Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dispatches from the Holy War: 8/27


On a positive note, Sam Brinton appears to be flourishing. Brinton is the 2006 Perry High School graduate who told his story of parental abuse and rejection by former Southern Baptist missionary parents last October as part of Nathan Manske’s “I’m From Driftwood” project. The first part of that story is here; the second half of the story, here.

To make that long story short, Brinton --- then a senior at Kansas State University, Manhattan --- told Mankse of childhood beatings by his father, who suspected he might be gay, so severe that Sam ended up in emergency rooms several times; exposure to extensive conversion therapy that included electric shock; suicide attempts; repression in order to avoid further punishment; and finally outright rejection when he told his parents after enrolling in college that none of it had worked and that he was, indeed, gay.

Between October and now, Brinton has completed his studies at Kansas State, earning a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering with nuclear engineering option and a bachelor of arts degree in music with permance emphasis and a minor in Chinese language. His parents and two younger siblings attended his graduation, apparently representing a degree of reconciliation.

Brinton has moved to Cambridge, Mass., where he now is a graduate student in nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology --- and an activist against “repairative” therapy and the ex-gay movement.

He was featured this week in a front-page story in “Bay Windows,” a Boston-based publication that describes itself as “New England’s Largest GLBT Newspaper.” You can find that story here.

Why would Christian parents throw away such a bright, creative and annoyingly upbeat and energentic kid? Oh wait, he’s gay.


Several hundred Iowans participated in candlelight vigils Thursday night across the state in memory of 19-year-old Marcellus Andrews, whose funeral is today in Waterloo. Andrews was beaten to death in Waterloo last weekend during a fight after being subjected to anti-gay slurs. Waterloo police maintain the beating death does not “rise to the threshold” required by Iowa law for it to be considered a hate crime.

The Register’s Kyle Munson did as good a job as I’ve seen of putting everything into context in a column published in Friday’s edition, which is here.

It seems as if Andrews was an innocent bystander, in every sense, a victim of bizarre and violent heterosexual mating rituals. Apparently one of the attackers had been involved with one of Andrews’ female friends and that is considered by police the principal motive for the altercation. The attackers just decided call Andrews a faggot, among other things, and kill him as kind of an aside.


The Associated Press has concluded, after an investigation, what many Iowans already figured --- that Bob Vander Plaats’ right-wing Iowa Family Policy Center (now a division of The Family Leader) used a share of $2.2 million in federal funding it received as a provider of marriage counseling services to pay overhead for its drive to unseat three Iowa Supreme Court justices last year. That wasn’t against the law, the AP concluded. Gotta love it. Here’s The Iowa Independent’s report.


Texas Gov. Rick Perry has joined Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum as signers of the National Organization for Marriage’s anti-gay marriage pledge --- hardly a surprise. The four have promised to, among other things, promote a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man/one woman (at a time, serial polygamy’s still OK), nominate only homophobic Republican wingnuts for Supreme Court and federal judicial openings and to defend DOMA vigorously. Nothing new there.

The scary part calls for establishment of “a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate and document reports of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.” That one almost takes a guy’s breath away.

Perry, or “Governor Goodhair” as the late great Molly Ivins used to call him, will be in Ottumwa at mid-afternoon today, then will attend a GOP fund-raising event at the fairgrounds in Des Moines this evening. So hide your babies. That hair might explode.


And finally, President Obama is due to be in Minneapolis Tuesday to address the national convention of the American Legion, reportedly on unemployment, a problem for veterans. Whether they'll crucify the poor guy for his part in ending Don't Ask Don't Tell is another matter.

The Legion does good work as an advocate for veterans. Big in graveside rites, too. Chariton’s post has a great building of considerable architectural importance. A healthy post is one route to a healthy building, so I hope those legionnaires live long and prosper.

The group’s national leadership, however, is a little cranky. To say it “opposed” the repeal of DADT is a bit of an understatement.

I’ve always fancied a government tombstone, one of those upright ones rarely seen outside military cemeteries these days. I’m entitled and maybe I’ll arrange it, but will take a pass on graveside rites. Those good old boys can grab their bugles and find a straight corpse to toot over.

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