Monday, December 8th, 2008
Go [away], Skyhawks!

Yesterday a November letter addressed to me at the house I grew up in in Forest Ridge caught up to me via my mother (who also has lived elsewhere for many years). The letter was from the reunion committee of the Class of 1984 of Fairborn High School telling of all the great things they’ve planned for our 25th reunion next year and asking for updated contact info.

Our illustrious mascot
Wondering about the atrocious colors on this blog post? Read about them below.
Fun find:
When I was searching on Google for a copy of the Skyhawk logo, what should catch my eye in the search results but this young hottie:

I don't know his story (the Dayton Daily News story was expired), but go Skyhawk!

Well I regret to inform them that I won’t be providing them with updated contact info, nor will I be attending their festivities. Not that they care, I’m sure.

For some people (reunion committee members, perhaps?), their high school years were the proverbial best years of their lives. For me, thank God, that is not the case. My life since high school has been much, much better. The foremost reason for that is that I woke up to the fact that I wasn’t the only homosexual in the world, that I didn’t have to try to be someone I wasn’t and that by my being openly gay my homosexuality would no longer be something people could use to make my life uncomfortable. (In fact, being out of the closet means I get to make other people uncomfortable!)

It’s not that I was completely miserable in high school. I got good grades (straight As except for one single B*), liked learning and enjoyed most of my classes. I had some friends (mostly girls), a few of whom I’ve even seen in the last few years.

But there were days I really wasn’t happy and there were classes I really hated. Gym class, of course, I absolutely dreaded. Take a faggy boy and force him to show day after day that he has absolutely no athletic aptitude whatsoever. Oh what fun! Top it off with teachers who were either indifferent to name-calling and bullying or worse yet were oblivious to it. (Years later one of my high school gym/health teachers, a woman, attended my church for a while; when I told her how miserable I’d been in gym class, she was completely surprised!)

John Coppock (from his 1984 yearbook photo)
John Coppock

A fun example of a day in my life back then that I remember even now is being in the locker room after gym class and John Coppock yelling "Hey faggot!" at me and then mooning me. As it turns out John was both smart and stupid. He was absolutely right that I’m a faggot. But did he think that showing his tight pale buttocks to a fag was a good idea? (Thanks, John, for supplying me some masturbatory material! Trashy trailer park redneck boys can indeed be hot.) [Dean Christopher, on the other hand, who flashed his gross anus at me during one assembly need not worry; he was ugly and can consider himself safe from all gay men and probably from all women.]

So, no, I don’t really care to trek out to Fairborn (a place where when they say they’re going downtown, they mean Central and Main, not downtown Dayton) to spend time with a bunch of breeders, most of whom I’m sure are perfectly nice people but most of whom probably also voted for Issue 1 (and now probably couldn’t even tell you what Issue 1 was). If some miracle occurs and my former classmates decide they’d like to make up for their past ignorance perhaps by apologizing to their LGBT classmates, perhaps by making a collective Class of 1984 donation to a Fairborn High School Gay/Straight Alliance, then sure, let me know. Otherwise, I’m way, way, way, past done trying to get their approval.

*A note about grades: At our class baccalaureate ceremony the Rev. Melvin Younger (who lived with his family across the street in Forest Ridge and whose daughter Brenda was in my class and was Homecoming Queen) caused mild consternation among parents by saying that we kids would discover as we grew older that our high school grades didn’t matter. He was right.

**School colors: The current Fairborn High School is the child of two predecessor schools, Fairborn Baker High School and Fairborn Park Hills High School. Baker, when Park Hills was started, inherited the original Fairborn High School’s mascot, the Flyers, and school colors of blue and gold, while Park Hills chose the Vikings and colors of brown and gold. In 1983 Baker kids would have been oh so pleased for the merged high school, which is located in Park Hills’ building, to have kept the blue and gold and the Flyers, but to appease the Park Hills kids both mascots were ditched for the stupid Skyhawks and the two schools’ colors were merged so that the new school had colors of blue, brown and gold. Except they didn’t get Baker’s blue right, instead using a pale blue. Now it seems the brown and gold are gone from the current Skyhawk logo with Baker’s blue returned.

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Well I guess I've managed to piss someone off (not that it was the first time nor will it be the last). The author of the class reunion letter from my previous post asked me to remove his name from the letter and probably would have preferred that I take down the letter altogether because he thought I'd displayed his name "in a derogatory manner" and he felt "humiliated and offended." You can read the post and decide for yourself whether I mistreated him, but I don't think I did since I didn't even mention his name (you'd have had to click on the letter even to have seen it, and I didn't make any comment whatsoever about the content of the letter). Now I did make some comments about two people who'd gone out of their way to be unpleasant to me in high school — that should be proof enough that if I want to be derogatory towards someone or to try to humiliate or offend someone, I'm quite capable of doing so (just ask my friend Mr. Pyle).

Fun sidebar Help! We're being opressed, say the Christians!
I thought that this cartoon, which is making its way around the gay blogosphere in response to the full-page ad in the New York Times by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, might be pertinent to this blog post.

At any rate, this class reunion committee person and I exchanged a few e-mails, and he stressed that he's a "tolerant, accepting person" but didn't seem to think that I believed that. Really, I do believe he is, and I take him at his word that he voted against Issue 1. He told me about attending the union service of friends of his that my friend and pastor Mike Castle officiated at. Let me say here for the official record that if you manage to figure out his name via clever Googling, I absolutely do not mean to imply that he's anything other than a decent guy. Just as most of my former classmates are probably decent "perfectly nice people" (to quote from my post).

I'm thinking, however, that this class reunion committee person doesn't share my sense of humor. I don't think he appreciates the comments I put in place of his signature and name in the letter, and judging from his last very brief response I don't think he likes that I found online a record of his $500 donation in 2006 to the Republican National Committee, which I mentioned to him in what I thought was a playful way, saying that people do tend to stereotype Republicans as intolerant.

Well it is true that people tend to stereotype Republicans as intolerant, based on things such as the Republican party's 2008 platform, which "call[s] for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman," stresses the "importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married" (meaning that officially Republicans are opposed to the raising of kids by people like my friend and pastor Mike and his partner Dan, who, as this class reunion committee person pointed out to me, also went to Fairborn High School) and decries the "judicial activism" that might "impos[e] upon the rest of the nation" what happened "in Massachusetts and California." (What did happen in Massachusetts and California [and Connecticut too]? Didn't the state supreme courts say that equal protection applies to queers too?) Last time I checked, we queers weren't trying to say that all churches have to allow same sex marriages or union services or that straight people have to attend gay weddings or that straight people have to divorce their oppose sex spouses and marry people of their own genders. We can tolerate people thinking that homosexuality is wrong. We just don't think that the civil laws of our nation should reflect the religious views of only a part of the nation. So yeah, I do tend to think that Republicans in general are intolerant.

But I wasn't trying to say that my sensitive former classmate is intolerant just because he's a Republican. I would follow his example, though, and say that one might want to be accountable to the publically espoused views of a group to which one belongs. In his first e-mail to me, he quoted from my church's Value Statement, suggesting that my blog post didn't fully live up to those values. He's absolutely right — I don't fully live up to those values. But while I really don't believe that he's intolerant and do believe that he was happy for his lesbian friends who got unioned, I also know he donated money to an organization that makes a big deal of wanting to make sure I don't have the same rights he has. If it's mean (intolerant even?) of me to point that out to him, so be it.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
The fine folks involved in the Sure, I suppose it's difficult to spell-check images of our fair city, at least those at its Human Relations Council, aren't very good at proofreading:

They do, however, a fine job of being PC (not, I guess, that there's anything wrong with that):
Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
If only gay marriage were illegal…

Dan Savage notes, after seeing an MSNBC report about the high number of abused and neglected children at a Utah polygamist ranch, that "none of this polygamy crap would be happening if it were illegal for gay people to get married in Utah." Damn Utah for legalizing gay marriage! Don't they care about the children? Oh, wait…
Saturday, December 27th, 2008
A copy of a photograph of Gary Leitzell with his lovely wife and daughter was originally posted here, but he asked me to remove it.*
Traditionally no husband would be a stay at home father. So much for changing the traditional definition of marriage, huh?

I read in today's Dayton Daily News of Gary Leitzell's mayoral candidacy, so I e-mailed him to ask where he stood on last year's addition of sexual orientation as a protected class in Dayton's non-discrimination ordinances. He very quickly replied, saying that he has "no problems with equal rights for gays" but adding, unasked, that he does "have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage."*

Funny, how equal rights for gays so obviously, even to a straight man, relates to marriage.

Funny, also, how people don't understand what marriage traditionally meant. Traditionally marriage meant a man was master of his wife or wives. He'd acquired her (or them) from her (or their) father(s) and legally couldn't even rape her (them) for how could a man rape what was basically his own property. Women had no rights in marriage traditionally.

You don't hear too many people advocating a return to truly traditional marriage, do you?

No, most people have grown comfortable with the idea that marriage is a relationship between two equal partners. And if the definition of marriage has changed to that, and don't tell me it hasn't, then what's so wrong with those two equal partners both being men or both being women?

*Update: Gary Leitzell e-mailed me to ask me to remove the photograph of him with his lovely wife and daughter, so I've done so, though you can still see it (at least for now) on his mayoral campaign blog or on his personal blog.

He was also dismayed that I had asked him "a question anonymously" and then posted his answer, taking it out of context.

Well first, I did not ask him a question anonymously. I used my real name and used my e-mail address, not some made up AOL or Yahoo screen name totally unconnected to any real person. And second, he's a candidate for mayor; that he should be surprised that people discuss his positions on issues is itself surprising. And no, he did not specify that his answer was "off the record," though if he had done so, that'd be pretty interesting, wouldn't it? A candidate for mayor who didn't care to take public stands on issues?

So let's look at the rest of his reply:

I do have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage to line the pockets of lawyers though. It would mean that we could legally change the meaning of any word to suit our purpose. That could lead us on a very dangerous course.

I suppose that could mean he doesn't mind changing the legal definition of marriage if it wouldn't line the pockets of lawyers to do so.

Or it could mean that he thinks that despite our having changed the legal definition of marriage in the past to preclude polygamy or to make divorce possible or to change a wife's rights that to change it by extending it to same sex couples would mean that we'd start changing the definition of other words too — perhaps we'll end up dangerously redefining legally "blue" to mean "red" or "expenses" to mean "income."

Why he'd think that, I've no idea. Seems to me that marriage has had a relatively straightforward (no pun intended) legal evolution and extending it to same sex couples doesn't mean we're going to be redefining everything.

And I think it seems that way to the justices on the Supreme Courts of several states (Hawaii: Baehr v. Lewin, 1993; Vermont: Baker v. Vermont, 1999; Massachusetts: Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003; California: In re Marriage Cases, 2008; Connecticut: Kerrigan and Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, 2008 [update 04/03/2009: and Iowa: Varnum v. Brien, 2009]) and a foreign country too (Canada: Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, 2004) as well as to the legislatures of some foreign countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada). But what do they know?

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Reading Frank Rich's commentary today on President-Elect Obama's inaugural invocation invitation of Rick Warren as well as some of the blogospheric commentary on Frank Rich's commentary reminded me what it was Warren had actually said in his BeliefNet interview:

The issue to me, I'm not opposed to that [rights granted to gays by domestic partnership laws] as much as I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

Sound somewhat familiar? It should, and it did to me because Warren's concern about the redefinition of marriage is shared by Gary Leitzell, about whom I wrote yesterday. Leitzell, you'll recall, is worried about the "dangerous course" our country will be headed down if we "chang[e] the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage." Ding! Now I know what Leitzell was worried about. He's worried, as is Warren, that if we let the queers marry then next we'll let brothers marry sisters and men marry children.

Just like has happened in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and Massachusetts and probably will happen soon in Connecticut and would have happened in California were it not for Proposition 8.

Oh, wait... it hasn't happened yet, has it? Is there a push in these jurisdictions to legalize marriage between siblings? Maybe I'm just unaware.

And wait, men marrying children? Didn't that actually used to be legal? Wasn't it as recently as 2006 that a Nebraska man drove his 14-year-old knocked up girlfriend to Kansas in order to marry her because at that time Kansas had no minimum marriage age? So do tell me about traditional marriage, Mr. Warren and Mr. Leitzell. Seems that traditional marriage legally sanctioned what most people today would call illegal pedophilia. Let's return to traditional marriage?!

And one guy having multiple wives? Perhaps this isn't a danger Leitzell's worried about but Warren, a Christian pastor, specifically cited it as a danger that altering the "5,000 year definition of marriage" might lead to. Um, hello, pastor? Does that 5,000 years cover any of the polygamous marriages in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible?! Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

And that's probably Obama's master plan. Letting people like Warren and Leitzell talk about the dangers to American society presented by the gays getting married helps most Americans to realize how ludicrous that is.

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Okay, one last post about this and then I’ll try to stop being so obsessive about it. Apparently Mrs. Leitzell’s last name isn’t Leitzell but rather a different hyphenated name. How do I know this? Not from being too cyberstalkerish, I think, but rather from reading this post on Gary Leitzell’s This Old Crack House blog, in which he posts a photo of his house complete with its parcel ID number as well as a link to the County Auditor’s page, where one can find all sorts of information about properties in Montgomery County, which I took as practically begging people to look up info on his property — I could post a direct link to the property and even a photo of it (not the photo from Mr. Leitzell’s site but one from the county website because I’m pretty sure county photos are public domain [United States government creations are]), but I’ll be (somewhat) nice and leave this as a homework exercise for you.

At any rate, the property in question is not titled to Mr. Leitzell but to a woman with a hyphenated last name. Could this woman be his wife? Could Mr. Leitzell, advocate of the traditional legal definition of marriage, have such an untraditional marriage that not only is he a stay-at-home father but also his wife did not take his surname?

Now let me be clear — I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women keeping their own names when they marry — my own sister’s last name is different from my brother-in-law’s, and I certainly would keep my own last name if I ever get married. I also don’t see anything wrong with stay-at-home fathers or home schooling kids — my own nephew is a student of the very same Internet public charter school (again, not overly cyberstalkerish but gleaned from a post on one of his own blogs) that Mr. Leitzell chose for his daughter.

However, what drives me crazy is someone telling me on the one hand that changing the legal definition of marriage to extend equal rights to same sex couples will set our nation on "a very dangerous course" and on the other hand himself adopting a non-traditional lifestyle. Mr. Leitzell, let me introduce you to Mr. Ratta, who I’m sure can tell you a thing or two about the dangerous course of letting your wife not take your last name upon marriage.

One really last thing: Same sex marriage is not a mayoral issue, unless you’re Gavin Newsom. I didn’t ask Gary Leitzell about same sex marriage. I asked him his position on the addition to Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance of sexual orientation as a protected class, and he volunteered his position on the definition of marriage. I also asked him if he’d be opposed to any attempt to take sexual orientation out of Dayton’s ordinance if he were mayor. I got no answer to that. Would Gary Leitzell pander to the same Christianists to whom our former Mayor Turner, who I will admit did some good things for the city, pandered?

Update 8/24/2009: I was right — Gary Leitzell’s “traditional marriage” is so untraditional that Mrs. Leitzell’s double-barrelled surname doesn’t even include “Leitzell” as one of its barrells.

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Canon PowerShot SX10 IS camera I just got a Canon PowerShot SX10 IS camera, which I really like, but one complaint I'd read about in reviews of it is that the lens cap is not attached by any cord to the camera but rather has a clip on the back of it for attaching the cap to the camera strap. Wouldn't you know it, but I've had the camera less than a week and this past weekend, while I was out and about taking photos, the cap came off the strap at some point and I lost it.

I tried searching online to find out the part number of the lens cap, to no avail, but today I called Canon's parts department and was able to order two replacement caps ($1.89 each plus shipping, less than $9, not too bad). The part number for a Canon PowerShot SX10 IS replacement lens cap, for future Googlers, is C84-1532-000, and the phone number for Canon's parts department is 732-521-7230. (Be a big spender and pay for the long distance to call directly instead of using Canon's toll-free number, and you'll avoid voicemail hell, endless transfers and disconnections.)

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