Equal

EqualWell, we finally made it! On June 26 2015, the United States Supreme Court confirmed that any two people can marry, regardless of gender. We can officially stop referring to it as gay marriage and just call it what it is, marriage. This marks a pivotal moment in history folks. This is the domino that will tumble the rest of the archaic laws preventing us from being treated fairly in the eyes of the law. The excuses, the pretense, and the scare tactics won’t be enough anymore. This decision may only apply to marriage rights but it’s ripples will be felt everywhere.

Oh, I’m not so foolish to think everything will just be hunky-dory. No, there is still a lot of hate out there. And we are still being targeted by extremists and bigots. Our fight is not over but the tide as well as the right has shifted now. And as time goes by the bigots, haters, and fundies will be relegated to the history books to be scorned by future generations. Now we must turn our attentions to trans rights and making sure they obtain protections and equality under the law as well. No person should ever have to feel like an outcast simply because they were born different. The fight is not over for them and so it is not over for us.

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For myself, I never thought I’d see this day. It was only in the last 5 or so years I dared to hope for it. Growing up in rural East Texas, I just assumed I’d always be an outcast. I’d never be part of ‘normal’ people. Back then you just learned to accept it and try and carve out a life for yourself. You did the best you could and hoped for the best. Well now, those days are over.

In many ways, I don’t feel much different. My life overall won’t change much after this ruling. It is almost anti-climatic in many ways as we were lucky enough to get equality in California already. But, I can move forward without fear of leaving California now. Shawn and I have yet to tie the knot, but knowing we can do so and be accepted in all 50 states is a huge deal. I won’t worry about hospital visits. I won’t worry about my or his legal rights in case of an emergency. I frankly won’t worry that much at all. I can make legal decisions and preparations w/o extra steps to protect him. I can make plans for our future and not “mine and his.”

This is indeed a wonderful day!

Defend

And speaking of Instagram, I had a very odd (in a good way) interaction on there recently.

I follow several fellas because they work out and post progress selfies. Being back on my gym-kick, I like the inspiration. Besides the selfies, they’ll often post tips, suggestions, diet routines, etc, all of which I find beneficial. In the process of ‘liking’, I don’t often check to see if they are gay or straight.

It should come as no surprise I also follow others for a different type of inspiration. Most of the guys in the latter group are most definitely gay. lol Nothing x-rated mind you, but still gay.1

The problem arises when I forget to check which group said person is in before commenting. This has led to a few awkward conversations from time to time. In the most recent situation, I made a comment on a straight guys feed. He was hot and I said as much. Several folks after me started leaving comments trying to dog him because "gay guys were checking him out." For my part, I usually don’t engage as it is a futile endeavor. To my utter surprise, the guy himself came to my defense. He posted several comments chastising commenters for being so shallow and homophobic.

I was really impressed by his replied. He could have deleted my comments, blocked me, or just ignored it completely but he took the time to call it out. I decided to write about it here only because it left me with such a good feeling. We, as LGBT folks, still have a ways to go to overcome the discrimination we face on a daily basis. But interactions like this give me real hope that we are winning. We are changing hearts/minds of everyday.

  1. I actually don’t follow x-rated accounts on Instagram at all. Different purpose, different medium as it were []

Secret

We’ve heard tons of comments on white privilege in recent weeks, but what about religious privilege? We are quite accustomed to hearing from the fundies about how they are being persecuted. The reality is religion is given an exceptionally wide berth in this country.

In recent days, I’ve seen a plethora of news stories on church pastors talking about killing LGBT folks for just existing and having the audacity to want equal rights. And don’t get me started on those Duggar assholes. All of these folks are becoming desperate because they realize they are losing their so called culture war. Forgetting the normal rants on how we are single-handedly causing the destruction of everything because … "god" for a moment, they’ve upped their game now and completely gone off the deep end.

It is time for us as a citizenry to start reigning this nonsense in. You can believe whatever brand of crazy you want as long as you keep it to yourself. You can believe I am personally going to some imaginary place of eternal suffering after I die because I refuse to fall in line with your brand of crazy.1 But the moment you start calling for me to be less than other humans or calling for my death, you no longer get a say. The moment you start trying to legislate your beliefs on everyone you’ve crossed the line into bigotry. Your ignorant bile is not welcome in society anymore. ​

Even worse in my mind are the people who go around giving lip-service to their so-called faith but do nothing to stop the insanity. Where are all the other church pastors decrying this behavior? Where is the outcry from the millions of Americans who ‘claim’ to be christian? Why are they not condemning these fanatics? Could it be because their supposedly non-violent book of fairy tales is actually very violent. We are quick to talk about how Islam is a violent religion but we brush off our own brand of crazy. Well, your dirty little secret is out and we ain’t buying it anymore.

In my book you no longer get a pass. Your privilege ends with me. Stop sharing your smarmy photos and memes on social media about how wonderful your [insert deity of choice here] is and start calling out the crazies in your own ranks. If you are not calling them out then you are complicit in their actions. And if you are an LGBT person on top of it, you bear the shame of knowing your inaction directly contributes to the oppression of your brothers and sisters.

  1. I still can’t get over the ‘shell-fish is an abomination’ clause. I sends me into hysterics every time. Of course we realize how crazy that is but magically forget it when it comes to begin gay. []

Civic

Everyone is jockeying for the moral high ground after the Ferguson verdict. Social media is a shit-show of everyone pointing fingers at each other. I won’t even go into all the judge/juries that have appointed them selves verdict makers on Brown/Wilson’s implied guilt.

I feel like I have a unique perspective on the subject.1   There is my work side that deals with law-enforcement issues every day of my career. I can see valid points from the officer’s story. There were several things Brown could have done to avoid the confrontation. Then there is my gay side that grew up at the hands of very rough and not so friendly police on more than one occasion. I can see valid points from Brown’s family. The police could have handled the situation better and not necessarily let it escalate out of control. 

The reality is neither side is blameless. No one has the moral high ground here. And no one should walk away feeling like they lost/won. We all lost. People often can’t resolve the cognitive dissonance created by the ambiguity of fault or blame. And because of this, we can’t admit that neither side is blameless. Brown refused to comply, Wilson overreacted.2

No matter who’s side you are on it still means nothing unless we act. If we truly want to fix these problems, we must move beyond the never-ending and condescending tantrums via social media. And while petitions and marches in the streets are excellent displays of solidarity, they are not enough. These things depend on someone else to fix our problems.

We as a citizenry must be involved. We cannot abandon, thru indifference, our oversight of those we place in power and be surprised when it suddenly becomes corrupt. Civic duty is not just serving jury duty or voting, begrudgingly. It is our guaranteed right thru the freedoms granted us. But we must exercise those rights. It should not be something we only do when it is convenient. It should be a part of our daily lives.3  If more of us get involved, we won’t need to constantly focus on blame. We’ll be in forums to constantly give oversight, feedback, and accountability to both sides.

Basically, I’m saying be involved or shut up and accept your servitude. It is that simple. Like any living thing, democracy must be fed or it dies from neglect. Go to your local police community meetings. If they aren’t offered,  rally your neighbors and friends and demand they have them. Go to your governing body’s public meetings. Call, write, and/or email your local and state leaders. And don’t do it once and call it good. Involvement is ongoing. Embrace your civic duties. Then and only then can we see real change.

  1. No surprise there right? lol []
  2. Please spare me unnecessary rants on the variances of this over simplification []
  3. Do me a favor and read this paragraph again []

PSA

I thought I’d provide a public service announcement today. Let me attempt to clarify (and edify) you on the differences between belief and bigotry.

Belief (or faith) in your [deity of choice] is soley your choice in life. Under the freedoms granted to you in our democracy, you are free to believe and celebrate (thru prayer, church, communion, etc) said belief thru its given dogma any way you choose. While I may or may not agree with your belief(s), you are entitled to them and I respect that. You are free to believe that being gay is an abomination.1 You are free to hate me for being gay. Hate is not illegal. You are free to think that I will be transported to a magical place of fire/brimestone upon my death. You are free to ignore the fact that I was born gay. You are free to disagree with the later statement verbally. You are free to say your beliefs and share them with others by proselytizing2. These are your rights.

What you are not free to do is enforce your belief onto me, thru laws or otherwise. You are not free to commit a crime against me based on your hate. When you attempt to enforce your belief(s) onto me you are engaged in bigotry. You are not free to discriminate against me based on your belief when you provide public accommodations. You are not free force me to live your way. You are not free to prevent me from having the same rights as any other human being simply because I’m different. We do not live in a theocracy. And no matter how you might wish we did, we still do not. Your belief does not shield you from persecution when you cross over into being a bigot. And calling you out for your bigotry does not make you a victim of persecution. And no amount of cognitive dissonace, conflation, or twisting the english language will ever make it so.

Now you know. Go forth and edify others; so it is my commandment to you this 17th day of October in the year 11 of Moby’s blog.

  1. So is eating shell-fish. Where is the outrage over shrimp? I mean just look at those nasty little buggers! They have ‘demon’ written all over them! []
  2. witnessing []

801

Eight Oh One‘ is our local PD code for suicide. Today is the unfortunate anniversary of a coworker/friend’s death by suicide 9 years ago. She shot herself in a moment of sadness and her light was forever extinquished. Her death was especially painful for me. We weren’t besties but we were friends and I always considered her a kindred spirit. And in moments alone, she would often open up a little more to me and share in that connection. Our connection stemmed in part due to similar struggles in life. We both experienced a harsh and abusive childhood because we had the audacity to be born gay. Having already survived my own brush with suicide, it was a big blow to hear of her death. I knew what she must have been going thru internally and lamented that she didn’t reach out to me. Of course, no one knew how bad she felt. She was very stoic and kept it all hidden.

People often think of suicides as cowardly or selfish. That is simply not true. That is just a projection of our own pain over the loss. When you reach that awful stage there is no thought of self.1  There is no reason. There is no right or wrong. There is no thought of those who will miss you after you are gone. All of it is stripped away, layer by layer, until nothing is left but an all-encompassing blinding pain. A singular thought remains….escape!  Sadly, suicide is often the only mechanism that seems to offer a solution at that moment. But, I am here to tell you you can escape it without resorting to death. I am living proof.

Anyway, I decided to take her badge to work and remind everyone of her anniversary. On a side note, LGBT folks are 4-6 times more likely to commit suicide before the age of 25.2  In my line of work, suicides are also higher due to the stress and constant raw emotions that we process day after day. After decades of exposure, it can really wear you down. So, I wanted to reach out to my coworkers in the hopes that if they should ever be in such a dark place, they should also feel comfortable reaching out to me or anyone in their life for help. We all talked about fond memories of her and how she impacted us.

As for my coworker, where ever you are my dear, I hope you are in a better place. I hope you escaped the misery and pain. I hope that those around you can experience your light and love and be better for it.

  1. And I hope you haven’t and/or never do []
  2. The statistics vary from org to org but this is the rough average. []

Day

I keep getting random questions on the wedding date. We haven’t yet set a date. I can tell you it won’t be until next year sometime. Neither he nor I are in any hurry. The engagement was sort of the finalization of what we both knew we wanted. For myself, I knew pretty early I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I have no doubt it will happen so I don’t feel any pressure to rush it. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the legal protections it provided, I think we might skip it. We both realize it is meant to symobilze our commitment vs create it. I know what is important to me and I have it. In a word, him. He is all that matters.

It’s funny because I never thought I’d actually be able to get legally married. If you had told me 10 years ago, I’d someday soon have the right, I’d have laughed. It is has been very gratifying to see such an abrupt change in our acceptance. The speed of it has been a historical oddity unto itself. So now I am faced with the unexpected but welcome reality of having the same choices as everyone else. But having the option doesn’t necessarily mean I should run out and tie the knot. Taking the time to solidify our relationship is more important than the labels or names we attach to it. I’m already married in my heart and that is enough for now.

Of course, on the flip side, I don’t wanna get married while I’m still working on a chunk of debt. It wouldn’t bother him but I just don’t like the idea of him suddenly being responsible for my debts if something were to happen to me. He had nothing to do with it and certainly doesn’t deserve to be responsible for it. With the exception of his condo, he is all but debt free. I’m a little envious. lol I chose the path that led to my current debt so I’m not complaining, but I wouldn’t want that on his shoulders. So part of the waiting is from a practical stand point. I think in a way it keeps me from getting all fuzzy and rushing it.

Anway, I’ll be sure to post info here about the big event. 

GHHD 2014

So the GHHDs1 are fast approaching. Pride is just around the corner. It was around this time a year ago that it dawned my dumb as that I was in love with a man, aka The Pup. He was in NY and I was in SF. So Pride has a sort of an additional meaning for me now. hehehe 

It was also the time when the shameful Prop 8 was thrown out in California. Pride in California took on an additional meaning as a result. I think this year’s Pride will be equally significant as every single state in the Union has either had rulings that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional or currently have lawsuits working thru the courts to that end. I think it is safe to say that the tide has turned in the fight. It isn’t over but it is no longer an uphill battle IMO. We still have a hill to climb in the fight for equality for our transgendered brethren.2 

The Pup and I are headed down to Phoenix the week prior. I get to meet his parents for the  first time. I’m not at all nervous as I have him so I’m cool. He is looking forward to the trip. It will be his first time back since the move to SF. We’ll be back in time for Pride here. Phoenix celebrates their Pride much later. I’m sure due to the extreme heat in the summer months. Anyway, we don’t have anything major planned. I’m sure we’ll go to the parade and the fair for a bit.
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And right on cue, the whole Pride-bashing brigade is in full swing. It happens every year now and frankly I’m sick of it. I’ve tried to gently educate folks over the years but I’m over the entitled self-serving attitudes. If you don’t like it, don’t go. But, shut your pie hole about trying to say no one else deserves or benefits from it. If you don’t think we need pride anymore than I encourage you to hop over and read this. When these attitudes and problems are no longer prevalent across America then I might agree with you. The article is a few months old but still happened recently. And just because YOU don’t need or appreciate Pride anymore doesn’t make it any less relevant or needed.

Why do we need to celebrate Pride, the straights don’t have a Pride day?  Well, let me tell you why. We don’t have Pride to show we are proud of being gay. We celebrate to show we can walk down the street w/o persecution or attack. We celebrate the hard-earned freedoms we’ve fought for in the last 3 decades. We celebrate our ability to be treated as an equal. There may come a day when we don’t need Pride but we are most definitely not there yet. Until we secure freedoms in every state for us as well as our Trans brethren the fight is not over.

Pride has become a corporate sell-out. And how exactly are they expected to put on such events when the community no longer gives money? Those corporate donors you whine about are floating (pun intended) the costs so we can have an event. If you don’t like that then I strongly encourage you to start donating monies to help offset the costs. Providing even the basics is not cheap.

“Those” people don’t represent me. That may be true but many of those people are the reason you have the rights you have today. They may not represent you personally but they are part of our community whether you deem them worthy or not. And frankly, if you would like to see more diversity in our represented numbers then you should step up and help. Have a float, go with a group, or walk with banners. Don’t not participate in any way and then sit back and whine about being under represented. Even better, next time look out across the crowd and see all the less colorful people enjoying the show. They do represent us because they are us. The people in the parade are not the only representation of us.

Too many straights are coming and ruining it for us. Yeah you are right. Shame on all those straight people for showing up in solidarity and supporting us. How dare they invade OUR event. I meant they could go just back to hating us, bashing us, or tying us to a fence in the cold to die. I mean it just boggles the mind that as we move into being mainstream that the straight community might want to partake in our events. I find this excuse the most insulting and arrogant of all of them. We’ve fought inequality for how many decades and now that we are finally on the road to achieving it you are mad that the straight community is embracing our events? How very selfish and hypocritical.

There are too much drinking and drugs. And this one is true but it is also not new. This has always been an issue. If you think the fair sells too much booze then you should volunteer or go to the community meetings about Pride. Reach out to your community members that run the event and give feedback. As for the drugs, it is a much larger systemic problem and has never been just during Pride. See a pattern forming here? Get involved. Don’t complain and do nothing, otherwise you are part of the problem, not the solution.

We have come a long way, not doubt, but we are far from equal. The story I linked to above is one example of thousands. Having been in a similar situation in my youth I still remember my first Pride. It was so affirming and empowering. It made me realize I was not alone. I would never deny that to a single person. And until we secure the same equality for our Trans brethren, the fight is not over.

Indifference is not a reason to stop having Pride. And because you may no longer need or want it does not mean it has no more value. You do not get the right to whine and complain and then do nothing. Or I should say you have the right to complain but your words are hollow and meaningless. If Pride is just not for you, that is perfectly fine, but don’t bash it simply because of that.

“Those” people are the ones who are still fighting to put on these events. They are the ones working their asses off so it will happen. They are the ones bouncing on floats to put on a show and help draw crowds. When you begin to step up and make a difference, then your opinion will matter. Many of us have fought so hard for so long to just be accepted, we are comfortable fitting in and not drawing attention. I get it and support it. But that does not equate to doing away with any and everything that might draw attention to us. Nor does it mean that everyone wants to confirm and ‘fit in’.

We need to practice what we preach and be tolerant of others. We need to step out of our indifference and be accounted for if we want to affect change within our community. Most of all, we need to stop with the idea that if it doesn’t benefit me directly then it isn’t worthwhile and should be done away with.

I hope that you have a safe and happy Pride.

  1. Gay High Holy Day []
  2. I have a few more thoughts on the increasing internal squabble about certain phrases later []

Out

It appears that today is National Coming Out day. So in case you didn’t know it, I’m a big ole homo. Died in the wool , card carrying, and totally 100% unequivocally gay. I wasn’t molested. I wasn’t brain-washed. No one made me this way. I came this way. And for some that is a hard truth to swallow1 but belief is not a prerequisite of truth.

I always enjoy seeing who will come out on days like this. Even though incredibly painful2, I’ve never regretted my coming out 28 years ago. I came out very young and the repercussions definitely changed my life and not always for the better. The events leading up to the fatal day I almost took my own life changed me forever. I left behind the fear, the worry, and the shame. Never again would I allow anyone to make me feel anything but proud of what I am.

While we have gained some major ground as of late, the fight is not over. LGBT folk all over this country and the world are still be targeted for harassment, physical violence, imprisonment, and even death just for being born different. We must continue to fight for those who don’t enjoy our freedoms. We must attempt to educate those who fear and hate us because we are different. The simplest and most effective way IMO is for them to see we aren’t that much different. The number one thing that changes a person’s mind or heart is first hand experience. Given the chance to get know an openly gay person, many people see past the stereotypes. They see past the rhetoric, the lies, the hate, and the fear. The learn we are human beings just like them who just want to get ahead in life. The fact we happen to have same-sex attractions doesn’t make us evil or perverted just different. Our ‘agenda’ is the same as theirs.3  And when people see that they begin to change their minds. They learn, they grow, they evolve.

I encourage anyone out there pondering the idea of coming out to do so. The simple act of being open and honest will change hearts and minds. Sometimes it only takes a small spark to lite a roaring fire. Be that spark.

  1. Pun intended []
  2. both mentally and physically []
  3. Even though some of the crazy stuff they say we are pushing for is hysterical! []

Consequence

When is the truth no longer the truth? When does manipulation of truth to fit an agenda become deceit? That’s where we seem to be today, here in SF at least. Watching the fallout over many of the recent scandals has been painful at best for me. I’ll admit the resulting vitriol being leveled at each other has really hurt my faith in the community. The fallout has shaken my normally optimistic view of us in general.

From a purely personal POV, it’s been very painful to witness disingenuous tactics and behavior from peers I look up to. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Having never lost a hero or role model, I am still struggling with it. I am saddened to see us so divided and treating each other so horribly. Be it adult actor suicides, the nudity ban, the march to equality, or the Bradley Manning caper, the hate, vitriol, anger, and condescension have all shown a fundamental shift in our ability to express ourselves as well as a renewed since of victimization. We are turning to rule based consequentialism as a moral code; the idea that ethics of the moral right/wrong are based solely on the consequences. (I know, my big word of the day. See, I really do educate myself!)  Said code is often contradictory and ultimately confusing and leads to cognitive dissonance. (I think my little brain has seen this coming because many of my previous posts have delved into different pieces of the overall issue.)

Looking at it from a purely analytical point of view, the behaviors represent a breakdown in our reasoning thru logical consequence.1 Without reason thru logic, there can be no truth. Like religious fundies, we cannot survive a moral code that is dependent on the outcome vs the cause. And to abandon truth and integrity in favor of bias and personal agendas is a recipe for disaster. That is not to say it was unexpected. After being excluded from society, many of us developed our own system of moral codes. It was simply out of a need to cope with being labeled degenerates and abominations and often being outcasts. The problem with moral codes in general is they are often conflictive between individual communities and society as a whole. It’s even more confusing because we’ve developed moral conflicts even when our own community. As previously alluded to in assimilation, there is a part of our community that has embraced their freedoms from the trappings of the mainstream way of life. They’ve adopted a moral code that is much less restrictive than society at large. And there is nothing inherently wrong with that. But now that the LGBTI community as a whole is being slowly accepted into society, those moral conflicts are creating dissention and fear.

Sadly, many on both sides are abandoning truth in favor of rigidly conservative and intolerant thinking. They bristle at the very idea of compromising. Anyone who disagrees is immediately labeled the enemy, and ironically conservative, as well as having only one goal, the sanitization of gay culture. It is dangerous ground though. To continually conflate every varied issue into one overarching idea of oppression only serves to keep us locked in a pattern of self-inflicted victimization.2  I am somewhat ashamed to see many of said folks have begun to manipulate facts and ‘truth’ based on bias and personal agendas, again much like those who hate us. And the most insidious behavior recently is selling an agenda based on lies laced with a kernel of truth or half truths. A fallacies with enough truth to not only convince you but also invoke an emotional reaction to overwhelm reason thru logical consequence. To me it represents a truly dangerous path that leads to only misery, isolation, and eventually despair for those who take it.

It is my hope that those who fight against the inevitable change, can see that we can coexist. We can move into an era of acceptance and still maintain many of the freedoms we’ve come to love. As previously mentioned, we might lose some of it for a generation, but it will spring back. And lastly, I beg of you, please your case, cause, agenda, desire, etc w/integrity of purpose thru reason of logic and truth. Do not succumb to irrational fears based on selfishness.

As always, hope springs eternal. . .

  1. One of the basic tenants of logic []
  2. I say our because differences aside, we are still a community IMO []