Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I can't believe it!

This just in:

Utah Lawmakers Vote to Halt Gay Pet Adoption

In the final hours of the session, Utah lawmakers have voted to put an end to gay pet adoptions, after heated debate.


“The gays adopt pets, see, because they can’t have pets on their own; they have to recruit” explained Senator Buttars in floor debate. “Once in their homes these puppies and kittens are soon indoctrinated into the gay lifestyle, and taught that homosexuality is normal.”

“This is the nose of the camel in the tent,” said Senator Bramble, “They will adopt our pets and, if we don’t act now, it won’t stop there. They’ll use these unfortunate pets as political props to promote their agenda and force homosexual clubs into our obedience schools. The destruction of marriage can’t be far behind.”

Representative Tilton took a similar tone “This is a slippery slope my fellow Utahns, and I hope you sustain this bill [wink wink]. Just as homosexual “marriage” leads to polygamy and human-animal marriages, homosexual pet adoption will soon lead to dogs adopting puppies, or worse, kittens.”

When asked for comment, Gayle Ruzicka, Utah Eagle Forum President , was elated. “It’s very simple, a vote against this bill would have been a vote against marriage and a vote for sodomy. I’m glad our legislators bravely stood up for the wellbeing of our puppies and kittens in the face of political correctness.”

A representative for Utah’s Humane Society could not be reached for comment.

You just wait. I predict, by year’s end, the animal shelters of Utah will be packed to the rafters with toy poodles and shit tzus.

Anyway, I’m outraged…

;-) and, bumps and bruises aside, very relieved the legislative session is, today, over :-). Now on to the serious matter of figuring out the consequences of their actual actions.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Of the experiences I’ve had with anti gay bias, only a few have been with people I personally know. I described one in which I committed a physical assault ;-), here. But another actually came from my childhood dentist. He was a friend of the family, of sorts, and always expressed a great deal of respect for me and my accomplishments and so on. I liked him too; I though he was a very smart, friendly, and admirable man. When I was LDS, he was one of the main examples to me of what an LDS man should be.

About a year after I came out to my parents my mom was there getting a checkup. After it was over they started talking about the new sanitary measures he was using in his practice. The topic turned to AIDS. It then turned to gays, at which point my dentist told her that he thought gays should all be shipped off to an island or shot. This was just casual conversation. He had no idea I was gay, and my mom could only chide him without telling him I was, as, at the time, I’d made it very clear I wanted to decide how to come out.

When explaining why we should all change dentists, this is what came out in response to my questions. It had to, else I’d never have understood; I couldn’t remember this dentist not being my dentist and I liked him a great deal. I’d not have believed he’d have said such a thing, if not for the fact that it was my mother’s testimony. So we left, and found a great new dentist. Eventually my old dentist found out I was gay through family friends, figured out why he’d lost our family’s business, and called to apologize and try to get us back. While I appreciated the apology, we certainly couldn’t go back.

Now, just like the other instance I mentioned, I’ve come to find out the guy has been arrested for sexual assault (of the heterosexual sort again). While I know the allegations certainly may not be true or stand up in court (as they did with the other guy), and I know two anecdotes do not count as data, it’s just bizarre this has happened twice now. I’ve only known two people every arrested for sexual assault, and these two men are them. Nevertheless, it’s certainly a tragedy all around.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mr. and Mr. __________

Having a sort of family makeup just emerging in this culture, a person has to reason out why they want everything from marriage to joint checking, more so than the average person. They have much less of the cultural, and traditional guidance of expectation (but, on the plus side, without the stain and error of such either, as I've written before).

Another such item that came to mind, though relatively minor, is the surname. I've just kind of come to taking it for granted, but many gay couples we know do debate on this to some lengths, and they come to different ends.

A lot of the choices we've made that could be seen as taking a traditional rout had many practical aspects for us, but strong emotional reasons as well. They make absolute sense, but last names didn’t strike us as important on either level for a long while. In fact, this was not a thought for about our first decade together. But once we knew we would be parents it suddenly became another one of those important issues. What last name would our children have? Would it be okay for them to not have one of our names? It really would be far best, at school, at the hospital, and so on, if we all had the same, to avoid hassle and make our situation clearer.

So we decided we had to do it, but how do two men decide who gives up their family name?

It wasn’t as difficult as it sounds, at least between us.

We first thought about hyphenating… and then thought of our great grandchildren ending up with hand cramps for their possible total of eight hyphenated last names :-). No, we narrowed it down to having one last name.

We then thought to merge our names into something new for us both. We came up with a reasonable mix, one that was already extant and didn’t sound too dorky, and we were set to go ahead with that, a new family name for us both.

After of day or so after that conclusion, and looking at what needed to be done to effect this change for us, R came to me. He decided to take my family name instead. I was surprised and tried to talk him back into the new name plan, but he insisted (and I know I didn’t try too hard or long to change his mind :-)). Such a decision really had to be his though.

And I do feel he graciously let me off easy, but, objectively, he was right for many reasons. To change my name meant far more of a bureaucratic struggle, from business documents to various other records he did not have. There were also other fears regarding the heated marriage debate at the time that made us all having my family name seem best. Still, I know it wasn’t an easy decision, and I love him for it every time he’s hassled at the airport for his name change; they just don’t anticipate such :-).

Fortunately, we’re pragmatic in such areas (though, sure, easy for me to say ;-)), and we were off to court. I expected a battle; again, this is Utah. It turns out anyone can change their name as long as it’s not for nefarious purposes, but, to that end, on the form it asked why we wanted to change his name and we, of course, were completely honest with the court. We explained the whole thing. The judge simply read, listened, gave a quick approval and that was it. No fight. Utah deserves my apology, in places :-).

If only that were the end of it, though. About a month later our exact words, our explanation for why we wanted a name change appeared in the paper, in an article about why people change their names. Oh yeah, that’s public record…

Friday, February 23, 2007


Okay, I agree. A review of the research on finger length ratios' relation to orientation, that ultimately goes only to show how some popular research goes nowhere…

What was I thinking?! :-)

It’s for times like these that I keep something up my sleeve.

How about a pallet cleanser?

It’s a duck.

Or so I’m told. By A.

Anyway, hope you all have a good weekend. :-D

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lady Fingers, Empty Calories?

I’ve gone over one of the possible mechanisms in making men gay involving fetal hormone exposure or even maternal antibodies in discussing the Fraternal Birth Order Effect (here). Here I want to look at a possibly different, though equally well-publicized mechanism based on different observations; not the number of siblings but the dimensions of our bodies.

We certainly don’t experiment on humans in such a way, but it’s fairly well established that, in animal models, in utero manipulation of androgens (hormones with a masculizing effect) is capable of altering sexual behavior, orientation, and so on (1-3). In addition to behavioral differences, of course, exposure to such chemicals leave the associated physical form altered.

Humans have numerous such physical differences between the average male and female form (of course, else this whole topic would be pointless as no one would know if they were gay or not ;-)). In humans, as with other mammals, without the masculizing effects of our hormones, the genetic male would turn out somewhere in-between the two forms or even apparently female, even by behavior. One of these differences between men and women, though slight, is the ratio of the lengths of our 2nd to our 4th finger (index to ring finger).

Forget broad shoulder, cut and firm bodies… perhaps being gay is all about subtle attractions to finger length ratios?

Anyway, the lengths are measured sometimes by image analysis but one could less accurately measure themselves with a ruler. Simply take the distance between the tip of your finger to the basal crease (I gather that’s the line at the base of your finger where your skin bends when you bring the finger to the palm). To get this 2D:4D ratio, divide the length of the index by the ring finger. Not that it would tell you much more than palmistry would, by measuring a single person :-).

I’ve seen in the literature this 2D:4D ratio range among humans from between 0.8 and 1.3, and there is great overlap between men and women in their distributions. But women average at a ratio of about 1 (their index and ring finger are the same length), and men average at about 0.98 (Say your index finger were 7.5 cm long; the average man would have a ring finger 0.2 cm longer). Though a small difference, it is outside the error bars with significantly large samples.

The thinking goes that whatever makes men physically different, such as index fingers relatively shorter than ring fingers, should be the effect of these androgens, these hormones that make us male. And there is evidence to back that up here.

From a study by Manning et al., for example, it was found this ratio is established at least as early as the age of two and “is probably established in utero” (4). Furthermore, it was found that only in the right hand this ratio was negatively correlated with sperm production and testosterone concentrations. Curiously enough the ratio also positively correlates with propensity for depression in men; testosterone makes us happy… (5). I’ve also seen reference to effect on sports ability, disease susceptibility, and “attractiveness”. In short though, it’s thought that low 2D:4D ratios indicate high prenatal testosterone and low estrogen, and High 2D:4D ratios indicate low prenatal testosterone and high estrogen.

The genetics in play with this ratio are apparent. It was pretty much established that it ran in families, even in races and continents (6). But a recent twin study found that the cause behind this ratio was approximately 60% in the genes (7) (add that to my other twin facts). The correlation for Monozygotic twins was 0.66 and 0.71 for the right and left hand respectively and, for Dizygotic Twins, 0.35 and 0.37 respectively. It’s important to note this asymmetry of the body here. I have posted before, tongue in cheek, about handedness (Fraternal Birth Order Effect.

They also found the 2D:4D ratio negatively correlated with the number of older brothers only, not sisters. But, for gay men, they were unable to escape their error bars. On the other hand, lesbians, were found to have significantly masculinized right hands (with, again, the left hand measurement not escaping the likely error).

So, some hints, but, clearly, the samples were too small and not matched for age and race. More needed to be done and soon after Robinson and Manning (who did the study on sperm production and testosterone concentrations above), published their own study (9). But again with relatively small samples, and, this time, predominately in one racial category. Also problematically, the control group of “heterosexuals” was chosen “without regard to sexual orientation.”

They found no reliance of the ratio on birth order (though once again they did find the Fraternal Birth Order Effect for gay men; it’s pretty well established by now :-)). Oddly enough, and keeping in mind their sample size, they found their gay men were significantly more mascilinized than straight men… But they also found bisexual men were the most masculinized of all. So, some odd, suspicious results to be sure. Again though, it’s early in the game, still in 2000.

Next up we have a study by McFadden in 2002 (10). Again, this was a study with too small of samples (35 gays, 29 lesbians and about twice the number of heterosexuals). Quickly, they found gays were more feminized and lesbians more masculinized in the 2D:4D ratio, more along the lines of common sense, and similar to the Williams study (8)… But with the numerical significance and disagreement with Robinson, it’s not anything to hang your hat on.

Next we have a study by Brown et al. (11). They went about a gay pride festival and asked lesbians to rate themselves as "butch" of "femme". They found about 90 in each group, and measured their hands. The self-identified “femme” lesbians did not show a diminished 2D:4D ratio from heterosexuals, but “butch” lesbians did. Now, I do find this to be a bit of a humorous study for some reason, but they have a point. Women are, in general, more plastic and bisexual in their sexual orientation than men, and such segregation may be needed to find an effect…

Finally, Lippa, in 2003 (12), used a much larger sample: 351 heterosexual men, 461 gay men, 707 heterosexual women, and 472 lesbian women. He also used many races and corrected for race in his calculations (this 2D:4D ratio is a function of race). His findings confirmed McFadden’s results and bolstered, in part, Williams, though contradicted Robinson's again. He found gay men were more feminized in this ratio, and in the length of the ring finger alone. These results were found for all races, save for Asia (for which he had only a small number of participants, 19). But, he found no significant effect with lesbians, compared to straight women; they were still within the anticipated error (possibly because he didn’t correct for the Butch-Femme effect? :-)).

So what’s the point? I guess the point is to never follow the progress of research and expect to have a good narrative (or a good blog post :-)). There’s no smoking gun here; still merely hints and suggestions and uncertainty. And there may be nothing to find; what makes this subtle ratio different in men and women may have nothing to do with orientation. For now, we wait for more measurements, and ignore those in the media who claimed proof was in on this one, and got everyone to measure their fingers for hints of the attraction they experience ;-).

1. Baum, M.J., et al., Prenatal and Neonatal Testosterone Exposure Interact to Affect Differentiation of Sexual Behavior and Partner Preference in Female Ferrets. Behavioral Neuroscience, 1990. 104(1): p. 183-198.
2. McCarthy, M.M., E.H. Schlenker, and D.W. Pfaff, Enduring Consequences of Neonatal Treatment with Antisense Oligodeoxynucleotides to Estrogen Receptor Messenger Ribonucleic Acid on Sexual Differentiation of Rat Brain. Endocrinology, 1993. 133(2): p. 433-439.
3. Brand, T., et al., Adult partner preference and sexual behavior of male rats affected by perinatal endocrine manipulations. Hormones and Behavior, 1991. 25(3): p. 323-341.
4. Manning, J.T., et al., The ration of 2nd to 4th digit length: a predictor of sperm numbers and concentrations of testosterone, luteinizing hormone and oestrogen. Human Reproduction, 1998. 13(11): p. 3000-3004.
. Woodson, J.C., B.W. Balleine, and R.A. Gorski, Sexual Experience Interacts with Steroid Exposure to Shape the Partner Preferences of Rats. Hormones and Behavior, 2002. 42: p. 148-157.
5. Bailey, A.A. and P.L. Hurd, Depression in men is associated with more feminine finger length ratios. Personality and Individual Differences, 2005. 39: p. 829-836.
6. Loehlin, J.C., et al., Population Differences in Finger-Length Ratios: Ethnicity or Latitude? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2006. 35(6): p. 739-742.
7. Paul, S.N., et al., Heritability of the Second to Fourth Digit Ratio (2d:4d): A Twin Study. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 2006. 9(2): p. 215-219.
8. Williams, T.J., C.L. Jordan, and S.M. Breedlove, Finger length patterns indicate an influence of fetal androgens on human sexual orientation. Nature, 2000. 404: p. 455-456.
9. Robinson, S.J. and J.T. Manning, The ratio of 2nd to 4th digit length and male homosexuality. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2000. 21: p. 333-345.
10. McFadden, D. and E. Schubel, Relative lengths of fingers and toes in human males and females. Hormones and Behavior, 2002. 42(492-500).
11. Brown, W.M., et al., Differences in Finger Length Ratios Between Self-Identified Butch and Femme Lesbians. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2002. 31(1): p. 123-127.
12. Lippa, R.A., Are 2D:4D Finger-Length Ratios Related to Sexual Orientation? Yes for Men, No for Women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003. 85(1): p. 179-188.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

First Home

The first home R and I ever bought together was in a “planned community” in California. We moved into an apartment and bought the home when it was just a slab of concrete among other slabs of concrete.

But, as a planned community under all sorts of draconian restrictions, we weren’t allowed to pick the house color; they had to go in a particular order down the street. Why? I don’t know. It just made someone happy.

Anyway, what did we care? We were in a beautiful place, minuets from both the ocean and our work. But once we finally decided to follow the sequence of colors by counting the empty lots in-between, well, it turns out our first home was pink. Pink. As pink as any stucco has ever been pink.

Yeah, real funny, chance.

Still, I miss that small pink home at times, or, more specifically, it’s location in friendlier jurisdiction and its proximity to the ocean (even more specifically, in February, with the legislature in session).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I’m Your Man. Really. I am.

I’m supposed say some words tonight. Relatively, this one will be a very short speech and a small, mostly friendly crowd. I don’t know how many times I’ve done such since all these politics got set off for us a couple years ago, but it hardly ever works out great by my measure.

I don’t mind public speaking in general, but I’m no great orator. On top of that, the thing I’m most often asked to speak about is my family. Why we had children? What does family mean to us? What does love mean? All that is dangerous territory; I have to watch where I tread to not find myself showing strong emotion, no matter the circumstances or required decorum. But, I’ll not apologize for that :-). Typically, if I must avoid feeling it too strongly and openly, I’ll prepare something, and say it over and over until it’s pat, but who wants that to be pat?

In a way, it’s all a bit and subtlety dehumanizing, to put yourself out there in politics, but, at the same time, I think it needs to be done. Someone in our position should do it, or else the other side gets to frame the whole thing, and we’ll find ourselves with a bigger problem. It can make a positive difference, I hope. I suspect it’s a way to protect our family and others like us. It’s a way to state our case, to try to get those who’d never know such a family to merely see us, and I’ve this notion that it’s more difficult to harm people you’ve seen and heard :-). But I really don’t know.

Of course, there’s much that I’m sure is not too productive, and a line has to be found. I promptly trashed the solicitation from Trading Spouses (or the similar show?) we got last year. Can you imagine? I know I don’t want a week trying to show a stranger, one no doubt picked to be hostile, that we’re also human, with R away, let alone with a camera crew living in our home, and I’m sure the kids wouldn’t appreciate it on many more levels :-).

The invitation for tonight was received long while ago, via an email sent out to many families. I told R, no, we’d not do it this time. It’s someone else’s turn. He didn’t argue a bit, as he doesn’t speak either way (He just stands by my side and looks handsome :-)). A month passed and then we got a call asking us personally to do this; no people (or not enough?) with our particular sort of home decided to reply to the email.

I absolutely can’t blame them. Some here don’t have their parental rights established legally; some work in the closet; some have families who’d disown them if they went from endurably gay to openly gay. But we are greatly free of such problems, and, as bad at it as I am, I am your man :-)… though, for a limited time (once the kids get old enough to understand why I’m up there speaking, I don’t think we’ll want to speak). Anyway, again at that realization, I said yes, of course. The thought of not having representation eats at me, and so here I am.

Funny, though, I’m supposed to speak about why I want to be there and speak. And I do want and appreciate the opportunity. And I’m glad to have it… if no one else or more eloquent will take it. But how to phrase that the right way ;-)?

(As with some of my current event posts, this was not posted on the same day it was written. It went okay, went as expected, but I was once again misquoted, and apparently said something off-putting I didn’t say in my alternate reality :-)… Maybe I’ve a memory problem.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The book I own that I most enjoy owning sits unused, in tight care. I’ve never read more than a paragraph, and have only opened it with my grubby hands a couple times.

It’s a 15th century copy of Plutarch's Lives. I’ll stick to my paperback version, thank you very much :-). Besides, it’s not easy to read; the way of printing back then has some of the s’s looking too similar to f’s, and it’s annoying.

Anyway, from Plutarch’s Lives I found this description of Valentine’s day’s competition (a Feb 15th pagan holiday). This seems to be what the Pope of the time tried to replace and he succeeded in doing so. I'll leave it to you to decide if it was a good move:

It was, namely, the festival of the Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that it procures an easy labor to those who are with child, and makes those conceive who are barren.

[Sigh] I needed the levity... "Shaggy thongs"...

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(or Merry Lupercalia, if you're into that)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007



Earlier today, Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner confirmed that an off-duty police officer from Ogden killed the 18-year-old gunman who shot up the Trolley Square mall last night in Salt Lake City.

Greiner says the officer was at the mall with his wife celebrating Valentine's Day two days early. He didn't release the officer's name.

Brave man, brave wife.

When I first heard this had happened, we weren’t too far away. I, for some reason, jumped to thinking it was some drug related killing in the mall parking lot. Too much TV maybe, or maybe it’s just more comfortable to think of such that way, particularly with the children with us.

But no, it was a random act of evil and the people killed had no idea their night out would end that way. Most of them were actually in a card shop, the day before Valentines.

It’s odd. On the same day so many more lives were cut tragically short and by surprise, in, say traffic accidents. But when one human does it to another, and with a “smile on his face,” it feels uniquely tragic, and the community feels it more traumatically, clearly. Not to diminish the pain of those who lost loved ones by accident; it just feels worse from the outside when another human wants it to happen.

It’s stuff like this that makes the world seem precariously balanced; it can make for a lot of pessimism. But men like this Ogden officer, who left his wife on their valentine dinner, purposefully stood in a gunman’s path, and put an end to it, make it seem it will all work out, nevertheless.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I Heard There Was a Secret Chord…

We all know David, king David of the Old Testament. But what is less known are the theories surrounding his relationship with Jonathan, Saul’s son. Without debate, it was an intense, and passionate relationship, and from the start. But was it a gay relationship?

It’s a bit difficult to know which is the most favored back-story as there are a couple traditions, seemingly interweaved into the version we end up with in the Old Testament. But, trying to make the best of what’s we get (beginning in 1Sam 16):

Saul was plagued by "an evil spirit from God" and Saul’s advisors thought that a skilled harpist could relieve his torment. At that, David is first brought into Saul’s court by the recommendation of advisors. He comes highly recommended as “a man of valor, a man or war, prudent in speech and a man of good presence; and the Lord is with him.” (1Sam 16:18). At the sight of David, Saul is very impressed and makes David his personal armourbearer. And it works; David’s playing keeps the evil spirit away, and Saul “refreshed”.

In the next chapter of 1Sam (17) we’re on an Iliad-esk battlefield, with Goliath of Gath, the Philistine hero. Goliath is making the familiar challenge to end the battle with single combat, mano-a-mano. But no one in Saul’s camp is up to facing the near 10’ tall giant. At this point, David is described as more of a sheepherder than a man of war; he’s in fact chastised by his older brother for leaving his “few sheep” to come “see the battle.” David asks some soldiers about the prize Saul might offer for taking Goliath down; it’s his daughter, and with that comes royalty, a good motivation. Here, as we all know, Goliath is felled by a single stone, and David takes his head. The captain of Saul’s forces, Abner, finds out who David is for Saul, and brings David before the king, head-in-hand, as it were. Here’s where our story picks up, where Jonathan and David connect (1Sam 18 1-4):

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

From this meeting, after the death of Goliath, Jonathan and David’s souls are knitted together, and clothes are given. But things go bad, to say the least (1Sam 18:10-11):

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand. And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

If it were a gay relationship, I’m sure many a father has felt similarly :-). Fortunately, David avoids being shish kebabed, and twice even. But he still sticks around. Saul offers David his daughter in marriage and hopes to get him killed by the Philistine’s hand in battle. But David was victorious again, if not eccentric in his choice of Philistine trophies (you can read the text for that :-)). Saul then plots outright to kill David, but Jonathan warns his friend, as he “delighted much in David” (1Sam 19-1-2).

In more twists than a day time drama, Saul then is convinced to not kill David. But David does well on the field of battle again and again, while playing his harp, God sends the evil spirit, and David is almost impaled by Saul’s javelin, supposedly a third time. That must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back; David finally fled with the help of Saul’s daughter, Michal.

Jonathan and David eventually get together and discuss the problem. Jonathan resolves “Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.” (1Sam 20:4), and they plan an elaborate scheme, to find out if Saul is angry with David. Put simply, if Saul is angry at thinking David went to Bethlehem to give a sacrifice, David will know Saul is upset at him, but if he’s fine with it, then David knows it’s all right to come back… Yes, it seems David can’t take a hint even while dodging javelins, but we have to remember many of these stories are likely the stitched together works of many authors, but, personally, their worth in not in dry biographical facts.

So, their plan was set in motion (1Sam 20:27-29):

And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David's place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to day? And Jonathan answered Saul, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem: And he said, Let me go, I pray thee; for our family hath a sacrifice in the city; and my brother, he hath commanded me to be there: and now, if I have found favour in thine eyes, let me get away, I pray thee, and see my brethren. Therefore he cometh not unto the king's table.

Saul is strangely confused as to why his javelin target isn’t at the dinner table, but David’s answer is clear in Saul’s reaction to the news (1Sam 20:30-33):

“Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die. And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done? And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.”

Saul, always with the javelins… Saul’s insult is thought to be particularly telling. Haven’t many gays been in the same situation, with a father, who they’re not fooling one bit in their having chosen someone, by their own “confusion” ;-)? Insulting a person’s mother as perverse may not be all too surprising, but coupling Jonathan’s “confusion” with “the confusion of thy mother's nakedness” (‘ervah, which indicates exposition of the genitals in particular) does not point to just any disgrace; it’s thought to point to a sexual disgraces in his relationship with David. Compare that to Saul’s treatment of Michal, when he finds she has deceived him for David’s sake.

Next is the warning to Jonathan, that he’ll not have his kingdom with David alive. I gather this could be seen as an indication that the matrilineal line of inheritance is still in play at this time, and thus David is as much an heir through marriage as Jonathan. Alternatively, one could see Saul as saying the relationship between the two men is the barrier to being “established”. Personally, I favor the former but couldn’t say, being such a layman here. I’d love to better understand if anyone else has a thought on it.

After finally realizing Saul is upset and means to kill David, Jonathan goes to their secret meeting place. There a confusing signal sent to David with arrows and a lad running after them. But the lad is sent away, leaving David and Jonathan alone to talk anyway (1Sam20:41-42):

[quote]David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.[/quote]

Sure, the kissing and the weeping (and exceeding?) are kind of provocative, but making such an oath, in the name of the Jewish God, should make some skeptical of there being a gay relationship, with Leviticus in mind. Also, if we understand Saul’s insult to be regarding the sexual nature of their relationship, real or no, there’d at least be a social taboo against such, one that maybe only heroes could overstep but maybe not. Still, there is question as to whether or not the Leviticus laws were enforced, and to what extent, prior to the exile. You don’t really have the Bible while you’re living it ;-).

Finally, wrapping up this tale, we have the death of Saul and Jonathan. At the news of this David laments (2Sam 1:26):

“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

To sum up, some will look at the story of Jonathan and David and begin fuming at any suggestion there was romantic love between the two men. David is a very important religious figure who could never have such feelings for another man. He is said to be a respected ancestor of Jesus, and so on. They’ll say it was merely the sort of love we’re to give all our neighbors, brotherly love, and the affection was merely a sign of different cultures and times. The men were just abnormally good friends, with wives at home (David had more than one). To them the suggestion alone is perverted and there’d be no convincing otherwise without a different view on the topic of such love altogether.

The other side will say, yeah, “good friends”; we’ve heard that before. Good friends with souls knitted together, who share clothes, cry together, kiss each other, and feel a love for each other that surpasses the love typically associated with loving women in particular, not just any human. “Good friends” who others see as having chosen each other to their own confusion, to the confusion of their mother’s nakedness. “Good fiends” who’ll do “whatever” the other’s soul desires. Sure, they had wives and kids, as did other people, undoubtedly gay or bisexual in history. It was a means to survive or a duty to the culture and, with that satisfied, they had their true loves elsewhere. No, they were as gay as the uncle on Bewitched.

But no one will settle this debate either way, and I certainly can’t tell who’s right. If I had to guess, though… To me, the stories surrounding Jonathan and David are a lot like the other stories of the region. Some of them did include versions with gay relationships among otherwise straight heroes, such as Achilles and Patroclus. I’d bet the stories in 1Sam are created similarly, with some fact, some fiction, and discordant voices, each adding their two cents. I think the narrative as given does show this melding of various traditions as well, and I’d not be surprised if one of them did have a gay tint to it. But, as to the relationship between an actual Jonathan and an actual David, that, barring some improbable findings of earlier editions of their tale, is lost to time.

Still, I’m glad to not be one who’d think their relationship wrong, if it were meant to be romantic. If it were, it’s certainly a very passionate, though tragic tale.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I thought about posting on a couple things today: the gay NBA player (why couldn’t he have been a more valuable player? :-)), or Larry Miller’s regret for pulling Brokeback Mountain from his theaters, or Buttars' putting teath back into the GSA bill... But I’m a bit tired of such for some reason, and, besides, I’m getting low on images :-).

If it’s not clear, each post I try to put up some, often-enhanced image taken from my microscope. It’s a limited, modest model I bought for our home. I’ve used it for research a couple times, when I’ve wanted to work from home, but mainly it’s there for my amusement, and now as a teaching tool for the boys.

I like the symbolism, for one thing. You know, examining the minutia, focusing in… And also that my troubles and fights are all really small, in time and space, and relative to many more lives. I do have it very good from such perspective and I hope to keep that in mind when I’m bi*beep*ing :-).

There is an ego-numbing awe-inspiring beauty to be found at every scale it seems, and some of my favorites are found in the incredibly tiny. I used to use my lunch at one place to take SEM images of insects and pollen. I’d rather be hungry and have such a sight. Anyway, I hope others feel similarly, and forgive some naked posts until I find time to sit down with the microscope again (It ain’t that easy in the winter to find new things to image, once you’ve gone through the kitchen :-)).

For this post, though, I’ll include the smallest sculpture I’ve ever made:

It’s an AFM image of a polymer film I had deposited on glass; the scale of the images is about that of a red blood cell. Simplified, the AFM (atomic force microscope) uses a tiny tip on a tiny cantilever that bounces across a surface, like a needle on a record player. The angle at which this cantilever is deflected by the surface causes a laser to reflect off the top of the cantilever at different angles to strike a sensor, which results in a voltage that can be translated into a physical distance.

I was hoping to repeat another’s work and pull strands of polymer up like little threads to measure the forces involved (didn’t work out in the end). But we weren’t even sure at first if we were hitting the right surface. The force curve looked all-wrong, compared to the literature. But as I was using the tip to both image and poke the surface, I couldn’t see what I was doing while I was doing it, but every now and then, when scanning, I could see these little hills that I thought I may have made.

At that I decided to draw a little design, so that I could see if I was indeed making those hills despite the force curve being "wrong". It was, of course, a hexagon with a dot in the middle. I programmed the AFM, and it made its 7 blind stabs at the surface. I then scanned the sample and there was my little design; seems I was hitting the surface and forcing these tiny pits and mountains into the film, and the film was probably there… or it was just a coincidence ;-).

I don’t know why, such just strikes me as beautiful.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Three Weeks

Reports are still a bit sparse, but it seems the disgraced Reverend Ted Haggard is now a heterosexual, and not just any heterosexual but “completely heterosexual”… after merely three weeks of therapy. From here:

"He is completely heterosexual," Ralph [one of the men in charge of Rev. Haggard] said. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting- out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing.

So if you’ve been trying for years to stop "acting out", what’s taking you so long? Seems simple enough.

I tried but I just can’t bear to put the “humor” tag on this story.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A, B Symbiosis

Once, during a lull in some function, I was talking to a friend. She was there as a representative for the black community, and the topic of an activist from another ethnic community came up. To say this other activist was vocal would be a huge understatement, and at this point in time he had upset and directly insulted many people, even many in his camp. He’d gone after me a couple times too. Nevertheless, he’s the sort of person it’s hard to not like one-on-one, very charismatic.

Anyway, she told me something that has stuck with me. She said every movement for social and political change has two sorts of people, Xs and MLKs. Not as though she was or I am comparing anyone to these men, here, but she was saying these two men represent two different and necessary philosophies of political movements. To avoid a mess of comparison (as I’m sure what follows doesn’t sum up either man) I’ll call them Type-A and Type-B.

She explained that the Type-As are in the face of power; they aren’t asking; they’re demanding. They’ll take what’s their right by force if necessary (or at least make those in control think they would) and they’re not out to build bridges. They’ll shout, accuse, threaten, and disobey. If they aren’t violent, they’ll try to look violent and play more on the masses’ discomfort than their commonality. They’re here and they’re [blank] and you handle it however you want, but there will be consequences.

Clearly she was talking about this guy. And I must admit I’ve not liked this sort of behavior in any group. I’ve not seen it as productive. In fact, when in my community, I’ve seen it as dangerous and often pushing away what’s important for both the majority and the minority. But she gave me pause, and what she went on to explain still does.

There’s the other type, the Type-Bs, and, while the Type-As and the Type-Bs may overlap in places, the Type-Bs are far more conciliatory. They want those bridges; they don’t want to get their right by force or fear; they’d rather it be given out of conscience. While they may disobey; they do it with peace; they show respect for the other side’s humanity, even when the other side is out to hurt them. Now these are the people I’ve most respected in any social movement.

The way she explained it, though, is that the Type-Bs wouldn’t get very far without the Type-As. The majority moves for both fear and conscience. The Type-As give the majority motivation to look for a cooler head, and to question themselves. They make the minority’s problems pressing, and make listening to the Type-B’s a good option, one without the losing of face that’d come with “negotiating with the terrorist tactics” of the Type-As. A sort of good cop, bad cop on a larger scale.

I’m not sure how much I believe this or how applicable it is to a perpetually small minority. Some days I’m pretty sure I don’t give it much weight outright. But other days… I’m just saying it makes me far less quick to judge the far more radical queers of the world.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Some of My Best Friends...

For those who don’t know, the gay community in Utah has a couple bogymen. Two of the most vocal would have to be Gayle Ruzicka, the president (?) of the local Eagle Forum Chapter, and Senator Buttars. If they weren’t trying to dissolve our legal connection to our children, and keep our stay at home parents from anything near equal treatment, they’d merely be a curiosity, but they have a lot of sway.

In a past session Senator Buttars used quotes from the Screwtape Letters in legislative debate to justify keeping us from having simply an easier, more portable way to establish hospital visitation and power of attorney; seems it was a trick of the devil to his haunted mind. I could go on and on regarding the odd things this man has said in public, or my personal experiences but don’t want to get too worked up today :-). Suffice it to say, as I posted, he is going after the Gay-Straight Alliance clubs again.

Then there’s Mrs. Ruzicka. A couple years ago I watched her bring a girl to tears for the way she insulted her family, all with that calm assurance on her face one has when they think Righteousness is on their side. She’s one of the main proponents of, among other things, the current Utah adoption law that doesn’t stop gays here from being parents but it does keep their children from their parent’s health insurance and lets one parent just ditch their responsibilities. To understand the reason for this post it should also be said that she frequently tells the press that some of her friends are gay, as though that makes trying to harm families headed by gay couples okay.

That said, I enjoyed (or maybe indulged in :-)) the editorial in last Sunday’s tribune:

Some of My Best Friends Are Gayle

By Troy Williams, producer of KRCL’s Radio Active. He was an LDS man, returned missionary, and now a gay rights activist. I think, in fact, I once threw a rock at him, but he asked me too (long story ;-)) .

Though it should be used sparingly, it’s nice sometimes to see the frustration come out. Don’t know how much good it does, but the catharsis is worth something.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Born That Way?

While A is my rough and tumble kid, my little B is a sensitive soul. In any media, when he sees a person somewhat different, say, a three-eyed alien, I’m talking the cartoonish friendly type, he wants to know if they were born that way. In trying to figure out why and past a couple layers of child reasoning, it finally became clear that he assumes if they were born that way, then he can’t become that way. He’s more comfortable with three-eyed aliens, as long as he can’t grow into a three-eyed alien.

Certainly it’s something we have to work on. They’ve cousins with certain differences that make B similarly uneasy, and it’s taken a couple instances to get them to understand how such is okay, and to think of their cousin’s feelings before showing their discomfort.

Now, typically, if it’s in any sort of media, right after the “Were they born that way?” comes “Are they just pretend?” (I know, should go the other way :-)). We’ve had the talk about the difference between dinosaurs, dragons, and lizards, and pretend or not subsequently matters much to him. If they’re not born that way and pretend, then he’s at his most comfortable with the character.

But if they are born that way and not pretend, he has one last recourse. He wants to know if they live in Utah.

That said, I was faced with an uncomfortable set of such question last night for a particularly unflattering image of Michael Jackson.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Whirr and Skip

I’m in a strange new land tonight, and I don’t much like it. R and I have not been apart for more than a day for about 7 years, and I’ve not been away from the kids more than one day in their life. Now he and A are about 5 hours away and there are 2 days to go.

We had planned to go to Moab this weekend to get out of the thick air here, but B got sick, and so we decided I’d stay home and attend to another obligation, and he’d go as to not disappoint family. So the boys get a long weekend of individual attention, but I’m feeling a bit off kilter. Okay, more than a bit.

B asked, as A and his dad headed off, why I was staying home (he thinks he could be left with grandma I suppose?). I told him to take care of him, of course. B said, interrupted by his weak little cough, “But Papa, Daddy told me I had to take care of you.” It made me laugh. R knows me. Every time something like this comes up I typically find a way around it, as the thought of being apart, and then the thought of them driving that far, through that horrible canyon, without me... Well, it scares me. Not that it’s reasonable.

I suppose I like my vulnerability and I can certainly be a sentimental sap. Saying good-bye and I love you to them was all it took. But I don’t care anymore to be an independent monolith of a man; I want to be uncomfortable without them. I very much value, as my blog title may attest :-), being one piece of what we’ve built, even if that means I may whirr aimlessly and skip a bit when the family is apart.

I’m just glad it’s a half step. B and I are having a good time; he’s on the mend, fever’s gone down, and he’s just going in and out of coughing fits… Though I must apologize to whoever ends up parking near the vomit in the Smith’s parking lot. It was a surprise to us both.

Well, I just put B to bed; just said good night to A and R… Now to try sleeping under such strange circumstances… People do it all the time, right? :-)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Letting the Kids Wonder West of Enoch

Paul asked after this post, here:

So how are you exposing the boys to religion?

I’m taking it as an opportunity to suss things out :-). I did skip the difficult question.

At this age, it’s very basic. What they see everyday is still a bit miraculous and mysterious for them (for me too :-)) and they haven’t shown interest when the topic of the supernatural comes up. We, for example, have talked about the flood story because of a toy ark they have. We’ve talked about grandma’s idea of heaven and God in simple terms. We’ve explained why we are quiet when family prays, and we’ve talked about a couple now-mythical characters, creatures, and Gods. But that’s the extent for now.

When they gain more interest and sophistication, though, I do plan on exposing them in depth to the various religious notions to which I’ve been exposed (well, edited for age, as some of those religious texts can be a bit PG-13 in parts). One of the largest sections of our family library is actually religious texts and modern books on such faiths. I still enjoy reading them and will actively encourage our boys to as well.

But I want to approach this area the way my parents did. My dad is now an atheist, and my mom a deist, but I’ve never felt they’d be disappointed in me for my inquiry or any of my beliefs. Looking back, they must have been bighting their tongues in some places, but from my LDS days to the new agey stuff I felt nothing but support.

I want to let our boys feel they have that; that they can wonder and don’t need to have our views on the supernatural, absolutely not for our love. I also want them to work for it. This is one area where they should not have us hand it to them; they should struggle, succeed, and fail. I’ll certainly answer any question the way I see it, but with the disclaimer and encouragement for them to question.

Advocating freedom and inquiry as much as is safe here seems to me the best way for them to create a strong sense of self and of an earned place in their metaphysics. I think it also fosters greater responsibility for their views and a better ability to free themselves from the psychological snares the camps of human belief tend to build, even those we may unknowingly set. Most importantly, I think such can give them the best odds of approaching the right answer I’m presuming is out there ;-).

It may sound too hands off, but, when I think of my parents, it’s something for which I’m thankful. If I didn’t feel it was okay to try my hand, I fear I may be in a bad place today, not knowing "what if I tried…" I also look at the families I know who’ve been forceful here, and can see some negative results, seemingly as a consiquence.

Often here, though, the question of ethics comes up (Not that you’re bringing it up, Paul, but I’m in motion here :-)). I’ve known many to imagine, if they didn’t have a faith, they’d do all sorts of horrible things. I certainly find that troubling (for those they interact with…) as I don’t think such is or should be necessary for ethics and ethics should survive a person’s loss of faith. Religion does help some, but I think the most valuable morals are those you keep for their sake. I trust a man who is good because he enjoys being good, not so much a man who’s good for fear of punishment or hope of reward aside from the act itself, and the former are the sort of ethical motivations I hope to teach our children, regardless of their religion.

But here is the complicated part, or more complicated. I’ve a serious responsibility here, to make sure my children are ethical, compassionate, fair and so on with the rest of you all, with your children, for everyone’s sake. But religions are in that business too, and some of them take a while to incorporate humanity’s modern moral discoveries and are consequently not always so fair or compassionate. Simply, we may clash, depending on the faiths our boys pick up.

I can certainly see this could be far more complicated for our family, in particular. Lines may have to be drawn (I suppose they were for me as well; I’m near sure I couldn’t have, say, sacrificed a chicken in my bedroom if I had taken up Santeria :-)). After all, the most predominant religion around us would, in a way, ask them to disrespect their home, think of their family as at least second class and doomed in some eternal way. They could harm some of their peers, and themselves, and everyone in our home by taking up such faith. I mean, teaching a child their parents, by being a couple, being affectionate with each other, and even creating their family and perhaps life (?), are conducting "perversion" and "grievous sins" "equal to or greater than that of fornication or adultery" (in the words of the leadership), is something I’d have to defend against.

In fact, it does keep me up sometimes, worrying such ideas could get between us, could dissolve their connection to their family, or undermine their morals, by putting their parent’s union and their family on the same level (or lower than) actions such as cheating. There will be abnormally strong pressure on them to enter the such faith from friends to neighbors to some extended family, and I fear where that could lead us.

Still, while it would worry me, I certainly couldn’t forbid them from making such a move. I'd go to their baptism (it would kill me that we’d not be allowed in to their wedding)... But don't ask me to pay for BYU tuition :-). In any faith they could still have more inclusive views than their leaders, as R’s parents do. But, if they did begin to attack their own family for it, or anyone else for that matter, there’d be a limit; I'd see that destructive action as where my responsibility to somehow get in the way comes in.

Ug, now I’m stressed… Thank goodness we’ve some year to prepare, and for hearts to soften a bit more. Still, I must say, in truth, I’m pretty confident if any faith does get between us it’ll be temporary; I feel I know them and us at least that well :-).

Lastly, Paul asked if we attend services today. Not regularly, to be sure. We were married by the Unitarians, and have gone there for a regular periods, irregularly. We’ve gone to some Episcopal events and sermons as well within the last coupe years. I like both of the churches and congregations. If it were necessary, we’d probably stick with the Unitarians.

But we’ve not really found much reason for it, for us. I’ve heard the reasons many others give, even atheists, as to why they attend a church, but they don’t much apply to us. I’ve explained my view on imparting ethics, but, in addition to that, we already have a large community of friends for social support. As far as family goes, to attend most services means taking that time away from family for us, as Sunday is spent near all day with extended family (the heathen side, mostly, but the others drop by too :-)). In addition, we have numerous volunteer activities to take care of that need. But, importantly, in the case of, say, the Episcopals, we don’t believe much of what’s being presented as fact, and, though we do appreciate the intent and the message often, being there feels like an endorsement of what we see as very likely false, even if they’d not care and are gracious enough to have us there anyway.

Besides, none of us could sing a hymn on key to save our lives.