my trip with burt reynolds

Burt Reynolds Deliverance_why

I fell in love with Burt Reynolds in 1972 on a CYO field trip.

An eighth grader at the time, I was too young to wonder why the Catholic Youth Organization of St. Catherine’s Church in Kansas City had included among their schedule of mixers and amusement park field trips, a few outings to the local theater for first-run films like Deliverance and Cabaret.

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quiet sadness on the pope’s visit

As a person who cares deeply about ending poverty and its systemic causes, as well as reversing the disastrous consequences of climate change, I know I should remain silent.

I should tuck my personal feelings into my vest pocket, keep a low-profile, and roundly support the lovefest that has been unfolding here in the United States for Pope Francis during his visit.

But I’m conflicted.

And I’m tired.

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time capsule to my teenaged self

Dear Jim, Hello from 2015.

I’ll bet that sounds downright Jetsonian to you as a 17-year-old in 1975.

So I’ll settle one big question at the outset: we do not have flying cars.

There is, come to think of it, something called a personal computer that I know you’ll appreciate for at least a couple of its features in particular: it will check your spelling for you. Hold your tears. I know you’ll love that.

And then there’s the Internet, which is also hard to describe, but it will eliminate the need for the family’s old Encyclopedia Britannica. And there’s a whole lot of, well, anything you might ever want (publicly or secretly) on the Internet, such as movies and music and travel guides. And, umm, well, let me just say, kids your age today aren’t even thinking about agonizing over how to convince the sales clerk at the 7-Eleven to sell them a copy of Playgirl.

Yeah, I know about your secret Playgirl stash.

See, I’m you, grown old. I’m you 40 years from now.

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howdy valentine…i wish i could quit you

Hi There, Pardner! I wish I could quit you.

Valentine’s Day was always troubling for me as a gay grade schooler.

I was expected to share giggly little messages of love with my classmates—that is, of course, girl classmates.

The messages were corny puns and all about the boy-meets-girl romances of the 1950s and ’60s.

It was indeed a confusing exercise in futility.

I have wondered what it would have been like to hand a valentine to a boy I had liked back then, or even now in this brave new world where children are supported by loving parents who encourage them to express their feelings.

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un-fair pigment: red hair, pale skin and mercurochrome


The first little paint stroke of Mercurochrome to my upper lip seemed like an interesting idea at the time. I, after all, had grown my first mustache and beard over the summer of 1972, between eighth grade and my freshman year of high school. To my adolescent mind, it was a badge of maturity that went with leaving behind Catholic grade school and the redneck bullies I had endured for eight years. The next day would be my first day at Rockhurst High School, Kansas City’s Jesuit high school, several miles and mindsets away from the Hickman Mills area where my family lived just at the edge of where the suburbs met the cornfields and hunting woods. Grateful to be moving on, I had spent the summer gearing up for what I hoped, if not was almost certain, maybe, would be a new life, and part of the passage included not shaving for three months just to see what kind of beard I could grow.

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pope hope quotes

“Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill?”

Several friends and news organizations posted what seemed to be a startlingly positive quote from Pope Francis I on Facebook and other media today.

From most reports, it appears Francis’ statement was made in reference to gay priests, not LGBT people in general. When asked about “how he would respond to learning that a cleric in his ranks was gay, though not sexually active,” he responded in Italian, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? …You can’t marginalize these people.” His response, of course, presumes that a gay priest “of goodwill” is keeping his vow of celibacy, and therefore living the life the Vatican expects all gay Catholics to live.

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a gay hate crime ends in murder on 8th street

It’s hard to believe I met Bob in a pervious century, but when I think about our lives then and now, I realize how much the world has changed. In 1989 when we met, there was no Ellen, no Modern Family, no discussion whatsoever of marriage equality. The biggest gay rights issue in any of the big cities around the country was legislation for AIDS services and research. Despite that Bob lived in the Village and I in Chelsea (the only real gay enclaves in the City at the time), we did not feel comfortable holding hands just anywhere around our neighborhoods. Even though we often did.

Over the past 24 years, we’ve lived openly as a loving couple, not so much as a statement, but as a way to live more honest, healthy lives for ourselves. Continue reading “a gay hate crime ends in murder on 8th street”

tall > small


I once had a therapist ask me what was the one thing I would want to say to all the tall people in the world, if I could.

“Trim your nose hair,” I said, which was the first thing that came into my head.

I had indeed, just that morning, stood beneath the looming presence of my six-foot-something Jesuit superior, distracted from whatever platitude he recited for my own good by the several long gray tentacles curling out of the dark cavity of his nostrils like some underwater creature.

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things i can’t take for granted

I posted the following note on Facebook on November 4, 2012, just before the presidential elections, knowing I had a few family members and friends whose votes could affect my civil rights. As the Supreme Court takes up Marriage Equality today and tomorrow, I thought I’d repost it here.


A few years ago, I thought I was having a heart attack on the Garden State Parkway. Right in the middle of discussing a particularly stressful work situation with Bob, my arms and my face went numb. I could barely move my mouth. It was as if someone had administered a giant syringe of novocain into my jaw, my torso and my arms. We were both terrified. In a mumble, hauntingly similar to that of a stroke victim, I asked Bob to pull off into the rest area, while I fumbled with my tingling fingers to dial 911 on his cell phone.

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