I Swear I’m Not A Creeper But This Might Be Kinda Creepy #twitter #instagram #gaydads

So, I sort of follow the twitter of these gay dads that I’ve never met and will likely never meet. (And probably shouldn’t meet because I feel weird about the fact that I follow their twitter and they have no clue I exist.) I look at their twitter feed daily to see what’s up with their twins and if they’ve posted any new pics or videos. Their kids are seriously adorable and when they smile or laugh, it’s like the world becomes a better place in an instant.

This is not Matt and Josh, but I felt like it would be way creepy to put their family pictures on my blog. Like that would feel creepier to me than following them daily on Twitter, which I already feel creepy about anyway.

Now, my bff will tell you that guys and babies are my kryptonite and it’s true. Men? Babies? I’m in. So maybe that explains it. But, thinking about it today, I believe it’s a little more than that. These kids are so damn happy and so obviously loved that it brings me joy just looking at their pictures. How could anyone be against this? These fathers worked very hard to have these children. They jumped through a ton of very interesting (and possibly controversial) loops to get their son and daughter. You can read all about that journey here on their blog.

I realized something else today about Matt and Josh’s twitter/blog while reading a comment from another man I follow. He admitted that he’d realized yet again how lucky he was to be alive. As a gay man, he’d struggled through his adolescence with self-loathing and suicidal thoughts because he didn’t see the possibility of a future that looked anything like the life he has now–a legally recognized husband, home, happiness. So, I realized, yeah, it might be weird that I look at pics of this family, but it hit me that if I’m looking at them, there are other people who find them, too. And some of those people might be adolescents who maybe haven’t ever seen or imagined Matt and Josh’s reality. And maybe some of those people are the parents or grandparents of a kid who has just come out and who need to see that, hey, their kid can find love and have whatever kind of life they’ve dreamed of, even if it includes a husband and kids.

(By the way, I believe there is absolutely value to be found in a life that doesn’t involve anything as ‘heteronormative’ in appearance as a wedding and a family, so don’t take this to mean I value this above all life choices. But, hey, can we really call two married, gay men raising children ‘heteronormative’ at all? I would challenge that assumption. But moving along.)

So, I guess I wanted to take a moment to thank Josh and Matt for sharing their life online for people to see and learn what is capable of happening in this world. If we need to see it to believe and achieve it, then Josh and Matt are showing a lot of folks that it can be done.

Gay Games and Inclusiveness #gaygames9 #lgbt #gay

Because of all the terrible things happening in Russia right now, I’ve had mixed emotions about the Olympics this year, especially on the heels of releasing Training Season, an erotic romance which features an Olympic athlete. I wanted to find a way to feel like I was making even a small difference and that’s when I read up on the Gay Games and found that they are inclusive in every way, representing the true ideals of the original Olympics. Well, so long as you were male and not a slave and yadda. Never mind, forget my comment about the original Olympics. The Gay Games are much more inclusive than they ever were!

Regardless, I’ve pledged to donate 10% of the first six months of Training Season profits to the Gay Games to support an organization that is truly inclusive and open.

Now, Training Season might not be a read for everyone. It’s a gay erotic romance with some (smokin’ hot) graphic scenes that aren’t for every reader. But, in this post-50 Shades world, many people are looking for material of this nature and if you are, then this might be a book for you. With that reference alone, one should be able to determine if the book is for them or not.If you do purchase any time from now until May the 10% of your purchase price goes to support the Gay Games!

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Training Season can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, ARe, and Smashwords. Coming soon to iBooks.

What Happens to NYC’s Homeless During Harsh Winter Weather? #writing #badperson

What Happens to NYC’s Homeless During Harsh Winter Weather?.

Proof that writers are bad people: when I read the above story, aside from being glad these measures exist, I immediately imagined a story about driver in a DHS van and a homeless LGBT young adult, meeting, falling for each other, and all the rest of the happily ever after. I’m pretty sure that was not the point of that article.

But, uh, I might write it. IN TEN YEARS WHEN I HAVE TIME.

When You’ve Got Memphis In You #broadway #musical #memphis

Tonight, Bird and I went to see Memphis. It was part of a Broadway Touring package that Santa Claus brings Bird every year instead of toys. (Um, she still gets toys. Somehow that backfired a bit.) I knew nearly nothing about the show going in. My Broadway loving friends also knew little, expressing that they’d never been interested in the show at all or that they had a friend who said it was just okay. So, I wasn’t expecting much, especially since it was a touring group.

Let me say upfront, I friggin’ loved it. And this is despite some pretty serious issues with the sound. Several of the other people around me agreed that whoever was running the sound board was doing a terrible job because it was distorted enough that we could only make out three out of five words. Enough to know what was going on, but not enough for it to be clear and flawless. There was a song by one gentleman that we agreed we only heard the words “my sister” over and over.

(As an aside, I’m now remembering I had a similar problem with American Idiot. I’m wondering if the acoustics of the theater don’t do well with bands on the stage rather than the orchestra pit. Hmm.)

But the words I could make out, as well as the storyline, really appealed to me deeply. Perhaps it was because I’m Southern but the fact that I was sitting in the South, in a formerly “white theater” just up the street from the former “black theater”, as a member of a predominantly white audience, viewing a show featuring predominantly black performers, yet staring a white male, was a meta experience that deepened and layered meaning onto each scene.

Memphis struck me as different from, say, South-Pacific, in that any racism inherent in the ostensibly anti-racist show is all incredibly self-aware. When an audience like the one I was sitting in is watching certain numbers and those songs are proceeded or followed by lines about cultural appropriation and entertainment fetishization? Well, you know the show knows what it’s doing. It’s not running into accidental racism while preaching about racism. It’s all on purpose.

I admit that I wondered if gay, Southern men of a certain age might really find resonance in this play, in the same way that West Side Story spoke to a subset of gay men in the 1950s-60s. The poignancy of the lines, “Pretend we don’t got none of them crazy laws here in Tennessee, pretend that two grown adults can marry who they like, then would you marry me?” must strike a hard chord.

I was even more surprised to discover that Bird also lovedit. She has declared it her second favorite show that we’ve seen ever, and at this point, the kid’s seen a number of shows. I don’t think she has the cultural awareness or knowledge to really latch on to some of the meta references that I did. She loved the storyline, though, tragic though it is in some terribly real ways.

I think the love story appealed to her. The actors had great chemistry, the choreography of their longing was fantastic, and even though it ends unhappily in that regard, it had been too smart and too real of a show to really end any other way. It had to be done, sad though it was. Even Bird could see that.

The songs were fantastic and I think Santa might be bringing the CD for Bird this year. It was not at all what I was expecting tonight, but I’m so glad that we saw it. It felt really right to this girl who has and will always have Tennessee in her. For better or worse.

Heroin Sucks #drugs #corymonteith #heroin #od #depression #glee

I wrote this awhile back but didn’t post it because, well, I didn’t know if I should. Today, I decided that I should.

There was a guy back in high school who used to follow my now-husband, then-boyfriend around like a puppy. It was vaguely annoying, a little humorous, but mainly just how it was. For the purposes of this post, let’s call him Mitchell.

Mitchell was socially inept in a lot of ways and didn’t know when to walk away and when to come around again. He was short and odd-looking and not exactly well-liked by almost anyone. He was on the fringes of groups, darting between nerd and rocker, and accepted by neither.

Eight years later he was in college and was a bit of a joke in the world of local bands. People talked about how Mitchell would borrow their guitar pedals and then never return them. It was a running joke because it was true and also because people wrote it off to Mitchell being a dumbass more than being a thief. People would joke about how Mitchell would never, ever, ever be cool despite his best efforts. People were assholes.

Let me repeat–people were assholes, okay?

I’d like to say that my then-boyfriend and I treated this guy wonderfully back in high school. I’d like to tell you that I never rolled my eyes when I saw him coming. I’d like to say that my boyfriend was never shorter than he needed to be to get the guy to go away. I’d like to say that in college we never laughed when someone said this guy had taken off with yet another guitar pedal or felt more empathetic when we heard that another of his bands had been ill-fated. I realize now that we added to the culture that surrounding Mitchell–the one telling him he’d always be a buffoon and a loser.

There are a lot of things I’d like to be able to say. I’d like to be able to tell you that despite all that he rose above and showed us all that we were wrong and we were assholes.

Instead, what I can tell you is that he began using heroin at some point and died from an overdose locked in a friend’s dirty bathroom. That’s what I can tell you. I can tell you my husband went to the funeral where the most recent picture his folks had of him was his high school graduation shot. I can tell you that people still talk about him to this day and shake their head with this sense that it was inevitable but also so stupid–and thus so like him. I can tell you that most everyone wishes they’d done something differently when it came to this guy. I can say that almost everyone who ever knew this fellow feels a little culpable in how his life ended.

I know I do.

When I heard that Cory Monteith had died, I immediately knew it would be heroin given his most recent history. I also assumed that the fact that he’d supposedly been sober since April would play a role in the OD. I don’t know if it did or not, but my lessons on A States and B States in college had taught me that the person most at risk of an OD is someone who’s been sober awhile because their tolerance has dropped. This means that the same amount (or even significantly less) of drug that they’d taken before getting sober, combined with an unfamiliar setting like a hotel room or a new house, can (and sadly often does) result in their body being unable to anticipate and defend itself against the onslaught of poison coming its way. It’s the perfect recipe for overdose. And it seems like Cory fits that bill.

I don’t intend that information to be a discouragement to sobriety. If anything, it should be another weapon to stay sober.

In my personal life, I’ve never had an issue with drugs, but depression? Oh, yes. Depression has been something I battled off and on since I was eight years old. I’ve been able to fight the bitch off for about 8 years now and I will continue to fight her. This article, though, about Cory Monteith’s death really hit home for me. This man talks about addiction the way I talk about depression. I’ve always believed they were similar diseases. The way they work is so similar, and so is the path away from them.

To quote:

I’m only writing this because I sensed a fatalism in some of the replies I received from people, suggesting they believe that some folks are destined to OD and die. Fuck that. Fuck you if you think that. Addiction is a brutal, cunning, shapeshifting enemy, but I’ve seen people from every walk of life kick it in the fucking mouth. But if you want to beat it, you must ACKNOWLEDGE ITS STRENGTH and work out in your basement every day, including weekends and holidays, and then when you encounter it on a country road or a city street corner or a weekend barbecue or a subway platform, beat its fucking skull in before it gets the chance to do the same to you. Because it will, because that’s its job.

Yes, that is addiction’s job and depression’s job. They are killers and that is what they do. No doubt.

But it can’t be just the individual who fights. I think back to the callous young people, invincible and stupid, that we all used to be and how little we did for Mitchell. I think about all the things that contributed to the culture around him that helped turn him to drugs. Mitchell never wanted anything more than to be “cool” and I can imagine that if someone he admired offered him heroin, he’d do it just to impress them. Maybe if we’d given him the message he was cool all along he wouldn’t have needed that.

I’m not delusional and I realize I could never have had the power to fix the culture around him–it was so big, and so pervasive, and operated entirely outside of me–but there’s still the part of me that wants to know if there was something I could have done that would’ve prevented Mitchell’s choice to shoot up that night while locked in a friend’s dirty bathroom, if there was something that would’ve prevented him taking it the first time, the next, the rest. I don’t know. I doubt it. I honestly feel like he was so entrenched on this highway that the only one who could have saved him was himself. But, fuck, none of us helped. None of us. I know of no one who ever really helped him.

I’m honestly not sure where I’m going with this. Whenever I hear of someone ODing on heroin, I think of Mitchell, remember his funeral, and think of how we all still shake our heads and I wish I could go back to my 21 year old self and tell her to say something profound to him. I have no idea what that would have been, though. Even now I don’t know. In face of that kind of youth and vulnerability, while so young and vulnerable myself? I just don’t know.

Cory Monteith reminds me of Mitchell in other ways besides his death. Of all the Glee actors, I’d say that he was the most joked about, most lovingly-scorned of the bunch. At least from a fannish perspective. I’ve seen more people make him the butt of jokes than make him a idol. I’ve seen scorn about his (very real) inability to sing or dance (on a show about singing and dancing). I definitely agreed with those comments. But, all in all, there was just something about the actor–some sense of discomfort and vulnerability–that reminded me of the way Mitchell was when I knew him way back when.

I guess just…heroin sucks, and people sometimes suck, and there are these vulnerable people out there and we need to find a way to help them. And if we are those vulnerable people we need to fight our own demons. And we need to have a game plan to fight it–for ourselves, for others. I don’t know. I just want people to stop dying from this crap and for me to not feel like it was, in some ways, because of how the world related to them.

Rest in peace Mitchell, and rest in peace Cory Monteith. I wish you’d had more peace while you lived.

Cultural Discussion of Lack of LGBT Romantic Portrayal and What Can You Do? #gay #lgbt #photography

Braden Summers is asking the question why there isn’t more portrayal of romance in LGBT portraits and is determined to do something about it.

“ALL LOVE IS EQUAL is a photography campaign that illustrates one perspective on what love and romance within the gay community could look like in a future, more accepting time. The images focus on culturally diverse couples and locations to emphasize the dream; the aspiration of finding acceptance for gay and lesbian couples globally. From the perspective of the media and high-end advertising, it might appear that the western world is largely pushing for gay marriage equality while other countries fight to prevent couples from ending up in jail after a public exchange of affection. This campaign goes beyond the current fundamental differences of what gay rights look like in different cultures and attempts to normalize the presence of gay and lesbian couples everywhere.  There is a lack of hopeful, romantic, dreamy visuals to communicate the love that exists in this community. The photographs will be relatable to the general public by being images of exaggerated beauty first, and illustrations of gay and lesbian couples second; work you won’t want to look away from.”

Read more and watch a video of him explaining the cultural issues involved and what’s at stake HERE. Then help fund his way to make more beautiful pictures like these! I gave generously and hope it is used well!

 

Things That Schools Teach Girls #feminism #sexism

Ever since my daughter started school three years ago, I’ve noticed that the kind of messages she receives there often make me uncomfortable.

I will not go into the year-long sexual harassment with constant threats of sexual assault she went through in the first grade which ended only when I used the legal terms above in an email to the principal instead of calling it ‘chasing’ and ‘trying to kiss’ and ‘won’t leave her alone’. You read that right, first grade. That was met with a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude and the declaration of ‘well, I see her go over to talk to him on the playground’ which verged on “she’s asking for it”.

I aggressively sought to end the issues but, ultimately, it was my daughter who put the final nail in the coffin when the boy in question was being taunted by other children for the earrings he wears and she alone stood up for him.

“Adam’s a girl, Adam’s a girl!” the kids chanted.

Bird stood up and said, “Adam is NOT a girl, unless he SAYS he is a girl, and he SAYS he is a boy, so he is a BOY. Stop making him feel bad. That’s mean!”

Yes, she stood up for the boy who’d tormented her all year, because that’s the kind of child she is! Afterward, he came up to her, thanked her for standing up for him, and promised, since she didn’t want him to, he’d never chase her, try to hold her down, or attempt to touch or kiss her again, and he’s held true to his word.

I’m still not sure he fully understood why what he did was wrong and hope that he hasn’t transferred his behavior to another girl, but, for now, he is my daughter’s ally instead of enemy and that’s good news.

But, I’m not going into that, and believe me there’s a lot of that to go into! What I want to talk about are the insidious things. The small messages that girls receive from their teacher. Of course, I’m only getting my child’s side of the story and I’m not in the room to see what actually happens, but I’m going to assume that the gist of what she’s telling me is true.

Not Listening to the First Request vs Mouth Noises

Every day when Bird and I talk about her school day, I ask about who “turned a card”–their way of keeping track of who got into trouble. Every day she tells me what the kids in her class did to turn cards. Sometimes she’s one of them. I’ve noticed a distinct pattern, though. Boys turn cards for things like mouth noises (making noises with their mouth, beat boxing, or car sounds) and girls turn cards for things like not listening to the first request.

One boy in her class, Clarence, turns multiple cards a day for things like getting out of his seat and wandering the room, rolling on the floor, mouth noises, and shoving other kids. Bird, however, has to turn cards for not responding to the first request or being bossy. The teacherly term Mrs. Elder uses for being bossy is “doesn’t show respect to fellow students or the teacher”. Really? This is the same kid who stood up for her sexually harassing bully last year because kids weren’t treating him with respect.

When I ask her for details of her lack of respect for other students, she tells me stories like this one:

“Well, we usually split off into pairs and I usually am paired with Jessa, but today Mary Anne was absent, so Abby came with me and Jessa. We were supposed to decide who would be the leader, but all of us wanted to be the leader and then our time was up and Mrs. Elder asked the leaders of the groups to all raise their hands.”

Bird raised her hand–and so did Jessa and Abby. Mrs. Elder told them they had to choose and Abby put her hand down and told Bird to put her hand down, too. Bird said, “But I didn’t put my hand down because I would do a better job at it than Jessa and so I kept my hand up. Mrs. Elder had me turn a card because she said I was being too bossy.”

Too bossy. Because she was sure she’d do a better job than someone else. Because she was confident and assured.

Now, perhaps there is more to this story than my daughter told me. Perhaps she rolled her eyes at her teacher after being told to put her hand down and that is why she was written up for a lack of respect. I can see her doing that, frankly, because she’s expressive and holding her face still under strong emotion is hard for her. (She still shouldn’t roll her eyes at her teacher, though. Don’t get me wrong.) But for the teacher to have told her she was too bossy? That rubs me the wrong way.

I remembered the quote above when she was telling me this story and I said to her, “Well, I think you are going to be a good leader of people when you are older because you know what you want and you are sure of yourself, so I don’t really agree with your teacher that what you did by holding your hand up and refusing to put it down was wrong. So, let’s just move on.”

I admit I feel conflicted for undermining her teacher–and not for the first time this year, frankly. There was another issue where her teacher wrote her up for having not paid attention to the first request and, frankly, if you leave a well-behaved and very smart child without work to do for more than a few minutes, expect them to go off into a daydream world and have to say their name more than once to get them back, lady. And, seriously, you’re making her turn a card for daydreaming and for having to say her name more than once and repeat yourself, but boys are turning cards for rolling on the floor when they get their work done early? One of these things is not like another.

But also, what’s up with the gender divide? Boys turning cards for aggressive behaviors and active classroom disturbances do not seem on par with girls having to turn cards for daydreaming or refusing to put their hand down because they know they’d do a good job at a task. The message here is clear–boys get in trouble if they make a big, loud scene and girls get in trouble if they aren’t perfect, aren’t completely attentive, and if they have opinions and refuse to cave to peer pressure.

I’m not liking this, y’all. I’m not liking it at all.