Monthly Archives: March 2011

Gays Run the World

“It always seemed to me a bit pointless to disapprove of homosexuality.  It’s like disapproving of rain.”  ~Francis Maude

It is March 2011.  March Madness is in full swing.  There has been a brief resurgence of winter around the country after enjoying beautiful spring weather for a couple of weeks; but not to worry, warmer temps are on their way back.  American Idol is in full swing, with the numbers getting smaller and smaller with young, bright-eyed hopefuls.  Spring Break has come and gone.  Kids and parents alike are planning for summer, for school to be out and vacation to be on yet again.  Parents-to-be are anticipating new arrivals later in the year.  Life is happening, all around us, every day.

Even life for gays, lesbians, and transgender people.  Ohmygod yes, these folks DO have lives – NORMAL, everyday lives – just like anyone else.  They pay their mortgages, the raise children, they go to work, they plan vacations – and they fight for their rights to have and do all of the same things that their hetero counterparts are privileged to have.  Every time there has been a victory, it seems that there are two more backsteps just waiting in the wings.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was struck down as unconstitutional – a victory by all appearances – happened months ago, yet soldiers are still being discharged under the ridiculous policy.  Television shows like GLEE and Grey’s Anatomy have crossed gender and sexual boundaries by introducing gay & lesbian characters, and allowing them to explore their relationships in their series without shame or ridicule.  Legislation like ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) is still stalled out within the biased seats of Congress.  Our president has declared that DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) is also unconstitutional, and has said that it will no longer be defended in court – but he still has not ended it.  The opposition to these basic legal rights and protections, as well as same-sex marriage, is still holding strong against the LGBT community.  Well known figures such as Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump will blatantly and publicly announce that they don’t believe that gay people should have any rights, proving to the world their levels of ignorance.  But don’t they know, don’t they realize, that gays run the world?

Let’s think about how these two idiots, as well as the hordes of others like them, would function in their world without the presence of a gay or two.

  • They would need to likely give up their hairdresser – we all know that the chances are pretty high that theirs is a gay male.
  • They would need to give up air travel for sure, as well as cruises and hotel stays.  Oh, and travel agencies as well.
  • They would need to give up shopping in fine jewelry stores.
  • They would need to give up fine dining, and probably the majority of stopping at their local coffee shop for some java and a scone.
  • They would need to give up any kind of need for interior design at their various homes and businesses; as well as any kind of personal clothing design.
  • They would be limited as to what kind of establishment that they patron to purchase shoes, or gifts for their very heterosexual marriages (even if it is their third, fourth, or fifth).
  • They would have to forego furnishing their self-designed homes and offices with the finest of art.
  • They would have to come up with clever new ways to show their affection for their wives, because they would have to give up using their local florist down the street.
  • They would have to only frequent large, chain bookstores; and stay away from the small, eclectic place around the corner – the one with the also gay coffee bar.
  • They would have to exclusively use opposite gender massage therapists – just to be sure.

The list could go on for a while, I am sure.  I wholeheartedly believe that if all of these people who stand so defiantly against LGBT citizens having the same rights as them were to give up every business that is run by LGBT, then they would see that they have been sending hypocritical messages to the world all along.  When many of the LGBT discover that a particular business is anti-gay, the typical reaction is to stop giving them our money.  When our community discovered that Target stores have given large donations to a very anti-gay campaign in Minnesota, the reaction was far and wide with boycotts and protests.  Sure, I LOVE me some Target – but we all have to take a stand sometime, somewhere.  I know that my wife and I are just two small individuals – but if a ton of individuals all take the same stand, then ultimately it will affect the bottom line.  When the LGBT community found out that Chik-Fil A restaurants, which are Christian owned, support anti-gay policies and people, there was a mass boycott of the restaurant around the country.  As much as we love that place, too, we won’t go there.  But you know what?  It feels good to be able to say that we won’t go there and this is the reason why – and I would tell management in those establishments as well.  Maybe if we all stop throwing our money at the haters, then they will gradually – little by little – realize that we’re here, we’re just like them, and we’re NOT going away.


Eyes Wide Shut

The past few days have been hellish – I have had wicked fierce vertigo that appeared outta nowhere on Wednesday morning.  I woke up and was a wee bit light-headed, and thought, “oh I just got up too quickly.”  But it was clearly more than that when I walked to the bathroom and promptly threw up.  And then again when I got up to take the dog out, with the puking in the kitchen sink from all of the motion.  IT SUCKS.  This has also meant NOT doing all of the running around that I typically do every day, my house not getting cleaned, the laundry not getting done, and appointments being rescheduled.  I do not have time to put my life on hold because of damn vertigo causing an inability to drive!  It has been so bad that rolling over in bed will cause the bed to literally come off of the floor and spin.  OK so not really “literally,” but it sure as hell feels that way when it happens.  But I have discovered that if I keep my eyes tightly closed, the room spinning will typically stop sooner than if I leave them open.

So this morning, day three of this bullshit, I shift position – not even rolling over – and here it comes, fast forward spinning of the bed.  I lie still and close my eyes until it stops, and try to not move and just stay relaxed.  The house is fairly quiet, and the boy has left for school.  Right then it was just me and the dog, chilling in the bed, and I just wanted to go back to sleep for a while to escape the dizziness.  But lying there, awake but with eyes wide shut, I became acutely aware of many things all at once – it was wild.

I first became hyper-aware of physical things, by touch.  Things like my toes, and the fact that my toenails seem a little long, and I could easily scratch my own legs if I wasn’t careful.  And my heels – they are usually really, really dry and cracked, but aren’t so bad today, despite the fact that I haven’t had a pedicure in two weeks.  I became increasingly aware that I was having some heart flutters, especially in correlation to the dizzy episodes.  I could feel my heartbeat in my ears, especially the left one, which feels like it has the most fluid in – and I am hoping to be the cause of the vertigo.  My nose is congested, moreso on the left side than the right.  My stomach is gurgling with hunger, as I haven’t been able to eat much the past few days, not wanting to throw it back up…just in case.  The dog, a six pound ball of fur, is curled up right against my ribcage, making it impossible to move at all because her sleeping body is dead weight on top of the sheets/blanket – I bet you never knew how heavy six pounds of sleeping puppy can weigh!

I then become keenly zoned in to all that is going on in the room around me, and outside of my window.  The TV is on the news, volume low because of my pounding head.  I can hear the ceiling fan…barely…on the lowest setting, circulating the air.  The mini-fridge that we keep in our room kicks on and off, with a low whirrr that I usually don’t notice, but now find to be very loud.  The air conditioning kicks on and off, with the main unit outside just under the window behind our bed, making a noticeable start and stop.  There is a chorus of birds outside of my window, welcoming the day loudly and in several different octaves – all of which usually comfort me and make me smile; not so much today.  Today the birds have become an annoyance, at best.

All of these sensations are taking place while I lie perfectly still, eyes closed.  My sense of touch is heightened, my sense of sound engaged.  My sense of smell is weak because of congestion, as is my sense of taste (not eating so much).  But while my sense of sight is diminished, the others take over – and it amazes me.  And of course, I, who tend to overthink things, began to correlate this to other avenues and wonder if the same holds true.  It makes me think of people – those who hold tightly to rigid ideologies and beliefs, rather than embrace anything new or different.

I picture someone like my mother, for instance, who has such a difficult time accepting me, my life, or my family.  She stands her ground, hands balled into fists, and squeezes her eyes tightly to shut out anything that I try to tell her, share with her, or attempt to reason with her.  So I wonder:   While people like this close their eyes so that they can’t see anything but what they want to see, do their other senses take over for them?  And if they do, does that mean that they have to willingly ignore those other influences and sensations as well, in order to continue their unwilling stance for change and/or acceptance of something foreign?

Think about it.  How many people do we know who are metaphorically lying very still, eyes wide shut, unwilling to embrace the changes that are happening in our world?  Do they push out the sense of sound that takes over, with the voices of those who are fighting for equality, screaming for change, begging to be heard?  Do they shove the sense of touch, as people in their lives – family? friends? neighbors? – give them gentle nudges to walk with them as they fight for equal rights, or as they try to hug them with unconditional love despite the inability to be accepted?  Do they smell the air of hatred that emanates from them, often fueled by their own self-loathing; or do they smell the winds of change and love that stream from their fell0w mankind while they stand, chant, and sing about a world where all are treated the same?  Do they block out the taste of bitterness on their own tongues, as they spew unkindness towards their neighbor who is different from them, maybe by race or sexual orientation?  I guess it just seems to me that there are many out there who do these things, every day, in order to adhere to a particular religious belief, personal stance, or public policy – no matter how outdated or antiquated it might be.

For me, it was an interesting insight, to experience heightened senses in the absence of one or two – one that I welcome and embrace, because it ultimately opened my eyes to other things going on around me.  I guess one can only hope that others will become acutely aware of what is going on around them while they have their eyes wide shut.

God Hates….HATE

So word on the web is that hate-filled Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas plans to protest at Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral.  Well, of course they are.

Westboro "church" member in D.C. - October 2009

This was a photo that I took when we were in Washington, D.C. for the National Equality March in October 2009.  They were there, at the convention center, the evening of the HRC dinner that President Obama spoke at that night.  They were there the next day, at the march, in very small numbers – while 250,000 sane people marched and chanted louder and prouder for equal rights.  And funny enough, hatemonger and founder of WBC Fred Phelps was nowhere to be seen at either of these events, and many others.  Perhaps his old and aging ass can’t handle all of the hate built up inside of his body anymore to get out there and spew it for hours on end.

So now they’re declaring on Twitter that they’re going to protest Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral.  Margie Phelps, who has followed in her father’s hate-filled shoes, is the family/church’s attorney and main spokesperson these days.  By now, most people in the U.S. have surely heard of this idiot and his cult that is entirely made up of his twisted family – doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight.  Margie has stated that their intention is to disrupt Ms. Taylor’s funeral because of her work with HIV/AIDS, and “enabling gays.”  Oh Margie.  When will you idiots learn that NO ONE takes you, your family, your “church,” or your “protests” seriously?

Someone said online the other day that Westboro Baptist Church is no more of a “church” than Church’s Chicken is….that’s pretty funny right there.  And SO completely true.  I guess in one sense it might be considered a church, since a church is defined as “a place for public worship.”  These people worship something, although I don’t believe that it is the Christian God of love and forgiveness; they worship Fred Phelps and his god of hate and hellfire.

Funny enough, they also fall into the definition of “cult.”  Check out some of the definitions:

1.  a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2.  an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3.  the object of such devotion.
4.  a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5. Sociology . a group having a sacred idealogy and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6.  a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
7.  the members of such a religion or sect.
8.  any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

Hmmmm.  Interesting.  I remember being in college – Speech class, 1998 – and having to do a speech on…hell, I don’t even remember what the topic or theme was.  I just remember writing my speech about this horrible website that I had learned of called, and about the man who was behind it all.  My classmates sat shocked and amazed as I spoke of the horrible content on his website, and the message that “Pastor” Fred Phelps preached.  This was about a week after the murder of Matthew Shepard, where WBC protested, much to the chagrin and shock of those who knew of it.   And THAT was the first incident of Phelps’ protests that I had known; the first of many.  It is horribly disturbing and sad that over the past 13 years this country has witnessed as they have protested court hearings, funerals of LGBT community members, military funerals, equality marches, and pretty much anything that normal people would deem as noble and just.  We have watched in horror as they declare that God hates fags, Jews, our Presidents, or anything else that is different from their image of God’s chosen – whatever THAT is.  They have been so presumptuous to declare to the world that they know that they KNOW the thoughts and feelings of God almighty.  Well I wouldn’t even begin to presume that I know anything about God, because I am just one small person in a huge universe of so many unknowns.  But I can boldly say, without much hesitation, that the God that I grew up learning about was not a God of hate at all – so my only conclusion would be that God hates HATE.  The God in MY world wouldn’t hate anything….but that.

So now the Westboro clan are reaching new lows….they’re mocking the NoH8 Campaign photos.  I’m sure you, or someone you know, have seen the photos that were started in direct opposition to Proposition 8 in California that banned same-sex marriage after it had already been made legal.  People dress in white tshirts, put duct tape over their mouth, and have “NOH8” on their cheek for the photos.  Well, I accidentally discovered today that the idiots of Westboro are mimicking the photo campaign with their own:  God H8S.  Seriously pathetic.  And what’s more disgusting than even THAT?  The fact that they are getting the WBC kids in on it.  Yeah.  Classy.

Shirley Phelps-Roper and some other hateful dude
Two of the sad, innocent children who have gotten dragged into the Phelps world of hate. They never had a chance.













PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has a saying that I think we could all put on a sign and parade in a circle around the Westboro folks anytime that they are protesting something:  “Be careful who you hate….it might be someone that you love.”


Secondary Blogging – Twice the Fun!

I somehow stumbled across the greatest website a few weeks ago.  I was on another site that I blog on called Blogher (  I was reading blogs and looking through difference categories, and saw a post from a woman for on online magazine of sorts, called The Next Family (  Her post said that they were looking for writers, for new contributors/bloggers, especially those who were in same-sex marriages and families.  Well, this was right up my ally, and I was soon in contact with not only the lady who had posted the need, but the edit0r-in-chief as well.  Once I introduced myself, they invited me to come on staff as a contributing writer – I was thrilled!  I have been writing since I was very young, and my dream job has always been to write for a living.  So for now, I blog, and hope that this will be just another step in writing for a living full-time.

The descriptor on the page says, “TNF is a site for today’s modern family. These modern families are the next generation of families–two moms, two dads, gay parents, single parents and urban city dwellers exist in larger numbers than ever. With articles, blogs, a video resource library, products and resources at your finger tips we welcome you.”  I absolutely LOVE the pieces that I read on this site, and hopefully you will, too!  My first blog went up this week.  Feel free to go on over and check it out, along with some of the other folks’ as well – and be sure to let us know what you think.  The blogs that I write for TNF will differ from those that I write here, but I will make sure and post the link each week for my other blog.  Here is my first TNF blog:


Best and Worst Days

It’s late…like, 1:15 AM late.  I haven’t gone to bed yet, although I probably should.  I haven’t gotten used to the time change yet – we just “Sprang Forward” a few days ago, so my body thinks that it is REALLY only 12:15 AM (which I guess is still late to most folks, huh?).  But nevertheless, my house is quiet:  wife is asleep, boy is asleep, dog is asleep next to me on the couch, and even the night crawler kitties are asleep in the front living room.  I surf the Internet, read blogs, write blogs, and other mind-numbing computer stuff while trying to lull myself into a state of sleepiness.  The TV was on shows that I like and pay attention to…a couple of hours ago.  At midnight, those were over, so I put it on something that I only somewhat pay attention to.  By now, the 1 AM hour, it’s just background noise because I’m too lazy to pick up the remote and look for something else.  So yeah, Dr. Phil is now on as my background noise.  Ugh.  He bugs me, for the most part.  It was background noise for a few, but his voice draws me back with the reminder that he is from just down the road and is WAY more of a hick than me…LOL.  But I heard part of his segment, and he is discussing best and worst days that everyone goes through, which got me to thinking.  What are my best and worst days, so far at least?  It’s hard to wrap them up in a neat and tidy blog, but there are definitely some of both that can be highlighted.

Some of my best days:

1.  Singing a solo in front of a crowd of 2000 peers (at youth camp) on my 16th birthday.  Epic birthday.

2.  The day my son, Nicholas, was born:  August 28, 1991.

3.  The day my son, Noah, was born:  March 18, 2000.

4.  The day I married my wife, Erikka:  July 18, 2009.

5.  Graduating from college with my Bachelor’s degree.

6.  Standing at the nation’s capital building with 250,000 others, all there fighting for marriage equality.  An amazing day.

7.  Watching my oldest son graduate from high school.

8.  Watching my youngest son win the spelling bee for his entire school, two years in a row.

9.  Seeing one of my photographs published in a magazine (July 2010).

10.  The day I found out that I am going to be a mom again:  March 4, 2011.

Some of my worst days:

1.  The day that Nicholas was born – one of my best, but also one of my worst.  There were a lot of complications and we didn’t know if he would make it.

2.  The day that I watched on television as the Challenger space shuttle exploded before my eyes.

3.  The day that terrorism came to our shores and took so many innocent lives:  September 11, 2001.

4.  The day that Hurricane Katrina also came to our shores and took so many innocent lives:  August 28, 2005.

5.  The day that terror came to Oklahoma City and took so many lives:  April 19, 1995.

6.  The day that two boys terrorized their school and took so many lives:  April 20, 1997.

7.  The day that my son found out that his father had moved away without saying goodbye to him, and I had to tell him.

8.  The days that I lost babies.

9.  The day that my boys’ dad came and took the oldest from my home, while saying that he wanted the younger one and launched a custody suit that would last for nine months (and ultimately be dropped).

10.  Any day that suicide touched our family’s life:  Shane in 1992, Betty in 2007, Stephanie in 2010.

One can’t wrap up the highlights of their lives in a neat little package – it can’t be done.  Each one of these things listed above, both best and worst days, could be an entire blog all on their own.  Some people might look at some of them and ask, “how can that have been a victory or a loss for you when it didn’t affect you directly?”  I guess because the suffering of others actually DOES affect me.  Things like 9/11, and shootings, and explosions – all cause human suffering, and should affect us all.  But for me, while not happening right here in my back yard (some of those things), there were definite emotions and fears that had to be worked through in the days following those events.  But I try not to live looking behind me at the bad things; but rather, I look ahead at all of the things that I have to look forward to:

  • The birth of my new baby daughter or son later this year.
  • Watching my youngest son go through middle and high school, with all of the experiences that will come with that; and his graduation from high school and college.
  • Watching my oldest son as he figures out what direction he wants his life to take.
  • Seeing my children all get married and starting families of their own.
  • Seeing our country begin to accept all people, couples, and families and treat them all equally in every corner of every state in this nation.

Yes, I look forward to these last things most of all.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – The Ultimate Form of Bullying

(reposted from October 21, 2010)

“Our Founding Fathers would shudder to see how easily forces outside the mainstream now seem to effortlessly push some Senate leaders toward conduct the American people don’t want from their elected leaders: Abusing power. Inserting the government into our private lives. Injecting religion into debates about public policy. Jumping through hoops to ingratiate themselves to their party’s base, while step by step, day by day, real problems that keep American families up at night fall by the wayside here in Washington.” ~ Senator John Kerry

Yes, our Founding Fathers did not come to this land, establish a government, and create a new way of life out from under the religious tyranny of Britain just to have a separate tyranny rear its ugly head and root itself into its citizens lives today.  It hasn’t been THAT long since they came here, in order to form a “more perfect union.”  A more perfect union??  HA.  This country is so divided, so split over issues that are personal and private, that for any government leader to even utter the words “a more perfect union” has become a slap in the face and an insult to the fomer.

In the last few years, the government has decided that it needs to insert itself into the private, personal, and intimate lives of its citizens.  Some states have passed laws “allowing” same-sex marriage.  Allowing?  How is THAT right?  How is THAT equal?  How is THAT fair?  These states have passed laws allowing it.  But then, those states had whiney-baby citizens rise up and declare that it is “abnormal,” or “an abomination,” or “sinful, evil.”  The state’s government leaders can’t have that, so they allow those who don’t like it to vote on it.  That person down the street was now given the power and authority to vote and make decisions for MY personal life; for YOUR personal life.  How is THAT right?  How is THAT equal?  How is THAT fair?  Rights are granted; rights are taken away; trials occur; appeals are launched; rights are granted again.  Why?  Like Senator Kerry said:  “Inserting the government into our private lives. Injecting religion into debates about public policy.”

There is the Defense of Marriage Act, aka DOMA.  There is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, aka ENDA.  And there is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, aka DADT.  The Defense of Marriage Act is a federal bill that declares that marriage is officially between one man and one woman.  ENDA is a proposed bill that would prevent discrimination against LGBT community members from employers who currently have the right to terminate any employee for being gay.  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a policy that was initiated during President Bill Clinton’s tenure, which basically says that the government/military can’t, or won’t, probe into a recruit’s private life to ascertain if they are gay/lesbian or not – as long as the soldier promises not “to tell.”  Absolutely disgusting policies, every single one of them.

A week or so ago, a federal judge issued an order declaring that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is unconstitutional and ordered the military to cease enforcing it immediately.  Finally!  Someone with some authority recognizes that when the Founding Fathers said “all men are created equal,” that they REALLY meant that.  Yes, they would shudder indeed at the blatant abuse of power and bullying that comes from our highest ranking government and military leaders.  Everyone knows what I am talking about, and anybody that tries to refute it either has their head in the sand or a stick up their ass…or both.

In the dictionary, “BULLY” is defined as:

  • Noun:  a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people
  • Verb:  to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer
  • Verb:  to be loudly arrogant and overbearing
  • Synonyms:  browbeat, coerce; terrorize, tyrannize

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the ultimate form of bullying in our country.  As a whole, the military and government who sit in positions of power and make decisions that are supposedly based on the best interest of the citizens of this country are the very ones who are executing acts of bullying on a day-to-day basis.  “A blustering, quarrelsom, overbearing person [or entity, such as the military, Congress, Senate, House of Reps, and executive branch] who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people [that would be citizens affected by unequal treatment, laws, and policies; as well as soldiers/cadets who are treated as second-class citizens].”  Am I blowing anything out of proportion here?  I’m sure that many conservatives would somehow try to disagree with me, but the truth is that the military, Pentagon, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and ultimately the president are all full-participating bullies in today’s society.  The very people who will wear purple, create PSA’s to say that they are “anti-bullying” and support programs at schools to end bullying and suicide, and proclaim to the world publicly the horrors of bullying….these are the ones that are discharging soldiers under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, NOT ending DOMA, NOT creating ENDA, and NOT allowing for same-sex marriage in every U.S. state.  The synonyms list “coerce, terrorize, and tyrannize” as verbs that can be interchanged for “bullying” – sounds like some political leaders that have come through the most highest ranking of positions within our own government.  And why, WHY, would supposedly fair-minded individuals in a free enterprise society continue to stand by policies that do not treat every citizen the same?  WHY would a man, a leader, who had to fight to get where he is, at great odds, continue to stand behind these policies?  Because he can.  Because he is one of the bullies.

This morning in USA Today, an article appeared that was titled, “Obama Still Caught in the Middle  on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  WHAT???  Really???  How in the hell is he caught in the middle?  It is an unconstitutional and unequal policy.  End of story.  First the judge orders the military to end it, and blocked the government’s request for a stay; then another judge, another player in the large scale bullying, blocked the first judge’s initial order.  President Obama says, out of one side of his mouth, that he wants to get rid of the policy; while out of the other side of his mouth he is backing his Justice Department, who want to continue to enforce it.  Apparently, just last week, Obama is quoted by USA Today as saying:  “And so we are moving in the direction of ending this policy. It has to be done in a way that is orderly, because we are involved in a war right now. But this is not a question of whether the policy will end. This policy will end, and it will end on my watch. But I do have an obligation to make sure that I am following some of the rules. I can’t simply ignore laws that are out there. I’ve got to work to make sure that they are changed.”  This was last week.  But a year ago in Washington, D.C., the president stood before hundreds at a huge dinner hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, and again declared himself to be a “fierce advocate” for the LGBT community, and that he WOULD end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  We have heard this from him repeatedly, with little to no action behind it.  He has disappointed us.  He has not kept his words, both to the community nor the soldiers who have been discharged unjustly and undeservedly.  He has let hundreds of thousands of his supporters down.  He has abused and ultimately damaged our trust in him.

He has become one of them….the bullies that are commonly known as “Big Brother.”

How Many Bullies Will it Take?

(reposted from September 28, 2010)

Today I read an article about a boy in Ohio who was beaten by bullies to the point of having a broken arm – because he is a cheerleader.  Tyler Wilson is eleven years old, and wanted to join the cheerleading squad with hopes of someday being a male cheerleader at the collegiate level.  He has been bullied, teased, taunted, and now beaten up, simply for being a cheerleader.  But bravo to Tyler for not giving in to the uneducated and neandrathal mentality of those boys, because he says he isn’t going to quit the squad.  The saddest part?  Somewhere along the way, the bullies had to have been taught that this kind of behavior is acceptable, and that picking on those who are different is perfectly alright.  Hopefully Tyler can hold each and every one of them – and their families – personally accountable for their actions, and hopefully there will be consequences for them.  One can hope.

Shortly after reading that story, I then read another news story that didn’t end quite as well as it did for Tyler.  Last week in Cypress, a suburb of Houston, a 13-year old boy named Asher Brown killed himself because of incessant bullying by kids at his school.  He put a GUN TO HIS HEAD – because kids in his school tormented him because he was smaller than them, because of his religion, and because they said he was gay.  And no one wants to take responsibility – not teachers, administrators, counselors.  School officials say that they never had any reports of bullying, while Asher’s parents said they repeatedly made phone calls to counselors and assistant principals.  How in the hell can people get phone calls, people who are in positions of authority and trust over our children, and NOT follow up on them???  Apparently the morning that he killed himself, Asher told his step-father that he was gay; and fortunately, he was not met with condemnation or judgment at all.  But unfortunately, these ignorant children who Asher went to school with had not been taught of tolerance and acceptance for everyone.  This family will now have to bury their child and say goodbye to him forever because of the cruelty of other people’s children.  How is that ever okay?  How many kids have to endure being bullied because of ridiculous things like their size/stature, their sexuality (regardless of what it is), their religion???  Kids don’t just grow up to be bullies – they can’t possibly.  There has to be some kind of influence that says to them that using violence and cruelty will somehow move them ahead in life.

I have been on the lookout for bullies for a long time.  My oldest son went to school, when he was young, with several boys who were bigger than he, more athletic than he, and more popular than he was.  He was bullied physically in the second grade, and his dad & I told him to defend himself before walking away and telling a teacher if something should happen.  Sure enough it did, and he almost got suspended for defending himself, because of the “zero tolerance” rules within our school district.  If he HAD gotten suspended, I would have been okay with it as long as the boy who instigated it was punished as well.  But that was a long time ago.  Things have changed dramatically.  The bullying has gotten tremendously worse.  The consequences for those who bully seems to be slight, if not non-existent.  The effects on those who are bullied seems to be deeper and more damaging than ever before, and the result trend seems to be getting more and more catastrophic.  My youngest son has been bullied because he wears glasses, and because he has a pretty large overbite.  He finally told me about a particular boy who makes fun of him for those things, as well as making fun of his friends.  He told me that this kid makes fun and taunts everyone, and it makes him very stressed – did I mention that my son is in the 5th grade???  Ten years old, and having to deal with stress caused from another ten year old kid.  I was furious.  I told him that bullying is not acceptable by any means, and if this kid utters another word to him that is over the line, we will be visiting the principal (I will forego the teacher and the counselor and go straight to the top).  But this is how I HAVE to be!  Why can I not just “wait and see” and hope that it all works out?  Because kids are dropping like flies, and they’re getting younger and younger.  During the last school year, at a school about 2 miles from here, a nine year old boy named Montana Lance killed himself by hanging in the nurse’s office.  Yes, NINE years old.  Some reports were that he was bullied; others say it is unknown why he did it.  Curiously enough, the school district to this day has no comment to make about the events of what happened that day.

But this is just a few of the bullying incidents that ended up in the news.  Once I started looking for these stories, I started finding others.  And then another, and another, and still more.  Look at some of the stories that I found, and the ages of these kids:

  • Oct. 2003:  Ryan Halligan (age 13), Vermont – hung himself in his bathroom.  He had been bullied by classmates at school, as well as cyberbullied online, with taunts of being gay.
  • Oct. 2004:  Corrine Wilson (age 13), Texas – single gunshot to the head.  She had been called fat, frizzy haired, ugly; the bullies told her they wished she was dead and that she should just go home and kill herself.
  • Dec. 2005:  Kristina Calco (age 15), Michigan – hung herself.  She was teased and bullied from 7th grade on, but never told on her bullies.
  • April 2009:  Miranda Larnerd (age 14), New York – hung herself from a ladder.  Said in her suicide note that “for every good person in my life, there were 10 more to bring me down every day.”
  • April 2009:  Carl Walker-Hoover (age 11), Massachusetts – hung himself.  He was apparently taunted daily by schoolmates about being gay, despite the fact that he did not identify himself as such.
  • April 2009:  Jaheem Herrera (age 11), Georgia – hung himself by belt in his closet.  He complained about being called gay, ugly and “the virgin” because he was from the Virgin Islands.
  • May 2009:  Daniel Mendez (age 16), California – self-inflicted gunshot wound.  His parents have filed a $3 million lawsuit against his Orange County school district, because they say that administrators failed for years to step in after their son complained for non-stop bullying.
  • June 2009:  Iain Steele (age 15), Illinois – hung himself in his basement.  He was shoved into lockers, made fun of on Facebook for liking heavy metal music, and told by one bully that they wished he would just kill himself.
  • Sept. 2009:  Hunter Layland (age 15), Texas – shot himself.  He had been in a car accident as a toddler, leaving him with a hearing problem and scarring on part of his face.  His bullies made fun of the way he looked and even told him once, “If I had a face like yours I’d shoot myself.”
  • Oct. 2009:  Tyler Long (age 17), Georgia – hung himself with belt in his closet.  He had a form of autism called Asberger’s, and was humiliated by classmates for years.  Some of his torment included being spit on and chased, pushed down stairs and beaten up, being called gay, and told “I can’t wait until you are six feet under.”
  • late 2009:  Hope Whitsell (age 13), Florida – hung herself in her bedroom.  She made the mistake of sending topless photos of herself to a boy’s cell phone; they were then circulated and she was harassed as a result.
  • Jan. 2010:  Phoebe Prince (age 15), Massachusetts – hung herself in stairwell.  She was constantly bullied and taunted; nine teenagers were indicted for various criminal charges related to Phoebe’s death.
  • March 2010:  Kimberly Linczeski (age 12), Michigan – died by self-asphyxiation.  She had been teased, taunted, bullied, and even hit by a classmate and never fought back.  The one day she hit back, she was sent to the principal’s office and her father had to come get her from school – she killed herself later that day.
  • March 2010:  Alexis Pilkington (age 17), New York – cause of death not found.  She was a soccer star who was cyberbullied on Facebook and Formspring, even after her death.
  • March 2010:  Jon Carmichael (age 13), Texas – hung himself in a barn near his home.  He was small for his age, and was bullied constantly for being short.
  • May 2010:  Christian Taylor (age 16), Virginia – hung himself in his closet.  He was bullied at school for months, and even told by one of the bullies that he should just go ahead and commit suicide.
  • July 2010:  Justin Aaberg (age 15), Minnesota – hung himself.  He had come out as gay at 13 years old, but still endured anti-gay bullying.  His school district, in order to “respect all of their families,” has asked the teachers to be neutral in response to anti-gay bullying, rather than address it.
  • Sept. 2010:  Billy Lucas (age 15), Indiana – hung himself in his family’s barn.  He had been suspended from school the day of his death for fighting back against his bullies, who called him gay and told him to go hang himself.

I know this is long, but like I said, when I went looking into one, I would find another, and another.  And while this blog is long and infuriating when looking at all of the young lives that were lost, there are so many more that we never hear about and are never reported on the news.  Why???  Why are school districts turning their heads?  Is investigating reports of bullying just too daunting?  Why are school districts trying to take a neutral approach??  Because they are afraid of offending someone?  Really???  Who gives a shit if someone gets offended!?  The schools that we send our kids to every day are supposed to be a safe environment for them, not a place for endless torment, ridicule, and cruelty that are permitted by teachers, counselors, and administrators.

Remember that whole “It Takes a Village” thing that Hilary talked about years ago?  Well, like it or not, like HER or not, she had it right.  It’s our job to not only look out for our own children, but for all of the other children that are out there.  They all deserve a fighting chance to get through school with hope for a future.  All of these children had their future snuffed out by their own hand because they had lost that hope.  MY child will not be a contributor in taking away any other child’s hope.  Will yours?

* just after I finished this blog and published it, I logged on to discover that another has been added to the unfortunate list.

  • Sept. 28, 2010:  Seth Walsh (age 13), California – hung himself by a tree branch; lived on life support for 10 days before dying.  He was openly gay and teased/bullied relentlessly, ultimately having to leave public school for independent study.  Police say that they cannot prosecute the students involved because bullying is not a criminal act.
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A Life Steeped in Fear…or rather, PRAYER

(reposted from September 25, 2010)

Blog started during a power outage a couple of weeks ago:  As I sit in the middle of the night, amazed to have the technology to allow me on the internet during a major power outage, I think of all of the times throughout my life where my power was out, mostly from non-payment of the bill – but nevertheless…NO POWER.  Some of those times were lows times:  times with no money, times with very little food and even seemingly less income coming from whatever crappy job I had at the time.  There was sometimes no power when a brooding storm headed our way, and the storm itself was responsible for scaring the begeezus out of us.  Tonight’s particular outage seemed to have been done to one of the local transformers nearby.  Greeeeeat.  They say it is likely caused by a transformer down the street.  But I digress.  This outage is fine, and will likely be over while we sleep, where we wake up to lights and sounds and cool air.  But as I sit here, it takes me back to those very different power outages….the low times when I just couldn’t pay it.  Times when I sat with a young child in a hot apartment, praying for a miracle…praying for a sign….praying for something better.

I grew up learning to pray.  I think I was in church from the time I was two weeks old, taken by a mother who went every week to pray for the soul of her husband.  I watched, as a kid, as we went through the routine motions of getting dressed up in our “Sunday best” and driving off to church while my father stayed behind to read his Sunday paper and watch football.  I went to Sunday School, learned the Bible verses from memory, and learned to pray without ceasing and to pray about everything.  Now that’s not a bad thing necessarily, but looking back now, I see that I learned to pray for every situation that came around rather than dealing with it.  I thought that if I prayed about a difficult situation, that I had likely created myself, then magically God would come through with an answer that would get me out of whatever fix I was in.  Now that I am older, I see that it was a good way to avoid cleaning up messes that I had made – me waiting on God to tell me what to do.

When I was older, in my twenties and divorced with a young child, my prayers started to change.  It went from a life steeped in prayer to a life of selective prayers for rescue in times of trouble.  I became one of those people that I had never wanted to be – one who only prayed when in a serious situation with not enough money to make ends meet, not enough food to buy groceries, not enough rent to keep an apartment.  I would pray and pray and pray for God to please send a miracle and rescue me; and when, or IF, something would somehow come through, then God received all of the faith and all of the praise.  But those times when nothing happened or nothing changed?  God received all of the anger and blame for not fixing MY screwup.  I remember praying for people who were sick or dying, and nothing happening.  I prayed mostly, regularly, for God to change ME – to change the fact that I am gay.  This was something that I prayed, no begged, God to change and make me “normal,” because after all, I grew up listening to most of the people in my life tell me how wrong, evil, and sick gay people were.  I would even “help” God and do what I could to change that fact myself:  get married, get divorced, get married again, get divorced again, have babies, etc.  But I soon learned that no matter how much I prayed, this simply wasn’t changing anything about my inherant and true self.  Let me tell you, this was a huge blow to my faith and my Christian upbringing and walk.

Now that I am forty, I hope that I am a bit older and a bit wiser.  I have learned that yes, having faith in something higher than myself is incredibly important and comforting.  But it is because I choose to, and not because I have been conditioned or programmed to do so out of fear.  I don’t pray as often as I would like to, but I pray regularly and thank God for the life that I have, for the joys that I have, for the wife and family that I have.  Sure, I pray for those that are sick and hurting, but not because I feel like I have to; I do it because I am moved to do so out of compassion and love.  Many of my friends grew up just like I did, in a life steeped in fear through religion.  This is not the legacy that I want to pass on to my children.  I want my children to have a belief system and to know God, but because they WANT to and not out of fear of hell.  I pray that my children grow up to be responsible, healthy adults who believe in equality for their fellow man.  I pray that they stay healthy and live long, happy, fulfilled lives.  I pray that my wife and myself will someday be treated fairly and equally in every society, and that we have a long, happy, and healthy marriage together.  These are the things that I pray for now.

Never Settle for the Path of Least Resistance

(reposted from May 14, 2010)

The sky is dark today, and the thunder rolls in with the miles and miles of looming clouds and stormy weather.  As bright and wonderful as my world has been this week, there is still a sadness that has rolled in with this dark day.  A sadness that makes me want to cry – but not for myself really, or for anything that is happening in our life and family; but more of a sadness for others out there.  (Now I will concede that the majority of this sadness is most likely triggered by hormones, but that is beside the point…LOL)

It started last night while watching prime time television.  It seemed that everything that came on revolved around adults who were dating, breaking up with the love of their life, with a wake of devastation and broken hearts.  Many of the reasons behind breakups were not really reasons, other than one of the two people getting angry and leaving in a huff; only to later realize just how much they really did love the other person.  Sometimes it is too late when one comes to this realization.  Sometimes they are able to mend their broken relationship.  But in the lesbian relationship, the reasons for their breakup were very real, and very difficult to get past, and that was the issue of having a baby together.  One wanted a baby very badly, and the other one didn’t.  These are things that most couples take for granted, the option of having a baby or not.  If one, or both, aren’t able to conceive, then the option is taken away and the couple moves on or adopts.  For gay couples, the option to have a baby is much more complicated and has to be thought out and planned out very meticulously.  And if one of them aren’t able to conceive, or if it is two men, then the option of adopting isn’t always there.  Many states don’t allow gay couples to adopt, absurdly enough.  It’s just another thing that most Americans have the option of doing unless, of course, you’re gay.  State governments would rather let a single person adopt a child than a two parent, committed, same-sex couple.  I don’t really understand the logic in it, but then again, I rarely do understand the logic of inequality.

Then we watched some other shows where people were losing the love of their lives through death.  Unexpected, tragic means of dying – not long, drawn-out illnesses where the outcome was expected.  It made me think about my wife, and how I cannot imagine my life without her.  Just thinking about that overwhelms me with pain and sadness, and that is how I know that I have found the love that I have always been looking for.  The fact that we have to fight so hard for our rights and our equality, and fight to show the rest of the world that our love is just as important and real as everyone else’s, has cemented this relationship into something even more solid.  We have all of the documentation in place to protect each other and our kids in the event that something should happen to one of us; probably more legal documents than most people have.  But because, once again, our government has decided that they can place our rights to a vote, these are the hoops that we must jump through in order to secure the future of those that we love.  I have heard people say that when the subject of same-sex marriage has been voted on, the people (or “majority”) voted and decided that this was not what THEY want.  I still do not understand why WE cannot vote on straight people’s marriages.  I do not understand why WE cannot vote on whether a man can cover his wife on his benefits.  I do not understand why we cannot ban all of the cheaters from getting divorced, since WE are the ones supposedly jeopardizing the “sanctity of marriage.”  But that is a whole other soapbox.  People wonder why we fight so hard, why we go and protest, why we put ourselves out there to be ridiculed, arrested, but mostly ignored by the powers that can change things.  My answer isn’t always clear, but I know that it is mostly because we are Americans first, and all deserving of basic liberties just by virtue of being born here.  No class deserves more or less, no gender deserves more or less, and no relationship deserves more or less.  African-Americans kept fighting, and never gave up, until they were given equality in this country – they should have NEVER had to even fight for that.  Women are still fighting to obtain equality in this country and in the workplace – something they should NEVER have had to fight for at all.  LGBT Americans are going to keep fighting for equality, and will NEVER give up until we all have the same rights as other Americans.  None of our predecessors in any of these movements ever settled for the path of least resistance, and we’re unlikely to start now.

My mother has told me repeatedly, in her disapproval of my life and relationship, that as long as I am living “this ungodly lifestyle and out of the will of God” that I will not be blessed.  I wish she could see that she was so wrong, as I have never been more blessed in my life.  I am living each day with the love of my life – I look forward to waking up to her each morning, and kissing her goodnight at the end of every day.  I am married to my best friend.  I love having a wife, and I love being a wife.  I love cooking for her, and cleaning our house.  I was a wife before, but I wasn’t a good wife and I know that it was because I had not found her yet.  I have two great boys, and together we are able to enjoy them and provide for them like they deserve.  And just this, our life, is blessing enough for me.  But on top of all of that, I have been blessed with jobs – good, big jobs – dropping into my lap, unannounced and unexpected!  If only my mother could see all of this through an open heart and open mind.

Earlier today I heard someone on TV ask, “Are you living, or are you just existing?”  I think for many years, I simply existed.  But now?  I live, every day that I am blessed enough to wake up and have breath, I live.  I want to see things and do things and have adventures and share it with my beautiful wife and family.  And at the end of the day, I want to lay my head on my pillow and thank God for allowing me another day in this amazing life.

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance….I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance….I hope you dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance.
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.)

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.”

(I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack)

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There’s Something to be Said About Family

(reposted from April 27, 2010)

“Families are about love overcoming emotional torture.” ~ Matt Groening (The Simpsons)

Family is something that is constantly an ever-present thought to me.  The very definition of family has become somewhat skewed in my mind and heart, and over the past few years has transformed into something completely different in my life.

There are many definitions of family to be found.  For example:

Fam-i-ly:  Noun

a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not

any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins

  • all those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor.
  • approved lineage, esp. noble, titled, famous, or wealthy ancestry
  • a group of persons who form a household under one head, including parents, children, and servants.
  • the staff, or body of assistants, of an official
  • a group of related things or people
  • a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together
  • a group of products or product models made by the same manufacturer or producer.
  • the usual major subdivision of an order or suborder in the classification of plants, animals, fungi, etc., usually consisting of several genera.
  • a unit of the Mafia or Cosa Nostra operating in one area under a local leader.
  • the largest category into which languages related by common origin can be classified with certainty

Now, the definition of family, for me, began probably like many of us:  mom, dad, brother, me, and dog.  Standard family, just like most of my friends.  When I was eleven and my parents split up, my definition changed somewhat:  mom, brother, me, and dog.  It was almost the same, but actually very different.  Mom checked out and sank into herself and her depression, so the ACTUAL dynamic of our family was really:  brother, me, and dog.  I rarely saw my dad, and soon had a step-mother and two step-siblings that I didn’t really know either.  After a while I would begin making efforts to establish something that sort of resembled a “family,” but didn’t do a very good job at it, and was pretty much one-sided in my efforts.  Soon enough I realized that my views on family and memories of family were not sunshiney or happy, but rather isolated and lonely.  Once my brother and I were grown and on our own, my only sense of family came from a depressed mother – and that was it.  And that was it for a very long time.

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”  ~Jane Howard

Once I had a child of my own, I hoped to change my views on “family,” considering that I now had my own small unit to nurture and build.  But soon, that was gone and it was just my child and myself.  My hopes for a large family of my own, as well as a large, loving extended family were fading more and more with each passing year.  Two divorces, three miscarriages, and two living children brought me to a crossroads, with no direction whatsoever on how to pass on anything regarding family to my sons.  I literally had nothing to offer to them but me, with the promise that they would always have me, no matter what would or could happen.  When I finally followed my own path, and came out to my family and friends as a lesbian, what tiny shred of family that I had managed to hang onto over the years was soon ripped from my grasp, and I felt like an adult orphan.

“To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.”  ~Barbara Bush

In my mind, when I reached this life-changing point in my life, the most logical thing in the world would be for my family to rally behind me, and give the support that would be needed to weather some of the storms that would surely come.  Because that’s what family does, right?  Well, like so many others within the LGBT community, that just didn’t happen.  I had already gone several years without seeing or talking to my father, after having grown weary with being the only one to make that effort.  But now I was left standing with a mother who no longer wanted anything to do with me, overtaken by her disapproval, disappointment, and disgust.

“You would think that those who are always talking about family values would want to create an environment of permanent relationships for people of the same sex. But they’re not advocating family values. They’re advocating their values.” ~ Mayor of San Francisco

The realization of my family, or lack thereof, became glaringly loud and present in my life, in my home.  Not only was I shown, by my own family, a lack of acceptance and unconditional love, but from a good portion of the rest of the country as well.  People screaming about how same-sex couples destroy the sanctity of marriage and family values, while we live the same, everyday, and boring lives that most families do every day.  And then my definition began to change, once again.  Just as it says above:  “a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals, and frequently, live together.”  I had my two boys, I had my new wife, and while we started out as our own seemingly sequestered little tribe, our “family” slowly emerged as the one of our choosing.  Her family as a whole, for the most part, has been supportive and accepting of me and my children into the family.  While my family has stayed estranged (for the most part), she at least knew that nothing had really changed on her end.

There has been a great deal of hardening that has taken place in my heart over the past few years, while my entire sense of “family” has been challenged and tested.  I went through a long grieving process, mourning the loss of what was (no matter how pitiful it may have been), as well as coming to terms that I would never have a family that truly accepted me and the family that I have been blessed to create with my wife.  However, soon, I was reconnected with childhood friends on Facebook, and spending time with wonderful old and new friends, both straight and gay.  I would quickly come to realize that my family was that in which I would create for myself, and that these were swiftly becoming the people whom I would do anything for, including but not limited to putting myself in harm’s way to protect them, if necessary.  Suddenly I was surrounded by people, friends, that I now consider to be family.  And while it wasn’t my dream, it was my reality, and I have been content and grateful for all that I have.

But there is still something to be said about family. I think that most people long for it, just like me.  And before I knew it, there it was, sitting in my lap.  One of my best friends, who I’ve known since we were six years old, came to town and a group of us went to pick her up at her mother’s.  It had been years since I had seen her mom, but by the time we left after fifteen minutes with her, I had a mom. Not just a surrogate mother, but a true mom.  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when we get that which we have prayed for, yet I was truly blown away.  I now have a mom, who calls me just to see how I am doing, and always reminds me that she loves me.  Along with my friend (and now “sister”), there are ten other siblings, and tons of neices and nephews – many of which I still haven’t met!  This incredible blessing has fallen into my life, and I still don’t understand why when I did nothing to ever deserve something so amazing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional or foolish to believe that these amazing people really are my family – I know the reality.  It is very foreign for me to wrap my head around THIS definition of family at times, or to just accept it and be happy & content.  But one thing that I am…and that is very grateful.  I now have a large extended family consisting of a loving mom, brothers and sisters, and many, many friends.  They are now part of my story…one that I’m happy to be living, and one with a happy ending.

“In each family a story is playing itself out, and each family’s story embodies its hope and despair.” ~ Auguste Napier