WATCH: Cosmo Jarvis and ‘Gay Pirates’

Apparently I missed this “Internet sensation” when it came out last month. Perhaps it was replaced by another one the day after. While shuffling through e-mails, I received one two days ago and discovered that Brit-based singer-songwriter-filmmaker Cosmo Jarvis had released his song and video for “Gay Pirates.” The press release makes it sound a little more important than it is:

More than a moving song and video, “Gay Pirates” is an honest look at two lovers and the discrimination that they faced at a time in history that seems to have passed…or has it? Hundreds of years after the glimpse of society Cosmo Jarvis exposes in the track, “Gay Pirates” is focused on breaking down the homophobia that still remains today. Cosmo Jarvis has created a timeless pop song, not only from a historical/socio-political perspective, but also from a melodic and lyrical one.

I don’t know about timeless, but it’s a cute dittie with a cute DIY kind of video. And it’s all here for your Internet sensation viewing pleasure after the jump. The not-gay singer will include the song on his sophomore album, Is the World Strange or am I Strange?, slated for an early 2011 release.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Big Freedia at The Loft on Saturday

Walking into The Loft at a little after 11 p.m., I was stunned how empty the place was. With the DJ at full throttle onstage playing some nice high-energy hip-hop, I had high hopes that Big Freedia had more of a following outside New Orleans. The crowd dug the DJ and bounced to the tunes and it was pretty much just a night at a dance club. Before Freedia was about to go on, the place began to fill up. Although I’m not sure all were totally Freedia fans, it was definitely a hip-hop crowd.

The gay contingent was hard to decipher. I loved how JW Richard of the new Groove Loves Melody music blog described some of the hard-to-read peeps as “undercover candy.” So true. But otherwise, a mixture of gay and straight, white, black, Latino, old and young — although definitely more young.

With just a handful of songs, Freedia threw down one pretty sweet party. Despite the fans being outnumbered by non-fans (because fans knew the words and responses),  his music is infectious and the crowd didn’t care about his frankness of being the Queen Diva of Bounce (they applauded, actually) among other things. Freedia had energy to spare and worked his dancehall calls to no end. But really, I learned a Freedia show is about that ass shaking and when the boys were besting the girls up there, it was a sight to behold. Some of the straight peeps had the “what the hell?” look, while everyone just went with the party flow and whooped and hollered.

It’s funny, because there wasn’t anything overly spectacular about the show. Freedia showed up, rapped, dance and that was it. But it was him and his music’s pumped up vibe that just flung its energy across the small venue and everyone caught it. I would dare to say that he probably won a few new fans that night who, like me, had no idea what to expect.

Here’s a glimpse of the show.

—  Rich Lopez

Maggie’s reliably myopic glimpse at faith-based bullying

For the second time in as many weeks, Maggie Gallagher has dedicated her syndicated column to the matter of bullying and suicide, with an underlying intent of absolving the climate cultivated by anti-LGBT groups like her National Organization For Marriage outfit of any role in gay teens’ troubles. Here’s a snip from the latest:

To break with central tenets of one’s family culture or with one’s religion is no doubt deeply troubling for parent and child alike. Parents who reject or abuse their gay children do appear to increase the risk of suicide.

But Americans, with the help of the media, seem to be painting the charge against religion with a pretty broad brush.

Given what I know about religion and suicide risk, it seemed to me at least an open question. Religion could be the source of distressing family conflict. But in general, religion appears to be remarkably good for mental health, and in particular for protecting against the risk of suicide.

Keep reading: DOES RELIGION KILL? [Maggie's Syndicated column via Yahoo!]

Maggie goes on to cite stats claiming that kids of regular churchgoers actually try suicide less often, paired with the idea that religion’s condemnations of self-inflicted death decreases its occurrences in faith-based homes. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But in limiting her frame in this way, Maggie once again overlooks the macro problem by micro-ing in on the wrong things.

The key idea that Maggie overlooks: That religious condemnation of LGBT people affects every single person on the globe, regardless of chosen faith. Because every last anti-LGBT teaching — every last one! — stems from biblical interpretation. So it doesn’t even matter what house of worship a certain statistical percentage did or did not attend — the issue is the sweeping usage of faith to deny rights, freedom, wedding rings, and an overall peace of mind!

One need not be Catholic to be wounded by the Pope’s labeling of homosexuality as an intrinsic evil. One need not be Mormon to feel the 201010271707effect that the LDS Church had in passing Prop 8. One need not be Christian to be mind-fucked by the idea that Christian conservatives nationwide run “reparative therapy” conferences telling gay people that they are spiritually and mentally wounded. That’s what’s so enraging about the far-right social conservatives’ bent sense of religious freedom on this issue: THAT NOBODY IS FREE FROM WHATEVER THEOLOGICAL BEHAVIOR THE “PRO-FAMILY” PLAYERS HAVE CHOSEN FOR THEMSELVES! We are all forced congregants of a far-too-church-infused state!



So Maggie — someone who’s on record saying that “the absence of desire for the opposite sex represents, at a minimum, a sexual dysfunction much as impotence or infertility,” calling homosexuality “a sexual disability,” instructing gays that they “can always control” their “unfortunate” behavior, and accusing gay marriage activists of “striking at the heart” of Genesis and committing “several kinds of sins” [*source for all quotes] — can try all she wants to disconnect butts in pews from depression in minds. But in trying to do so, she needs to be a little more honest about faith’s far-reaching effects. Because while she may not literally drag us in the confession booth with her, Maggie Gallagher is flat-out lying if she denies how fully she’d like our bedrooms to atone for what she sees as our sins. Or even if she personally doesn’t, her “protect marriage” cause certainly does. The same “protect marriage” cause that no credible study will ever show as helping even one gay kid’s mental peace.




Good As You

—  admin

William Scott releases single ‘Planet Green’ featuring Tim’m West

I mentioned Tim’m West in last Friday’s issue for the sessions he’s holding here starting today. With all that he does to advocate for the LGBT community, we can’t forget he came to light while in the hip-hop group DDC. He’s on his own now and still records his own music, but you can get an ear-glimpse of him here in William Scott‘s song “Planet Green” released yesterday from his album Starlight.

I have to say, I’m kinda lovin’ this groove. The song didn’t grab me right away, but it grew a downright jam. Looking forward to checking out the rest.

—  Rich Lopez

Little crooked house • Defining Homes

Don’t get tripped up on uneven floors before buying that new home

By M. ­­M. Adjarian

After a long stretch of searching, finding that perfect house is not only a relief, it’s a glimpse into a whole new future. When the pieces fall together, such as location, price and a great neighborhood, you might pinch yourself thinking “Is this too good to be true?” The idealism in it’s close proximity to work, school, shopping and the big yard for the dogs is shaded by beautiful trees might give the impression that this really is home sweet home.

But you keep hitting your foot on that little bump in the floor. Before you think it’s just the character of the house, give it another look and then have a professional take a gander. There could be more to that misstep than you think.

“If there is unevenness in the beginning,” Brian Mulvehill warns, “between heat and contraction and all other issues, it’s only going to get worse over time.”

As the Fort Worth-based owner of Carpet Direct, Mulvehill knows his floors, and uneven ones can slip through the buying process if one doesn’t take a close eye to the walk-throughs. For instance take a look at where the floor meets the baseboard and if you see gaps; those will indicate uneven floors.

Once a floor starts to warp, one of two things will eventually happen. The floor will either pull away from the house walls or start pushing against them. Neither scenario is especially desirable, but when the floor pushes against the walls, it’s also pushing against molding and drywall, which could get messy — and expensive.

“Once drywall starts to crack, or moisture gets into the drywall, then you’ve got big structural issues,” says Mulvehill.

Regardless of whether the flooring is wood, tile, laminate or carpet, warping problems usually have to do with the installation — something to which a potential homebuyer will not have been privy. Reputable installers should be licensed and come with a good reputation and references. That person should always check the slab or sub-floor before laying any material on top of it. A problem with either indicates a need for structural rebuilding, which could cost thousands of dollars. More typically, though, the problem will arise from the quality of the materials actually used.

“One of the big things a buyer should know is [to] ask the potential home seller what the floor is made of,” advises Mulvehill.

He notes that if the floor is made from cheaper imported wood, chances are that’s why it’s uneven. “You can take a plank out of a box coming in from China, and just twist it. It will actually warp in your hand.”

If faulty building materials are to blame for uneven floors, a potential homebuyer could have them repaired through a procedure called floating,which usually runs about $200 per 1,000 square feet floated. A contractor will pour concrete-like material under the affected areas to raise them up so they are level with the rest of the floor.

So exactly how can a homebuyer tell whether floors are level are to begin with?

“It might sound crazy,” says Mulvehill, “but just get down on one side of the floor and just look across.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Nate Phelps: Escaping the darkness

Son of infamous anti-gay crusader Fred Phelps offers a glimpse of what life was like growing up on the inside of the Westboro Baptist cult

Renee Baker  |  Contributing Writer renee@renee-baker.com

Nate Phelps
Nate Phelps

Nate Phelps has a unique identity, but an identity many of us can relate to on different levels. He’s a parent; he’s a partner; he has kids, and he has to come out of the closet regarding his family life.

But Phelps is not gay. Instead, you could say he comes from a family life that is spiritually haunting — one led by his father, Fred Phelps Sr., the infamous pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.

Phelps, who is now estranged from his father, says he often feels “pulled in two directions.” On one hand, he wants to explain to the world how his birth family evolved into what it is. On the other, he has found from experience that people get uncomfortable learning who he is, and he has to “reassure them” that it is okay to criticize his father’s views.
Phelps Sr., at age 80, is well known for attacking the gay community and operating the website GodHatesFags.com. The WBC launched a protest at the Resource Center Dallas in July of this year, leading to a counter-protest that raised a record-breaking $11,000, according to RCD spokesperson Rafael McDonnell.

McDonnell said of the protest, “What struck me is how the entire community came together, saying, ‘We are not going to allow this in our neighborhood.’”

The younger Phelps, now 51, was not surprised by the event. Counter-protests are common, and even satirical filmmaker Michael Moore has been to Topeka with his Sodom Mobile to confront Phelps Sr.

“I thought my father was going to punch him at any second,” Nate Phelps recalled.

It is a telling statement, as Nate Phelps said his father used to beat his 13 children, often with a long piece of wood — his Biblical rod. Nate’s brother Mark and sister Dot are also estranged from the family.

“Our childhood was full of abuse and violence,” Nate Phelps said, “and that was our sense of what normal was.”

He said his father taught them they were all “hell-bound sinners” and they could not say enough prayers to be saved. He said his father was “profoundly critical, destructive and violent towards us.” And he said the worst part was that his father was so strong and manipulative, that Nate began to “internalize it and believe it” himself.

As an example, Nate Phelps recalls an early memory when his father chopped off his mother’s hair. “When he took those blades to my mother’s head, he was making a powerful assertion that he had absolute control over her very salvation. So ingrained were these beliefs that I remember fearing that, by cutting her hair, my father had condemned her to eternal damnation,” Nate has said in a speech.

Nate Phelps subsequently went through two significant periods of counseling in his life, the first period focusing on the religious abuse. He found a counselor with a theological background and, he said, it exposed him to more information about religion and theism.

Ultimately, Nate found solace in an atheistic outlook. But in the background of his mind, he said, he will have to fight the religious programming for the rest of his life,  those expectations of walking in his father’s footsteps.

“The logical mind can dispute the expectations,” he said, “but the emotions — that is another thing all together.”

Nate, who has three children of his own, entered therapy a second time when he recognized that he “overreacted to events.” This time he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the extreme violence he experienced at the hands of his father.

With a deep sense of anxiety, Nate spent two weeks in a mental hospital trying to find peace and answers.  But he said, “Certainly, there were no answers to be had.”
Nate Phelps said it was all the “thinking about things” that caused the anxiety. He said he realized that there simply was no way to think his way through it, though he tried to rationalize life to block his emotions. He eventually found that more thinking just increased his anxiety levels and he has been learning to find closure with the various issues in his mind.

“My father is not a human,” Nate Phelps said.  “The official story around the household is that Dad was once balanced and even-keeled, until he found salvation. And then suddenly, he became aggressive.

“But I don’t know what made him so angry and hateful,” Nate added.

Perhaps it was because Phelps Sr.’s mother died when he was 5. Perhaps it was because his father had a violent job. Perhaps he invested so much energy in a runaway, run-amuck spiritual path that admitting a lifetime of mistakes is way too much for his ego to contend with.

Nate Phelps may never put all the pieces together from his childhood, but he is learning to live a life of peace now, in Alberta, Canada with his new fiancée, Angela. “Angela keeps me on my toes and keeps me communicating,” he said.

But Nate can’t help but be honest and share that he still sometimes wonders what people would think of him if they really knew him.

Today, Phelps speaks internationally about his life, about his belief that “things are good enough for now,” and about “living in the gray.” In fact, his usual speech is entitled “The Uncomfortable Grayness of Life.”

It is hard to live this way, between black and white, Nate Phelps said. But, he added, rather comfortably, there no absolutes anyway.

For more about Nate Phelps, his writing and his speaking, go online to NatePhelps.com. For more about Fred Phelps and WBC, go online to their new website, GodHatesTheWorld.com.

Renee Baker is a transgender consultant and massage therapist and can be found online at Renee-Baker.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens