Friday, February 29, 2008

To thine own self be true.

Today I read an essay about Bishop Paul Moore, who was Bishop of New York for many years. It's quite long, but very good, and I recommend that you read it if you're at all interested in these types of things--or even if you're not. If your eyes are dry by the end, then I'm not sure what planet you're from.

Most powerful to me is not the fact that he was gay and his daughter has told the whole world about it. That's not terribly surprising, though I do commend her bravery.

What affects me is that I have known this man. Not Bishop Moore himself, but men like him.

Priests, monks, judges, doctors, lawyers, accountants, politicians...I have known them all. (No, not biblically, get your mind out of the gutter just this once, even if I can't.) They are all amazing men who exert influence over the world more strongly than your average guy. They make things happen. They heal. They give. They walk through the world surrounded by a n irresistible sphere of influence.

For the most part, these men use their power for good.

And yet they lived their lives in secret.

I have felt, all my life, that being out and proud--being all of who I am on all occasions--is critical to my mental health. Sure, I omit certain details on certain occasions. The biggest exceptions are my grandparents and my job, though the latter is arguably a simple matter of professionalism, as I'm not closeted, I just tone the personality down a lot.

These special men probably went further in society than I could because they hid their sexuality. In the process they attained positions where their unique ability to inspire was felt widely. They changed the world, if only just a little.

I'm not sure what my point is, if there is one. As I grow older and more of my dear friends leave this world, I grow less and less sure how to honor a life. I do, however, know for sure that these lives need to be honored and respected.

I did not get anything I have because of, or even mostly thanks to, my own merit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008

It is not the critic who counts.

I don't get into politics much. Sure, I listen to NPR, I understand the broad strokes of most issues, I vote (usually for Democrats as the lesser of evils), and I occasionally raise funds or donate money to activist organizations. I don't spend much time reading about the details of the issues, debating all of it with my friends, or writing about it on my blog.

However, if you start dissing Matt Foreman, you're making it personal. I've been feeling a rant building up in my esophagus.

You see, Matt is a personal hero of mine. He is both brilliant and extraordinarily compassionate and kind, in my experience a rare combination. In the past year or two he has become a friend to me and to NYboL, which never ceases to amaze me, because he travels with great ease through the A-list scene of NYC gays. Most of those guys are perfectly content to stay entirely within their own strata. And he's not merely slumming it with us--Matt and his partner Frank instead have included me and my brothers in events which we'd otherwise never see. His focus on full inclusion of all types of queer people in our struggle for equal rights is incredibly courageous; the assimilationists at HRC have never had such balls.

So when some dude named Jamie Kirchick writes a disparaging essay about Matt, claiming that during his tenure leading the NGLTF he didn't really focus on advancing gay rights, I get mighty pissed. The man sat down in the middle of Broadway and was arrested there while protesting Don't Ask Don't Tell!!! Who among us has gone so far in recent times?

I'm glad to find that there are others out there who also find Kirchick's words to be ridiculous. To save me a rant, I'll refer you to Alex Blaze. I haven't a clue who this person is, but I am completely on board with his support of Matt and his criticism of Kirchick. Go and read it his piece.

I am sure that Matt is used to this type of thing and his thick skin is serving him well. Still, I am going to make an extra effort to thank him for all he has done, in the hopes of offsetting this dimwit conservative gay who some misguided media person decided to give a platform to spew erroneous negativity. I hope you will consider doing the same.

It is not the critic who counts
Not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled
Or how the doer of deeds might have done better.
The credit belongs to the man
Who is actually in the arena,
Whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood;
Who strives valiantly;
Who errs and comes short again and again;
Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions,
And spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement;
And who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
Who know neither victory or defeat.

-Theodore Roosevelt (1910)