October 30, 2009

Overheard: Parenting

Abe hands Ben a drink pouch.

Abe: “Be careful you don’t spill—

Ben: “Dad. You’re parenting. Again.”

Abe: “Oh. Sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Minutes go by.

Ben: “Dad, could I have a sandwich?”

Abe: “So now I CAN be a parent.”

Ben: “Sure, when I get positive results.”

This is better than TV.

October 27, 2009

Overheard: Traffic

Ben and I were in traffic, and a Suburban Escalade Mountaineer Expedition passed us.

Ben: “What do you think when you see one of those?”

Me: “I think the owner has a very small penis.”

Ben: “Yep.”

October 25, 2009

We Had A Ball

Saturday night the Damien Center of Indianapolis held their 22nd annual Grande Masquerade, the premier fundraising event for the city’s primary HIV/AIDS support center. I was privileged to be one of many volunteers to help this event run smoothly, and it was great. For two years in a row the Grande Masquerade has been awarded the ISES (International Special Events Society, Indiana Chapter) PACE Award as the “Best Not-for-Profit Event with a Legacy.”

Image courtesy of the Damien Center

Prior to the start of entertainment, a very brief presentation recognized that this year the Grande Masquerade garnered more corporate sponsors and more auction donations than any year in history. This is especially heartening at a time when individual donations are down and funding from state and federal agencies has been severely curtailed. A sobering fact was revealed about Indiana HIV statistics: in the past year, 37% of people with positive test results for HIV were diagnosed with AIDS at the time of the test. This speaks volumes for the need to be tested early. Events like this ball are necessary for the funding to get the word out.

Since I was behind the scenes helping process the registrations and silent auction bids, I didn’t get a chance to watch most of the evening’s entertainment. However, I did get to see the Indy Pride Bag Ladies do their thing. This ragtag band of men in drag danced and lip-synced their way down the center of the room, bold and sassy and full of fun. They have offered their special talents at a number of venues over the years, and I understand that this year they exceeded one million dollars in total lifetime donations towards organizations dealing with AIDS. That is amazing and a wonderful example of how grass roots efforts can have a strong positive effect.

Image courtesy of Indy Pride Photo Guy

The evening ended with a surprise for me. I love any excuse to put on a costume, and this year I had a very special one, with the help of a good friend and excellent seamstress. I gained her assistance in making the iconic “curtain dress” worn by Carol Burnett as Starlet O’Hara in her “Went With the Wind” sketch. The moment that Burnett stepped onstage in that dress is one of the finest entrances in television history.

No one had the costume to rent, so my friend and I made the drapes and hat; I rented the dress and wig. I was a little concerned that the crowd might skew young and not get it, but all through the evening I was asked to pose for photos, alone and with fellow revelers. The real treat came during the costume contest, which—to my amazement—I won. The fact that I won in a room filled with men in extraordinary costumes, glorious wigs and better makeup than I will ever wear was not lost on me at all. I was stunned. The best compliment came as the evening came to a close. An admirer congratulated me and I expressed my astonishment. He said, “Honey, in this room full of gays, tonight you were f***in' Madonna.

So for a brief shining moment, I wasn't Elton John; I was f***in' Madonna. Wow.

Update: Here are the runners up

and some finalists in the contest.

October 22, 2009


Now I know why I've been called "sir" three times.

Image courtesy of Fameball.

Update: Make that five times.

October 18, 2009

Sunday Shuffle

Music from my iPod.

1. Tomorrow Night / Raul Malo
2. Bless The Beasts And Children / The Carpenters
3. Jack Hinks / Great Big Sea
4. If Everyone Cared / Nickelback
5. Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me / Gladys Knight & The Pips
6. Cosmik Debris / Frank Zappa
7. Love Is Like Jazz / The Magnetic Fields

October 17, 2009


Oct. 17, 2009 5:35:19 PM
Ooh. Found the turtle. Mmmmm.
Thank you!

Oct. 17, 2009 5:39:39 PM
I am the best.

Oct. 17, 2009 5:44:20 PM
You really are.

October 13, 2009

Today on Bilerico Indiana: Indiana Coming Out Day Celebration

I made a new sign for my second appearance at a protest! In all the excitement, I forgot to get a picture of it, but someone else posted a few and I nabbed one.

Photo courtesy of Wilson E. Allen

You can read my short post about it here.

Birdie's Bodacious Chili

First, let me tell you that I don't cook. I can, but I don't like to. But since I'm forced to do it every once in a while, I have learned to make a few good dishes. My beef stew is good on a winter day, and the chef at work taught me how to make the best gravy ever. But it's my chili that is requested by friends when we have a pitch-in.

Last weekend I made the first pot of the season. I'm not proprietary about it, and I love it when someone shares a good recipe with me. So here's my bodacious chili recipe. Not gourmet or difficult, this recipe serves at least four.

1½ lbs. ground round

1 16 oz. can finely diced tomatoes (no spices)
1 16 oz. can light red kidney beans

1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 medium sweet onion, diced (1 cup)
½ green pepper, diced
 (3/8 cup)
3/8 cup Worcestershire Sauce (6 Tb.)
2 Tb. chili powder
1 clove garlic, crushed


grated mild cheddar cheese

sour cream

chopped chilies
hot sauce
corn chips

12” saute pan

large soup pot with lid

On medium heat, sauté onion and green pepper in butter until onions are transparent and lightly browned. Turn heat to medium low and add crushed garlic; sauté mix for one minute, constantly stirring so that garlic is NOT browned (and thus turned bitter). Toss in large pot.

Put tomatoes, beans and tomato paste in the same pot and add at least one tomato can of water. Stir and set heat on low.

Brown ground beef and drain if excessive liquid forms. Toss meat in Worcestershire Sauce and then chili powder over heat. Add to pot, stir, and cover. Simmer for one hour or more on very low heat, stirring every so often. Add water as needed.

Festivize with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, chilies, hot sauce, corn chips.

Serves four to five. Double recipe serves eight to ten and fits into large crockpot. (Warning: do not rely on a crockpot to simmer this dish properly. It must be simmered on a stove first. Trust me.) Since this is cooking and not baking, the amounts are "to taste." Play with it and make it your recipe.


October 11, 2009

Sunday Shuffle

I have about 2000 songs in my iPod. I thought I'd share them with you on random shuffle.

1. Money Money Money / Abba
2. Summer Wind / Frank Sinatra
3. Angelina / Earl Klugh
4. Is She Really Going Out With Him / DaVinci’s Notebook
5. My Life / Billy Joel
6. Christmas Memories/Wheels / Tommy Emmanuel
7. Lovely Rita / The Beatles

October 9, 2009


This young man (from Russia?) is playing a chromatic button accordion. Amazing.

October 8, 2009

Small World

The last article I [re]wrote for Bilerico included a reference to my friend Rance, who died this past spring. He was a small but pivotal force in my life when we met three and a half years ago. Turns out I wasn’t the only one.

It comes as no surprise at all to me that Rance had a similar impact on someone else. I’m willing to bet it runs in the hundreds.

My little post “Missionary” was forwarded by a reader to a man who was a colleague of his. That man’s name is Ken. Now out of the Mormon church and out in life, Ken asked to contact me. He knew someone named Rance long ago. Could it be the same man?

Of course it was. Ken gave me permission to print his first response to me.

In the early 1980s, I was living in Salt Lake City, and business took me to Vernal, Utah, where I stayed in a motel owned by the Searle family. I had dinner at their restaurant, and Rance played guitar and sang for his guests. To me, he was a close replica of John Denver.

Also, since I wrote to my friend James, I "googled" Rance Searle and found his obituary from April - something that deeply saddened me, in spite of the fact that I have not talked to him or had any contact at all for more than 30 years.

But when I was going to Vernal on business fairly regularly, I would stay at his hotel and meet with him. We got to know each other fairly well. I knew he was a few years older than I, but never thought he'd have died at such a young age.

The most important thing that happened when I knew Rance was how he relayed his own doubts about the LDS faith. At that time, although I had admitted I was gay, I still fervently believed in Mormonism. I can recall him telling me about a list of 10 questions he and a friend had compiled, which he (or they) had taken to a General Authority, and were not able to get clear answers for.

When Rance told me that there were multiple versions of Joseph Smith's first vision (which cast doubt on his credibility), I remember the feeling I had: "Wow! Maybe I've been feeling guilty all these years - for nothing." A weight was lifted at that moment, and I'll be forever grateful to Rance for helping me see the truth.

Other issues he had were with the Book of Mormon. I can recall his strong emotion as he said, "How can we believe in the Book of Mormon when there is not ONE SHRED of evidence supporting it?"

There was, of course, much much more we talked about during those visits.

I'm sorry to know that Rance passed on…

That day in Vernal was the beginning of a profound change in my life, and I have Rance to thank for lighting the fire. I'm pleased but not surprised to know that he touched your life as well, as I'm sure he did many many others…

This exchange has continued and led to another introduction which has Rance at its center. I wonder what Rance would say if he knew of the newly-connected network of friends he left behind. I am eager to see where it leads.

It grieves me that Ken had to leave his church to find peace. Too many are taking that path away from God, the failure of men keeping them separated from what should be a loving community of faith. Shame on us for letting it happen.

I am having to pay my own way this year to the Covenant Network of Presbyterians annual convention in November. Our church budget is being cut quite close. I’m hoping to have someone accompany me, but no one has been able to join me yet. Even so, I am excited to be going. Who knows what I’ll learn or who I’ll meet that will send me on the next step of this important journey toward an inclusive faith community. It remains a privilege to serve.