Hairy Fairies in the gardens! The Gardens of the Mythbegotten, my current name for this little bit of joy and peace in the midst of 2020 chaos, is the Patreon place where I create small watercolor paintings of fairies playing and misbehaving and having a great time. Occasionally satyrs, Minotaurs, centaurs join them…. and it’s light hearted. I sell the paintings, and I also have really cool incentives to stay in the gardens for awhile.
Here are some of the things you can get:
All the photos of my paintings as they are completed. You’ll see them first before I post them on Facebook or Squarespace or Redbubble so that if you want to buy one, you can. You get first choice.
Process photos—how I make them and what my thoughts were going into the painting.
Little meditations on art (famous art, but also my friends’ art because they deserve some cool essays AND you get to find out about art you might not know about that is deserving a look!
Weekly Tarot for Creators—a spread of cards for your week as a creator, with enough to inspire your work, OR to give you a head’s up about the week AS a creator. What energies are there for you as a creator?
At some levels you get a card mailed to you every month, a print, of one of the paintings.
Time-lapse videos of a painting
Stories about the Gardens with new illustrations
T-shirts, mugs, buttons!
These gardens are queer friendly, racially diverse, age diverse, and body diverse, and sex positive. While there are no depictions of sex happening—the often nude bodies and playfulness of characters suggest it happens.
For $1 a month, you can have my pictures emailed to you, and the other tiers are affordable for so much garden goodies! Check out the Patreon and see what’s happening in the Garden!
I have been a big admirer of the works of NC Wyeth for a long time. You might remember his illustrations from your favorite classic YA adventure novels (now assigned texts in college 19th Century and turn of the century literature classes), books like Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Last of the Mohicans, A Boy’s King Arthur, Kidnapped, The Yearling, Robin Hood, The Deerslayer, etc. Very popular books in the early 20th Century with themes and storylines still made into movies today.
I loved his style! BIG color, lots of drama, action, adventure, stunning landscapes. I wished I could paint like that ever since I saw my first Wyeth up close at Texas Tech University. But I was a cartoonist at the time, and an occasional portrait artist, and I was working towards a PhD in Creative Writing. I wasn’t thinking of myself as an Artist, nor was I think of myself as an Artist who was going to study Wyeth.
As a gay man, growing up so Other from other boys, I had a peculiar relationship with the World of Boys and Men (which I will write about more in a later post) and that was a world that belonged to Wyeth as well. I had felt excluded for a long time from that world, and made up for it by being in other worlds. But I lingered outside the borders often and looked in at Things Which Were Not For Me.
So I pursued writing and teaching as a career, making art wait.
But in the last few years, my teaching situation changed, and it was difficult to find work as an adjunct teacher. I also continued to almost make it in the job market for tenure track positions. So i decided to make a change in my life–to build my art career–because I needed the money, a new source of income, and my art had waited long enough.
Today I want to share with you work that I completed while at the Columbus College of Art and Design, and which would have been part of the Columbus Arts Festival 2020 in June (but WILL be part of the festival in 2021!)
I fell in love late in life with a character from a Christmas special: Yukon Cornelius, created by Romeo Muller as part of the 1964 Rankin/Bass production of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”–a stop motion special that is shown every Christmas. You might recognize the character:
Burly, positive, full of helpful asides “Bumbles Bounce!” and “the fog is as thick as peanut butter!”–Yukon helps our heroes realize their dreams by a) saving them from the Abominable Snowmonster, b) taking them to the Island of Misfit Toys to carry a message to Santa to come get these toys and pair them up with kids and c) reforming said Abominable Snowmonster and making him tame, and cool for Christmas Parties.
I don’t know why Yukon stayed with me. It might be that I went to live in the Yukon for nearly 10 years. I mushed some dogs (tbh, only as a one-day fun thing in Inuvik, NWT–though I attended and watched the Yukon Quest as much as I could), and spent time out in the wilderness. But I also lived in the great city of Whitehorse being a friend and misfit to a lot of other friends and misfits, who are also great musicians, artists, talented amazing people.
Maybe it was that Yukon was very burly, and I was attracted to him, or even attracted to the kind of man he represented–a big “bear”. He seemed like a better version of a male hero than I had previously encountered. Though he had a gun, I don’t think he ever shot it. He was practical, helpful, encouraging. He had a lot of knowledge about Abominable Snowmonsters! And he was much more interested in saving people than in killing monsters. In the end, because Bumbles bounce!–Yukon and Bumble somehow come to an understanding. Bumble is just another misfit that needs to find his right place… and he does, next to the Christmas tree.
In another post, I will tell you more about that Queering the Hero journey I made–and continue to make. But here are my paintings, extrapolating three things:
Yukon Cornelius could be gay. People have commented before on the queer undertones of the show–read the articles here from Vulture, and KQED and in 2019 The New York Times opinion page—- about themes of bullying, about being different, about being rejected, about finding acceptance for your unique qualities. Romeo Muller was himself gay. It’s not a stretch to see the queercoding in the show. Making Yukon Cornelius gay is not a stretch either, since he doesn’t make mention of a wife, and reads as what we would call a “bear” today–a burly, bearded, slightly overweight, slightly hyper-masculine man.
Yukon has a way of charming beasts. His expert past knowledge of the Abominable Snowmonster speaks to prior run-ins with “Bumble”—and then he is able to tame and speak to the Bumble (who miraculously grows back his teeth in the final few minutes of the special!)
Yukon deserved more of an adventurous life.
So, I created that life for him–and for me. The copyright on characters from this movie had a misprint in it, making all characters in public domain (outside of Rudolph who had prior copyright). So I adopted Yukon as my hero and gave him a life of meeting cryptids (Bigfoot, Mothman, sea monsters, etc.) Using acrylic and myself as a reluctant model–or at times a stand-in, I painted these paintings. (side note: I’d planned to have several cooler guys than me become Yukon for these paintings–but planning photo shoots was not easy.)
So if you’ve always wanted a rollicking adventuresome gay hero, I offer you Yukon Cornelius–rescuing, negotiating, protecting, singing, reading, allowing himself to be loved.
I grew up with a dangerous love of werewolves. I wanted to meet them. I wanted to run with them in the woods behind the house. I wanted them to break into my room at night and kneel at my bed and whisper all the courageous, adventurous things I could become.
I drew pictures of werewolves. I couldn’t help myself. Especially when I was 14 and living outside of Caruthersville, MO, on the levy by the Mississippi River, where my father was the pastor of a small country church–those pictures came every day into my head and just bled out of my pencils and pens. Most of these werewolves were kind, masculine, big brotherly, mentor-like werewolves. I was not clued-in to my head at the time.
These werewolves came, most likely, from my deeply embedded and hidden sexuality, a love for hairy men that I could not understand–a feeling like there was a wild side of me that I must hide away. But the werewolves at my window were always free. Free to run.
These werewolves I drew–the first one made me weep as a teenager–there was something important in that picture, something I couldn’t fully understand growing up in my deeply religious environment. I don’t regret the beautiful years of being deep in that family and faith (and I’m still a big part of my family and faith) but I regret not knowing what that was. I’d have been a much different person if I had known I was gay at 15 instead of at 34.
I appreciate the magic and wonder my ignorance left me–and that’s a strange blessing to be thankful for, but it’s a blessing nonetheless. Because I could not believe in my sexuality, I believed werewolves were real. I musta lived under some really awesome bubble of cognitive dissonance for an A+ student to believe werewolves were possible and still understand and love my science classes. But there I was–a high school student who kept a space open in my brain for the possibility of werewolves. It’s not so hard to believe. For me, son of a Southern Baptist minister, I had a world with angel-demon fights, Jesus talking to you out of the air, fiery chariots racing to the sky, resurrecting dead people, talking donkeys–that’s a world where werewolves can happen, too, isn’t it? That space I kept open–it’s a similar space open for the possibility of miracles, of faith. So why not a …sorta faith in werewolves?
Yes, it’s remarkably well-produced and edited. It’s funny, and it’s poignant, deeply moving at times.
The Stonewall Columbus Queer Ghost Hunters accomplishes these things because it’s doing everything so differently than other ghost hunter shows.
They aren’t reacting to a disturbance or a sighting. The ghost hunters don’t (so far) go to a place because they’ve been called by folks disturbed by ghost activity. They are seeking out where they believe queers would have gone in cities and rural areas. Theatres, prisons, convents.
The goal is not to get the ghost on tape, or to prove that ghosts exist. The show takes as a premise that ghosts exist. Their goal: to provide a safe space for queer ghosts to talk about what it was like living queer in different moments of history.
They’re looking for QUEER ghosts specifically. Their focus drives their narrative. They are looking to bring a safe community to a group of queers who can’t move out of their places to find other queers. ( It’s not like ghosts can pack up and go to San Francisco or Greenwich Village.) The show’s aim is to chat amiably with queer ghosts who may not have had anyone to talk to in their lives about being queer.
All of the ghost hunters fall on the Queer spectrum: genderfluid, lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgendered, pansexual, even a bear. 🙂 This is about diversity in the cast as well as diversity in the ghosts, but they are talking about LGBT issues.
This is MORE than just ghost hunting: it is an examination of the history of LGBT people and, in some ways, how people lived, hid, coped with being queer in different places. In that, it is a reflection–and a chance–for people to talk about what it is to live as queer in any time.
As a science fiction/fantasy writer, I just want to remind folks that we aren’t all alike, and we don’t live in just one bubble. My blog has always been about the experience of being a science fiction/fantasy writer and not just reflecting the genre/writing parts—but about my whole experience of being a Yukoner, of having a faith, of being gay–AND being a science fiction/fantasy writer. So this is part of it.
The Queer Story Archives came up to Whitehorse–Lulu from OnMyPlanet.ca–in July 2013, recording stories of Yukon Queers, and we recorded this right before I was to leave for Dayton, Ohio. I think it’s turning into a positive story so I’m sharing it. Ultimately I’m suggesting that including gay people can save a rapidly diminishing Church population. To do that, I tell my story. Some of you have heard it–either through the Yukon News, or through DNTO. Both sources were good but heavily edited. This is me telling it in less than ten minutes. It feels better in my own words, complete.
We grow from hard times in our lives and this was a good growth for me. Eventually, I’ve come to retain and re-establish many friendships from the first church. I hope my story still helps others. I’m placing this over on Talking Dog too.
Definitely Not the Opera, (DNTO) a CBC Radio One program devoted to the art of storytelling in Canada, asked me to tell my story of coming out to my church for their Nov 3 show “Lost Causes”.
I had pitched the idea to them last year for a different show called “Making Enemies” but withdrew the pitch because a) I don’t think I meant to make enemies, nor do I think I have made enemies; and 2) because I didn’t want to restir a pot that has finally calmed down.
But they remembered my pitch. And they sought me out. Which is humbling, and cool. We recorded on Friday morning and they are editing my lengthy story to 3-4 minutes. I appreciate Andrew Friesen’s belief that my story was important and needed to be told. I feel like the story is more appropriate under “Lost Causes” because trying to reason with people who don’t want to listen to you, or discuss with you–and believing that you alone have to spark change–well, it can feel like a “Lost Cause”. But in the end–and the end hasn’t come yet–who knows if the cause is lost? I think every person who says the church must look at the evidence, must consider the Christian testimonies of LGBT folks in the discussion, is a step towards change. We need more people who realize how many people have fallen away from the faith, have decided against Christ, have been repelled from the church, and who, sometimes when there is no hope left, taken their own lives, all because the Church has historically refused to consider the scriptures in an accepting light–and this causes their members to refuse to accept their children in an accepting light. This splits familes. My God and my Christ are not what I encounter when I come into a Baptist Church anymore. I daresay they wouldn’t recognize it. Churches are not all one defined Mass though–as many churches are beginning to change their minds about LGBT people. Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Church of Canada–all have begun seeing that this is just the next issue the church has to rethink. As it did slavery, race, and its treatment of Women. And divorce. Change comes when people inside churches decide they can’t hold false doctrine anymore. Christianity and Faith are not the problem. Interpretation is.
Ironically, my pastor at RBC suggested I write for Geez magazine. I don’t think he imagined what piece I would eventually write for them. But here it is, Issue #24, on “privilege”. I wrote the fast version of my coming out at church. I centered it on the idea of privilege–of the privileges I had as a single, white male Christian who had leadership potential and of the privileges I no longer had when I added “gay” to that mix.
The church has to change. It has to. It may not change from those fighting it on the outside, but it will have to incorporate change if it is to survive further. It faces irrelevance, it postures with discrimination, it plays favorites, it values money.
Not all churches–no. (When I say a statement like this I have to stop and say, Thank you, churches that are moving more towards inclusion, social justice, focusing on issues like poverty, the environment, civil rights. You do exist, but I wouldn’t, yet, call you the “Church”–as the “Church” tends to be the monolithic Catholic Castle or the Evangelical Juggernaut. One day, you will take on that mantle–you will be the “Church” and it will have a positive ring. You will convince other churches that focusing on discrimination is not the answer.)
Anyway, there it is, in Geez #24. If this brings you to Talking Dog, welcome. There’s lots there, I hope, that will spark conversation. If this entry leads you to Geez, welcome to Geez. There’s lots there that will spark conversation as well. It’s a valuable, important magazine carrying on “the” conversations we need to have happen. It is intrepid, bold, and unflinching.
I would marry Geez magazine if it looked like a bear and loved me back.
*apologies to Kevin James, pictured, who is not gay.
“It was part of the challenge of being someone who wasn’t me. It was a way of also drawing attention to things, I do think there is a certain orientalism, where we in the West tend to pay more attention to people that are like us, people we can relate to, someone marginalized is more interesting.
I also think I wanted to show that in Syria, too, there are people who are all different, gay, straight, people of every possible permutation.” (from the Washington Post)
When, in a dramatic turn of events in “Amina’s” life, MacMaster writes that she’s kidnapped, he suddenly got the world’s attention. People were noticeably upset about what was happening to this lesbian blogger in Syria. They wanted to help. The Post says that this is the moment when a blog that might have remained believable took a misstep. It was that Amina had so many supporters, so many people “she” had talked to, that they wanted to help her.
Talking Dog is one of my other blogs, hopefully a good resource for gay Christians. There are a lot of good gay christian websites out there, and so I decided merely to become a portal so that you could find resources. Mostly I wanted to provide all the information that anyone might need to investigate the whole issue for themselves. Debates swirl about and people need to know the truth. It was websites like the one I created that helped me when I needed information. I needed resources. I couldn’t ask anyone out loud about them, and I didn’t know a gay Christian.
Many of you might recognize the Talking Dog in my title–it comes from “Believing in the Dog” which was the short story that I entered into PSAC’s Anti-Homophobia Week’s contest over two years ago. In the story, I had a man go out into the woods in January at night to kill himself–just sit out under a tree and freeze. There was a talking dog in there–and as the author, I knew I couldn’t save the man’s life without making the black lab into a talking dog. That I had to bend reality into fantasy to save the character. I had wished that there were more talking dogs in the world–or that we would become the talking dogs in someone’s life. The story won the contest, and Darrell Hookey, always encouraging me forward, helped me (i.e. pulled me off the floor crying) when it came time to print my name beside it in What’s Up Yukon.
It’s my way of giving back to the community what it gave me. Maybe there’s someone else out there who’s questioning their faith and their sexuality. Who knows? They might just need a Talking Dog.