A Cold Monday Morning of Thoughts

This is what is on my mind on this cold Monday Morning.

I was thinking about marriage equality this morning. I do understand the legal importance of everyone having the right to marry. I get that completely. I remember the excitement and the joy I felt the day we all were given that particular right. I am sure you felt very much the same way. However, as time passes I have begun to question not only the importance of that decision, but also what might have been the intent behind it. In some ways, I have to sit here and laugh for the pure conspiracy theory sound of that statement. First, let me say I am completely for our right to marry who we choose. There is no question about that portion of this. I have also been extremely proud every single time I have been honored to celebrate the marriage between two of my friends.

However, with the passing of time I have found myself questioning if maybe marriage equality is a pacifier of sorts for a much larger problem. What is that problem? The normalization of the gay community to not only conform into the heterosexual world, but an attempt to take away what makes us unique. It really, up to this point, has seemed to, unintentionally or intentionally, quiet the activism surrounding what it is to be gay. Acceptance is not something which is making those who are different from you to become more like you. This is not accepting those differences between us, in essence, it is actually an attempt to erase those differences.

There is nothing wrong with being different from the person standing next to you. It is what has always made this country great. The great big melting pot experiment is one which should celebrate our differences and not one which takes those differences and normalize them to fit in with what might be considered a majority norm. Over the past years, I have seen all of the different aspects which made our movement great begin to dwindle. We are seeing the death of the traditional bars which have always been our gathering places and now we spend our nights within these places celebrating alongside of Bachelorette parties who think it is cool to get drunk with the queer community. We do not say much and in a way you can almost feel the collective relief that we are getting to participate in the tribal practices of heterosexuality. I cannot help but feeling, we are playing into their hand somehow and  we are suppose to now somehow be like them. I know personally it has left me scratching my head and, more often than not, wondering where we are headed. It also leaves me wondering if we have sold out our culture in order to conform. This is just one example. There are many.

If you can find a silver lining anywhere in the current political climate, it should be the wake up call which we have all been given. The wake up call is, we are actually not like them at all and they clearly have not either accepted us or they accept us for the most part as long as we conform to their idea what our culture and lives are all about. I for one am not ready to either become complacent and I sure in the hell do not want to conform to the heterosexual world which may work for them, but it clearly does not work for me or us. I am not sure where this leaves us in the scheme of things, but I do know the last thing we need to is to normalize.

Yesterday, I participated in a march in downtown St. Louis which some would tell you was a referendum against Donald Trump. Well, in some ways that might be true, but I tend to think it was a much broader and far reaching message than just an election. In my opinion, it was a gathering of all types of people to celebrate and stand up for our differences. It was a message that our differences and our togetherness in those differences is what makes us great. I am happy as hell we can marry, but what I am not happy about is that it now feels as if it was something given in order to silence our voices and kill the passion of who we culturally are.

This is most likely one of the most controversial things you will ever read me write, but it is the thought which has been haunting to me for quite some time now. I do not think those who came before us, were fighting for us to conform and disappear. The reason I believe they were fighting and I was fighting, was to be accepted for our differences, the acceptance of our culture. This did not mean the death of it by giving over to normalization. In order to normalize would suggest there was something wrong with who we were to begin with. There is nothing clearly wrong with us, we are just different. It seems to me this has been a well overdue wake up call which we currently have been given here. The result is the reawakening of our demand of the acceptance of our culture without the permission to erase our differences in return.

Marching down the street, I took a moment to look beside me and in front of me. First of all, protesting is the most American thing you can do. This country was built on people standing up and letting their voices be heard. The overwhelming thing which struck me is I was marching with my fellow LGBT, Muslim, Black, Latino, families, young people children, friends, neighbors and yes even strangers. All walks of life were represented and we were marching in a common cause which was a common voice. It seems to me that unified voice said, “You will celebrate our differences without marginalizing us, hating us, and we are going to make you accept us for our differences without diminishing them. We refuse to be normalized or erased.” Yes, it was clear to me this was a wake up call for all communities and minorities. It is not just a gay issue, but a human issue. I have never in that moment felt so connected with a group of people and I have never felt more proud to be an American. A true Patriot in a sense.

So yes, things are changing. Yes, there years ahead of us which could be challenging. But the most important thing we need to do is to understand this wake up call for what it is. We can survive this because we have done it before. Actions speak louder than words, and it is becoming crystal clear that a storm is brewing against those who are different in this country. We can weather this storm, but it also means we are going to have to stick together while embracing our differences in the process. We gathered together yesterday in our differences to celebrate them and also to send a clear message in one unified voice we are not going to go quietly away and we are not going to conform. I am a proud American Gay Man, there are a lot of people who fought for my right to say those words. Who I am, is not going to melt away and I refuse to be silent.

That is what has been running through my mind on this cold Monday morning. Pretty heavy stuff, isn’t?  I celebrate and accept each of you. All I ask in return from you is to be celebrated and accepted for my differences without being normalized. You cannot, and we will not, let you erase the rich history which is part of the fabric of not only gay history, but the history of this country as a whole. In return, I vow to do the same for you. Pretty simple, isn’t? We need to stop allowing leaders in this country to divide us and use us for political means and agendas. That is really what should make you angry. It is not the person sitting next to you who is your enemy. The enemy is the people who would like to use ALL of our differences against us.

So I sit here thinking, but thinking is not enough. It is going to take us going into the streets together to let our voices be heard. It is going to take us sharing our individual thoughts and feelings. It is going to take us accepting the person next to us and loving them for being different without trying to make them more like us. If we lose this fight, we will take our lives either back fifty years or we will head into a frightening future where everyone is required to be the same. George Orwell’s, 1984 comes to mind at the moment. Big Brother would like nothing more to strip our individuality away from us in order to make it easier to control us. Let’s get vocal and fight to make sure this does not happen. Truly, that is the most American thing we can do in the face of this oncoming storm.

 

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To Pin or Not Pin, Now that is a Question

On these safety pins I have something, actually a lot, to say. Just because you wear something does not mean you actually do something to help the cause or you are somehow safe or more trustworthy. A stranger is a still a stranger and a pin can be worn by anyone. These are without a doubt dangerous times we live in. Maybe I am more of a realist when it comes to things like this. I will not trust the pin-wearing person who is standing next to me any more than I would one who is not. Remember Matthew Shepard’s attackers had convinced him they were gay and allies of his as well before they murdered him. If there has been anything this world has taught me as a gay man is, there is very little you can bank on in the trust department. Not sure any pin or ribbon is ever going to take away that distrust and maybe it is just because my generation has been through way too much to trust anyone. I do not think I am alone.

There are many activists who believe the idea of these symbols may actually confuse and hurt the cause rather than helping it. All of us who lived during the scourge years of AIDS, remember standing by to watch the red ribbon go from a symbol of help into the “in” thing to wear. While people on the award shows were sporting their sequined red ribbons for fashion, we were the ones out here fighting to feed and get the right medications for our dying.  Sure these symbols are showing solidarity and raising awareness for whatever cause, but far too many people stop with just the symbol. These symbols then become just a status or it is the cool thing to wear.

Right now I am mad as hell. The last thing that is going to calm me down is seeing a safety pin because it is not going to make me feel any comfort or feel any sense of security. I am part of a community and minority where we have just had our friends, neighbors, and even family members vote for an agenda which will harm us. Hard to feel loved and safe while looking at a safety pin, when you just have been punched in the gut by people who thought had your back.  Sorry, but it is not cutting through the pain, fear and hurt. But protest and voicing our feelings does-and that is something which is productive. I attended a protest in Florida last June with Stuart Milk during the sad days following the Pulse shooting where he said to the protesters,  “Silence still equals death. Harvey would tell us to get loud.” Let’s get loud.Your voice and your dollars are the best and most effective way to help. 

Don’t get me wrong. It is okay to wear a safety pin if it makes you feel better, but please understand even your enemies have access to pins and can wear one as well. Also it is important when you see someone wearing a pin to ask them what they are doing to help. Encourage them to make a donation to the ACLU or the Human Rights Campaign. These are the organizations which are going to be on the front lines to fight discrimination. If they cannot afford to donate then encourage them to take part in protest. Encourage them to be vocal on social media. It is important that we all understand this fight is going to take more than just wearing a pin. We have no time to waste. This fight needs to be fought-starting now. So wear your pins with pride if you need to, but understand the next step is to roll up your sleeves, to get loud and get ready for what could be the long fight ahead.

Donate to the Human Rights Campaign

Donate to the ACLU

For All of My Gay Friends and Family

This is for all of my gay friends and family.

I know you have seen a lot of hate being thrown our way over the past few days. I also know it has some of us worried and sad that there are some who feel they can use the result of this election to act out in horrific ways. I agree with all of you, but I think we need to put this into some type of real perspective and stop to remember who we are and the power we all have together – for the sake of all people who may feel the same way we are feeling.

First, we are stronger together than we have been in any time in history. We have tremendous economic power, which we have always been able to use in our favor. We have the right to boycott any business that we feel supports an agenda of any type of hate. We can continue to harness our economic power, not only to continue to further change, but also to make sure that change is not rolled back to a darker time.

Second, we have a tremendous amount of legal power at our disposal, which we can use to protect our right to live freely, openly and without persecution.

Third, a Trump presidency cannot and will not dissolve your marriages. This is just not going to happen. Did you realize that even a Republican Supreme Court would not overturn a ruling from a previous court? It just will not happen, especially a law of the land that is supported by most Americans. A few people are not going to change that. What evidence do we have? Rowe v. Wade could have been overturned many times by conservative courts which would have been against it and it has just not happened. There is no reason to believe, at this time, it would even be a possibility.

However, you are going to have plenty of notice if it appears to be headed that way. A President Trump cannot just step into office and make it all go away on day one. If he did, the economic harm he could bring down upon this country and the civil unrest it would cause is nothing any sitting President would dare to even begin to consider.

Now I am not going to tell you everything is rosy on the horizon because there will be some roll- back of certain things under a Republican-run government.  But, at this point, to completely roll back 50 years of advancement is just not possible in a four-year term. I would suggest we do not patronize any business that would line the pockets of Trump or anyone who does business with him. That would be a good start and would send a clear message. We are not the people you would want to pick a fight with.

So, what I am saying is to calm down. There are laws that at this point still protect us. If you feel someone has committed a hate crime against you or is treating you unfairly there are numerous resources where you can find the help you need and I suggest you do it. Stand up for yourselves. Continue to fight the fight so many before us have fought.

Listen, we have lived through Stonewall, AIDS, AIDS discrimination, Anita Bryant and the fight for marriage equality. We will now live through and succeed once again with the new challenges facing us. We can do this but it is going to mean all of us need to be vigilant and ready to speak out. Do not let hate scare you into submission and silence. That is what they want. If you do that, then, and only then, will all be lost. Remember the words that we all have heard over and over again, “Silence = Death.” That was true when it was first spoken and it still stands as truth today. Chin up.

We are all in this together and together we will win any battle that could be facing us. We also must use our resources to stand up and fight for any race, idea, or creed that might be targeted by hate. We cannot only help ourselves, but we can, and need to, help them as well. We must not just focus on just our fight but we must focus on protecting and promoting the rights of all. I love you all. We can do this.

We need to put a spotlight on any hate that is happening within our country. It is imperative that each of you post, in your social media, any pictures, video and stories of those being hurt by hate. Social media is a very powerful tool and you cannot rely on the regular media to cover these things. Most of straight white America will not see these things unless we show them. Fill your social media feeds with the images of hate that you come across. Show it and then talk about how horrible it is and how we are not going regard it as normal, sane, or even remotely acceptable.

Most importantly, live your lives in the open without fear. Walk down the street holding hands. Kiss your loved one without fear. Live your life in the open because the more they see us living normally, the less we will frighten them with our differences.

And lastly, do not get disenfranchised by our election process. We have a very important mid-term election coming up in two years. We need to gear up and roll up our sleeves to fight for our candidates. Then, we also have the most important election coming up in four years to wipe the hate once again from our government. It is going to take all of us and then some. We can do this, but like all of those who paved the civil rights paths before us we are going to have to work very hard to make it happen.

It is okay to take time to grieve over this past election. But make sure you understand that all is not gloom and doom. Make sure you understand that we can and will survive this. Talk to each other. Be there for each other. Calm each other when we need it. But most importantly do not lose the focus on what we are fighting for and what we are fighting against.

Feel free to share this with everyone you know.

THE BLOG!

When I see the word blog it has always scared me a little. You see the word, BLOG whereas I see the word, BLOB or BLAH. It is not because I do not like the idea of blogging and the sharing of ideas. If that were the case, I would not be an author at all. It is the idea of the commitment a blog requires and takes to maintain. The idea of having enough content and will I have enough to say or share with you. Quite frankly that scares the living hell out of me.

All of my social media friends I know at this moment will be taking a huge sigh of relief because now they will not have to read paragraphs upon paragraphs from me on everything from politics, gay rights, the supernatural, and anything else which might strike me at any given moment. They say I do not understand the idea of acceptable social media lengths of posting. Twitter limits the amount of words precisely due to long winded writers like myself. Facebook and TUMBLR on the other hand have not been as wise and it shows at times when I really get on a roll. Well it actually shows a lot. A day does not go by where I start something with one sentence and it turns into a hundred. I always find myself saying during these daily infractions, “Just one more thought to share before I am done.”

Even through my fear of blog commitment is very real and does exist, the time has finally come for me to take the blogging plunge. So here it is, THE BLOG.  You are not always going to agree with what I say here, but I always promise to share the truth about my thoughts and what I might be feeling from this moment to the next. In some ways, I feel like I just might be participating in the recording of history. Surely it is the bloggers in this world who are now the ones documenting the thoughts, events, and actions of the times.

So yes I am ready to take the blog plunge. Here we go. I hope you enjoy it.

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