Category Archives: Uncategorized

Putting it Out There

Published by:

March 5, 2017 by Gregory Franklyn

“You can fool some of the people all of the time and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” – Attributed to President Abraham Lincoln.

BREAKING NEWS: The Republican President just accused Former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his home and office in Trump Tower before the election. As usual, he provided no specifics or evidence of the claim, he just “put it out there”. My suspicion is that he did so to divert our attention from the many scandals that plague his young regime. He is a skilled manipulator of the Lame-Stream media and he knows they’ll go rushing to cover the story and, hopefully, keep them busy with that so they’re not focusing on him. He even suggested that this BREAKING NEWS BOMBSHELL  is equivalent to the Watergate Scandal in scope, to accentuate how earth shaking his accusation is. Everyone agrees that the accusation, if true, would be earth shaking.

IF TRUE!

His own Political Party is reluctant to weigh in on the claim, and those who DID, found it questionable. The questions they raised could backfire on the President in a bigly yuge way. If the wiretapping were Illegal, and it actually happened, and Former President Barack Obama were actually involved, it would be a very big deal for the Former President. If the wiretapping were legal, however, it would be a very big deal for The Republican President. It would mean that a FISA Court found credible evidence to suggest that The Republican President NEEDED to be wiretapped. That would be devastating to the White House and the The Republican President’s Regime. Which, incidentally, isn’t even 2 months old yet. But, if the wiretapping was legal, it would alert that same media he was trying to use to distract the media FROM him, to a serious problem TO him, that he alerted them to. Wouldn’t that be a LOL moment?

But running just below the surface of this accusation, and the way The Republican President presents it to the public, is the real story. The real story is about The Republican President’s skill at manipulating the media. He knows how most people watch the news. He knows that more viewers, than not, are doing something else while the news is on and they won’t be paying full attention to what is being said. The headlines that they’ll hear on the radio will condense it to a mere sentence or two, and that the television news will give it 2 minutes or less that they are not paying full attention to anyway. Not nearly enough time to tell the whole story, but it’s been “Put Out There”. The Former President is involved in criminal activity the likes of which we haven’t seen since Nixon was driven out of office in shame. It’s roaming around the ether, now, for everyone to consume.

There’s talk about it everywhere this morning. The implication that Barack Obama is a criminal. It has not been conclusively determined that the accusation is true or false, It’s just “Put Out There”. So the viewers who are only catching little snippets of the discussion, have this idea implanted in their minds and it is, consciously or unconsciously, coloring their perceptions of what’s happening in the executive branch of their government.

It’s the same reason that many Republicans, particularly Presidential Candidates, will continue to say something over and over, even after it has been conclusively determined NOT to be true. It’s a media manipulation technique. They know what 45 knows. The accusation doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be “Put Out There”, and it will take on a life of its own. They know that because they know that most consumers of the news aren’t paying that close of attention. It just has to be “Put Out there”.  It doesn’t have to be true. They also know that apologizing for the false accusation will not get NEARLY the press that the accusation gets, assuming that there even IS an apology. Personally, I can’t imagine The Republican President ever apologizing for ANYTHING, let alone a successful damaging of a Democrat.

Here’s an example of the technique from the 2016 election. Some of Hillary Clinton’s emails were found on a computer in the home of Huma Abedin, who was a chief Clinton Aide at the time. The Email scandal about a private server Clinton used while Secretary of State, plagued her throughout the campaign, it questioned her trustworthiness, and was finally determined not to be a problem from a legal, or security standpoint. However, it was “Put Out There” in the days before the election, that there was more to the story and that maybe the allegation DID have merit. Maybe Clinton really was untrustworthy. And then, the election happened before it was determined that the newly discovered Emails were already known to investigators because all of them were also on the server that the investigators had already gone through. But it was too late to take it back because the election had already happened. It just needed to be “Put Out There” just before the election for it to do its work. It didn’t need to be true.

Republicans have been using this technique for decades because it works. They have, under the direction of one Frank Luntz, honed this technique down to a fine art, and The Republican President is consummately skilled at its implementation. But. he is a spas, who regularly over-reaches. He is blunt, boorish, unsophisticated, UN-nuanced. He just “Put It Out There” without following the thread through to its logical conclusion. That would take more than a tweet. This time, I can only hope that his home and offices WERE wiretapped and that a FISA Court HAD determined that there was credible evidence to suggest that The Republican President NEEDED to be wiretapped. You know, we may get the President we elected after all! Wouldn’t THAT be something.

Much Love,

Gregory

World AIDS Day

Published by:

worldaidsday-december

December 1st was “World AIDS Day” and as a commentator who happens to be gay, I felt tremendous pressure to write something about HIV to mark the occasion. I decided not to! But if I had written something about HIV I would have said something about my own experiences related to the disease.

I would have talked about how I was introduced to it back in 1981 through reading in “The Advocate” about a medical phenomenon that, at the time, was known as GRID or Gay Related Immune Deficiency. It was a frightening prospect that was being studied by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and was believed to have originated with a German Flight Attendant with a penchant for having a lot of sex with a lot of men. Soon the CDC had discovered that the disease had already stricken a few villages in Africa and the race to understand GRID was on.

But there was a problem with the name of the phenomenon. In Africa the syndrome affected heterosexuals so GRID was no longer an appropriate moniker. There were investigations that blamed monkeys in the wilds of the African Continent for the spread of the dreaded condition, but they were unable to come up with a method of how the disease jumped species from Monkeys to Man. The new designation for HIV evolved into Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. Medical professionals wanted to distance the syndrome from being a “Gay” disease because they feared what they believed would happen if people thought that only gay men could get it. Sure enough, their fears materialized right before their eyes.

Unfortunately, the original name of the disease attached a stigma to the condition that remains today. The damage, not only to gay rights, but also to efforts to eradicate the disease, had already been done. Heterosexuals in Europe and the US believed that GRID was a “GAY” disease and therefore they were immunized by the mere fact that they were not Gay. And. Of course, the militant religious right wing morality thugs had a very frightening axe to swing at Gay & Lesbian people who were embroiled in a fight for equal rights.

I would have talked about the evolution of the syndrome from GRID to AIDS and eventually to HIV and how the awakening of our government took so long to accomplish. I would have mentioned that Ronald Reagan never so much as uttered the word AIDS until over a million people, worldwide, had already died from it. Up until that moment, no federal funds were allocated to research, or even treat, the disease other than the normal budget the CDC was already working with.

I would have talked about what happened here in Oregon as AIDS turned 10 years old. The Civil Rights battle came to a head with a statewide ballot measure called “Measure 9” in which a group of those religious morality thugs I mentioned tried to get the voters to approve an amendment to the state’s constitution that would lump Gay & Lesbian people with child molesters, rapists and sociopathic criminals. Their argument centered upon their insistence that AIDS was God’s wrath against those sexually deviant Homosexuals who were dedicated to recruiting your children into a tragic life of self-destruction. The ballot measure failed by a whisper of a margin in the 1992 election, but I recall that NO ONE considered it a victory. It was a street level demonstration of the worst elements of humanity and we all knew it. Even those religious morality thugs, that had considered it a life and death issue during the election, were ashamed that night!

I would have talked about 1993 when I sat in my little studio apartment in Portland Oregon feeling somewhat shell-shocked over the loss of no less than 5 personal friends who had died from AIDS so far that year, and it was only March! I would have showed you a series of poems I wrote to try and make sense of what was happening to me, and to my community, because I had to do SOMETHING with the overwhelming feeling of helplessness against this monster we still didn’t fully understand.

Of Course, I would have also talked about “Act-Up”. Act-Up was a radical group of men and women who were justifiably outraged at the lack of support and attention to the devastation the disease was causing in the lives of their friends and families and took their anger to the streets with civil disobedience actions and demonstrations. I would have talked about how Gay Pride Events all over the country were mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Gay & Lesbian people into the streets to make a stand for their personhood and their citizenship amidst a virtual ocean of resistance from mainstream America.

I likely would have ended up talking about how that research money that eventually, though far too late, grew from a trickle to a somewhat reasonable flow, made some headway in treatments for those who were infected. Today, unlike for most of my life, HIV is no longer a death sentence! There are effective treatments that are managing the disease, often for decades. But, a cure is still forthcoming. I would have said that I’m grateful for the progress, although still gun-shy from long hard winter that finally brought it to us. But I decided not to write about HIV because it always brings up such sadness in me that it didn’t have to play out like that! We could have done much better!

Much Love,

Gregory

The Last One to Know

Published by:

10/15/2012 – By Gregory Franklyn

October 11th was National Coming Out Day and it got me to thinking about my own coming out story. That, and a friend sent me an article she had read about a new book coming out this month by a straight conservative bible-belt Christian fellow who went undercover as a gay man to try and get a view of what life is like for gay people in the United States.
I haven ‘t read the book, but based on the article, I would recommend it to every heterosexual, or person who thinks they might be. The book is called “A Cross in the Closet” and here ‘s a YouTube Trailer about it.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R6qIIvYEqs

Every gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans-gender and/or questioning person who has ever made the journey, has a coming out story. I have one too. I came out in 1980 when I was 28 years old but the story begins in Detroit Michigan before I was old enough recognize what an “Age” was. A little background is in order.

I’m an orphan and was given up at birth. I ‘m told that for the first two years of life I was raised by whomever was on duty, at the time, at a Catholic Orphanage in Detroit. I was adopted at just over 2 years, by a family that was having marital trouble and believed that having Children might save the marriage. Evidently, it didn’t! By the time I was 6, my also adopted older brother Mike and I, sat outside a courtroom in St Clair County Michigan while both parents, now both re-married, decided that it was best for everyone to go their separate ways. Mike and I became wards of the State were separated on the spot. We didn’t see one another again until after I had graduated from High School. He’s pretty much a stranger to me, a childhood friend with closer than usual ties, I’d guess.

This chain of events, evidently affected me pretty deeply because I got tossed around from living situation to living situation until I was 14. Up until I was accepted to the famous Fr Flanagan’s BoysTown (immortalized in the movie “BoysTown” with Spencer Davis and Mickey Rooney), I had never completed 2 grades in the same school. I was in therapy through most of that period because I was an “Odd” little boy.

Here ‘s what one Doctor said in his psychological evaluation of me at 11:

“During the interview, Dr. Locket found Greg to have average or better intelligence; to be proper and distant but cooperative; he showed little anxiety. He uses extremely strong defenses of: denial, intellectualization and rationalization. Denial is mostly on the conscious level and may be a denial of being male on the subconscious level. This denial started early, thus forming a personality pattern of which his overt feminine character pattern is only a part.

Dr Locket suggested that initial rejection led to lack of involvement with others for which Greg developed a survival pattern. Greg has a basic personality problem in relating to others. Although it’s not definitely known, one could say that there’s a distortion in Greg’s relationship to his mother and a lack of involvement with his father. Greg relates on a superficial level and one wonders what he really feels.

Dr Locket diagnosed him as having a passive, receptive, feminine personality pattern. He further described Greg as being; narcissistic (involved more with self than with others); masochistic (as evidence in his passivity in the face of scapegoating); relatively un-relating, unmotivated and markedly defensive. He probably has overwhelming anger, but good defenses.

Greg ‘s future depends on how much anxiety can be aroused. As he becomes older he may become anxious and do something. Dr. Locket recommended long term placement in a total care environment for all his childhood.”

Now, I didn’t repeat all that to put my business in the street, so to speak, but to show how gay people were thought of by the psychological community at the time. Remember, that in the big picture, psychotherapy, at the time, was barely older then I was. Boys who were effeminate, were thought of in these terms, in general society, because of the profound and dramatic lack of understanding of homosexuality. So much so that in the last sentence in the evaluation, the good Dr. recommends that I be sent to a mental institution.

I was 35 when I came out to my brother Mike. It wasn’t like I was hiding it by that time, it ‘s just that I was out of contact with him until then. When I told him, he said, “Hell, I knew that the day you were brought home from the orphanage!” (he was a few years older than me so I tend not to doubt it).

When it comes to my sexuality, I really WAS the last one to figure it out. When I read that evaluation today, I see a little gay kid trying to make his way in a very rigidly straight world, on his own, mind you. They didn’t like gay kids at the time. I had been rejected by 4 sets of parents by that time, very likely BECAUSE I was gay. My original birth parents, my adopted parents and 2 foster families. I ‘m not surprised that there may have been a little trauma there. Of course, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about because I had always been like I was. I didn’t have anything to compare it to.

Along with the family dysfunction, there was also the Catholic Church. That’s were I grew up, most of the time. Catholic schools are pretty rigid to begin with, but when you actually LIVE there too, it ‘s even more intense. Your parent figures are nuns, brothers and priests. So, as any good boy might want to do, I clung to my religion to help me through it.

I didn’t know that a person could normally be gay because I was taught that “The Devil Made Me Do It” and that I was just morally weak. So I tried to become stronger in my resistance to myself believing that I was doing what I was supposed to do. I did pretty well too! I think it took me so long to settle with who I am, because of my intent to be Good.

Around the mid 70s, that would be in my mid 20s, I began to seriously question whether what I was being told about being gay, by people I looked up to for spiritual guidance and direction, may have been being less than honest with me about it. It turns out that, well intentioned as they may or may not have been, they didn’t know what they were talking about and I had to spend nearly half of my life figuring it out on my own. I had struggled with this “demon” for my entire life and I was getting pretty weary of the struggle, mainly because I, Like everyone else at that age, was raging with sexual urges and I finally couldn’t take it anymore.

I remember the day clearly, even 32 years later. I was sitting in a house I had bought, but couldn’t afford, (predatory Mortgage lending is nothing new), and I had my feet propped up on the window sill, casually kicked back in my lounger when I just “Gave Up”. It was clear that I couldn’t go on like this, always fighting myself over what I was feeling inside. Linda, a girl I almost married, had just left to return home to California, realizing what I couldn’t be what she wanted, needed and clearly deserved in a husband. We had both just dodged a bullet.

I had had a few girlfriends before her and I did enjoy their company, a lot. I just couldn’t figure out a way to enjoy having sex with them. That’s why we would always break up. I must have made them feel like they weren’t attractive or sexy, and no one deserves to feel like THAT! Least of all, those girls! So if any of you happen to be reading this can I just say I ‘m so sorry for how I made you feel. That was never my intent. I was with you because I dug you and I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. You got that far into my heart because you are THAT much of a woman.

Anyway, back to the story. I just gave up! It was that simple. I determined that if I was going to hell and would never be whole as a person anyway, then, Screw It, I ‘m going to go ahead and be what I am and let the chips fall where they may. Because being what I was taught I was supposed to be was just not working out for anyone anymore, including me.

I only reconsidered that decision once in my life.

A few days later, embarking on my new life for the first time, I went to a gay bar in Phoenix called “Hisco-Disco”. I had read about it in a gay magazine I had found at a porno bookstore. Back then that’s where you had to go to find information about your culture if you were gay. It was still being oppressed everywhere else. It’s kind of sad when I think about it today. In order to find the door to a peaceful inner life, you had to go to the one place in the world where furtive sexual frustration and repressed emotions are the most prominent energies.

My first exposure to Gay culture was a life changing experience for me, to say the least. I have never before, or since, felt as intense feelings of conflicting emotions as I did that night. I walked in, and ordered a drink and sat at a table as out of the way as I could and just watched for a while. One part of me was disgusted and repulsed at what I was seeing and the other part of me was instinctively jumping for joy at having found a place in the world, for the first time in my life, where I was seeing my own imagination displayed before me in real time!

These guys were kissing each other and holding one another like there was nothing wrong with it, right there in front of everybody in the place and no one was reacting in horror. What a beautiful world, I thought. I feel like that too! I didn’t talk to anyone that night, because I was too overwhelmed with these conflicting emotions. It took me a few days to digest what I had just experienced.

A few days later, I went to this porno theater called the   “WhereHouse” because I thought that that’s what gay guys do. Remember, all I knew about gay people, up to that point, I learned from Priests, nuns and materials I had seen at a porno bookstore.

I parked my car in the back lot so no one could see it, pulled up my collar so I’d be less likely to be recognized and sheepishly walked in. I paid for my ticket and the helpful clerk pointed me to the door to the theater. In hindsight, he was probably so helpful because I’m sure he could tell I had never been to one before. I opened these ornate double doors and was about to walk in when I saw what was on this huge movie screen. I mean, the screen was much taller than me and I’m 6 Feet tall in bare feet. I saw a man in a bathroom with two other men on their knees facing away from us. The man had both of his hands, up to mid-forearm, INSIDE the other two men ‘s rectums and he was working them with a vengence.

I turned and ran in horror back to the sanctity of my own home, in another state of extreme, though this time NOT conflicting, emotions. I can only imagine the knowing smile on that clerk’s face as I went running out. I felt lost in the world again because if that’s what I have to do to be gay, I ‘m ready to reconsider my decision right now!

That stuff was WAY too adult for me! It still is, come to think of it.     I never went back to the theater, but I did go back to Hisco-Disco. I went frequently until my conflicting emotions gave way to a kind of sanity that was pretty new to me. I met and dated a charming but much too aggressive black guy named Eric Revallion. We dated for a while, but it never went any further. But I will always be grateful to Eric for 2 things. One, he was my first date as a gay man, and two, he gave me a cat that I named “Disco”, both because that’s where I met Eric and so that I could say “Disco, get down!” when he jumped up on the counter. (True Story)

Hisco Disco was the place where I was when I first recognized that there really wasn’t anything wrong with me and that I wasn’t as alone as I had always felt like I was. The place where, for the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged. I never saw Eric again, but Disco was a good friend for many years. He eventually stayed at a house that I had to move out of because he didn’t like the new place. Besides, the house I moved out of was a community garden. LOTS of mice and birds. It must have been heaven for him!

I have never looked back to the days when I was struggling with myself over who I am. Well, except that time in the porno theater. There has never been a reason to. Granted, I still had to endure the slurs about sexuality that I had always had to deal with since I could remember. My Nicknames on school playgrounds were things like, “Honey”, “Oddy” and, “Pussy Galore” (after the James Bond Character in Goldfinger) along with the standards, “Queer” (which I still find offensive today), “Fag & Faggot”, “Poofter”, “Light in the Loafers”, “Candy-Ass”, “Fudge-Packer”,,, There ‘s a whole dictionary of them and I ‘m pretty sure I’ve been called all of them at one time or another. But the fact is that it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it did back when I was completely alone.

But, now it’s possible to have a peaceful inner life. A life of knowing what this straight conservative Christian guy learned from his experience that I hope you read about. The gay community he refers to, interestingly enough, is the same gay community (Portland Oregon) that  has embraced me and I, it, in way that has made it possible for me to have a sense of peace within myself and focus my energies on things that really matter.

Like Homelessness, for example. I work at a Men’s Homelessness to Housing Program here and it’s the hardest job I’ve ever loved. I’m gay, and most of the men at the shelter know it, but I almost universally get the respect I give and there has been barely a ripple of discomfort about it because of that! They let me be me because they see me letting everyone else be themselves too. It’s almost like I give them permission not to be judgmental by not being judgmental of them.

In any Gay Community you will find a lot of hugging and kissing and touching, a lot of emotional support, and a lot of acceptance. It is because every gay person you know has done his, or her, own “Vision Quest” to get where they are today. That takes a deep and fierce courage and determination to be REAL. It seems kind of ironic when you consider that the most visible elements of our culture are our Drag Queens and our Leather Folks. They are the real leaders of our community because they have traveled even further then most of us have into their Vision Quest. Expert enough to play with the illusions of masculinity and femininity without getting burned.

But what brings my culture together at our core is stories like the one I’m telling you here. We share the experience of rejection and we KNOW how much that hurts the human spirit. That’s why we are, MOSTLY, accepting of others. We have a ways to go in that department, but not NEARLY as far as Straight people do. And, it’s because we have had to challenge our entire existence in ways that straight people have rarely had to think about. Why WOULD they? Straight people are not strangers in a strange land. They live in their own house.

That’s why I ‘m so impressed with this Timothy Kurek fellow. He didn’t HAVE to do that, but he did it anyway because he wanted to really experience what it’s like. That says a lot about his character.

My culture is expert at illusion and superficiality because we all, at some point or another, before our personal Vision Quest, have had to LIVE a superficial illusion to survive. We have been pushed out to the edge of our survival and found a way to come back and live here anyway.

I have the cultural confidence to be able to recognize Window Dressing at 4 blocks! Any time you want to know what the next big hit song on the radio is going to be, all you have to do is go to a gay dance club tonight and listen for a few minutes. See? You didn’t know you were psychic, did you!

Homosexuality is a culture. So much so that when I ‘m filling out forms that ask what race I am, if there’s an option for “Other”  that’s what I check, because of all the options listed on those forms, that one is the closest to what I am.

I’m glad that Timothy Kurek infiltrated my community and experienced what he experienced and I’m glad that he wants you to know about it. I wish more brave heterosexual souls would do that. After all, it’s only fair, we have experienced their world from birth. Been there, done that, moved on! It just wasn’t for me.

Much Love,

Gregory

PS: As an aside to any GLBTQ person who has not seen it already, check out a movie called “Before Stonewall”. It changed my life and my understanding of myself. We have a long and rich cultural history that I didn’t even know existed until I saw it. Maybe it will help you figure some things out.

In Belated Memorium For Billy Preston 1946-2006

Published by:

September 5, 2011 – by Gregory Franklyn

I was out looking for things to take pictures of with my new camera yesterday and I was driving up Martin Luther King Boulevard when I spotted a dear friend with whom I had fallen deeply in love about a decade ago. He was hot and sweaty because it was about 90 degrees out and was carrying a rubber trash can over his shoulder, which seemed strangely fitting. You see, my friend suffers from Crack Addiction. One of the most severe cases of the disease I’ve seen so far.

Legend has it, the last time he was well was in High School. He was quite the BMOC at the time and married early. No surprise there, he was a magnificent sight even in the deteriorated condition he was in when I met him. Any young girl, or boy for that matter, would have fallen all over themselves trying to get with him. He ‘s a tall emaciated string of knots now, but in the day I hear he was a mountain of graceful sculpture. He’s intelligent, observant, and makes friends easily with a charm that makes him seem even bigger than he is. He has always lit up any room I was in, at least in part because of the love I feel for him.

He didn’t notice me as I waved so I pulled over to the curb nearly 2 blocks behind him. I was going to speak with him because I missed him and hadn’t seen him in a while. But I stopped myself because as I sat there watching him walk away I realized how sick he is and how miserably I failed to help him out of his unfortunate life a decade ago.

At that moment, sitting there in my car, I felt sad for both of us. Him, for the life he has to live because of the politics of addiction, and me because, try as I might, I was never enough to him to be of any real help. To his credit, and mine I suppose, when we were together he was making some real effort to deal with his disease. But, that was 10 years, of sucking on that glass dick, ago. Among the many things I love about this guy is his work ethic and his integrity. Even in the face of what a crack head has to go through to keep feeding that beast, he was still able to maintain some dignity about himself.

His character as a man has always amazed me and I wish I had known him before he got sick. It’s kind of sad that had he not been sick, we probably never would have met. As I hear it, he was way way up there on the “A List” of the cool kids and I was, clearly, not!

Later that night I was flipping through channels when I came upon a documentary about Billy Preston. Those of you who were born Post-Beatles will probably not remember him, but he has a huge impact on my growth and development with an album he did called “I Wrote a Simple Song”. His claim to fame was his moniker of being the 5th Beatle. He played keyboards on their last two albums and was likely the reason they stayed together long enough to finish them. He also toured with the Rolling Stones as a sideman and was in Ray Charles’ and Little Richards’ bands for years. At 9 years old, he was a guest on Nat King Cole’s TV show and played piano FOR Nat, while Nat sang. NINE YEARS OLD!

The Album I’m referring to, “I Wrote a Simple Song”

I was 20 years old and living in Phoenix Arizona with about 6 others in a little 70s drug commune type of arrangement on Solano Drive. I had just been to the record store and was clutching my prize close to my chest on my way home. I put the record on and dropped a hit of particularly good LSD and laid down on my waterbed to listen.

Somewhere near 9 hours later my room-mates burst into my room and demanded that I change the record. I fell in love with Billy Preston that day. What I felt, and still feel, when I listen to that record is a kind of fun, joy, excitement and not a little bit of stirring down in my nether regions.

I’ll spare you the intimate details, but let’s just say that it’s possible to have an orgasm without touching yourself. To this day I’m grateful that didn’t happen while my house-mates were storming into my room to demand that I play something else for a while. It was one of those records like Brenda Russell’s  “Piano In The Dark” that once I heard it, I couldn’t bear the sound of anything else for WEEKS on end.

What I didn’t know until last evening is that my hero, in addition to being a genius musician who played with the A List of people of his time and whom we now consider legendary geniuses, was also gay! Not many people talk about that and it’s unfortunate. Partly because guys like me, and it turns out Billy Preston himself, had to struggle so deeply with our sexuality and self esteem because no one was talking about it. We had to make it on our own, mostly without help.

Looking back on that experience I can ‘t help but think that Billy Preston reached me so deeply because he was able to communicate through his genius in music that what I was feeling inside was not just OK, but an actual gift that not everyone gets to have. He was a kindred spirit even though I didn’t know it at the time. It’s clear that he didn’t know what he was saying at the time either. I learned from the documentary that he struggled with being gay for his whole life because of his upbringing in the church. Wow, me too!

As you know, God is said to look down on the idea of same gender relationships that include sex. God is SAID to look down on such, by people who don’t understand homosexuality, or are struggling with it themselves. The documentary talked about Billy’s struggle with the same disease my friend from earlier yesterday had, as well! Same one I have, too. With my cigarettes!

However, I am here to testify that somewhere inside of Billy Preston, coming out through his music, was the knowledge of how much of a gift being selected to go through this life as a gay person really is and I will always hold a special place in my soul for his trying to tell me that on his album “I Wrote a Simple Song” way back then. Maybe he was trying to tell himself too, but it changed what I felt about myself on an subconscious level, if not a conscious one. I hope it had the same effect on him.

Looking back, it was around that time in my life when I stopped doing drugs and started looking at my life as if there were a future for me in addition to a past that I’d rather not revisit, and I believe to this day that album had some part in that discovery. I may not have realized it at the time, but another like soul was reaching out to mine. I learned from the documentary that he eventually, if too late, did settle with his sexuality and recovered from his illness with crack shortly before his unfortunate demise in 2006.

I thought it was strange, and maybe a bit of a signal, about what had happened to me earlier that day while sitting in my car thinking about speaking with my friend who was sick, and then seeing this documentary about one of my personal heroes who suffered from the same disease. Here’s what came up for me:

I don ‘t like Crack! It ‘s nothing personal, I just don ‘t like it and I’ve never held bad feelings about people who think they DO like it. I have some friends who have been doing it for years and they’re still my friends and I still love them. I love them from a bit of a distance now because of some of the more unsavory symptoms of the disease but I do love them still.

I also have some friends who have done it and have been able to leave it behind and I cheer for them, inside. I consider it a blessing to have been there to see that happen for them. I just don ‘t want it in my life because you don’t even have to suck that glass dick for it to ruin big swaths of your life. Just being an innocent bystander is enough. If you’re nearby, you’re going to feel the effects of the symptoms of addiction.

BUT, addiction is not a criminal justice issue. It is a MEDICAL one. These people are sick, not criminal. In every case I’ve seen, criminal activity is a symptom of the disease, not a cause. People who are sick commit crimes BECAUSE they are sick, not because they are criminals.

We are fighting a war with crimes we have created by misunderstanding the nature of illness in general and the disease of addiction in particular. I favor legalizing ALL of it even though I have little personal interest in doing drugs anymore (aside from my cigarettes, of course).

We should be putting our money into treatment for a medical disease that is eating my friend alive. Our response to drugs destroys way more families and individual lives than any drug every dreamed of. It’s like our War on Terror. We’ve done most of the destruction to our country ourselves by acting out our fears instead of our vision for peace or healing.

What also came up for me is this: Religion is the single most powerful force of evil in the lives of my fellow GLBT folks, probably everyone else too, but that ‘s a discussion for another day. I can testify, personally, to that truth and I can point to Billy Preston and any number of other heroes right here in my life who live tragic lives of self doubt because someone in the church, that they looked up to for guidance and direction in times of confusion, told them that who they are as a person is wrong in the eyes of God, and they believed it because they thought they were SUPPOSED to! That is the single biggest, most destructive, lie I have ever heard and it is STILL being told by people who SAY they are speaking in the name of a loving creator, in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

And lastly, What came up for me is that maybe my judgment was a little off yesterday when I let my friend with the trash can on his shoulder keep walking without stopping him to speak for a while. He’s worth it as a human being and I still love him and miss him so much. Maybe I should have stopped him and tried again. It’s 10 years later, he’s surely been through a lot in that time. Maybe now, after all that, I might be enough to reach his soul like Billy Preston was able to do for me at what turned out to be a critical juncture in my life… Maybe….and while I ‘m thinking of it; (Aside to Billy Preston) Happy Trails my brother, and thank you for everything! Will It Go Round In Circles? I certainly hope so, Billy!

With Much Love From Gregory Leon Franklyn, A kid you helped become a man!

Bah Humbug!

Published by:

December 10, 2008 – by Gregory Franklyn

The top news stories today were certainly juicy and tantalizing. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is burning up airtime like a spring break bonfire for his attempted sale of the US Senate seat formerly occupied by President Elect Barack Obama. He got arrested and jailed yesterday and has the unmitigated gall to show up at work today like nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

It turns out nothing out of the ordinary HAD taken place. Politicians in Illinois being escorted into judicial custody is hardly out of the ordinary for Illinois. Nor is slinging blame, there’s plenty for everyone in Chicago politics!

The other big story would have to be the 14 Billion dollars under congressional consideration for US Automakers. Not that that would be news either, we’re having 70s flashbacks about US Automakers getting bailed out of financial ruin. Lee Iacoca must be chuckling under his breath right now. There’s also the unfolding soap opera in New York over Caroline Kennedy and, of all people, Fran Drescher, Seeking the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State, to be, Hillary Clinton.

Amidst this feast of juicy pabulum the story that really captured my imagination is this little aside on “Countdown with Keith Olberman” this evening about Australian astronomer Dave Reneke who has discovered that there is very serious scientific support to question whether December 25th is, or is not, Jesus Christ’s birthday! WHAT???

Ok, we all know that the day we celebrate Christmas was probably NOT the actual date of the birth of Christ. Science has pretty much demonstrated that according to the description of events described in the Bible, the birth of Christ could not have taken place in the winter. Interestingly, this scientist was able to pinpoint the exact date of the event. Ready? June 17, 2 B.C.. Let that twist your mind for a minute.

Jesus was born on June 17th 2 years before the birth of Christ. Those of you who, like former President Bill Clinton, didn’t inhale may be having some difficulty with this concept, but, for the record, I did   Inhale, and I did so repeatedly. It all makes perfect sense to me.

The reason why I mention this story is to illustrate my long held aversion to Christmas. Christmas is a season I’ve never participated in as a matter of choice. I get dragged, kicking and screaming, into it like it was a trip to the medicine cabinet where mom keeps the Castor Oil. If you are a Christian, you, in particular, should be outraged at the desecration of the memory of your lord and savior. What would Jesus do? Think money-changers at the temple. If I m not mistaken, Jesus was a tad bit annoyed at the prospect of Macy’s setting up a little shop on his dad’s porch.

Reneke’s astounding discovery will come as no surprise to the Vatican. They’ve known about this for quite some time. A couple millennia to be exact. As a matter of fact, it was the Vatican, or whatever it was called at the time, that changed the date of the blessed event to “coincide” with the already strong tradition of the Winter Solstice celebrated by most other religions, and, frankly everyone else in the known world, other than Christians. And, as standard operational procedure dictates, Christians even got the date wrong. The Solstice is actually the 21st not the 25th. But I digress! “Coincide” is way to diplomatic of a term to use for the intent of changing Jesus’ Birthday to the Winter Solstice Celebration. “Obliterate” was more the actual intent.

When you’re decorating your Christmas Tree and roasting your chestnuts on that Yule Log you’ll likely be oblivious to the fact that these two traditions, like most Christmas Traditions, were lifted from those terrible heathen Pagan Winter Solstice Rituals and sanitized for your protection. The intent of the Christian Power Structure at the time was to absorb Pagan traditions, sanitize them and give them a decidedly Christian spin so they would have an easier time convincing the world that Pagans were “So Last Year” and that Christianity was the happening religion of the future.

It’s kind of like Rock and Roll! Since Little Richard and those Muddy Waters era musicians melded a handful of down home musical genres into a virtual revolution of world culture, Rock and Roll continues to eat everything that attempts to compete with it. They must have learned that technique from early Christians who have been applying the very same marketing campaign for centuries. Christianity was the James Dean to the rest of the world’s Pat Boone, at the time. It was the young rebel religion full-throttle, hell bent on eating everything in its path to glory.

So this month we are celebrating the victory of Christianity over everything else in the world on a day that is misrepresented as the day their Christ was born, by celebrating with rituals that were stolen from Pagan Religions and turning the whole nine yards of it over to financial interests who created Santa Claus to be the world s deity for a month so they could sell enough product to earn literally a third of their yearly profits in a single month.

Right here would be a good time to mention that I am NOT an atheist, although a good case can be made that I am, by hearing me rant and rave about Christianity. I believe in God, as I perceive it to be and I love that I do so in my own way. I like to think that God, who, or whatever, that may end up to be, appreciates that I love it so much and am so deeply grateful for the width and breadth of the creation that I experience.

There’s this scene in “A Color Purple” by Alice Walker. It’s near the end of the movie version where Shug Avery and Celie are casually walking together through a field of daisies on a gloriously beautiful spring day. They stop for a moment and Shug picks a little purple flower, shows it to Celie and says, “God made the color purple and, you know, I think he gets pissed off if you don t notice”, Call me weird, but I find that little scene deeply spiritual and I will never forget its truth. That has a LOT more to do with my relationship with God than anything I’ve ever read in any scripture, Bible or otherwise.

I agree with the spirit of giving that we use to excuse our deeper knowledge of the truth of what I m talking about this evening. Giving is a good thing, and lest I be guilty of the same fiction mongering I’m distancing myself from right now, so is receiving! I like that we have a whole season of giving. It starts with Thanksgiving, (my personal favorite because it is about people and love and family and togetherness,,, and food, but alas, also fiction) and ends with Christmas, my least favorite because it pretty much trashes everything Thanksgiving is about.

I say Bah, Humbug because everything about Christmas, as we know it, down to its very roots, is one big jumbled messy misrepresentation (translation = Frigging bold faced LIE!) dressed up with a bow and presented to YOU as something of value. None of it is real, it’s all political, financial, religious power struggling insanity and it always has been. We are a pretty resourceful and creative people. I like to think we can come up with a way to honor the life of this truly remarkable teacher, other than this overwhelmingly grotesque affront to everything he stood for. Surely, we can do better than this!?

Merry Christmas,

Gregory