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Pride and Prejudice

This morning I woke up to Huffington Post notifications about the deadly attack in Orlando, Florida.  Fifty people dead.  Another 50 or so injured.  And I started crying.

Why does this keep happening?

There are no words to express how I’m feeling — but this is not about me.  This is about the hundreds – no thousands – of people whose lives have been forever changed due to one man’s hatred and prejudice, his irrational fear for people celebrating who they are.

I am shocked, saddened, angry, frustrated, and feeling powerless.  I don’t know how to convey what I’m feeling any more except through a series of erratic hand banging on my keyboard to get the point across.

Why does this keep happening?

Why is this okay?  Why is this the new normal that we as a society are forced to live with?

My heart hurts for everyone in Orlando today.  My heart hurts for my community, and the devastating loss we all feel — when our security is threatened even more.  My heart hurts for the families of the victims.  My heart hurts for all of us.

Money seems to be the only method of getting anything done.  Dear readers, if you can find it in your hearts to donate, please do so:

http://everytown.wecanendgunviolence.org/
https://secure.bradycampaign.org/page/contribute/center-enough

You may ask yourself “Why should I care?  It’s a bunch of gay people.  I don’t know them.”
You don’t know them today, but eventually you will.  If this madness continues, it will be someone you love.  A friend, a family member, your spouse, your daughter, your son.  And then it will be too late.

There is no reason in the world for someone to have an AK-47 assault rifle, unless you are in the military — and even then that’s questionable.

Guns are not meant to be conversation starters or decorative pieces.  They have one purpose and one purpose only — to kill.  Whether that be an animal you’re hunting or another human being, death is the designed outcome.

And we have become too complacent with the designed outcome that it numbs us.

It’s time to stop.  Donate now.

 

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Dreams out of fear

I haven’t written anything in a while, but trust me — there’s been a lot on my mind.  Today, I’m sitting at my desk, thinking about what’s going on in the world, wishing we could all be full of rainbows and glitter and get along — and knowing that we can’t.

I recently had a dream that was very troubling.  I haven’t had many like this, so it was something that could have been a recycling of current events versus actual deep-seated fears.  However, with all of the shootings going on, the dream consisted of me being at Disneyland and there was a terrorist attack by a group of Japanese schoolgirls.  We couldn’t figure out how they got the guns into Disneyland, because they do a bag check — though not an actual pat down — and then it was discovered that the guns were being implanted in the balloons, and then the Japanese tourists were buying the balloons, popping them and going on their attacks.

Okay, it’s not something that is very reasonable.  But hey — it was a dream.  My subconscious telling me something.

I’ve watched the rhetoric continue to rise over the course of the last several months, all due to the political system, and I am frightened for my country, for my fellow countrymen, for my family, and for myself.

I am a gay man.  There’s no secret about that.  To hear the things that come out of the mouth of someone who is hoping to be the president of our country is frightening.  Not only frightening, but terrifying.  I can’t rationalize how anyone in their right mind would think that he is a good, safe choice.

But politics aside, what it is doing is breeding this fear that is now running rampant.  I’m afraid of how this will end — in bloodshed, in harmless hurt.  I don’t know how to stop it, and it’s frightening.

So, what do I do?  Continue to love.   Continue to be who I am.  Continue to preach tolerance and peace, while condemning the hurt and hate that seems to be the default reaction and go-to emotion for so many.

Dreams out of fear are quickly turning into nightmares.

Just because you can…doesn’t mean you should

Happy November, Blog readers.

I noticed a trend on Facebook where people were posting a month of gratitude.  I thought this was a good idea, so I jumped on the bandwagon.  Two days into this exercise, the following occurred.  I now present to you the exchange, with the names changed to protect the not-so-innocent:

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November is gratitude month. The goal is to post something you are grateful for daily. Today, I’m grateful for knowing a kid who is now 16 years old…and growing every day. He’s growing into man, and his thoughtfulness, his understanding, his compassion for others blows me away. I’m lucky enough to call him my son. Love you Taylor.

  • ADH: Why is gratitude month trying to take over Indigenous People’s month?
  • JG:  What it’s indignant people’s month? WTH!?
  • ADH: Are you seriously calling Native Americans “indignant”? WTF!
  • JG:  it was a joke. I initially read it as “indignant” instead of “indigenous.” “WTH” was the indignant part of the joke.
  • ADH:  http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/

    nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov

    The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National …See More
  • ADH:  Racism is never funny.
    JG:  Good grief, nothing in my joke had any racial or ethnic connotation.  Perhaps you’re getting indigent confused with indignant, which means to be unnecessarily resentful or angry. 
    *******
    This all happened within a matter of minutes on my Facebook wall.  What was originally intended to be a gratitude posting about my son took a perilously wrong turn into some sort of weird racist territory.  But what’s absolutely fascinating about this entire exchange is that both ADH and JG are women of color, both accepting, both some of the most tolerant people I have ever known.  JG was adopted into a white family, and has another sister who was also adopted, of a different race, was raised Baha’i.  ADH is Native American, and also somewhat open and tolerant, practicing what she preaches.
    My post was not intended to upset anyone, to slight the Native American people’s plight (though I’m sure by calling them Native Americans, I’ve slighted them without meaning to).  As a person of mixed heritage myself, I don’t argue that what was done to the indigenous people of this country was abhorrent and unacceptable.  But since November has come to mean a time of giving thanks in modern society, you know…the one that I grew up in, I chose to partake in something and take an opportunity to express my love and gratitude for my son.  That’s all it was meant to do.  It wasn’t meant to discriminate, to belittle, to deny, to cause an uproar.  And what was I hoped a lovely sentiment now has these comments that spiraled wildly out of control attached to it.
    I could delete them, but I’m not in the habit of censorship.  They’re entitled to their opinions.  But geez.  Lighten up, ladies.  Seriously.  Lighten up.
    Which brings me to another point.  Facebook has become a way for people to sit there and share their opinions.  I am guilty of it as well.  I try to post things that are uplifting, often keeping my true views and opinions away from what is on my wall for a variety of reasons.  I know a lot of different people with opposing ideologies, and I want to avoid exactly what happened above.  What was meant to be something affirming turned into something incredibly ugly in mere moments.
    Just because we can post, doesn’t mean we should.  There have been several times I’ve seen a comment, a post from someone I know where I wanted to post and say something snarky, but then this thing called common sense kicked in, and I refrained.  The last thing I want to do is get engaged in a war of words with anyone over a social media platform.  I have too many other important things to do.
    So, since this is not linked to my Facebook account, I’m going to repost my original post here, where I’m fairly certain it will not turn into accusations of racism.  And if it does, or if the spammers try to get at me with their own messages of trying to capitalize on my blog (with their broken English) I can simply bulk action delete them.  Thank you WordPress.
    I wish Facebook would give you the option to mark certain posts as “Do not remark.”  Because then maybe this would have prevented my inbox from blowing up this morning over something that was meant to be positive and uplifting.
    Happy Gratitude/Native American/get a fucking grip month.
    Here is my post again:
    November is gratitude month. The goal is to post something you are grateful for daily. Today, I’m grateful for knowing a kid who is now 16 years old…and growing every day. He’s growing into man, and his thoughtfulness, his understanding, his compassion for others blows me away. I’m lucky enough to call him my son. Love you Taylor.

Final Political Post of 2012! WAHOOO

This will be my last political thought process/post on this election.  Only because it relates to an experience I had over the weekend.  See?  There’s my justification.  Then I can go back to writing about the moon, failed relationships, cats, Christmas, and whatever else I think might be blog worthy.

I was at a theater event on Sunday.  I stood there, discussing potential opportunities with the artistic director of the company, and a woman walked in.  She was wearing two buttons.  One for Romney (fine) and the other one saying marriage One Man, One Woman.

I didn’t care so much about the Romney button.  I have friends who are Republicans who are very dear to me.  The button that got my blood boiling so much was the Marriage One man One Woman idea.  I laughed a bit to myself, which apparently was audible enough for her to hear, as she turned and caught my eye.  I simply smiled, and that was the end of our exchange.

What this woman didn’t know is that a man who might love another man was standing next to her.  I wasn’t wearing rainbow flags, or proudly announcing who I was, but I was there, sharing her space.  And she, this older woman, held the belief that I should not have the choice to marry whom I choose, be it man or woman.

It was enough to spur me to come home after the show and fill out my early voting ballot, and send it in.  It’s in the mail today.

Referendum 74 in Washington State seems to be gaining enough traction that it may pass and we will have written into our state constitution the ability to marry a man if we so choose.  I hope, hope, hope, hope, hope (a thousand times over) that we do, regardless of my current relationship status.

I don’t know why this woman believes that it should be between a man and a woman only…I didn’t dare ask her.  All I know is it was enough to spur me into action and make my voice heard.  I hope that you, wherever you are, will also jump into the fray and make your voice heard for whatever your issues are.

I remember when George W. Bush was elected the first time.  At the same time, there were a number of ballot measures aimed at preventing gay marriage.  I wasn’t so disappointed that Al Gore had lost (that one was foreseeable) but that so many states in our union, found it necessary to restrict a person’s right to marry the person that they love.  It was disheartening in the worst possible way, and as I watched the returns come in, my heart sank deeper and deeper.

Family members who would deny me that right.  These so-called friends who would also deny me that right.  It was heartbreaking.

I don’t discuss politics with my friends and families.  Nor do I hide my sexuality.  I am a proud gay man, and will continue to be for the rest of my life.  I only wish they saw the consequences of their actions, by denying the freedom and liberty to one particular sect of this country, someone they know, someone who it impacts greatly.

If you are in Washington, please please approve Referendum 74.  The idea that I could choose to spend the rest of my life with a man I love is something that even little gay boys aspire to.  Maybe we don’t need all the trappings of the modern wedding.  Maybe we don’t need bridesmaids and bridegrooms.  But the knowledge that should my partner get sick, should my partner be injured, that I have equal visitation rights under the law is important.

This launches into an entirely different debate regarding family and friends, and who we choose to call family.  Blood is strong, yes, but those people who will stand up for you when they see rights simply being voted away by the majority due to ignorance are the people I would be proud to not only call my friends, but my family as well.

I don’t consider myself a smart person when it comes to politics.  But I know that this election, especially in my home state of Washington, is very important to me.  Personally so.

 

Thank you for letting me write about it.  Now we return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Why I am voting for Obama

Recently, my brother posted on Facebook, asking, “Romney or Obama?  I don’t follow politics that closely, so your thoughts are welcome.”

As a general rule, I don’t post on Facebook about my political leanings, but because this blog isn’t connected to my Facebook feed in any way, I’m posting the entirety of the text that I sent him.

******************************************************************

I’ll try to be as clear and concise as well as rational as I can via qwerty keyboard. It makes it hard to text these thoughts, but I’m sending them because you are important to me. Your question was Obama or Romney.

While i feel Romney may have some attributes that make him a generally decent guy, I believe his mission would be detrimental to our country. For starters, he wants to cut social programs, accusing the 47% of, “not taking responsibility for their lives.”  While there are some people who shouldn’t be on welfare, and abuse the system for their own personal gains, there are those who need those programs to survive. I am one of those people.

I work hard, and put in very long hours, but without the government assistance provided, i would not be here today. The subsidies provided helps it so I can have health insurance by funding state-wide programs to help insure those who may have preexisting conditions, that are not covered by traditional insurance. With that insurance, I am then able to afford medication for my chronic illness, which is literally saving my life.

By cutting funding to those programs, I would have no other recourse or option. I would be forced to choose whether I purchase food and pay my rent, or buy my medicine, as the medication costs along are well over $1,700 per month off of insurance. That is a choice I have made in the past, sacrificing food so that I could live. It is a choice I am not willing to make again.

Second, the party – the Republican party – have made it very clear that they are against abortion. Why this is still an issue in America is beyond me, as it was decided by Roe v. Wade. However, it is something that comes up every two-to-four years and apparently needs to be addressed.

What I find so hypocritical as well as misogynistic is that if men were the ones who carried babies to full term and were faced with the decision on having an abortion, this issue would have been decided a long time ago. As a man, I do not have that privilege of carrying a baby to full term. While I may not agree that abortion is humane or necessary, and once again, a few rotten apples choose to abuse the system for lack of responsibility, they can be sometimes medically necessarily, emotionally necessary in the case of rape, and perhaps humiliating when a woman decides she must have one. I know several people who have had to make the difficult choice, after being raped, of whether or not to have an abortion or not. I could never and would never want to be in their shoes, and thank goodness for that. Because the idea that you had to terminate a living growing thing inside your body is a weighty issue, but should ONLY be decided by the woman in question and her doctor. Not by a bunch of bureaucrats in a room with no skin in the game.

Thirdly, Obama came out as saying he supports gay marriage. As a gay man, I am not afforded the rights that other citizens of this country receive. Being gay was not a choice, it was something that I was born as. There have been numerous times over my lifespan where I wished I was a straight heterosexual male, but to deny who I am at my fundamental being would be a detriment to my family, but ultimately to myself. Life would have been exceptionally easier had I been straight, but the fact is, I am gay. I have always been gay, and always will be. And the idea that the man representing me, a minority but still a part of this nation and its populace, believes that I should have the ability to express my love for another man as Obama does is empowering and lets me know that someone out there gets it.

Even his own political views have changed with regard to the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community. But those views changed based on personal experience, and he was willing to go on record to support a smaller minority of this country who still are denied visitation rights, who are denied the right to marry whom they choose, and the right to simply be in this country. Romney himself, over the course of his political career, has continued to pander to whomever will give him the largest sum of money. And it becomes very clear to me that Romney is simply about the almighty dollar.

What’s so fundamentally discouraging about this principle is that Romney has not shown any humanity, any compassion, nor an ounce of dignity in his quest for the presidency…only that he wants it really, really bad but isn’t willing to recognize what it represents.

Obama is not perfect. There are a lot of things he has done that I don’t necessarily agree with, but the fact that he is our president is something I take very seriously. He has shown his mettle numerous ways, as well as seeing through to completion and saving us from the Republican philosophy of trickle-down economics, which has never worked. Wall Street is a great example. It simply doesn’t work. He inherited a mess, and has worked hard to continue to right this ship. But like any ship that has suddenly found itself moored in the precarious shores of destruction, it will take a lot of money to repair those holes.

The spending was necessary. And the viewpoint that it could be fixed in four years is something that perhaps the President shot his mouth off on. But the fact is, Obama has saved us from the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, helped to save the auto industry, which Mitt Romney opposed (and advocated for failing, thereby leaving millions and millions of people without employment, and having to go to the government for assistance), and we have seen job loss stagnation and then job growth meaning that things were getting better. Whereas before, the employment rate was continuing to hemorrhage under the policies of George Bush, and would have continued to do so unless something had been done to correct them.

I don’t believe I will ever be incredibly wealthy. I simply want the opportunity to live my life, as a middle class American, but with the freedoms and rights guaranteed to me under our constitution. All men are created equal. And as such we should have those same rights.

Both candidates are millionaires, but Romney believes his money makes him better than me, you, our children, or anyone else who isn’t in the upper echelon of wealth. Romney hasn’t had to struggle a day in his life. He was born with the proverbial spoon in his mouth.

Obama gets it. His family struggled. He rose through the ranks and is now a top earner in our country, the 1 percent, if you will, but he has been there. He understands what it is like to live the American dream, to rise from nothing to become the most powerful man in the world. He is the living example of what this country, its ideals, and the opportunity afforded to every single American, regardless of sex, creed, or color.

Under George Bush, the ship that is our country had taken on more water through his failed policies that it was necessary to spend to repair the damage and the holes to prevent even more underwater. Obama has done that.

He may be painted as a do-nothing president, but that is an outright lie. He has championed for the people from the first day in office, signing the Equal Pay for Women act, as well as working to reform our education system. And he finished the job that Bush couldn’t do, by getting bin Laden.

Much like a house, if you maintain it all along, repairs will be less expensive to fix. Our health care system, our education system, all of those needed fixing but were ignored under a Bush presidency, and would be under a Romney presidency. His policies and viewpoints are almost ideological to George W. Bush’s, but yet the Republican party is trying to pull the wool over the American people’s eyes by not even invoking their previous candidate/president in their own political convention, simply relying on the statement that Obama is wrong.

To leave things to the finality that they got to under Bush required almost a major overhaul….much like finding asbestos in the walls of a house. Things needed to be gutted and rebuilt. Similarly, we needed to spend money in order to get out of this mess that we’re in. This is a point that the president has failed on, and did not get the message out earlier. Yes, things were going to be expensive. But they were for the good of the country, to rebuild our foundation so we could move forward and upward.

I have never seen so much vitriol and hatred directed towards the leader of our country, but as he himself pointed out, this is something that even he understands. It is our freedom of speech. People can call him a Muslim, people can call him a socialist, people can compare him to Hitler, but the fact remains, Obama stands up for that right. THAT inalienable right guaranteed to us by our constitution of these United States.

Our country was founded on the principles of freedom, of separation of church and state, as well as the liberties to form a more perfect union.

Perfection is a lofty goal but it is something that I believe we should continue to strive for, and that includes all people. Every single person. From the elderly, to each child, to gays, straights, black, white, Muslim, Christian, Jew — it doesn’t matter. To form a more perfect union. Not THE perfect union, but a more perfect union.

The word union means togetherness. Exclusion, denial is simply the antithesis of the foundation of this country.

And my final point. One of my most prized possessions is a letter from Fred Rogers, from Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Mister Rogers Neighborhood was a program that was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment of Arts. His program, along with Sesame Street, the Electric Company, and countless others, allowed me to use my imagination, to think outside the box, to be an artist and live a fulfilling life pursuing music, pursuing dreams, and re-imagining the way our world is so often viewed, in black and white numbers.

The composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim said it best, to make a hat where there never was a hat. Or to dive into a world of pure imagination, as Willy Wonka sang. While it seems trivial and trite, these are important points, as out of this imagination comes things that we would never have thought possible. Space travel. Cell phones. The internet. Basic computers. Things we take for granted now, but were once only the dreams of people who had lofty ideas. The fact remains they had the ideas, and without the support of artists and the nurturing of their humanity, some of these things would eventually get here, but not with the rapidity that we saw under the nourishment of the National Endowment of the Arts, and other like-minded organizations like PBS.

Life is not black or white, but filled with so many colors that to not have those colors in my palette is saddening. And idea that children would be denied the opportunity to see things slightly askew and askance from the norm is equally as sad.

I value my imagination. I value Melody’s artistic skill, I value my son’s ability to escape into fantasy, and I value my niece’s ability to draw. To deny them an opportunity to explore that side of their personality, to see what their potential could truly be if they were given the chance to explore, to dream, to create may be denying the world the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Pablo Picasso, Stephen Sondheim, Meryl Streep. The list goes on and on.

What makes us human is our humanity….there’s a reason the arts are considered uniquely human. To compose a piece of music that makes one cry with sadness or joy, to express oneself in a way that also satirically looks at how we value things, such as Andy Warhol’s soup cans, that allows even horrible films like “Transformers” to be made, is what makes us human. Our expression, our soul, our humanity.

I am not a perfect human being, but by pursuing my dreams and the goals I am working towards that happiness. After all would we even be here if our founding fathers didn’t have the courage to dream of a better loves for themselves and their kin?

I share these thoughts with you only because this is a very personal election to me. While the average citizen may not see the immediate repercussions of what would happen under a Romney presidency, there are very real consequences, there are very scary consequences, and they are very frightening.

Aurora, Colorado

I am not going to pretend to understand what happened in Aurora, Colorado.  I’m not even going to wade into the political territory occupied by our 2nd amendment, the right to bear arms.  That is a debate for other people to have.

What I am going to comment on is the loss of individual freedoms of each of those patrons in that movie theater, opening weekend, by one reckless individual.

The thought boggles my mind.  And the question that keeps popping up over and over again is why.

Why have we gotten to a place in our society where whatever the reasons, whatever the justifications in that run through these individual ‘s minds lead them to believe that it is okay to go into a crowded theater and open fire on unsuspecting people?  Or, in the case of Kip Kinkel, the killer who went into Thurston High School on an early morning and opened fire on classmates after having come from his home and killing his parents.  How did this become okay?

There have been a string of shootings.  I dare say it’s an epidemic, and something that needs to be addressed.  As I stated in my first paragraph, I am not going to wade into the political territory or the psychological understandings, but rather the territory that says as a society, we have failed these men and women who find it necessary to act out their rage or perceived injustices on the rest of society rather than simply ask for help.

We need to start making it more accessible to people who need help.  I get that therapists are often overworked, underpaid, and have a huge client load.  And in some cases, the idea of prescribing all sorts of drugs to “fix” the problem is often their solution rather than delving into the hard stuff to find out that none of it really matters, and we are free to create our lives to be what we want it to be.

Yet, these young individuals who say, “Life is hard, my parents hate me, I can’t do this,” et cetera, don’t feel as though they have an option, anywhere to turn.  Instead, they take their aggression out online through social media posts attacking those who might think they are weird, different, et cetera, or even worse, into video games, where they can kill without any remorse.

But life is not a video game.  No matter how much we wish it were, no matter how cool we might think it is, it is simply not.  There is no automatic respawning after the characters you’ve shot die.  It simply doesn’t happen.

People’s lives are affected, in tragic ways, with consequences far beyond a “Game’s Over,” mentality.  It boggles my mind to even think that this is what it is.

Are all video games evil?  No.  I am guilty of playing them myself.  But I have never, ever wanted to take an assault rifle and harm someone.  I’ve never felt I needed to.

Why?  Moderation.

It’s the same thought as if you immerse yourself in any indulgence…gambling, drinking, drugs, food, pornography or worse things.  Experience life.  Absolutely.  But don’t make it your life.  Don’t have every single thought you have be about your particular vice.  MODERATE, MODERATE, MODERATE.

The same could be same about our political landscape.  Too often, we swing from one extreme to the other.  But ultimately, we need to balance the scales in our own lives, and make good solid judgments, sometimes thinking outside our sphere.  But that’s a different topic, and one I really don’t want to jump into.

I wish there had been help for this young man who killed all those innocent people, and wounded so many more.  I pray and hope the victims’ families find some sort of comfort in knowing that the nation grieves with them for their loss.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.