Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Season Finale

It’s the season for them, right? I’ve been putting this post off and wrestling with this over the holiday, but I’ve decided to take a break from blogging. I’m not leaving for good; just headed out for a while.

I’ve ran out of topics from which I can cannibalize old writings and, for a longwinded guy like me, it takes a good deal of time, time I would have if not for a couple new projects. Simply something has to give. I’ve hung a couple large professional projects over my head, and that will be taking up a lot of my break time. In my home time, which already belongs to others :-), I’ve just started my kid’s sand box and that’s turned into a slide/swing/playhouse project that I’m not moving on fast enough. I want to get that done before I find myself shoveling sand and mixing cement in triple digit temperatures. And I have to gloat; take a look at my sands box plans:

That’s right. It’s a three level sandbox with tunnels from each level down to the next (you know, for match box cars and transformers). Just wait until you see the playhouse. I’m sorry I made the kid in you cry with jealousy. (You may also notice it’s an elevated 3-level sandbox… yeah, if anyone wants to help shovel sand up a 5 foot retaining wall, after transporting it about 20 yards, let me know ;-))

AND, on top of that, and as the straw that broke the camel’s blog and caused me to quit procrastinating this post, we just found out Rob will need a hernia patched up. At first I thought he just didn't want to shovel sand, but a doctor confirmed his claim ;-). I’ll be a very busy guy while he’s down.

Anyway, I’ll miss blogging as frequently. Also, keeping a blog and knowing someone is reading it kind of makes it feel like an obligation, one I feel like I’m shirking. Perhaps “obligation” is too conceited a word, but, I mean, I am the unofficial and illegitimate leader of the anti-mohos, right ;-)?

I’ve probably said enough to get my main point across for now, and others can make the point better I’m sure. Though I’ve been fortunate, I’ve seen a lot of the type of trauma gay men go through in this culture, and, while I understand it’s a necessary struggle to many minds, it is, to me, quite a sad and avoidable mess. It’s probably because of my local culture, but I seem to meet a different man/father with a new (and yet old) story at each gay community event. I’d be happy to just have fewer gays experience those cliché and terrible pasts, not to mention the family hurt along with them, however such is avoided, in a gay or heterosexual relationship.

I’d stick by my manual; if it feels wrong, it will be (even if it isn’t :-)), and I’d imagine that goes for any relationship. Being gay is only a curse if you treat it as such. You can have a lasting marriage, security, monogamy, and according to your orientation, just as though you came with the conventional orientation for your sex, if you want it. You can be a father in addition, and find more joy there than most can imagine. On the flipside though, if you can’t get by the idea that it’s ethically wrong to be in a gay relationship, doing so can be very dangerous. I could get guff for saying it, but sometimes it is best to not follow your orientation. If you treat it like an addiction, it will treat you like an addict, and no one wants another self-destructive gay man in the world. It doesn’t matter if his culture made him think what he does about his orientation. It doesn’t ultimately matter what the intentions of his culture were. If the moral idea is still there, in the individual, the negative consequences of acting against his set of ethics seem inevitable.

Shoot, now I’m remembering all the other areas I’ve wanted to get into, more into questions of faith and the roots of morality, more into the research I’ve collected. I hope though to come back with a site as a place for such, and to make my blog a more journal-y sort of space as I said I would months ago. I’ll save the research for that hopeful new site, another project which this blog puts off (It’s taken a while for many reasons: for one, the trial version of the software I was using expired and I’ve not found an occasion to head to a store and haven’t remembered it when I’m there :-), and I’m, again, short on time).

To be clear, I anticipate I’ll be back when I get a couple projects off my plate; heck, I may post next week if the mood hits me. I’ll still be checking my email and chatting and such; I’ll still be socializing as much as time allows. I’ve plainly come to enjoy a lot of the people I’ve met here, and, blog or no, I don’t want to lose touch. I’ve learned from you, complained to you, swapped small-talked, and I have enjoyed it even when we couldn’t seem to avoid debate and touchy subjects. I’ve also come to care about many of the mohos in this ring of blogs, and though some days my mind has been, perhaps, overly occupied with the predicaments of people I don’t really know and have no business worrying about :-), I’m grateful to have been given an opportunity to give my 2 cents, for the old reasons. Again, if there’s any thing anyone could want from my point of view in the meantime, please send off an email.

Anyway, until next season.…

Will Scot build the sandbox in time?! Will Rob take the tainted “single” parent money?! Will Alan make another goal (for his team)?! Will Brian Optimusprime Graham finally master the Jedi Mind Trick on his parents?!

Stay tuned to find this out and more in the next exciting season of

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I’d Do It All Over Again Again

As I’ve said, I’ve been married a couple times now, of course, each time to the same person (Never been divorced though :-)). The first time, well over a decade ago, was never legal, but it was by far the most important. Then we started a family, Rob quite his job and became a homemaker, and suddenly the law became quite important.

To that end, another tying of the knot was done during the national panic over gay marriage. I admit, we jumped the gun there, anxious to get the legal aspects. We were too naive also as to think it could hold. Maybe we should also have thought more about the backlash, but we knew it was already well on its way by then and it felt like, if we didn’t do it when it was offered, we’d miss our chance.

So a couple weeks after San Francisco’s city hall began giving gay couples licenses, we decided to do it. Rob spent nearly all day redialing the phone number before he got through and got an appointment for a month later.

When the day came, we decided to just fly in and fly out and we left the boys with their grandparents. Once there, we walked up to city hall absolutely nervous. The exterior was so quiet that we disbelieved we were in the right place. It looked nothing like it did on the news and we expected to have to at least sprint through a pack of wild-eyed protesters. Seems they got tired and went home.

As we entered, though, things were far from quiet, and far from hostile. San Francisco’s city hall is a beautiful spacious building and the main hall was full of palpable love, people making vows, cheering, crying. It was a spiritual experience if I’ve ever had one. Couples were there from all over the United States, and all incredibly nice and grateful.

When our time came, though, we were asked for our witness to come forward. We’d left never thinking of the help we’d need. We had none.

Fortunately, an elderly woman who, by her dress, one could have mistaken for an RNC chairwoman, noticed our stammer at the question and she took on the job. She was actually a retired grandmother from some small town about an hour away, and had been there all week, volunteering because she wanted to be a help in that step in history. Another woman, there for near the same reason as the first, would be our photographer. On top of that, we were given a beautiful bouquet of flowers. People from all over the world were sending flowers to be given out to the couples getting married; they were stranger just wanting to congratulate another set of strangers. Ours were from a family in Canada. Needless to say, it was all incredibly touching.

So we stood on the steps in this great hall. We said our vows once more, and kissed, and were overcome with the emotion, as is my habit :-). The crowd cheered and congratulated and we were given that official looking piece of paper telling us the state of California would respect our vows as any other citizen’s and hold us to our promises.

It was a great experience and I can’t say I regret it, even knowing what I know now. It was, in many ways, a very different experience than our first marriage, of course. There was no home full of friends and family, no caterer, no tuxedos, no promise of a great celebration to follow. We were alone in that town again, as were were a couple years before at one of the saddest days in our lives. I think we didn’t want to make a big deal of it, for the fear of encroaching on the original day, but it was special. Some aspects were surprisingly the same; there we were, making those vows, again. To just say it has great power, even if the vows aren’t in need of renewal.

Lastly in this story, as we were leaving Mayor Newsom, the guy who started giving out the marriage certificates in the first place, was coming in the door (yeah, too bad about the infidelity…). Anyway, he stood for a picture with us. It's unfortunate, as you can see, that a giant pigeon, wouldn’t you know it, flew right in front of the camera blocking our faces, but you get the idea ;-). Pigeon aside, it was a great day.

Ultimately, though, someone went to court. Someone argued that we shouldn’t have those rights or responsibilities, and they won. We’d have all that right now, but our sex was checked and, on a sad day months later, we received a letter in the mail telling us we were officially “single” again, forcibly evicted from legal matrimony. The letter was phrased nicely and the city of San Francisco offered to send back the fee they collected. We donated the money to HRC, seemed fitting.

I still keep that letter and that voided license as a significant piece of memorabilia. I’ll some day show it to my kids, and, hopefully, they’ll listen to stories about these days in philosophical disbelief.

Anyway, that’s not the last time I’ll be hitched, of course. [gulp] I’m engaged again :-).

One may think it would be old hat by now, but no. To assure your spouse you’d marry them over again, that you want to be responsible for and rely on them, and in such practical terms, is mooving for any relationship, I’m sure (but still, no, I didn’t buy an engagement ring. :-)).

We’ve decided we’ll be headed up to Vancouver at our next opportunity (if their law stands).

Now, I know--I keenly know-- It won’t be enforceable once the plane sets us back in Utah, but at least it’s one more tangible piece of evidence as to what my intentions are, if something were to happen to me. It's one more set of promises, another excuse to say them and hear them said, and in front of witnesses who will hold us to them. And maybe it’s one more legal connection that would be honored, if US and Utah law is someday made friendlier to our home (or if it gets so bad here we find ourselves crossing the 49th parallel in the dead of night ;-)).

Man, we should start asking for wedding presents each time; we could make a fortune...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Twice As Good Is Equal

My sons, both are wonderful little souls but very very different, each requiring different sorts of parenting altogether. They both act up every now and then, but Alan is very easy to understand when that happens. There’s clear cause and a path, A to B, to a solution. Brian, on the other hand, sometimes he makes me feel like I’m working a rubix cube to figure out what exactly is going on in that little head that makes him do some things.

As my boys began pushing our boundaries, it worried me; acting up and sassing back worried me. Looking back I feel silly, but it did. As a minority family in such a culture, I’m always on the lookout for the fabled signs of how our family makeup affects them. And let’s face it. Almost everyone goes into parenting hopeful, and excited, but also scared to be in control of something more important than you can wrap your head around. Are you up to the job? That job?! Will you inadvertently hurt them? Are you hurting them?

And this is why I love Soccer.

While the kids are out there approximating a competitive sport in the most adorable way, the parents get to talk. At the last game, I was talking to a mother of a classmate; her son comes over for play dates and such more than any other. I opened up about the sort of things I was worried about. She just laughed, and with a “that’s nothing” she listed off what goes on in her home with her boys. A father overheard and started in with his stories, even saying it got to the point where he had spanked his son a couple times, a point we’ve never neared. These are great kids from which I’d never have expected such behavior even in their private home. In short it is, of course, not abnormal.

Finally another mother stepped in and told us she what was becoming clear; I was overly concerned. She retold a conversation with our kids’ preschool teacher on the way to a school field trip. They got to talking about our family (I guess we’re a novelty :-)), and the teacher told her how sweet and well behaved our children were and that, of the parents, we were the most involved in their schooling “as a couple” (this woman was divorced, of course :-)). This teacher, who was a part of the majority culture here and knew our kids well, was giving our family unsolicited praise to other parents. This was, in fact, an account the mother had shared with us before but it was so easy to forget it, that we seem to be doing just fine, better than fine. Sassing back and acting up is more than normal for 4-year-olds, and I knew and know that. In fact, one should probably worry if their kid never tested the boundaries. But I still worried that such was abnormal or could have something to do with us.

Why? Why do I get inordinately worried, and get pleasure from hearing other’s 4-year-olds are more than a little defiant? :-)

Well, this is why I like my volunteer work. I get to interact with all sorts of people, cultures, and minority groups, even in Utah ;-). I’ve often heard my Hispanic and black colleagues express something that rings true for my family. Something like “To be treated as equals we have to be twice as good.” A friend even tells her children this.

In short, I know what people expect from my family. I read the horrible things they predict about my kids, from high drug use to mental problems, in opinion columns and online. I fear for how such expectations will harm my boys; I fear people will treat them like victims or worse. There’s also a part of me that can’t be unaffected by even a baseless warning about my kids. I know our family is both native and strange here; I know we are relatively new and old to our culture. I think I understand how we can live and live well even here… But what if there is something I didn’t factor in to my agonizing and study on becoming parents in such a world? What if the intricate plans I’ve made for us are ruined, by, say, a new law or even a new family in my kid’s school? I’ve got our minority status under control now; everyone is wonderful to us now, but what about then? I’ve come to learn from my friends these are typical fears of a minority parent.

These fears, of course, don’t seem to stop families, and they most often shouldn’t. Even in times when having a child for a minority group meant a clearly horrible future for that child with accurate predictions, people still pushed on. But not without this fear, and fear for your child is like no other. I remember the day I first held them and everything was beautiful, except one speck of a moment. I remember looking down at them sleeping in their twin bassinets, laying there more real than myself, and feeling that fear for them and feeling how motivated I was for them and what I’d do to protect them; it scared me.

I wish such worries weren’t there, but they are and will be for decades, until our families are comfortably folded into the society. I’m also pretty sure all parents feel something similar, regardless of their place in their culture. It goes with the territory.

Regardless of it all though, we’re doing good, by all I can see and by the unsolicited measurement of those who know us. But there’s always that knowledge, that whatever weakness we show as a family it will not be treated the same way as the weaknesses of our neighbors. Any problem in our home will be treated as an inevitable consequence of our family makeup, never simply a random tragedy of human behavior. A temper tantrum for a heterosexual couple is just a temper tantrum; for us, many will tend to look at it in terms of inferior and superior families. I know this; I know my children will be expected to have a deficiency by most, from the average guy on the street to our next president (particularly if it’s Romney ;-)), and that is a threat to them, a worry, one that’s hard to simply let go.

Lastly, I must admit it’s also a worry I’ll fall into that trap too and make them feel they’ll have to be twice as good to be treated as equal. I disagree with my Hispanic friend above; I can’t tell my child that. Right now, they know we’re different from most but they don’t know there’s any political or social fight surrounding our family, and I want to keep it that way as long as I can. I want them to be twice above the average only because they are the most amazing children to ever walk the earth, of course :-).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fanboy, The Ubergay and His Powers

Okay, off any important topic, I’ve really come to enjoy the show Heroes. Rob and I have watched it from the start, as well as a couple fellow bloggers, and tonight is the season finally. So, will Peter explode?! Will Sylar explode?! Will Hiro stop him?.. Or explode? Will Sulu come out… regarding his secret super power?! Does it have anything to do with flames?

We don’t allow much time to get involved in shows; we typically only follow a couple per season. Being so limited, Heroes easily took the place of 24 last year. I find it greatly entertaining, and will be sad to see it take a break (but glad to see there’s a spinoff in the works too).

If there’s one complaint it’d be that they keep killing characters I want to see more of: the waitress who remembers everything, the mechanic with super hearing. At least Peter is getting less whiney and Hiro or Nicky alone would make the show worth it ([geek mode]Though, why didn’t Hiro teleport during combat in the episode 5 years into the future? That would have been so cool. And, while I'm asking questions, why couldn't "the Haitian" stop Ted from blowing up in Clair's home? [/geek mode]).

You know though, maybe this is a relevant topic. It's been hit on before. One cannot miss the intentional parallels with being gay and coming out in, say, the X-men movies. Yeah, I know, it’s so sad that you can fly and all… Heroes is similar in many regards (copyright similar?). No, gay men aren’t flying around in tights. But they often have secret identities and there are some associated “powers”. Like uhh:

Adaptive Camouflage—The ability to pass as “one of them” and “one of us” by the flick of a wrist and a twist of the tongue. Some individuals in other minority groups say they’d want this power, but it can be a mixed bag. In some ways it’s better to have your superhero identity forced into the open, dealt with and done; in other ways, though, it’s undeniably useful to pass. I guess it’s the sort of power you’d not want to abuse.

Outsider vision—The ability to better see your culture from both the inside and out. Many of us don’t realize we’re gay early on and we all receive the same training into our teens as the average. But once the difference is realized and we decide to not suppress and hide we are often kicked out of the norm and given another perspective. This too, of course, is a mixed bag. On one hand we are forced to find the actual value in stuff like marriage for ourselves without it being assumed into us. On the other hand, without the assumptions and without being a full member of the surrounding culture, some become self-destructive. For the latter sort of gays, it’s probably best to never try on the tights.

Improved empathic ability—As I’ve said before, I sometime worry about the person I’d be if I was not, here and there, treated like a pariah, an evil outsider. At the time it hurts, but it teaches a lesson. I was a moralizing and strict child, firmly certain I had Truth in my beliefs, and that changed. Not that I’m a bastion of understanding and empathy now—I know I’ve my judgmental streak—but I also know I would be worse if not for the way I’ve been treated for being gay. I count that as a blessing.

Gay Powers I Don’t Have—As I’ve said before, I’m weak in the many gay skills, listed here. I mean, at least give me a preternatural fashion sense or the amazing dancing ability, or any rhythm. But no, I’m just gay. Fine. Whatever.

Finally, I suppose every superhero should have a weakness too, a kryptonite to your superman. Let’s see… mine would be…. cilantro. Yes cilantro, the weed that tastes like aluminum foil (I’d imagine). I cower at the sight of it sprinkled on anything from salsa to tandoori chicken; my powers just wither.

Please don’t let that secret out.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What He Is To Me, Legally

A couple times now I’ve gone over how the legal misclassification of my relationship between Rob and me causes problems (1, 2, 3, 4). We’ve, in fact, both been married now a couple times (to each other :-)), but they haven’t been enforceable by law. Still, we really are fortunate, much more than most in this state. We do have a legal connection.

About 5 years ago we went to court. We sat in front of a judge. We were questioned, and we told our story, and shared our lives’ greatest intentions and most personal hopes. At the end of it all, the Judge ruled, and we suddenly were connected together by law and obligation for as long as we exist. We were both the parents, in law and in spirit, of the same children.

That’s a legal connection many gay and lesbian parents in Utah never figure out how to form. Our law here makes it so only single gay men and women can adopt and so many of our families have one parent who has no legal connection. They can’t even get their child on their health insurance. But we have those ties and abilities.

Thinking on it, in a way, it’s even better than a legal marriage; it’s a more important connection in law. There is no conceivable divorce here. We are tied together as a family, even if one of us went insane, bought a sports car, found a boy friend a decade younger, and left the other.

It may be for this reason those against gay rights are willing to keep kids already in our homes without the inheritance and health insurance they could get if all our families had these ties. They are afraid we’ll have any legal connection to each other and, I hate to fuel the fire, but I have to admit this is a large and important one.

So, that’s it. Rob, as the slang goes, is officially and legally my "baby daddy". And I couldn’t be more grateful for that fact, both in law and in reality. Unlike the stereotype, he’s a great baby daddy.

Now, where do I find that checkbox on my taxes?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why Do I Modify Your Noun?

These gay debates do have their quirky little bits, don’t they? There’s one I have a hard time understanding and, if anyone can explain it, it’s this crowd.

Is a person solely attracted to men and who is also a man dealing with 'Same Sex Attraction' and/or is he a 'homosexual' or 'gay'? Why does it matter?

First, I do understand ‘gay’ can mean to some that a same-sex relationship is occurring, though it doesn't to my mind. I also understand there are reasons of faith for which that word may be rejected for something that sounds more clinical, like a medical condition. I’m wondering more about nouns vs adjectives:

From the recent interview with Elder Oaks and Wickman of the LDS church (my bold):

“I think it’s important for you [a hypothetical gay child] to understand that homosexuality, which you’ve spoken of, is not a noun that describes a condition. It’s an adjective that describes feelings or behavior.”

Or from the LDS web site, here:

“We should note that the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage. It is wrong to use these words to denote a condition, because this implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.”

I see a couple mohos who are "wrong" in this regard ;-). Anyway, how one can decree such a word to be only an adjective by doctrine seems kind of surprising, but, that aside, I’ve a hard time understanding why anyone would attempt this at all? Even going with the LDS view of homosexuality, why shouldn’t we have a name for people struggling with “SSA”?

The dictionaries I have certainly do not agree with the above statements, but it’s stranger than that. Take, say, the word “Dentist”. It’s a noun referring to a condition of a person, one who practices dentistry, but it in no way implies that a person is “consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of behavior”, right? The same goes with the word “southpaw”, or “diabetic”? In fact, there is less evidence that being left-handed is consigned from birth than there is for homosexuality (detailed here, here, and here). Southpaws choose their behavior, but, also like gays, not how it feels. Regardless, they still get a noun, right?

I also thought maybe it’s just because they see being gay as a negative and that somehow makes us not want to have a noun for it (why? I don’t know). But then we do have nouns for murderers and kleptomaniacs, and I’ve never heard the LDS church advise against using other such nouns.

So what’s the deal here?

That aside, my take: I think this whole area of classifying gays had been tainted by old prejudice long before even the term “homosexual” was coined (1892, according to my dictionary of etymology). Gay people aren’t precisely attracted to their same sex. They are people attracted to a particular sex, regardless of their own sex, just like most everyone else in the world, and their feelings of attraction are far from abnormal in humans. They are quite ordinary.

The rare part is that attraction in the mind to a particular sex is found in that particular physical anatomy; it takes both that aspect of the mind and the shape of the body to be called gay. But if one altered the physical body of a gay man and left his mind intact, say, by the supernatural or super science, he’d not suddenly become a lesbian (No offence my lesbian friends, but I don’t understand ya ;-)); he’d still be attracted to men. His mind, the person a gay man is psychologically, is an androphile, juts like most women. His material body is another matter.

Even the term homosexual (as a noun), I think, somewhat allows the commonness of the attraction to be concealed behind the material, so as those experiencing it may more easily be ill treated. Otherwise how can you both promote and punish the consequences of the attraction at the same time, and not appear to be inconstant and harsh to people for the geometry of their inborn anatomy? It’s just much easier to vilify “homosexuals”, than “androphiles who are shaped in a certain way” :-).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


As most probably know, Jerry Falwell has died. He was someone’s father, grandfather, husband, and friend, and I hope those in my community will remember that, though I have already read some nasty things on the topic from the left in general.

I just went over how I view love and hate in this debate, here. Referring to the terms in that post, I don’t know if I can say Falwell felt tough love for gays, or something more akin to hate, and I don’t think anyone could say for sure. One could, again, look at actions. I remember just after 9/11, he blamed gays, in part, for the tragedy. It’s such an old tactic with regards to gays, and it struck me as threatening and, sure, it felt hateful to twist such a horror and aim it at my home. I also remember when he warned parents that the purple teletubby was a gay propagandist (Everyone in gay command knows it's the red one). In short, he was no friend of the gay community. He did a lot to harm our families in his activism. But he had his reasons for those actions, and none of that matters now, tough love or hate. The actions can be the same for both and they are done, and a man, one who many did love, is gone.

While, it’s too easy to feel the good feelings of love for gays when you're hurting them, it’s also too easy, in our position, to let anger get a barbed hook into us. It’s too easy to create a demonic caricature of those who’ve done the same to us. It feels good, like you’re gaining some ground, tit-for-tat. I know. There’s a good couple years in my late teens and early twenties when I was quite an angry young man. But it’s not healthy, it’s not helpful, and it’s not honest when any human is dehumanized. If there is time more wasted in my life than the time I spent in the closet, putting off my orientation, it was the time I spent angry at those who encouraged me to waste time in the first place.

Sure, I still get angry at the circumstance, as I did a couple days ago, but I make sure none of it lasts--I can’t take it home--and I can’t keep such emotion up for a person anymore, even when I want to. It just takes a pause to think about why they do what they do. Everybody has their nurture and nature behind them, and most try their best to do what’s right even when they’re doing a lot of harm. As I’ve said before, and as something I take as a way of living in this struggle: to be angry at another person is almost as useful as being angry at the weather, the main difference being that anger at the weather isn’t likely to make the weather worse.

Even after the first stone is cast, I believe we’ll do better for ourselves, our health, and those we love if we don’t decide to throw anything back in anger. And if you feel anger for a man past his death, or joy at the end of his life, you should stop and wonder if you’ve not begun doing to yourself the same sort of damage that was the impetus of your anger in the first place. Simply, wherever the young gay men on the brink of choosing their life end up, I’d simply have to hope they'd not take that common anger with them. You won’t acclimate to that poison, and wouldn’t want to.

[Edit: I see now, a handful of gays in the Castro district have set up an anti-Falwell "memorial", story here. Sad, if I had to split the world into us-vs-them, I’d put such gays right there in the other camp with the anti-gay activists.]

Monday, May 14, 2007

Financial Dilemma

I hate getting these opportunities.

Our boys will be beginning kindergarten next Fall and Rob will start going to school part time. The kids aren’t going to need a fulltime homemaker forever (right? :-)) and he wants some education to prepare for the time when they’re off to a university to become a scientist (Brian) and a lumberjack (Alan).

But it turns out Rob can very likely get a grant. Not a loan, but a good deal of money for part of his education without obligation to repay. His school is strongly encouraging him to apply and he’d likely get it.

Here’s the problem: we don’t need it. The biggest reason he’s so very eligible for this grant is because he’s had no income for years as a stay-at-home dad, is not legally married to me in Utah, and has next to no assets on paper. In short, he’s eligible because we’re not legally hitched. By the way the law is here, he may as well be a homeless, single parent. But he does have access to all our money and we live quite comfortably. In short, as I outlined, here, we have one of those opportunities to take advantage of the government for misclassifying our family.

Right now, I feel angry we’re given such a choice. On one hand, we do pay more in taxes each year for not having that law behind us. Why? Because one of us isn’t supposed to have an M on our birth certificate. There are many other ways we all pay for gay couples not having this law, as I’ve listed before (1, 2, 3, and 4 ). And here’s another chance for us to get some of that back, and it’s all legal.

The unequal treatment of our home wears on me. I understand than many are going on faith and habit to explain why they aren’t doing wrong, but, to me, it should be offensive to any sense of fairness, somewhere. It doesn’t jive with the Golden Rule, and it puts a whole group of American homes into being Other, second class… and if I’m not “one of us”, why not act like it? Right now I feel like we should take all we can from our legal categorization. The people who want us classified in that way should put their money where their vote is, right? In fact, as I’ve outlined before, on average, it costs the public more to keep gay couples unwed than giving them the legal tools to take care of and be responsible for each other.

But this isn’t a new problem; for one, we could get a good deal back each year in taxes if Rob would claim to be a single parent with no income. Maybe I’ve become numb to that one. To date, we’ve never done that or taken any of it, though we know well-off gay couples who do.

See, I feel now like I want to take such money, with a show of contempt. But I’ve felt this before. I know in my head it’s not that easy; when the time comes he’ll have to mark either ‘single’ or ‘married’ on whatever form they send, and my emotions will begin to pull in line with the rest of my head. He’d have to sign to that, claiming it’s true, probably right there in our home. And we’ll not be able to do it. To take that money back and balance the scales a bit, they’d force us to first humiliate our family. The government would make us say “Yeah, you’re right. We’re single.” It’s dehumanizing.

Expletive-deleted that.

Thinking on it more, though, we are again already forced by law to check that ‘single’ box once a year when we file my taxes. Maybe, if we’re going to be forced anyway, we should count ourselves beaten and just do it here too, where it would at least and instead profit us?

But no… That money is meant for people who are actually hurting, many of whom, I’m sure, would treat us with equity. Furthermore, marking that box to keep from breaking law is one thing; doing it for money is another. I almost now feel guilty for not marking ‘married’ on my taxes and braving what might come back from the IRS, but that could hurt the kids.

Clearly I didn’t give this enough time to settle in my mind before I began writing; I’m still heated thinking about it. That’s right. I was told someone offered us money and it pissed me off :-). I wonder what others around here would do if in this situation.

Being in this position is simply irritating to me, and I look forward to the change that seems so inevitable but too slow, nonetheless. No, I’m already feeling pretty sure we won’t take back any money here, particularly if it means we’d be again forced to say our 14 years together, and over a decade of marriage is defined as being ‘single.’ Maybe, I just want those who work hard to keep us from legal equality and think harming my family can be spun as “pro-family” to know the circumstances under which they take that disproportionate slice from our homes for themselves. I want them to know we, personally, aren’t buying it, and we’re not taking back what we could under such conditions.

Oh, and I want them to care… :-) They’d probably just laugh as they get to classify my home by their standard and they don’t have to pay for it. Maybe we will take the money ;-).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

If You Can’t Stand Cute… away.

We got the boys a puppy last Thursday. No, unfortunately, we’ve not had much canine luck lately, but I’ve a good feeling about this one. And who wouldn’t? He’s cute enough to thwart any coyote or story I don’t want to get into.

Now, I wish I felt comfortable enough to post photos of our boys. Those around here who’ve seen them may freely testify to their record breaking adorableness :-). And, of those families I’ve seen from these parts, I’d certainly return the favor. Either it’s gay men or those with Mormon culture in their background, but it seems we raise some abnormally cute kids :-).

But I’ll show our dog; he’s safely outside that circle of internet worries.

That’s him right there sleeping on my desk [forgive me as I trail off into indecipherable baby talk].

He’s part shit tzu and the other part is in dispute (I just hope it’s not something like poodle for fear of the not-so-cute hyphenation). The boys were so excited and can’t get enough of him… Us, well, I’m reminded a bit of those vague first couple months of our boy’s life. We’ve been up twice every night to let him out and I’m sleepy, but the look in their eyes when he’s clumsily chasing them around the kitchen makes it worth puppy care… If only they were old enough that he could sleep in their room and they could be responcible for him (they're too young still; yesterday I was asked if it's okay to eat toilet papper).

Lastly, in looking at the photos I took yesterday I see one where he bears a remarkable resemblance to one of our fellow bloggers. See:

Anyway, this post is kind of light; may as well bring up what may seem to be the obvious for our family. Mothers Day. Answers to the typical questions:

No, neither of us gets a card today; we both take father’s day :-).

Of course we celebrate it.

Yes, we make a big deal of Mother’s Day. In fact Rob is preparing a huge dinner right now, as a large chunk of family will be coming over. We see this day as a great opportunity to thank and honor the many wonderful women and mothers in our family's life. And we’ve been sure to and are fortunate to have many to thank today.

No, it’s never brought up a tough or even uncomfortable question from our boys. Even I'm a bit surprised at that.

It’s funny how things I’ve noticed a lot of outsiders imagine to be big complicated issues for our home are only big and complicated from the outside. From in here, it seems pretty simple to the lot of us. I bet if most anyone really imagined their family, the particular people and relationships, in a similar situation they would understand why.

Anyway, Happy Mother’s day to all you moms, and, again, isn’t our puppy the cutest?

Friday, May 11, 2007

One Man’s Love Is Another’s Hate

Well, someone a while ago thought this long explanation had a point, may as well post it :-)…

Anyone paying attention knows that the words “love” and “hate” are tossed around often in regards to gay issues and the LDS church (many churches really). To simplify, the church claims to be feeling and showing love to gays and lesbians, and the other side claims it’s hate.

To me, it’s far from that simple, and I do believe, for its inaccuracy, the word hate should be dropped from most of such debate.

I’m still trying to think of the best word, but maybe it’s antagonistic. The LDS church is antagonistic to gays. It doesn’t hate them, nor is it filled with bigots (though some members certainly do and are, as in any group). The current LDS church is antagonistic, to my mind, because asking any human to live a life of celibacy, or a life that involves coupling with a sex, male or female, in a way they find unnatural, unethical, or otherwise repellant, causes that person (and sometimes their spouse) a good deal of distress, the sort no human would want. For some, it's even strong enough to make the end of their life seem a better choice.

Furthermore, it should be clear that such a moral requirement would distress any person, straight or gay. For example, a gay father teaching his heterosexual son that heterosexual sex and couplings are immoral, for, say, odd pagan beliefs, that would hurt the kid, right? But could the father still be “loving,” if he thought by faith he was doing best by his son?

That distress is there, and understood, and I don’t think anyone can deny it. The debate is whether or not it's justified, or for the person’s own good. Certainly, opposing people’s intrinsic makeup isn’t always a bad thing. The LDS are similarly hostile to kleptomaniacs as well, and rightly. There are instances where the antagonism towards and suppression of personal drives are called for, and I’ll do so right along with any church.

But this post is about love, a word in need of more words, like snow to the Eskimos. Up front, I am sure the church feels justified in causing this distress, and I bet most there feel love. It’s not, though, the same model of love people are using when they say the church feels the opposite. I think it’s important for both sides to understand what is in the details of these too-simple words, to both stop gays from crying wolf in claims of ‘hate’ and to get the other side to understand why such love doesn’t count as love in the eyes of many.

To my experience, love can mean a couple things to people. It can just be the feel-good emotion about another. Let’s simplify all this and just call that good feeling A. Then there’s that intuitive coupling love. Let’s call that B.

My love for the man I go home to is a love one builds with another mutually. I have A and B, but his wants have also become my wants. I sacrifice for him, and he does the same, to where it’s hard to say now where each personality ends. Furthermore, we’ve promised to make such choices even if A and/or B go. That’s a different sort of love. It’s not just a feeling, it’s love, an action, a way of life. In its best form, it’s selfless, not focused on personally feeling good in A or B. Its actions are dependant upon another’s desires; they hold your motivation. Call that C.

The opposite of this would be hate, to me: where you feel malice and your motivations are specifically to subvert another’s. Just call that ~C.

I think most of those in LDS church personally feel strong feelings of A towards gays and certainly don’t experience ~C, but the desires of the object of their love here are not as important. Let’s call this love D. The important thing here is what the LDS faith says God wants. By following their rules, it’s claimed God will make you happy, and, by that, the beloved’s sense of right and wrong and their desires are not the focus, as they are with C. There’s one side whose desires are thought to ultimately please everyone best, and they can feel love at the same time their actions are hurting the other person.

Now, as a parent, I know such isn’t always to be frowned on :-). Punishment and reward can sometimes be used with all the love in the world. Pain is sometimes necessary for greater gain, as any two-bit trainer will tell you. Also there are times when C becomes D, say, if a spouse starts a drug habit. But does it make sense when I say it’s a different sort of love than the love some gays are referring to when they, regrettably, use the word hate?

To a gay man facing D (particularly one of a different faith), all they see are the church’s actions: telling gay LDS teens they have to fight their attraction to men while encouraging others to follow it, trying to weaken their legal ties to each other and their kids, trying to keep it so some of us can’t adopt the children we are raising so as to get them on our health insurance, and much more under family law. As I’ve listed, here, there are many ways in which I’m personally harmed by the politics church members have been encouraged into supporting. That’s just a fact and, to a careless eye, it looks like hate.

But, personally, I’m glad to have come to believe it only looks like hate. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to know what another is really feeling, or their real intentions, and that’s the crux. Some gays see the actions and assume hate (or use the word because it’s politically easy, and it sells, and doesn’t require nuance). When it’s a misunderstanding, it should be clear to the church member as to why: People are judged most easily by their actions, not hopes. But this isn’t an easy topic, and there’s a difference between ~C and D, “hate” and “tough love”.

On the other hand, those expressing love should also know it doesn’t matter to some gays either way. To a person's family, your actions harming or helping them matter most. How you feel about your actions is less important, as the same result can come for love or hate. In fact, the fact a person feels D, with all the good feelings of love, A, almost makes it worse. I know because I’ve felt this too. Not only are they going to hurt you and your family--do things to you that you’d never want done to them--they’ll do it and feel good about it, righteous and loving about it, have their cake and eat it too. Still I know, to a person holding that faith, it all seems justified, and I do now appreciate the loving intention. It means there is hope for the middle ground.

To drive the point into the dirt :-), consider an extreme historical case: the Roman Catholic Church during the inquisition. Church officials would violently extract “confessions” regarding homosexuality. Why, did the RCC want a confession? To get the gay man into heaven, escaping eternal torture. For his own good, right? Once the man was absolved of the sin (and now an admitted criminal), he’d be “relaxed” into the custody of the state and burned. As stomach churning as that seems today, it had a logic to it, and it was, in a sense, loving, D, tough love. Really, ask yourself, if you honestly believed that’s how the universe worked and God would let you move a man from eternal torture to eternal bliss in that way, how would you view such an act?

To them, they saved a man from the worst fate, burning in a lake of fire forever, and all it cost was limited pain in this mortal realm, a sliver and a spark in their supposed eternal plan. And even if the gay man wasn’t sincere, the public was saved. Not only did the public example strongly discourage such “sin” in others, the town was saved, as was also believed as part of the faith, from the wrath God dishes out to any town harboring gays (You can find us blamed for everything from Muslim military wins to high rat populations :-)).

I’m sure most all modern faiths, including the RCC, have a different take on that historical “tough love” though (thank goodness!). But the parallels are there in a far less dire form; I’d certainly rather worry about being kicked out of our home than burning to death :-). And, if the member’s faith is right on this topic, such is justified; if not, then that’s something to be judged by time. But, both sides should know the love or hate of such actions can appear very different from opposite ends of the stick, even in the extreme examples.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hot House

Yikes, I just realized something. A great number of the images I post on my blog are of the reproductive anatomy of plants. That’s right, I thought I had nothing to do with the stuff, but it turns out I'm a careless producer of botanical pornography!


Please, do not view my blog with any seedlings near the monitor.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pictures of Birds and Bees Doing Stuff

After I published this post on my prudish proclivities, I was asked a couple times why no porn? The topic in general is a reoccurring one among the blogs, and not viewing such material is important to many (Who’d have thought the LDS would get me thinking about porn :-)?).

I’ve no moral feeling that it’s inherently wrong, and I can’t deny that visceral button would get pushed if I were to switch over to Google right now and type in… what? “hot gay sex (tastefully done and nothing too exotic, please)”. It’s a popular American pastime, and many participate, I gather (in the porn part, not the gay part, except around these parts ;-)).

But I won’t do that, and now I’m wondering why. There’s no filter at my lab, and I’m often alone here; heck, it’s my small business anyway :-). I’m sure I could call and ask Rob’s okay, so as not to sneak, and I doubt he’d complain; he might tease me though. We both feel kind of the same way about it: It’s not wrong, we’d not consider it near cheating, but we don’t want it.

So in deep non-pornographic porn introspection I come up with a couple things that make the idea of switching my browser over and searching for such right now unappealing:

1. I’d imagine just looking is not where it’d end. That next step takes away from such together, and I’m not a young man anymore, not to mention it being a bit of a hassle and kind of funny in such an environment. Clear enough? If not, please don’t ask :-).

2. I’m sure part of it is that, like most heterosexuals, such wouldn’t be the only outlet for my orientation. My orientation is attracted in every way to the person to whom I go home. On this topic and speaking of This American Life, last week’s was all about the Ten Commandments and one segment was about a man who was a devout Christian but found himself being attracted to women and thus “coveting in his heart,” here. I’ll not recount the whole story but in his case pornography helped stop something worse, maybe for the same reasons pornography is not a help to many, gay or straight.

3. While I think it’s fully their choice and I’d not chastise them for it, the job of porn producer or model is just not one I want to encourage. I’d not want to be involved in the business. To be clear, I don’t think the law should stop adults from producing and posing, but there’s just something about it that feels wasteful. No offence, I feel the same way for American Idol :-).

4. Okay, okay there something seedy about the work too, to the gut; still, that’s just the habit of my gut. I could imagine it having completely noble uses (e.g. in fertility clinics, research). I could imagine, under different circumstances, seeing it as a desirable outlet. But even at that, I’d have a hard time encouraging the work by paying for it.

5. I need more information than a picture to fully get to my orientation. It’s not the typically female sort in only its aim; it’s the stereotype in the emotional aspect too. I’m sure many gay men don’t get both, but I think more do than admit or understand. I’m attracted to men I perceive as competent, family oriented, loyal, and ethical; you know, good at building a home, just like the guy I have :-). The morphology of the body is only partly attractive without the idea of them fitting that mold, and, let me tell ya, I don’t see finding that in a professional porn model. Call me an occupational bigot, I guess. Nah, give me, say, Russell Crow in Gladiator; he has the morphology and the story ;-).

6. I don’t want such in our home. I don’t want it on my computer. There are kids in our home and that limits a lot of such freedom; soon they’ll be using the internet and they are already into everything in an unguarded second. Of course I’m sure many do it responsibly and I don’t want to come off as near saying it’s a case against their parenting. I just don’t want to have secret hiding places or to figure out all the stuff about cleaning up my internet tracks in order to do it safely. It sounds like a lot of work, and, with past experience with coworkers, it’s too easy to mess up. Best not complicate things if they aren’t already complicated, right?

Anyway, that’s why I follow all the dire warnings against porn ;-). Again, I know many like it and have found a use for it, for perhaps a pragmatic solution to a difficult problem. I want to be clear; I take no issue with that. Unless it involves a couple areas for which I’d rather not think up a list, I see no speck in the porn viewer’s eye. But, to me, in my life, it all sounds like more work than it’d be worth. I’d rather read a porn star’s blog than that; at least it’d be a perspective I’ve never seen before :-). (Do porn stars have blogs?)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


A heads-up: Next weekend, This American Life will be spending its hour looking at the decision of the American Psychiatric Association to take us gay folks off the crazy list, at least for being gay ;-). It sounds like it’ll be an interesting tale:

“Part one of Alix's story details the activities of a closeted group of gay psychiatrists within the APA who met in secret and called themselves the GAYPA ... and another, even more secret group of gay psychiatrists among the political echelons of the APA.”

“Alix Spiegel's story continues, with a man dressed in a Nixon mask called Dr. Anonymous, and a pivotal encounter in a Hawaiian bar.”

Should make for some lively discussion.

If you miss it, they usually come up on podcast by the following Monday, if not sooner. Again, one could find it here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rubber Ring

I see in the paper Morrissey will be in concert here on Tuesday.

Ah Morrissey… I own a piece of the man’s shirt you know :-). A very close close-up of it is right to the right there.

He threw the clothing into the audience at the last concert of his I attended (about 16 years ago!). The crowd pounced on that quarry and my friend tore off a piece. We split the bit he snatched, as per our pre-concert agreement. Now, that sounds insane, but the mood of the place was insane. When we left that place I can remember looking down at the pile of disregarded seating, metal chairs, some even bent by the crowd. I wasn’t proud for my actions as part of a wild mob that night, not to mention so much wanting a bit of a stranger’s shirt (stop laughing at me!).

Before I came out, up to middle school, the only music I ever listened to was school approved; that meant classical or hymns. My parents had no rule in the area, but I’d been convinced anything else was right out of Hell. I remember taking the UTA bus home one day in 8th grade and a kid had me listen to his Violent Femmes tape. I debated weather or not to attempt an exorcism on the spot.

That changed a bit when I left the safety of Christian schooling. Friends got me into what would be called classic rock, I guess: The Who, Pink Floyd, etc… I had no idea what the lyrics were actually about, of course, or I’d never have listened. Then I began dating (girls). One girl I dated for quite a while turned me onto more modern music, and one of her favorite bands was The Smiths (No, not a goth girl, just one with a difficult family). But when I first heard The Smiths I was sure Morrissey was of the Devil. I hated the self-centered melancholy and thought I needed to save her from such dark influence; I was righteous that way ;-).

This poor girl would get no help from me though. My orientation was more and more insistent with each micromolar rise of teen hormones in my veins, and our relationship only made the reasons I couldn’t end up on the common path with a woman all too stark. I began a full on campaign against my self. I’d walk miles in the mountains, each step counting off an “I’m not gay.” Sometimes it felt like the desperation could knock me back and pin me down; my chest always felt physically tight with it and I wasn’t sleeping. I began to fear even the drive to school, for the ease that route offered by which I could turn the car off a cliff. I was in no place to have such opportunities, even when I knew I didn’t want them.

Simply, The Smiths began to sound reasonable.

I recalled my Boy’s State story a while ago, where I’d just accepted being gay and was put in the midst of debate to ban gays from Boy’s State, here. I didn’t turn out a hero there either, but by that time the soundtrack to my life had become all Morrissey, all the time. I am the son, I am the heir of nothing in particular… I will live my life as I will undoubtedly die, alone… this is the fierce last stand of all I am..… The rocks below say through your skinny body down, son, but… the hills are alive with celebrate cries… the luck I’ve had could make a good man turn bad… I know I’m unlovable… I want the one I can’t have… Love, peace, and harmony, maybe in the next world…

It was perfect :-). And if I could talk to the front man of The Smiths today, I’d tell him that and, really, with all sincerity. To have some company, even this imagined sort, in a problem no one could ever know about was very important for me. There were no blogs, no support groups I knew of for me, in those days; I was pretty sure I was the only gay kid in my city. And having this false conversation with someone I could only imagine empathized, it was a limited help but it did help get me through those days.

These days, if I ever hear Morrissey, he comes through only when the player is set run randomly through my collection, but when he does come up such sad sentiment often puts a smile on my face. Part of it is for how ridiculous my past self appears to hindsight. How simply I could have resolved all that by coming to my family and friends sooner, instead of wasting so much time feeling sorry for a “curse” I’d blown out of proportion. I look back and it makes me laugh at how serious and dire I felt about my orientation. Don't get me wrong; it is very understandable to be overcome at that perspective, but looking back there is simply a bit of nostalgia and amusement at my misunderstanding, and poor judgment of distance. The greater part of the amusement is found in that distance travelled; that curse that had me physically ill with fear and worries turned into a blessing.

It must have been in the summer of my 17th year when I went home clutching a piece of some stranger’s shirt. I met my Rob that fall and everything changed; a new set of sign posts in my life became as clear as day.

So, it turns out Rubber Ring was a work of prophesy, if not a bit insulting :-). Sure, maybe the most impassionate song was outgrown. Sure, I’m older now and a clever swine, and I’ll not likely be going to another Morrissey concert or buying another CD. But I’ve not forgotten the songs that saved my life, as he’d put it and always far more dramatically than I.

“And when you’re dancing and laughing
And finally living
Hear my voice in your head
And think of me kindly"

Fair enough, Morrissey; you got it. And I hope you're still in the mood to toss your shirt to some other young gay Utahn tomorrow night (if young gays in Utah still know who Morrissey is ;-)). I still love and very much appreciate my little purple piece of memorabilia, though now for very different reasons :-).

Friday, May 04, 2007

Gay and Un-Gay Relations, Part 5: The End

Continued from: 1, 2, 3, 4

I don’t know what I was aiming for with these posts. Maybe a peace summit? ;-) There are certainly serious contentions between both sides here, the sort that will never be resolved in my lifetime.

But, to me, there are also areas where we can easily improve, and, to be clear, I’m right there in with that needs-improvement crowd. I try and I’ve changed a lot from that angry 19-year-old kid, but in myself I still catch reflexive assumptions and hostilities every now and then that, when I think on it, are often not justified (oh yes, sometimes they’re justified, d*beep it! :-)).

I guess I look at some of the people I’ve met here and I think how they are regarded by some in my camp and how they too often get lumped in with those who are real malicious threats to our homes. It’s sad. It’s our face over there, under somewhat different situations of fate, and with good intent. While both sides must keep in mind our differences can make for a good deal of variation in ability and consequence for each gay man and woman, “they” are more like us and could better understand us than most. And we can do the same. We shouldn’t be taking the word of the self-styled experts on another’s life; we should cross those false lines and talk.

Of course, some of our differences will remain clear and some things may not be easily resolved, and we’ll have some contention. Everyone knows I’ll pick a fight, and I’m sure I’ll exchange argument with even some of the people I most respect before another week is up ;-) (heck, I’ll argue most with the people I respect; those are the best arguments). But all that can be done in good faith and it can be done with friendship, and I’m happy to say that’s what I most see around these digital parts.

In the end, in the gay debate, left vs. right, tradition vs. change, anti-family vs. anti-human-rights ;-), I see a great opportunity here to lower some of the weapons and progress. There is a point we could reach where those promoting gay rights do so without attacks on the gay men and women who have created a more traditional life. At that same point those inactively gay men and women can protect their families without the need to undermine ours. As I’ve written before, I can hardly think of a better ambassador to the other side of this large social debate than a person who knows both what it’s like to be gay and to care and worry deeply about their family under social pressures, and I hope the other side feels the same. That shared ground is where this fight between two often brash and entrenched forces can easily become a civil and productive conversation between people.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Gay and Un-Gay Relations, Part 4: Experts

Continued from: 1, 2, and 3.

Experts. The choices you make as a gay man do not make you an expert on any “gay lifestyle” but your own.

Some ex-gays admit to spending years having sex with any man they could, filling their body with drugs, and hurting every last person in their life who ever loved them. Then they sincerely want to be taken as an authority on living as a gay man?

It’s no surprise they ended up miserable and wanting to change. Of course they did, and, if that lifestyle is what being ‘gay’ means for them, I’d hope to help them to never be ‘gay’ again. It’s also no big surprise when they go from such a life to one of attacking other gays and lesbians, while riding the lowly repentant sinner’s high horse. It’s a continuation of certain personality traits, trading one drug for another.

But they did not make poor choices because they experience an attraction to men, or were intimate with men. They didn’t hurt others without much concern because they were gay anymore than they do the same now for being ex-gay. I mean, most women seem to get along just fine :-).

Now, I know there are reasons. They probably made such mistakes because of the social issues and beliefs that are regrettably often handed to gay youth. The admitted willingness to act in ways contrary to their sense of ethics didn’t help a bit either. But they were their choices. They wanted and helped form the worst aspects of the gay community, but the “gay lifestyle” they fashioned for themselves has nothing to do with being gay for many others.

Instead, many are chaste and cautious with sex, and focused on their loved ones. Many were out building relationships, and careers, not spending nights in clubs, or the other seedier places, as such ex-gays often describe. We all reap what we sow, but for many that’s our homes, our place as fathers, and our marriages.

I now have my family to protect, and I’ll do it vigorously (and sometimes rudely :-)). For such people to use their past against us would be comical, if it weren’t so effective, and so many of our straight opponents weren’t anxious to believe in such expertise on “the gay lifestyle”. Funny, it must be one of the few instances where the more mistakes you make at something the more you’ll be respected as an expert on it.

Once again though, that same finger must be pointed at the gay community. The mistakes and misery our members experienced and created in straight unions, cannot be rightly used to malign the families of those individuals trying to make it work, and maybe not even needing to try to near the same extent. Such people do not define the gay-straight marriage anymore than ex-gays can define the lives in the gay community.

Of course, this behavior too is understandable. It’s easy to see yourself in another gay man. It’s easy to extrapolate and use the barriers of orientation to generalize, in the same way ex-gays may use the barriers that hindered them, such as social pressure, to assume their experience into our families. But understandable is not a pass for us either.

There’s this insistence out there that both gay-straight unions and gay couples are somehow doomed to failure or are somehow illegitimate or unhealthy by default. Both types of unions are posed as a source of misery. And, sure, there is a lot of misery out there and we can see some of it in the data on both sides of the argument. I’ve no problem, of course, looking at the research ;-). But just as ‘anecdote’ is not the singular form of ‘data’, averages are not individuals. What is far worse, though, is the work of these experts, using personal anecdote against whole groups. It is yet another ironic chunk of common ground I see between the two groups, and an error we both must work to remedy.

Just one more post on this :-).

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Gay and Un-Gay Relations, Part 3: The Gay Man

Continued from: 1, and 2.

The Gay Man: When people say they are somehow ex-gay or un-gay in anyway, it cannot be taken as equivalent to saying others should or could be as well. Even if you are gay, you have only a partial idea of what that means for another. That vocabulary doesn’t nearly address a whole host of important qualities: the strength of attraction, emotional vs physical attraction, general libido, and more. Very importantly, we have no idea how strong another’s revulsion is towards sexual action with a member of the opposite sex. Some straight men can be brought to nausea at the mere thought of gay sex, and gay men can feel the same for women. Yet others can perform the actions of coupling heterosexually without strong revulsion. We also have little idea how malleable, or how vital an individual’s orientation is to their happiness, and what it might mean to the happiness of those around them if they do try to suppress that part of themselves (or don’t).

In short, and as I’ve said before, one gay man is not the gay man. Even if a person thinks they were a flaming queen, now manly straight sex fiend, that does not mean they can make the leap to thinking even those less queer can or should make the same sort of steps in their lives. One gay man may be able to create a stable family with a woman, while another may not for his particular orientation; one may be able to create a stable family with a man, while the other may not for his particular beliefs. I think much tragedy can be avoided for a lot of people if more caution and attention to individuals were applied here.

Of course, this goes for the out and proud crowd too. Some gay activists do think all gay men should follow their path. And their path may be anything from simply in a gay relationship, to being “sexually free” without monogamy or obligations such as parenthood; which makes yours truly feel a good deal of common ground with the MoHos :-). They may also encourage gays to act long before they’ve worked out their ethics, and such can be a significant threat to their health and happiness (read the manual ;-)). Such folks on either side of this divide can do a lot of harm, and I do fear repeating their mistakes in my advice.

I can certainly admit, for many gays, my choices, though a great source of joy for me, may not be practical or wanted or best for others. I want a monogamous family life in a gay union to be clear as an option for those who might also want it, but it’s not necessarily the right choice for all gay men, particularly those holding strong beliefs solidified in their youth that gay relationships are wrong. You simply can’t build such a relationship with shame or guilt on your conscience, one of the big reasons gay couples have relatively recently gained the ability to do so in significant numbers.

To be fair, of course, there is an asymmetry here. I don’t have that specter of eternal threat regarding all gay action in my mind, and don’t experience it through near the same eyes of morality and faith. I can understand how that may change things for the other side. While some of the others may prefer all gay men resist their urges towards "evil", just as they’d never want another to steal, I don’t care to have more actively gay men in my camp, unless they can do it with health and happiness. The idea of the gay man may be less important to me as either sort of life for a gay man is not addressable by ethics on its own, to me. Regardless, I think it would be a help for both sides to keep in mind there are unique challenges and limitations for each individual gay man (and woman. Yes, please forgive not taking the trouble to always be gender neutral. The language is just easier, and I'm lazy, and think it can all easily be translated :-)).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Gay and Un-Gay Relations, Part 2: Tolerance

Continued from Part 1.

If only this were a one part series ;-). In reading through the material from ex-gay groups and by experience, it’s clear all sides have their real insults, cruelty, and attempts to damage others and their families. It’s not traitorous, by any definition, but it is hostile, often malicious, and a wedge between groups that could get along much better.

I want to be clear, though, I actually wrote this series of posts many months ago, with some personal experience and online articles in mind. I’ve found everyone around these blogs, from the bloggers to the commenters, to be reasonable and kind in this arena. Even for the strangers, I certainly can see such reaction may be understandable. Aside from matters of faith, some have a bone to pick with their past life or a life they don’t want to want. But it’s out there, unfortunately.

Tolerance. Numerous times I’ve seen such inactively gay folks say or write something horrible about our families, or advocate political harm to us, and then, once someone calls them on it or doesn’t want to associate with them, they go on about diversity and tolerance for their non-gay lifestyle. I’ve heard a guy go from calling our families “sad attempts at playing house” to bemoaning the hostility he gets back for “his lifestyle” in a couple breaths. It comes across as a purposeful misunderstand of justified anger.

I’m a gay man who volunteers in government to promote tolerance and diversity for all minority groups and those words even sound tired and anemic to me (a quick search of my blog reveals as much :-)). Neither are absolute goods else we’d have no need for prisons, and it’s disingenuous to pose tolerance of harming others as the tolerance the gay community typically goes on about.

And, of course, it does go both ways. No one in the gay community should expect those trying to change their orientation or those married to the opposite sex to be tolerant of their attempts to insult and undermine their choices or families. Choices for your personal life are one thing; attacks are another.

In short, it’s not about the gay man’s choices for his personal life, in this case (though, admittedly, it’s a problem elsewhere). It’s about their choice to harm others; it’s how they use their personal choices in politics to attack another. I’ll not be tolerant of that anymore than I’d tolerate being punched, and I’ll not lose sleep over my lack of interest in such diversity, as both a gay man and a father.

Lastly, I know it can be a fuzzy line and there is some leeway and debate to be had. There’s a delicate difference between stating facts about personal preferences or about research that reveals facts about the average of a group, and going after an individual. I bet I’ve crossed that line before, to my regret. I also, of course, see there is a completely benign and ethical desire for all sorts of gay men and women to speak up for themselves and for others who want to follow their choices. I’ve no debate with that, and if such speaking up gets twisted by others into an attack on my home, I know well enough who’s responsible. But when a person clearly crosses over into advocating legal harm to others or stands up purposefully as an example as to why harm is justified, they are going to get antagonism in return (be they gay, ex-gay, or whatever). No one could rightly expect anything else, and no one could expect it to be met with tolerance.