Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry was the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a now-dormant site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He was the Editor-in-Chief of two Manhattan-based magazines until he decided to give up commercial publishing for professional photography... with a lot of blogging on the side. These days, he lives in an old seaside farmhouse in Maine with his wife, three kids, and two big dogs.
The 24th of June in 1973 was a Sunday. For New Orleans’ gay community, it was the last day of national Pride Weekend, as well as the fourth anniversary of 1969’s Stonewall uprising. You couldn’t really have an open celebration of those events — in ’73, anti-gay slurs, discrimination, and even violence were still as common as sin — but the revelers had few concerns. They had their own gathering spots in the sweltering city, places where people tended to leave them be, including a second-floor bar on the corner of Iberville and Chartres Street called the UpStairs Lounge. That Sunday, dozens of members of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the nation’s first gay church, founded in Los Angeles in 1969, got together there for drinks and conversation. It seems to have been an amiable group. The atmosphere was welcoming enough that two gay brothers, Eddie and Jim Warren, even brought their mom, Inez, and proudly introduced her to the other patrons. Beer flowed. Laughter filled the room. Just before 8:00p, the doorbell rang insistently. To answer it, you had to unlock a steel door that opened onto a flight of stairs leading down to the ground floor. Bartender Buddy Rasmussen, expecting a taxi driver, asked his friend Luther Boggs to let the man in. Perhaps Boggs, after he pulled the door open, had just enough time to smell the Ronsonol lighter fluid that the attacker of the UpStairs Lounge had sprayed on the steps. In the next instant, he found himself in unimaginable pain as the fireball exploded, pushing upward and into the bar. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Wendy Williams Montgomery was hardly ever fazed by slurs and invective against gay people. When God calls upon you to be an anti-gay crusader, you think there’s nothing wrong with opinions like “Gay people are disgusting and immoral” and “AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality.” So Wendy did her part for a world that she thought had arrogantly shut God out: She and her husband Tom, both Mormons, went from door to door in 2008, convincing California voters to vote yes on Proposition 8, the state referendum that overturned the ruling allowing same-sex couples to marry in the Golden State. All the while, their son Jordan (pictured below), now 14, slowly descended into confusion and then depression. He was starting to realize that he’s attracted to boys. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Talk about nostalgia! Public Radio International has a pretty entertaining piece from Greece about the Return of the Hellenes, … a movement trying to bring back the religion, values, philosophy and way of life of ancient Greece, more than 16 centuries after it was replaced by Christianity. Remember the good old days? Neither do they, but that doesn’t prevent them from worshiping the dodecatheon, including the long-moribund deities Zeus, Apollo, and Hera. The New Hellenes don’t pray to the old gods, they say, but they do hold them worthy of veneration (as representations of things like beauty, health, and wisdom), and some revivalists offer them sacrifices such as flowers, fruit, milk, and honey. [Click headline for more…] Read more
In Evansville, Indiana, 30 decorated crosses will soon be erected in public spaces, right on the city’s downtown riverfront. But don’t worry, they’re really sculptures, so it’s all in the name of art, as well as for the good of the people: “We’re doing it on behalf of the community. We will feel like it will bring people to the riverfront who wouldn’t otherwise come.” That comment is courtesy of Roger Lehman, the West Side Christian Church member who successfully requested permission from Evansville’s Board of Public Works. The polyethylene crosses — which will be temporary, going up this August 4th for about two weeks — are going to be decorated by children attending a Bible camp at the church. [Click headline for more…] Read more
I wrote yesterday about the lack of self-reflection by U.K. Archbishop John Sentamu, whose Anglican Church is both ultra-wealthy and keen on special tax breaks; His Excellence nonetheless believes he has the moral standing to harangue smart taxpayers into coughing up more money to save dying children. An attentive reader sent me a picture of the Archbishop’s residence, called Bishopthorpe Palace, near York. And a palace it is indeed. I found some additional photos of the mega-mansion for you. [Click headline for more…] Read more