Sunday, July 03, 2016

Don't Cry Out Loud

This morning I attended the one of the morning Coffee Concerts series at this year's GALA Festival. This is where some of the bigger choruses get to perform and often these concerts are larger (1 hr vs 20-30 mins) and more thematic.  Last time notable entries were the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC's "Alexander's House" and Heartland Men's Chorus' "It Gets Better".  This year so far it has been Atlanta GMC's "When I Was Your Age".

With "When I Was Your Age" the story it told was about the complicated relationships that gay men have with their fathers.  "Alexander's House" chronicled  the life of a man who got married, had a kid, and finally couldn't hide who he was any longer so he came out.  Unfortunately, in doing so he lost all contact with his son. The story begins after his death and deals with how his partner and friends end up meeting and getting to know the estranged son.  "It Gets Better" is about the crisis of suicide among LGBT youth and tells the stories of those that survived what life had to throw at them and lived to tell today's youth that "it gets better" and to hold on a little bit longer.

At the coffee concerts (and really across many of the concerts) it's simply a given that you'll be in tears.  It struck me that these concerts often speak to the collective history of the LGBT community, as well as present day issues.

That's quite a juxtaposition when you actually think about it.  When we listen to our stories as a community, we expect to cry.  Yes, there are some laughs, some smiles, but inevitably we will be feeling the familiar sensation of tears slowly running down the sides of our face. Sometimes it's a quite cry and sometimes it's a complete sobbing breakdown.
It's a heavy thing to realize that such a large part of the shared identity of the LGBT community is loss, abuse, and being excluded from the communities we grew up with.  I think it can be a catharsis to be involved in something like GALA where we are surrounded by so many people who have been through this and survived.  In telling our stories we can see that in spite of it all, many of us, once we found our new communities, our new families, not only survived, but thrived.

Part of the tears we shed are letting go of the feelings we've held inside for so long, that we weren't allowed to show.  We get to allow ourselves the vulnerability to process emotions that we've hidden away for months, years, or decades.  Part of the tears we shed are also a celebration of the hope we have on the future, whether it is our own or those that follow the path behind us.  Knowing that as bad as we had it, the next generation might not have it as bad.

And so we cry out loud.  We will no longer keep it inside, and we'll learn to share our feelings.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Let's try this again

Day 3.

I've been not nearly as effective this year as I was last year at losing weight and getting in better shape.  I think part of it was that last year I made it very simple; do SOMETHING every day.  My minimums were 1 mile run, or 30 crunches, or 10 pushups.  As you can see, pretty much the absolute minimum.

I think part of why it worked last year was mostly because it was so minimal, that there was literally no excuse not to do one of those three things.  I'd forget and nearly fall asleep and realize I didn't do my daily workout.  I could pretty much roll out of bed and do the crunches or the pushups and head right back to bed and check off the day.

Additionally, knowing that I was working out (to some degree) every day would inform other decisions, like eating better, or not having an extra portion.  It kept it front and center.

So, with help from my friend Sam, I'm staring fresh.  This time last year I was just about at 200.  Today I'm at 217.  My goal is to break 205 by the end of the summer.

On the plus side, I've maintained 217 (+/- 1-2 lbs) since about March.

Let's do this.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Here's another one. Fundamentalism is an issue regardless of the starting point, whether Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, or Judaism. The Abrahamic religions all have fundamentalist sects that take the context they want and use to oppress those they don't feel live up to their moral viewpoint. It's not just gays either, it's also women and often non-whites.
I want to be clear, this is not some new thing happening because of Orlando. Part of why I am posting these is to make folks aware that as far as we've come with acceptance of LGBTQ people, as much as you don't see an issue in your local circles, it's still very much there. For those of you who are allies, this isn't something you normally have to think about. For those of us in the LGBTQ community, we don't often talk about this because if we told you about every threat that came up, such as this, we'd scare our loved ones, not to mention we'd put ourselves in a state of constant panic. We simply keep on keeping on. We manage the risks we take and do what we can to minimize the possible danger we put ourselves in.
For those who are people of color, it's even worse, as acceptance within other minority communities is mixed at best, especially those that are within a generation or two of immigration. Especially those that are tied closely to religious groups.
For those that are Trans or gender-fluid, it's also worse. Especially for those that don't "pass" and who don't fit most people's pre-conceived notion of what a boy or a girl should look like.
It's also worse for gay men that are very feminine and/or flamboyant and couldn't hide it if they wanted to (but let's be real, they are often some of the fiercest members of our community and wouldn't turn down the intensity if you paid them. ‪#‎werk‬). I'm sure there's similar issues for very butch lesbians. Again, if you don't fit the notion of what you're supposed to be like, it's not just judged, it can be dangerous.
So basically, for my allies reading this, understand what I think about and deal with, along with so many in this community, and think about speaking up if you hear a slur, or an off-color joke, or a politician who uses coded (or blatant) language to say that we are less than straight folks. If you are at a sermon where the pastor is preaching about how we LGBTQ folks need to be "saved" or "healed" or other such nonsense, consider if that really a community you want to support and be a part of. There are many LGBTQ affirming churches out there, it just takes a bit longer to find them at times. It doesn't have to get to be as bad as the minister I've attached for it to be hateful, hurtful, and inciting assaults against our community.
In closing, I ask that you think about what I've posted and try to feel what it is to be in my shoes and understand that silence is simply not an option. Understand that as a gender conforming, white, employed, middle class gay man living in a progressive state with strong legal protections, and with a circle of family and friends that support me, that I'm sitting at the top of the world here. All the scary things you've read lately, and my words about my fears? I have it relatively "easy", and if this is "easy" imagine how much harder it is for the most vulnerable in our community. Consider that for a moment.

Denver and the Western Conservative Summit

Again, this is my life. I'm attending a conference in two weeks in Denver. It will be attended by more than 6500 LGBTQ people and allies. We've recently found out that the Western Conservative Summit will be overlapping the first few days. As such, security is being increased.
The mere presence of a large conservative political group has us worried enough to increase security to an LGBTQ event. Ponder that a bit.
While it's true that the actions at Pulse Nightclub are fresh in our mind, and we're all being extra careful, it's a "normal" calculation when travelling, going out, choosing where to go out to, that you consider the various threats to yourself as an LGBTQ person.
I've had homophobic comments made to me just one town over in Auburn when I was at a bar. So it's not just about a foreign place or a specific group of people. You get so used to it, it's almost not conscious thought anymore.
Orlando simply brought those subconscious thoughts to the forefront and pulled back the veneer that we had moved to a new level of acceptance. If you're wondering why the LGBTQ folks in your life are so deeply affected by Pulse, this is partly why.
That is my life. ‪#‎EveryDamnDay‬.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Say the words! Speak our names!

He can't even bring himself to say that they were gay. IT MATTERS. It matters that he says in his letter "their families" when the church has consistently said we don't deserve to create our own families, that they won't be recognized, and that they are an affront to god. The Pope's statement was equally lacking in mentioning that it was ‪#‎LGBTQ‬ or ‪#‎Latinx‬ people that were killed and injured.
"As our society faces the massive and violent assault on human life in Orlando on Sunday, the Archdiocese of Boston offers and encourages prayers on behalf of those who were killed in the attack, those who were injured, and all their families and friends."
- Cardinal O'Malley

Boston Globe: Cardinal O’Malley’s statement on Orlando shootings

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Rainbow is Hope

Someone recently asked how I and other LGBTQ folks aren't completely consumed by anger and/or grief.
My response was that generation after generation, we've been through this. Maybe not personally, but there is a communal history and experience.
We've survived it. We know that we, the survivors, can eventually come out the other end, and in so knowing, we can seethe, cry, shout, rage, and anything else we need to do because we know at some point we'll be able to laugh again, to love, to embrace. We know that we'll pick ourselves up, look at the problem and work to tackle it head on.
My other comment to my friend is that it's key that the LGBTQ community is so tied to the Rainbow, as the Rainbow comes at the end of the storm, after the destruction, the devastation. The Rainbow is hope.

This blog post was in response to the following Facebook Post.

Monday, June 13, 2016

I Lived

I finally broke down. I was just about 6 miles into my 10k run today. I was physically exhausted. I was nearing the final stretch and I was listening to my running playlist which I always have randomly shuffle. As I'm pushing for every last bit of strength to make it through to my personal finish line, One Republic's "I Lived" came on. I immediately began sobbing. Everything that I had been putting off came flooding through. What also came through was the incredible power of having just sung that song on stage with nearly 180 of my fellow chorus family last weekend. The love. The support.
Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I'll say
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Orlando and "Politicization"

"The good news is there's 50 less pedophiles in this world, because these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles. That's who was a victim here, are a bunch of disgusting homosexuals at a gay bar." - Pastor Steven L. Anderson of Arizona.
So many people are decrying that this killing is being "politicized" and then immediately decrying that the damn liberals/democrats won't call this a terrorist driven event by radical Islam.
Here's the thing, the LGBT community has been, and continues to be, a political football. My entire existence has been politicized as long as I was aware enough to realize that I was gay.
I think many want this to be declared an ISIS attack so that they can forget that it was almost 100 members of the LGBT community that were killed or injured, and more specifically many Latinx members of the community, and not have to think about their own role in this. The type of hate spewed by ISIS and it's ilk towards the LGBT community is not very much different than many of the "Christians" here in the states.
So watch this. Seriously. Watch it. This is the local, home grown, extremism that LGBT folks need to deal with.
It's disgusting and will turn your stomach. It should. Arizona Christian pastor doesn’t think the massacre in an Orlando LGBT nightclub was so bad

Sunday, June 12, 2016


I've been numb all day. I had the run this morning that kept my mind off of things. I sat myself in front of the TV and binged Voltron on Netflix once listening to the news became too much. I couldn't bring myself to go into the city for the vigil because I knew I just couldn't handle it.
The short time I've had to my own thoughts tonight, which was to and from having drinks with a good friend and talking about anything and everything not Orlando, I started getting to a point where I teetered on the edge of losing it.
So far I haven't personally known anyone that was killed in this attack, but I know several people who have lost people to this senseless tragedy. Additionally, the gay community is so fucking small that it really doesn't matter if you knew someone, it feels like you do. This happened to all of us. It could have been any city. Any club. Any event. This was an attack on our community, our family.
Thankfully I had a vacation day scheduled for tomorrow so I can hide from the world for another day.
I'm tired. I'm so tired. I'm tired of the constant drum beat of attacks both physical and rhetorical on the LGBT community.
This was 50 dead and 53 injured today, but that's not all. In the last 18 months, 33 transgender people have been murdered. Dallas had a spike in assaults on gay men that included at least 11 men in a 3 month period last fall/winter. These are just the numbers I was able to quickly an easily find, and doesn't include the countless suicides from LGBT people because they don't feel like they are able to continue onward.
So while this is a staggering and senseless tragedy that happened today, please understand, we've been dying for a long time now.

Monday, July 13, 2015

On my honor...

Today, the BSA made the decision to remove the ban at the national level on gay scout leaders.  I'm still processing exactly what this means to me, but I can tell you I'm very, very happy.

In April of 1997 I was awarded my Eagle Medal, and regardless of my feelings toward the BSA (anger, sadness, pity) I've never wavered in how proud I am of that accomplishment and the Scouts and leaders that I worked alongside to earn it.  Many Scouts sent their Eagle medals back to HQ in protest.  I appreciate that sentiment and applaud them for doing what they felt was what made them feel like they had made a statement.  My view was that the BSA would, to borrow a line from Charlton Heston, take my Eagle from my cold, dead, hands.  I worked hard and earned that and nothing that anyone said or did would take that honor away from me.

As a result of the ban, one thing that I never got a chance to do was join NESA (National Eagle Scout Association).

Between the remainder of senior year and then college life I just never got around to it.  Then I came out in the summer of '99, and by 2000, the Supreme Court declared that the BSA, as a private organization, was completely in its rights to exclude gay scouts and leaders.  With the issue pressed and the court deciding in their favor, whatever "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" détente had existed to that point was over.  Gay leaders and scouts were quickly expelled from all areas of scouting including the troops, local and council leadership, Order of the Arrow, and NESA.

At that point that I knew wasn't going to be able to be involved with Scouting and joining NESA would do nothing more than set myself up for disappointment were I to draw their attention and then stricken from their membership.

From time to time I would get emails talking about joining NESA.  Every time I'd see one, I'd receive it with a combination of  anger and sadness.  Here was something that I wanted, something that I deserved, and I was still on the outside looking in.  Even with the end of the youth ban in 2013, it was still just out of reach.  I knew that one day that the ban on leaders would end and maybe then it would be an option.

Today, I joined NESA.  :)