Why I Changed to “Jayms” on Social Media

In changing their name to “Jayms,” they are coming out as nonbinary.

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I recently decided to change my Twitter and Facebook first name from “James” to “Jayms.” While my friends and family have been largely accepting and unquestioning, I would like to explain why for me this makes a significant statement about who I am and how I have evolved in my lifetime.

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On Gender and Murder

My delayed reaction to the Orlando Massacre.

Sunday morning I awoke to the horrifying news: 20 had been killed in a mass shooting in Orlando. Stunned, I went about the business of getting Stephen and me to church. As usual, we picked up our neighbor, Jim, to give him a ride. His first words in the car were, “Did you hear that 50 people were killed in an attack on a gay bar?” There was something about having that initial estimate of deaths more than doubled that threw me into one of the worst places that I have ever found myself in. I almost couldn’t function. Thank God, our Rector, Jon, started the sermon with silence and a prayer for healing. But I couldn’t even watch the news that day, I was so much in a state of shock.

All of our problems in this world are not due to us queers. All of the problems of this world are due to the killers. The people who hate queer, fear queer, are pissed off at queer.

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A Personal Reflection on Gay Marriage on this Historic Day

I didn’t have an easy time accepting my sexuality. I grew up loved, but I lived in fear of saying that I was gay, let alone acting on that fact. I was 30 before I came out, and essentially lived a second teenage during that decade. I did my share of exploration, but always, I was looking for and not finding another man with whom to share my life.

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Zoological Oddities No More

Most everyone who stays in touch with the news knows that the Episcopal Church USA is undergoing a seismic shift towards the full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the life and liturgy of the Church. As reported in the New York Times, at the Church’s tri-annual convention in Anaheim yesterday, the House of Bishops hammered out a broadly supported resolution which, among other things, “gives latitude to bishops who wish to go ahead and bless [same-sex] unions, particularly in states that  have legalized such marriages.” Of course, as a gay man whose committed relationship has already received the blessing of the Church in 1993, I was delighted to see this move towards equal treatment. However, millions of people worldwide are as appalled and disgusted with this progressive move as I was thrilled and gratified. One line from the NYT article particularly caught my attention.

The Rev. Steve Wood, pastor of St. Andrews Church in Mount Pleasant, S.C., said: “The conservatives are treated more as zoological oddities. We’re patted on the head, nice-nice, and then we get steamrolled.”

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Reflections on a Gay Pride Event

Jim in 1980 pride tee shirtToday, June 28, 2009 is the 30th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots, often cited as the first instance where homosexuals fought back against oppression. For 25 of those years, I have been a gay activist, although age and decreased energy have diminished my passion. For several years now, my church, Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Louis, under the leadership of Rev. Anne Kelsey, has held a “mass on the grass” under a large tree in the corner of Tower Grove Park, the current site of St. Louis Pride activities during the last weekend in June. I have been to every one of these masses, and wasn’t about to miss this one. I even proudly wore my original tee shirt from the first full pride celebration April 12-20, 1980, although it has shrunk, and I have not.

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The Dawning of a New Gay

Within the last week we have seen two incredibly startling advances towards equal rights for gay and lesbian citizens of the U.S.A. On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a District Court decision that the Iowa ban on same-sex marriages violated the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, the equal-protection and due process clauses. And today, the Vermont State Legislature overrode the Republican governor’s veto to become the first state in the U.S.A. to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples in Vermont through legislative process. A high court and both houses of a state legislature have seen through the traditional bigotry that has kept gay and lesbian citizens under the bus of full citizenship.

The decision of the Iowa Supreme Court is particularly enlightening, because its carefully reasoned case not only cannot be ignored, but also will stand as a beacon of clear thinking about this central issue. After having studied that decision carefully, I would like to offer a summary and a brief reflection.

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