Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Inciting a Literary Riot: an Interview with Professor Richard Kieckhefer

Hello Rioters! I am Vinna, your new Literary Maven here at the Riot, and we are beginning our book blogs with a very special interview. Today I am thrilled to introduce you to one of the most exciting researchers in the field of academic religious studies: Professor Richard Kieckhefer. Professor Kieckhefer's research focuses on the history of witchcraft and magic, as well as church architecture in the late Middle Ages.  He is currently employed as a Professor of Religion and History at Northwestern University in Illinois. Professor Kieckhefer if also the author of several books including European Witch Trials (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976), Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germanyi (Pennsylvania, 1979), Unquiet Souls (Chicago, 1984), Magic in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1989), and Forbidden Rites (Sutton and Penn State, 1997).  His most recent book is Theology in Stone (Oxford, 2004), although he currently has several projects underway for possible publication in 2016. We may be over a year away from reviewing his latest book, but I would like to present to you my short interview with Professor Kieckhefer as a literary amuse-bouche to give you just a bit of his work.

Episode 89: Inciting Vinna Harper's Riot

Episode 89 welcomes the Riot's latest addition: Vinna Harper! She will be our new literary maven in charge of reviewing books, interviewing authors, and all around bringing you the finest selection of books curated for the Riot audience.

If you'd like to get in touch with Vinna, you can email or tweet @VinnaGrey!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Beating of Daniel Pierce

Flipping through any part of social media in the last few days will likely have resulted in seeing headlines like "How Not to React When Your Son Comes Out" or "Man Comes Out to Family, Is Cursed, Beaten & Thrown Out." Most articles go on to reiterate the headline, telling the reader that there is a man named Daniel Pierce who came out to his family, and, upon doing so, was verbally and physically abused. A person believed to be Pierce's boyfriend took partial video and full audio of the incident. It has gone viral.

I know all too well the realities of growing up in an extremely conservative household. I know all too well what it is like to try and accept your sexuality when you're spending your nights crying and begging god, between choking sobs, to wake up different. To wake up straight. I know what it's like to have your father come at you. To have your mother tell you how disgusting and against "God" your "choice" or "behavior" is.

I was sent to a Christian counselor with the hope that I would become straight. I have had hands laid on me in prayer in order to convert me. I contemplated suicide from an early age, because I had no friends and was the community outcast. Being the only obviously gay kid in a town of 585 people hundreds of miles away from any kind of metropolitan area left me pretty exposed.  Nobody knew what 'gay' was...except that it was for perverted men that probably preyed on little boys.

In fact, when I was in high school, I spent two years as a peer counselor in the national organization PALs. My mother, quite concerned about my sexual predilections, asked me very seriously if it was a good idea for me to be a mentor to those boys given that I was a sexual deviant and all.

Watching the video (below...major, major abuse trigger warning...) brought up quite a bit of emotion, as one might expect. I had actually avoided watching the video for several days, because I was sure I couldn't handle it. In the end, after watching it, I realized a few things:

  1. Tears don't always feel cold and wet. Sometimes they feel hot and sharp, like they're coming from a place littered with molten pain. 
  2. I went through a scene almost exactly like this. 
  3. I went through a scene a bit worse than this when my parents brought the sheriff over to threaten to arrest me, because they found out I was looking at gay porn, which I found out was illegal. Straight porn was perfectly okay, but gay porn... Yikes! 
  4. I survived.
  5. I have scars.
  6. I'm kind of proud of those scars in retrospect.
Things with my family, over a decade later, are still rocky. As much progress as we've made, we still have quite the chasm between us. My brother will forever be the picture of heterosexual normative behavior that every East Texas, good ol' boy, football loving, Church goin' parent could want. I will always be the liberal, overly political, overly opinionated, boisterous, ostentatious gay guy that every East Texas, good ol' boy, football loving, Church goin' parent would tell their children to stay the fuck away from. And, it's because of that dichotomy existing so immediately in our family that there are so many choices that my parents make, many without even realizing it. 

But, I don't want to bash my parents. They're good folks who have honestly come a long way. My mother the most, as she came to my wedding and embraced my husband as her son and cried tears of joy at our union. 

There is a lie that has been told online for a number of years now. It gets better. That's a lie. For many, it doesn't get better. It gets worse. It gets different. It gets separate. It gets strange. It gets lonely. It gets new. It gets angry. It doesn't always get better, but it gets real and it gets honest, and I think that's the most important thing to tell our gay youth. 

Getting honest is always better than getting better. Better is a lie. That's telling a kid that the grass is greener if you just wait. Not true. A disproportionate number of homeless people are gay youth. The statistics of abuse and neglect and downright awfulness happening to gay kids that become gay adults in those situations is staggering and heart-wrenching. 

I don't know that my life got better, but it got honest and it got happier eventually. I married the love of my life this year. I have friends that I would walk hot coals and brave bitter circumstance for. We own our own home, and I have my own personal menagerie of animal companions. I'm kind of like a Disney Princess with better hair. 

Daniel Pierce, not that you're reading this, but I hope that fate and circumstance do get better for you. I am not going to wish that your family comes around and loves you and hugs you, because when people tell me my family is going to do that I want to vomit. I have all the family I need in the pieced together tapestry of not-technically-related folks who surround me with love every single day. If my family ever feels like joining up with that, bully for them. 

I hope that you find peace and solace knowing that you're not alone. That you are brave. That your honesty will be a badge of pride and a major point of honor you can wear for the rest of your life.

I'm not sure how the woman in the video can say that she's known Daniel was gay since he was a tiny boy and then go on to state he made a choice to be gay. I don't know how his father could beat him for trying to be honest. The woman speaking says that "I love you. Now, I know you're not going to believe that..." And...I don't. I don't know about Daniel, but if loving me means beating me up, calling me a disgrace, verbally abusing me, and disowning me... Well, I guess I don't know what love is.

Before I post the video, I'd first like to draw attention to a GoFundMe campaign created to help with the living expenses of Daniel Pierce, the brave victim at the heart of this viral video. If you can even give a dollar, I'm sure that would go a long way to helping this guy get on his feet. As of this writing, the campaign has raised almost $35,000. I'm hoping that the money helps him get on his feet, get an education, and secure housing. As of right now it appears, by posted accounts in a few places online, that he is staying with a friend. This money should be able to get him on his own two feet and started in a positive direction. 

Many blessings, Daniel. May your journey be bright.

And now...the video.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Episode 88: Inciting A Privileged Riot

Episode 88 of Inciting A Riot: the Podcast finds us inciting a privileged riot with the incomparable Crystal Blanton. Crystal is a social worker, Wiccan High Priestess, Pagan author, and expert in the fields of privilege and intersectionality.

We discuss these notions in the macrocosm of greater society as well as meditate on the privileges and disadvantages experienced in the Pagan community. Yes, we use the term 'Wiccanate' privilege. You're welcome.

Crystal Blanton can be found at:
Twitter: @BlantonHPs

Her latest anthology, Shades of Ritual, can be purchased through Amazon (paperback and Kindle) here:

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Episode 87: Inciting A Contractual Riot (featuring Dr. Leah Torres & Cory Hutcheson)

Episode 87 of Inciting A Riot the podcast was a long time coming, but it's filled with some amazing special guests!

Dr. Leah Torres comes on to discuss issues of women's health, defines birth control, and discusses the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling.

Cory Hutcheson stops by for a discussion of the recent Slenderman stabbings as well as a greater conversation of social contracts in and around our community. 

Dr. Torres can be found at or on Twitter @LeahNTorres.

Cory can be heard on his podcast New World Witchery, on twitter @ctsluna, or at his blog:

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Movie Review: Maleficent

Warning: If you're reading a movie review for a movie you haven't seen yet, you obviously want the film spoiled for you. Seriously, why are you even reading this right now? If you don't want spoilers, go watch that video about hamsters eating tiny burritos.

Maleficent is a Disney icon. An odd Disney icon, perhaps, as she has always been known by the moniker "Mistress of All Evil." (Rightly so as in the original 1950s Sleeping Beauty, the final showdown sees her summoning all the powers of Hell in order to become a fire-breathing dragon.) Since redemption stories are all the rage right now (read: Wicked the novel, Wicked the musical, the upcoming film adaptation of Wicked...seriously, this movie is an excuse to make Wicked but with Maleficent), one needs to realize one key point before they see the movie:

Maleficent is the protagonist.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Annoying Minority Questions (Sh*t Straight People Say)

Daniel-Ryan Spaulding has created the most accurate representation of what it's like for straight people to talk to gay people about being gay...reversed it...

and fucking nailed it.

For your viewing pleasure, I give you "If Gay Guys Said the Sh*t Straight People Say..."

Friday, May 16, 2014

"Traditional Values"

People that have a prejudice towards gender minorities, religious minorities, orientation minorities, and anyone that isn't a white bread eating member of the 1940 Americana mindset where if you aren't white, upper middle class or higher, Christian, and publicly asexual just need to be honest about their bigotry.


I'm getting very tired of hearing someone on the news or blog or web video talk about how the 'left wing agenda' or the 'gay agenda' is getting shoved down their throats or in their faces by simply existing. By simply acting how everyone else does.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The 5 Step Bumper Sticker Meme

Have you seen this meme floating around social media?

A lot of it sounds like common sense, right? It doesn't. I was actually responding to this on social media, when I realized I'd written a blog post. So, I give you...

My 5 Step Guide to debunking the 5 Steps in this guy's 5 Step Guide to Admitting You're A Constitutional Buffoon:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Announcement: Pagan Podkin Supermoot 2014!

Pagan Podkin Supermoot 2014 Announcement! 

This year's Pagan Podkin Supermoot (PPSM) is officially HAPPENING!!! Set your calendars, podkin and fans, because it's time for the fifth annual gathering of all your favorite Pagan Podkin.

Details are as follows:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why Tom Daley being Gay kind of sucks.

His speedo brings all the boys to the yard. Damn right, it's better than yours.
Four months ago, social media became ablaze with the news that Tom Daley - adorable British diving Olympic speedo-clad sensation - was...not a heterosexual man. In a video he recorded and posted to his YouTube channel last December, the heartthrob proclaimed that he was in a relationship with a man, but that he still '[fancied] girls'. While he didn't use, and insisted that he didn't want to use, the label of bisexual, people inferred that he was, at the very least, representing the folks out there in the middle of the Kinsey scale. Today, he's setting social media ablaze again...because he's decided he prefers the label 'gay'.

And...the more I think about that...the more it sucks.

Rooted (new-to-you poem)

I'd completely forgotten about this poem until I found it a few weeks ago.

Written in 2010.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kenny Klein Arrested for Child Porn

Waking up today I expected to groggily drink a glass of water and then down several cups of caffeine followed by an acceptably healthy breakfast and a car ride to work. I never expected to wake up to the news that Kenny Klein - pagan author and musician - has been arrested and charged with 25 counts of possession of child pornography.

In what seems to be an open and shut case, Klein was arrested yesterday morning at 7:00am after a tip-off to authorities regarding his online activity:

Kenneth Klein, 59, was arrested around 7 a.m. at his home on the 2800 block of Carondelet Street. Detectives in the State Police Special Victims Unit began investigating Klein in February after receiving a tip about his online activities. Upon executing a search warrant of Klein's residence, they discovered on his computer a large volume of explicit photos and videos involving minors under the age of 13 engaging in sexually explicit activities, according to an arrest report. Klein admitted to detectives that the computer was his and that he had used the computer to share and download the explicit material, the report says.

When I look to our pagan leaders for statements, what I find is disturbing. Peg Aloi's article on the issue has a quote from her friend and fellow Patheos blogger, Lilith Dorsey who said this:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pizza for Lent and the Nature of Sacrifice

The top items people are saying they will be giving up for Lent this year.
This weekend is big in our family. Partner's entire family comes in from all parts of the country to celebrate their collective birthdays. Literally, their collective birthdays. His birthday, his brother's birthday, his mother's birthday, and his step-father's birthday are all this week. You think it would suck to have a Christmas birthday? Try having your special day shared with everyone in your family.

So, this weekend we all went out to a local Italian(ish) restaurant, and my future sister in law refused an offer of ordering pizza. She said:

"I gave up pizza and dessert for Lent."

To which I immediately responded (come knew I would), "Do you eat a lot of pizza?" 

"Not really," she said.

Then I asked what constituted dessert. (I cannot leave Well Enough alone.) Like, could she not have anything sweet after her meal? She determined that she could have fruit after her meal, because that's not dessert. I pushed it a little further.

"Could you have yogurt after your meal?" I asked.

"Yeah, because that's not dessert," she said.

"So, you could do a yogurt parfait, then?"

"Of course, because it isn't dessert."

I then asked what constituted dessert, and she gave some muddled answer that seemed to contain the word 'chocolate' several times. Again, she doesn't really eat much in the way of rich chocolate desserts. So, I asked her what seemed the obvious question at the time:

"If you don't eat any of this very often, what are you giving up?"

Her answer at first made me giggle, and then, today, I realized how honest and sobering it really was...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The First of Many Things

Today is the first day of Spring! In about 2 hours, give or take, we will officially be through with least according to the calendar. And, while Mother Nature seems to still be a little confused as to what season it is here in Chicagoland (it rained yesterday, snowed a little this morning, and has settled on being generally dreary the rest of the day) there are nevertheless signs of change.

Snow is, slowly, giving way to the greenery of the next season. While still a bit chilly, there is life underneath just waiting to burst through.

On the edges of my yard and along the house, the tulips have decided to choose, appropriately, the first day of spring to make themselves known.

Kika sniffed around all the greenery for a good half hour making little happy noises and running around the yard in glee.

What I'm saying right now: