Simply the best

tj_klune_into_this_river_I_drown

Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune is the best LGBT novel I have ever read. I liked it so much that I bought a physical copy after reading the electronic edition on my Kindle.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that Klune won the 2014 Lambda Literary Award Winner for Best Gay Romance, even though labeling this book “romance” seems far too limiting. It contains unexpected death, painful mourning, paranormal activity, love, mystery, chill-inducing terror, and some absolutely superb writing.

After finishing the book and going online to research the author, I discovered the heartbreaking events the author and his fiancé, Eric Arvin, have been going through over the past several months. An online support fund has been established to help them through this trying time.

How To add .bypostauthor attribute to WordPress comments

When I comment on my own blog, WordPress is supposed to automatically add the .bypostauthor attribute to my comment so that it can be styled via CSS to make it stand out from comments by other users. After recently exporting my blog from WordPress.com to self-hosted, I noticed that new comments were getting the .bypostauthor attribute, but older ones had nothing.

I spent quite a while searching online for help to no avail, so I decided to dig through the database on my web server. This is risky, because it is easy to make a complete mess of things if you don’t know what you are doing. I didn’t, but I pay for a backup service in case I ever need to restore things.

I opened my database using phpMyAdmin and browsed to the wp_comments table. I quickly discovered that recent comments I had made (which were getting the .bypostauthor attribute) had a user_id of 4. Older comments had a user_id of 0. I manually changed a couple of them from zero to four to see what would happen, and was pleasantly surprised to see the .bypostauthor attribute and CSS styling being added to my comments when I refreshed a blog page.

My next challenge was changing the 0 to 4 on all of my comments, which numbered close to a thousand. I started doing it manually, but quickly decided it would be too time-consuming. After searching online for SQL queries, I found something that worked.

UPDATE `wp_comments` SET `user_id` = '4' WHERE `comment_user_email` = 'authoremailaddress';

I entered this under the SQL tab of phpMyAdmin, made the necessary changes, and anxiously clicked Go. It worked!

Hopefully this will help someone in a similar situation. You will need to look under your wp_users table to see what the user_id is of your admin account first, then change the code above to reflect your user_id and your email address.

Good luck and be careful!

Being effeminate

Years ago, while living with my grandparents for a short time, my grandfather and I were driving home from work when he took the opportunity to bring up some things about me that he had issue with. As he drove, he lectured me about helping them out more financially before getting to the heart of what he really wanted to talk about.

He started by telling me I needed a hair cut. I had been letting my hair get sort of long. It wasn’t even shoulder length, but was several inches long on the top and sides. Although having short hair was a requirement for men in the Holiness faith, this wasn’t exactly the reason he brought it up. As he talked, he recalled a verse in the Bible about being effeminate.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Now we were getting to the root of his issue with my hair. It wasn’t just that it was longer than normal for men in our tradition, it was that he thought I was trying to look like a woman (I was really trying to look like Michael Jackson, but whatever).

Not sure how to respond, I brought up two highly-respected men in the Holiness community who were very effeminate. Both had soft voices, had never married or exhibited any interest in women, and were perfectly manicured. “No,” he said, “They are just different.”

I began to get angry, more at his refusal to admit these men fit the very definition of effeminate than at his insistence that I did. Surely he could see what I saw, but just refused to accept it because these men claimed to be holy. My anger took a more personal slant when he told me I was being a bad influence on the younger males in our church. I realized this talk we were having was more about his fear of me being gay than the length of my hair.

When I get mad, I usually clam up and stew in it. That means I have to find other ways of releasing my anger. When we arrived home and he finished belittling me, I decided to go for a walk. I removed the cap I normally wore to work and let the wind blow through my hair as I journeyed down the country road in front of our house. I always loved the feeling of having my hair in my face, so I enjoyed it as long as possible. Then I returned home, grabbed the clippers, and shaved my head in the bathroom. From my perspective, this was an act of rebellion. If I couldn’t have long hair, I would have barely any hair at all.

After showering and getting dressed for church, I walked into the kitchen. My rebellious act wasn’t seen as such, but was embraced as me having finally seen the light. Both of my grandparents exclaimed how much better I looked, but the damage was done. I knew I no longer wanted to live with them, and I moved out a few weeks later.

It is worth noting that a couple of years later while visiting a local gay bar, I bumped into one of the effeminate Holiness men that I had mentioned to my grandfather during our conversation. That was definitely an enjoyable moment for me.

The other man never married, but maintained a close relationship with a single Holiness preacher. Apparently they traveled around the country together and often slept in the same bed. Maybe they were in love, maybe they weren’t. It was a long time ago and doesn’t really matter anymore since they have both passed away.

So, what does that verse in Corinthians really mean? I don’t know. Some newer translations have changed it to “men who have sex with men,” but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. Perhaps the Apostle Paul just had a problem with women, and by extension, men who looked or acted like women.

Misogynistic, if you ask me.

My exciting little life

Someone recently told me I have led an exciting life. After a few moments of denial, I admitted that my life has been pretty interesting.

A few examples…

  1. Growing up in a very strict household where I couldn’t watch television, wear short sleeves, or attend my school’s basketball games
  2. Coming out to my family at twenty years of age
  3. Creating a Michael Jackson fan site that became the catalyst for a trip to Germany in 2001
  4. Getting to see Michael Jackson in concert on 9/10/01
  5. Being in New York City on 9/11/01
  6. Meeting my partner of 9 years on the internet
  7. Getting to see some of the best performers on earth live in concert
  8. Traveling to various parts of the country
  9. Becoming a business owner earlier this year
  10. Having a scan of my Michael Jackson concert ticket included in an upcoming special on National Geographic

Even though I am typically scared of my own shadow, I am glad I have been willing to put myself out there on multiple occasions. Those are typically the moments that have been the most rewarding.

Judge not

My cousin’s birthday is tomorrow. She won’t be around to celebrate it, because she died in a car accident in 2001 at the tender age of 25. Her father called my mother today and sobbed on the telephone as he remembered. Even 13 years later, the wounds haven’t healed.

I remember Tammy’s funeral. People wept and talked in hushed tones as expected, but this one felt much different from other memorials. Most were quite obvious in their belief that Tammy didn’t go to heaven. Some were so convinced of this they dared to say it out loud. You see, Tammy was reared in a strict Pentecostal home, and she wasn’t living according to those standards the morning she wrecked on an ice-covered road.

Years later another young person I knew passed away. Like Tammy, they had left the faith of their childhood and weren’t living what you might call a “righteous” life. This time, however, things were much different. The same people who judged Tammy clung to hope that this particular person had gotten right with God in the final moments of their life, and the funeral was filled with admonishments about letting God be the final judge. There’s nothing at all wrong with that line of thought, but I wonder why Tammy was treated so differently?

If God is truly love and if God truly loves us more than we can possibly love each other, why would he cast a young person into Hell before they even have a chance to figure things out? I can’t think of anyone who deserves an eternity of torment, nor can I reason what it would accomplish. Even the worst criminal is given a shot at redemption.

I saw Tammy in a dream a few years ago. She looked lovely, and we walked together for a while as I wept. It was probably just a meaningless creation in my sleeping mind, but I treasure it. I prefer to think of her happy and at peace. I just wish those who call themselves “Christian” would give her the same courtesy.

Happy Birthday, Tammy. I remember your lovely smile and your wonderful sense of humor. I remember the fun we had driving with the windows down and the music turned up loud. I hope I made you feel even half as loved as you always made me feel. Maybe I’ll get a chance to see you again one day. Until then I’ll see you in my dreams.

Detective Google

Yesterday evening, after returning home from a long trip, I logged onto my bank’s website to check my balance. I was shocked to see a pending charge for $565 that had an unfamiliar business name attached. I decided it might have something to do with hotel reservations, and hoped it would go away once the correct amount was charged. No such luck.

When I checked my account again this afternoon, the $565 charge had completed and the funds had been deducted from my account. I immediately called my local branch to see what was up. They gave me the business name for an event planner and a phone number.

I called and heard several rings before some silence. Then some more rings. It was obvious the number was being forwarded to a cell phone. I heard the line pick up, but no one said anything. I said hello a couple of times, before hearing a man answer. I asked for the name of the business I was calling. He gave it to me. I said, “You have charged me $565 for some reason.” He asked if I had any upcoming events I had paid for. I said no. He said he was sorry and he would have accounting return my money. He then asked for my name, and said he would send an email to accounting have them refund the money.
After hanging up and thinking over the conversation, I decided something was fishy. He was simply too nervous and unprofessional on the phone. I called my bank back and filed fraud charges. They canceled my card and are mailing me a new one.

I kept thinking over everything this afternoon. I had gotten the date and time of the transaction from the bank, so I knew it happened in a town I was in over this past weekend. I couldn’t figure out who had been able to access my number, since I remembered every place I used it. The hotel, a couple of restaurants, Target, and a gas station. It was driving me crazy.

Finally, I decided to do some sleuth work online. I started by googling for the business name. I found their website, then did a WhoIs search on the domain name. I quickly discovered the guy’s name, address, and a phone number that matched what the bank had given me.

Next, I did a search for his name and city. I found a profile on LinkedIn with a matching name (he had typed everything in lower case on his domain registration and his LinkedIn profile, which is one of my pet peeves). It said he worked for a hotel chain.

Once getting home, I talked it over with Honey. He decided to call the hotel and ask if they had an employee with the name I had found. Not only does he work there, he is the night auditor. A couple of hours later, a police report has been filed and the investigation should start either tonight or in the morning.

Needless to say, I am pretty proud of my detective skills. I am hoping the real detectives get to the bottom of this and get him out of his job and into a jail cell.

Gay or straight: Thank you for being a friend

Honey and I have very few gay friends. This weekend, if all goes as planned, we will travel to watch two of them get married. We were at their commitment ceremony a few years ago, but since they have moved to a state that recently recognized gay marriage, they will make it official this Saturday.

I am not sure why we don’t have more gay friends. We don’t typically visit places where gay men congregate, and the few gay people we have met at church usually offer nothing more than a courteous hello.

Although it is unfair to paint everyone with the same brush, most of us gay men are downright nasty to each other when we first cross paths. It isn’t unusual to get a judgmental sneer or some side-eye. Whatever the reasons, I suspect it has to do with male aggression and competitiveness. Much like a lion defending his pride because of reproductive rights, we don’t want any interested parties sniffing around. Relationships are hard, but because gay relationships have even more challenges to face, it stands to reason that we don’t want to invite trouble.

Although it would be nice to have a few more gay friends who personally understand all the issues that gay people face on a day-to-day basis, genuine friendship from anyone is the ultimate goal. And, frankly, I have wonderful straight friends who are supportive, accepting, and understanding without being judgmental.

True friends are priceless, regardless of their sexual orientation.