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My 3-year-old asked me why some people are gay. This was my response.

When my daughter asked why our friends are gay, it reminded me how far we've come.

My 3-year-old asked me why some people are gay. This was my response.

My wife and I count two different gay couples — one female, one male — among our closest friends.

We see these friends often, and they are important people to our two young daughters.

A few weeks ago, we saw both couples in one day. In the morning, one couple came over to celebrate our daughter’s second birthday. We ate cake and drank coffee on the roof deck while the children played. Later that day, we went to the other couple’s house for dinner. There we ate more cake and drank beer while the children ran around the backyard with the two dogs.


On the drive home, our 3-year-old must have suddenly noticed the difference between gay and straight.

From the backseat, she asked me and my wife: "Why are some sweetie-pies men and men? Why are some men and women? And why are some sweetie-pies women and women?”

My wife and I smiled at each other. “It just depends on who you love,” I said.

Our daughter said OK and asked no more questions. Simple as that.

Gay rights have come a long way in the United States. Photo from iStock.

The ease of that brief conversation left me with a rare kind of satisfaction. My kids inhabit an America that is, by one measure, far more humane and decent than the one where I grew up.

I must have been about 12 when I learned that my mother knew a lesbian.

She refused to name this person when I asked who she was. Did I know her? Had I met her?

“You don’t know her well,” my mother said. “But you’ve met her a few times.”

I begged my mom to tell me who this person was. Instead, she made a pledge: When the lesbian died, my mom promised to say who she was. From then on, every so often I’d ask, “Is the lesbian dead yet?”

A few years later, Anne, mom’s elderly church friend, passed away.

It turns out that the mysterious lesbian was Anne’s daughter. Anne shared her secret with my mom, who promised to tell no one. And when Anne died, my mom decided to share the secret with me.

Then, it was like being gay was a stain so deep that only death could wipe away its shame. That was the lesson. I wondered and worried if this thing could happen to me, too.

Being gay seemed like an infection that could quietly enter the body and corrupt the soul. My dad said not to worry, then. I sure hoped that he was right.

It was around this time that I watched Pat Buchanan’s 1992 opening speech at the Republican National Convention with my family.

Buchanan railed against gay people, and I recall being a bit stunned by his anger, but not by the essential message of homosexual deviancy. Back then, that notion could just float weightlessly in the air.

Someday, I hope to talk with my daughters about all of this.

About how things used to be. About a world where a common cruelty simply existed among people who were otherwise quite decent.

That many parents now speak to their kids about sexual orientation without a veil of shame is a welcome reminder that some good changes are underway, however incomplete.

Yes, look at what is happening in North Carolina. Progress is rarely linear.

But I am quite certain that my daughters, like so many children of their generation, will never need to ask such a regrettable question: “Is the lesbian dead yet?”

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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