For me, it is like saying Jews don’t belong in church.

They may prefer a synagogue, but if they come to church, they deserve an honored place. My church is built upon Jesus and his Jewish faith.

But drag queens?

God loves drag queens. Why else would God have empowered them to kick up their heels for liberation at Stonewall?

As my friend, and Stonewall Veteran, Sylvia Rivera, told me, “Some folks don’t agree, but I know God was there.” Just like God chose Moses, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Esther, Judith, Ruth, Isaiah, Jesus, Peter, and Paul–unlikely folks, all–God chose Sylvia and Friends to lead the charge for liberation.

So, this Sunday, when Miss Joanna Powers and Friends open our service, with a Marsha Stevens song, “I Still Have a Dream,” I know God will be smiling, and clapping, and probably dancing in the aisles.

God is happy when the gang gets together and makes a joyful noise.

Crazy for the Loons

loon and baby
Loon and baby

For several summers I was able to live, with my daughters and my lover and his daughter, in a simple but comfortable cabin on a small lake in Maine.  The scenery was definitely like the movie, “On Golden Pond,” although this lake was called Georges Pond. 

I am very grateful to my lover at the time, Marvin Ellison, for those summers, as well as for the more than six years we spent together, and for his continuing friendship.

The memory of the loons on Georges Pond can still bring me to tears. I can see them gliding silently across the water, and then diving only to reappear hundreds of yards away. Most of all I hear their haunting call.

The expression, “crazy like a loon,” comes from the antics they use if they think predators are getting too close. They fiercely protect their young. Loons are among the oldest creatures still in existence, and they evoke deep spiritual connection for me.

That is why it means so much to me that my youngest daughter, Robin, sent me a Father’s Day card with loons on the front. She too remembers the loons, and the wonderful time we shared with them.

The really important things don’t die.

The Most Important Job


Obama and daughtersPresident Obama talked yestereday to teens and others about how important it is to be a good father. He appears to be a good one himself, even though his was absent, someone who was “a myth to me, both more and less than a man.”

I loved my father. But I have spent much of my life dealing with pain about him–that he seemed to love his other son, the one who was born and died before I ever appeared, more than me.

It is only lately, long after my father died, that I have come to realize that despite his shortcomings, he not only cared for me but also he passed on many good things to me.

I am a father, too. I believe my daughters know, despite my shortcomings, how much I love them.

Having a difficult childhood, or other obstacle, may explain some of our challenges as parents, but none of it is a reason to fail as parents.

Being a parent–father or mother or grandparent or aunt or uncle or family friend or older sibling or foster parent or any of the other ways we parent–is the most important job in the world.

Even President of the United States.

All Aboard the Freedom Train!

Today is Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. This is the date, in 1865, on which Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, TX, with the news the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free–more than 2 years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth

Sadly, other kinds of slavery continue.

Ugly profiteers still enslave women and children around the world to sell their bodies, and customers, like slaveowners of old, still buy.

Others of us are slaves to addictions–alcohol, drugs, food, sex, money, work. We enslaved, not by others, but by our own disease.

On this day to celebrate deliverance, I pray for an end to all forms of slavery.

And I remember that although those who were enslaved in the South were freed after the Civil War, they and their descendants still had a long struggle to be truly free (and the struggle continues today).

The march for freedom does not end. God calls each of us to join the Freedom Train–to keep it running, to bring more on board, to share in the hope and joy of liberation for all.

Happy 50th, Jonathan!

Dearest Jonathan,

Eighteen years ago, we met at a NY Radical Faeries gathering at Pinebush. Little did I know that you would become–six years later, after the end of your 13-year relationship–the man of my dreams, the husband of my heart.

2008 083It took awhile, but I came to understand that God put you in my life, for life. I cannot imagine life without you.

Today, you turn 50. I am so grateful you were born. Thank you, Gladys!

Thank you, God!

Love, Your Robin (AKA . . . well, you know . . . )

Pray for Justice, and Work Like Hell for It!

These are hard days–if you are waiting for anything meaningful to be done for LGBT liberation by the Obama administration. I admit that I had high hopes, even though I knew that the clash of competing agendas was going to make it difficult.

Recently, we learn that Justice Department lawyers will be defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and using ugly language about same-gender love to do so. Apparently, there will be no Executive Order for benefits for LGBT federal employees. And so far, there has been no apparent movement on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The President could have said something positive about the six states with full marriage equality. But it is past time for that.

The truth is that this is not his fight. Yet. We have to make it so.

equal love, equal rightsWe can do that by standing up for ourselves–not tearing him down, but raising ourselves.

Pray for justice, and work like hell for it!

Chinese, Gay, and Proud!

As LGBT people in the U.S., and specifically in my home of Virginia, push forward for social change and equal rights, it is sometimes instructive to learn what people in other places are doing. Shanghai Pride 2009

Monday’s New York Times carried a story, “Gay Festival in China Pushes Official Boundaries.” You can read the entire story by going to this link,

Two things in the article caught my eye. First, the authorities shut some activities down but allowed others. There is not a clear line of what the government will tolerate and what it will not. This keeps the LGBT community off-balance.

Second, most of the celebrants were “self-assured, unapologetically gay and mostly under 30.” This serves to keep the government off-balance.

There is little doubt who will win in the long run. But, given the power of tradition in Chinese culture, it may be a very long run before LGBT life is completely open and accepted.

Still, it is just amazing to watch as the world changes. What a difference 40 years (post-Stonewall) makes!