Archive for January, 2009

Quote To Ponder

January 19, 2009

“I hope to model a way of interacting with people who are not like you and who don’t agree with you that changes the temper of politics.”

Barack Obama, to the Washington Post

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On Gay Behavior, Wherever

January 15, 2009

The AP is reporting that a Vatican study shows less gay behavior in seminaries.  Interesting: I wonder how they measured that?  The article doesn’t address their methodology, although it does note that diocesan-run seminaries were more “successful” at preventing gay behavior than were seminaries run by religious orders.

But what is “gay behavior” anyhow?  They probably are thinking about sex between men.  For me, you don’t want to know how long it’s been since I had sex.  My “gay behavior” is more about cooking a great dinner and having a passing knowledge of high and low culture.  My “gay orientation” is a matter of the heart, not the sex organs.

But what do I know?

Back in the day — I’m talking about the 1980’s here — I knew a few gay seminarians when I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, and I knew a few gay priests, too.  I’ve often thought that if I had been born ten or twenty years earlier, I might have become one, too.  Joining the military, like some of my siblings, was not an option.  Back in a certain place and time the priesthood was an especially viable alternative for young gay Catholic men.  After all, you didn’t have to explain to anyone why you didn’t have a girlfriend, or why you never got married…

Curiously, “Father Tony” reports that he first heard the expression “to read one’s beads” (or variants) back in the seminary in 1972.  That was toward the end of the era of gay men finding refuge in the Church.  I remember “Father Chris” appearing as celebrant at a Diginity Mass sometime in the 1980s in satin pink robes for the Third Sunday of Advent, asking the rhetorical question “Do you like my drag?”  The congregation answered in a very loud, “Yes!”

I think I first heard about those “beads” when I read John Rechy’s City of Night.  Another place, another time.

Knowing about the “beads” is a gay behavior, even if you don’t use the term.  But a lot of gay people don’t know this.

A lot of us don’t even know any men who call other men “girl,” “sister,” or “Mary,” although my partner does at least two of those things regularly.

Gay behavior.

Really.

Ike By Number, And By People

January 10, 2009

The Daily News reports today on discrepancies in FEMA’s reporting on how much the agency has spent to house victims of Hurricane Ike:

Federal disaster aid officials acknowledged they “made a huge error” when they reported to The Daily News and the Galveston City Council that about $400 million had been spent to house county residents displaced by Hurricane Ike in hotels. The actual bill is closer to $29 million, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Friday.

“Nobody did the math until y’all did,” FEMA spokeswoman Bettina Hutchings said.

See also this week’s cover story in the Houston Press for first-person accounts and videos of life on the Coast post-Ike:


While Katrina’s destruction of New Orleans monopolized the eyes of the country and the world for weeks in 2005, Galveston had the misfortune to have Ike fall in the TV-watching dead zone of late night on Friday, September 12, three years later, and then to be eclipsed in the news cycle by even larger national and international events almost immediately.

By contrast, Katrina struck New Orleans at eight a.m. on a Monday in a nonelection year, almost as if it were a gift-wrapped page-one story for news-starved organizations the world over.

The neglect even has a bottom line: Wilma, Rita and Katrina together inspired people to give to all hurricane-related charities to the tune of almost $6.5 billion. The four biggest charities have only been able to come up with $19 million for Ike victims. If you are doing the math at home, that comes up to less than one-third of 1 percent. It’s a practically infinitesimal amount, even if you divide the $6.5 billion by three to account for the three storms. One example speaks volumes. The Bush-Clinton fund, run by the former presidents of those names, raised $135 million after Katrina. The same fund only managed to scrape together $2.5 million for Ike victims, despite the fact the storm hit the hometown of one of the principals.

“Galveston had the bad luck to get hit right before the financial meltdown. Everybody was also wound up in the presidential election,” says local author Dr. Roger Wood, a weekend Galvestonian. “People were talking about Sarah Palin, and it was like, ‘Oh yeah, I heard Galveston got wet.'”