Nate Berkus gets hitched

Just a few weeks ago, we were talking to Nate Berkus about his impending nuptials, and this weekend, they took place. Berkus, 42, married partner Jeremiah Brett, 29, in a service over the weekend, with gal-pal Oprah Winfrey in attendance. The ceremony was held Saturday at the New York Public Library, People magazine reported. No ghostbusters were there, so far as well know. Congrats to Nate and Jeremiah!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

T.D. Jakes loves everybody — except his own son, Michael Irvin’s brother and all other LGBT people

T.D. Jakes

Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of the Potter’s House megachurch in Dallas, has again decided to use his position as one of the most influential African-American pastors in the country to publicly bash gay people. Jakes appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s new talk show, Oprah’s Next Chapter, on Sunday and declared that he believes homosexuality is “condemned by the scriptures.”

Here’s a transcript of the exchange:

Oprah: “Would you say that everybody is embraced in your church?”

Jakes: “Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.”

Oprah: “Because you know that you’ve been accused of saying that gay people would not be welcome.”

Jakes: “Oh, no, no, no. That’s not true at all.”

Oprah: “That’s not true?”

Jakes: “Well, the perception in our society today is that if you don’t say you’re for same-sex marriage or if you say that homosexuality is a sin that you’re homophobic and you’re against gay people. That’s not true. I’m not called to give my opinion. I’m called as a pastor to give the scriptural position on it. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with you to love you. I don’t dislike anybody. I love everybody.”

Oprah: “But does it mean you perceive being gay as a sin? Do you think that being gay is a sin?”

Jakes: “I think that sex between two people of the same sex is condemned in the scriptures, and as long as it is  condemned in the scriptures, I don’t get to say what I think. I get to say what the Bible says. I’m not particularly political. I’m not particularly denominational. I’m not worried about any of that. I’m not anti-gay. I’m not anti-anything. I don’t want to even be known by what I’m against. I want to be known by what I’m for. I’m for people bettering themselves, no matter who they are and where they are, doing all they can to be all they can be.”

In stating his view that homosexuality is condemned by the scriptures, Jakes is in turn condemning his own son, Jermaine, who was arrested a few years ago in Kiest Park for soliciting sex from a male vice officer. He’s also condemning the late brother of marriage equality advocate Michael Irvin, who strangely still considers Jakes’ his “spiritual father.”

Jakes is condemning the countless LGBTQ youth who are among his flock at the Potter’s House, perhaps pushing some closer to suicide. And he’s condemning anyone who may be at risk for contracting HIV from gay sex, further contributing to the shame and silence that helps drive skyrocketing infection rates in South Dallas.

But hey, it’s all good, because Jakes loves everybody, right? I mean, can’t you just feel his love?

Watch video of Jakes’ comments here.

—  John Wright

Houston pastor Joel Osteen and feel-good homophobia

Lakewood Church leader part of new breed who couch anti-gay teachings in forgiveness, love

Osteen.Joel

Joel Osteen

When the Michele Bachmanns or Glenn Becks of the world do their public rants about rampant homosexual perversion and the decay of American values, I’m happy to let them talk.

As painful as it is to keep the free flow of ideas going, it is important to let people fly their colors. This way you know where they stand and you get to fly your own big neon flag in response. When activists called to have the Mormon church’s tax-exempt status yanked for its role in California’s Prop 8, I took the church’s side — not because I approved of their bully tactics, but because I didn’t want to see other churches lose their right to fight for us one day.

So you’d think I’d be OK with Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen’s recent remarks recently to Oprah Winfrey: “I believe that homosexuality is shown as a sin in the scripture. I do.” I’m so not OK with this I almost foam at the mouth whenever I think about that nuclear white Osteen smile.

True, Osteen was just sick about having to say that we’re sinners, and almost apologized for it. He went out of his way to opine that Christians make too big a deal about homosexuality and that it’s about as sinful as being prideful or fibbing. I’m glad that my marriage only offends God somewhat.

I’ve heard that Osteen has a big gay following, and I know one of those fans well. Once I emailed him to report that Osteen called homosexuality “not God’s best” on Larry King. My friend wrote back, “Well, nobody’s perfect. You take what’s good and leave the rest.” He continues to be inspired.

Dees.Abby

Abby Dees | Thinking Out Loud

This all sounds reasonable, and you could argue that my friend was reminding me of my own professed philosophy about free speech and religion. And yet I shrieked out loud when I read his email.

The reason Fox News gets a pass but Osteen has incurred my wrath is because his message is so insidious. It’s feel-good homophobia, so couched in God-loves-you talk that Osteen avoids all responsibility for the fact that real people take his words to heart. Not everyone can “leave the rest” as my friend does.

Whenever Osteen answers the question about homosexuality he hems and haws, but always comes to the apparently painful conclusion that the Bible is unambiguous about it.

He’s quick to add that he does love gay people, welcomes them in his church, doesn’t judge, that there are worse things to be, etc. The message that it’s still a sin to be gay gets quickly obscured by smiley faces and glitter glue for hope.

Curiously, Osteen is rarely willing to take a stand on any other issues. He’s gotten criticized by the religious right for staying out of politics and being unwilling to talk about sin as much as he talks about positivity. It’s all about being “the best you can be” — God’s plan for you. When Mike Wallace asked Osteen if he thought Mormons were true Christians, he humbly responded, “I haven’t really studied them or thought about them…I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know” and “I’m not one to judge the little details of it.”

Hmm. Why so vague about the folks who have an entirely different set of scriptures, but so damned clear on the disappointing truth about homosexuality? Perhaps some serious re-examination is in order.

Another pastor whose language and selective choice of issues is spookily similar to Osteen’s is the purpose-driven Rick Warren. Also a proclaimed political abstainer, he encouraged his flock to vote against same-sex marriage and has disturbing ties to the recent wave of anti-gay policies in Africa. Warren still insists that he loves gay people and works closely with “a number of gay organizations,” though no one ever asks which ones. These men are entitled to their opinions, but it’s time to call out the hypocrisy of this new breed of influential pastors who want us all to bathe in the light of God’s forgiving love. Except that LGBT people must still deny how God made them if they want “God’s best” for themselves.

California-based writer Abby Dees is the author of  ‘Queer  Questions Straight Talk.’ She can be contacted through her website QueerQuestionsStraightTalk.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Joel Osteen gets schooled by doctor of linguistics

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Poor Joel Osteen. The pastor of Houston’s Lakewood Church can’t seem to keep from tying himself in knots in an attempt to steer a middle road on LGBT issues. When he delivered the convocation at Mayor Annise Parker’s first inauguration he took flak from the religious right. When he went on Piers Morgan and called homosexuality a “sin” he caught heat from the left. Now he’s on Oprah’s Next Chapter trying to strike a middle ground, telling Oprah he believed that gay people can go to Heaven, but that “homosexuality is shown as a sin in the Scripture.”

Now Joel Hoffman, a linguistics expert and columnist on Hebrew grammar for the Jerusalem Post has taken Osteen to task for what he says is an inconsistent interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures. From Hoffman’s blog:

Pastor Osteen just confirmed to Oprah Winfreythat he believes that “homosexuality is shown as a sin in the Scripture,” noting that he encourages people to be “willing to change and grow.”

On the other hand, when Piers Morgan asked him in October whether he supports the Biblical position of a life for a life, Pastor Osteen admitted (in this video): “I don’t know,” because the death penalty is a “complicated issue.”

In other words, Pastor Osteen doesn’t feel compelled to support everything in Scripture. He openly ignores Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, and Dueteronomy 19:21. He reserves the right — as we all do — to pick and choose.

This is why I don’t think there’s any merit or integrity to his argument that he is forced to condemn homosexuality because Scripture calls it a sin.

In a post last year on the topic Hoffman explained his position further:

It’s true that Leviticus 18:22 seems to discourage homosexuality, and though it stops short of specifically calling it a sin (which is why I think Pastor Osteen is wrong — more here), I’m not convinced by those who try to interpret the text as being about anything other than homosexuality.

But the very same section of the Bible also prohibits making clothes by combining different materials (Leviticus 19:19), technically known as sha’atnez.

So unless Pastor Warren, Pastor Osteen, and those of their ilk are willing to take a public and vehement position against wool-and-cotton clothing, I have no patience for their argument that they are locked into their anti-homosexual position by the Bible. They are not. They are choosing the verses they like, and, apparently, they like to hate homosexuality.

Similarly, Leviticus 20:13 condemns homosexuals to death, but the same punishment is mandated for people who curse their parents (Leviticus 20:9). Are those in the “it says so in the Bible” camp willing to pass laws that put children to death for speaking out against their parents?

Osteen famously did not attend seminary, so it’s not terribly surprising that a scholar who dedicated his life to understanding ancient Hebrew might have a better grasp of the subject, but still, poor Joel Osteen. It must be hard to maintain a non-opinion opinion when everyone keeps trying to pin you down to one consistent biblical interpretation.

Watch the clip from Oprah’s Next Chapter after the break:

—  admin

WATCH: Jacobs praises Perry’s ‘Response’ for breaking the curse of Native American cannibals

It’s no secret that a significant number of the folks who signed on as supporters of Gov. Rick Perry’s big prayer meeting — The Response — that he staged in early August at Houston’s Reliant Stadium were, to put it mildly, raving nut-cases. I mean, some of the first to endorse Perry’s day of prayer were Mike Bickle, who has said Oprah Winfrey is the precursor to the Anti-Christ, and C. Peter Wagner, who believes that Japan is possessed with a demon that had sex with the country’s emperor.

Don’t believe me? Just check out this Instant Tea blog post from July to see the video to prove it.

But among the fringiest of the fringe dwellers that was an “official endorser” of Perry’s Response was self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs, but just down I-35 a few miles in Red Oak.

Now, as Right-Wing Watch reports, Jacobs is crediting the Perry prayer meeting with breaking an ancient curse on the land caused by Native Americans who “did blood sacrifice” and were “cannibals and ate people.”

—  admin

What do supporters of ‘The Response’ have to say about LGBTs? Here are a few examples

Rick Perry

As the Dallas Voice cover story, “Responding to ‘The Response,” points out, there are a lot of people around the state — and around the country — who are angry over Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to partner with The American Family Association to present his day of prayer and fasting Saturday at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. The list of people supporting and endorsing the event — like Pastor John Hagee — also has some people upset.

But what is it about the American Family Association and people like Hagee that has people so angry? As the Southern Poverty Law Center points out, it’s not because they believe homosexuality is a sin. It’s because of the hateful, discriminatory and outright false things they say to stir up fear and anger against LGBT people, Jews, Muslims, Catholics — in short, against anybody who isn’t just like them.

What kind of things? Well, here are a few examples.

This is an actual trailer for a video called They’re Coming To Your Town. The video, produced by the American Family Association, warns that gays and lesbians are trying to take over city governments across the country, using Eureka Springs, Ark., as an example.

Here’s one where AFA’s Buddy Smith reports to Bryan Fischer, AFA’s director of issues analysis, on a gay Pride parade in which Home Depot participated and why Home Depot is wrong to promote diversity. In this clip, Smith says that “homosexuals are in Satan’s grasp.”

Here’s Fischer again, explaining how the Nazis — including Hitler — were all gay and how Hitler chose to surround himself with gay soldiers because the straight soldiers were not “savage and brutal and vicious enough” to carry out Hitler’s orders, whereas the gay Brown Shirt soldiers were happy to do so:

In this one Fischer explains that tribal reservations are “mired” in poverty and alcoholism today because the Native American won’t convert to Christianity.

One more quick one from Fischer. In this clip, taped in the aftermath of the shooting at Fort Hood, he says Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the U.S. military and that they probably shouldn’t even be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. at all.

Here’s one with Pastor John Hagee explaining that the Anti-Christ is coming and that he is partially Jewish (“as was Adolph Hitler”??) and he is gay AND he is fierce! Oh yeah, and the Anti-Christ will come from Germany.

Pastor Hagee, by the way, has also called the Catholic Church “a great whore” that “thirsts for the blood of the Jews.” And after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Hagee said in 2006 it was because New Orleans was a sinful place that was planning a gay parade (the annual Southern Decadence party over Labor Day Weekend) and, basically, that the hurricane was God’s punishment on the city. He later recanted.

We tried to find other videotapes of Hagee making these stories, but many of the videos containing some of his more controversial comments have been removed due to claims of “copyright infringement” according to notices posted on websites where the videos previously were displayed.

Want more evidence? Go to YouTube and do a search for American Family Association, specifically Bryan Fischer. Pastor Hagee might have had second thoughts about some of his more vitriolic statements and removed those videos, but Fischer’s videos are there for everyone to see.

Of course, Hagee, Fischer and the Wildmons aren’t the only ones on the list of those endorsing “The Response.” Go here to read an earlier Dallas Voice post that includes videos of “Response”  supporter Mike Bickle who claims that Oprah Winfrey is a harbinger of the Anti-Christ, and of “Response” supporter C. Peter Wagner who teaches that Japan is cursed because the emperor of Japan had sex with a demon.

Then there’s David Barton, president and founder of “WallBuilders,” who said opposes anti-bullying legislation, claiming that laws and policies to prevent bullying actually indoctrinate children into homosexuality. And he uses info from the American College of Pediatricians — a right-wing group that broke away from the American Academy of Pediatricians because the AAP supports gay and lesbian parents  — to back up his claims. Read about that here at RightWingWatch.org.

—  admin

And the Oscar goes to… Oprah

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences announced its recipients of honorary awards, and the surprised (and surprised) recipients include two African-American actors and a makeup artist.

Oprah Winfrey will received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her charitable work. (Presumably, that does not include the masturbatory final week of her talk show.) Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones, will receive an award for life achievement. Neither has won before; Winfrey was nominated for supporting actress for The Color Purple; Jones was nominated for actor for The Great White Hope. Winfrey has appeared in only three feature films; she has lent her voice to several others, and acted in and produced TV movies.

Makeup artist Dick Smith will also receive an award from the Governors. He’s best know for his work on The Godfather and Amadeus.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Becoming Chaz’ airs Tuesday night on OWN

Chaz Bono

I first heard about Becoming Chaz, the documentary about Chastity Bono’s transition to Chaz Bono, back in March, and I decided then and there I would be watching the doc when it aired on the new Oprah Winfrey Network in May. Of course, now it is May, and I had forgotten about the documentary until I saw this article, “The reluctant transgender role model,” about the program by Cintra Wilson in The New York Times.

I felt like Wilson, in her article, focused a little too much on Chaz’s mom, Cher, and what she thought about the transition. But I was impressed that Wilson admitted that while she considered herself open-minded and liberal, she discovered in watching the documentary that she wasn’t as open-minded as she thought when it comes to transgenders. I think that’s true for a lot of people.

So anyway, I thought there might be other folks out there like me who want to see the documentary but who needed a reminder, so here it is: Becoming Chaz airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. Central time. I have DirecTV, which airs OWN on Channel 270. On AT&T U-Verse, it’s Channels 256 and 1256. Charter broadcasts OWN on Channel 225, and on DISH Network, it is on channels 189 and 885. (If your cable provider isn’t listed here, check the OWN homepage here which lets you find it based on your zip code.)

And here is a promotional trailer for the film:

—  admin

OWN and ‘Becoming Chaz’

When I first heard that Oprah Winfrey was starting her own network — aptly called the Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN — I was expecting something like Lifetime or even The Hallmark Channel. Who knew we’d end up with a cross between Logo and Bravo and CNN?!

OWN is the home, of course, of Lisa Ling’s “Our America” series which has had installments so far featuring transgender people (“Transgender Lives”) and ex-gays (“Pray the Gay Away”). And today, I saw for the first time a short trailer about “Becoming Chaz,” a documentary on Chastity Bono’s transition to Chaz Bono which will include interviews with Chaz’s gay icon mom, Cher. It premiers in May on OWN

Here’s the trailer. I know I’ll be watching.

—  admin

Starvoice • 01.07.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Naomi Judd turns 64 on Tuesday. The country singer has been on somewhat of a comeback lately. Reuniting with daughter Wynonna, The Judds hit the road for The Last Encore Tour. The two have also launched a reality show on the new Oprah Winfrey network OWN. But her inspiration for glitzy country drag and high-to-heaven hair has never gone away.

…………………………………

THIS WEEK

Mars is very happy in Capricorn where the planet of energy and action is focused productively. Aspecting Uranus and Jupiter in Pisces, and Neptune in Aquarius, he can lose focus, but if you can stay on track while examining your process you can find new purpose and methods to strengthen your efforts.

………………………………….

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Your sign improves with age, but exercising is important for staying sharp. Advice from friends should be heard, but not followed. It opens your mind to better possibilities.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Self-criticism is helpful if you don’t take it to extremes. There’s room for improvement and an honest assessment of your virtues and flaws will make you clearer on what you have to offer.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
You have to be very careful not to give too much of yourself. Have a long talk with a friend you can count on to be ruthlessly honest about your limits and how you should set them.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
If you focus, you can achieve great things. Meditation helps tame that unruly, dreamy mind and draw inspiration. Friends who want your time are a distraction. Or enlist them to help.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Ideas brewing in your head need a release. Getting yourself heard helps or hurts you. Discussing those notions with a friend will improve them and see best where and how to air them.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Explore your fantasies and bring them into your real-life lovemaking. Some of those dreams may need safety checks and adaptations to be performed in the physical world.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Your fancy notions shock or titillate your partner. A discussion of limits is in order. Even out of the sack, your sweetheart can help with reality checks to help figure which dreams can come true.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Every relationship takes work. Take up the tough issues now while it’s a little easier. You’ll be surprised at what problems can be resolved in the bedroom. It will at least help.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Your intuition is clear now. With practice you learn to use it to better purpose in teamwork, practical or romantic. Trust those hunches in healing any kind of relationship — or finding one.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
As onerous as family or community duties may feel, you accomplish a lot and gain influence. You’re creative enough to find a positive approach. Once you start there will be no stopping you.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
What you have to say is too important to be wasted. Polish those gems and share them where they are appreciated. A little imaginative probing reveals secrets or scandals.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Discuss your financial worries with a trusted person. You stumble on solutions or realize things aren’t as bad as you think. Clear your head of worry to think clearly about resources at hand.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 7, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens