21 December 2010

Gay It Forward

I don't know if any of you watch Will and Grace.  I watched it all the time when I was younger but there were so many jokes lost on me.  Now that I'm out, it's absolutely hysterical.  I don't get to watch it a lot now, but I happened to catch an episode last night.

The premise for the episode is that Karen sets up Will with her cousin Barry.  Barry just came out.  Will doesn't want to go out with him because he doesn't appear attractive and he's shy.  Jack meets up with them at the restaurant just after Will has let Barry down easy.  He tells Will that they should help Barry, coach him, teach him.

JACK: The point is, we senior gays have a responsibility to the freshmen. To teach them, to bring them along. Why, I helped turn this caterpillar into a chubby butterfly. And now you should do the same for Barry.
WILL: Why? Why is this my responsibility?
JACK: Because that's what we do in the community. We gay it forward.

I wouldn't consider myself a senior gay yet, but I know I'm not a freshman anymore either.  It's nice to have some confidence and some experience, for lack of a better word, behind me now.  

The "freshmen" come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all types.  And I feel for you.  It's not easy.  So how do we "gay it forward" for them?  

I like the "It Gets Better" Project, reaching out to people and letting them know that life can get better than however it is right now.  I like this blogging sphere and the great sense of community we have.  I like that the Nicholson's have parties so we can socialize and get to know each other and interact.  I like that Abelard maintains the MoHo Directory so we can read each other's blogs and be supportive of each other through daily life.  And I have learned that even just blogging about your experience can help someone out.  Sometimes just being yourself can help someone be less afraid to be who they are.

I wish that I had the means and the time to do more.  This world can be such a beautiful place, even though there are dark hours experienced upon it.  There is a lot of love out there too.  You just don't hear about as much.  Love is soft and gentle.  Love doesn't make it on the news a lot of time, but it's there.  It's here.  Arms waiting to surround you, accept you, help you heal.  

Gay it forward.  I love it.

14 December 2010

Saddest Story

I'm facebook friends with a lot of you, but for those of you who I don't know, this is what I look like (it's relevant to the story).

For my job, sometimes I'm a manager. This was the case on Sunday.  It was getting to be the end of the night, so there weren't a lot of tables in the restaurant.  We're supposed to do table visits as managers to make sure that the food and service are great.  Usually this happens when entrees are out.  So I go to check on this table.  It's a family--mom, dad, two young girls.  I would say the girls were about six and eight.  They were giggling and having a great time when I approached the table.  I did my spiel, made sure everything was good, and told the girls I was glad they were having a good time.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

A bit later, the server of that table came to me and asked if everything was good with that table.  I said yes.  She said that they were asking for the manager and one of the little girls was crying.  I thought that was weird, but went back to the table, not knowing what to expect.

It was just the father and the older girl at the table, and she was indeed crying.  Practically sobbing.  The dad says "we asked you back here because she has something to say to you."  So I look over at the girl, who won't look at me.  She manages to say "I'm sorry."  She's clearly embarrassed and I am feeling so bad for her, while still being so very confused.  So I look back at the dad.  He says to me, "After you walked away, she asked 'was that a girl or a boy,' and we didn't know if you heard or not, but I didn't like it and I won't stand for it, so she's apologizing to you."

At this point, the girl just starts saying "I'm sorry" over and over.  So I told her that I accepted her apology, mostly to appease the father, and I told her that it was okay.  I told her I hoped she would come back and see me and that we could be friends if she wanted.  She said "I don't know if I can come back," still crying, and it practically broke my heart.  So I told her I hoped I would see her again soon.  I told the father thank you, because even though I don't agree with the way he went about it, I can appreciate that he's trying to raise his kids to not be judgmental.  At least, I hope that is what he's trying to do.  I don't know what he said to her, or if it was what he said that made her cry to that degree, or if she was just embarrassed to be having to apologize, but in my mind it was kind of unnecessary.

I sent the server out with two of our free kids meals cards and told her to tell the girl "no hard feelings," just trying to make her feel better.  I really do hope they'll come back and be okay.  It was so sad!

And for the record, I guarantee, as a girl with a haircut like mine, it's not going to hurt my feelings or offend me if you think I'm a boy.  Just saying.

13 December 2010

Bridging The Divide

I don't know if anyone else watches the USA Network, but I watch it religiously.  They show a lot of Law and Order: SVU, which is one of my favorite shows, and I love their original series too.  Anyway, this month is Characters Unite Month, which is a really awesome idea in my opinion.

They made a documentary called Bridging the Divide.  It is about the discrimination that still exists in America.  It talks about immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities, people of different races, high school kids, and of course, LGBT people.  I watched it today.  Okay, I cried through pretty much the whole thing.  I'm such a softie.  But I thought it was a great documentary and totally worth watching.  If you go to www.charactersunite.com , the documentary is available to view there.

Also on the site, you can take the Characters Unite Pledge.  I did, because I believe that every person has a story worth listening to, and I know that every life is beautiful.  You should have the chance to be the character you are without fear or judgment.  One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. 

I think this is such a good message, especially for kids who are struggling in school and with tough stuff.  We are all aware of the epidemic of bullying and the lives that have been lost because the pain was too much to bear.  I appreciate the It Gets Better Project and the efforts that have been taken to help our youth understand that life is worth living.  I think this project is another way to reiterate that there are so many people ready and willing to accept you with open arms, no matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or who you love.

Check out the documentary.  Take the pledge if you'd like.  Be the character that you are.

11 December 2010

Worrying About Drama

Tonight is the family Christmas party for my dad's side of the family.  Since I didn't find out about it until about five days ago, I'm not going.  I have other plans.  I kind of wish I was available to go, but I'm also kind of relieved that I'm not going to be there.  The fear of the unknown gives me more anxiety that practically anything.  I get nervous around them, because I never know what to expect, and now that feels even more true than before. 

Some of my dad's family knows.  What would their reaction be if they all knew?  I imagine it as a wide spectrum.  My personal idea is that I think there would be more misunderstanding than anything.  In my experience with them, they tend to take the "react first, think about the consequences later" approach.  That doesn't always bode well for a softie like me.  I've always felt like there is a lot of judgment instead of unconditional love.  Just my observations.

I worry about my dad though.  It's his family after all.  I know he's having a really hard time with everything that's going on with me.  Some days, he will hardly speak to me.  He gets really weird and the feeling I get is that he doesn't want to be around me.  Some days, it's like it was before, when we were buds.  I just try to ride the waves as they come and be understanding.  I know that where my life is now is never where my parents planned I would be.  But it is what it is.

I don't know if it will come up at all.  I really really hope that it doesn't.  But it doesn't really matter to me one way or the other.  I'm still going to live my life.  And I guess if they are talking about me, they won't be talking about anyone else, and that might be a good thing.  Not everyone has a picture perfect life, you know?  If you're going to speculate about someone's life, talk about my dirty laundry instead of someone else's.  That won't bother me. 

If anything gets said tonight, in any sort of negative or demeaning way, I have no doubt in my mind that my mom will stand up for me and defend me and fight for me if that's what it comes to.  She's tough that way, and I know she loves me.  I think my relationship with her has improved so much since I came out.  It's better now that it probably has ever been, even back when I was being straight.  She'll turn into Mama Bear for any of her kids.  But I'm not sure what my dad will do.  I would hope first and foremost that nothing will get said to them at all.  But if it does, I don't know my dad's response would be. 

It's a crazy thing to have doubts about the love you get from a parent.  It's even difficult to try to explain.  The deep down love I know is still there.  I know he loves me.  I know he's having a hard time showing it.  It's just weird sometimes, a really weird feeling.

But I will say this, and if any of my dad's family ever reads this, I would hope that this is what they would remember:

I am gay and that is no one's fault.  My parents had absolutely nothing to do with it.  They didn't make me gay by the way they raised me.  They didn't choose it and I didn't choose it, and we're accepting it and doing the best that we can.  We're just doing the best that we can.  What more can you ask?

I'm crossing every finger and every toe that there won't be drama.  I really really really hope that it can just be a nice family Christmas party, with laughter and good food, Grandma and Grandpa playing Jingle Bells on their harmonicas, my dad blowing everyone away on his saxophone, and everyone leaving happy.

02 December 2010

Stop and Stare

My girlfriend and I went to the Festival of the Trees on Wednesday night.  For those of you who don't live in Utah, this is a yearly benefit for Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City.  Hundreds of trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses, and stuff are decorated and donated, then auctioned off to raise money.  Then they have four nights of exhibition for the public to come view the trees.  It's a really awesome event and if you are in the SLC area, I suggest you go.  It's at the Sandy Expo Center through the 4th.

Anyways, we're at the Festival, we're looking at trees and loving life.  In public, we don't act like a couple, meaning that we aren't affectionate, holding hands, things of that nature.  An observant soul could probably figure out that we're together, which is fine, but we don't advertise.  We're cautious.

I don't know if there were a lot of observant souls around last night, but we were both noticing how many people seemed to be staring at us.  Maybe it was an acute case of paranoia.  Maybe we were both having an awesome hair day and some people were jealous.  Maybe people could tell that we're gay but we're also happy, and gay people are "sinful" so we're not supposed to be happy.  That can be confusing for a Mormon, I think.  I don't know.  But it happens a lot when we go out and about.  People like to stare at us.  We just do our thing and try not to care, because we are happy, and that's what matters to us.

So I know we're adorable and all, but I think it's interesting that it happens to us.  Does it happen to you?  Why do you suppose that is?