New Job, Blog Changes, Thank-Yous!

When I was in high school, I once thought I was going to double major in psychology and Spanish and be a bilingual psychiatrist. But then, I considered that all my extracurriculars were music, so I should probably study music. I went to college for Music Education.

While a Music Ed major, all my extracurriculars were in student affairs. I went to grad school for Student Affairs.

While in grad school, I thought I had a good balance of music and student affairs, but I also ended up starting a blog.

And now, I will be taking a job in blogging.

This week, I’ve accepted an offer to join the team over at the Center for American Progress as an LGBT researcher and blogger (for Think Progress and The Wonk Room). I’m not sure what my posting regimen there will look like yet, but it’s safe to say that ZFb will not be getting nearly as much attention. More on that to come.

For now, at least, the fine folks I’ll be working with have indicated that this blog doesn’t have to go anywhere. I still may very well write here from time to time when I need to get something out that I can’t really write about over there. At the very least, Peterson and I are committed to maintaining Queer and Queerer on at least a semi-regular basis!

It never occurred to me that this little hobby of mine could turn into a career, and so I have to thank a few folks who made it possible.

First of all, Pete Berg needs to be thanked. He doesn’t do anything for me on a regular basis, but it’s thanks to his generosity that this blog (and its podcast) has a home on the interwebs. Thank you, Pete, for continuing to host ZFb!

Pam Spaulding and Bil Browning: The two of you have been incredible mentors and I truly appreciate all of your encouragement and support. I would not be taking this step forward if it weren’t for your promotion of my writing.

Michael Crawford/Freedom to Marry and Mike Rogers: Thanks to your financial support, I was able to attend Netroots Nation this year, which was surely a turning point for me. It was the first time I stood among other bloggers and felt like I was legitimate and doing something real, and the connections I made there were priceless. Thank you for helping me on this path!

My fabulous readers: Thank you for being here, supporting me, promoting my posts, and commenting!

Lots of exciting change to come and I’m not sure what it all will look like!!!



Apology for Lost Comments – Problem Fixed! (I Hope!)

A few folks have indicated recently that they’re having trouble posting comments on the site. This is a problem I take VERY seriously, because I don’t want anyone to feel they are not free to add their thoughts.

I found a couple comments in the Spam filter that shouldn’t have been there, but they have been restored (Patrick here and John here; thanks to John for bringing this issue to my attention).

So, from now on, the “I’m a real person! (Make sure this is checked!” is gone! You won’t have to complete a CAPTCHA unless the spam filter has a hunch that your post IS spam. Complete it and your comment will be posted.

Let me re-extend my invitation to discuss the posts! Also, if you post something on Facebook or Twitter, drop a line and let me know what your friends thought of it!

One other tip to avoid ever facing this problem. You can register with the site! It’ll remember your info every time always recognize you as real person. Use the Meta Menu at the far bottom of the right sidebar to Register and then Log In. You can stay logged in for weeks at a time and change how your Name and Website display anytime.

Again, sorry for the problems! I hope ya’ll keep on commenting!

[Note: I still won’t be accepting comments from a certain troll who uses pseudonyms and fake emails to leave antagonistic comments. Seriously, what is your problem? Find something better to do with your life than creeping a blogger all the time.]



Note About Ads

You’ll probably notice that there are some strange gaps in the format of the page today. Google has suspended my AdSense account due to suspicious clicks. I’ve appealed, but I might not know the situation for a few days. If my account is reinstated, the ads will reappear, so I’ll let the blank spaces persist for now.

There has been a strange increase in clicks lately. While I appreciate wanting to support me, if you have been clicking lots of ads in hopes of making me more money, you might have actually violated my agreement with Google. Should the ads be reinstated, please do not click them invalidly. Let them serve their true purpose out of respect to the advertisers. Thanks.



Another Year: ZFb Marks 2nd Anniversary

Has it only been two years, or has it really been two years already?

I’m really proud of the way this little blog of mine has grown and matured (and I along with it). I’ll have mixed feelings when I look back on 2010, as it was the (hopefully only) full calendar year I spent unemployed. Still, it was a proud sophomore year for ZFb, so I thought I’d mark today’s blogiversary with some highlights and reflections from the past year.

Certainly, the year started off quite busy with the Prop 8 trial. I was entranced; by the second or third day, I felt compelled to provide some comprehensive coverage. After all, it was the passage of Prop 8 that in many ways spurred the creation of this blog. Plus, the kinds of discussions that were held in that courtroom a year ago were historically groundbreaking and deserved as much attention as they could get.

Knowing I had many non-LGBT readers from the atheism community, I wanted them to see how fundamental religion was to the debate. Highlighting all of the rhetoric coming from Protect Marriage was a “dirty job,” but I think it helped illustrate that those opposed to marriage equality were clearly motivated by animus, continuing to say hurtful (and untrue) things in a public forum even as the trial was underway. Judge Walker’s decision brilliantly reduced their rhetoric to the phony bigotry it truly is.

My passion for covering Prop 8 has since subsided a bit, but only because it’s not as content-heavy. Despite praise for some of my legal analysis, I am not a legal scholar (at least not at this point in my life). While I do think of myself as a journalist, I don’t feel compelled to write about everything that happens. My voice on the blog has certainly evolved, and I write now more because I want to, not just out of a need to process. I hold myself to a higher standard of what I think will be meaningful and interesting to readers.

Certainly, the content has evolved too. The introduction of the Queer and Queerer podcast has been most rewarding, as has my friendship with Peterson Toscano that has accompanied it. Despite being a delight to record, it also is a fresh venue and context for discussing the issues of the day. I look forward to it continuing, and hopefully more people join our discussions and find it a valuable and entertaining resource.

I’m also still really excited that there are now some additional contributors to the site! It’s a small start, but I think Andy Szekeres and Shannon Cuttle have brought some important voices to the blog. I don’t think enough can ever be said about the importance of creating safe schools for our young people, and Shannon doesn’t disappoint. Andy’s political savvy provides opportunities for us to think about issues in fresh ways. Every time they submit new posts, I am just delighted by their fresh perspectives and honored to host them here.

Content has been LGBT-heavy here the past year, but I don’t apologize for that. With the Prop 8 trial, growing frustration with Gay, Inc., GetEQUAL, my first foray to Netroots Nation with the LGBT caucus (thanks again to Freedom to Marry and all who voted), the spate of bullying-induced suicides, and the lead-up to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “repeal,” it has been an important year for LGBT issues! Atheism is still an important part of this blog, and throughout the year, I’ve tried to get people within the LGBT community thinking about it (with contexts such as Creating Change, a Catholic preschool, atheists as allies, and the ex-gay movement). Next month, at Creating Change, I will also be hosting a caucus for LGBT nonbelievers to continue trying to create visibility for this “double” invisibility.

Higher education has been harder to focus on because I’ve become somewhat disconnected from it. Still, I was honored to have four pieces published in The Cronk of Higher Education. Once the job search gets me back on a campus, I’m sure I’ll be reoriented toward thinking about it more. Having stepped away from it, I’ve realized how insular it can be, and so my hope for the future is to better connect the happenings on university campuses to the “outside” world. It’s amazing how little we currently learn from our institutions of higher learning if we’re not physically there or actively seeking them out.

And so the 401 posts from 2010 get archived and year three begins. Who knows what will be in store? I am not sure, but I’m excited about it! 2010 ended with an important milestone: I earned my first $100 from the blog. It’s not a lot of money given that it took 15 months to accumulate, but it’s still extremely validating. There are at least a few people out there who find what I write here to be interesting and worthwhile. That alone is motivation to continue!

Thank you to all my readers and supporters who have made this little experiment into something profound and meaningful! I hope it’s a very happy new year!

(By the way, the traditional gift for a 2nd anniversary is cotton, and I love snarky/nerdy t-shirts. Just an FYI.)



FREE HUGS (from a Militant Atheist with a Gay Agenda)!!

Let’s say you were at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear this weekend, you saw some goofy gaytheist giving away hugs, you got one, and now you’re here at his blog. So, what’s up with that?

Well, hi! Thanks for the hug! And more importantly, thanks for following-up and checking out my blog! (Make sure you “Like” it over on the left sidebar.)

For almost two years, I have used this blog as a place to call out privilege and try to raise awareness about deficits of social justice. In particular, I have tried to hammer home LGBT rights and really challenge religious ideas. Because heck, why not? Some have thought me angry, snide, and condescending, and sometimes I am those things, but sometimes snarky just doesn’t translate online.

Rather than come to the rally to be all journalisty, I wanted this weekend to be about love. I really do want this world to be a better place. I’m not here to turn people gay or round up Christians into concentration camps. I just want us to think a little bit more about life and appreciate the people around us. Hugs, in my opinion, are the the most sane things around.

So, take a look around. Leave some feedback. You’ll probably find some things here that you like and that you don’t like, and that’s okay! I hope you feel comfortable joining the discussion one way or the other. And regardless of whether you do, I appreciated meeting you and rallying beside you. Remember to vote this week, and most importantly: keep the rally going, because if we don’t have sanity, then fishburgers will gallivant across the solar plexus.



ZackFord Blogs Welcomes New Contributors Andy Szekeres and Shannon Cuttle!

Today marks an important milestone in the development of ZackFord Blogs! I’m happy to welcome two new (non-ZackFord) contributors!

(The “Blogs” now doubles as an active verb and a plural!)

My hope is to offer an outlet to some movers and shakers in the effort toward social justice who have some compelling things to say but don’t have blogs of their own and aren’t interested in writing too regularly. ZFb can be a home for these folks to share their fresh unique perspectives and brilliant ideas with the blogosphere. I’m proud to welcome them to the team and I’m sure they will initiate some engaging discussions here on the site.

I’ve set up a new Contributor Page where you can read their bios and access each of their archives.

Today, I’m proud to introduce LGBT political consultant Andy Szekeres and safe schools advocate Shannon Cuttle. They’ll both have posts up today, and I expect we’ll see more great content from them in the future. Please welcome them warmly with insightful comments on their posts!

Also, make sure you now pay attention to who is contributing posts! After 21 months of me being the sole contributor, this is a big paradigm shift for the site and I’m more excited than ever for the potential ZFb has to make a difference in the blogosphere!



…And I’m (Still) a PC

Hey, I just want to apologize to my regular readers for being generally absent this week. For the past few days I’ve been struggling to remedy a glitch on my PC. I still had functionality, but my ability to read blogs and publish them was impacted, which is why fixing the situation took priority. A reinstall of Windows set everything right! (So I guess I can now say, “Windows 7 was my idea.”)

Now, all you Mac-folks can point and laugh. I’m not becoming a Mac. Your OS has advantages and disadvantages as does mine. You have preferences and so do I. Would you have gotten this glitch? Probably not. That alone does not make your OS superior. I would rather have to deal with an occasional glitch than a proprietary company that censors the content I can access.

Though the past few days have been stressful, I can say this about the process:

» I was able to fix the problem myself (i.e. I didn’t have to send it away).

» It didn’t cost me a penny to fix.

» I didn’t lose anything.

» My computer is running more smoothly now as a result of the maintenance I ran on it.

So, I’m all good now, and will probably resume regular blogging after this holiday weekend.

I have to say, I was surprised at how much my mood was affected by the availability of my computer. I certainly have no trouble when I’m in situations where I know I won’t have access, but when I should have access and the tools I’m used to using aren’t serving me the way they should, I was rather distraught. I felt out of the loop, disconnected.

You know, there are a lot of people who believe in some higher connectedness or consciousness. I think anything ethereal is preposterous. But, I do think that the internet is reshaping the human consciousness in a very observable way. The way we relate to each other and the globalization of our society are quite marvelous, and I’m not sure we’ve all quite realized what an impact these changes have had on each of us as individuals.

At any rate, I’m back!

And here’s a tip for all you computer users out there: Just in case of whatever, back up your system!



From an Iowa Wedding to Las Vegas

It’s time to change the ZackFord Blogs logo to Netroots Nation. It’s time my vacation being a bit disconnected from the blogosphere comes to an end and I jump into the deep end.

As I pack up and get ready, I want to take just a moment to reflect on the week I’ve already had. I had the distinct honor of standing as a groomsman in my friends’ wedding here in Iowa. It was not a same-sex wedding, but I was certainly proud to be part of an Iowa wedding nonetheless.

Before, during, and after my two years living in Iowa, I would get a common kind of reaction from folks back east. Once they figured out which one was Iowa (the one with the potatoes, right?), there was always a sort of, “Oh… Iowa,” reaction, followed by, “I bet that was fun.”

Truth be told, I did have some challenges living in Iowa. Heck, this blog started because I was having trouble communicating and relating to some others while I was here. But the truth is, Iowa is a pretty cool place.

In addition to the wedding, I spent five days visiting a whole bunch of wonderful people who impacted my life while I was here (as well as playing an inordinate amount of late-night gaming). I remembered what truly awesome friends I did have out here, and how Iowa doesn’t necessarily deserve the assumption inherent in people’s reaction to the thought of it. Iowa left an imprint on my heart that I cannot simply brush off.

It’s odd to think about flying to Las Vegas from here. I am going to Netroots Nation thanks to Freedom to Marry, but I am leaving a state with marriage equality to go be a part of a conference in a state without marriage equality. In fact, I’m leaving one of the few states where I can legally commit to the love of my life to go to the only state where I can legally pay for a hot trick.

It puts things in perspective a bit. If morality is supposedly the underpinning of the laws in our country, then shouldn’t the laws promote the activities more people consider moral? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas because those are the stories people are often ashamed or embarrassed to tell. What happens in Iowa is beautiful and true and ought to be shared everywhere.

Despite this somewhat disappointing juxtaposition, I am excited for the next five days of my journey. I’m going to commune with amazing other bloggers and activists and perhaps make some of the most important and life-changing connections of my life. For those of you who have missed your daily dose of ZackFord, get ready, because I’m sure I’ll be over compensating at Netroots. Stay tuned, there’s a wild road ahead!



Advice from the Little Mermaid (Zack’s On Vaca)

Hey all, I won’t be blogging much until Netroots Nation next week, so here is a fun clip from The Little Mermaid, harkening back  to my post about Disney princesses:

Missing your almost-daily does of ZackFord Blogs? Click here for a random post you might not have seen before!



In Case You’re Curious… (Some Subtle ZFb Changes)

[It just so happened when I published this post, I uncovered a big problem. It’s just about 2 AM now and I only just got it fixed. See my bracketed area below about what happened.]

Hey all! I’ve been making a few tiny updates to the ZFb page and I thought you might be curious about the little ways it is becoming more user-friendly!

Email Subscription

I mentioned this change a few weeks ago on Facebook, but thought I’d reiterate it here. You can now subscribe to receive posts and/or comments via daily email digests. I know there are folks who prefer email updates over using RSS, so I hope you will take advantage of this option. Click here to subscribe to posts or click here to subscribe to comments. (ProTip: FeedBurner Email Subscription service.)

Comments

There are a number of changes to comments!

Those of you who were commenting this week may have noticed I changed out the comment form. As fancy as the MCE input box was, it had this habit of not putting spaces between folks’ paragraphs. This really started to drive me crazy, so I simply did away with it. Kudos to Hemant Mehta for tipping me to which plug-in he used to help you with some code. Even though this change is—I think—a visual set back, it will help ensure that comments look the way you all want them to, which I think is important. And for any of you who aren’t html-savvy, it’ll give you a little opportunity to practice! (ProTip: Comment Form Quicktags Plugin. The former plugin was TinyMCEComments.)

Just in case your comments aren’t turning out right, there is now a comment Preview button! This will give you the opportunity to see how your comment will look and proof it before you submit it. Since it now uses code, this will be a great way to double check you closed all your tags and such. Please make sure that if you do Preview your comment, you still remember to click post so it is submitted! (ProTip: Filosofo Comments Preview Plugin.)

I hope you’ll notice that the input buttons are now color coordinated with the theme, which should make them more user-friendly.

Also, some people had trouble with the old CAPTCHA system. I was distressed to learn some wonderful comments had been lost to the void because the CAPTCHA times out. I’ve got a great new system that’s just a simple Check Box. It never times out, and even if you forget to check it, it’ll save your comment for you. I love when smart people offer simple solutions! (ProTip: amcaptcha Plugin.)

By the way, it’s easier to subscribe to comments now! When you post a comment, just check the box to subscribe automatically. Also, if you want to subscribe without commenting, there is a simple form at the VERY bottom of posts (below the comment input form). That way everyone can follow the great discussions that we get going here on ZFb! (ProTip: Subscribe to Comments and Subscribe to Comments Now! Plugins.)

Design Tweaks

Some new visitors to the site had trouble finding the comments, so I added a link to the comment section in the header of posts. I also revamped how the date looks and added the time. (That way, you can tell how uncool I am, like when I post about blog tweaks after 11 PM on a Friday night.)

I also moved the ad that was formerly at the top of single posts. It’s now at the bottom near the comments section. This should make single posts more accessible, which is great, because more people get to the site through a link to a post as opposed to arriving at the main index.

I’ve been playing around with the logos again too, just because I can and it’s fun. Right now we’re tracing the blog’s Iowa roots with some summer sunshine and knee-high corn. You may have missed the Pride Month and 4th of July logos. (The 4th of July one made the site look more like one of those conservative propaganda sites!) There will, of course, be a special one for Netroots Nation later this month.

Facebook Integration

A while back, I went through and tried to manually integrate Facebook with ZFb. It kind of looked like it worked, but it didn’t. If anybody saw the “Like” box at the bottom of posts, I’d never know, because I don’t think the feature worked right anyway. Now it does, and is neatly integrated into the top of posts. Please feel free to Like posts! (Facebook iLike Plugin.)

[Let’s hope the third time’s the charm! After publishing this post, I spent a couple hours dealing with some RSS problems that were ultimately caused by that Facebook Plugin. I’ve got a new one and now we’re up and running again. For all the trouble this Facebook integration has been, please Like posts when you like them! (ProTip: WP Facebook Like Plugin.)]

To help remove clutter with the new Like button, the Bookmarks bar is now only at the bottom of posts. Please feel free to Tweet, Reddit, Stumble, Digg, and Seed my posts!

Share Your Feedback

I want to make this little site easy to read and interact with. If you have any ideas or suggestions for how to make ZackFord Blogs a better site, let me know!! Leave a comment on this post or shoot me an email. I’ll gladly do anything I can to help my readers!