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Thursday July 21, 2005

The Difference Between The United States And Other Industrial Nations

There's this joke about how Australia got all of Britain's criminals and the we got all its religious fanatics, and between the two countries we got the short end of it. I'm sure there's a few Australians who might take offence at that, and some religious people here in the US who would, but look at this:

(Ottawa) With the stroke of a vice-regal pen Canada becomes the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

The federal government's gay marriage legislation passed its final hurdle shortly before midnight following a raucous, emotional debate in the Senate. (story).

The final word in the debate came from Ione Christensen, the 71-year-old Liberal senator from the Yukon. To a hushed chamber Chistensen read an e-mail from a constituent.

"You have no idea what a difference it makes to the human spirit to know that you are treated equally under the law," the e-mail said.

With that, members of the upper chamber were called in for a three-minute vote that came after about three years of political and legal battles.

The Senate voted 47-21 to pass the bill that allows civil marriage for same-sex couples. Three senators abstained. There are currently 95 sitting senators and 10 vacancies in the appointed upper house.

When the vote was tallied the chamber erupted in a loud cheer.

Dig it. They Cheered. Now try to imagine that happening here. Just try. I dare you.

And if you think the only people who need to be afraid of the religious right in America are homosexuals or licentious liberals, here's a second thought for you, courtesy of Toyota, which decided to locate its new North American plant in Canada, even though it was promised sweeter deals down in Jesusland:

They got a $125 Million is subsidies from the Canadians. But that wasn't what sealed the deal, because several southern states offered nearly double the subsidies. What sealed the deal was the quality of education that their potential workers in Canada possesed.

The extra subsidies offered by the U.S. state would have been eaten up by the need to train and educate the workers in those states to the standards of a modern mechanized and digitized automobile plant. CBC news reports:

The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.

Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.

He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.

"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.
It's ironic that those southern states were willing to fork over the money to get the plant, but not to spend the same money to raise the educational standards in their schools. It's a classic penny-wise, pound-foolish approach.

But what about a northern state with better education. Well too bad northern states, you also are being "penny-wise and pound-foolish".

Only now it's health care that is a show stopper"
In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

"Most people don't think of our health-care system as being a competitive advantage," he said.

Public Education. Public Heathcare. If you think working to improve the lives of the common people, or the poor, are high priorities in the bible belt, because Jesus taught us to love and care for one another, then you haven't been paying attention. The poorest and most ignorant places in the United States, are where the religious right is the most firmly in control. And they are anything but ashamed at what their rule has brought their people.

Fundamentalism teaches that the end is coming anyway, that it's all preordained, that making this world a better place is not only useless, it's wrong because this world is a veil of corruption, will only get better after the second coming, and that trying to make it better yourself is acting against god's will. Notice what a tidy excuse all that is, not just to be a self righteous do nothing, but to actively try and drag down your betters.

Fundamentalism is just one big excuse for the worst kind of human envy...the kind that doesn't covet possessions, doesn't covet lovers, doesn't covet anything at all, it just hates. It hates the nobility of the human spirit, and wants to snuff it out wherever it sees it in action, so the stench of its own dead soul isn't as noticeable.

There are many people of faith in this country, and you can tell them, by the way their faith moves them to try against all odds to make this world a better place. And that includes the religious, the agnostic, and the atheist alike. People of faith, against all odds trying, trying, to make this world a better place. Believing in the ability of the human spirit to learn, and grow, and endure. The culture wars here in America now aren't between people of faith, and secularists, but between people of faith, and envious soul-rotted haters of humanity. That is also the battle line between the civilized world and Al Quada right now. Our problem here in America, is that we're having to fight that war on two fronts.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday July 19, 2005

Monday's Protest At Love In Action HQ.

A post and links to some pictures of Monday's Love In Action protests here. Apparently John Smid's Stalinist's instincts extend toward his organizations own history too...

The protest got off to a great start, as has every day of demonstrations, with blue, sunny skies. Today, however started special for QAC, as we received a package from one of Love In Action's two original founders, John Evans, now an openly gay Christian living in California. QAC spoke with John on the phone last week. He was very encouraging, expressing the importance of voicing alternatives to LIA's practices, calling what they do "dangerous", and "harmful". At the time he had no knowledge that LIA had formed REFUGE, or that they had been counseling kids in any way. He was surprised, and reacted with disbelief.
"Love in Action is a very, very dangerous organization that has been destroying people's lives since 1973, and they continue to do so today"
When informed that LIA no longer referred to him as a founder of the organization, Evans responded:
"Well, of course they don't, because they're scared...they're scared of letting people know the truth"

No shit Sherlock. That's why his inmates cannot have any contact with the outside world while they're in his clutches.

And Via QAC... MSNBC's Ron Reagan weighs in on conversion camps:

Summer's here, meaning thousands of kids are heading off to camp and participating in a host of familiar activities: hiking, canoeing, archery, re-programming their sexual orientation. Don't you remember that from your summers at camp?


Reverend Smid himself claims to be a recovered homosexual. He goes on to say, "I may see a man and say, he’s handsome, he's attractive, and it might touch a part of me that is different from someone else."

Reverend, that would be the gay part.

Meanwhile...via reader Billy Sorensen, comes a link to 10 Wacky Ex-Gay Ideas, from author Wayne Besen. If you're read his book, Anything But Straight, you've already run across these, but distilled like that you really see how absolutely nuts these people are. Bad enough grown adults get lured into these cults. But now they're dragging gay teens who are otherwise completely comfortable with themselves into them too...robbing them certainly of the childhoods they could have had, doing their best absolutely to rob these kids of any possibility of experiencing love and trust and tender human intimacy in their future too.

That's what sexual abuse does to a teen. These people are nuts, yes. They're laughable, yes. They're pathetic, yes. They're just another weapon in the religious right's anti-gay jihad, yes. Nobody in the crusade above the level of John Smid actually believes these groups can cure homosexuality, or even that they bring people closer to God (and maybe I'm being generous to Smid here too). These groups exist only to serve a political purpose, yes. But never doubt the damage they do along the way. To really get a feel for the gutter the religious right exists in, consider that they're not only condoning, but actively supporting people who do to teenagers at an emotional level, exactly what a sexual predator does. Shame. Guilt. Self loathing. Distrust. Withdrawal. Fear of intimacy.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday July 18, 2005

Reminder: Protest Today At Love In Action HQ.

QAC is calling for a rally today at the Love In Action HQ. 4 PM at 4780 Yale Rd, Memphis Tennessee. If you are in the area, please consider attending. Speak truth to bigotry with your presence and your witness.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Obscure Film References

A scene from Tarzan's Memphis Adventure on the cartoon page this morning.

It's interesting how the mind wanders around the odds and ends of pop culture you've accumulated over your life. I used to watch the old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan flicks raptly, long before I was old enough to fully appreciate just what exactly my interest in them was. Series films of that time tended to follow predictable plot lines, and as I was transferring the pencil roughs and inking this week's cartoon, my mind began to flesh this one out...

Cast of Characters




Evil Rich Ivory Poacher
Who Gets Eaten By Crocodiles
..................James Dobson

Evil Safari Leader Who Gets
Eaten By Lions
................................Donald Wildmon

Crazy Scientist Who Violates The
Sacred Temple And Falls Down A
Bottomless Pit
................................Jeffrey Satinover

Evil Greedy Missionary
Who Gets Crushed By Stampeding Elephants
.....................................Rick Santorum

Big Blowhard Safari Foreman
Who Drowns In Quicksand
.......................Rush Limbaugh

Sniveling Greedy Weasel Guy who
Kidnaps The Chief's Son And
Gets Strangled By A Python
....................Paul Cameron

Evil Rich Man's Wife Who
Steals The Sacred Idol And Falls
Into A Tiger Trap
.............................Laura Schlessinger

Pathetic Cronies Who Get
Eaten By Piranhas
...Ken Mehlman, Robert Traynham, The Log Cabin Republicans

Comic Relief Who Is Ridiculed By
Cheetah All Through The Film
..................John Smid

Cheetah....The Faculty Of The Institute For Creation Research

I could watch that movie.

No Coming Out Story yet...sorry. I'm not going to rush this one because, light-hearted as it will be when it gets going, it's an important one to me. But soon. Very soon.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday July 17, 2005

Gravitation Comes To An End...

Twelve issues over a year's time, and I don't think I've ever been more absorbed by a comic book love story. And it helps that Japanese boy-love comic artists (who are almost all female) seem to like the same kind of lean, sexy long haired guys I do.

(Why is it that women always seem to write the best gay male love stories? Mercedes Lackey...Mary Renault...Marion Zimmer Bradley...)

If you've seen the Anime, forget it. The central conflict in Yuki's life and its resolution are completely different. And the last few pages... The two love birds are squabbling again and as if by magic... Well...I'm not going to spoil it. But I have never felt so good when I put a comic book love story down.

And they lived happily...if a tad chaotically...ever after...

Quiz Result Provided By:
Who is Your Ideal Gravitation Guy?
Hosted by Anime. Done right.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday July 16, 2005

Protest At Love In Action Monday

QAC is calling for a rally Monday at the Love In Action HQ. 4 PM at 4780 Yale Rd, Memphis Tennessee. If you are in the area, please consider attending. Speak truth to bigotry with your presence and your witness.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Zach's Story Makes The New York Times

A pretty good article on it here. It ends with a part of one of the last messages he was allowed to post on his blog, before is father Joe, as he put it took "everything in his life away from him"...

Zach is due to leave the program next week. His June 4 message expressed thanks for the more than 1,700 messages on his page, many voicing support. "Don't worry," he wrote. "I'll get through this. They've promised me things will get better, whether this program does anything or not. Let's hope they're not lying."

I don't know that the next week figure is correct...six weeks after his first two week program ended puts his release at the second week of August. But yes, that's assuming he and the rest of us aren't being lied to again, because his parents have already lied to him in that regard. Zach posted that message the Times quoted when he was thinking he was only going to be in for the two week program. But the two week program is John Smid's bait offering. It exists only to give him time to talk the parents into more. He's had six weeks now, to talk them into keeping Zach even longer and longer. And given Joe Stark's total and prideful contempt and ignorance of homosexuals and homosexuality, I strongly doubt anything in that household is going to get better, until Zach is old enough to leave it legally.

My ex faced a similar situation in his home. He's now living in Hilton Head, largely he has told me, because it's far enough away from his parents that they can't just drop in on him every day in the week. This is how relentlessly stigmatizing and demonizing homosexuals helps bring parents and their gay children closer together.

There is very little about this story that isn't heartbreaking. And this the Times story adds one more piece of it for decent people to grieve over:

"I said: 'You should run away from home. There are people who will help you,' " Mr. Friedman recalled. "He said: 'I can't do that. I want to have my childhood. If this is what I have to go through to have it, then I will.' "

This is doubly heartbreaking, because that childhood is part of that "everything" that Joe Stark very deliberately took away from his son, when he took "everything in his life away from him". It's still not too late for Joe to give it back, but you just know he won't. Not when he can proudly vent gutter crawling lies about homosexuals like this one:

"We felt very good about Zach coming here let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him some options that society doesn't give him today," Stark said. "Knowing that your son... statistics say that by the age of 30 he could either have AIDS or be dead."

He doesn't even see his own son anymore, let alone the need for him to keep what's left of his childhood. All he sees is his own contempt and loathing of homosexuals.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Light Posting This Weekend


I don't think I'll be doing much here over the weekend. I've been working through a series of hard disk failures on Mowgli, my main workstation, and I'm coming to the conclusion that the 64 bit Soyo motherboard I bought last year is flaky. In recent weeks, it's lost track of the IDE devices on both channels, and I've had to fiddle with plugging and unplugging each of them in turn to get the BIOS to recognize them again. That was an annoyance. This week, it's decided to start corrupting the primary drive's boot files. But only when I'm running Windows on it. I've had file system panics due to miscalculated clusters in Linux, but when that happens the drive is marked read only and nothing is damaged. So once again Linux proves itself to be more robust then Windows.

Why do I keep running Windows? Oh...I know...because I'm a software developer and I need to. And I still have two critical applications I can't find equivalents for in Linux or Apple, although I'm starting to find better ones. My programmer's editor, Multi-Edit, just isn't replaceable yet by anything I've seen on the other two platforms, but jEdit comes damn close. If it you could only assign keystrokes to macros and functions it would be perfect. BBEdit is very, very close to what I need for on the Mac. But the damn Mac cursor keystrokes for things like top of file, end of line, next word over, and so on are just different enough between the platforms that using it quickly becomes a pain. And in Macintosh land, you don't question The Way It's Done.

My Windows XP drive is hosed. I'd still not fixed my Win2k drive from the last catastrophic failure, so yesterday I invested some time I had to anyway, to getting Win2k up and running. I had a basic setup going right up until last night when I ran Windows Update to get the latest security patches and after rebooting I got a message saying that 'ntldr' could not be found. So I left it and went to bed thinking I'd have to do the whole process over again this morning, and seriously considering getting a new motherboard and CPU. But this morning I was able to copy the ntldr and files from my laptop and got everything running again.

I think until I decide what I'm going to do with the hardware situation, that I'll invest in another backup USB drive and some disk cloning software. I have a 32 bit motherboard here all set up and waiting to go, it just needs a new CPU. I was going to set that up as a Linux based central file server. I may still go that route, because if I can move my data files off Mowgli and into a common server that also serves as a gateway and mail and print server maybe, I can put everyone else on the wireless and just float around between Windows, Linux and OSX elsewhere in the house as needed. Right now Mowgli is my everything server, so I need him running even if I'm just doing artwork on my Mac. But I don't always want to be running Windows on him, the fact that I run Windows and Linux on him means I have to maintain two different sets of server configurations, and he's getting flaky again anyway. A central Linux based server, based on a solid hardware architecture that didn't have to do anything but just serve files and printers to the rest of the house, would be a simpler, more robust and flexible solution I think.

So I'll probably be out CPU hunting today. But I need to spend a lot of time at my drafting table this weekend too, to finish up the first installment of my new cartoon series. So don't expect me to say much until Monday. Unless something happens that I just have to rant about anyway.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday July 15, 2005

Love In Action...Gender Norms Re-enforcement Division

I cheerfully concede that Smid would not approve of the following, even if the result had not been so horrific. But he's teaching this gender conformist crap to parents (for money), and in the process making himself a more then willing voice in the cultural message about homosexuality and gender norms this twisted nutcase of an undeserving parent took to heart:

(Tampa, Florida) A 21 year old Tampa man is charged with murder after his 3-year old son was pummeled into unconsciousness and then died.

Ronnie Paris Jr. went on trial for his own life this week in a Tampa courtroom. The toddler's mother, Nysheerah Paris, testified that her husband thought the boy might be gay and would force him to box.

Nysheerah Paris told the court that Paris would make the boy fight with him, slapping the child in the head until he cried or wet himself. She said that on one occasion Paris slammed the child against a wall because he was vomiting.

The court was told there had been a history of abuse by Paris. Prosecutor Jalal Harb said that in 2002, the Florida Department of Children & Families placed the child in protective custody after he had been admitted to the hospital several times for vomiting.

He was returned to his parents Dec. 14. A month later he went into a coma and was rushed to hospital. Six days later he was removed from life support and died. An autopsy showed there was swelling on both sides of his brain.

"He was trying to teach him how to fight," Nysheerah Paris' sister, Shanita Powell told the court. "He was concerned that the child might be gay."

Somehow, I doubt they're playing the gay card to get themselves a lighter sentence.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday July 14, 2005

30 is it?

TO: John Smid (
FROM: Bruce Garrett

I see Joe Stark is saying on TV now that the average lifespan of homosexuals is 30. Let me guess...he got that figure from you, didn't he.

What ninth Commandment, eh reverend?

The usual regards...

Bruce Garrett
Baltimore, Maryland.
by Bruce Garrett | Link

Protests Scheduled For Monday At LIA/R

The Queer Action Coalition is calling for a peaceful demonstration this coming Monday at the LIA/R campus. 4780 Yale Road, Memphis Tennessee. Please note the emphasis on peaceful. If you cannot be peaceful please stay out of it. These are very stressful times for all of us, and I know how horrible it is to watch LIA/R doing what they're doing to helpless gay teens. But we can win this one by being better then our enemies, by embracing the values of love and decency they only preach, but do not themselves believe in, because we have one thing on our side they neither have nor want. We have the truth. If you're in the area, and can stay calm and focused while confronting a brutal machine made of prejudice and hate, please consider showing up and lending your support. You can speak truth to bigotry, with the reality of your life.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

The Gay Co-Founder Of Love In Action Speaks Out

In 1973, Love In Action was founded by John Evans, a gay man, and the reverend Kent Philpott, who owned a bookstore near the art gallery Evans owned with his lover Ron Morano. Philpott convinced Evans that there was a need for a ministry to homosexuals and Evans, who believed that churches were driving gay people away from their religious roots, agreed. But their ideas about how to bring gay people back into a spiritual life were vastly different. Philpott believed that homosexuality was a sin against God, that you could not be both gay and Christian. He eventually convinced Evans, to the point where Evans broke up with his lover Ron. The breakup devastated Ron, and according to the account in Wayne Besen's book, Anything But Straight, he began a downward slide on drugs and died broken.

After another gay friend of Evans, Jack McIntyre, committed suicide, leaving behind a note saying that repeatedly making promises to God he could not keep was too much to bear, Evans left LIA, and has denounced its beliefs and practices ever since. He has recently become aware of the protests over the forced treatment of the teen named Zach, and that LIA/R is taking in other gay teens against their will, and in a phone conversation to one of the protest organizers, has spoken out. This is from something the protester posted to the Free Zach group on MySpace:

Also, today I had a phone conversation with John Evans, one of the two original founders of Love In Action in 1973. He was completely unaware of the situation with Zach, or that they even had a program for youth. He had this to say:

"Love in Action is a very very dangerous organization that has been destroying people's lives since 1973, and they continue to do so today"

when questioned about Refuge:

"I am completely appalled and disturbed that they would now involve minors...this is absolutely disturbing..."

John, now an openly gay man living in California, who quit LIA when his best friend Jack McIntyre killed himself because the program didn't work, expressed his willingness to speak out, and at the end of our conversation he encouraged us all... "what you're doing is great, Love In Action is a very dangerous place...keep up the fight"

Meanwhile John Smid continues to assert against all evidence that his program works, and that people are better for their having been through it. And having given him thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday July 13, 2005

Well...He Can't Plead For His Family's Privacy Now...

Since the protests over the teen named Zach's forced entry into John Smid's Love In Action/Refuge program began, the people closest to Zach have been careful to keep the family's name out of the public view, even to the point of trying to keep TV camera crews from taking pictures of Zach being driven by his father into and out of the LIA/R campus. The common knowledge around MySpace is that "Zach" is not the teen's real name, but a handle. That much may well be true..."Zach" may not be his actual first name...but at any rate, we now know the family name because his father, Joe Stark, of Bartlett Tennessee, has decided to start granting interviews to religious right news organs. This comes from the QAC web site, which is now linking to an article on Pat Robertson's CBN news site:

"To me it's not what's right and what's left, it's what's right and what's wrong," Joe said. "My wife and I will stand by that 'till the day we die, as far as homosexuality is not in God's plan - it's wrong."

Joe Stark...father of "Zach"

I'm guessing a lot of details that have been kept hidden until now, will start freely flowing out. The grim irony here is that the protestors were not just being careful to keep the family name out of public view, but actively trying to thwart efforts to uncover it. Joe's ripped that all to shreds now, so he could bloviate with Pat Robertson about how to make his own flesh and blood son hate himself for what he is:

"We felt very good about Zach coming here let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him some options that society doesn't give him today," Stark said. "Knowing that your son... statistics say that by the age of 30 he could either have AIDS or be dead."

Damn...that bogus Paul Cameron figure for the average lifespan of a homosexual just keeps getting smaller and smaller doesn't it? Give it a few more years, and Zach will have had to have died when he was 10.

Maybe Joe just doesn't know how idiotic, how brain dead stupid what he's saying is. Maybe part of Joe's problem is that he had a son who has both halves of a brain and he's only got one and that half doesn't always work so well. Maybe it constantly irritates the man to see how more able to cope with reality his son is, then he can ever be. Maybe Joe just needs to talk to some actual homosexual people, instead of a bunch of gutter crawling bigots, as to what the lives of gay and lesbians are actually like. But then again, if this barnyard jackass couldn't instantly see the lies about homosexuality for what they are when his own son, who is a member of his school's chorus, who is a member of its psychology and Latin clubs, who isn't by his own words on his blog either having sex, or doing drugs, came out to him, then Joe is probably disinclined to understand anything at all about homosexuals, other then how deeply he loathes and is disgusted by them. And how he's turning the full force of that loathing onto his own son.

"Zack has got a mind of his own, and that's a God-given gift," Joe said. "And Zack will have to make those choices when he is an adult as to what exactly he is going to do with his life. But until he turns 18 and he's an adult in the state of Tennessee, I'm responsible for him. And I'm going to see to it that he has all options available to him."

Every kid has a mind of their own Joe. Until a parent like you stomps it into pulp and leaves them an empty shell, because they'd rather have a doll baby that always smiles at them, even if the smile is as vacant as a corpse, then the pride that comes with rasing a kid capable of making their own way in the world. Seems pretty clear to me that the only options you're going to let your son have Joe, are suicide or living death. And you'll be fine with either one won't you?

And in the background of all this is John Smid, making a tidy profit off that father's desire to mentally and emotionally cripple his own son, so that the kid won't soar in life any further then he could. It's hard on a son, when a father's dreams die. And for some sons, it means their own dreams have to die too. But for men like John Smid, it's money in the bank.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Not Eaten Yet

Earlier this year, my employer, the Space Telescope Science Institute, got put on notice that our budget would be cut by about ten percent for the next fiscal year. It made layoffs inevitable, and I've been stressing for the past couple months over it, as some family and friends can tell you.

Well...I've survived again, and what is more, my branch manager is now putting me on work involving JWST, the James Webb Space Telescope (previously the Next Generation Space Telescope). So I'm both relieved, and thrilled. And I'm making a tentative start at de-stressing. Picking up new and interesting work is always good for that. Also, my next road trip will go on as planned it seems, in September. I've been back at my road Atlas, ogling the highways like I used to ogle the toys in a Christmas catalogue. I've been itching to take my new car across the plains and into the southwest for weeks now. But I'll be going all the way to California this time. I very much need to visit with my brother, and spend some time in the place of my birth.

Between layoffs and watching Love In Action brutalize a decent and perfectly normal gay teen it's been a massively stressful past few weeks. But I think now that I can be back down to normal stress levels by December. Okay...I'm just joking. A little.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Seventeen Magazine Seeks Interview

Ex Gay Watch is reporting that Seventeen Magazine has taken notice of the Love In Action debacle, and is seeking to interview ex-gay therapy survivors under the age of 23. Please contact Cara Nissman at

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Vampire Love

A friend of Zach's saw him last Tuesday at the monthly "Family & Friends" open meeting at the Love In Action campus. The friend, E.J., writes about it here.

"Love You, Tommy" they all said simultaneously, echoing the sentiment that Love In Action was attempting to carry forward with its agenda unwavered by the trickle of outsiders who had chosen to attend their monthly "Family & Friends" open meeting. For my part, I decided to arrive somewhat incognito -- sans my traditional baseball cap and without having shaven, dressed relatively nicely, and trying my best to blend in with the crowd. Members of the QAC were in attendance with me, along with the president of our local PFLAG chapter, several people who have taken active interest in this story since day one, and a writer for the New York Times named Alex Williams.

Go read the rest. Note the reference to the New York Times reporter. They're saying that the Times will do a story on Zach and the Love In Action protests this coming Sunday. I've mixed feelings about this, since the Times is not the reliable dispassionate source of hard news it once was (Judith Miller anyone?). But they did a dynamite story a couple weeks ago on the religious right's opposition to same sex marriages, which made it brutally clear by the simple act of journalism, that opposition to same sex marriage exists almost exclusively in its animus toward homosexuals, not out of any sort of concern for the institute of marriage itself. It was a dazzling, yet very difficult to read article for the all the immovable prejudice and hatred it exposed. Reading it, you really understood how nothing, absolutely nothing, can reach them and make them see human beings when they look at homosexuals. So stay tuned. The upcoming article on Love In Action might actually be informative.

You really have to respect the folks at QAC, and all of Zach's friends who are helping out on this. They seem perfectly willing to walk right into the belly of the beast to defend a friend, and speak truth to bigotry...with their presence alone if need be. And Zach saw it. He saw friends he may not have seen or been able to speak to for weeks, there for him. He knows his friends care. You hear so many stories of gay teens being brutalized by their peers. To see this happening, to see so many teens and young adults, gay and straight, standing up for this kid, and in a bible belt state no less, is simply amazing. I can never fear for the future now.

You can also speak truth to bigotry by your presence. If you haven't yet, take a moment to send Zach a card. Let them know you're out there, part of the unseen group beyond the circle. Let Zach know that he has your love and support. And let Smid know the world is watching, and will hold him accountable.

c/o Refuge
P.O. Box 171444
Memphis, TN 38187

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday July 11, 2005

Maybe We Need To Stop Calling It The Bible Belt

You't think trashing a church would be some kind of taboo down there. If you weren't paying attention that is...

Fire, hate sear church

Graffiti suggests link to national church's gay-marriage stand

MIDDLEBROOK - Members of St. John's Reformed United Church of Christ awoke Saturday morning to discover their church severely damaged by smoke and anti-gay graffiti painted on the side of the building.


The vandalism contained anti-gay messages and a declaration that United Church of Christ members were sinners. The graffiti's message appeared to be a reference to the national church's decision last week to endorse gay and lesbian marriages, Shultz said.

Read the whole story Here. This paper has good local coverage of it, including articles, here, here, and here. And there is a good editorial on the matter, titled Christians love; cowards hate.

Sad thing of it is, that church was just getting over a previous fire, set by some guys in a supposedly drunken vandalism spree. Somehow I doubt they'd have done it to a fundamentalist church though.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday July 10, 2005

Okay...So Here It Comes...

Starting next weekend. Hopefully... Stay tuned...

by Bruce Garrett | Link


Some of the cards sent to Zach, care of one determined Kansas teen who has been talking to as many people as he can about what's going on in Memphis:

Keep 'em coming folks.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday July 9, 2005

Tennessee Love In Action Investigation Continues

QAC has the goods here.

If you do not wish to become licensed, you must immediately cease operations and transfer any residents/patients to other appropriate placement. Failure to comply with state law may result in legal action by your local District Attorney or the Tennessee Department of Health...

Nice. Of course they'll fight it tooth and nail. And if worse comes to worse, Smid will simply pull up stakes and move to a state with more lax regulations about giving sex therapy to minors. Which makes supporting this bill in congress to Curb Child Abuse in Residential Treatment Programs all the more important. Let your congress critters know you support Representative George Miller's bill, HR 1738.

But this is good. Smid has to know now that his little cult group has the attention of a lot of people. And the leaders of the ex-gay movement have to know they have a serious PR problem on their hands. It's one thing for grown adults to voluntarily submit to the seriously twisted mind control techniques Smid practices (and keep giving him thousands of their hard earned dollars in the process), and another for him to force his program on teens who are otherwise content with who and what they are. Every time the ex-gay leaders run another of their We Changed, So Can You campaigns with their billboards full of happy smiling people, another darker reality behind the facade will intrude. They can't be happy with John right now. If nothing else, he's going to be extra careful to treat his teen inmates with caution, and perhaps, just perhaps, a bit more respect then otherwise.

So keep those cards and letters coming...

c/o Refuge
P.O. Box 171444
Memphis, TN 38187

Let him, and his keepers, know you care.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday July 8, 2005

The Break Bin Laden Got

Steve Gilliard hits the nail on the head...

Here is a list of all our units in Iraq.

Every unit here is one not deployed to Afghanistan

455th Chemical Task Force [455th Chemical BDE, ISG] ~ 1,350
30th Military History Det.
142nd Military Intelligence BN

Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) ~ 3,700
U/I Special Forces Units
3rd BN, 5th Special Forces Group
304th Civil Affairs BDE FOB Champion Base
354th Civil Affairs BDE

Special Operations Task Force 56
U/I EOD Units
10th Special Forces Group ~1,000

Third United States Army [ARCENT]

Combined Forces Land Component Command [CFLCC] 100 Camp Arifjan
317th Quartermaster Bn Camp Doha
62nd Medical Brigade ~800 Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq
3rd Medical Command
4th Psychological Operations Grp
9th Psychological Operations BN
3rd Personnel Command
Coalition/Joint Task Force - Kuwait

...and the list just goes on and on. And in another post, Steve sums it all up better then I ever could:

George Bush decided to place a significant number of this country's resources and effort into Iraq. Every Delta Force member, every CIA paramilitary and officer in Iraq, is one which is not hunting the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Central and South Asia. In the two years we have been bringing democracy training terrorists in Iraq, Al Qaeda has attacked our allies in Iraq at home, first the Spanish, now the British. This is no surprise, since it has been expected for years that the British would be attacked in some way.


But the problem with the US/UK approach to the "war on terror" is that military approaches are short term solutions. We need political solutions. Bush and his team act as if we can corner and kill and idea, which is what terrorism is. It is an idea, an idea on how to achieve political ends. Until we supplant that idea with something else, and neutralize its appeal, this is the kind of attack we can expect to have to live with. They don't ever have to attack the United States again to make their point in an age of the internet and world wide cable networks.

We had an idea. It was called democracy. Then Bush and the republicans got ahold of it.

The terrorists we face now are fundamentalist haters of everything fine and noble humanity is capable of. It isn't that they hate what we've done to the people of the middle east, it's that in America women can go to school and vote. It's that teenagers can play whatever music they want, and kiss their first love unashamed. It's that people can read whatever books they want. It's that gays can live their lives openly, and demand to be treated with dignity by their neighbors. It's that we have looked into the deepest secrets of nature, and asked the big questions about how we came to be, and where we are going, unafraid, and without the permission of clerics. They hate us for it. And rightly so. For as long as freedom of conscience exists anywhere, no fundamentalist tyranny of the soul is secure.

This is the moral force that Bush and the republicans have squandered utterly with their excellent adventure in Iraq, and their rampage on democracy here at home. For whatever reason, be it a need to appease our own domestic fundamentalists for votes, geo-political gamesmanship, or simply sheer greed, the republicans took our best asset against terrorism, the moral force of the ideal of democracy, and very publicly ripped it to shreds in one act after another of unmitigated arrogance of power. They took America from a dream of liberty, a vision of hope for the world's oppressed, down to the status of just another conquering nation, living on the power of its military, not the force of its ideals. It is unforgivable. Now the terrorists can tell the world they're fighting for human decency, and brazenly call themselves liberators, and we have no answer, other then force.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday July 7, 2005

Lite Posting Today

Lions on the prowl at work. I'll explain later.

In the meantime, enjoy a couple little missives from John Smid, to one of the protestors over at Free Zach:

Missive one:

I read through your e-mail and pondered your points. I respect the natureof your comments and the thoughtfulness of your writing.

While the nature of the program can be stressful, it is not so much that the participants sit in anxiety. Yes the parents have a pressure point with the young men and women but we use this to the good. I must say that in some cases, the parents get more out of the program than the kids do! Because of the high motivation of the parents, they change dramatically which benefits the entire family, the kids here as well.

Also, you mentioned the nature of separating the kids from outside things. Please understand, that they original program is only two weeks long, not much different than a summer camp where kids are away from comforts and relationships for one or two weeks.

If they are extended longer, it is with the assessment that there is progress being made for the whole and that the youth are showing an investment in those changes. By the way, the changes may or may not have to do with homosexuality. I can say that for the most part, there is not that much discussion about homosexuality and especially coercive discussion. There are program peers who share the negative consequences of homosexuality from their own experiences, but we do not allow "teaching or preaching" in dialogue or group peer discussions. Teaching and preaching is dialogue where one person is attempting to manipulate someone else into their perspective. WE share our feelings, relate our experiences, the outcome of this kind of dialogue is for the individual to decide.

We also find for the most part that people who have come here have already been engaging in very unhealthy behavior and destructive relational behaviors. Most who come here are not dealing with mere attractions or desires, rather they have already engaged in potentially disastrous behaviors and the parents are making the effort to try to protect them and their families from future harm.

When I say destructive behavior, I typically mean repeated sexual relationships, unprotected sexual encounters, threats of harm or damage to others, substance abuse etc. Others would not be motivated to pursue astronger path to find a solution. It is not a place where a family would place their young here as an extreme fear reaction or just a way to stompout their kid's feelings.

I sure wish you could understand the flavor of what we do and the level of respect and care with which we do it. But due to confidentiality issues, we cannot allow outsiders into the group."

Missive two:

We are a Christ centered ministry so the scriptures are the main source of our convictions and our practice. There are, however, many secular resources that you can research at NARTH, National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

We have been in ministry for 32 years. We have had a program for youth for three years.

I have seen that out of 24 young people the following has been true about their experience with our program: ( the percentages are approximate and fluctuate month by month)

95% of them have significantly improved communication with their parents

80% of the parents experience significantly improved personal growth and parenting skills

70% of the youth remain steadfast in their search for a life away from homosexuality

90% have a dramatically improved ability to share their feelings and thoughts with forethought and honesty.

10% leave with ongoing desires to pursue homosexuality

40% experience homosexual sex within one year of their leaving the program

70% find a much deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and in their faith.

Due to their youth, all will continue to process what they have learned and experienced with trial and error.

Due to the three year "youth" of our program, the long term stats remain to be seen.

Bear in mind that this is the same guy who said out of one side of his mouth to the Associated Press that the charges he was keeping teens in his program against their will were "ridiculous", and out of the other to the Memphis press that his program "operates on the will of the parents." So you have to take what he says about what's going on behind the closed doors of his little operation with a bit more then a grain of salt. Compare and contrast if you like, with the list of LIA/R rules Zach posted for the world to see. Read them once again to refresh your memory. And then if you'd like to give John a piece of your mind about all this, you too can write him at:

Ask him about the various rules he imposes on gay teens. Why does he force teens not to speak to anyone, or even look at them, for their first three days at his little camp? Does he, or someone on his staff, actually inspect their underwear every morning? What does a kid who's had their underwear taken wear for the rest of the day? How does limiting a kid to fifteen minutes a day in the bathroom bring them to a closer relationship with Jesus Christ?

Zach, according to his own blog posts made well before this whole thing blew up in his face, wasn't having sex and wasn't doing drugs. According to his MySpace profile, he is a member of his school's youth chorus, the psychology club and the latin club. Smid will reliably hide behind an excuse of maintaining confidentiality (as if he has the slightest shred of respect for a teen's privacy...), but you don't even have to mention Zach in your emails. Just ask Smid if it's true after all, that a teen does not have to be engaging in any self destructive or addictive behavior whatsoever, that he'll work them into your program merely on the fact that they have come out as gay to their parent's. Isn't it a fact that a teen can be doing well in school, not having sex, not doing drugs, and he'll work them through your program anyway, on the basis alone that they say they are gay.

Isn't it a fact, that one specific goal of Refuge is to induce shame and self loathing into teenagers who are otherwise content to be who and what they are, regardless of whether or not the kid is engaging in any sort of self destructive behavior? Isn't self destructive behavior ultimately irrelevant to him? And doesn't Refuge instill self destructive behavior into teens, by teaching them to loath and be ashamed of themselves for being homosexual...a thing he knows they cannot change, because his homosexuality has not changed, and he has said so publicly.

And finally, how can Smid expect a teen to be "Honest, Authentic, and Real" if he is not willing to be such himself?

If he, or anyone on his staff, actually responds to you, please let me know. I'll be happy to post any responses you get here. I'll post my own emails to Smid later, but I strongly doubt he'll respond to me.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday July 6, 2005

In Their Own Words...(continued)

The June 21 issue of the Advocate, on Future Gay Leaders, has this blurb about Chris Kawasaki, 23, who tried Exodus hoping they would "teach him how to like women and be normal again." Chris had been home schooled by his mother, whom he says he was "incredibly close to". You have to imagine how devastating that made what happened after he came out, and he entered Exodus, only to find out they couldn't make him what he wanted...

"They tell you up front, 'We don't teach you to like women,"" he says. "It dawned on me at that point: What do I do? Do I not love anyone my entire life?" It made no sense to me. After a second 90 minute session that went nowhere, Chris slumped back into his mother's car, drowning in the shame that he couldn't change.

He confessed his dilemma, and she flipped out.

His computer was taken and his room was searched. Then he was told that no gay person would ever be welcome in the family. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Go read the whole thing. Chris is now getting scholarship money from The Point Foundation, whose mission is to provide "financial support, mentoring and hope to meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation or gender identity." They are helping discarded gay children to stay in school, and reach for their dreams, and they are worthy of your support.

Chris has since graduated Phi Bete Kappa and summa sum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, and last year started his master's degree in public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Every year hundreds of decent kids are tossed into the street by parents who couldn't, or wouldn't, see the child for the homosexual. Many end up drugged out and involved in prostitution, which the religious right then points to as proof of the squalor of "the gay lifestyle". But all it proves is what a bunch of miserable failures they are as human beings, let alone people of God. Send a few dollars if you can spare them to Point. Let the discarded ones know they are loved and are worthy of being loved.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Free Z

I am continually amazed at the way the simple comic art form can speak to us with such power. Think of Howard Cruse' Stuck Rubber Baby or Art Spiegleman's Maus or any of the dozens of contributors to the Strip Aids benefit comics.

I saw recently over on the Free Zach MySpace group, that someone had created a Free Z mini comic, about Zach's situation and that of all the other teens imprisoned in Refuge. I avoided it at first, simply because I was afraid it might be a tad trivializing. But Peterson Toscano linked to it enthusiastically so I decided to check it out.

You should too. It is just amazing. Drawn in a rough, simple Zine comic style, it is an absolutely remarkable statement on the systematic brutalization of gay teens by ex-gay operations like Love In Action.

There's a story I need to tell you sometime, about why I spent most of the 1980s and 90s avoiding my drafting table, my easel and my cameras, before I rediscovered a freedom of expression in cartooning that my other art, for whatever reason, would not allow me. In the meantime I just have to say again, that the cartoon form in the right hands is just an amazing thing to behold. Such power, in just a few deceptively simple lines on paper.

Willie Hewes, creator of Free Z, has thoughtfully created downloadable pages of his zine comic, so we can make copies and pass them around, along with information on the Free Zach postcard/letter campaign. I encourage everyone to do so. Every little bit helps, and combined with Hewes powerful statement, it is going to get attention. Please pass this around as much as you can.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday July 5, 2005

Spread The Word...

The Postcards To Zach campaign has made the July Super Issue of Detour Memphis:

Send your love and support to Zach!

c/o Refuge
P.O. Box 171444
Memphis, TN 38187
an idea brought to you by Free Zach

The Free Zach group on myspace has begun a postcard campaign to send a message of hope, love, and support to the Memphis teen held against his will in a reparative therapy camp. It has been almost a month since Zach last posted in his blog, asking for help to stop the unjust treatment of gay teens by Love In Action's Refuge camp.

Go read the whole thing. And please...spare a moment to send a card or letter to Zach. Let him know that he has the love and support of a concerned world. And just as importantly, let his keepers know that world is watching them, and is holding them accountable.

While Zach may not see these cards himself--his access to communication is denied--sending a card is a footprint, and a visible message, that on this the day of our Independence, we will not allow our rights to be obstructed, and everyone has the right to freedom no matter their religious beliefs, creed, politics, or sexuality. Freedom is guaranteed to all--even this 16 year old gay youth who was brave enough to come out to his parents.

Please join the many voices now raised in protest against the emotional rape of gay teens. According to a recent article in the Washington Blade, even the backers of ex-gay ministries, like Dr. Warren Throckmorton, and Dr. Mark Yarhouse of Pat Robertson's Regent University, are saying publicly that teens should not be forced into such programs against their will. And now John Smid is trying hard to cover up the true nature of what he is doing to helpless kids, telling the Associated Press out of one side of his mouth that "The Internet accusations on holding kids without their permission ... and the other crazy allegations are ridiculous." while telling the local Memphis news media, where he has to play to the churches that support his organization, that his program "operates on the will of the parents."

Please take a moment to let John Smid know that he cannot abuse kids in secret any longer. Let him know that the world is watching. It could literally save a gay teen's life.

I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery.

John Smid, Director, Love In Action as quoted by Tom Ottosen, Former Love In Action Ex-Gay

Send your love and support to Zach:

c/o Refuge
P.O. Box 171444
Memphis, TN 38187

by Bruce Garrett | Link

In Their Own Words...(continued)

Wade Lee Richards, interviewed by Susan Ryan-Vollmar in the June 30 issue of Bay Windows, sent me the following over the weekend, which I am posting here in full. Like Peterson Toscano, Richards credits LIA with helping him turn parts of his life around. But also Like Toscano, Richards went in voluntarily, and endured a lot of hardship before reaching a place where he could understand that his sexual orientation was not the cause of his prior self destructive behavior. So what he (and Toscano) got from LIA they wouldn't have from another avenue of therapy which wasn't grounded in anti-gay religiosity, was a deeper internalization of anti-gay prejudices and hatreds, and encouragement to see their own sexual nature as the cause of their problems in life. For teens who are already comfortable in their own skins, and doing well generally in their lives (Zach had previously written on his profile, and in various blog postings, that he was not doing drugs, not having sex, and was a member of his High School chorus and Latin club), being forced into such a program against their will can only result in emotional damage, where none had existed before.

As more and more survivors of the ex-gay grinder come forward, the reality behind the smiling faces on those We Changed, So Can You billboards comes more clearly into view. There is no change, only the deliberate burial of one's own heart in a coffin of guilt and self loathing, that no human being should ever be compelled to endure. In 1975 Jack McIntyre committed suicide, saying that repeatedly making promises to God he knew he could not keep was too much for him to bear any longer. Others have struggled for years with guilt and self loathing before finally coming to terms with their ex-gay experience and accepting themselves, just as they are. Some are now coming forward to tell us their stories. Hear them.

I'm 26 years old, and recently moved back to my home state of Wisconsin. I work full time as a stylist, and spend most of my extra time working as an advocate/activist on LGBT issues. I came out at an early age of 14 in the rural town of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Growing up in a charismatic Pentecostal church, I believed that I would find the answers to what I thought was one of the biggest dilemmas I faced- being a young Christian that Who had same-sex attractions….. I remember thinking now that I was born again and a member of this faith believing church I would be healed of my same sex attractions, and I could live a life pleasing to God. Shortly after revealing my same-sex attractions, the men of the church would have prayer sessions with me, laying on hands, binding Satan, and casting out demons. It wasn't long until I felt more ashamed and guilty for trying to change what I did not understand. A year later I left the church angry and disappointed, feeling like I failed terribly at pleasing God. I had no clue there were other teenagers out there asking the same questions about their own identities, I felt alone and desperately trapped.

Without any guidance or instruction I started down a path of drug abuse, sexually promiscuity, and self-indulgence, that ended up in years of shame and fear. In my adolescent mindset I believed being gay had lead me on the road to self-destruction. All I knew of the gay community was sneaking into gay bars; meddling in drug use, and throwing myself into the arms of men who were just as lost and alone as I was. Searching for the male attention, affection, and acceptance I longed for had left my soul feeling stripped of any dignity and selfworth. At the age of 18 (feeling like a hit rock bottom), I found myself back on the steps of a church in New York City.

Here I was at 18 embarking on an adventure that would change my life forever. Shortly after I started attending Time Square Church, I moved into the church housing, and became an employee working with a group of inner-city men in the maintenance ministry. To have called myself effeminate is in understatement, yet these men began to befriend me and show a side of heterosexual men I had never experienced before. My thought patterns, and self destructive behavior had began to change, I truly believed I was on the road to "RECOVERY". I reunited with my pastor in Wisconsin, who had years ago had me talk with his friend of many years, named John Smid the director of Love in Action (LIA) an "ex-gay" recovery ministry in Memphis, TN. I believed that Love in Action had become the answer to the question of same-sex attractions I battled with every day.

I had contacted LIA, and in Smid's professional opinion he believed that at 18 years old I might not be ready for a residential program like LIA, but I wanted change at whatever the cost. I spoke with Smid and assured him that I was ready to make major life changes. I worked hard to get to LIA, I went back to school to get my high school diploma, spoke at surrounding churches to raise money for the $2,000 dollar entry fee, and left my family and friends who supported me through it all. Here I was flying to Memphis, TN to be part of LIA.

My first day at LIA- I was introduced to a young man who would be my house parent, him and Smid walked me up to my room, (who I would be sharing with two men, one almost twice my age). They proceeded to open my luggage and meticulously take an inventory of all my belongings, which more than half of my things taken by my house parent and Smid because they were identified as a thing called FI (which is a False Image). One of the first things taken was my Calvin Klein underwear. I had no clue that it was my Calvin Klein underwear causing me so much turmoil in my life. At the time I was the youngest person to have enrolled in the program, and my housemates reminded me of that every time I broke one of our 100 rules. The rules were placed in our program to help us not struggle with the same-sex attractions we were all trying to shed from our life. Through prayer, meditation, and intense psychological therapy, I was on my way to becoming a rule abiding "ex-gay". After a year and half of meeting all my requirements I became the youngest person to successfully finish the LIA residential program.

What does any young "ex-gay" do after they graduate? , Bible College, duh! After a short period in Bible College, I appeared in an "ex-gay" story on ABC's 20/20, this was the beginning of my life as an "ex-gay" poster boy. In the year 2000, I was hired as the Outreach Youth Advocate for a Los Angeles- based Christian ministry whom I traveled the nation touting the "ex-gay" movement to other teenagers and young adults. Living blocks away from West Hollywood, I earnestly tried to establish and place the tools I had learned at LIA. Yet all along still feeling pulled by my same-sex attraction. In the summer of 2000 I appeared on Alan Colmes of Fox News talk radio program with Wayne Besen (who was working as a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign). At the end of our debate he had said to me, "When you are ready to come out, we will not abandon you like the religious right will." Months later after working with Peter LaBarbera with Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, and seeing the hatred he had for the gay community, I began to question what on earth I was doing working with organizations like his testifying that in fact I had changed my sexual orientation. Durning this same time in Los Angeles, I began a friendship with a sibling of an employee of the ministry I was working for, yet she was an open Lesbian. She had been in a monogamous relationship with her same-sex partner for years, was not a drug user, and led a normal gratifying life. Yet, this is not what I was told or taught at Love in Action, gay people can't have relationships like this, and to be a sober homosexual was completely out of the question. I felt lied to by the church and the "ex-gay" movement. I realized I was healed of all the emotional turmoil from my past that the "ex-gay" movement claimed to be the cause of my same-sex attractions, however I WAS STILL GAY. For the first time at 21 years old I had realized that my destructive behavior was not because I was gay, it was because I made unhealthy decision and choices.

At the end of the summer in 2005, I resigned from my position with the ministry. An "ex-gay" friend I had in the D.C. area heard that was leaving the ministry and reached out to help me not leave everything I learned from LIA behind. I decided I would move to D.C. and lead a non-public life until I was ready and able to speak in ministry again. Confused and ashamed that I couldn't rid myself of my same-sex attractions I made the decision not to put myself nor my family thorough this whirl wind of emotions anymore. I contacted Wayne Besen at the HRC office, met him for lunch and poured my heart out. Leaving that meeting with Besen I finally felt like I had found freedom from the inner hell I had lived in all my life.

Refreshed and alive surviving the "ex-gay" movement I publicly came out in The Advocate on September 26, 2000. I'm the founder of StandOut!, a national LGBT youth advocacy organization. Our mission is to support and enrich the self-esteem of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by exploring the issues of self-reflection, diversity, and politics. As well as encouraging, training, and mobilizing them and their allies to be a voice of awareness in there generation. In my experience with the "ex-gay" movement I have seen first hand the damage and psychological turmoil that taunts an individual trying to deny the very nature of who they are. In many instances these individuals, like myself live in an inner hell of depression and guilt, never coming to peace with the person who they have tried earnestly to become. It is time we start telling the truth about the "ex-gay" movement and their agenda. StandOut!, as well as myself continues to take a STAND against homophobia and hate.

I can be contacted at

Thanks and with PRIDE,
Wade Lee Richards
by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday July 3, 2005

Happy Forth Of July.

I realized I hadn't done a Mark and Josh cartoon in a half year now (I missed this year's tax day cartoon, which usually has them fussing over their taxes), so I did a Forth of July one of them leading a Pride March, accompanied by a couple of comrades in arms, who look like they might even be related. If so, then the Union soldier to Josh's left was probably as much a family outcast as Josh is now (Josh's family is rural Virginian, Mark's is Maryland Suburban).

I wish Maryland's fireworks laws weren't so damn restrictive. I'm hearing them go off right and left in my neighborhood now, but I'm too much of a wuss to risk it myself anymore. It's amazing how being a homeowner changes your outlook on things. Some years ago, when I first went to visit my ex down in Hilton Head, I pigged out on the fireworks stores I passed along I-95. I'd never seen the likes in Maryland. But after I bought the rowhouse, what I didn't set off I eventually gave away to friends. In these tightly packed Baltimore rowhouse neighborhoods I worry about fire, and so, rightly, do the local cops.'d be nice to go to the beach and light up the night sky with some friends. Maybe one of these years...

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday July 2, 2005

The Razor's Edge Of Fascism

Does anybody really realize how bloody close to the edge of fascism the country's been for years now, when Sandra Day O'Connor, who signed on with Burger and Rehnquist to the Hardwick v. Bowers decision, has come to be regarded as a moderate?

Of course, the person Bush appoints will be a fascist nutcase. He wants the fight. Nixon lost two supreme court nominees in a row and then finally got Rehnquist in. The democrats don't have the nerve to keep turning Bush down until he appoints a consensus candidate. And that's pretty much why we're where we are today.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday July 1, 2005

...Gave Proof Through The Night...

The people over at the Free Zach group on MySpace have begun a postcard mailing campaign to LIA/R (Love In Action/Refuge). I think it's a good idea. Amnesty International does this sort of thing on a regular basis, targeting political prisoners held by dictators, sending messages of hope to the kept, and letting their keepers know that the world is watching. And there could be no more fitting way to begin the July 4th weekend.

This is the time of year we celebrate the beginning of America, the winning of freedom, the possibility of liberty and justice for all. Specifically, we celebrate the signing of the Declaration Of Independence...

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In these days when the most basic of American values are under attack, we do well to take to heart the words of those revolutionaries, who put their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the table for the most noble of causes, freedom. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom of conscience. All over the world the fundamentalist haters of liberty, from al Quada to our own domestic Taliban, rise their fists against America and Americans. They call us heretics. They call us corrupters. They call us destroyers. We are. For as long as there exists one place on this good earth were people can stand on their own two feet unbeaten and unoppressed, and embrace their dreams unafraid, no tyranny on earth is safe. We are the sons and daughters of the revolution, inheritors of the dream of freedom, and living it, become ourselves the revolution.

I want to ask you all, everyone reading this now, to make your own personal stand for the revolution, for the Dream, before going on with your weekend celebration. Mail a postcard, or a short note, to one young prisoner of conscience in an ex-gay camp. Let him know that the dream lives, that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are his birthright, and always will be.

And just as importantly, let the keepers of that Memphis prison for young souls know this forth of July, that liberty's torch can shine its light even there.

c/o Refuge
P.O. Box 171444
Memphis, TN 38187

Do it. The fireworks aren't only for celebrating the past, but also the present, because the revolution lives. The fireworks are for you.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

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