Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Submission Guidelines

Stories & Essays
A Day In the Life
By Sida Li
Eight Minutes
_ By Michael Gettings
_ By Max Gordon
One September Morning
_ By Brian G. Ross
_ By Len Joy
Reading Between the Lines
_ By Michael Gettings
Scarring Truth
_ By M.W. Hamel
Snapshots of the Ordinary
_ By Monica Lee
_ By Robert Connal
_ By Daliso Chaponda
The Jury
_ By Jeremy Tavares
The Thief
_ By Marva Dasef
The Train to Pennsylvania
_ By C.L. Atkins

735 Miles to Nootka Island
_ By Nicholas D. Klacsanzky
Al Fresco Cafe Poems #125
_ By Duane Locke
Al Fresco Cafe Poems #127
_ By Duane Locke
_ By Lynn Strongin
Gilded Candy
_ By Mina Blue
Marriage 2
_ By Christine Redman-Waldeyer
Memo to Italy
_ By Andrew Francis
Rain, Your Words, and the Agony...
_ By Betina Evancha
_ By Juliette Capra
_ By Christine Redman-Waldeyer
The Unspoken Eloquence of the Sword
_ By Anne Nialcom
Three Shades of Grey
_ By Monica Lee
We Pay
_ By Betina Evancha
White Dread
_ By David Snyder
_ By Betina Evancha

Art & Photography
Keira Anderson
_ Photography
Anne-Julie Aubry
_ Paintings
Whitney Clegg
_ Photography and Drawings
Eman Reharno Jeman
_ Photography, Graffiti, and Drawings
Mike Pomery
_ Paintings
Jennifer Robbins-Mullin
_ Photography
Madia Krisnadi Widodo
_ Photography
Penny Wilson
_ Mixed Media and Digital Art

By Max Gordon

There is a 13-year old boy in America who walks to school this morning. He believes he is a pervert because he is sexually attracted to a boy in his class. Undressing in the locker room for gym, he is terrified he will get an erection or his friends will notice him staring at the other boys and call him a homo.

At night, he lies in bed. He promised God he wouldn't look at pictures of naked men having sex anymore, but he did it again after school. As a punishment, he pinches his penis between his fingernails until he breaks the skin. He believes the pain is good for him. It is only a fraction of the pain that sinners feel when they go to hell, or what Jesus must have felt on the cross.

He sits in church on Sunday and knows the priest is referring to him: deviants whose unnatural desire will keep them from entering the Kingdom of God. When he takes communion, he prays that God will heal the sickness inside him and make him clean and perfect like his Son. He promises to try even harder not to sin than he's ever tried before.

After failing again, he decides he has no more tries left in him. He cannot stop the thoughts or change them. He believes God is disgusted with him and that He refuses to help. He stands looking in the bathroom mirror and wonders if he is what a homo looks like. He thinks of his youngest sister coming home from kindergarten with school papers tucked under her arm, and wonders if the boy from his class is in bed sleeping. He lifts his father's gun and shoots himself in the head.

On January 2, 1997, 14-year old Robbie Kirkland committed suicide after struggling with his homosexuality for four years. His mother said at the time, "Our family loved, supported and accepted him but could not protect him from the rejection and harassment he experienced at his Catholic schools."

On May 8, 1995, Bill Clayton, 17, took a fatal overdose after being hospitalized for depression. He'd been assaulted by a group of boys in his community because of his sexual orientation. Jacob Lawrence Orosco, 17, hanged himself on September 3, 1997, in his mother's home. When Jacob and nine of his friends tried to form a Gay-Straight Student Alliance (GSA) at his school, a group of students at a nearby high school formed SAFE: Students Against Fags Everywhere.

Anna Wakefield, a lesbian in her 20's from Virginia, hanged herself on February 27, 1997, after being rejected and estranged from her family; Private First Class Barry Winchell, 21, of Kansas City, Missouri, was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat on July 5, 1999 after rumors that he was gay spread around his post; Steen Fenrich, 19, was killed and dismembered by his stepfather in a homophobic rage, his body found March 21, 2000; Juana Vega, 36, shot in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 11, 2001 by her girlfriend's brother, for "turning his sister gay"; Gwen Araujo, a 17-year old transgender woman from Newark, California, savagely beaten to death on October 3, 2002 by a group of boys at a party; Sakia Gunn, 15, fatally stabbed at a bus stop in Newark, New Jersey, May 11, 2003, after her assailant was told she was a lesbian; Fred Martinez, Jr., a 16-year old Native American high school student from Cortez, Colorado, found beaten to death, June 21, 2001, his skull crushed with a rock. His 19-year old killer was heard to have said proudly, "I bug-smashed a fag."

A few days after John Kerry's concession from the 2004 presidential election, Bill Clinton gave a speech at a conference of the Urban Land Institute in New York. The Daily News quoted him as saying that Kerry could have made more of an impact with small-town voters by emphasizing his opposition to gay marriage. "He said it once or twice, instead of 3,000 times, in rural communities. If we let people believe our party doesn't believe in faith and family, that's our fault."

Bill Clinton: our moral authority on marriage and sex. As a gay man in America, perhaps I am responsible for the unraveling of the moral fabric of this country, but I have never used a cigar in bed, and I absolutely draw the line at wearing a dress from Gap.

America listens to its presidents, present and past. The president sets the tone for tolerance in the land. When a president proposes discriminatory legislation or supports it, however unlikely it may seem that it will be voted into law, the message he sends to the rest of the country is clear: these are the people you have my permission to harm. George W. Bush's proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is more than just a vindictive president's desire to deprive gay men of bridal registry; it is the legislation of hate, and its direct consequence will be the sanctioned murder of America's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

I marvel at the vogue of hate today in this country: who you can freely hate these days and who you can't. You can hate women, and gays, and fat people. You can hate poor people, and the homeless. You can't, however, hate black people or Jews anymore, at least not on television or in print. (You can still hate blacks privately, but Jews are harder; some have blonde hair and it isn't easy to tell if they are in the room.)

Black and white Christians have been revitalized by the same-sex ban, agreeing to suspend their hatred for each other in favor of a combined, galvanized hatred for gays. The GOP hates us all year round, but Democrats are "holiday haters," reserving their hate for special occasions—like close elections. Holiday hate never counts as real hate, of course, it's just politics, like little white (water) lies, and promises (fingers crossed) to pass legislation protecting gays in the military once voted into office.

And finally, the passive-aggressive haters know a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage based on religious belief is wrong, not to mention unconstitutional, but since they are not "personally" affected by it, they’ve decided to watch from the sidelines. Newsflash: there are no sidelines in America anymore. Civil liberties in this country are an endangered species. We may not care that the Texas red wolf is almost extinct in North America, but—living in the same ecosystem—it might be worth noting, as we may be next.

Jesusland, can you honestly say, with all that is wrong in the world today, with millions of people infected with HIV and thousands of new infections each year, with record unemployment, families with no healthcare and billions spent on war, that the greatest moral challenge we face in America today is symbolized by a wedding cake figurine of two grooms?

Is homosexuality contagious or reaching epidemic proportions? How else can the sexuality of one section of the American population singly decide the outcome of an entire presidential election? Only one conclusion can be drawn: Gay people in the heartland are doing some serious fucking. I only wish someone had let me in on it. I thought we were supporting Kerry by voting for him. If gay sex is really that powerful, screw the oil in Iraq, Halliburton should be hooking us up to generators.

Is homosexuality so irresistible that straight men and women are leaving their homes, mesmerized and in droves, to join the gay ranks? The few straight friends I tried to seduce in my post-coming out insecurity remained politely, but resolutely, straight. To all those who tried to manipulate me into being heterosexual to further their agendas (my mother), I remained resolutely, sometimes impolitely, gay. One might conclude from this that people are what they say they are and we can all get on with things.

Not in Jesusland. Three little words, one tiny sentence, and the best friend's face closes forever, the child is lifted from the lap of the favorite aunt, a mother sends her son his baby pictures with a note saying she no longer has a child, a girl runs away from home to escape her parents' attempts to "beat the devil out of her," a boy is forced to see a psychiatrist and take medication to fix his "problem," a transgender teen hangs herself to avoid being ridiculed at a school assembly the next day.

(Turn the page)_