A space to post my thoughts and musings about anything. This includes but is not limited to community, politics, current events, relationships, LGBTQ+ issues, favorite things, and stuff that would make your dead relatives blush. I am not afraid to go there, as some can attest.

November 10, 2018

Transcript of Right Rev. Gene Robinson's Sermon on Matthew Shepard

On October 26, 2018, a service was held as the remains of Matthew Shepard, victim of a deadly attack in 1998 because he was gay, were interred at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.  Right Rev. Gene Robinson, retired Bishop of New Hampshire, delivered the sermon.  As I am unable to find a transcript of what was a very moving sermon, I'm transcribing it here.  Any punctuation is at my discretion.  The original video of the service may be found on YouTube with his sermon starting at 1:12:35

A week from now we will be celebrating All-Saints Day, and in many parts of Latin America on All-Saints Day, there is a custom where people in the congregation are invited to say the names of those who have departed this life, but somehow are still present.  If you close your eyes and open your hearts, Matt is right here.  What the congregation says when the name is called out is presente, present, here, and so I invite you -- Matthew Shepard, presente.

Let me just say at the beginning that I've been crying for a week now.  So I'm pretty apt to cry during this sermon. I just want you to know I'm okay, in fact, I'm way better than okay, and with your help I'll get through it and you'll pardon me for looking at my notes, which I don't really need but it gives me some place to look besides you.

*audience laughter*

Matt was luckier than most young gay men in 1998.  He had parents and a brother who loved him.  He loved his church, the Episcopal Church, and they loved him back, and I have no doubt that Matt is in Heaven.  Despite the fact that we actually know very little about Heaven, it really isn't about pearly gates and gold streets and angels in clouds looking bored. *audience laughter*  It is about being with God and discovering that nothing in all creation can separate us from God's love.

I think the best picture we have of Heaven comes to us in the story of the prodigal son which actually is not about the prodigal son. It's about the prodigal son's father; and after the son goes off into some foreign place and wastes his life and starts feeling like he's just done all the wrong things, he decides to go home, and he's rehearsing his apology to his father and intends to ask to be allowed to serve his father's household, even as a slave.  What he doesn't know is that every day he has been gone, his father has been sitting on the front porch, in a rocking chair, looking down the road, waiting for his sons return.  And when he gets close enough for his father to see him, his father runs to him and puts a cloak on his shoulders and sandals on his feet and a ring on his finger, and calls for a party, because his son has come home.

Matt was loved by God from the very beginning, and nothing, not even death, has separated him from God's love, and I think that Matt was never alone.  After the Lord's Prayer you're going to hear a song sung called "Gently Rest" and parenthetically called "A Deer Lullaby," D-E-E-R lullaby.  Which comes from Reggie Fluty who was the first police officer to arrive where Matt had died; and she reports that as she approached his body, she didn't notice it at first but a deer was lying beside him, and from the looks of things, that deer had been there all night long.  And when the deer saw her the deer looked straight into her eyes and then ran away; and what she said is "That was the good lord, no doubt in my mind," and there's no doubt in my mind either, God has always loved Matt.

They will hate me for saying this but we're not just here to celebrate Matthew.  I'm here partly to celebrate Judy and Dennis Shepard.  You know, they could have so easily gone home and grieved privately, but by the grace of God they decided that they were going to turn this horrendous event into something good.  They did it in big ways and in small ways.  Five years after Matt's death, I was consecrated a Bishop for the Diocese of New Hampshire, and just before I strapped on my bullet-proof vest for my consecration, someone hand-delivered a note from Judy Shepard, which I carried with me, and it said "I know Matthew will be smiling down upon you tomorrow."

Now Judy Shepard is the most unlikely of people to be doing all of this.  I think it's Dennis who says that on a scale of one to ten for introversion, Judy ranks about fifteen. And Judy I don't know if you remember this or not, I've seen her shaking backstage before she speaks and one time in particular I think this was when we were doing the all-star reading of The Laramie Project at the town hall in New York City; and Tipper Gore was there and Tipper and Judy asked me to pray with them.  Which of course I was delighted and honored to do.  But it was a little bit surreal because about ten feet away from us was Cyndi Lauper doing what Cyndi does to get ready to sing, which is blow up balloons. *audience laughter* It must have worked because she sang like an angel.  And I watched Judy Shepard be introduced, and I watched her get taller and taller as she walked toward the podium; and her small voice became strong, and clear, and challenging.  They could have just grieved privately but they shared Matthew with us, and today they are sharing him one last time, with us.  Thank you.

Okay, now to you.  I just want to say to you that if you are here just to pay your respects and to remember Matthew, it's not enough.  If you're not here to be transformed, you've come for the wrong reason.  There's a Greek word, anamnesis, if you take it apart the A-N that begins the word is the A-N in anti-, that is to say the opposite of, and amnesis is the word from which we get amnesia.  So it's "against amnesia," it's against forgetting.  It's about remembering, but in a very special way.  It's the word that we use to talk about the communion service in the Christian faith, and it's what happens when you go to a Seder meal in a Jewish home.  It's to recall a past event so dramatically that you bring it into the present moment and it becomes your event, not just stuck in the past.  That's the kind of remembering I pray for today.  Transforming, remembering.

One of the things I hope you will remember is that, what is it, eleven years after Matt's death the hate crimes bill, the Federal hate crimes bill was passed and it bore not only Matthew's name, but that of James Byrd, the African-American in Texas who was chained and dragged behind a pickup truck until one arm and his head were severed from his body.  And the reason we need to remember that is that the bigger picture here is what we human beings tend to do which is to label someone different from ourselves as "Other", which is code for "Not really human" and then you can do anything to them that you like.  People of Color know that, the LGBTQ community knows that, every marginalized person and group in this country knows that, and we are seeing way too much of that at the moment.

The other thing I want you to remember is that violence takes lots of forms, and right now the Transgender community is the target.  There are forces about who would erase them from America, deny them the right they have to define themselves, and they need us to stand with them.  That's the kind of transformation today makes possible.  That we see this bigger picture of the kind of violence we do to people just because we don't understand them.  So I want you to remember, and then Dennis would want me to say "and then go vote."

*audience laughter and applause*

Okay so I'm a Bishop, indulge me, I wanna say a word about God. *audience laughter*  Now my whole life and ministry I've been warning people to be very leery of those who claim to speak for God, but that is precisely what I'm going to do. *audience laughter*  I usually can resist, but I can't resist today.  The Church, the Synagogue, and the Mosque, often get it wrong, but God never gets it wrong.  I have a magnet on my refrigerator and it says this: "Jesus loves you, but I'm his favorite." *audience laughter*  Okay so here's the miracle, here's the miracle.  Every one of you is God's favorite. Every one of you is God's favorite, I don't know how that can be I just know that it's true, and I don't want any of you to leave here without being reminded that you are loved by the God of all that is.  You are loved beyond your wildest imagining, and nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate you from that love.  So the picture I have of Matthew Shepard right now is of Matt sitting in God's great big lap surrounded by God's great big loving arms and that's all I need to know.  So for you, remember, and vote, and get to work.

To Judy and Dennis and Logan and Marlo, thank you for your generosity in sharing Matt with us.

This'll be the part where I cry.  So I have three things I want to say to Matt.

Gently rest in this place,
you are safe now.
Oh yeah, and Matt, welcome home.

January 10, 2017


The Affordable Care Act (ACA), yes it has its issues and yes it needs work.  The one thing it definitely doesn't need is to be repealed and we end up going back to the way it was before.  It's amazing how many people seem to conveniently forget how terrible it was to try to get insurance or actually use it before the ACA came around.  I mean it can still be a pain in the ass to use medical insurance, but I can't help but recall a story from my early adult life.

Back in 2004 I was a college student out in New Mexico and when it came to any form of insurance, I had whatever my university offered, which was the basics.  I visited the student health center a few times but that was about it.  Since I was going to graduate in a year and I wasn't sure about if health care would be offered by a future employer, I looked into getting health insurance for myself.  Yes, back then there were many employers didn't offer health benefits because they didn't have to if they didn't feel like it.  Maybe there was incentive to do so for some larger places so that it would attract employees.

So I filled out an application with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Mexico.  I'd been under a different BC/BS with my parents and they seemed good.  A few weeks later I got a response letter with a rate quote and further details about what they would offer.  However, there was also another letter in there, one that would have become a problem if I had chosen to purchase their insurance.

Earlier that year I had landed in the ER in extreme pain in my lower back.  The diagnosis? Kidney stones.  That was a rather fun night I'd rather not have to re-live as I also learned that Vicodin and I do not get along very well.  So needless to say it wasn't pleasant.  This matters because when I went to apply for insurance, I self-reported that I had experienced kidney stones since there were questions about past medical history.  This was about to bite me in the ass.

The letter included with the packet was a change to their coverage, basically saying that they would not cover any renal events.  In other words since I had experienced a kidney stone, they were changing it so that anything involving my kidneys would not be covered by them, period.  I had a "pre-existing condition" and they were using it against me.  If God forbid I ever got another stone, and infection, or if something caused them to fail, I would have had to pay the bill out of pocket because BC/BS of New Mexico would not have covered it.  We know how expensive medical treatment gets in the US and something like that would have bankrupted me later on if anything had happened while I was starting my career.

I ultimately decided to decline their insurance and when a rep called and asked why I was not purchasing, I told them exactly about the clause they had inserted about the non-coverage of renal events and that I refused to accept it.  She then told me I could have appealed that clause.  The funny thing was there was nothing in any of the paperwork that indicated that I could have appealed any clauses or changes to their coverage.  Nope, they pretty much made it sound like I had to accept their insurance or get nothing.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were many others who felt they got the same message from their insurance companies.

The funny thing is that if the ACA had existed back when I was in college, I wouldn't have had a story like the one above because I could have stayed on my parents insurance while I was in college.  It wouldn't have affected their rates and heck, I might have been able to not pay as much as I had to out of pocket for the ER when I had my stones.

So fast forward to 2005 and I'm graduated and starting work for the Feds out in DC, which meant picking insurance through them.  Now, this is where I'll acknowledge my privilege in getting insurance via the Feds at that time (and likely further privilege today).  To participate in providing insurance, they couldn't ban you or mess with your coverage or rates because of pre-existing conditions.  Of course, they would try to do what they could to make it difficult at times or to make sure you still paid plenty out of pocket (as my bills for my later appendix surgery would remind me).

Then there were rates, and this is where I definitely see an impact from the ACA.  Back then there wasn't much to stop raising rates, even for Fed plans, and they were pretty much guaranteed to go up every year.  In 2005 I was paying about $102 a month for my medical insurance.  In 2010 when the ACA was signed into law it was at $162 a paycheck.  So in five years it already shot up $60 a month.  As of 2017 it is now $212 a paycheck, which sucks but the ACA has slowed it down and the coverage is better due to the minimum requirements that were added in the law.

I also remember when I first started dating my now-fiance and since he's a freelancer, he couldn't have insurance before the ACA so it was pretty much a situation of "Don't get sick" which meant putting off things like doctors visits for checkups and hell, not even having a doctor but using urgent care clinics to avoid the ER if that was possible.  Now he has a doctor and gets his care without waiting to get sick first.  He's on a basic level but it's more than he had before.  Still, it would be nice to see something better in the future.

So what it boils down to is dealing with medical insurance and all that before the ACA sucked, and I really do not want to go back to that way, period.  It's why I've let my Senators know not to let the repeal pass and to push instead for fixing it.  Hell, it would be nice to put the brakes on the rates because those do suck, but taking away the ACA isn't the answer.

March 29, 2016

A Post-Lenten Reflection

Are you there God?  It's me, Mangi.

Okay, maybe not quite that kind of conversation at the moment, but the past 40 days of Lent did give me a chance to put a few things in perspective.

It started with my usual perusal of my Facebook news feed on Ash Wednesday.  At that point, I was kind of frustrated with what I was seeing.  The whole Oregon Standoff drama was finally winding down so there were less posts about that, but the primaries were ramping up and with it I saw a lot of sniping between people on there.  It was especially getting nasty between some Bernie and Hillary supporters, to the point I wanted to lock a few of them in a room and say "Okay, either fight it out or fuck it out but you're not leaving until y'all can be civil."  Add on that I was also seeing articles being posted that meant I was doing cross-checks on Snopes and FactCheck every day and often pointing out corrections, it was getting tiring to even look at Facebook.

Then I saw a status posted by a friend, MR.  She said she was so tired of the current dramas that maybe she should quit Facebook for Lent.  I read that and thought, "You know what? That's a great idea, I'm doing that."  So after services that night, I logged out of Facebook on my phone and computer, and that was that.

If you're reading this because my cross-posting to Facebook still works, you might think that you missed reading that I was going off of Facebook for a while, or something similar.  You didn't.  I said nothing about what I was doing (sorry mom!).  There were a few reasons behind that.  Usually when I have seen people say "Oh I'm leaving/taking a break from [social network] for a while" or similar it turns into this whole thing of "Oh don't go, was it something we did?"  I wasn't looking for that kind of attention.  Also since I was doing this for Lent and Lent isn't supposed to be a competition, I generally don't talk about if I am giving something up for Lent.

However, since Lent is supposed to be a time of self-reflection and perhaps growth, did I learn something from just hopping offline from Facebook?  Yeah, the picture below sums it up:

Social media sites have made it easy to hear about the things going on with people you meet.  You can respond to what they have shared, and then move on to the next subject.  Yet, the cost can be that you really don't sit and have a richer conversation with that person and so you don't interact as much as you should.  Also, I realize that Facebook has kind of been a crutch for being social with some of the people I know.  It's been convenient to just respond to their posts and maybe shoot them the occasional message, but once I removed that, I found out where I had been neglecting some aspects of being a friend or at least an acquaintance.

A perfect example was coordinating seeing a concert with SF and a few other friends.  He had originally sent me the invite on Facebook.  I hadn't made the decision to go when I started my "No Facebook" days, and I discovered I didn't have his number so that I could call or text to RSVP and coordinate meeting up.  Thankfully I did have buried in my address book an E-mail address for him, but he happened to also contact one of my other friends for my phone number so he could get in touch with me since he had not heard from me on Facebook.

Okay, so maybe it was a moment where I should have said something before I hopped off Facebook.  However, it also showed that I really let that convenience of just using Facebook to contact someone take over to where I really didn't have other methods of communication to get in touch with some of my friends or acquaintances.

I know this may also sound odd to some, but it's like even when I do have things like E-mail, phone numbers, or instant messenger name, I'm hesitant to E-mail, text, or call.  I don't entirely know why, but I get it into my head that I'm probably interrupting something and being a bother.  It's dumb really, I know, but I guess old habits are hard to break at times.  I mean, yeah, a phone call does demand your full attention, though if you can't be interrupted, you can send it to voicemail.  A text, IM, or E-mail doesn't have to be answered right away.  I don't expect people to immediately snap to attention and answer me the minute I ping their phone or computer.  I certainly don't answer immediately if I am in the middle of something else.  If it was really that important, then I should be calling.  Yet I've never been able to fully break from the idea that I'm just going to be bugging them if I shoot them a random "Hey, what's up?"  That's something I need to work on.

So I've seen that I need to improve on actually talking to some of the people I know, especially local people and those I have known for years.  It's going to take some work and some time, but I should be able to do it.  The first step is to actually get info like E-mail, phone numbers, and IM names from people whose info I am missing.  Of course I will share mine, and I have a number of ways to be contacted.

Another thing I found was that I could put more attention into other activities both online and offline.  I rediscovered a few websites I had not visited in a while, plus there was more time being put into activities like reading or video games.  Of course I still have the backlog of both of those, but I will get caught up.

The funny thing is despite this, I don't feel this urgent need to immediately hop back on Facebook.  I know I should clear a few things out because Facebook was oh so helpfully harassing me via E-mail about all of the things I was missing.  Seriously, logoff from Facebook and they will start sending you an E-mail every few days telling you how many messages and status updates you have been missing.  Then they ratchet it up to every day, sometimes even twice a day.  A few new rules in my E-mail account fixed that.

Anyway, so while I'll be back on Facebook, its role in how I use it is going to change.  I'll keep up here and there, but I don't want to go back to where I am checking it at least once a day.  Besides, if it turns out my news feed is still overrun with sniping politics, I have better things to do with my time at that point than try to wade through all of it.

So onward with a fresh perspective on where I stand when it comes to my online activities and how I keep up with the people I know and the people I will meet.

October 17, 2013


So I finally get to go back to work, great!  What I don't entirely look forward to is trying to sort out the mess all of my projects will be in because of this shutdown.  It was just unfortunate timing that a number of release dates and other work all were scheduled to take place during the time that we were shut down.  So it will be interesting to see what happens from here.  Do our projects get pushed back by 2.5 weeks or will we be expected to catch up and get things out there like we were never sitting idle at home in the first place?  I guess we will find out.  It's software that's supposed to be in production right now that's really going to be a challenge to navigate because all of our production is date sensitive.

On another note, I was supposed to take a trip next week.  That's in flux now as I don't know if I would be approved to take the time off because of playing catchup.  The worst that can happen is I either don't go, or I leave late Friday night.

Now to get to bed so that tomorrow we can begin picking up the pieces and getting things back on track.

October 12, 2013


I've tried so hard to keep my head up over the last two weeks, but now it's just hitting the point where I'm just done, fuck this day, fuck this week, fuck this month, I'd like a do-over please.

November 05, 2012


Tomorrow its election day. If you're eligible to go vote, do it. No excuses.

For those of us in Maryland, I'm making one last personal appeal on this, please vote YES on Question 6. All it does is allow for civil marriages to take place in MD for same-sex couples. The religious ceremonies are left alone; no church has to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple if they do not want to. Clergy already have that power for other couples so nothing would change for them, except maybe a rush of wedding ceremonies after the law takes effect.

Really though, I would like the same civil rights and privileges that my parents enjoy as a married couple. They married 31 years ago here in Maryland, and I know they would love to see me be able to do the same here. I've been with my love, CW for two years now, and if we decide we want to take that next step and make our commitment to one another a lifetime commitment, we should be allowed to do so without special paperwork or legal wrangling that my parents would not have ever had to do.

It's not just me though. There are so many same-sex couples that have been together for years, decades even. They are raising beautiful families and they and their kids deserve the same rights and protections under the law. They are my neighbors, my friends, my fellow congregants, and my colleagues, and they are your friends,neighbors, congregants, and colleagues as well.

I've been with fighting for this right for 7 years, others much longer. We don't want to have to fight, we just want to live our lives with dignity and respect. So please, please, please when you're at the polls tomorrow, think of me, think of my love,and think of the other same-sex couples you know and vote YES on Question 6 in Maryland.

November 24, 2011

A Different Thanksgiving

If you had told me a few years ago that I would spend a Thanksgiving outside of a football stadium, I would have said you were crazy.

I would have had to eat those words.

Last summer when the Ravens announced their schedule, I saw that they were playing the 49ers.  This was right after the news that Jim Harbaugh (Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh's brother) had been hired as a Head Coach of the 49ers.  I was on Ticketmaster the morning tickets became available to the public and in my search for games, I decided for fun to try and see if I could get tickets to the Thanksgiving game, or Harbaugh vs Harbaugh as I was calling it.  Well no upper deck sideline tickets were available, so I decided to try for the corners.  There were tickets available so I snatched them up.

That was in July.  The working plan in mind was I would likely spend Thanksgiving with my cousins in the morning and then head up to the game that night with CW.  Of course life doesn't always go according to plan, but it can come up with something more interesting.

A month or so ago I went to a bull roast fundraiser for one of the Ravens Nest organizations and I made friends with a few folks at our table.  I ended up talking a lot with CS and of course, being fans, you make sure to keep in touch with them, especially when you belong to one of the best fanbases in the NFL.

So then it turns out that CW has a conflict, and some of my cousins will be out of town, plus I was asked by some other friends if I could dogsit for them so they can go visit family for Thanksgiving.  All of that adds up to I'll be in Baltimore anyway, but now I need someone to go with me to the game.  So I check with a few direct friends, they can't go, so I put the word out on Facebook that I have an extra ticket to the Harbaugh Bowl (as it's now being called).  CS sees it and is interested, so we're set up to go to the game.

Now we get to the plan, CS knows other folks at the game, so I will be tagging along with her as we tailgate before we head on in.  I hear there will be turkey and all of the fixings, so my Thanksgiving will be spent in the parking lots outside The Bank, then going in to watch what should be a hard-hitting game and football at it's finest.  The Harbaugh Bowl is the first time in history that two teams are playing where they are coached by siblings, and now it's a Thanksgiving game on top of that.

There will also be no doubt that I was at that game, thanks to the planned FanCam: http://www.baltimoreravens.com/News/Articles/2011/11/Press_Release_-_Ravens_FanCam_Coming_to_MT_Bank_Stadium.aspx

You know I will make sure to be in my seat by 8 PM.

So anyway, It should be a fun Thanksgiving, even if it's non-traditional.  I can't wait.  I hope everyone I know has a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


July 04, 2011

What Now?

Ahhh, my poor blog, it's been rather neglected as of late.

It would be easy to blame life on this one since I don't spend long hours on the computer at home.  However, I usually would make time to write, even when I was at my busiest back then.  I think it's more of a factor that I've had other priorities in my life, and even other priorities in regards to my writing.  So now the question for me is where do I go with this?  Do I want to continue to write this blog as a record of the happenings of my life, or is it time to take it in another direction?

I say this because lately I've been trying my hand at writing fiction.  Let me tell you, it's one of the hardest things I have done in a long time.  For the last decade or so I have been an excellent technical writer.  If it's an essay or a white paper, I can bang those out left and right.  So when I started exploring other hobbies, why not try writing fiction, right?  It should be easy since you know how to write very well, right?  Wrong.

I've discovered that fiction writing is it's own realm, with a completely new set of rules that I am now learning.  It has been a slow process because it's really easy to slide back into the rules of writing that I have known, but don't apply in this realm.  However, I continue to plug away at it because from the feedback I have gotten, I have some good stories but I need to polish my writing skills.  That part is the biggest challenge, especially with having no formal training.  Although the only way I am going to get better is to practice, right?

So I may continue to keep the life record here as a way to sharpen my skills in that realm a bit, though in this case, it would be non-fiction.  After all, I haven't written much over the last year, which is odd considering all of the neat stuff I've done, especially with CW.  I might also consider putting up snippets of what I am working on, if they are appropriate.  Hell, it might be fun to try some sort of story series, but that might happen on a more advanced level.

We'll see what goes from here.

April 13, 2011

A Rough Ride

So the news the past few weeks, besides the horrific earthquakes and nuclear crisis in Japan, has been about the battles in Congress over a budget for FY 2011.  It very nearly led to a partial shutdown of the US Goverment and furloughing 800,000 of its workers.  However, at the last hour, there was an announcement that a deal was made and that a budget would be passed, so there would not be a shutdown.  With that, lots of people started celebrating, thinking this was all over.

I wasn't one of them.

March 16, 2011

Something I Struggle to Understand

Many bigoted and repressive folks are also the ones who make sure to tell everyone that they are a "Good Christian" and to show off that they are a Christian as much as possible.  Jesus teaches us not to make a show of our religion, but to be humble unlike the hypocrites.  So why do these folks always seem to conveniently "forget" that teaching as they show off that they are a "Good Christian" but continue their oppressive ways?