Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
No. I've not been locked in Gayle Ruzicka's basement for the past couple months, forced to watch Johnney Lingo on a loop until I also find Mahana to be worth eight cows. I've not been on an undercover mission for the gay mafia as a LDS lesbian, deep within the ranks of Evergreen. It's actually quite mundane.
I’ve been insanely busy. Really busy; this post took about two weeks to write. <-- That period was accomplished over the span of 3 hours. Anyway, Some updates are as follows:
--First and foremost, my research has picked up greatly and my new professional duties have most all my non-family attention. I just can’t risk getting interested for even a half hour in blogging or browsing for now. The worst part is the crux of it won’t begin until the end of this month. But, honestly, I’m loving it and excited for the opportunity these next 4 months will give us. It was such a lucky break that I got this offer in this economy just as I learned my parents were having surgery in the Fall. This step in my career will end in more flexibility to move when the time is right, or keep our place here, and I am (probably overly) obsessed with getting it right. So, wish me luck on the vague thing I’ll soon be doing :-).
--I’m in the midst of starting a new small business. These little ventures are always a gamble of your time, but the payoff can be huge. We’ll see.
--We are also in the midst of moving into a new and much larger lab. As anyone who works in a lab knows, this is like moving into a new home, but worse. The difference being that transferring the contents of your cabinets and refrigerator when moving a lab involves moving substances that could kill you slowly within a decade, explode, or eat your foot off within an hour.
--My involvement with GLBT issues has increased quite a bit offline. I was just elected the chair of a human rights committee in a local government branch, we’re still meeting with the evangelical group, and we’ve started a group with LDS members. Even one of the main lobbyists for Prop 8 has sat on our couch in our family room a couple times now. It's kind of strange to be in such company, as one of the thousands of couples who are still legally married in California despite the LDS church's best efforts, but nope, no fist fights yet ;-). Not even an angry word from either side. Online has its benefits but face-to-face is a much better format for such touchy issues; it’s a lot harder for either side to dehumanize the other. I just hope things remain as productive as it seems to be so far.
Speaking of… I’m thankful that some bloggers have become involved with that group; I’m even more thankful that a fellow blogger got us in touch with some folks up there in the LDS ranks. We know more people who’d be interested in being involved, but we are at max population. We all agreed, though, it’d be great if similar groups popped up. If we can find more LDS folks willing to take that leap and just talk to the gay community (and, sure, it goes the other way as well), I’d like to spread this sort of thing.
--While I’m asking for stuff, I may as well put in a plug for poor Isocrat. I’ll get back to her eventually, and thank Ben for keeping her breathing in the time being, but it needs help. I don’t have the time it needs, though, and hope to find people who do.
Anyway, what else… We just celebrated our boys’ 7th birth day, our 14th anniversary and our 18th year together. It was a crazy year from our California marriage to now. After our trip to Massachusetts a while ago, I’ve realized I’m addicted to the comfort of knowing my family will be legally treated fairly; heck, it was just nice to be able to rent the car as a spouse without having to pay to be the “second driver”. For a whole week we were in a place where there was no reason to defend our home or fight for even basic fairness. I came back refreshed and certain, someday, we’ll have that where we live, if either we have to go where it is or bring it to us. But, for now, I have a lot of work ahead of me, here.
You know, though, it kind of feels like the universe interrupted me here on purpose, by handing me opportunities involving so much work. I’m not saying that being here because of my parent’s health problems is a good thing; just that being busy has been. It’s just that after Proposition 8, I was a bruised man, in several ways. You can see for yourself. My heart took a hit and is still physically sub par. I was greatly worried about how our opponent’s rhetoric would harm our children. I was frustrated by the double standards, prejudice, imaginary research... There I go :-). In all, the personality characteristics that help me in my job in science are also the characteristics that make arguing faith and politics so frustrating; it’s kind of fitting my job would step in and take my focus.
Now those nightmares of someone or something threatening my family have been replaced with the usual and pleasant dream nonsense. Goodness knows this state doesn’t feel any less hostile, but I’m back to the place where my hopes for it are low enough again to keep free of frustration. Though we’re in provisional home, a state (or legal state) which we’ll eventually leave in one way or another, I’m just focused on doing what needs to be done for the generation below and above me right now. I know that may sound sullen or defeatist or something, but it has actually been some measure of a relief.
Regardless, I’m afraid, at least for the next couple months, I’m going to remain scarce. I’m still putting some pictures and stuff up on facebook, though. If you know someone who knows me, you can keep up on at least the images of our latest escapades there (best email me from there too). I’ll try to check this a couple times a month though; let me know if you or anyone you know would be interested in a GLBT-LDS group meeting and we'll try to expand it.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
I'll post just a couple pictures (facebook friends can see the rest); it was great to relax with the family and even more comfortable to be legally married again, if only for a week.
Anyway, I merely want to say, Happy Father's Day to all you dads.
May you feel ridiculously fortunate in life to be a father this day and everyday too.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
I was surprised at how many people did ignore the weather and come to Pride.
We were there again with a bunch of family: nieces, a sister, and so on.
My wonderful parents:
Sometimes I fear my mom was disappointed when I came out, not because I'm gay but because she got a gay son who doesn't care about fancy clothes. Cruel irony; I'm just a drab sciencey guy. I mean, just look at those colors on her.
Maybe this sort of style would have been more her speed :-):
I think she may have that pink hat.
She, of course, was the one to get these sun glasses (and suckers) for the twins:
I thought this was cute too: Brian took one of grandma's bracelets and used it for a necklace for Wolfey (The favored stuffed animal since birth--you can tell by the poor thing's cataracts).
Anyway, another fun, though wet, pride parade, and here's to hoping the storm clouds break here with the coming year.
On a side, my dad always tells the story, when Senator Buttars comes up in conversation, about how he first met the guy when Buttars ran the Boy's Ranch and was asking my dad for a donation, long before my dad had any idea his son was gay or that Buttars was... well... you know. My dad left the meeting at the boys ranch appalled by what he witnessed and disgusted with Buttars and sure to find a better "charity" than that. At Pride those who had experienced the "therapy" of the Boy's Ranch first hand had a booth and my dad talked with them for a while. I think some of their accounts and goals deserved attention:
You can see their site here
Monday, June 01, 2009
Here, that's kind of small. Let me blow up what grabbed my gut:
Then, at the end of the form it reads:
"Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this certificate and to the best of my knowledge and belief, it is true, correct, and complete."Well, to the "best of my knowledge", I am not legally married in Utah or federally for purposes of employment or taxes. 16 years of paired dedication, love, and interdependence, raising children together, promising to love honor and cherish, forsaking all others.... They call that "single" here, if you're anatomy ain't what they like. So yeah, I know, I'm supposed to check "single", legally.
But I also know, as clearly and as certain as I know anything, this form is not "true" "correct" or "complete" with me being classified as "single". I am nothing if not a husband and a father; I'd be a stranger to myself to be single.
(Anyone know what the legal consequences of checking the "Married, but withhold at higher Single rate" might be, even though I'm not legally married in this jurisdiction? Would I still be guilty of perjury if not tax fraud?)
Even without the practical tax implications in the above, there would still be these little cuts. Those fighting against marriage for our families don't seem to see how they harm real people in practical ways, but so clearly demeaning, in the abstract, the best aspects in what they claim to be the defenders of is also baffling. Maybe if I lost a beauty pageant and someone said something mean about me on a blog, we'd get them to notice :-).
Regardless, I'm in a Catch-22 for now. To work in the US and keep from legal punishment, I am required to, myself, debase the most important role I'll ever have in life, second only to being a father. They make me, by threat of law, sign my name to a lie, that I am "single". A husband of 14 years, dedicated to the person I've been with for 16 years, the only person I've ever been with, the person I'm a parent with.... I'm forced to call that "single". I may as well sign on to the claim that I'm a walrus.
That coerced, signed dishonesty gets to me, even though, I know, it's a small thing. I was taught as a kid and it is an obsession to see my signature as a sacred guarantee of honesty, but it can't be, on this form, without legal harm. Maybe if I were a better gay rights activist I'd just mark the truth and wait for the audit or other punishment, but I've got our kids and a homemaker to take care of...
I just wish I could get everyone who pushed and voted for Utah's Amendment 3, those who hoped to annul our legal marriage with Proposition 8, all those church leaders, and those single gays who think marriage for gay couples is nothing to fight for to just get a taste of what that feels like. For a man who cares for nothing more than his family to check that "single" box, in order to be able to work for his family without threat of law... frankly, it sucks.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
The significant up side for us personally is, of course: my family came out of all this with equal rights in several states and some countries with our still-valid Ca marriage license, along with 18K other couples, about 40% of which have children, judging from the 2000 census. That piece of paper there still puts some legal bite into the promises we made to each other so many years ago, and made again last summer in San Diego; it secures some rights in some jurisdictions, equal to other citizens, and could be used to enforce the responsibilities we've taken on as a couple and as parents. This is a great success for the best aspects of family and I hope no one overlooks that victory.
Okay, sure, we're one of the lucky same-sex couples who got there in time and maybe I'm feeling it with too much weight. It is personally important, though; we hope to and will most likely end up living in California, and equal treatment under the law is a requirement for the next government we have to pay taxes to, at least at a state level. So yeah, I'm personally happy and relieved and hope federal support of marriage is forthcoming. At least then we'd have something in effect while still here in Utah.
But, as everyone probably knows, this Ca supreme court decision is bitter sweet. Marriage is still between man and woman in addition to being between this man and his man in California, and the sky hasn't fallen. But the young gay couple just ready to make that sacred leap into marriage is left with an offer of only a "civil union" from their government. That's a good deal more than what we have in Utah, sure, and it should be appreciated but separate is not equal or tolerable in the long run. The first time they attempt to take their "civil union" into a jurisdiction unfamiliar with the what that practically means, or the first time the law makes a distinction between "married" and "civil union-ed" (as it does federally anyway), the need for all citizen to be in the same legal boat, regardless of their sex or the sex of the folks in their family, will be all too clear. You'd think it'd be apparent why heterosexual couples, in the vast majority, don't want the "equal rights" the Ca Supreme Court feels they found in "civil unions". Besides, talk about undermining the meaning of "marriage"; to legally ignore it's best aspects because of an M or a F on a birth certificate... And it's not just a matter for same-sex couples; one has to wonder what those couples that include an individual intersexed from birth, neither or both biologically M or F, are left with in Ca law now.
Anyway, 2010, or 2012, or 2014... The day is clearly coming when, throughout the US, the shape of your body or your chromosomes won't determine the amount of tax you pay, the rights of your children, if you can just run off on your spouse without legal consequence, or any of this stuff. I'm sure in California the day will return when "marriages", as performed according to the individual citizen's religious or secular convictions, will be treated justly and equally under the law, blind to our anatomy and focused instead on the weighty public interdependence, commitment, and responsibility found in the act of human coupling, be it in same-sex or, um, "opposite marriage". The day will come when people realize our children go to school too and have a right to talk about their home as much as any other kid. They will get tired of the fear mongering and will realize we can have different definitions for marriage in our homes and churches, and still be treated fairly under the government we must share.
Unfortunately, though, the mark of the Prop 8 vote, complete with the lies about everything from Catholic Charities to marriage in Europe, will always remain on those people and organizations who pushed it. It will be something we point out to our impatient grandchildren, just as I had the uncomfortable and strangely embarrassing conversation with my kids last year about how race used to matter in US law (and faith) as much as sex does in this instance. But if justice was easy, our species would have gotten it right long ago instead of in painful increments. Besides, maybe we need these bumps in the road to drive home the broader value of such ideals as the Golden Rule.
When all is added, though, I guess I can't be unhappy about this (and I've tried :-)). Tonight I'll go home to my family, to my kids, and to my husband, the man who is still my legal husband even if only when we're standing in certain territories between sea and shining sea. Hey, and at least next time we vacation in Ca, I, as a legal husband, won't have the added hassle or cost of being a second driver on the rental car contract :-). More importantly, of course, when we can move from Utah to our dreamed-of near-beach home, we will have what any man would want from his state for his family.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
A big part of the vacation is always visiting Rob's family... and then forcing them to walk miles through the desert with us:
Really, though, it takes no arm twisting. I mean, who wouldn't want to spend time with such hansom men, right? And look there at my man. He's lost a lot of weight in the past three months. A doctor warned him about his health and he thought of us and went on a serious diet. I'm proud of him.
But the rest of us are, arguably, cute too:
It's images like that that make me very glad we had twins. They may be very different but they are great friends and family to the other; I can see that last well past their parent's time and that gives a good deal of joy.
Their favorite part was the dunes. My sandbox can't compete with this:
I guess one other reason we need to get down to Moab as often as we do to purge some of the city-boy from the twins:
Every kid needs to wipe sheep snot on their shirt at least a couple times a year, right?
A bit of advice:
What once covered that empty plate there was the Jailhouse restaurant's Swedish pancakes, with loganberries (don't use the syrup; just the berries). Delicious. We go there for breakfast every trip down and each time I get the same thing, twice this trip even. I'm salivating just typing this.
Lastly, a fitting metaphor. We got stuck, in Utah:
To be exact, Rob got us stuck :-). It took two hours of digging, some frustration, a lot of sweat, blisters, the pull from two vehicles, and a good deal of the kindness of strangers, but we eventually got free. Our help was a bunch of local men there on dirt bikes and, with beer in hand and chew in lip, they helped dig us out. Strange thing: I worried the kids would out us to these rural guys at any moment and that they'd stop being so charitable and we'd have to call in help. But no, the kids we're having too much fun digging to chat up strangers. Still, maybe I shouldn't prejudge; heck, the guys may have been from the Southern Utah GLBT Dirt Bike Club...
Anyway, here the kids are in the deep, muddy holes our tires once spun pointlessly through:
All the while the boys had a great time, chasing lizards and jumping off dunes in this beautiful country, and we got a strenuous workout.
That's life in Utah for the men at the helm of this gay-headed family for ya.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Anyway, as I was saying, I took on a new professional responsibility that will keep us here through my parents' surgeries. It has me insanely busy, but it's something at which I enjoy being busy.
I just wanted to post a quick thank you again for the comic suggestions. That was exactly what Alan needed to get him excited about reading, and I'd recommend it to any parents having trouble setting off that spark.
We read them together each night, splitting the characters up so that I read a couple and he reads the others. We each have our voices for our characters and it probably sound like we're putting on a play each evening, but, as they only have dialogue, it's become one of the more fun aspects of reading, one that we didn't have with traditional books. While he'd probably rather I read the whole thing, he literally begs to keep going when it's time for bed. And I love that sort of pleading from my kids (I tell him it's time for bed but then leave the book in there next to his lamp, you know, to tempt him :-)).
The winner of his interest so far: Bone, by far.
We're almost on the 5th book. He loves the action and the story, and the fact the rat creatures are always arguing about quiche, something I had to define even though the kid has two dads :-). It is just a sliver more mature for him than I'd have chosen from the start, but it has him wanting to read. As they are, by both their accounts, the only kids in their class who haven't seen Wolverine or Star Trek, maybe I worry about PG-13 material too much anyway... Eh, Brian emphatically doesn't want to see either, but maybe I'll take Alan to Star Trek, and cover his eyes on bits, just so I can see it again ;-).
Anyway, I hope all is well for the lot of you and I hope time can bring me back to the blogs more often.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
This was a surprise.
So much so that I can't say it was traumatic as much as it was stunning. I don't even remember being scared as much as being put on pause. I froze there in my parent’s bedroom, in our old home, as my dad grabbed the thing and, after a minute or so, situated it back in its proper place.
At that I was told the story of how, when my mother was in her twenties, she lost her real eye and had it replaced with the convincingly painted ceramic dome that had just come loose. She had and has a congenital eye disease and the only cure for it is a corneal transplant. She had three transplants, and her body rejected all three. After so many repeated rejections she lost the eye entire, and never dared risk the other.
All my life I've known her to struggle with the vision in her remaining eye. She's never been able to drive at night; always has had to wear a uniquely and stiffly fit contact lens, one that has to be retooled about twice a year by one of the few capable in the world. Heck, I owe my existence, or so I'm told, to a hotel room on a trip to a specialist in Texas.
I write all this to emphasize the weight of the fact that we just recently found out her remaining eye is going down hill; she will not be able to drive soon. Surgery is on the table again and will be decided on in a matter of months. On top of that we found out last month my father will be having both knees replaced this fall.
The point is last week I was in my lab and I got an email from Rob. In it he expressed a stark change of heart about moving, due to my parents’ health considerations, even though he wants out of here more than anyone. And I know he's right; I knew it as soon as I read it and choked up right at my desk for his thoughtfulness. That’s why I love him with all my heart; he’s a good man, the person who makes me a better person. Me, well, I get caught up in our home and in politics and research… I’m ashamed to say I didn’t put 2 and 2 together on this one, until I heard it from him. As my mom always tells people, “I’m so thankful my son is gay. I could have had a bitchy daughter-in-law, but instead I got a great son-in-law.” :-)
I know I have not written much about moving lately; family have begun reading here and I didn’t want to worry them until we had a solid plan on what we were doing and all that greatly depended on California’s Supreme Court. However, we have been looking forward to retreat and rest from this LDS-gay battleground, and I have been looking for a job all the while in any jurisdiction that would treat our family with fairness. Now, though, I want to tell them there's no need to worry.
Fact is we can’t move with my parents going through this. We can’t add to the stress with my mom having to choose between these frightening options. They are in no shape to go anywhere unfamiliar for a while and, even if the worst doesn't materialize, they will need our help come fall. They aren’t just my parents; they are our good friends, confidants, the people we trust with our children. They’ve been there for me all my life, from feeding me as an infant, to standing beside me when I came out, to giving us breaks when the twins were keeping us up all hours of the night. We have to, and we want to be there for them now.
I know, I know... I had broken up with Utah, made up a mind to retreat, asked to be held to it, and we were on our way out. But, like any break between long-time lovers, it is going to take more time and less simplicity than could be considered clean. The state has a key to my apartment, keeps driving by, and I seem to have another year added to the lease.
The strange thing is that, just a day before Rob sent me that email, I got a good opportunity here that I was about to pass up. But now I’ll take it. We’ll stick it out here until my parents are on their feet again and the kids are at the end of a school year. At least this new opportunity will make it easier to move later.
I am tired, though, and I worry, perhaps too much, about how living here could affect us in the long run, both legally and physically. Does that ever come across ;-)?
I’ll keep walking on here, but I’m worn from having to step on all the low, pointy tactics. I don’t care to ever hear another local talk radio host bring up, say, Catholic Charities of Boston. I’m tired of debates and panels where the other side should clearly be embarrassed about the display of their discernment and “facts”, and yet hold proudly to them. I’m sick of worrying our children will be hit with that side’s false pity for some handicap that does not exist, or their belief in the “idealness” of their family over that of our boys. I don’t want to hear another church official bemoaning the awful (and false) cost at which some European governments are treating gay-headed families with, of all things, the golden rule. I don’t feel I can stand another bit of sympathy for some silly beauty pageant contestant, in the face of thousands who can’t get their spouse and homemaker on their health insurance. It’s just frustrating that, to so many minds here, “defending marriage” means fighting the best aspects of it, and keeping people from their responsibilities, and from taking care of each other.
Yep, all old issues here, but it’s just bizarre, messed up, right? It's still somewhat of a puzzle, and I don’t want to feel, all my life, in order to protect my home I have to try to understand the hearts that hold such priorities; I don’t want to know anymore how people can do such direct harm to their neighbors with love on their lips. At least they ain’t burning us anymore—I do try to keep in mind it could be a lot worse here and we sure don’t have it bad relative to the average of the world—but I just don’t care to keep looking into that place at any level, and perhaps wish I could even forget some of its lessons about human nature.
Eh, while staying for another trip around the sun is the right thing to do, I’ll have some frustration to deal with, clearly :-); we both will. I’ll just have to try to find a way to better deal with it than I have, especially as Utah’s legislative session approaches again. It’s not going to be an easy year for my family on whole, in several ways, but at least our boys haven’t noticed a thing and being help to family in need is a great way to keep your mind on what matters most.
One last thing, I may not be around the blogs as much for a while. My free time is going to research the mechanisms behind corneal rejection as best as a non-M.D. D. can, and this new opportunity I’m taking will take a good deal of my attention. Nevertheless, thoughts and/or prayers for the best of outcomes, medically, politically, and socially (not to mention geographically), are always welcome.
Friday, May 01, 2009
We were at the kids' school this morning to read to them. On Brian's class bulletin board they had colors and each kid had to describe them; for example, one kid had "Green is... like an apple growing". Alan didn't do this exercise but Brian did and I thought his answers were particularly evocative (even trying to imagine them without my obvious parental bias :-)):
Brown is... the spring mud oozing between my toes.Really, where do they come up with such things? I think we're raising a poet.
Orange is... a playful dog's warm fleece.
Purple is... the royal king swinging his cape.
White is... the glory of the brightest eye blinking.
I don't like to post just on one kid without equal time, though, so... The other day I was at my computer and Alan was behind me with paper and scissors on the floor. He was abnormally quiet for the sort of kid Alan is, and after some time he tapped me on the shoulder and gave me this:
This work is entitled "Alan and His Papa Playing Together". For him to put that much attention and planning into a project he thought up himself was very special to me; it went right up above my desk. If I owned such green leggings and a purple onesie I'd wear them just to match the feeling I get from such works of art :-).
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I had to do some convincing to get Rob to agree to host last night. The reasons why are probably obvious. They would, in fact, have been my reasons three months ago. I would have expected argument; I would have met them with images of the evangelicals protesting gay pride and LDS conference in mind. I’d certainly not trust such people around our children, or want them to know where we live. I mean, what if? Right?
Three meetings later, after hearing them out and breaking bread together (which, last night, were Rob’s terrific cookies), my old anticipation about these individuals is a source of embarrassment. They are good, friendly people, each the sort of person I’m glad and comfortable to have seated on our family room couch, and that’s saying something.
Reaching beyond the stereotypes and the vocal loons in both our camps was, in part, the theme of last night. Personally, I hope in posting on this, my experience may be some measure of evidence to those in the gay community who harbor similar fears, who may feel a chill when they hear the words “Evangelical Christian”. Those fears are every bit as unfair and unfounded, even if not nearly as legally deleterious to them, as the fears we face.
I suppose I’m not saying my guard is dropped, though. As I explained last night, I’ve no problem having a friend who think homosexuality is a sin, but once it crosses the line into practical, legal harm to my family, the sort they’d not want for their family, then there is only so close a relationship can get before my duties as a husband and father will force a certain distance. There are still vagaries to be dealt with in later meetings, and those who spoke were admittedly unclear on the politics. That was yet another repeating theme: the gays seemed concerned for the practical policy issues their families face, while it seemed the other side was focused on the religious issues.
It may seem we’ve already covered this ground, but it is complicated ground. We spent most the night trying to figure out how best to reach across the divide, to figure out what each community had to do for the other. I am hoping to speak up for the evangelicals, here and in the gay community in general, if I ever hear their names indiscriminately hissed out. One thing I was left impressed with was that they decided, without the gay group putting it out there, that the burden was primarily on their shoulder to reach out because of the political history. I was struck with the amount of willingness to step into our shoes that must have taken and hope they know, while I expect we should all make the effort, the realization of the asymmetry here is very much appreciated, refreshing.
One last thing… I can’t believe this is even a significant news story, but I guess I just don’t have the normal quantity of care for beauty pageants. The topic of the Miss California competition and Carrie Prejean came up last night (you can read on it here). For days now I’ve been thinking people were mispronouncing Paris Hilton’s name, but now I gather this Perez Hilton is a dude, one who seems to represent the gay community to a good number of minds. Anyway, we all agreed: asking the question was a poor choice; his blog response to her answer was simply stupid, and rude (OMG, a blog fight is serious news on gay marriage! :-)). This would be funny for it's silliness, but it seems some groups are still trying to make hay of this and use it to fight against equal marriage rights.
Look, I’ve no issue with her thinking or saying for her family or God marriage is between a man and a woman. Again, I get upset when a person advocates practical harm to their neighbor’s family, but I'd rather a person say it than keep it hidden. Nevertheless, her answer was factually incorrect and revealed a clear lack of knowledge on the topic. The first time I heard it I thought it was a parody and I have a hard time understanding how anyone doesn’t think it should have cost points. I mean, if not understanding of the issues, what are they graded on?
But again, it’s a beauty pageant! Sheesh. People are really fuming about this? The same people who are upset that a single person got second place instead of first in a pageant seem to be absolutely blind to the thousand’s of dollars extra thousands of families pay without marriage law. They seem blind to the legal safety nets they keep from under thousands of couples, parents, and children. They don’t freak out like this when a gay man can’t get claim to his deceased husband’s estate or when the parent of a child isn’t made legally responsible for that child because of their sex, and yet they’re upset about one girl not being Miss America? What odd priorities are those?
Thank goodness the vocal Christians on this one are not the sort of evangelicals I know. Also thank goodness they aren’t the sort to judge the gay community, or the fight for marriage rights, or my family on Perez Hilton.
There are so many pressures and easy excuses like this silly example pushing us all apart, it almost seems like a little miracle nights like last night happen at all.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
We got there a bit early and Rob took a seat outside the door while I read through the adorable poems our kid's class had on their bulletin board in the hall.
From behind me I heard a boy, about the age of 12, come up and ask Rob, "Are you Brian's Dad?"
"Yes, my name is Rob; what's yours?"
The boy said his name and quickly and nonchalantly shot off, "Where's Brian's other dad?"
At that I turned around, a bit surprised an older kid we didn't know would come to ask that and so plainly. I said hi and introduced myself as he offered to shake hands. I recognized him by his mother's attention as the older brother of one of Brian's classmates, from a family we hadn't socialized with much.
Then he asked me where I work, followed quickly by "Which one of you was Brian's dad first?" This kid was quick with the questions. His mom interrupted before I could answer. She apologized, assuming the question was offensive. I assured her it absolutely was no bother, and we're used to such questions. Very often people assume one of us must have had our children in a heterosexual marriage, never considering we may have got together a decade before their birth. I just told the kid becoming fathers happened at the same time for us. His mom jumped in with an "Isn't that great?", one of those nice injections in casual conversation I've noticed other parents will give to let us know they're okay with our family. You just wouldn't say such things about heterosexual couples, and so it must be code :-).
At that, without pause, he went on to "What gym do you go to?" Giving him the benefit of the doubt--that this wasn't some stereotype ;-)--I told him, even though I probably should get some more exercise, we don't go to a gym, and that was that. He moved on to quizzing another set of parents waiting for their time with the teacher.
It turns out this adorably inquisitive and matter-of-fact kid goes to the same school and has some form of high-functioning autism. What stands out to me, of course, is the fact that another family there, one we don't know very well, seems to have felt fine discussing "two dads" with their children, and made clear to their kids that's okay, "great" even; though yeah, I know "great" means "okay" and it's just difficult to know how to put it :-). I eat such assurances up, knowing what they mean for our kids. Though his mom feared her son made us uncomfortable, I hope I got it across that I found the conversation heartening and found her son's forthrightness refreshing.
And on top of that, we left the conference inflated with the wonderful reports from their teachers. I keep going to these things nervous and leaving feeling ridiculous for the nerves, but what you gonna do? It's in my nature to be overly concerned about them. We do still have this "problem", I say, knowing full well I'll sound like one of those insufferable parents :-): "Brian is well above grade level in all areas", and Alan is "right where he should be, high first grade", and the problem is they tend to compare. But Alan has really blossomed into his own skills over this year.
At the end of each of these I always have to ask, just in case the teachers are too unsure how to bring it up, if our family is ever an issue or if there are any problems on that front we should be aware of. But nope, it's all clear, if not better than that. Heck, if our family ever needed to call independent witnesses for our defense, with the way their teachers talk, they would be the first people I'd call. Still and of course, I know we'll have to be vigilant and make some tough decisions to keep it this way, to keep them buffered from the rough waters of politics and religion out there.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The post that spawned all that commenting kind of reminds me of the time Brian came home from school the first day and started running around the kitchen yelling "mommy, mommy", an event I related, here.
In Evan's post an account of one of Rosie O'Donnell's sons is related. In it he is said to ask why he doesn't have a father and that is used by Bill Maier to argue against same-sex parenting. Of course, a child's wondering about the way his family is should not be a big deal and no one would judge heterosexual families by celebrity parents (I hope); anyway, I went over all that in those comments.
Still, I'm kind of left wondering, if that truly is the case for the O'Donnells, why it hasn't been for us or really all the children of same-sex parents we know here I can think of (and you bet we nervously ask each other about such things at our monthly get-togethers). The topic only comes up with our kids if we bring it up, aside from that nothing of an event I mentioned above. Our kids simply show no idea there is a "thing" about our family's difference, and, frankly, while I'm happy for that, it's kind of surprising. I've been bracing for at least a tough question here or there. I remember even a jewish friend telling me how different she felt her family was early on here in Utah, but our kids just don't seem to notice and their classmates don't seem to care.
Maybe the fact that they aren't even curious about our difference is a bit more evidence that things are changing quickly, even in Utah. If only it happened a decade before we got here.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Because our only trusted baby sitters are out of town, the boys got to go and they were amazing in their patience and silence as candidate after candidate came through to ask for endorsements. To look at them you'd think they were 100% engrossed in their coloring, but Brian must have been listening as he asked me what "redistricting" means on the way home :-).
I hope they do take something away from such experiences. I hope they fold them into their future as a normal part of being a citizen. I have only been so involved in politics for about six years now, and it is clearly no coincidence that our boys are six years old. Their birth changed us in many ways, of course. I regret that it took becoming a parent to put a fire under me, but without them I'd probably be content as just another quiet guy, concerned mainly with what goes on in his home and his lab.
However... Sunday we spent the morning up in Ferguson Canyon. I used to spend a lot of time hiking and rock climbing up there with friends as a teen. Man, I remember going up there some weekend nights... It's a good thing I was always the designated driver, as wild teens and cliffs at night do not mix well even while sober :-). It's surprising, in retrospect, no one got seriously hurt. Anyway, it's one of our favorite places to take the kids nowadays.
We hiked up and sat by the stream and let the kids play with the dog in the water for about an hour. Nothing but the stream, my husband, a canopy of trees and the sounds of our kids playing... I just wish it didn't take Saturday to protect Sunday.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I've spent maybe too much time searching out such folks and well know that feeling of walking into a room where you're sure you'll face some of the most horrible ideas about you and yours. I'd not say I'm any good at it, but I still do it because the fate of my family depends on resolving this conflict. I can say though I have, more often than not, been very happy I got past the discomfort and just did it.
So, for what it's worth, what I have learned:
I'd not look at face-to-face meetings with opponents as a debate. It's absolutely different if you have an audience and you're both on a panel or something. In that case you'll need to get right to it and have organized data and research at the ready. In the time you have, your opponent is a lost cause and it's your audience with the open minds. You'll have to be defensive and watch out for tactics like having your positions defined before you get a chance. I know because I, long ago, was on a panel thinking of it like it was a person-to-person meeting and I got pwned by Gayle Ruzicka :-). Won't let that happen again.
However, I'd see first person-to-person meetings under such circumstances as a time to develop the rapport that will be needed to discuss such topics productively in the future. It's pretty clear why this issue is stressing for gays, and it's clear there's a great asymmetry in potency: no anti-gay rights activist has resorted to suicide because the gays get the same rights they have. Some of that difference and insensitivity to it may need to be swallowed at first and some punches may need be adsorbed.
So, I'd first look to hear her out. While our fears are clear, the other side seems to have many different triggers, each with different answers. I'd try to figure out why exactly this holds so much "emotion and frustration" for her, and even if the reasons are demonstrably baseless, I'd let a lot slide for a later meeting. Still, I do take all the information I'd need in a debate, but would leave it in my backpack or car until she seemed to be asking you for facts about a fear expressed or question asked.
In short, I think Daniel's instinct to stay away from politics for now is a good one. Once a foundation is set, then I'd go on to pleading my case in later interactions.
A couple other things:
It's natural to feel that fight or flight reflex when you know you're approaching a confrontation. I get butterflies every first meeting with anti-gay activists. However, this person in question didn't come off as a seasoned stone-hearted anti-gay activist in her letters; more like someone caught up in the Prop 8 fight? I'd keep in mind, if you get nervous, that she may be more afraid of you, thinking of you as some big Act Up in-your-face hostile queer; that always calms me down. Just don't picture them nude; that's exactly what they'd expect :-).
Also, I don't care to remember how many times I've felt a friendship build with such opponents, feel, by their words, we've come to an understanding and mutual respect, and then find they turn on me and my family and their kind words change when they think they're just talking to their side. It's tough for me to not become invested; I feel myself doing it again with the Evangelicals I've been meeting with. I'm just saying, I'd be friendly, and open, but remember some humans were even able to "love" the gays they were torturing to death to gain what they thought was a heaven-granting confession, and we're just talking about stuff like taxes and health insurance here.I'd not put too much of myself into such relationships, anymore.
Lastly, meet in public, of course. There are crazies out there. Don't meet on BYU's campus either. I hear there's a gay reeducation dungeon buried deep below the Cougar Eat, and you don't want to make it easy to be dragged anywhere ;-).
Monday, April 13, 2009
Brian, he may not yell the loudest or punch the hardest but he's all about the discipline and much more concerned for the technique:
So serious about it, he eagerly memorizes the forms and is almost too into the "discipline and self-control, Sir!", "courtesy and respect, Sir!" aspect of it. Each morning he hurries to do his list of chores to get check marks, which then go to gaining him stripes for his belt (His parents like that part of karate the best ;-)).
But, Alan, on the other hand, is about the power. He throws wild punches and swings his nunchucks like a furious little blender. Look at that face:
These twin sons we orbit give off such different light. But light is light and I wouldn't have it any other way.
It's striking, when you think about it, how much revolves around your children. I'm sure every parent sees this. These boys practically own the hearts of many people beyond their parents. We were there at the belt promotion with the biggest cheering section of any student, from both sets of grandparents to a great aunt. It's unfortunate so many look at offering legal rights and responsibilities to our homes as just a gay issue, but that interdependence in so many lives makes defending what we have all the more important.
Then, of course, as anyone following this blog for years would know, Easter is a big holiday for our family. Rob and I are responsible for the activities. We hide hundreds of eggs:
Some of the eggs have prize tickets they can use on toys.
That stuffed animal dog Alan has there is named Pico Gwuasala, and he's Mexican, or so I'm told.
For the older kids I usually do some sort of word puzzle for the prized golden egg, but this year and after much complaining that my puzzles were too tough (e.g.), we did a survivor sort of thing, starting with a peep-elbow race:
They then played marbles with eggs (which is much more difficult than it sounds):
We also did a sudoku relay race (which was more fun than it sounds :-)), and in the final trial the three left standing were given a sack of materials to be built into protection for an egg dropped from the roof. Anyway, it was a great party.
Then, on Sunday, we had brunch with those closest to us:
It's funny, I know, for a gay man or any man for that matter, that I've been very lucky, blessed in the area of family, and weeks like this week really drive that point home. That's what makes the decisions that have to be made this summer so difficult, stressing. If only we were surrounded by homophobic jerks ;-).
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Alan is really coming along with his reading recently, but we're having a hard time finding him material he enjoys reading rather than is coerced into reading. However, he loves action and superheros, and so I thought of trying some comic books to see if that would get him to look forward to reading.
Now, I know nothing about comic books, but I have the impression some who hang out around here have experience. Can anyone recommend something? It must be tame enough for a 1st grader, but have enough action to keep him interested. Thanks.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Check out the web site: here.
"LIFE IS SHORT. HAVE AN AFFAIR.™"
That's right, T *bleebing* M.
How can I raise my children in a world with such prurient and unchecked promotion of what I have to assume is the heterosexual lifestyle? There ought to be a constitutional amendment.
Okay, all joking aside, how terrible is that? People will mobilize to constitutionally keep loving couples, parents even, from having legal equality in rights and responsibilities, but over 3 million people are using this "dating" service for people, who may be legally married, but wouldn't know a marriage if it took their children and half of all they considered theirs. You have to laugh to keep from, well, the horrible reality of it.
Then I saw this story:
"Caption gaffe: Apostates, instead of Apostles 'worst possible mistake'"
A BYU paper listed the 12 apostles as the 12 apostates. I'm sure the FLDS see it as God working through Word's spell checker, but it's probably just a silly mistake.
However, "the 12 apostates" did give me an idea.
I'll be accepting resumes through the week.
We are looking for charismatic, dynamic go-getters. Applicants must have strong leadership skills, but must also be able to work in a group. Those with any remnant of goodness or decency left in them need not apply.
Applicant must have at least 2 years of professional experience undermining the cherished beliefs of others, or equivalent experience in a 4-year degree in Gender Studies or Evolutionary Biology. Must show working knowledge of the Necronomicon, Excel, and PowerPoint. Multilingual a plus.
Eleven positions are open in this elite, super secret and diabolical organization. Apply now!
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Yesterday they were off with their grandparents and so I decided to start on the 6 to 7 year video. A couple days ago Brian told me this song was his "favorite song ever, because it's Icelandic" :-):
Which is cool, because I like the song too. So I started out with that and then looked to add our pictures. I found that the first photos from that month just happened to be from our legal marriage in California, last August.
Remember that? How nice that was before we knew how the story would progress?
This year will forever begin in our family record with that wonderful weekend.
It made me laugh, looking over those photos again. What a great couple of days; it seemed like we'd finally made it over the hill and time would quickly take care of the rest. We were actually in a place where, if something happened to me, I knew my family would be treated as family should be treated. Sure, it wasn't the whole load off, but it was some relief, and I felt I could let down my guard.
And it didn't end there. What a great month: married in Ca, helped my cousin with her art exhibit in Helper, attended a nephew-in-law's wedding in Moab, and had our huge family reunion in Sun Valley. It was a near perfect month, made all the better by the fact that I knew my husband and kids had this added bit of legal protection.
I'll put the video of August I have below, though you'll have to imagine in the song (Not yet in my life have I violated copyright law, and I'm kind of hoping to avoid it just to see if I can :-)).
Anyway, that's what I want to get back to. I finished putting this video together from our August marriage to our February Hawaii trip and it really put what has happened this year into condensed perspective; each snap shot fading in and out in seconds jogs the memory of weeks.
I watched this video as it makes it to November and past, and read those two posts after Proposition 8 won (or, heck, most of my posts since) and can see this sense of being pathetically unable to protect my family take hold in me, and I feel I'm just now getting a hold on it, even though I naively thought it'd be a matter of days back on November 5th. So, yeah, thank you for your patience :-). It's taken too long but I will reassemble an optimistic sense of fairness, my sense of the public's standards of evidence, and my sense of what to expect from strangers. I'll reassemble where I was 8 months ago.
If Ca doesn't decide soon, maybe we should just head off to Iowa; speed up the process :-).
Friday, April 03, 2009
Gayle Ruzicka of Utah's Eagle Forum, Paul Mero of the Sutherlan Institute, and a couple other anti-marriage equality activists had already spoken to the same class. We were there to make the case for marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
I don't think there's much point in going over the arguments. I've got all my arguments for marriage up in detail and with many referees here and here, and my counter arguments to people like Mrs. Ruzicka and Mr. Mero here. So I'll just go over what stuck out to my mind then:
--I thought Senator McCoy made a good closing remark. Something to the tune of "If you pay attention to their arguments, you'll see all they have is fear. Don't buy into their fear." They have predictions of the family crumbling, church's being forced to close, and such, and those do sell. They have scared a lot of people (Look at Beck's experience, with a S.I. follower for a great example). No, we can't in good concious make similar threats, even if they work. But I have to think, especially when their predictions are so demonstrably false is places with equal rights, that hope for equality and facts will win the day.
--We were talking about how legal marriage helps give gay men and women a path and structure on which to build strong relationships, as it does for many heterosexuals. The topic of gay promiscuity came up and was related to the fact that most all gay men are not guided into dating or responsible relationships, like straight men often are, by their parents, church, or society. I brought up the fact that, when I came out, my parents expected nothing different of me, and I feel that's one of the biggest reasons I've only ever had one sexual partner. Out of the audience then came the observation that Gayle Ruzicka has had more sexual partners than I have, that she's been divorced! If true, I wish, the next time we're in the same room, I could muster the sort of "I love you all but you're so-called family is a civilization-destroying abomination" thing she puts off. Ah, but who am I kidding? I may have thought that way about divorce when I was a young Chrstian and took the Bible's word on it (That's Mat 5:32, and Mal 2:16, Gayle ;-)), but, even if divorced, I'm sure she has a good reason for her family choices, reasons for which I'll even want to give her the sort of rights and responcibilities she'd not return.
--That other team must be losing it. They must see that long arc of history doesn't have much further to go for the gay community (For example, Iowa!). It came up a couple times how the students felt the anti-marriage equality group came there ranting, angry, and were even belligerent on some questions. They were relieved we weren't the same way. Heck, I always go to these things and encourage the students to ask the tough questions, those they're afraid to ask right up front; I told them to feel free to "rough us up a bit". One student observed that the other side really didn't even present anything like a cogent argument as much as fear mongering, which made me feel good to be there with the research under my belt collected for isocrat.org.
--Lastly, we've got some great folks in our local gay community; there were about 4 other people on the pannel with me and they all brought something unique and important to the table. Thank goodness, because they don't teach us scientists how to do speaking or politics particularly well :-).
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I'm sure I'll get into that some other time, but, this being April Fool's day, I'm pretty sure I'm required to keep from the serious on a blog post.
However, I can't think of anything funny and so I'll aim for cute :-).
While we were talking to the class, Brian was "working" on my computer. When we were done I came to find a couple stories and poems that I think are in need of publication:
Chapter 1(The Sick Bunny)I had to delete some as he began writing a poem about our last name :-). Also, no; gay parents do not let their 6-year-old children drink coffee. It seems it's just a the first word that came to mind when finding a rhyme with 'salty'. Nor do we give our child jelly beans to cure sickness, though they may want a world in which they got that instead of Children's Motrin :-).
The Sick Bunny
The bunny threw up.He was sick. He went to the doctor.The doctor couldn’t find any thing wrong.
So the bunny went back home.He ate three jelly beans.The next day he woke up,brushed his teeth
and ate breakfast.He felt really better!He took the whole day without any sickness.He lived happily
ever after.The end.
Chapter 2(Tree Seasons)
In the spring my tree begins green.
In the summer my tree puts on a green cloak.
In the fall my tree puts on brown, yellow and red.
In the winter my tree is the color black.
Pop,pop, pop, on the pan.
I smell popcorn that is tan.
I wonder what it taste
like in coffee.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
And get this: This bridge-building meeting of evangelicals and gays was held in the home of a lesbian couple, the same home in which Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the LDS church, was born and raised. He was actually born on the floor in the room adjacent to the one in which we were all sitting. I have to doubt he ever thought that a lesbian couple would ever be sleeping in his parent's bed room, or that a bunch of gays and evangelicals would be socializing in his living room, some drinking a glass of wine no less :-).
Anyway, I have to say there's a soft spot in my heart for evangelicals--there's something about their form of faith that comes off as charming and cheery in a way I don't often see. All that aside, these people we've been meeting with seem to be really good, charitable and friendly people, and I've enjoyed building these relationships both before and after we get down to moderated business.
Simply, it's a shame there's this wall between the gay community and them, and that's what we were there to feel our way around (or to find if there is a way around).
Last night actually seemed more tense than the first meeting. I think the problem was that we had such a good first meeting. There was more friendship there to break, and we were to be discussing the touchy topic of the use of the Bible and God's view of homosexuality.
The simple fact is they believe, as a matter of faith, homosexuality is a sin.
It seems at this point, though, we became three groups: 1. the evangelicals, 2. the christian gays and lesbians, and 3. the agnostic/atheist gays and lesbians. Group 1 and 2 are concerned about reconciling matters of scripture, and I can certainly see how important that could be to them. Much of the meeting was spent working through that centuries long debate.
Group 3, though, well, I'll just speak for myself. I don't much see the need in going over all that. Not that I won't with some hope; goodness knows I've weathered many arguments over Leviticus and Romans. It just seems to be a problem too big to be solved in a lifetime. It's a matter of faith, and there's no proof to be given.
I was aiming--I don't want to say lower--but elsewhere.
I told them I don't mind if they think homosexuality is a supernatural sin. I don't; I've had plenty of experience being friends (and family) with folks who think that way. The preacher there was reluctant to go where the scriptural conversation was going, knowing it could turn friendship towards hostility, but I wanted him to know his faith would not be held against him by me. I only care that doesn't translate into incivility or practical action against my family in politics or on the street. I care that he doesn't debase our family to our children, but, being adults, I'm sure we can disagree on this and still get along. I only care that the faith doesn't end in him treating me in way he'd not want to be treated.
We ran out of time, but that is the question I'm left with for next month. How do we get from A to C without agreeing on B? Is it possible?
Anyway, these are very nice people and I'm glad to get to know them. We are both minorities here, though, and both have trouble with a larger group. I wish the LDS church was open to such meetings and we could have, say, a bishop come to something like this, just as we had the head of an evangelical ministry there last night. Hey, we could even offer them a tour of Hinckly's childhood home :-).
Sunday, March 29, 2009
In anticipation, though, and not wanting to be bored of winter anymore, we took the kids into the mountains to go sledding yesterday. Enjoy it before it's gone, instead of feeling tired of it.
Though a snowball fight with his brother left Brian with an ear full of snow (remember how painful that was as a kid? :-)), it was a great antidote for this one last cold spell, kind of analogous to how I hope to weather future storms here, before the thaw.
Also, check out our cool new sled :
It wore out too easily, though: