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Why Am I Being Profiled By TSA?

Ladies and gentlemen, I come to you as one of the very few US citizens to be a constant target of profiling at the airports.

Yep, it is true. The WASP-y, 30-something white guy in a suit is clearly a threat to national security. I know because every single time I go through TSA security, I am profiled. Why you ask? Because I have sleep apnea and must use a CPAP machine in order to get a good nights sleep. I have to carry the CPAP machine onto the plane, and 9 times out of 10 the machine is pulled for “extra screening.”

cpap.jpg

I believe I did read in The 9/11 Commission Report the massive Islamic conspiracy to use CPAP machines in order to make sure the pilots weren’t snoring before they slit their throats.

Ah, but I digress. Last week I had perhaps the worst week of air travel I have ever had. Now granted, I did have to fly from Charlotte to Chicago to Dallas to Denver in two days for separate meetings. And I have accepted my profiling by TSA agents for almost a year now…. I accept it and I’m used to it. But I cannot accept degrading treatment by TSA screeners as happened to me in Denver last Thursday. The following email (which is self-explanatory) was sent to the TSA Customer Service Director for the Denver area.

From: Bruce Carroll
To: bob.kapp@dhs.gov
Subject: Incident at Denver TSA Checkpoint this morning

Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 11:56AM.

Mr. Kapp: I was given your contact information from TSA Supervisor Mike Torrez at the Denver South TSA checkpoint. I told Mr. Torrez that I would like to file a formal written complaint against one of the screeners who treated me extremely poorly this morning at Denver International Airport. Mr. Torrez refused to provide me with the name of the screener who had caused the incident and instead suggested I contact you, which I am now doing. I am also copying the relevant staff officials on the US House Committee on Homeland Security that oversees the Department of Homeland Securty. Additionally, I am copying my own US Congresswoman Sue Myrick.

I want to first make you understand that I completely support the efforts and hard work of the folks at TSA. I am a regular business traveler who flies at least twice every week and have for the past three years. I also have a unique perspective as one of my best friends was on American Flight 77 on 9/11/2001. So I have been known to remind my fellow travelers who are moaning about a mere 5 minute wait in line about what is at stake and the perspective they should have when my friend was killed.

However, I do expect to be treated like a human being and with respect as an American citizen by TSA agents especially when I am trying to do my part in our War on Terror. This morning I arrived a few minutes behind (but not too late) for my flight at Denver. The TSA lines were short and there weren’t many people in the airport at all, so I anticipated a relatively quick process. I have sleep apnea and carry a CPAP breathing machine with me and have come to expect it will be pulled for the swab test. This morning, things went from bad to worse very quickly.

The TSA screener at the X-ray machine pulled it and I identified myself as the owner. She said “It has to be tested separately and that may take a few minutes.” She then placed it on the ground next to her chair and never called for any assistance. After a couple of minutes had passed I asked when it would be swabbed. She said she didn’t know and *then* called someone to do a bag check. The TSA agent that picked up my CPAP machine began to wait for me to put on shoes, etc…. I said in a very nice and calm voice that I was running late and to please screen it while I was getting my shoes on and getting my briefcase together. It was at that point that her pace became noticeably slower. She sauntered from machine to machine and it appeared that either every machine was being used or they were broken.

After I had gathered my things, I began following behind her to the last two machines she tried out. I was standing behind one of those nylon-rope lines while she swabbed my CPAP machine. BEFORE the results were even complete, she turned to her TSA associate and in a very loud and obnoxious voice said, “I sure hope I don’t have to chase down that guy to give him this thing.” Since I was well within earshot, I calmly responded, “Don’t worry I was chasing after you so I’m right here. I am in a kind of hurry.”

She turned around and snapped at me in a very condescending and hostile voice , “Well, you should expect that the machine would be checked we check them everywhere so you should have gotten here earlier.”

She then lifted the machine next to her, but behind the nylon-rope line and made some statement to the effect of “Do you want this back or not.” It was at that point that I got angry. I said, “yes I do and I don’t expect to be treated like this. I am a taxpayer and frequent traveler and I pay your salary.” I admit that was a knee-jerk comment, but I would also point out that it is true. She laughed at me and said “you don’t pay my salary” and then she continued snapping at me inappropriately, dismissed me with her hand and the comment “whatever”, and called her first line supervisor over.

He had a lot of attitude from the start, told me it was all my fault for obviously being late and refused to enter into a dialogue with me when I asked to file a complaint. Instead, he passed me off to Supervisor Mike Torrez. Mr. Torrez was initially polite and I told him that I am tired of being treated like a second-class citizen because my breathing problems require me to carry a machine. I told him I am probably one of the FEW people in the entire nation that is overtly “profiled” due to the machine, but that I put up with it. But I further told him I will not put up with being treated with such disrespect and dismissiveness from a TSA agent who began the confrontation with her initial comment before the swab test had been completed.

He gave me his card and I ran to my gate in Concourse B. I missed my flight, so returned to the checkpoint to ask Mr. Torrez how I file a formal written complaint against the TSA agent who was so rude. He was quite curt this time, blamed me entirely for missing my flight and shoved your card in my hand.

I am completely disturbed by this incident and would like to file a formal complaint. I would also like to know how this TSA agent will be reprimanded and coached to work with the public better. I am a patient man and it takes a lot to make me this angry. But I expect to be treated with respect, especially when I am a big supporter of the mission of TSA and the Department of Homeland Security.

I look forward to a prompt reply of this inquiry.

To date, I have not yet received a reply…. I’ve waited long enough.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

Should Gays “Oust” McGreevey?

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 12:52 pm - September 22, 2006.
Filed under: Gay America,Gay Politics

Jonah Goldberg thinks so.  He agrees with what we have said here after McGreevey first came out…. the same day he resigned for his corruption in office.

A Disgraced, Corrupt Ex-Governor…. who happens to be gay.  He now plays the identity card for sympathy – LA Times

Whatever the truth, it’s clear that McGreevey only came out because the wheels were coming off his political career. He tried to leap to safety by grabbing on to the guardrail of identity politics, declaring with focus-group clarity: “My truth is that I am a gay American.” That formulation — “my truth” — was exquisitely postmodern, implying that truth isn’t something we can all lay claim to any more. It must be personalized, relativized. It’s all about me.

By buying into this secular gospel, McGreevey appears to think that he can be cleansed of his sins. But real redemption requires admitting your mistakes, not merely the prurient details. As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Monica Yant Kinney notes: “McGreevey didn’t come clean. He just came out.”

In his memoir, “The Confession,” McGreevey offers any number of revelations, but they don’t add up to a confession. “Some things I’d done, or allowed to be done in my name, were morally repugnant to me,” he writes, presumably referring to the various aides, mentors and backers facing criminal charges or mired in scandal. But he dealt with that by “forgetting” or never allowing himself to know. “I had my people strike back-room deals I kept myself in the dark about or forced from my mind if I learned too much. Obviously this is one root of my memory problems.”

Translation: “I feel so guilty about my corruption I can’t remember it. But hey, would you like to hear about my porny gay trysts at truck stops? I remember those perfectly.”

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Some gay rights groups were initially eager to make McGreevey a homosexual hero-martyr. The Human Rights Campaign celebrated the “courage” of America’s “first openly gay governor.”

But they seem to be getting cold feet. He’s not selling well. His appearance on “Oprah,” intended as the first waystation toward his beatification, received high ratings, but he generally got poor reviews. McGreevey is posing as a victim of something, but it’s not clear what it is. He lives with an Australian tycoon in a lavish manse in New Jersey. He reportedly got half a million dollars to describe how he betrayed everyone he claimed to love in Penthouse Forum detail. He told Matt Lauer on “Today” that he behaved so badly partly because he had straight parents who couldn’t teach him to be gay.

Perusing various gay blogs, one can find expressions of sympathy with the no-doubt real anguish of being in the closet. But as for McGreevey the man, there’s mostly contempt or prurient fascination. What there isn’t is a groundswell to make this guy a hero. Because he isn’t one.

I’m really just hoping McGreevey goes away.  He doesn’t serve our community well and now he’s just using us (again) to hock his memoirs.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

America Wins In Terrorist Deal

My test of whether something is good or bad in the War on Terror is how the Terrorist Civil Liberties Union (aka – ACLU) reacts.  In this case, I feel a lot safer knowing the Bush/McCain/Graham compromise is something the TCLU doesn’t like.

Following announcements that an agreement has been reached between the White House and Senators John Warner (R-VA), John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on military commissions, the American Civil Liberties Union today said the compromise agreement does not protect due process, fails to meet international treaty obligations and urged lawmakers to reject the deal.

The following may be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“This is a compromise of America’s commitment to the rule of law.  The proposal would make the core protections of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions irrelevant and unenforceable.  It deliberately provides a ‘get out of jail free card’ to the administration’s top torture officials, and backdates that card nine years.  These are tactics expected of repressive regimes, not the American government.

“Also under the proposal, the president would have the authority to declare what is – and what is not – a grave breach of the War Crimes Act, making the president his own judge and jury.  This provision would give him unilateral authority to declare certain torture and abuse legal and sound.  In a telling move, during a call with reporters today, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley would not even answer a question about whether waterboarding would be permitted under the agreement.

“The agreement would also violate time-honored American due process standards by permitting the use of evidence coerced through cruel and abusive treatment.  We urge lawmakers to stand firm in their commitment to American values and reject this charade of a compromise.”

It is sweet though to see the union of the first Republican political “same-sex marriage” out of all of this – John McCain and his lovely bride Lindsey Graham.  Kissy, kissy!

More on the Terrorist Detainee Compromise and the TCLU’s reaction at Stop the ACLU.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

Happy Birthday, Bilbo & Frodo!

As the wise among you know, today marks the birthday of Bilbo Baggins and his adopted heir Frodo. Delighted that he and his beloved younger cousin shared September 22 as their birthday, Bilbo invited his younger cousin to live with him at Bag End so that, in the old hobbit’s words, “we can celebrate our birthday-parties comfortably together.

Here’s wishing you all much celebration on this happiest of days.

Repealing DADT should be Primary Gay Issue

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:54 pm - September 21, 2006.
Filed under: Gay Politics,Gays In Military,War On Terror

While we often differ from other gay groups in the language we use and the policies we propose, we stand united with them (as I would assume do most gay people) in our opposition to the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. Quoting a friend of mind, I have called that policy, “One of the great injustices and follies of our time.” We believe, along with many straight hawks (e.g., milblogger, Uncle Jimbo) that gays should be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.

As we read of gay linguists, particularly those fluent in Arabic, being dismissed at a time when knowledge of that language is key to securing our nation, it becomes increasingly clear how damaging this policy is. It deprives our military of a pool of committed patriots who want to serve and have skills needed to defend our nation.

Today, Glenn Reynolds links an article about four openly gay North Carolina students who staged a sit-in out the Army Recruiting Center in Greensboro, not a sit-in as staged by all too many students at such locales over the past thirty years or so, to protest the military, but instead to protest its DADT policy. These good people are protesting not because they loathe the military, they are protesting because they love it. They want to serve.

As Matt Hill Comer, an openly gay sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro put it, “I knew if the military were to accept me, I’d have a good possibility of going to Iraq or Afghanistan… In the end, I decided I love my country enough to defend it.” He’s willing to risk his life because of his love for his country.

Instead of focusing on “marriage equality,” which the American public does not yet seem ready to embrace, perhaps gay groups should change their focus to press Congress to repeal this great folly of our time. As we frame it in terms of such proud patriots as Matt Hill Comer, we show that, while we differ from the norm in America, we love our country and our proud of its military.

This would show our fellow citizens that gay people no longer see ourselves as part of a counterculture; gay people do not seek to undermine our society’s institutions, instead we wish to be part of the mainstream, willing to defend our great nation and its institutions, including the military. In advocating repeal of DADT, we show our commitment to the War on Terror, that many gay people wish to serve. And if gay people can serve openly, the military will have broader pool from which to draw new recruits.

The campaign alone to repeal the ban — if framed properly — could accomplish much even if we fail to change minds of our federal legislators. And as this campaign would show gay people in a better light, it may cause some social conservatives to reconsider their opposition to state recognition of same-sex unions and even to gay marriage.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

Looking to America’s Past Patriot for Renewed Guidance

PatriotPartner and I have been enjoying The History Channel’s “The Revolution” on our iPods as we travel for work. I have learned a great deal more about one of our Founding Fathers from this History Channel series than my public school education. That man was America’s first patriotic marketer: Thomas Paine.

Paine knew that the American Revolution was so much more a battle of ideas than a battle of military might. As I watched the episode about the dark days as the Year 1776 came to a close, I was struck at how relevant Paine’s words are now as America battles Islamic fascism.

The Crisis – Thomas Paine

THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

We could sure use a modern Thomas Paine to help refocus our nation’s soul once more. These are indeed the times that try men’s souls yet again.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

UPDATE (from GPW): I saw this most wonderful documentary last summer while flying east on Jet Blue, blogging about the experience here. I so enjoyed the series, I bought it on DVD!

The Increasingly Popular Iraq War

Verrry interesting.  (h/t: Instapundit)

One poll last week (Sept. 12-13) found that 51 percent of Americans back “the U.S. war in Iraq.” That’s the first majority for the war since October 2003. A slightly newer (Sept. 15-17) poll showed that, for the first time since last December, less than a majority of Americans believe the Iraq war was a mistake.

In other words, our role in the Iraq war is increasingly popular.

Tired phrase. I recalled yesterday that, over the last year or two, news story after news story has referred to the “increasingly unpopular Iraq war.” I asked if now we could expect an endless string of news stories with the phrase “increasingly popular Iraq war.”

But hold it. Were there really all these stories referring to the “increasingly unpopular Iraq war”? Were they only nightmares? Well, no. I checked, and there are tons of stories with that discouraging phrase.

The other recent development is that polls are showing more Americans believe Iraq is part of the Global War on Terror (WWIII) rather than a separate fight.  Um…duh.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

(Gay) Male Sexuality & the Monogamous Ideal

In April 2004, while dining with a GayPatriot reader visiting from the Bay Area, I tossed out an idea for a post that was kicking around in my head. At that time, I called it The Vast Gray Area, a term I used to define the area of sexual morality where things are neither black nor white.

I have always believed, very strongly so, that there are certain sexual behaviors which are clearly wrong. I don’t draw the line as narrowly as do some religious fundamentalists, limiting the expression of sexuality to the marital bond, but I do draw a line. Except sometimes, I’m not sure where to draw it. It is, for example, definitely wrong to sleep with someone in a monogamous relationship.

The more I thought about the topic, the more complicated it became. I envied the simplicity of the fundamentalists’ formula — sex should be saved for married couples. Their formula makes it very easy to draw the line. Similarly, those who believe the only requirement should be that the adults engaging in the act are consenting have also simplified the “test” of sexual morality.

But, their simplistic formulae ignore the enormous complexity of human sexuality. Many people report feeling shame and/or a sense of emptiness after a casual encounter. Others find that sexual promiscuity at one stage in their lives makes them better able to appreciate monogamy in another.

Like many gay men (but not all), I have experimented a great deal, doing some things that, in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t done — even if they were “safe.” Yet, I look around at some of my heterosexual peers, many now in monogamous relationships, and realize that their standards for hooking up were even more lax than mine.

Men seem more readily disposed to quick sexual hookups (without emotional entanglement). Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain, notes that:

Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road [while men] have O’Hare Airport as a hub for processing thoughts about sex, where women have the airfield nearby that lands small and private planes.

Yet, when some men find the right woman (and others the right man), their beloved becomes like the state highway department out to widen that small country road.

For example, one man who thought the purpose of college was “babes and brews” (where he “consumed” much of each) wouldn’t even think of cheating on his wife. He is as devoted a husband as any young man I know.

The lesson of this man — and others I have met — shows that a man could “act out” his sexual urges in his early adulthood only to settle down when he met the right woman. So, acting out one’s sexuality is not incompatible with finding a lasting monogamous bond.

But, it doesn’t answer my question of where to draw the line before one meets the love of his life.

And it is this topic I wish to explore in the category (Gay) Male Sexuality & the Monogamous Ideal that I created yesterday. Given the (overall) thoughtful nature of the comment thread to the post which inaugurated the topic, Loneliness & Unsafe Sex, I realize that other gay men are thinking about these issues as well.

I had long hesitated to write this post because I feared I would not be able to express my thoughts as well as I would like. And I wondered whether I should offer any personal anecdotes to illustrate my point. (I’m still on the fence about that.) But, I believe this is an important topic which, I fear, hasn’t received adequate consideration in our community.

We have learned that men are more sexually inclined than women. Should that give us license to act as we wish so long as we “play safe” and respect the marital and relationship bonds of others? I have at times come down on the side of Calarato and other times on the side of Michigan-Matt (yet don’t think prostitution should be criminally sanctioned). And agree with Dalebert that “promiscuity is an unhealthy and ultimately ineffective attempt to fill a need that really needs something deeper and more meaningful.

Reading these comments from you readers showed that y’all are ready for a conversation I hesitated to begin. One of the great good things about blogging.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

UPDATE: As I reviewed this, I realized I barely touched on the notion of sexuality and human emotions. I guess I’ll save that for a subsequent post in this category.

An Image of Domestic Bliss in the San Fernando Valley

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 4:08 pm - September 20, 2006.
Filed under: Gay America,LA Stories

So saturated are we here in West Hollywood with images of the buff physiques of young men that it seems that the only way we can find happiness is if only we look like that — or sleep with someone who looks like that. And yet I find that the happiest gay men I know are often the most ordinary looking.

Back when I was president of Log Cabin of Northern Virginia, I looked forward to putting our monthly mailing together at the home of this couple in late middle-age, both bald and paunchy. When I was around them, it never occurred to me how far they were from our cultural ideal. To me, they were the ideal. It was like being around my most beloved uncles. Not only did I delight in their company, but they made me realize that how a gay man could age with grace.

Last night I had a vision of a similar couple, though much closer to my age. While at a dinner for my college entertainment group in the San Fernando Valley, I saw across the room two men facing each other in a booth. From the way they looked at each other, it was clear they were a couple. Both looked to be late 30s/early 40s, one was kind of paunchy with bad hair. The other took more care of his appearance, having shaved his head which highlighted his somewhat haggard voice.

But, when I saw how they looked at each other, their imperfect appearances didn’t matter much. To me, they became the most beautiful men in the room. I imagined that one (or both) had had a difficult day. One called the other at work and suggested they meet at this restaurant rather than cook at home. And when they met, the cares of their days melted away. The company of his beloved was all each needed to feel once more that he was part of the universe.

Too often, in our media culture, we focus on the pretty and the buff. As if their physical beauty is the quality to which we all should aspire. But, then we see couples like this. And we know what really matters.

-B. Daniel Blatt (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

Support Virginia Log Cabin’s PAC at 09/22 Fundraiser in Alexandria

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 12:35 pm - September 20, 2006.
Filed under: 2006 Elections,Log Cabin Republicans

As a sign of my commitment to building a new stronger Log Cabin as the organization seeks a new head, I encourage you to attend a the Annual PAC Fundraiser for the club I founded (now nearly ten years ago), the Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia. Help this great group elect inclusive Republicans to State and Local Office.*

Join Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), who in 1999, as head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was the first member of the Congressional GOP leadership to address a gathering of gay Republicans, on Friday, September 22, 2006 from 6:30 until 9:00 PM at the historic Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street, Old Town Alexandria.

While the minimum donation of $50 entitles you to light fare, you can also support the group at these higher levels–Bronze ($100), Silver ($250), Gold ($500 or more). Contributors at these three levels may bring one guest at no extra charge. They will also be acknowledged at the reception.

RSVP to dclampo@yahoo.com or mail contributions to LCR/VA, PO Box 16611, Alexandria, VA 22302.

*Next year the entire Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate are up for re-election. It is vital that Log Cabin Republicans have the resources to participate in this important election and support those Republicans who believe in a more inclusive Republican Party.

Congressman Tom Davis is asking for a donation of up to $2,100 per election from an individual’s own funds (or up to $5,000 per election from a multi-candidate PAC or a political party committee). He is not asking for funds from corporations, labor unions, foreign nationals or minors. Contributions are not deductible for income tax purposes.

UPDATE: Please note that this is not a fundraiser for Tom Davis. It is in the words of its organizer, “solely to raise money for the Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia’s state political action committee,” a group which opposes the pernicious proposal (defining marriage) on the Commonwealth’s ballot this fall.

Angry Muslims and Angry Gays: Swimming In Same Boat?

Thanks to GP reader Liz for bringing this interesting take on the Pope/Muslim jihad angle to my attention…

Muslims and gays have the same problem. Who is doing the talking. The crazy ones. Whenever there is a gay issue who is doing the taliking some freak in pants with the ass cut out and nipple clamps. Most gay people aren’t like that why domn’t they tell that freak to sit down and shut up. Most Muslims don’t think burning churches and stoning women is a good idea. Why don’t they ever stand up and say shut up you backwards ass cave dwelling freaks. You don’t speak for us.

Liz agreed and emailed me her thoughts as well.

As a gay women in her 40′s I often think that many in the community go about getting recognition for gays and lesbians the wrong way and that the publicity we get for outrages behavior is not good.  Am I endorsing this behavior because I don’t say that I disagree with it publicly in the same way I believe Muslims are endorsing radical Islam by not speaking out against it?   My problem of course is what forum do I have for speaking out against the outrageous behavior of gays and Lesbians in my community, but then what forum does your average Muslim have for speaking out?

I have to concur.  The messenger and those who stand next to them, and those who stand by in silence, are sometimes just as important as the message.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

New Jersey Dems & Corruption: Perfect Together

First it was the NJ Governor Codey’s office handing out Homeland Security grants based on which towns voted Democrat

Then, it was the FBI problems of US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), making NJ Dems thinking about “political switcheroo” again….

And now the powerful NJ Senate Budget Chairman shows serious symptoms of Democratus Corruptionitis…. (hat tip: PatriotPartner!)

A powerful southern New Jersey politician was paid for a no-work job at a scandal-ridden state university while helping the school garner millions of dollars in new state funding, according to a report released Monday.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey paid state Sen. Wayne Bryant, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, $35,000 a year “to lobby himself in his capacity of state senator,” according to the report of a federal monitor who had investigated the school’s finances.

The report said all Bryant appeared to do at the university’s School of Osteopathic Medicine was show up for three hours most Tuesdays to read newspapers.

I do believe the continuing collapse of the NJ Dems from top to bottom is a leading political indicator for November 7, 2006.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

Loneliness & Unsafe Sex

In its e-newsletter Liberty Line yesterday, the Liberty Education Forum referenced a Washington Post article on a support group for young HIV-positive men. A number of things struck me about the article, notably the number of gay men who continue to engage in unprotected intercourse. If it’s true, as we’re told, that this virus is one of the most difficult to transmit, why is it that so many gay men refuse to take the simple precaution to protect themselves?

The article notes that a Center for Disease Control “study of men who have sex with men released last month reported that out of 10,000 men surveyed, 47 percent said they’ve had unprotected anal intercourse with men in the previous year.”

Marsha Martin, head of D.C.’s AIDS office, makes sense when she says “the urgency of the HIV prevention messages we’ve been sending — safe sex only! use a condom! — has worn off.” She, however, also tries to politicize gay men’s unsafe practices:

And if you think about the political and social climate we’ve been in and we’re still in, what message is that sending to gay men? ‘No, you can’t get married as gay couples.’ ‘No, you can’t be openly gay in the military.’ ‘No, you don’t have equal rights.’ Those things produce a lack of self-esteem, a kind of self-loathing, and in that environment is HIV.

I don’t think the absence of state-sanctioned gay marriage causes gay men to practice unsafe sex.

Rather than listen to the jargon of a government bureaucrat, we might better listen to the words of a young gay man who got infected by “playing unsafe.” After chatting with a guy online, he went to the man’s place “and had sex. He was lonely. He didn’t use a condom.” He was lonely and felt closer to that man “without” protection.

He was lonely.

Sometimes when we seek a human connection, we go to great lengths to secure that bond. Ms. Martin’s jargon about self-esteem doesn’t help us understand the number of gay men who have unsafe sex, even while knowing the risks. This young man’s words, that he was lonely the night of his unfortunate encounter, however, go a long way to understanding the risks some gay men take. And help us see the very human aspect of their (seemingly) irrational behavior.

In many cases, those who “play unsafe” seek a human connection and forego the latex so as to feel closer to another human being. Now, we need to find ways to to help them — to help all of us — find such connections without risking their health. That is, perhaps, the biggest challenge confronting our community — to help us better connect to one another so we feel less alone and less isolated from our fellows.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

Some of you may note the new category, (Gay) Male Sexuality & the Monogamous Ideal, in the header to this post. In a few days, I will talk a little more about it.

Of Faith & Resolution

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 8:30 pm - September 18, 2006.
Filed under: Gays & religion,Literature & Ideas

In the past seventy-two hours, I have gained more insight into the difference between an “epiphany” (or as Gryph put it getting thwacked by a 2 x 4) and faith. In the immediate aftermath of my reawakening moment Thursday night, I was certain I could stick to the vows I made at that time. And now, nearly four full days later, I have succeeded. A good start, but not much of an accomplishment.

For when the glow of that moment wears off, as it is certain to wear off, I will still need to find the strength to stay true to my vow — and myself. With that thought in mind, I began to understand faith a little better. Thursday night, I saw clearly where I had gone wrong and what I needed to do to correct my past behavior.

In future days, it will not be so easy. The glow of my recent illumination will have faded. And that’s when faith comes in. I must believe that the power of that insight endures. There are times when we are certain of God’s presence and others when He seems distant. It is in those moments where we have to believe that we are on the right path — even if the divine message is not as clear as it once was.

Of Books & Feelings

One of the (many) things I have learned in graduate school is how much a bad book can affect you — while a good book can often lift your spirits.

This weekend, while researching a paper on the forest for my “Psyche & Nature” class, I read Alexander Porteous’ The Forest in Folklore and Mythology, which, while presenting many stories of the forest and trees in myth and folk tradition, made no effort to tie them together in any coherent whole. It was more a catalogue of such stories than an essay delighting in the power of these tales — and getting at their meaning.

To be sure, many of the tales — and a handful of the insights — will serve me well in my paper. The author left me to get at the meaning of this various imaginary creatures and legends. But, reading the book made me restless and crabby.

Today, I had the opposite experience as I reviewed my underlings in one of the books our professor had assigned us. While I didn’t always agree with the points David Abram made in his The Spell of the Senuous, I delighted in his interesting insights — and how he backed them up with reference to mythology, philosophy, linguistics and/or his experiences among primitive tribes around the world. Returning to this book helped lift my spirits — and made me less anxious about the two papers I must complete this week.

It is amazing how books are like movies, even like people. That their quality can impact the way we feel, maybe even the way we act.

09/21 Fundraiser (in Arlington, VA) to Oppose Virginia’s Anti-Gay Marriage Ballot Proposition

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 5:30 pm - September 18, 2006.
Filed under: 2006 Elections,Gay Marriage,General

On behalf of a group of a group of libertarian and Republican individuals in the Washington, D.C. area, including, David Boaz and Stephen H. Miller, Don and Karol Boudreaux ” Kelly Young and Bill Reinsmith, Charles Francis, Jonathan Rauch and Michael Lai, Stephen Herbits, William Mellor and Alison LingScott and, Vanessa Barbee, David Lampo as well as Hon. Steve Gunderson and Jonathan Stevens, I wanted to give you a headsup about a fundraising reception featuring Andrew Sullivan.

While this blog is often at odds with Andrew, we join him in opposing the Virginia ballot measure to ban all legal recognition of relationships between unmarried couples. The reception is this coming Thursday, September 21, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

It costs $500 to serve on the Host Committee and $100 to come as a friend. RSVP here & for directions. Or donate online.

Bring checks payable to The Commonwealth Coalition.

The Commonwealth Coalition is a diverse group of individuals, businesses, and civic, community and religious organizations who have joined together to oppose the proposed Marshall/Newman amendment to the Virginia bill of rights that will be on the ballot this fall on election day, November 7, 2006. The proposed amendment does not just define marriage as between one man and one woman, as proponents assert. It goes well beyond that and beyond existing state law to ban all legal recognition of relationships between unmarried couples (gay and straight). The effect of the amendment will be to render unenforceable any agreement between two unmarried people that “intends” to approximate the benefits, significance, OR effects of marriage. The amendment also bans government recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships outright. For more information about The Commonwealth Coalition and the amendment, visit them on the web.

Senate Considers “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Detainee Policy

Sometimes fiction is not as strange as real life….

(2006-09-16) — The Senate Armed Services committee this week will consider a bill designed to break the impasse with the Bush administration over the interrogation of terrorist detainees.

The new approach, dubbed ‘Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell’ by supporters, would sidestep thorny questions about compliance with Geneva Convention Common Article III, and “get the Central Intelligence Agency out of the intrusive business of prying into people’s personal lives,” according to the text of the proposed measure.

Four Republican senators on the panel, who have worked to block the president’s request for greater authority to extract intelligence data from terror suspects, are said to be open to considering the new protocol which would also prevent the CIA or the military from violating the separation of church and state.

“A terrorist detainee’s role in Islam’s jihad against the west is an inherently religious topic,” said one unnamed senate aide, “I believe it’s one of the five pillars of Islam. Questions about another human’s religious beliefs are what the Geneva Conventions call ‘outrages upon human dignity’.”

Republican Senators John McCain, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham and Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner have indicated they might support such a compromise measure, the source said, “especially if it would improve America’s image among the people who have committed their own lives to our destruction.”

“It would put the burden of moral responsibility on the enemy,” he said. “Ultimately, we believe it will win the hearts and minds of violent Muslim extremists so they will abandon their suicidal obsession with destroying the Great Satan and his minions.”

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

Of Audrey Hepburn & Ellul

In the movies — and even many good books — a character often changes dramatically in an instant. He figures out the terrorists’ plot, decides all of a sudden to undertake the quest he had long refused or realizes that he really loves the nicer girl and that he had long been deceived by the seductive charms of the blonde bombshell. My favorite such transformation is in My Fair Lady where Audrey Hepburn‘s Eliza Doolittle finally becomes able to speak proper English after Rex Harrison‘s Henry Higgins, recognizing the enormity of her task as well as its merits and recognizing as well her suffering, shows her a little kindness and offers her encouragement:

I know your head aches. I know you’re tired. I know your nerves are as raw as meat in a butcher’s window.

Think what you’re trying to accomplish. Think what you’re dealing with — the majesty and grandeur of the English language; it’s the greatest possession we have. The noblest thoughts that ever flowed through the hearts of men are contained in its extraordinary, imaginative and musical mixtures of sounds. And that’s what you set yourself out to conquer, Eliza, and conquer it you will.

Sometimes in life, such moments of kindness and encouragement push us to effect some transformation in our lives. Other times, it is moments of difficulty or strangeness.

More often than not, however, the change we experience is not as abrupt as Eliza’s. We don’t go, in one instant, from speaking a dialect to, in the next, speaking the King’s English. I can only think of a handful of occasions where I have made such abrupt changes. Once, involved in a strange relationship, I saw how he had been deceiving me (and how I had been deceiving myself about him) and quickly shifted my attitude, standing up to his pleas to give it another try. (To be sure, even in this case, I had considered extricating myself from the situation long before the “moment” arrived.)

This week, it seems I experienced another such moment of change. So profound was it that within hours, I had moved from doubt and despair to resolution. Last night, I went to shul (synagogue) for the first time in nearly a year.

The change struck me as significant and helped restore my faith, given when it occurred. This is the Jewish month of Ellul, the month when we are supposed to be preparing for the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We should use this time to reflect, looking back on the previous year, considering our faults and resolving to improve ourselves in the coming year. (Over at KesherTalk, Judith Weiss is doing a series of posts on this sacred time. Check them out!)

The things that experienced this week, while sometimes painful, caused me to look back on some of my attitudes and behavior in the previous year. And I realized how, in some cases, I was not living up to my own aspirations. Yet, it wasn’t until just after an unusual happening Thursday where I found within myself the resources to set things right. Within moments of my (to borrow a term from Christian theology) epiphany*, I was already taking action to correct my past behavior.

What struck me more than anything is that while I knew I needed to change, it was something that happened that night which helped me find the resolve to start that change. That it occurred at this sacred time of the year reminds me of my faith and makes me believe ever more in God. And I pray that others of you will find a similar resolve in your faith at a time of year that is sacred to you.

More often than not in life, we change very slowly. But, sometimes, it happens in instant. Would it that we experience it like Audrey Hepburn, through the kind and encouraging words of an apparently gruff and inconsiderate mentor. It is not only kindness which effects change. And sometimes, it is difficult or unusual experiences which help us to realize our better selves.

Life is not always like a movie, but sometimes when it is, it can surprise us, overwhelm and even cause us to turn away from a path which was not ours to tread. And toward one where we might better find ourselves.

–B. Daniel Blatt

*I’m not entirely sure “epiphany” is the right word.

Why Such Anti-War Hysteria?

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 9:47 pm - September 16, 2006.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Liberals,Post 9-11 America

In his blog, Works and Days at Pajamas, Victor Davis Hanson asks:

Just a passing note of general observance: why is it that those who support the current policy of democratization in Iraq seem dispassionate, and consider counter-arguments, while those who write off Iraq are furious, angry, and in near apoplexy discount any who disagree?

In that regard, the wild Right of the 1950s, whether characterized by Joe McCarthy, the John Birch Society, or, worse, the Ku Klux Klan, has been entirely isolated from the mainstream conservative party. But is the same true of the Democrats, when Cindy Sheehan (Bush is the “world’s greatest terrorist”), Michael Moore (the terrorists in Iraq are “Minutemen), and Al Sharpton (still no apologies for his race-baiting violence of the 1990s) are welcomed into the fold, whose spokesmen compare Abu Ghraib to Saddam’s gulag (Sen. Kennedy), Guantanamo to Hitler and Pol Pot (Sen. Durbin), and think things were better under Saddam (Sen. Rockefeller), while Sen. Kerry and former Vice President Gore have either characterized our own troops as terrorists or “indiscriminately” rounding up poor Arab Americans at home?

Why this exaggeration and shrillness?

Good question.

Now, as with anything by the blogosphere’s Gandalf, just read the whole thing!

Summer Memories, Part One

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 2:00 pm - September 16, 2006.
Filed under: Photoblogging,Travel,Vacation Blogging

Here are just a few snapshots of our trip in July to the Three Bars Ranch in Cranbrook, Canada.  As the politics of our midterms heat up, I thought it might be good to put some life perspective into our world.  There’s nothing better than riding a horse through the Canadian Rockies, my friends.

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(Photos by GayPatriot and PatriotPartner)

I hope to post more photos from our trip to Canada as well as the Brad Paisley/Sara Evans concert in Charlotte from back in June.  (Hey, I wanna capitalize on Sara’s starring in “Dancing with the Stars”!   Timing is everything.)

So what are your fond memories from the Summer of 2006?  Email me your photos and I’d be happy to post them.   This is a community, after all!

-Bruce (GayPatriot)