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sojourn

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sojourn last won the day on June 14 2011

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About sojourn

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  1. sojourn

    Chapter 15 Final

    It was written at a time when I was finally able to touch the emotions that I felt after watching my “significant other” die from prostate cancer. There are arts that make me choke up when I read them even now. I am dealing with an online publisher to get it out on kindle and such. I hope it’s ready. Thanks for commenting. Jim
  2. sojourn

    Chapter 51

    I am aware of the shift you describe. The shift toward events was a reflection of the characters shifting focus from intimate interpersonal developing relationships to engaging extraneous goals. I felt it was appropriate. I am glad you liked some of it. Thanks for posting your comments. Jim
  3. sojourn

    Chapter 1

    Strange how "making a living" interferes with our lives. thanks for commenting. Jim
  4. sojourn

    Chapter 51

    Their beliefs are as impactful as that of the "Green Party" in national politics. When beliefs are on the line, facts and logic hold little sway. Your argument doesn't really serve as an example of why I might be wrong. First off, I think the denominations you site are almost insignificant in representative numbers. Unitarians have less than 200,000 members. The United Church of Christ, less than a million members. (I wasn't sure you meant the United Church of Christ or the United Church of God, so I googled both. The United Church of God damn sure doesn't believe in gay rights... I got to the "just like other sins" and quit reading.) The number of Jews in the world is declining, not increasing. The total impact of those "supportive" folks you cited is slightly less than that of the green party in our current national political scene. I am not even sure what Unitarians actually believe without googling them. Exactly what percentage of "christians" do you think support gay rights? By support, I mean what percentage of denominations welcome and respect gay members as equal in the eyes of god and man? Over 70 million American Catholics, 66 million Assemblies of God members, 16.5 million Southern Baptist Convention members vociferously oppose gay rights. That was just three I thought would be easily recognizable or at least somewhat familiar to the average reader, unlike your heroic examples. You may list "christian" and jewish denominations that support gay rights but they are in a very small minority compared to the membership of those that outwardly and actively oppose gay rights. I offer a comparison... Not all people under the Axis powers of WWII supported the attacks on foreign sovereign nations or the resultant killings, devastation, and destruction that ensued. However, a hellavu lot of their citizenry heeded the call to war. Our country declared war against Germany, Italy, and Japan, not some representative, political party, or royal family. There were no exceptions made for those who didn't agree with hitler, mussolini, or hirohito and yet stayed to fight against us. I would suspect that the percentage who didn't wholly support their leaders were a far larger percentage than the percentage of christians who may indeed support gay rights in spite of their denominations leadership's opposition and yet those nations fought for 6 deadly, destructive, and devastating years. Many, many, more christians oppose gay rights than support them. Let those that support gay rights make their church leaders come out in support of gay rights... then you may defend them with some dignity. I suspect that most christians and most republicans don't really give a damn about gay rights one way or the other. That is also a problem. I think your point is that "not all christians/jews/muslims hate gays. I never said every one of them did. I just said religion and republicans oppose gay rights and the facts bear me out. (I don't think it is any coincidence that 1/3 of all republicans are evangelical christians.) If you took the whole of the Abrahamic religions today, christians, jews, and muslims, what percentage would you say "support" gay rights? You sound like the guy who insisted that republicans were not all anti-gay. And yet republicans proudly oppose gay rights as a party platform, ipso facto, if you are a republican you support anti-gay legislation. They have promised to work to overturn "gay marriage". The republican led DOJ recently faced off against the EEOC by defending a boss who fired a man after learning he was gay. The man was represented by the EEOC who supported his claim of discrimination. And yet the Department of Justice went to court in opposition of gay rights. Your tax dollars at work on both sides of the issue of gay rights and discrimination. There's a lot that I don't know. There are a lot of things science cannot effectively explain but that doesn't mean that god has to be the answer to anything we can't explain. Early man couldn't explain nature so he turned to god. Ignorance is a transitory state if we choose to educate ourselves. We no longer worship the gods associated with the harvest, the sea, and our heroes are no longer identified as offspring of the gods. If we elect to not question then we will never find the real answers. I believe that all religion is bad, corrupt, and evil. (Please note I did not include philosophies in that statement unless some individuals get rich from espousing said philosophy.) I believe that republicans are anti-gay and more concerned with protecting their individual wallets than defending or even upholding the Constitution let alone "christian values". Democrats are only marginally better than republicans in that they are currently the only viable alternative. At least they openly say they support gay rights. I believe that if Constantine the Great had not realized that having one religion with one god would simply things all around and better unite his empire and his military we would likely be worshiping a plethora of different deities today. By god, he was right. It worked. You may believe in imaginary friends but I have indeed outgrown the need. I look for explanations, not rationalizations. If you want to discuss my views or just rant, my email address is sojourn1950@yahoo.com. As always, thanks for posting your comments. Jim When
  5. sojourn

    Chapter 1

    You are dirty-minded. That makes you my kind of people. Thanks for commenting. Jim
  6. sojourn

    Chapter 11

    I actually consider your confusion as to who to root for a compliment. Thanks for reading and for commenting. Jim
  7. sojourn

    Chapter 51

    Actually, shortly after this story began, I considered letting Jeff read the "Personal Journal of Winston Nathaniel Adams" with the idea of shifting the focus of this story to Texas in the 1870’s with "modern life" visited only in vignettes. I gathered enough "period" information for a viable tale and wrote the first chapter. I then decided, or more to the point my characters decided, Jeff and Paul's story deserved more attention. I don’t regret that decision but as this tale evolved, I felt the characters, Winston Adams and John Grant, stretch and grow more insistently in my conscious thoughts. I look forward to exploring cowboy, actually "Waddie" life through the eyes of a Bostonian lawyer seeking his fortune in the Wild West and a quick-tempered, down on his luck cowboy in a time that folks could not discuss straight sex without using euphemisms and alluded to gay sex, if at all, in only the most obscure terms. A time when "deadly" disagreements were more likely to be settled by "shoot first", "ambush", or "shoot 'em in the back" rather than the Hollywood myth of the "Main Street, quick draw, face-to-face, showdown." Thanks for posting your comments. Jim
  8. sojourn

    Chapter 51

    I agree with you about fear. We tend to associate fear with potential physical harm or the threat of death but the threat of change or possible loss may also inspire fear. Fear is one of those "lizard brain" functions that are hard to control. (Many people call it “The Lizard Brain” because the limbic system is about all a lizard has for brain function. It is in charge of fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing-up, and fornication.) I may be crazy but I suspect the lizard brain maybe the root source or perhaps the cause of certain diagnosable mental disorders. Specifically, depression and feelings of inadequacy which I suspect relate to survival instincts. Yeah, I am still pondering the validity of that concept. Thanks for posting your comments. Jim Jim
  9. sojourn

    Chapter 51

    Screen writer huh? My sons and exwife often complained when I would guess a major plot twist or who the "perp" was in TV and movies. Only my youngest son shows the same "irritating" trait. Thanks for posting your comments. Jim
  10. sojourn

    Chapter 7

    We all have our issues, likes, and dislikes. Obnoxious bully is one I choose to not be around. thanks for posting your comment. Jim
  11. sojourn

    Chapter 15 Final

    Thank you for letting me know my story has moved you. Apparently your questions about Wylie, Linda, and BJ were answered. I'm glad. Thanks for posting your comments. Jim
  12. sojourn

    Chapter 12

    Humans behavior is complex and unpredictable. Even in hindsight it is impossible to say why someone reacted in a certain way to a given stimulae or situation. I was married and loved my wife, although I knew from childhood I was gay. So to me, them getting married was not a stretch. But, we all know their marriages, just like mine, will not end in "happily ever after". Thanks for posting your comment. Jim
  13. sojourn

    Chapter 11

    Your comment reminded me that my then editor reacted very strongly when he read the rape scene. He said, "Wiley would never do that!" I was flattered that he felt he knew the man I had literally created. When I persisted with my plot line, he quit. On the upside he has become a devoted fan who consistently posted comments both favorable and otherwise. Thanks for posting your comments. Jim
  14. sojourn

    Chapter 51

    I often wondered if you looked at the chapters after they were posted. It was sometimes a pain for me to read them 3 or four times before you saw them and still there would be glaring errors. Thank you Naboy.
  15. sojourn

    Chapter 51

    The scope and focus of the “Gay Us Carnival in Texas” drew a lot of attention. What started a few months ago as an idea of an “in-your-face” celebration of being gay in Texas was fast becoming a juggernaut that ate up his time. He’d had to hire another attorney in order to continue providing free legal aid to the community. He, Paul, and the family initially agreed that the event would likely attract some locals and perhaps some folks from Dallas and Abilene, much along the lines of a county fair. Jeff’s intent was to use the rides, games, and live musical entertainment to attract folks. Once inside the gates every venue but the rides and food would serve to bring attention to the plight of gay’s in today’s society and to lessen the negative view many folks hold in regard to gays. Just as importantly he wanted normal folks to see how their opinions concerning gays had been impacted by the media, politics, and religion. He wanted folks to see the truth about the intentional marginalization of gays in America. (Much of American society views “gay” as a topic that doesn’t affect them and one that, if ignored, will simply go away. Religious leaders and politicians use “gay” as a way to strengthen their influence by insisting that being gay is against god and nature when homosexuality has been documented throughout most mammalian species and love between two men is cited at least twice in the bible. Hatred and disdain are very basic and powerful emotions that can easily override reason. They can help to elevate, strengthen, and solidify any group. The Nazi’s denigrated the Jews and blamed them for Germany’s problems. White slave owners and later white landowners denigrated and engendered fear and disdain of blacks in order to maintain a cheap labor force. Today, preachers and priests allow and even encourage homophobia by either actively condemning gays or by simply never addressing homophobia as being “unchristian like”. Politicians actively fight against laws that legally protect gay-rights and refuse to acknowledge gays as a valid minority.) One focus of the Carnival would be the role of gays throughout history, such as Hadrian and Antinous? Alexander and Hephaestion? Achilles and Patroclus. Jeff wanted to highlight the contributions that gay professionals make to our modern everyday life as doctors, lawyers, farmers and factory workers. The fact that religions, governments, and societies have lied about any leaders or prominent figures whose sexual orientation may have been other than “totally straight” would also be discussed. Whether through outright denial as in the case of Abraham Lincoln, burning personal papers, as relatives of some authors and songwriters such as Stephen Foster have done. Then there are those who simply refuse to address reality as in the case of director Ron Howard who ignored an indecent exposure arrest, a seven-year live-in same-sex relationship, and numerous other same-sex “encounters” and declarations of love involving the subject of his film, “A Beautiful Mind”. Obviously, Howard felt, and rightly so, that the truth was not conducive to good box office. John Nash’s true-life story as a Nobel Laureate in Economics who was also treated for paranoid schizophrenia was academy award winning cinema, while Nash’s attraction/love for other men was not. The man’s biographer and the subsequent movie downplayed Nash’s gay side, the reading and viewing public for which they were produced was not and is not gay-friendly. Howard defended leaving out any reference to Nash’s “gay activities” by saying, “it was just an unfortunate period of the man’s life”. The question should be... ‘given the role being gay contributes to teen suicides and psychological struggles, how much did the specter of emotional and sexual desire, that even today is denigrated, defiled, and held to be illegal by 75 sovereign nations, impact the man’s mental health’? These were but a few of the topics to be presented and open for discussion. The goal was simply to make attendees more aware and to provide some insights into the effects that even subtle institutionalized bigotry can have on LGBTQ youth and adults in everyday life. The turn out was expected to be moderate at best with, hopefully, sizable growth over the coming years. The grant from the Adams’ Family Trust ensured financial backing for the next five years. Soon the inquiries and subsequent reservations for the wedding ceremony and reception convinced them to prepare for a tremendous turnout for the initial celebration and perhaps expect a decline in subsequent years. Perhaps people were just curious and wanted to see what the fuss was all about. The price of food and beverages was reduced to half price when presenting coupons from the booklet that each attendee received upon entering the gates. Rides and games of chance could be sampled with tickets included in the same admission booklet. The family soon realized folks would be showing up from around the nation and more than a few from other countries. The Carnival itself was not enough to inspire international travel but it did attract some whose plans brought them stateside and whose curiosity was peaked by the juxtaposition of a “celebration of gays” in the American heartland of the cowboy/redneck/politically conservative/red-state/christian stronghold. For weeks preceding the Carnival weekend, Jeff and Paul had been awash with requests for interviews. Their presence on national talk shows reached into the homes of most American families. Their open, honest personalities won over the host and the audience. The handsome gay couple with the beautiful, quick-witted, sharp-tongued little girl was fast becoming the “poster boys” for young, openly gay couples with children. The American public embraced the young family as if they were music idols or movie stars. Even though the most zealous fans were gay, the majority of those that “googled”, “followed”, “tweeted”, “blogged”, and or “vlogged” about them were “not gay”. Even the movie production company they had met in Hawaii reacted to their ‘15 minutes of fame’ and asked that Maria’s few lines in their Rom-Com be expanded to a full-fledged supporting role with more dialogue and more on-camera time. They offered to bring the cameras and necessary sets to her, not to mention a salary offer that shocked Paul. Both Daddies agreed to immediately nix the offer without consulting the budding starlet. As it was, the film was rushed into theatres with a brazen banner across the billboard, “Featuring America’s Precocious Preteen Princess”, Maria Wilson-Adams”. When the movie came to the local theatre it sold out every showing of its three-day run. Maria and DJ saw it once and neither seemed overly impressed with their appearance on the big screen. Maria observed that it was only slightly better than watching their home movies on their own theatre screen at home where she got more camera time. Her parents, grandparents, and uncles all smiled in understanding. The home movies focused almost exclusively on one major star… Maria. For a week or so Maria and DJ were major celebrities at school. The Princess was miffed that she had to explain that there was no “line” between her names and that “Wilson” was now her middle name. Her teacher helped by explaining that it might be considered a “stage name”, like many celebrities or superheroes used to protect their real identities. That only added to the couples already bulletproof playground cache. The movie poster featuring her name, even misrepresented, opened up a Pandora’s box of questions at home that came dangerously close to revealing her brush with stardom. Only after an exasperated Daddy suggested they pack a picnic and go for a horseback ride “right now” did Maria relent with her dogged inquiry. Paul later confided in his husband that deflection, dissembling, and avoidance were essential tools in his piss-poor attempt at effective parenting. Jeff compared Paul’s parental tactics to his training and experience in the legal profession. He was a quick study and, again, affirmed that they must always present a united front when dealing with parental issues. The phrase “We’ll have to discuss this with your Daddy” soon became as popular a tool as the old standbys, ‘We’ll talk about this later. We’ll talk about this when you're older. We’ll talk about this when you have your own children. We’ll talk about this when I’m dead.’ Maria had been as eager as anyone to help organize the Carnival. She insisted on having wandering face painters, balloon artists, and magicians around the rides for the “younger” folks. Tink made the mistake of referring to that group of rides as “the kiddie ride area”. Even his very thick Russian accent, which fascinated Maria, was no excuse for such derogatory language. Maria jumped the man immediately and educated him on the importance of avoiding language that served only to “belittle” the person as if they were somehow less important than a grown up. They settled on “preteens” and “younger folks” as the preferred pronouns with “children” being only marginally more acceptable than the major insult of being referred to as a 'kid or 'kiddie'. After Maria was convinced she had corrected Tinks attitude, she huffed, “Kids, after all, are actually young goats.” Paul was pretty sure he had just heard his daughter channeling her grandmother Mellie. (Use of the word “pronouns” required immediate explanation to a suspicious and already miffed five-year-old Princess.) Maria’s eager involvement in the planning came with an ulterior motive. She had already briefed DJ that the meetings that focused on the Carnaval were their best chance to finally learn the truth about sex. Since the wedding ceremony was going to involve lots of couples about to get married so they could have sex, the forbidden topic would most likely be discussed at some point. They just had to be there and listen. The two were constantly underfoot and together whenever the opportunity arose. Neither child asked the same parent twice in a row for permission or for a ride to the other's house. They would listen attentively to any conversation from which they were not intentionally barred. Maria would grill her Daddies concerning any meetings that had taken place while she was at school. Afterward, she and DJ would pow-wow via FaceTime or compare notes at school the next day. So far, her “kid-friendly” search engine was not much help in piecing together the various clues concerning “sex” and why it was such a big deal to grownups. She was pretty sure of the mechanics, every barnyard animal had a penis or a vagina and she had seen animals mate. She just felt the grownups were hiding something more than reproduction. Otherwise, why would that they refuse to discuss it without getting nervous or embarrassed? Both “children” considered the talks of “rides, food, fun, and fireworks” more important and just as exciting to discuss in their follow-up chats. The discussions on serious topics like institutionalized prejudices of churches, schools, and entertainment venues, hate crimes, and subtle or even subliminal bigotry were downright boring. During a long, drawn-out discussion regarding how to effectively incorporate serious points of discussion into an actual carnival atmosphere, Maria began to fidget. When one gay psychologist offered the topic of “responding with encouraging positive and supportive dialogues in the workplace whenever hate speech is overheard by gays or straights”, Maria’s fidgeting became distracting. Daddy Jeff offered. “Wouldn’t you like to go play or help Uncle Fred in the kitchen”? Maria could be stubborn and this time she insisted on remaining at her Daddy’s side. When another professor suggested a game show type format imitating “Jeopardy” or “What to Say When” format Maria lost all pretense of being the slightest bit interested. Her Daddy Jeff said, “Maria, if you want to attend these meetings you have to learn to just be patient. I know you find it hard to understand but these talks are about serious issues affecting gays are more important than those about fun, food, and fireworks. Now, I would like for you to either excuse yourself or sit still and just be patient.” Maria countered with, “I know it’s impotent to help people not to hate. Just like people hate Uncle Daniel for being gay and Sheriff and just like people hate other kids at school for being hispanic or black. I know we won’t stop real haters because they hate themselves more than they hate other people. I try to be patient and listen carefully but the words are mostly big and the people aren’t talking to me. Besides, you weren’t so patient when we were waiting for Daddy to get his leg sewed up at the clinic. When he was being a patient, you were being very ‘m-patient’. Grandma and Grandpa both told you so a couple of times.” Then, with folded arms, she added, “I don’t think being ‘patient’ runs in our family.” Maria then mumbled to the others in attendance, “Scuse me”, got up, eased her chair up against the conference table and slowly walked out. Jeff sat there slack-jawed at having been put in his place by his five-year-old daughter. Later, after a serious discussion with his husband, Jeff was still unsure if Maria’s remarks were an intelligently considered and calculated riposte or just an offhand comment that came out sounding more profound than it was. The more he learned about his daughter the more fascinating, endearing, and impressive he found her to be. The sudden surge of pride he felt was like an endorphin rush to his brain. He made a mental note to guard against becoming one of those father’s who constantly brags about his children. He put that “patient” encounter among his “hold cards” should some unsuspecting parent brag that ”My child is so smart and mature, why just the other day…” Jeff knew that he had an ace-in-hole with this story. He began refreshing his memory with examples that would clearly justify his daughter’s right to be described as “truly exceptional”. Later, in bed, he began to rehearse to his husband his list of “impressive things Maria had said or done”. He had barely begun when Paul smiled at him with a look of unabashed love and planted a kiss on his busy lips that made Jeff want to list all his husband’s “truly exceptional” attributes. Paul’s intention was to acknowledge his husband’s obvious love for their daughter but the kiss they shared grew into something more demanding and the night slipped away in a blur of heated passion. Morning light found them regretting they had fallen asleep without cleaning themselves. Dried cum sticking to body hair can range from inconvenient to downright painful. Jeff and Paul’s newfound popularity was not without its annoyances. With a security team already in place, those seeking photo-ops and impromptu personal interviews were kept at bay. It wasn’t long before speculation concerning the couples wealth began to appear as a menu item on the media feeding frenzy. Fortunately, the best they could come up with was that Jeff was a reputable attorney and the scion of an old and successful Texas family with cattle and oil interests and Paul was a practicing veterinarian. The omnipresent, albeit discreet, bodyguards only added to the speculation. Some opined that they were in reality just ranch hands that had been drafted to keep the paparazzi at bay. The singular annoyance for Paul was when a clip of him was featured on one of those TV programs that caught ‘stars’ in awkward or embarrassing situations and had a team of ‘posed to appear relaxed’ commentators. It was a video of him from behind, pissing beside his SUV. It was shot from the rear and only allowed for jokes addressing the resultant large puddle, his ass filling out his snug-fitting Wranglers, and the angle of his well-worn hat. "His stance", according to one female paparazzi with five brothers and two ex-husbands, “is indicative of the more casual stance of a well-endowed man”. That observation inspired gibes and catcalls from Sam, Dave, Fred, and even his own husband. Some were encouraging him to prove the woman right and others decrying her for physically lacking the appendage she had so glibly evaluated. Sam snorted and stated flatly, “I’ve pissed alongside and peeked at men and boys from around the world and I’ve never noticed endowment size reflected in any particular stance.” Paul jokingly argued, “This woman has unimpeachable credentials. It’s likely she has seen her father, her brothers, and both husbands pissing countless times and she simply noted discreet telltale signs signifying a larger or lesser endowment. In fact, this woman just might be considered as a court-approved technical expert.” This last was offered with a grimace determined to smother his own shit-eatin’ grin. Jeff laughingly challenged Paul’s defense of the woman, “She definitely would not be allowed to testify as an endowment expert.” Shifting into a totally affected, pontificating, air of superiority, he added, “She has yet to offer any credentials to the court indicating formal or official training. She proffers only anecdotal accounts involving an insignificant data set. She has also failed to offer any observable variables in a man's stance that reflect a corresponding indication of size.” Shifting back to his normal persona Jeff teased, “If she’d said your stance had indicated a “teeny weeny”, you’d have dismissed her as an unqualified piss-freak trying to ‘belittle’ your manhood. All of us here know that your manhood can’t be belittled even flaccid.” Jeff leaned in and kissed his husband as he surreptitiously fondled the appendage in question. As Jeff and Paul separated, Dave chuckled and commented, “My duties as a bodyguard mean that Paul’s protection and safety are my paramount professional priorities. However, Paul’s pissing was not specified in my contract as an instance requiring protection nor am I willing to accept splatter as a consequence of my employment. Being pissed on in the line of duty is not something I expect to be adding to my CV anytime soon. If I’m expected to shield Paul’s cock from the paparazzi I think we need to renegotiate the contract and add waterproofing to all our clothes.” Sam snorted, “I think it would simplify matters for everyone concerned if we just got Paul to wear Depends.” Jeff cleared his throat, “I hope I’m still above ground when my husband has to start worrying about incontinence. I hope our great-grandchildren are there to tease us about it. In the meantime, I perceive all this parlance of Paul’s potential porn star pissing pecker has petered out.” The response was a chorus of loud, obnoxious, exaggerated groans, and a chastising smack against his bicep from his husband. Soon after returning from Hawaii, Raymond and Daniel had decided to have a pool and pool house built that were identical to Jeff and Paul’s. Raymond had explained to his brother that the cousins would eventually be visiting back and forth and he didn’t want Jeff and Paul’s place to become the default gathering place just because they had a pool. Jeff insisted his big brother was jealous and suffered from “pool” envy. Raymond had reminded his “little” brother that Jeff and Daniel both knew only too well that his “playground equipment” was the one more likely to be envied. He pointed out that his swimming pool and pool house were identical to Jeff’s, not larger, which might have given some credence to Jeff’s remark. Paul upped the ante by arguing that his and Paul's home would become the gathering place as the children grew simply because he and Paul were “kewler” than Raymond and Daniel. Daniel stated flatly that should that be the case he could simply lock up the “kewl” dads on any given weekend and the kids would have no choice but to be at their place. As the argument devolved, more and more ludicrous threats, options, and enticements were proposed until Raymond Googled and made reservations for a “weekend in space” for himself, Daniel, and three others to be named at a later date. The reservations would be accommodated at a “mutually convenient time” within the next decade. No one could top that. What child wouldn’t be in awe of one who was going to take them on a journey into space? Daniel and Paul were stunned. Jeff was just pissed because he didn't think of it first. A few days before the Carnival, Joe and Mellie were hosting the youngsters, including the boys and girls from Chicago, on an overnight trip to San Antonio to take in the Alamo and the River Walk. Doc’s sons were already begging their Dad to move them all to Texas so they could own their own horses just like Maria and DJ. Raymond and Daniel decided to host a poolside cookout for their friends and the visitors from Chicago. It was a chance to show the family’s Chicago guests, Doc Steelman and Bradley Davis, some ‘down-home’ Texas hospitality. Runt and Larry were hesitant to attend as guests but Raymond and Daniel explained that Jeremy, who worked for Raymond, and Nathaniel, who worked for Daniel, would be attending as well as several off-duty bodyguards. The catered party centered around the bar-b-que pit, which was actually part of a very well equipped outdoor kitchen. The large, heated swimming pool explained why dress for the evening was “casual, bring swimwear”. The dinner was self-service as was the well stocked wet bar. The bar featured a tropical theme that was reminiscent of the secluded, rustic, beachfront lodgings that had been the “honeymoon” suite for both couples for a few days after their Hawaiian wedding. Paul had made no secret about his burning curiosity to see Doc Steelman’s endowment, “first hand”. Jeff teased him by insisting, “It'll likely take two hands to handle that whopper and you'll still have enough flesh exposed to make the average man jealous.” He was amused at his lover’s fascination with the other man’s “freakishly large endowment”. A small cloud of concern hovered on his mental horizon, ‘was his husband a size queen’? ‘Would his above average manhood satisfy his husband in the years to come’? Bradley had confided in Jeff that Doc had some self-image issues. In high school, he had been ridiculed and branded “GC” for gargantuan cock. Girls who dated him were either morbidly curious or just plain ignorant as to why boys especially called him “GC”. In the end, it really didn’t matter, he was in his second semester of college before he lost his virginity to a girl. As an adult, he had been refused penetrative sex on more than a few occasions with male and female partners due to the size of his fully aroused manhood. Bradley acknowledged that Doc was now quite proud of his endowment and recognized that most of the rejection he had experienced in his youth had been due to envy, fear, or just plain ignorance regarding the elasticity of human bodily orifices. Fortunately, Bradley felt Doc was damned near perfect in every way and every dimension. Jeff cleared it first with Raymond and Daniel then getting Bradley’s approval he approached Doc who simply smiled and shrugged his shoulders indifferently. Jeff was prepared to offer Sam and Dave a cash incentive to be the first to get in the pool naked but before he could add the part about money, they both were happily cavorting in the altogether trying to push each other into the pool. Soon, nudity was everybody’s accepted dress code. Paul was not the only one who seemed mesmerized by Doc’s endowment. When asked the dimensions Doc told Paul to find a tape measure and Bradley would do the honors to show both flaccid and aroused states. Daniel quickly provided a tape measure and the results were indeed impressive 8 ¼ inches flaccid and 11 ¾ fully erect. The girth was 6 ½ inches and seemed to vary little with arousal, with the head being only slightly larger than the shaft. Bradley proudly proclaimed that it was capable of even greater size when properly stimulated. In spite of several encouraging voices, he declined to publicly prove his assertion. It wasn’t long after the measurements were complete that Doc donned his swimsuit and others followed suit. The majority opted to remain nude. Later, in the privacy of their bedroom, Paul advised Jeff that he was likely to never see a human penis that large again even in porn. It was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. Jeff was taken aback as he realized that his lover had wanted to see the huge dong as a physical curiosity rather than an object of lust. When he suggested as much to his lover, Paul immediately agreed and looked accusingly at his husband, “Did you think I wanted to have sex with Doc? When I said I loved you, it implied and maybe I should have stated that I only expect to have sex with you. I can’t see a time when I would choose to have sex with any other man.” He wrapped Jeff in a snug embrace. “Were you worried that I might jump Doc once I got a gander at his gooser? Jeff, you are and always will be the only man for me. You’re my lover, you're my best friend, you’re my husband, and a father to my daughter. I might look and might even get aroused by other men in porn or in real life but you are the only one I want to relieve my sexual tension. And, I certainly hope you feel the same. If ever we decide to be other than monogamous, I want us to discuss it before either of us breaks that bond.” Jeff’s mumbled response was an attempt to concur with his lover’s sentiments but whatever he tried to say was lost in the smoldering kiss that Paul planted on his lips. That smoldering soon burst into flame and the blaze of passion consumed any doubt and concern either man may have been harboring. After some concentrated effort, both men slipped into nocturnal bliss. Dried cum would be dealt with in the morning. As the Carnival weekend neared, the entire family and their friends were totally and eagerly involved with the planning and organizing of the Carnival. The professional staff Jeff had contracted was more than capable and implemented ideas and suggestions from the financiers as well as those of the gay and gay-friendly organizations that participated. The end result was that the “Gay-Us Carnival in Texas” promised to be one of the largest “free” gatherings in the state in over a decade. It advertised “fun for all ages”. The fact that that fun also included informative and educational presentations regarding gays throughout history, up to and including modern society’s views, laws, and imposed and institutionalized limitations was also emphasized. The opposition from various religious denominations and political organizations was also explored. Paid advertising was, obviously, limited to gay-friendly media sources but the internet soon had masses of, mostly younger people, looking forward to attending. It was a happy coincidence that the first day of the Carnival was Earth Day. While the local enthusiasts would have joined in the festivities in either Dallas or Abilene, this year they were given a grant from the Adam’s Family Trust to organize local events that could include folks that were ostensibly in town for the Carnival and to man information booths within the Carnival. The only stipulations were that their celebration would be totally inclusive and no product endorsements or commercial activities were allowed within the fairgrounds. The music and colorful celebrations of Earth Day seemed almost a preamble to the main attraction. Jeff felt that the two celebrations complemented each other as they both focused on that which was nature and natural without religious or cultural overtones. The gates to the “Gay Us Carnival in Texas” opened at twelve noon and yet hours before that the lines were already long. The raucous circus-like sounds of the calliope, the smells of “fair fare” seemed to elevate the level of excitement and anticipation as the revelers passed through the gates. Soon, the metallic rattle of the rides and the screams of their riders added to the sense of being someplace beyond the mundane. The crowds were in a festive mood and congeniality was the rule. People seemed to sense that everyone else was there to simply have a good time in the nice weather and were with people who truly accepted everyone regardless of social standing, race, or sexual orientation. Bullies, homophobes, and ruffians were soon identified and insistently encouraged to leave quietly or go to jail. Troublemakers were monitored until their cars left the fairgrounds parking lot. Along with those that were eager to attend were folks who, at first, loudly called for boycotting the local area for days leading up to the Carnival and threatened a permanent boycott of any business that remained open for the Carnival weekend. Even local preachers encouraged the faithful to visit loved ones outside the local area for the duration of the “satanic celebration”. One Dallas megachurch preacher revealed that he had talked to god, requested, and had been assured rain would dampen all three days of the celebration and that a tornado was expected to strike the town and destroy it and all who attended the “deviant and idolatrous celebration”. He insisted the town would be remembered as the modern-day equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah. It made no difference when more than one bible scholar pointed out that ancient text had revealed that the original reason attributed to Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction was their refusal to grant hospitality to travelers, a critical element of survival in primitive desert regions. It was only after the Romans captured the Jewish homeland and brought with them the Greek tradition of an acceptance of same-sex relations that the jewish scholar’s amended the text to include ‘deviant sexual behavior’ as a major cause of both cities’ destruction. At the time, the ruling jews felt threatened that their youth was too accepting of the Roman occupation forces and too willing to adopt the more hedonistic Roman lifestyle. As religious holidays go, Bacchanalia was a lot more fun to celebrate than Passover. Most all Roman religious celebrations included feasting, music, and more than a few included sexual activities. Whereas, the Jewish god, Yahweh, had killed Onan just for masturbating. The religious wackos and right-wingers had called for people to drive into town with the intent to impede and obstruct traffic flow. A little research with google maps would have had them making different plans. Their overall impact on this small Texas town would have hardly earned a raised eyebrow from a seasoned ‘big city’ dweller on his daily commute. Law enforcement was legion and every inauthentic impediment to traffic was met with a citation and or a tow truck. In three cases the drivers were placed under arrest. Those were the ones who argued that they had god on their side and asserted they should be applauded for doing god’s work in opposing the celebration of this “perverted lifestyle”. They found little sympathy among the police officers who were being paid double their normal wages by those who lived that “perverted lifestyle”. This was a real chance for any hate mongering preacher and or politician to get face time with the public. It was more than a little incongruous to have people of all ages, many in obvious family groups, entering the gates in obvious anticipation of a good time, as sour-faced preachers and politicians ranted and raved-on all about them before their respective camera crews. The christian networks and cable news networks were all out in force. One popular televangelist made a beeline for a particular young family of four about to enter. With cameras rolling, he stepped in front of the father, “Young man, don’t you realize that it’s your responsibility to guide your family in the ways of righteousness? Leading them into this celebration of this depraved lifestyle is leading them and future generations straight into the gates of hell and into the arms of satan!” Feeling the spirit take hold he shouted for all to hear, “Turn away! Turn away from this evil! God will forgive you if you turn away now.” Then, in a diatribe directed more toward the crowd and the cameras than to the startled young family, he continued in a loud, practiced, undulating voice, usually intended to move his congregation. “Being queer is a choice that is made by condemned degenerates. For the sake of your children’s, children’s, children, turn away.” The happy little family had been caught completely off guard by the preacher’s vitriol. The father swallowed his smile and searched the shocked faces of his wife and children. He shrugged from under the preacher’s grasping hand and turned a cold, threatening glare on the older, balding, man. “I was raised by people who listened all their lives to men just like you. They taught me to hate and mistrust anyone or anything that was different from me and mine. They made me watch your sermon every Sunday. You talked about god’s love and blessings with a smile and spit out hate and damnation for anything you don’t approve of or anyone who disagreed or refused to send you money. You, who got caught screwing your secretary behind your wife’s back? You, who paid her off and paid for her abortion with money that hard-working folks, just like my parents, sent to help you spread god's word. All you spread was her legs, your seed, and a whole lot of hate. In my book, you, and your damnation ain’t worth a pile of cow shit. On second thought, real cowshit can be used for fertilizer and yours is just hot-aired hatred. “I just got back from Afghanistan where I served with all colors and all kinds of people. In the army, I learned that blacks and Hispanics aren’t bad just because they have a different skin color or a different cultural background. In country, I learned that people with different beliefs can still be good people. I learned that morality doesn’t depend on any religious beliefs any more than a professed belief in god is a guarantee of moral behavior. I saw an openly gay atheist take a bullet for a born-again bigot that had been cussing and condemning him for being a coc…, er, uh, gay non-believer just two days before that firefight. Don’t tell me or my children that being gay is wrong or that god doesn’t love gays. I can see by your clothes, your watch and your jewelry that you believe in money much more than you believe in god. You’ll fly back home on your private jet just so you don’t have to mingle with the same folks that paid for your jet. It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven. You are a multi-millionaire and insist that folks living on social security should send you money rather than buy medicine they need and can barely afford.” The preacher was shocked speechless. This was a complete surprise to him. He looked closer at the man’s wife and realized he had made a serious mistake. He turned to walk away when the father looked at his wife then back to the preacher. “One more thing…” The preacher turned back toward the man. The father took a deep breath, stood a little taller, and without warning rapidly punched the preacher man in the face three times before the man could cover up or turn away again. “That’s for all the Sundays I was forced to listen to your hate mongering bullshit AND for those gays, and other minorities whose lives you have helped to make more miserable. Jesus would be ashamed of you and your white-bred hatred especially considering he was not even white himself.” It was just as the preacher was regaining his footing and the father had gathered his family to enter the gate that another, almost identically attired, family of four approached. The men could have been brothers and the women twins. The mother spoke first, “Ralph, honey, sweety, are you okay”? She rushed in and began to nurse the much older, fallen man. She dabbed at his broken, bloody nose with tender affection and familiarity. The newly arrived “father” accosted the wounded man, “I damn well better get the rest of the money your personal assistant promised me for this gig. Turns out, being stuck in this one-horse town with your new mistress and her two bastards in a cramped motorhome isn’t quite the weekend getaway he said it would be.” Staring at the departing “real” family the actor continued, “If you took your cue from the wrong man, that’s not my problem. I was rehearsed and ready. You owe me and you’d best pay up in cash or I’ll be talking to CNN before you get out of the emergency room.” It seemed everyone but the cameramen had forgotten this scenario was being broadcast live to the faithful followers that had paid the ‘reasonable offering’ in advance. The cable news networks went crazy with the professionally captured video. Except, of course, the one cable news network that had the preacher on a retainer as a frequent consultant specializing in ‘American Family Values’. They were ‘conveniently’ unaware of the scripted confrontation that went awry. Ignorance may be bliss but it can also be a conscious decision. In spite of the preacher’s demands, Daniel refused to arrest the “assailant”. Ostensibly, due to the fact that several times the preacher had laid hands upon the man. Daniel reasoned that any judge would see that as provocation. In truth, Daniel would have arranged a parade through the fairgrounds to honor the man for overcoming a lifetime of ingrained bigotry and realizing the truth about the man behind the curtain. The ‘real’ family was flown, that evening, to New York City for interviews on three network morning talk shows and two cable news networks. There was even a book offer to document the father’s transition “From small-town bigot to Enlightened War Hero”. The book deal fell through, however, when the decorated war hero was offered an even more outrageous sum for sitting down with screenwriters to take the same story directly to the ‘big screen’. The “I’m not a father in real life but I’ve played one in a staged, botched, anti-gay, video”, became almost as famous as OJ’s houseboy, er, uh, whatshisname. After the talking heads on network and cable news shows lost interest, he was able to establish a modest, albeit short-lived, career on reality tv. Having trained and qualified folks onsite freed up everyone to simply enjoy the weekend’s festivities. The “Big 4”, as Tink had labeled them, insisted that they be advised of any significant issues that might arise, especially concerning security, publicity, and anything involving the anti-gay protesters. They were not on the scene for the confrontation but it was the smaller family jet that transported the father and his family to New York in style. The others were impressed that Daniel, (Actually, Jeremy at Daniel’s behest.) had arranged for the soldier and his family to be interviewed by the various television entertainment venues in New York and arranged for their transportation and five-star accommodations. He did admit he had nothing to do with the book or movie deal. He just thought the family might enjoy a few days in the Big Apple as a token of appreciation from the Adams family. Daniel basked in the praise of his kinfolk for acting in a way which they had not considered but most heartily approved. The fairgrounds and rodeo arena took on the record-breaking crowds and festivities as if it were an everyday routine. The motels and local campgrounds had been booked solid for the last three weeks. Three of the real estate acquisitions the Adams family owned in town were opened up to men, women, and the third to couples and families. The only requirement was that each person had to have a sleeping bag, which could be purchased on site before he/she was admitted. Each housing unit had porta-potties and trailered shower facilities. What happened within the ‘men only’ showers and sleeping quarters, according to those interviewed, was, “proper, comfortable and constantly monitored by armed security guards… we just slept”. While rumors and a few videos purported the activities were more in keeping with those of a “no holds barred, Gay resort. The ‘Big 4’ never asked for details from the security forces that were assigned to monitor the sleeping quarters. Luckily, those same agents never had to falsely protest their lack of personal involvement. The merchants in town were ecstatic about the unusual and much-appreciated increase in revenue. Some ranchers even brought saddled horses into town and offered group trail rides, for a fee. Almost immediately, discussions were taking place as to how to entice these people, gay and straight, to come back and spend more money. It seems they were awed at the spending power that came along with gays and gay-friendly folks no to mention their overall peaceful behavior. The next City Council established the third weekend in April as the designated date to celebrate the annual “Gay US Carnival in Texas”. They also set up a committee to explore hosting more festivals. It was also decided the town would invite the “gay” rodeo organizers to use their arena and fairgrounds. The actual Carnival layout was easy to navigate with posted maps and paid staff wearing rainbow-colored vests circulating among the crowds to provide information and assistance as needed. Security was also highly visible in the same rainbow vests, except they also had the usual policeman’s equipment. That was fitting, seeing as how security was made up of off-duty police officers from neighboring towns, cities, and counties. The numerous first aid stations were staffed by EMT’s with ambulances were at the ready. Jeff had two helicopters on standby to evacuate anyone who might be seriously injured or have a medical emergency. His ace-in-the-hole was that Ilya’s men were also on hand, incognito, and just like the rainbow vested helpers they also were circulating among the crowd. Tink had set up a command post that monitored all communications and coordinated the policemen, the EMTs, the information assistants and the family’s own security forces. Jeff felt they would be ready for almost any contingency. The layout and the sequence of events were purposely staggered so that people wouldn’t have to miss one event in order to see or participate in another. Presentations were limited to 15 minutes with a follow-on question and answer session that ended after another 15 minutes. Each presentation was repeated so that Carnival goers had ample opportunity to visit every booth and experience what each had to offer. After attending a presentation each attendee was presented with a colorful gemstone. Publicity for the Carnival had highlighted the fact that a “rainbow” array of fake as well as some real gemstones would be awarded to those who attended any of the “gay awareness and education” presentations. Each presentation resulted in the attendee taking away a uniquely colored gemstone that just might be real and thus potentially valuable. Granted, the odds of any one stone being “real” were staggering but folks jealousy guarded their collection as if they were holding a winning million dollar lottery ticket. Some attended the same presentation multiple times if they found a particular stone attractive. Attendees began to collect and trade the stones with an eye toward having them mounted in bracelets, brooches, necklaces, or cocktail rings. In fact, the two booths that were initially set up to accommodate those looking to “mount” their momentoes had grown to five in number by Saturday mid-morning and each of those had lines of waiting Carnival goers. Anyone who followed the circuitous route from any of the four entrances, until they came full circle, they would have seen almost everything the Carnival had to offer including food and rides. There was a gauntlet of engaging, entertaining, educational and informative booths peopled by folks who were intent on hawking their particular brand of entertainment that just happens to be supportive of gay rights. One booth offered prizes for sharpshooters who took aim at heads of state and regimes that openly persecuted gays and other minorities. One booth featured the old ‘knock over the milk bottles with a baseball’ in which each oversized bottle was labeled with a psychological shortcoming that was possibly linked to homophobia. Paul took aim at a bottle that read, “penile dysmorphic disorder”. When he only knocked over three of the ten bottles he asked what it meant. The barker, a psychology graduate student, happily replied, ”More than 90% of gay men and lesbians report being targets of verbal abuse or threats, and more than one-third report being survivors of violence related to their homosexuality. “Penile dysmorphic disorder or I’ve got a small penis, may be a contributing factor in homophobia and hate crimes against gay men. It’s pretty well accepted that most men would like a larger endowment than they were born with. Some, even if their equipment is above average, will develop a deep-seated resentment or even violent hatred for gay men. Some homophobes feel they are less well endowed that gay men. Gay pornography, like straight pornography, most often features exceptionally well-endowed actors. This, it is thought, can lead to or reinforce a focused and irrational hatred of gay men. It would be unacceptable to turn that anger against themselves or against straight men. Homophobia is often times in line with associated religious or socially ingrained prejudices. That is to say, the common hatred against gays in religion and society can be reinforced or intensified in those who already have feelings of inadequacy. While bigotry and prejudice in religion and society as a whole is detrimental, it’s the true homophobe that incites and acts out his anger in violence against gays. “There’s also evidence which shows individuals who score in the homophobic range and admit negative affect toward homosexuality demonstrate significant sexual arousal to male homosexual erotic stimuli. It suggests that these are men who act out when confronted with stimuli they either consciously or subconsciously deny and at the same time, find stimulating. Given society's disdain for even a hint of same-sex attraction, some men have internalized the concept that any level of male bonding and friendship or camaraderie is tantamount to being gay and is therefore objectionable. “A more comical observation is that most ‘homophobes’ don’t actually hate homosexuals they simply fear being labeled as a homo. Verbal and physically aggressive behaviors can be an attempt to hide a same-sex attraction. If you add God into the mix then the poor man has the added incentive of not only avoiding social isolation and ostracization but he can also avoid excommunication and eternal damnation. Hate and anger directed toward any given minority are often readily tolerated, accepted, and even encouraged if said minority can be easily identifiable as possessing beliefs, behaviors, characteristics, and traits not in accord with the overall standards and or beliefs of the established majority. In other words, his hatred and anger that is directed toward gays find a more acceptable outlet than dealing with his own feelings of inadequacy or same-sex attractions.” Paul was impressed with the answer and by asking more questions learned that he was addressing a man who was recognized as female at birth but was mentally and emotionally a man inside. He admitted that “penis envy” had been a real aspect of his life growing up. It was after years of counseling that he, at last, felt “whole”. It was only through Jeff’s insistence that they moved on. Jeff could see that Paul was about to ask what kind of plumbing was in place down there. Some mysteries were better left unsolved. Jeff, Paul, Raymond, and Daniel visited every booth whether it was a game of chance or involved a measure of skill. The skills involving air rifles, darts, baseballs, basketballs, etc. provided an opportunity for friendly competition. There was lots of trash talking whoever was taking a turn. An “accidental” nudge seemed to be par for the course. No one was keeping score, except the barkers, and everyone was laughing and having a good time. Maria was making the rounds with DJ and his Dads but had given strict orders that her Daddies and Uncles were to collect the offered jewels for her. Not a man among them dared to show up at the end of the day empty-handed. When it came time for the wedding vows, more than one hundred couples joined hands. Paul noticed some “couples” were actually made up of more than two people and a mix of genders. Polyamory, polygyny, polyandry or Polly Anna, it made no difference to Paul. The couples who were legally bonded today had the proper paperwork in hand. The rest were here to celebrate a commitment ceremony among themselves with family and friends amidst a totally accepting gathering. How relationships were established and maintained among consenting adults was not something he felt particularly qualified to judge or to even inquire about. Joe now possessed the credentials to legally wed folks in Texas. From the podium, he scanned the participants. He saw his nephews looking only slightly less nervous than at the ceremony in Hawaii. He saw their friends from Chicago, Doc Steelman and Bradley Davis, Sam and Dave, Larry and Runt, and much to his surprise he saw Tom and Tink alongside Fred and Rosarita. Still more shocking was a couple of good friends that he had known almost all his life and yet here they were, two best friends, divorced, neighboring ranchers, tough old cowboys, about to wed each other. He began. “Mawage is wat bwings us togever today…” After the laughter died down he continued. “Laughter is the hallmark of any really successful celebration. We are gathered to celebrate the wedding of some gay folks and some straight folks in a setting of not just tolerance but a setting of complete acceptance. It has been within my lifetime that same-sex activity could be punished by a prison sentence. Those caught in such a situation, even if not jailed, were often rejected by their family, fired from their job, ostracized by their community, excommunicated from their church, and could be verbally and physically assaulted without consequence. Today, less than half the states make it a crime to discriminate against gays in employment, housing, hate crimes, etc. The times they are a changin. Today, we celebrate a major change. In so doing we must remember to be on guard because there are those, in this country, who seek to revoke that right and wish to, again, make acts of physical intimacy between same-sex couples illegal. “When my family suggested I perform the ceremony today I was at first hesitant. I felt any openly gay member of the clergy would be a more appropriate choice. During a discussion, I realized that there should be no differences in any aspect of a person’s life because of their sexual orientation. I look forward to the day when being gay is less an issue than being left-handed or having red hair. “As to marriage, the law and religion offer legal and socially recognized bonds intended to serve this mortal coil. Marriage is an old and venerable institution. Originally, marriage was a negotiated treaty intended to strengthen bonds between families within a tribe, within a region, within a nation. Eventually, negotiated marriages were used to strengthen international bonds. The times they are a changin. Today, marriage is negotiated by the participants themselves. Some will poopoo the notion that marriage is a negotiated contract more than a holy union. I beg to differ. As is the case in of most treaties, the more we discuss and specify the actual details the more likely we are to honor this treaty, especially if it specifies how often sexual activity may be anticipated.” This last got a chuckle from the crowd. “Humans are a carnivorous herd species. That puts us somewhere between sheep and wolves, except we possess more complex communicative skills than either. These communicative skills mean we are negotiators by nature. We use a variety of sophisticated tools including our time, our money, and sometimes violence to negotiate for food, shelter, commodities, real estate, and social status. “Each of you has stated your intent to contract with your significant other through your online participation form and your license to wed. You have agreed to tolerate their annoying little habits and immediately and repeatedly forgive their foibles and frailties. With the full understanding that they make the same commitment to you. You have agreed that, presently, you are compatible on a number of levels and more importantly you have committed to embracing the growth and changes you, your partner, and y’alls relationship will encounter. Marriage is not the end goal of a successful courtship. Marriage is the beginning of a life-long partnership that requires continuous committed and active participation on both parts if that union is to endure. I believe the marriages most likely to succeed are those involving good friends who enjoy, love, lust after, and respect each other. “The words of the ceremony are ones I have chosen with the help of my wife Mellie. She said, that the most important part of any marriage ceremony is the part that encourages the newlyweds to expect change and growth in their partner and themselves. Life is not a static endeavor. People change, as do circumstances, situations, and conditions. If you understand that and If you acknowledge and adjust to changes as they occur together as a couple, you stand a much better chance at an enduring partnership. “Now, please join hands and repeat after me, “I, state your full name, enter into this matrimonial state with you freely and with sincere intent to sustain, encourage, and defend you with all my strength, might, and mind. I accept your faults as part of what I celebrate as your uniqueness. I promise to put the family we are ahead of all others in my life. You are the one with whom I want to share my successes and the one I want to console me in my failures. I want to spend my life with you. It is with sincere intent and commitment I thee wed.” “If you have rings you should exchange them now.” After a moment Joe continued, “You may now kiss your newlywed.” Just before the newlyweds began to leave the massive reception, Joe grabbed the microphone and asked his family to join him at the front of the pavilion. As flutes of champagne were served to those in attendance. Lifting his glass, he spoke clearly but with strong emotion. "I want to toast the man who conceived of this celebration and in a very short time has made it a rousing success. To Jeffrey Grant Adams, who has made his entire family and a lot of gay folks very happy today." Turning to Jeff he added, "Son, I know your Dad would be mighty proud of you right now." Then in a booming voice, he shouted, "TO JEFF!" Affirmations of "To JEFF! echoed throughout the pavillion., Afterward, Jeff and Paul were walking with Sam and Dave toward their SUV when Raymond trotted up and called out to his brother. Jeff halted and turned to see what his brother needed. Raymond skidded to a halt and began, “Jeff, you remember the journals that were written by the first Adams men to settle in Texas”? Jeff nodded as Paul stepped up beside him. Raymond continued, “Well, you know each male member of the Adams bloodline has access to those journals. I meant to talk to you sooner but the weddings and the Carnival kinda shoved that aside. Anyway, I’ve had those journals transcribed and I’ve sent a copy to your personal email address.” Turning to Paul, Raymond continued, “I sent you and Daniel a copy too. I know you were taken by the portraits hanging in Jeff’s bedroom. Well, here's your chance to read what they had to say about the early days of building a real Texas empire from scratch.” Even before they were out of the parking lot, Paul had pulled up the email and was beginning to read the “Personal Journal of Winston Nathaniel Adams”.
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