Dec 26, 2013

Tom Daley's Christmas Cheer

Young Olympic diving star, Tom Daley, who 'came out' several weeks ago, is taking his newly acquired title of "Gay Icon," with a bit of whimsy - and with the help of some of his friends. Tom posted these photos on his Facebook page yesterday, and he has a rueful expression on his face as if he's not quite sure of what to make of it all. It appears as if his best (girl) friend and the first recipient of his confidences about his same sex attractions was the principal gift bestower - from the brightly wrapped packages with the rainbow ribbon to the rainbow socks and the cheeky apron. Note the hairy legs.  There is certainly no doubt that Tom himself and his public witness are precious Christmas gifts this season for the youth of the LGBT community. Tom has gone from being the wholesome, decent boy next door to the wholesome, decent gay boy next door, and he's made the transition with hardly a burp or a stumble. 

Dec 25, 2013

Christmas Blessings

On this Christmas Day in Prague, I give thanks for the many blessings of this year, both personally (and they have been many) and more universally, of which I place the arrival of the holy and compassionate Pope Francis at the very top of the list. Despite the frustrations of some gay activists at Francis's seeming lack of haste in redressing injustices to gay folks and making the institution truly more welcoming to us, I've felt his slower, more cautious approach is the more effective one in the long run, and seems truly inspired to me.

Here is a comment I found on the Being Liberal site which reflects my own sentiments exactly.

Whether it is intentional on his part or not, by opening the possibility for changes driven from the trenches, Frances has a better chance of moving the church forward than if he decreed change.  Seeds for how the church can change after his time will be planted, as well.  Plus, he is less likely to suffer kickback from the "conservative" leaders or worse if a groundswell begins.

And so among the many blessings I am grateful for this year, the appearance of this holy man at the helm of the bark of St. Peter appears to be the most auspicious. My only qualification would be that the above commentator's optimism regarding kickback may not be entirely realistic. There is no doubt that Francis is angering many very powerful people with his incisive criticisms of our present economic situation. May blessings and wisdom be upon him and may he be protected from the dark forces that always arise in response to such unmitigated goodness and courageous truth-telling. 

Dec 22, 2013

Dec 21, 2013

Blessings from Utah

What an inspiring gift we have all been given at the beginning of this Christmas season by the news coming out of Mormon Utah. Gay marriage has arrived in the most hardened state of the US union. What a joyous noel. 

Praise be to the Lord and Lady of the Universe watching over all of us. What a prophetic sign of contradiction for fundamentalist religions everywhere (and totalitarian states reincarnating themselves such as Putin's Russia). Them walls of Jericho will indeed come tumbling down with a loud and riotous clatter and shouts of joy and cries of release. Day by day in the face of religious intolerance, the Spirit shows her life giving Presence, not (usually) in the marbled corridors of ecclesiastical power, but more often down among us little people struggling to survive day by day without pomp and purple and circumstance. Blessings have come upon us all and let us be grateful for these brief moments of light and grace. May they continue to grow and may our faith and trust in a loving Providence continue to increase in the face of doubts, temptations and those dark, grey moments when 'God" seems all too silent. For this moment at least, the heavens shine and we are blessed.

And for some of the most joyous iconic moments of the year for LGBT people, especially transgendered, click here.

Some heart warming photos:

Dec 10, 2013

Tom Daley's Outing and Mystical Grace

(Tom Daley  in Houston a few days ago, with new found boyfriend Dustin Lance Black holding back in the background.)

Mystical Grace - I'm engaging in a bit of hyperbole here, linking to my previous post about the disarming and candid 'self-outing' of young Olympic diving star, Tom Daley a few days ago. Most of the fanfare and hoopla has died down by now, to the relief of many readers of UK papers, who were becoming slightly irritated by all the attention, and the numerous articles day by day. Nonetheless, putting aside one's reservations about the current obsession with celebrities and their intimate lives, the disclosure of teen Tom's relationship with another man caused shock waves across the athletic world and was a genuine 'event' of some significance for the LGBT community. Some of the most sensitive reflections were posted in the Guardian newspaper, with numerous comments spanning the full spectrum from heartfelt gushing support to nasty homophobic jibes (in the minority, thank the Lord). Only Tom Daley, I think, could manage to make the jibe "Gay Boy" appear to be a compliment, something sexy, charming and fashionable. 

I followed the case with some interest because I'm currently writing a novel with a young gay teen love story at its heart (modeled on the lives of several of my students). So anything of a gay teen love element draws me in, ever hungry for verisimilitude in my own writing. (Hard to be in touch with the vibes of the young when you are 70 years old). See a bit of gossip from the Daily Mail here. 

And so it was that I was thoroughly charmed by Tom's story of 'love at first sight,' his first encounter with his new partner, Dustin Lance Black, an encounter that turned him around and upside down and led to his recent disclosure of same sex attraction. Unless Tom is being disingenuous, the story does seem like a remarkable coincidence, too much so to be chance. Is there an element of divine whimsy at work here, a loving providence leading two souls together at just the precise moment.

For in fact, Dustin Lance Black is not only an Oscar winning screenwriter (for Milk), he is also a prominent LGBT activist. Tom claims that when he saw him from across the room at a party, he did not know his name or his identity or even "if he was gay." The fact that Tom used the 'gay label' in that sentence during a spontaneous interview is revealing. He does know how to use labels when convenient. He felt an irresistible force drawing him towards the older man, but was too shy to speak to him directly. So he jotted down a short note with phone number and winky face and slipped it into the notes Black was carrying. The next day Dustin Lance texted him and the two have been together ever since. 

Quite romantic and if true, quite astounding as well as a coincidence. There are moments in our lives when grace manifests itself in a clearly sensible way, illuminating with a sense of interior warmth and attractiveness a particular person within our horizon or a moral choice to make or a city or country or profession we feel drawn to. The Spirit moves where she will. Taking this story at face value (there are others who claim friends of the couple arranged to introduce them), then, it means that one of the world's great teen athletic celebrities was drawn unwittingly to seek out one of the western world's most prominent gay activists, precisely the caliber of man who would be able to steer young Tom through the ordeal of coming out as a major teen celebrity. Was providence at work here in a loving and compassionate way? I would like to think so, since the impact of this story on gay youth has already been considerable. A moment of mystical grace leads young Tom Daley to his first romantic gay partner.

However, there are the nay sayers within the gay community and some catty rather amusing gossip as well, much of it dissing Lance, as he prefers to be called, as a chicken hawk and predator of the young with a history of going after teens. There are even salacious details emerging about his previous sexual peccadilloes. It's all a bit nasty, but it does inject a dose of reality into the glowing, rosy story.

Yet, I prefer the original version, unsullied by suspicions and innuendo. As one commentator in the Guardian noted, the story of Tom's outing so moves us because we feel we 'know him  so well', due to his candor and honesty over the years. He feels like one of the family, if not a son, then a beloved nephew or distant cousin for whom we have some concern and care. I trust his basic honesty in accounting the manner of his meeting his new love - he saw him from afar without knowing his identity or sexual orientation, felt inspired to make the first move, and found himself to his great surprise, falling heedlessly and hopelessly in love. Such are the mysteries of providence and the Spirit of Love who moves through our hearts in mysterious ways, healing all of the dark corners and crevices where fear lurks and festers, bringing to light all of the dark motivations and expunging them, so all is light and love and peace.

Peace and joy be upon the couple as they embark upon this new adventure in their life journey. I wish them well.

One day someone will hug you so tight that all your broken pieces will stick back together. 

Tom Daley in a recent tweet. 

Dec 2, 2013

Tom Daley Comes Out

The news has already become viral over the rainbow blogosphere and internet in general, but young UK Olympic teen star, Tom Daley " came out" this morning on his Facebook page, admitting that he was in a relationship with another young man, an event that both surprised him and turned his life upside down. "I'll still fancy girls," Tom said, undoubtedly as a way of softening the blow for his millions of young female fans. Yet his new relationship felt 'right' and made him 'feel safe,' an interesting comment that is designed to elicit comment and speculation. He has taken the cautious, step by step approach to coming out, by first implying that he is 'bisexual,' as with so many of my young high school students. But as we've learned from experience, this is frequently just the crack in the door that leads to full acceptance of one's essentially gay identity, preferring men to women as long term partners. Full disclosure and admittance for many young teens is simply too difficult and painful. This must be doubly so for such a young, prominent teen celebrity, and no doubt Tom is being sincere in stating he fancies girls as well. It's simply a matter of which gender one can give one's whole heart and soul to unreservedly. No wonder he looked haggard and stressed in the video, and minus his signature dazzling smile. This must be quite a stressful event for a young 19 year old used to the public eye. Comments on his facebook page were uniformly positive, with the occasional tactless and insensitive comment from Neanderthals, intermingled with the loving support. Some commentators implied he shouldn't have made it public, that it was nobody's business and smacked of too much teen melodrama. How obtuse and lacking in insight. 

I'm commenting on this event today because by coincidence I was on line on Facebook when Tom posted the video, and so saw it instantly as it happened (along with 1, 500,000 other people I'm connected to Tom on Facebook). This was quite a shock, as it was completely unexpected - at least by me. Some commentators tried to make it seem obvious, but I hardly think so. In retrospect, perhaps, and given the fact he wasn't dating some famous teen fashion model or visiting strip clubs like the precocious Justin Bieber. Tom seemed so wholesome and 'boy next door,' too 'normal' for anything so edgy and daring as a same sex relationship. Of course we are all dying with curiosity to know who his partner is and to get a good luck at him. Lucky fellow, what a catch!

This is momentous news for the young gay teen community worldwide and undoubtedly young Tom Daley has already inspired countless numbers of suicide prone gay teens to continue valiantly with life's challenges and possibilities when such an outstanding role model is among them.  God bless you, Tom, for your heartfelt revelation and best wishes for a long and love filled life. 

The video can be seen on youtube here.