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Going Global

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day and I know it is easy for me to think of AIDS Walk, Magic Johnson, or even an aquaintence from USC that I knew who was HIV+. But just as we in America have come to understand that HIV/AIDS affects more than just gay men, I’m also learning to remember that HIV/AIDS affects more then just Americans. I might rarely see their faces, but 22.5 million people in Africa are living with the disease.

Take a look at what The Global Fund is doing to change that:

Hopefully you can be inspi(red) to make a difference.

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Top 25 gay T.V. characters – Brian & Justin

Oh baby… Awesome.

Logo and AfterElton.com have released the poll results of the top 25 gay T.V. characters of all time.

The list is amazing. Really. And they got good diversity, too.

brianjustinI was ecstatic to see so many of my fav characters on the list, but most absolute favs were right at the top.

Brian Kinney, from Queer as Folk, ranked Numero Uno and his super-hot lover Justin Taylor ranked Numero Tres.

Awesome.

Time for a celebration dance?

And… by the way… I hope everyone realizes that I was like a freshman in high school when QAF made its debut. Yeah… I’m a baby. I know it.

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Literally

In response to a recent post, Lyonside comments:

As a liberal Christian, I tend to get very archaeological/anthropological when talking about JudeoChristian scriptures, which really allows those who take the Bible literally and with a King James bent to shut me out.

Whenever I hear “Bible literalist” or “people who take the Bible literally” I bristle a little. To be fair, I’ve used those phrases myself. Often even. But when it gets down to it, that description is simply not accurate. Even individuals who believe in six-day creationism, a 40 day flood, the mass exodus out of Egypt, a physical resurrection, the divine inspiration of Scripture, and a very real second-coming of Christ; even they do not take the Bible literally.

Ecclesiastes 1:5 says:

The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

No one today still believes that the sun literally rises nor that it literally sets. But I think we can agree that probably wasn’t even the intention of the author of Ecclesiastes. The Bible is a collection of many books, by many authors (all inspired by one God), written over a period of many centuries, if not millenia. There are histories, and genealogies, and lures and legends, and letters, and narratives, and poems, and songs. There are quotations and prophesies and stories and parables. But most importantly, they all speak to humanity’s ever-present longing for the Lord. The Bible, as a YoungLife leader once put it, is the redemptive history of God’s people.

An anti-gay Christian has no more claim to Bible literalism than a gay-inclusive Christian. All people interpret the Bible. Yes, we may differ in our interpretations or in our decisions over the genre of a particular passage. But at the end of the day, we–imperfect humans–are the ones ultimately making those distinctions. That is what Scripture and faith require of us.

I understand what is being implied by “Bible literalist” but at the same time, I am uncomfortable ceding authority to them. That perspective is no more literal than my own. And as I’ve said before, I let the fruits do the talking.

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Uncovering the Truth, Undoing the Damage

Matt and I met during the Soulforce Equality Ride this past spring and have been involved in other Soulforce actions and events. In June, Soulforce teamed up with Beyond Ex-Gay and the LGBT Resource Center of UC-Irvine to host the first ever Ex-Gay Survivor Conference.

As you may be aware, ex-gay ministries such as Exodus International promote the message that being gay or transgender is sick and sinful and that you can and should work to change yourself. Unfortunately, change is ill-defined. Contrary to what one might expect, “change” does not mean “gay to straight” but rather “gay identified to non-gay identified and celibate” or “gay to married to a woman but still attracted to men.” Even Exodus International’s president Alan Chambers acknowledges that he still “struggles” with “temptations.” Change isn’t as pretty as you might be led to believe.

Peterson Tuscano and Christine Bakke–founders of Beyond Ex-Gay–have been very vocal in talking about their experience, the good along with the bad, and being accessible to others who have had similar experiences. Recently, Peterson created a space on his blog where readers could chronicle the ways in which they were harmed by ex-gay experiences. Equality Rider Vince Cervantes has been recounting his own experiences and YouTuber Daniel Gonzalez has a collection of personal stories from many former ex-gay participants.

While at the conference, I was able to document the day’s events and sit down with a handful of the conference participants to capture their own stories. It was a moving day. I’ve put together a short preview of the 15-minute film:

The full-length video is featured on Soulforce’s resource page for ex-gay ministries (or available directly here).

I am hopeful that anti-gay Christian leaders will begin to listen to these accounts. We know they mean well, but unfortunately the results can be disastrous. If you’ve gone through ex-gay programs, or even tried to change your orientation or identity on your own, I’d encourage to start speaking out and sharing your stories, I know Christine et al would love to hear from you!

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South Carolina rumor mill: BCBS DP benefits

Read about a rumor circulating around my Southern sister today (Leonardo’s Notebook):

I heard a rumor recently that if true is both wise and not an act of desperation. BCBSSC (Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina) is going to start offering Domestic Partner Benefits. Of course, initially I took it with a grain of salt, but decided to inquire. I asked around to some well qualified employees of the SC Conglomerate and it has been confirmed that starting next year, if you’re gay (or straight) and have a committed partner they’ll qualify for more than just a membership to the Gym. Apparently “committed partner” is a part of the language perhaps because SC has made illegal “Domestic Partnerships,” Gay Marriages, common law marriages, etc.

This is very interesting because BCBS is South Carolina’s largest private employer. The only Employer that Rivals it is State Government. And though this will not do anything to change the minds of SC’s elected leadership regarding gay rights, it does say to the gay citizens of SC at least we care, and it says to the rest of the country and world – just because SC is the foulest swamp of electoral dirty tricks in America, that you can’t and shouldn’t base your opinion on our politicians.

Wouldn’t that be cool as hell?

The insurance at work is provided through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, so I’m pretty sure they are gay-friendly. I’m going to do some digging with my boss or another employee and see if they know whether BCBS of N.C. offers DP benefits.

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When you know you’ve worked too much…

…is when you start having nightmares that include co-workers.

So I got my first piece of hate e-mail at the office a couple of days ago. It was kind of funny in one sense, but terribly serious in another.

“Pastor Billy Ball” is the leader of Faith Baptist Church and “SONSOFTHUNDR” street ministries. Like the near-Charlotte Operation Save America, “SONS OF THUNDR” and Ball’s church often protest at events around the South. In 2007, they protested (and got arrested, I think) at the Pride Charlotte festival.

Here’s the mail:

YOU SICK , PERVERTED SODOMITES BETTER REPENT OR YOUR GOING TO HELL !!

LUKE 13:3,5
Pastor, Billy Ball – Rom.1:16
WWW.SONSOFTHUNDR.COM

I immediately wrote back:

Pastor,

My name is Matt Comer. I am the new editor of Q-Notes. I was hired in September and started Oct. 1. I am 21, attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and am a native of Winston-Salem, N.C. (although I’m currently living in Charlotte to work at Q-Notes).

I must inform you that I am already saved and believe fully in the power and message of Christ. He is my Saviour and my Lord. I have no need to repent for something that is not sin.

Furthermore… do you really, honestly believe that you will be able to convert people by calling them names? Christ would not approve.

I went to church this morning and my good ole’ Baptist preacher’s message was based on God’s commandment to love Him and your neighbor. He also spoke of Paul’s instruction regarding love and life. One can have all the world, but without love that man is nothing.

Thanks and feel free to stay in touch.

Matt Comer

Kill’em with kindness, they say. I have no need to sit and directly call someone horrible slurs or names (unless, of course, it is a horribly hypocritical, needs-to-be-exposed anti-gay politician – that’s a different matter).

The rest of our exchange is below, starting with Ball’s email responding to my first reply to him:

“PASTOR : BILLY BALL” wrote:

Thanks for responding Matt. It is obvious though that you have been decieved into believing that sodomy is not a sin. You , like myself will have to repent of your sin before you can be saved. It matters not whether it’s adultery ,fornication or sodomy. Please read 1st corinthians 6 and you will find your sin listed there, as well as romans 1. I will pray for you in our service tonight sir. please repent before it’s too late Matt

Pastor, Billy Ball – Rom.1:16
WWW.SONSOFTHUNDR.COM

Anyone notice how he immediately went to be more polite when I called him out on it? Keep reading and pay attention to that.

Pastor,

Thanks for your response. It is clear that we will likely never agree on the finer points of Scripture, theology or the exegesis of God’s Word. We both, however, can be united in our love for Christ.

I will not debate Scripture with you. It would be a futile effort for both you and I. I will remind you once more, however, of Paul’s teaching: A man can have all the knowledge, all the prophetic power and all the faith in the world, but without love, that man gains nothing.

Matt Comer

_______________________________________

“PASTOR : BILLY BALL” wrote:

But the problem is Matt, that 1cor. 13 declares that charity ( LOVE ) rejoices not in iniquity but in truth ! I tell you the truth because I do love you and God loves you more than I possibly could, but you must repent of your sins to be saved. Please read the first 5 chapters of romans. We prayed for you at church tonight .

Pastor, Billy Ball – Rom.1:16
WWW.SONSOFTHUNDR.COM

_______________________________________

So, you tell me the truth because you love me. How does your love work when it comes to degrading other people and calling them childish names? How does that fit into Christ’s model of love? Christ would not approve of calling people names or degrading them with slurs. You tell me to read the first five chapters of Romans (trust me, I have… many times). I tell you to remind yourself of the model Christ set forth in the Gospels and through the witness of St. Paul and other early church leaders. You are not living up to Christ’s model of love and you know it… that is why you immediately stopped with the name-calling after I called you on it from your first email.

Matt Comer

_______________________________________

“PASTOR : BILLY BALL” wrote:

The name I called you is SODOMITE and that’s the name GOD gave you if you are a HOMOSEXUAL. It shouldn’t seem strange that people who are perverted in their view of sex would also be perverted in their view of LOVE !

Pastor, Billy Ball – Rom.1:16
WWW.SONSOFTHUNDR.COM

_______________________________________

And you went right back to name calling. Shame.

Sodomite is not the name God gave us.

Ezekiel 16:49, 50
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”

Why so vague? There are certainly more than one type of abomination, so don’t even try to say that Ezekiel includes homosexuality in what he says when he says “abomination.” Also… homosexual RAPE is something quite different from a relationship between two consenting adults. I hope you can see the difference.

Also… We both know that when Jesus spoke, he knew exactly what he was speaking about. Every word that came out of his mouth, every parable he used, every comparison he used was used exactly the way it should have been used.

Why then, would Christ use an unrelated story of supposed “sodomy” to relate to the experience of inhospitality toward His disciples? That doesn’t make sense, huh?

I still don’t understand the name calling. Christ would never approve. You know it. Like I said in my last email, I know you know that your name-calling is wrong because you immediately stopped when I called you on it. Unfortunately, when you were afraid of being wrong you reverted back to what was comfortable.

The Gospel According to John, 13:34, 35
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

If you are so blinded by your hate, that you cannot see why name-calling is something Christ wouldn’t approve of, then I will pray for you and hope that Christ makes you a new person, opening your eyes to the radical love He Himself embodied while on earth.

I’m not telling you to change your mind about homosexual sin. I’m asking you to show love, so that others may know you are a Christian, and quit giving me and all your other Christian brothers and sisters a bad name because of your unloving, definitely un-Christ-like use of derogatory slurs and names.

Matt Comer

After my last reply to Ball, on Tuesday morning (11/27), I haven’t heard back. I wonder if I’ve hit a nerve. I should be hitting a nerve. No Christian follower in the world can deny the words I’ve spoken about love. Unlike Ball, I’m firmly on the right side of the issue of love and kindness. In fact, I’m on Christ’s side.

The ante has been raised, Ball – the “ball” is now in your court.

P.S. – The website for Ball’s church and street ministry, sonsofthundr.com (which I will not link to directly… no need to increase their Google rank), looks absolutely horrible and needs a major clean up and organization. That isn’t even mentioning all the fake, trumped up “medical” and “psychological” “evidence” about the “destructive forces” of the “homosexual lifestyle” provided by “Doctor” Paul Cameron. Blah.

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Oh… I was so skinny…

OMG… Look at how skinny I looked then… Sophomore year of college… SpartanTV televised forum with two Republicans, a Democrat (me, the white shirt) and a Libertarian.

spartantv

There is definitely, at least, a 10 pound difference between me then and me now (I’m blaming it on the Equality Ride, the Right to Marry Campaign and, now, sitting behind a desk ALL day, every day).

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Gay lives worth less than dogs – Literally

Palm Beach Community College in Florida couldn’t come to a final conclusion on whether to offer health insurance to the domestic partners of LGBT employees. Still today, the same-sex partners of college employees remain without access to much needed health care options.

However… health insurance is available for your pets if you work at Palm Beach Community College.

Read more at InsideHigherEd.com.

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A note…

First of all… Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays! With my new apartment in Charlotte, I’m getting so super excited about decorating for the holiday season and I’m even going to host a little Christmas get-together at my new place. It is going to be great.

To put my site in the spirit, I’ve put up a holiday header. Hope you enjoy!

As a related design issue. I’m sure by now that you have all noticed that the design changed just a bit to accommodate the new banner advertising you see at the very tip top of the website. InterstateQ.com is now a member of the Gay Ad Network, along with premier LGBT blogs and media such as the Washington Blade, the Southern Voice, GayNewsWatch.com and Mombian.com.

Featured advertisers as of late November include national brands like Gay.com, Chemistry.com, Atlantis Cruises, Just for Men and others you’ll see through Google (like RealJock.com) in random rotation.

When I first started my blog I said I would never put ads on the site. Then I added BlogAds and the Gay Politics BlogAds advertising. Then I added Google ads. Throughout it all, I have hoped that I’ve maintained a measured approach to advertising, keeping the site looking clean and fresh and making sure while the ads are here, they aren’t all that intrusive to your time reading and viewing the site.

The truth of the matter is that in order to keep the site running and in order to add just a little spare change to my pocket to afford this web hosting, as well as hosting for several other websites, I need to run ads. Don’t think I’m getting rich off you, though (because, trust me, I’m certainly not).

So… that is my note for now. I don’t know if I’ll be posting much on Friday. We have a lot of work to do at the paper for this production weekend. For now, I’m going to take my 30-pounds heavier body and go to sleep on this most wonderful Thanksgiving night.