Frank McMullan's blog

My post-retirement blog adventures

Steve Fulmer’s reflections on the 70s in Portland

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Steve Fulmer from way back then

I got a glimpse of Portland, OR, gay history and culture in the 70s last weekend.  The Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest hosted another in its living history series, this latest entitled: OUR STORIES: “Finding Our Voice – the 1970s”.  The evening was hosted at Portland’s Q Center.  One of the many interesting things that I heard was that the gay rights movement may not have got its initial impetus so much from the civil rights movement as from the anti-war movement.

Featured speakers included Larry Copeland, Cindy Cumfer, Jean DeMaster, Steve Fulmer, Kristan Knapp, George Nicola, Susie Shepherd, and John Wilkinson.  Steve was the founding president in 1980 of Portland Gay Men’s Chorus and it is his remarks that I have zoned in on for this blog post.

As an aside, something about the evening reminded me of a visit I made to Salem in the summer of last year to visit friends, a gay couple and their son.  As they brought me on a walking tour of the city centre we met a woman with her three grandchildren.  I was quite touched to hear that the children had four grandmothers as they were born to the son of one lesbian couple and the daughter of another couple who fell in love and married – remarkable of the moment, but probably not so for very much longer.  The children’s parents were most probably born in the 70s.

This is what Steve had to say:

My primary contributions to the sexual minority community probably came in the 80’s and 90’s Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Frank McMullan

31 October 2010 at 23:38

Posted in Human Rights, PDXGMC

PGMC adult cabaret sold out

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PGMC's annual adult cabaret

My first performance with Portland Gay Men’s Chorus will be tomorrow evening.  It’s annual adult cabaret, this year entitled Burlesque!, is already sold out.  PGMC is one of the few arts organisations in Oregon doing well in the current economic climate.  Ticket sales for all its concerts have been increasing steadily over the past five years.  Its ABBA/Queen concert last spring was sold out several weeks in advance and a third performance was put on which also sold out.  Following on that success, next spring’s concert has a Mowtown theme.
For tomorrow’s show, I am a member of the cabaret ensemble, a small chamber choir of the chorus.  Preparations have been at a far more intense level than the more laid-back approach at home in Ireland: with four major shows each year, this is hardly surprising.  My favourite of our songs has us singing ‘My Favorite Things’ in a way Mary Poppins – I hope – wouldn’t approve of!  Suffice it to say, our costumes would do great justice to any gay pride march.  Our showpiece is ‘Big Pretender’, a parody on ‘Big Spender’ which sends up several anti-gay politicians and others who were caught in flagrante delicto in recent times and were pilloried by the US media for their hypocrisy.  This piece concludes with the punchline: ‘… no more happy endings for you!’  🙂

Let the fun and games begin!

Written by Frank McMullan

15 October 2010 at 18:37

Posted in PDXGMC

Thai anti-poverty strategies

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Here’s an unusual piece of economic development strategy that may not be quite as offbeat as first appears:

Thailand’s Mechai Viravaidya, aka Mr Condom, shows how child mortality reduction and family planning programmes were two fundamentally important first steps in his country’s recent economic success.  He gives an amusing presentation about a very serious subject which will certainly have its righteous critics.  For me, to be honest, it is truly heartening to see something like this being made to work, despite all the difficulties surrounding it.  Our world needs more practical and effective people like him.

Written by Frank McMullan

15 October 2010 at 10:16

Archive post: How Shall We Sing the Lord’s Song…

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"Coming Out", Glen O'Brien (Editor)


This piece was originally published in Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences, edited by Glen O’Brien [Currach Press, 2003]

How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

by Carl McManus

I like doing jigsaw puzzles.  This has been a favourite hobby throughout my life.  There is one jigsaw puzzle, though, that has taken me more than thirty years to solve.  Only in very recent times did I even realise just how many pieces there were – all of them there from the time I was a young man.  This jigsaw, however, isn’t the usual kind.  The pieces represent dozens of individual incidents and signals that, if they were all put together, would have left me in no doubt about my sexuality.  I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, put them together.  I don’t think it was denial so much as rejection: I did not want to be gay!  After all, the rulebook said it was a sin.  My homophobia was comprehensive.

The rulebook also said ‘self-abuse’ was a sin.  And, God love me, it was there that I got stuck.  I remember in my late teens screwing up my courage to go and talk to a priest, and the furthest we were able to get was to talk very reluctantly about my problems with masturbation.  I remember going to confession twice and three times a week to purge my never-ending guilt.  Only when I met my counselling priest (a guest at a Reach meeting) ‘half a lifetime’ later was I able to forgive the ‘earlier’ priest for not being able to read my mind.  By then I was married, and I had already come out painfully to my wife Mary.

The impetus for my coming out to Mary was my need to stop living a lie And there’s (lots) more…

Written by Frank McMullan

11 October 2010 at 20:59

Posted in Church, Glen O'Brien

Sell! Sell! Sell!

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Portland Gay Men’s Chorus is already publicising its 2010/2011 Flashback! season [its 31st!] with 2 major publicity events this coming weekend.   Jet-lagged and all as I will be, I had previously volunteered to man a publicity stand on Friday morning next, and I still hope to follow through on my commitment, despite arriving in Portland almost a week later than originally planned.  This first event is the Komen Health Expo.  [My new US bank card sponsors Susan G Komen for the Cure.]

PGMC's 2nd LGBT community publicity event

The BIG publicity event will be on Sunday afternoon when PGMC, Portland Lesbian Choir, Portland Gay Symphonic Band, and Confluence LGBT choir, perform on Pioneer Square in the heart of downtown Portland. This is the 2nd Gay Fair on the Square organised by PGMC with many local LGBT organizations participating.  I won’t get to sing with the chorus (this time), though they again have me on publicity stand duty for part of the afternoon.

There’s no rest – even though I’m not in the least bit wicked!!  😉

Written by Frank McMullan

16 September 2010 at 00:06

Posted in PDXGMC

Remote rehearsal @ 5,000 miles remove

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2006 PGMC Cabaret

Uncle Sam, in his wisdom, decided I could not attend rehearsals with my new choir earlier in the week!  In my enthusiasm I have signed up for the cabaret ensemble in Portland Gay Men’s Chorus‘s annual adult Burlesque show on 16th October @ 8pm in the Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, Portland.

I missed the first ensemble rehearsal last Sunday afternoon 😦 but I since got the sheetmusic and recordings, including some line recordings, which I am using to learn my part. Whatever about hitting the ground running when I attend rehearsal on Sunday next, I hope to be fairly familiar with the pieces by then. Shhh, but don’t tell anyone, one of the pieces is a totally inappropriate send-up of ‘My Favorite Things’ from The Sound of Music: disgustingly delightful!  Julie Andrews would turn in her grave…

Now, where’s my toothbrush and toilet bag?  Don’t forget your new drivers licence, OK!  I definitely need a new suitcase.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu.

Written by Frank McMullan

15 September 2010 at 01:45

Posted in PDXGMC

Guest post: A Living Word, another Glen O’Brien radio broadcast

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Transcript from A Living Word, RTÉ Radio 1, broadcast 22 April 2010: podcast

Healing Simon’s mother-in-law [Mark 1: 30,31]


Healing of Simon's mother-in-law


Lord, I often imagine when I read the account of the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law that in order to get dinner, first you had to cure her!  🙂  I am not questioning your motivation in healing her but the idea does leave me with a smile on my face!  Mind you, I have no doubt you needed dinner with your long day’s work into night.

I want to focus on the healing that you extended to Simon’s mother-in-law in bed.  In Mark, your apostles spoke to you about her.   We, gay men, Lord, also need healing in our minds, our bodies, our souls.  Many of us are unseen.  Some of us are blessed with parents and friends who speak on our behalf for our healing, our acceptance, our being healed into service and ministry for your kingdom, as indeed was Simon’s mother-in-law! In so many ways our service remains nameless as does the woman in this story.

Lord, allow me look at the fact that this woman was in bed when you healed her.  Not much is written about the healing that takes place in bed.  For many people, Jesus, the topic of gay men in bed is taboo.  Yet in my own experience and that of my friends, being with a lover in bed can bring about powerful healing.  This can happen, among other ways, with the extraordinary life-giving power of touch. And there’s (a bit) more…

Written by Frank McMullan

12 September 2010 at 18:00

Posted in Church, Glen O'Brien