August 31, 2004

Political Interlude: The Republican Convention

Of course they slammed John Kerry, everyone from Dennis Hastert to John McCain indicated that Kerry was a waffler on war issues who will raise our taxes.

However, I had to turn it off. I couldn’t stand it. The RNC platform is anti gay and sexist, and the news media aren’t covering that aspect at all. It appears that the only thing the Republican Party is for is WAR! I can’t be logical about this. I don’t like them, and I don’t like George Bush.

I’m frightened for the heart and soul of my country.

August 28, 2004

Spiritual Eroticism: Part V


The Getty Museum required that I remove the image, "Saint Sebastian Attended by an Angel" from my blog. It was located in this position, alligned to the right side of the document.*

While composing this series of entries and choosing art works to illustrate them, three of four art works were of Saint Sebastian. In retrospect, I’m wondering, why. It could be that the subject says something about my specific brand of spirituality, eroticism, and sexuality, which of course, must be slightly different from everyone else's since no two people have the same genetic structure and / or the same formative and cumulative experience. It could also be that this religious subject, both as a narrative and as an image, is potentially charged with homosexual eroticism. It is also necessary to ask the following question in order to figure out my first quandary. Who was Saint Sebastian?

I must confess, I knew very little about Sebastian, the man, and after doing a search, I don’t know a great deal more. There is much written about the history of Sebastian as a religious and cultural icon, but very little biographical information survives. We do know that he was a nobleman and that he may have been from Milan. He was in the Imperial body guard and was in charge of a company of archers during the 4th century AC. He served under emperors Maximian and Diocletian in their personal (Praetorian) guard, and was executed by Diocletian’s archers because he rescued Christian Martyrs Marcellinus and Mark. He survived and was nursed back to health by a woman named Irene. When Diocletian discovered that Sebastian was alive and well, he had his soldiers beat Sebastian to death in a second public execution in the Hippodrome in Constantinople.

These details--based on accounts written centuries after Sebastian's death and therefore largely apocryphal--may have helped form Sebastian's subsequent reputation as a homosexual martyr since his story constitutes a kind of "coming out" tale followed by his survival of an execution that may be read symbolically as a penetration.

Sebastian, the preventer of plague in the Catholic tradition, became an extremely popular subject of Renaissance artists, and he was always portrayed as a young man of extreme Hellenic beauty. The last based in part on the Renaissance interest in all things ancient Roman and Greek. At the same time, however, these mostly Italian artists - among them were Botticelli, Giorgione, il Sodoma, Antonello da Messina, Mantegna, and Tintoretto - purposefully used a homoerotic subject disguised by and hidden within the mechanism of church tutelage. During the nineteenth century Sebastian was portrayed by writers, composers, and artists of aesthetic visualization as an androgynous and ecstatic, tortured saint. In both the Modern and the Postmodern eras Saint Sebastian has been the subject of many writers, artists and film makers; among the most prominent F. Holland Day, Marsden Hartley, Derek Jarman, Frank O’Hara, Pierre and Gilles, and Marcel Proust.

I’m not done with this topic. There will be more in the near future.

* "Saint Sebastian Attended by an Angel, Getty Museum," Explore art pages Getty Museum site, “” (Saturday, August 8, 2004, 10:28 AM. EDT)
To read about van Dyke’s drawing go to The Getty Museum site

*2 Kaye, Richard, “Saint Sebastian,” Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer Culture, “,” (New England Publishing Associates, 2000 with last update, March 1, 2004)(viewed Tuesday, August 10, 2004, 8:48 AM. EDT)

E-mail me! My e-mail address is

Visit my homepage
AOL Hometown

August 24, 2004

I may die with these blood stains on my hands.

"Out, out, damn spot!”

Spc. Joseph Darby Under Protective Military Custody

You know, he’s the guy who blew the whistle on the anarchy at Abu Ghraib prison. His family says the military protection is necessary because Darby is under threat of death by members of the communities in which he lives. I suppose that must mean, both civilian and military American communities.

I find it hard to stomach that people with any intelligence believe that the murder, sexual abuse, and torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was acceptable, and that Darby is a traitor for reporting the abuse. Hundreds, no thousands of pictures testify to the atrocities committed, and the abuse was instigated by military intelligence officers, which implicates the complicity of higher authorities.

As a member of this society I am so ashamed! Have I lived my life with my eyes closed? Have I been so self centered as to avoid seeing the evil around me?

Yes, I am still in despair over the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal! I can not get it out of my mind. These people used my sexuality as a device to torture Iraqi’s and that makes me angrier than I can say. That the torture was apparently military policy and extended to prisons in Afghanistan compounds my ire.

I am indignant! I am sad, and I will not be healed until I see justice. I will not feel safe in this country until this evil has been traced to its source, and the festering rot removed!

However, I am old, and I know these things take time. I hope I live to see the surgical procedure finished properly.

August 22, 2004

Some Observations About the Current State of the Union

  1. A Volunteer for John Kerry found a flier at the Bush-Cheney headquarters that plugs “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” Of course the Bush-Cheney campaign is connected to this obvious attempt to smear Kerry! It’s just one more of Carl Rove’s stratagems. That is, if you tell a lie often enough you can convince the people it’s true.

  2. Condoleezza Rice advises us to be more patient with all the little idiosyncratic turns of the war in Iraq. However, we shouldn’t be there in the first place.

  3. University of Minnesota professor Steven Milles accuses doctors, nurses, and medics of participating in the prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib. His study sites specific instances of falsification of death certificates to hide homicides, covered up evidence of beatings, and the revival of a prisoner for more torture. Shame on them! Shame on us all for allowing such evil to take place! May God forgive us.

August 17, 2004

Spiritual Eroticism: Part IV

Old People are Sexual, Erotic, and Spiritual

I am eighty-four years old, will be eighty-five on September 11, 2005. I am onanistic by necessity. There are several reasons for this. First, very few men survive to be my age. Second, very few of those are gay, and none of them live in Lancaster County, PA. Third, if they do live here, they are afraid to come out and play.

Contrary to popular opinion people my age are sexual. Yes, Virginia, there are little old ladies and little old men by the millions who are fantasizing about having sex this very moment. Many of them are also punishing themselves for being sexual because our culture tells them they should not be. I’m not one of these last. In fact, some of the best sex I have had, took place after age fifty-five, the age at which our society declares we are old, useless, burned out, and less than one step away from death. I think many of us let ourselves go physically by age thirty because we have been culturally programed to self-destruct. It is impossible to be a youthful thirty something (much less eighty something) without others thinking we are immature. On my worst days, I do feel as though my twenty-five year old self is trapped inside this eighty-four year old shell that is falling apart despite my best efforts to keep it from doing so. Notice too how I am speaking of “IT” as though I am not IT.

But, I am my physical self, and so much more!

I am an aging animal, and my physical self is not functioning very well. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not complaining. I’m much better off physically than most of my friends and acquaintances here at THE BIG NEEDLE (Pine Needle Retirement Home). Be that as it may, my God given physical body and I are both parts of the same being. I believe that way down, deep at the center of my thoughts, there is a point at which my physical self, my sexual self, my intellectual self, and my spiritual self, are one and the same. I doubt that point is recognizable to me as ME, since such unity implies the presence of something higher and more complete than I am. Perhaps, it is the presence of God , that contact point that is open to us all if we wish to use it, and be used by it. There is that word again, “IT.” My own words imply the unity about which I write.*

* (This is your cultural / religious implant speaking, “Blasphemous Man! How can God be inside you?” To which I reply, “Why not? It would be such a blessing to each of us, and to all of us at the same time if “IT” were.”)


Martyrdom of Sebastian by Jorge Posada

As part of this series of articles about spiritual eroticism, I am looking at a group of religious art works because these chosen across time, but of course, universally Western, explore a connection between spirituallity, sometimes ecstacy, and eroticism. More often than not, the subject is gay eroticiism because I am a gay man.

* Jorge Posada, “Martyrdom of Sebastian I,” oil and pencil on paper, 50” x 38” (1998), Cronos Art, “” (viewed Monday, July 26, 2004, 9:48 AM, EDT)

E-mail me! My e-mail address is

Visit my homepage
AOL Hometown

August 09, 2004

Spiritual Eroticism: Part III

As I scrounged through the museum basement in Pittsburgh, I acquired the help of a hunky college intern named Harry.* Evidently I had been driving the curator mad with my constant requests for files, Journals, the locations of art works in the catacombs beneath the museum, and the need to make photocopies of materials I wanted to take with me. She, however, had been directed by THE PROFESSOR to go to any lengths to satisfy my desires. One day as I poured through the files of ancillary scraps, bills, notes, letters, tickets, post cards, and other papers, Harry alerted me to a discovery he had made. It seems THE PROFESSOR writes a journal about “Pennsylvania Dutch Gothic,” me.

I’ve included an entry from THE PROFESSOR’s journal below because it has the greatest resonance with my current strand of thought, that is Spiritual Eroticism.

As an adult male, Isaac transforms his concerns about his Amish directives (Procreate! Do not desire same sex objects!) into erotic images that are meditations on desire. These images allow him to cross the bridge from his Amish heritage to his new, worldly “gay” concerns. The Amish hat, suspenders and black pants, signify a godlike (and ironically a godly) Amish male, and an onanistic/spiritual response for Isaac. The image and its accouterments are iconic and unattainable. Nevertheless, the images are objects of desire, onanistic orgasm, and transgressive spiritual fulfillment. Thus, being gay, desiring, and having an orgasm become tied to spirituality, a worshipful state of mind, and God for Isaac. He reorganizes his belief in God, so that it contradicts the religious instruction of his Amish childhood. The new belief system supports his position as an adult, homosexual male, caught in a culture that does not allow him a positive conceptualization of his sexuality.1 In the reorganized belief system, Isaac knows that he is gay because God made him that way, and, because God is good, being gay and desiring a person of the same sex, must also be good. To create a gay man, and designate him as evil, in Isaac’s mind, would mean that God made a mistake. That is a contradiction. God being perfect, does not make mistakes.

(The Professor, August, 1997)

”Sebastian” by Pierre and Gilles, photography, collage, and paint

As part of this series on erotic spirituality I have been including images of art works that contain both spiritual and erotic elements. Pierre and Gilles, affectionately known as P&G by their fans created this image of Sebastian. While many critics maintain that this dynamic duo’s art works are pure “kitsch,” I find the amalgam of photographic tableau, stage set, collage, and paint to be fascinating. I have great difficulty telling where the photograph becomes painting. In fact, I had to walk up to the works at the New Museum exhibit in New York City back in 2001 and inspect them with my eyes but 2” away in order to find the enhancement of the photograph in hand painted details. The work raises all kinds of questions in my mind. Why are some images just images, while others (P&G’s included) are Art? What is the difference between a “Pop” religious image and a popular religious icon used in religious practice? Could or would a straight artist or artists create such wonderfully glitzy icons to love, perfection, eroticism, and yes, spirituality? I wonder if these two are conscious of the spiritually erotic qualities contained in many of the images they create?

*(such a pedestrian name. Why not Colt, Cody, Shane, Julian, or Beauchamp. Eric would be more interesting. Ah well, suffice it to say that Harry looks like the name “Colt” sounds. )

E-mail me! My e-mail address is

Visit my homepage
AOL Hometown

August 05, 2004

Spiritual Eroticism: Part II

The Democratic Convention, having the power of the moment, interrupted my musings. However, on July 24, 2004 I had started to write about sex and the spirit, a coupling of terms that most of us would not consider in the same breath/sentence, and perhaps most would think of as a dichotomy. I stated at the time that most of us whether heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered have a spiritual strand that runs through our sexuality. I also said that I thought those who lack this spiritual strand in their sexuality might not be quite human.


Additionally, as part of these entries, I am including spiritual art that also happens to be erotic. My first example was Antonello da Messina’s Sebastian. Today I am looking at Michelangelo’s David. * There’s no denying the erotic power latent in the quiet strength of this beautifully sculpted hunk of stone (pun intended). It’s telling that Michelangelo chose a mature young man for his model rather than a boy of 12 or 13 years. It tells us that the Catholic Church didn’t understand homosexuality as a theme. It tells us that Michaelangelo was not interested sexually in boys. Instead he projects his erotic glance on this handsome young man, in whom he sees restrained strength and spiritual repose.

In my life, it was Peter who inspired me with erotic spirituality.

I often wrote erotic poetry in The Varnastrama Journals, especially in the 1950’s and 60’s, that demonstrated the spiritual component in my sexuality as it related to my relationship with Peter. Remember, Varnastrama is my alternate reality in which Peter and I are still lovers, as we were in this world before Peter died. For instance, the following is from Volume III, page 85.

...consumed by passion,
I said, “Oh God,”
“Here I am.” You said.
“Yes,” I said, Yes, you are.”
“I am here,” you said.
“Yes, he is too,” I said.
“Yes,” you said.

In Volume IV, The Varnastrama Journals I wrote the following.

Our bodies are altars on which we sacrifice our love.
The universe is contained in our embrace, and when
I run my hand down the back of your long, thick neck.
I am filled by the raging flood,
Finding an eternity of pleasure there,
For the angels are present when you and I make love.
They are astral voyeurs who delight in our touch.

* Michelangelo, Buonarroti, “David,” “,” Web Gallery of Art, “” (Thursday, August 5, 2004, 9:16 AM EDT)

E-mail me! My e-mail address is

Visit my homepage
AOL Hometown