31 December 2011

Yes I Am

Tonight was not a good night at work.  People were generally rude and inconsiderate and being already sensitive with my other stresses, I was not enjoying my evening.  It was like a general sense of heaviness was sitting in my chest.  When you count on your personality and interacting with people to make you money, this isn't a good thing.

And then...

I went to greet a new table.  It was a couple.  And she was beautiful.  Short, dark hair, olive colored skin, big brown eyes.  And even better, she was very nice, polite, and very engaging.  The guy she was with had a personality to match.  It was an awesome table.

And suddenly, I felt much better.  After I took their drink order, I felt lighter.  Nothing like a pretty girl to brighten the night.

30 December 2011

Don't Look Down

So I need to have a conversation with my parents and I'm not really looking forward to it.

I'm still gay and it's not changing.  I've still got a girlfriend, and it's not changing.  So my girlfriend and I are making changes that focus on the fact that we're still together and we're going to be together for a very long time.  And it's time to have a conversation with the parents before the moving van shows up to get my stuff on Tuesday.

I've been having mixed feelings about possible consequences.  I know that I haven't turned out in a way that is ideal for my parents.  I still want to make them proud.  I try to live in a good and honest way and hope that this will somehow make up for the parts of my life that we don't talk about at family parties.

Part of me thinks that maybe it's time to get over the unrealistic expectation that someday I'll be good enough as I am when it comes to my family.  That sounds harsher than how I feel it is, but I think it also describes where I'm at right now.  I know that me and my girlfriend will never be seen in the same way that my sisters are with their husbands.  I get it.  And I can't let that stop me from living my life.

Now, I'm not looking to be disrespectful when it comes to the religious beliefs of my family.  I think it's great that they can go to church every Sunday, study, learn, teach, do all of it.  I have no problem with it.  In fact, I want them to.  I know that there are some parents who decide that if their child can't be accepted by a religion, they'll leave it.  That's great for them.  But I believe that this is something that would be detrimental to my parents and my sisters, and so I'm happy that they stay.  I'm happy that they make decision in their lives that better their lives.  I'm happy that they're happy.  The Church enriches their lives and I appreciate that.  I would never ask them to turn their back on something that they truly and deeply care about.

And I genuinely feel that way.  I don't extend that sentiment for the sole purpose of hoping for the same courtesy in return (although it would be nice).  I can be happy that my family is happy, even when they find joy in a path that I found sorrow in.  I'm not jealous about it, I'm not upset about it.  I am really okay with it, which surprises me sometimes, but I am.

So why is it that I find myself so concerned with this next step in my life?  I find myself thinking that my girlfriend and I have been together for two and a half years, that we're building our life together, that we're seriously committed to each other.  The more this doesn't change, the more I think my family will just get used to it.  But is it selfish to ask them to just get used to it?  But then, why should I sacrifice my own purpose and happiness and comfort so they can be more comfortable?  Is it wrong to feel like I have the right to sleep at night?

I hate walking this tightrope.  But I suppose the best way to get from one point to another is to not look down, and not look back.  I'm hoping I can find a way to make the best of an uncomfortable conversation and the consequences, good or bad, will be bearable.

27 December 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

Apologies that it's been so long since I last posted.  My life has been a little busy and crazy and some days I don't even know which way is up.  So I thought that while I'm on break from school, I would let you know what I've been up to.

School.  School school school.  I changed schools after I got my Associate's Degree and the institution where I'm at now requires much more work that my last school.  I think my social life disintegrated completely.  I went to school, I went to work, and I did a lot of homework.  I think that's the majority of my life.  Oh, but I did let myself watch TV while I ate.  Your brain needs a rest every now and then.

But I'm also really enjoying school, a lot more than I did at the other university.  I'm having to work more but I'm learning more.  I like the teaching style better.  And it helps that I'm finally in my major, so all my classes are applicable.  It makes them much more interesting.  Even better, I got two A's and two A-'s for the semester.  Yay!

I'm still at the restaurant and this week is one of the busiest of the year.  Everyone is redeeming gift cards and we'll be on a wait pretty much every day this week.  I'm putting in more hours now that I have more hours to give.

Sounds pretty boring, huh?

Of course, I'm always thinking, thinking, thinking.  I've thought of many blog posts over the last few months.  I'm hoping that I can find time to put some of these thoughts out there, really look at them and make sense of what's going through my mind.  After all, that's one of the great things about this blog.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and that you all will have a wonderful 2012.  Love you all!

--Amy

19 September 2011

Reassured

My marketing teacher is awesome.

She cornered me in the hallway last week before class.  She's kind of spunky and quite hilarious at eight in the morning.  I wasn't expecting her to speak to me when I passed her in the hallway.  She said hi.  I said hello.  But she wanted to talk more.  So the conversation went something like this:

"Amy, remind me of your major again."

"Aviation management."

"Hmm...okay.  Well I just want you to know that if you ever need anything, if you need someone to talk to, anything, my door is always open.  I know there's a lot of men in the aviation department and if you ever have any problems, you just let me know and I'll be sure to take care of it.  And also, I am known to have quite an adorable following of gay men, because my shoes are fabulous, and I think they're wonderful, but we haven't had a lot of women here that have been so comfortable being themselves.  I just want you to know that I'm here if you have any problems, if you have any issues, you just let me know."

This was rather unexpected.  But it was also really nice to hear.

I don't know this woman very well.  But she went out of her way to let me know that I have an ally at school.  I thanked her.  I didn't really know what else to say.

At the same time, part of my decision in going to this school was because it's a more liberal campus.  I was hoping to feel safe.  I was hoping to feel good with being me.  I was hoping for a little bit of acceptance.  And when I was deliberating between my three college choices, I really felt like the school I chose was where I needed to be.  So it was almost like this experience reaffirmed my decision to go to this college.

And if it makes it a little easier to go to class at eight in the morning, that's a nice bonus too.

30 August 2011

Devotion

I had a "family" table the other day at work.  It was a lesbian couple, probably in their late forties, and an older lady.  She was the mother of one of the lesbians.

She was the mother of the one in the wheelchair.

I wouldn't say she was a completely paralyzed from the neck down, but it wasn't a waist down paralysis.  She had a powered wheelchair and she could maneuver it as she needed to without assistance.  But she had limited use of her hands.  She definitely relied on her companion (which I say because I hate the term "partner").

This was one of the nicest tables I've waited on.  And it wasn't just because they were family.  They were polite, they said thank you, they said please when they needed something, and they were pleasant to talk to.  I didn't dread going to the table.

And to watch the love and devotion between these two...was just a privilege.  To watch the one cut up food and feed it to her sweetheart, to watch her care for her, was so adorable.

As I watched them, all I could think of was, "how can people say that this is wrong?  How can people say that these two shouldn't be married?"  How many people, gay or straight, would stay?  It can't be easy for the two of them.  If I was in that situation, I imagine it would be downright difficult.  But it's worth it to them.  It doesn't matter that there are difficult times.  They love each other.  Period.  And that is real love...complete devotion...being willing to do anything to be with the one you love.

When they left, the woman in the wheelchair was able to make her way towards the door under her own power.  And the other?  She helped the mother stand, gave her the cane she needed to walk, and let her lean on her arm as they headed towards the door.

I don't think I'll ever forget that moment.  That's good people right there.  That's what family is all about.  And I hope I see them again.

26 August 2011

180 Degrees

Years ago, I was not in a good place.  Most of my days were gray.  The sunlight lost its sparkle.  Shadows followed me everywhere I went.

Then I went through a program to help me turn my life around.  And it literally turned my life around.

I made a really good friend there.  Lately, I've been thinking about something she said to me once.

"You were in one place.  You were going in one direction.  Then you started doing this, and you found a different direction.  You turned 180 degrees.  And the problem with that is, that everything and everyone that was in front of you before is now behind you.  And they can choose to catch up with your new direction...or they get left behind."

I don't know why I've been thinking about her words.  But I have.  I've been thinking about the things that didn't catch up, the things that have been left behind.

I wish I knew why this was on my mind right now.

23 August 2011

When You Know Someone

It's easy to discount something you have no experience with.  After all, you have no experience with it.  You haven't touched it.  You haven't observed it.  You don't know its quirks, its disposition, how it reacts when poked with a stick.

Some people like to speculate, despite having no knowledge of the thing they are speculating about.

We like to do this.  We like to think that we are informed authorities about things that we really know nothing about.  We like to do this with people, probably more than anything else.

It's easy to lump everyone together and buy into a perpetuated stereotype.  It's easy to say that all people with quality A and quality B are all alike.  If you really stop to think about it, it's a little ridiculous, but it's easy to say that.

When you know someone who is gay, suddenly it becomes a little easier to be sympathetic towards gay people.  When you know someone who gets sick, suddenly it becomes a little easier to be compassionate towards people who are sick.  When you know someone who has an emotional issue, suddenly it becomes a little easier to be understanding towards people who struggle with their emotions.

When you're willing to reach out and know someone, suddenly it becomes a little easier to have love and compassion for your fellow man.

22 August 2011

A Simple Explanation

I don't understand straight couples.

I was thinking this today as I waited for such a couple to make their decision about what they were having for dinner.  They were young, married, sitting next to each other in the booth instead of across from each other.  They were expecting a baby.

For some reason, I noticed how close she was to him, how she laid her hand on his arm, how she looked at him with such adoration.

I found myself wondering what that could possibly be like.  What is it like to feel that way about a man?

The answer for me is that I don't know.  It's a foreign concept.  I can't imagine what it's like to feel that way about a man.  I remember wondering why she would want to be that close to him.  Well duh, it's because she loves him.  She loves him enough to say that she'll spend her whole life with him, raise a family with him, give her heart to him and no one else.

She loves him the same way that I love my girlfriend.  But she probably wouldn't understand me any more that I understood her in that moment.

She loves him.  He loves her.  I don't understand it at all.

In other cases such as my own, she loves her.  He loves him.  But some people don't understand it at all.  In fact, they're not even willing to try.

I still don't understand straight couples.  But I can see where they're coming from.  It's because they love each other.  Why do I stay with my girlfriend?  Why do I want to be close to her?  Why does she look at me with adoration?  It's because we love each other.

It's amazing to me how simple love can be.  It's a simple explanation to the questions and statements and life choices we don't understand.  But sometimes we're just not willing to see how simple it really is.  We're not willing to recognize that adoring look, and remember when we felt that way about someone, what it was like.  We just love to make it complicated.

08 August 2011

The Gay Lifestyle

I've heard this term referenced a few times in the last few weeks.  "The gay lifestyle."  What even is that?

As a gay person, I find it to be a stereotypical tactic to portray gay people in yet another negative light.  It refers to the partying, drug-taking, sleeping around and overly promiscuous sort of gay person.  It's such an easily believable idea for the straight community, that often being gay can't mean anything except that you like to party and take drugs and have sex with every man or woman that you come in contact with, depending on which type you like.

But I have lots of straight twenty-something friends.  They like to go to clubs on weekends and dance until their shoes come off.  I know people who drink themselves into a coma on their days off, or take recreational drugs for a good time.  I know straight people who enjoy one night stands.

Sounds familiar.  Yet that kind of twenty-something scene isn't referred to as a "straight lifestyle."  It's referred to as being young, not tied down, living it up.  What's the difference?

And yet that doesn't mean that all straight people act that way.  I know twenty-something straight people who are putting themselves through school, or have finished school and are just getting started on their careers.  I also have married straight friends who are totally committed to their spouse and the life they are building together.  They go to work, they go home at night, they hug their kids.  They don't go out on the weekends.  The strongest thing they drink is Pepsi.

What conclusion can we draw then?  It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight.  If you're young, you tend to be more unpredictable, more carefree or careless.  When you grow up, you tend to be more responsible.  That usually goes for anyone.  Of course there are always exceptions.  That's a given with most rules and most situations.

I am gay and I have a lifestyle.  I'm even twenty-something.  But instead of being basing my lifestyle on partying like there's no tomorrow, it goes something like this...

I have a job.  I've had the same job for seven years.  Over the summer I've been working five nights a week.  That works out to be between 32 and 40 hours a week.  After all, I've got bills to pay.  And being an adult, it's important to me to get them paid on time.

There's been fun stuff too.  I've had time to have movie nights with my friends.  I have a season pass to Lagoon.  We had fireworks for the 4th of July, both with family and with friends.  I've been able to see my sisters and their families.  I've watched a lot of soccer.  I've been to a Bee's game.  I've been to a couple of concerts.  It's been a good summer.

But school will be starting again in about a week and a half, so that will change.  I'm taking fifteen credit hours for this upcoming semester, so I'll be working at my job less and doing much more homework.  The social things I've been doing over the summer will diminish.  In fact, unless it's a super special occasion, the social things will drop out of my life completely.

And through it all, I have had, and I will have the love and support of my girlfriend.  I will come home to her at night.  She'll tell me that everything will be okay when I start to panic about school.  She'll help quiz me when I'm studying for a test.  We'll watch late night SportsCenter to unwind from the day.  With the NFL season back on, we'll watch football on Sundays.  It's fun at the house, because of NFL Sunday Ticket and the fact that there are six different teams with fans residing there.  It sometimes gets rowdy.  I'll volunteer to make her dinner when we get sick of fast food.  I'll help her niece with her homework when I need a break from mine.

You know, it's really not a lifestyle at all.  It's more like a life.

Yours might be different from mine, and I have no problem with people who like to go out and have a good time.  I hope you know that I'm not bashing on what people do in their spare time.  It is, after all, your spare time.  And it's your life, no matter who you are or who you like.

Be yourself.  Live your life.  But don't buy into stereotypes.  There's no such thing as "one size fits all" when it comes to preconceived notions.

04 August 2011

July

July was a colossal blogging fail.  But there's good reason for that.  I've been enjoying my summer and there were some big things that happened in July.

I love soccer.  I don't care that it isn't that popular here in the States.  I love it and I love watching it.  So I was preoccupied with the Women's World Cup that took place through June and July.  The US Women's National Team had a great run.  There were some pretty amazing matches (like the Brazil one, for instance) and I enjoyed watching them go all the way to the World Cup Final.

The World Cup Final was between the US and Japan.  Japan had never before beaten the US.  In the three matches that had been played between the two teams prior to the Final, the US won all three times.  Japan had never before been to a World Cup Final.  And it was one of the classiest matches I've ever had the privilege to watch.  We scored, then they scored.  So it went to extra time.  Then we scored, then they scored.  So it went to penalty kicks.  And in penalty kicks, Japan won.

A silver medal is nothing to feel bad about.  The US really dominated that match, Japan just scored when they needed to.  I'm glad I got to see it.

Also preoccupying me was the launch and final mission of the space shuttle Atlantis.  The shuttle program is now retired.  I lost a lot of sleep for the duration of STS-135.  I got up early to watch the launch and spent most of the week glued to NASA TV, getting mission updates and watching the astronauts in space.  This mission was a resupply mission to the International Space Station.  They were in space for 13 days.

The first thing I ever wanted to be was an astronaut and I have followed the space shuttle program over the course of my entire life.  I'm really sad that it's over.  But I'm glad I had the means to follow these last few missions.

And the other big thing was the release of A Dance With Dragons.  This is the fifth book in A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin.  You may have heard of Game of Thrones, which is the first book and has recently been an HBO series.  These books are absolutely incredible and I can't get enough of them.  GRRM has an amazing writing style and I highly recommend this series.  Just be warned, it's not a PG series, but it's fantastic none the less.

So that was my July.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Hope you enjoyed your July too!

09 July 2011

Different Places

Tonight was the night.  Welcome back, Class of 2001.  And I actually took the night off and went.  I was nervous.  I was anxious.  I didn't really know what to expect, so I tried to keep any expectations that might have snuck up on me as low as possible.

I went alone.  My girlfriend wasn't super thrilled with the idea of going back to high school, even if it's not the high school she went to.  I can respect that.  High school wasn't the best time in either of our lives.  I hung out with one of my friends, who actually works with me at the restaurant, and his girlfriend.  That, in and of itself, was kind of awkward.  It's always good times being the third wheel.  But I am really appreciative that they would let me sit at their table and converse with me.

I saw a lot of faces I recognized.  But other than the entire building, I got the sense that not much had changed.  I had been warned of this.  Most people who have been to their ten year reunion say that it's still very reminiscent of high school.  I've heard the big change comes for your twenty year, and I also hear that it's more enjoyable because people have changed.

I saw people still sitting in the same groups they mingled with in high school.  I didn't do a whole lot of mingling myself.  I talked with a few people, but found it very awkward feeling.  I wasn't one of those kids who had a lot of friends in high school.  I had a small group that I clung to.  Seeing them was nice.  But most of them are also friends with me on Facebook, so I'm pretty sure that most of them are aware that I have a girlfriend.  Our conversations were pretty one-sided.  I asked them questions about what they were up to, where they were living, how many kids they had...and they responded...and then there were awkward pauses, because they wouldn't ask me any questions in return.  It was like they didn't know how to talk to me anymore.

I did spend a few minutes with a girl in my class who also has a girlfriend now.  For those few minutes, it was normal.  It was completely comfortable. And that's kind of funny, because I didn't spend probably any time at all with her in high school.

I didn't stay for the whole thing.  I figured that I'm not in high school anymore.  We aren't kids anymore.  I'm 28 for crying out loud, I can leave if I feel like it.

As I think about it, there is still some disappointment that lingers.  But I know that we're in different places.  Most, from what I can tell, are focused on their families.  They're married with kids.  After all, that's the path that we were put upon and encouraged to walk down.  So for the last ten years, that's what they've been doing.  I started down that path but didn't continue.  I took a different path.  So we're not in the same place.  Our priorities are not necessarily the same.  It's not that either is more important, they're just different.  And I don't know what they've been through in the last ten years, any more than they know what I've been through.

I can say that I'm glad I went, if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I could.  Perhaps when the 20 year reunion rolls around, our places won't be as far apart as they were tonight.

06 July 2011

When I Think About Independence

We live in an amazing country.

There are men and women who die every day defending my freedom.  I sit here now, a few days after our Independence Day, next to the woman I love.  And I am free to love her.  I am free to go to Pride celebrations and to celebrate when a state decides that it should be okay to have marriage equality.  I am free to live where I do, to go to concerts, to earn money and spend it on whatever I want...although it mostly goes to bills.

I am free.  I am proud to be an American.  And I honor those who allow me these privileges.

Even though there are times when we are treated like second class citizens, I am still proud to be an American.  For all the rights we don't have, we still have more than most.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe July 4th!

03 July 2011

Quantity Vs Quality

Yesterday was an important day for me, and as taboo as it might be for me to share why, I'm going to do it anyway.  I guess if you get squirmy you can read someone else's blog.

Yesterday marks three years since I last cut myself.

I think I've mentioned on this blog before that I was once involved with that behavior.  Well, involved is probably a bit of an understatement.  The reasons varied over the years but one thing was very consistent: there was always pain.  Not just the obvious physical pain.  There was so much emotional pain that it is indescribable to anyone who hasn't been in that place.

When I say "involved" what I mean is that it was part of my life for eleven years.

Three years compared to eleven years doesn't seem like very much.  It was such a struggle to live through and for so many years I couldn't see any sort of light at the end of the tunnel.  I didn't believe that such a light existed.  But the quality of my life has improved by at least eleven times in these last three years.  It's so nice to not be miserable all the time.  It hasn't been all smooth sailing and I've had days that have sucked but my life is better.  It got better, and it gets better all the time.

I know it makes people uncomfortable but I think it's just because they don't often know how to react.  I've had a little bit of courage lately and I haven't been wearing a jacket as much this summer.  Short sleeves feel nice.  It's not my intent to inspire awkwardness, even though it probably happens.  I figure that I can be okay with where I've been.  If someone wants to ask about it, I think it's good to talk about it.  I have a story and I am willing to share it if you want to listen.  I'm not afraid of my story.

I'm glad that this is just the beginning.  Three years and counting, and every day counts.

30 June 2011

Apologies

I have always been the type of person who reaches for an apology first.  Whether the situation calls for it or not, I'm apologizing.  Whether it was my fault or not, I'm apologizing.  I don't know what it is that makes me over-apologize, but I do.

When I think about my family, the first thing I feel is a need to apologize.  I want to tell them that I'm sorry.

Sometimes I think it's ridiculous.  They don't apologize to me for being who they are.  They just are.  I don't think they think about it at all.  But they also fit with the other people in the family.  And they fit so neatly too.

Sometimes I can hear a part of me arguing that if I feel like apologizing, it must be because I feel guilty, and if I feel guilty, I must be doing something wrong.  But in trying to analyze that situation, I've realized that I don't want to apologize because of what I'm doing or how I'm living.  I want to apologize only because I feel like they expect something from me that I cannot give.  I'm sorry that I can't meet that expectation.  I'm sorry that I don't fit like everyone else does.  I'm sorry that I feel like I have an amazing life that I can't share with them.  I'm sorry that they don't understand.

But I'm not sorry for who I am.

I've found the peace I needed to accept myself and to be okay with who I am.  I have to live with myself every day, and if I've done the self-hated thing before.  I'm over it.  I'd rather not go back.  And I can live with who I am.  More than that, I love it.  I love being happy.  I love it when I'm around friends and I can relax and be who I am.  I love not having walls and barriers up, being able to have an unguarded conversation, not being nervous about the topics that will come up.  And I love the people who love me enough to give me that safe space.  It's a much needed space and I appreciate it so much.

Now I just need to learn to stop apologizing when I don't need to.  I don't know what it will take to get over that urge to say I'm sorry, especially to my family, but I hope one day I can.

27 June 2011

Hope For Marriage

I am divorced.  It wasn't how I planned it, but it is what it is.

My girlfriend is divorced.  Not how she planned it either.

I know four couples who are currently getting divorced.

I know others who have been there and done that.  I can't really speak as to what their plans were.

Sometimes, especially lately, I find myself wondering what's been happening to marriage.  As a person who also happens to be gay, I have heard that I somehow have something to do with the disintegration of marriage in this society.

I don't think so.

In the case of my friends who are going through divorces, their decisions to end their marriages has nothing to do with anyone who is gay.  It has to do with a lack of commitment, a lot of selfishness in the one case (but to spare you from a moment of epic profanity, I won't go into it further), and variables that I have no knowledge of.  Rightfully so.  What happens in someone else's marriage is really none of my business.

Most of you are aware that New York just voted in favor of marriage equality.  In listening to Governor Cuomo's comments on Anderson Cooper, I was really impressed with him.  He said something about marriage equality that I thought was especially true:

"Marriage Equality.  I said to the legislators, 'you look at the first word, marriage.  It's really about the second word, equality.'"

I would bet most people only focus on the first word.  They're so intent on keeping marriage between a man and a woman.  But I would think that if they were really wanting to preserve traditional marriage, maybe they could teach that man and that woman that divorce shouldn't be your first response when things don't progress in a fairytale-like manner.

I thought that once I got married, I would always be married.  I was wrong in the case of my ex-husband.  I admit that I am better off not being married to him.  I know he's better off not being married to me.  And I know that there are circumstances where the benefits of separating outweigh the complications of staying together.  I wish my ex the best.  I really hope he's happy now.

If I was to get married again, that would be it.  There would never be another option.  I would be married, I would be committed, I would work to keep my marriage as happy, wholesome, and strong as I possibly could.  I'm not as young as I was when I was first married, which is probably why I would also make sure that I was ready to be a wife again.

As of this moment, I know that I'm not ready to be married again.  Neither is my girlfriend.  But it's sure nice to know that if there ever comes a day when we are, there's one more place we can go that will accept us and our love just as we are.  That gives me hope.  Most human beings want the same thing when it comes to love.  We want the chance to find that one special person.  We want to have that relationship that is so amazing, we never want to see it end.  We want to keep it and nurture it and help it grow.  We want to love and be loved.

Some say that gay marriage can't work.  These days, it seems like straight marriages aren't working either.  But still, I have hope for marriage, marriage of any kind.  I hope that one day it will be an option for me that won't inspire such a rowdy debate.  I hope that the current divorce rate starts getting lower instead of higher.  Marriage does and should mean something.  In my opinion, it shouldn't be something that you just cast aside.

On the day that New York voted yes, I had a table at work that came to celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary.  They hadn't run out of things to talk about.  They held hands across the table.  I could see that each of them was looking at the person who was most important to them.  I thought that was pretty awesome.

In August, my girlfriend and I will be celebrating two amazing years together.  My biggest hope is that we make it to 58...or more.

25 June 2011

Here

It's nearly four in the afternoon.  I have to be to work by five.  I should probably start to get ready or something.  But I'd rather just sit here.

It's a warm day outside.  The sun in shining and the boys are doing yardwork.  It's a good day to sit on the porch and swap stories.  I know that in an hour, I will be stuck in a hot restaurant until long after the sun goes down.  So for now, I'd rather just sit here.

I'm comfortable, just lounging.  And from where I sit, I can see my girlfriend.  I can hear the music she's playing as she puts on her makeup.  She has the same routine and I can tell you what she's probably doing without actually seeing what she's doing.  Soon she'll be doing her hair.  Then she'll finish the rest of her makeup.  Then she'll ask me how she looks.  She says hi to me when she catches me looking at her.  She's adorable.

As I sit here, and I think about her, as I watch her and feel the love I have for her, it just makes sense.  I love her.  It's that simple.  So I'd rather just sit here.

21 June 2011

Walking A Mile...

...or trying to, at least.

I think one of the most frustrating things about coming out is the way some people will treat you like you're a completely different person.  It's been difficult for me to understand why this happens but I've been giving it more thought lately.

From my perspective, I haven't really changed.  I'm still the same person.  I just don't struggle as much as I used to.  I've come to terms with the fact that I'm gay.  I've found acceptance and I can say that I'm happy with myself and with my life these days.  I'm a much happier me.  I would think that this would be seen as a great thing, but we all know that just depends on who you're talking to.

What is it like from someone else's perspective?

Honestly, I can't say.  I've tried to imagine though.  I've tried to imagine what it must be like for my dad.  He doesn't act the same towards me anymore.  He doesn't hug me like he used to.  He doesn't always talk to me like he used to.  Sometimes I feel like he doesn't want to be around me.

But why?  I know that I'm not that different than I used to be.  So what has changed?

I think it's the idea of me that has changed.  I don't know what it's like to be a parent, but I imagine that you make plans for your kids.  You have ideas about how their lives will turn out, you have hopes and dreams for them, you want them to succeed and do well in society.  Because just like us, our parents have been taught and conditioned to what is "right" and what is "wrong" and what "normal" should look like.

I was once that "normal" daughter.  I was given a path to follow and I followed it.

Then I got divorced.  Well gee, that's not something a parent can be proud of.  That's not how it's supposed to work out, and no one wants to talk about it.  Everyone knows that if you're married in the temple, you're supposed to live happily ever after.  I didn't have any kids, so no grandkids to put pictures of on the fridge or in the wallet.  But still, as disappointing as that is, it's not horrible.  You can still answer honestly and without embarrassment when your friends ask "and how's Amy doing?"

I don't think that's the case anymore.

And now that I've "decided" to be gay, there won't be another marriage...at least, not one to invite family and friends to, not one to send announcements out about, not one to hold a reception for and have people share in the happiness of.  There won't be grandkids...there might be a grand-puppy, but there will be no proud "look at my grandkids" moment, not from me anyway.  There won't be another son-in-law to golf with, barbecue with, have guy talk with.  The idea of that, and the happiness that would surely come along with it, is gone.

No matter what I do, what I say, how long my girlfriend and I are together and happy together, we can never replace that.  We don't fit the definition of "normal" as my parents understand it.  And we never will.

So I haven't changed.  But the idea of who I was, and who I was supposed to be, has.  Combine that with gay and lesbian stereotypes, the AIDS epidemic, the club scenes, and that's definitely a recipe for awkwardness.

I wish I could tell them that they are great parents, and they haven't failed because I'm not going to end up with another man.  I wish I could tell them that they raised me well, and I'm proud of my morals and values and the person they helped me become.  I wish they felt like they didn't have to be ashamed of who I am.

But maybe if I keep trying to put myself in their shoes, one day, they'll also try to put themselves in mine.

14 June 2011

"You're So..."

I feel the need to rant.  And this felt like the perfect place to do it.

I admit that I am a sensitive person.  I always have been.  And maybe this rant is a result of me being overly sensitive.  I've thought about it and tried to convince myself that it isn't a big deal, or at least, there's no point in making it a big deal because it won't do any good.  And I've told myself that I should let it go.  But I'm still bothered by it, which means that it isn't just something I need to let go and get over.

So I would just like everyone to know that I am not now, nor have I ever been stupid, lame, or not worth it.  I really try my best to not be unpleasant or to resemble something completely unfortunate.  And I am really sick and tired lately of social slang implying that I am anything less than a fortunate, happy, lovable human being.

Yes, I am referring to the ever popular and ever homophobic "that's so gay" statement.  Or anything like unto it.

I get that it happens.  I get that this small blog posting will not make waves and change this really ignorant behavior.  And I get that it makes you sound "cool" or "macho" or "in."  But it also makes you sound like an intolerant jerk in my opinion, ESPECIALLY when you call yourself my friend.  That makes it really difficult to brush it off and not take it personal.

I am somebody.  I didn't always think I was important or that my feelings mattered one bit compared to everyone else's.  But that has changed.  And the fact that this has me so upset could be considered a good sign as far as my opinion of myself goes.  It means that I care enough about myself to get offended and get upset, to say something and not let it walk all over me, to put something out there publicly that says I'm not okay with it.

That's right, I'm not okay with it.

I know that you have the right to have your opinions and to say what you want based on said opinions.  Freedom of speech.  But as much as the government wants to deny me, I have rights too.  I have the right to disagree with your opinion.  I have the right to state my own.  And I have the right to tell you to go to hell if you're not treating me the way I expect a friend would.

So take your "that's so gay" and your other thoughtless comments that I won't mention here (which have me more upset that your "that's so gay" affection), take your hypocrisy and your self-righteousness, and be gone.  I don't need you.  I am important, I am lovable, I matter for crying out loud, and I have good, honest friends who treat me that way.

---End Rant---

10 June 2011

Great Expectations

I feel like I'm in a weird place lately when it comes to blogging.  I haven't been blogging very much, haven't really felt like blogging lately.  It's not that I don't want to.  But I feel like there's something in me that is stopping me from sitting down and taking the time to punch out a post.  So I'm going to try something here that might be a little different than what I normally do.  I haven't really thought about this post very much.  I'm just going to spill a little bit and write as it comes to me.  If it happens to be fragmented and strange, oh well.

Sometimes I feel like I don't have a lot of freedom on my blogs.  I know that some readers of this blog are people who have known me for years out in the "real world" and sometimes that scares me.  Sometimes that hinders what I would like to say.  I find that I am censoring myself.

But more than that, I find that the expectations I have for myself bring me to not write things that I probably could.  I want to write something profound, something that can bring people into my experiences, something that can help others if they need it.  I want to learn from what I share because I know that when I stand next to it and look at it in a real, raw sort of way, it makes more sense to me.

But I don't always have something brilliant and profound to share.

Some of the people I work with have recently started blogging.  I've been reading their posts and I love the feel of it.  They just write.  They take their thoughts, no matter what they are, and they aren't afraid to put them out there.  It doesn't matter what someone else says or comments about.  It's their blog and they say what they want because it's their space to say what they want.  And I admire them for that.  It seems like they don't have restrictions.

But that's because they don't give themselves the restrictions.

I'm really good at putting up walls and barriers and building myself a nice little nest of nothingness.  All it does is keep me in one spot, doesn't let me see the scenery or open up and explore the world around me.  I get scared, I get nervous, I get anxious, and I let that be bigger than what I really want.  I'm working on it.  And I'm getting better.  But it's a conscious effort, and sometimes I get tired.

Knowing is half the battle though.

So I think I'm moving into a different place when it comes to this blog.  I make no promises, but I'd like to try and come back to the blogging world.  I want to find that freedom that I think I used to have.  I want it to feel real again, instead of just a product of what I'm "expected" to write.  That's what school is for.

The only expectations that should worry me are my own.  And I'd like to try giving myself a bit of a break.  It is summer vacation, after all.

My name is Amy, and this is my blog.  I'm going to make it mine again.

05 June 2011

Make Your Own PFLAG

My mom's family has a saying that is near and dear to our hearts:

Family Is Where It's At.

Being raised in an LDS home, this probably doesn't sound surprising.  It's like a theme built upon another established theme, perhaps you've heard it once or twice:

Families Are Forever.

So when you hear about gay youth being kicked out of their homes for being gay, or when families turn their backs on their brother, son, daughter, cousin, aunt, uncle, sister when they come out, it's heartbreaking.  I guess there's an hidden asterisks attached: families are forever, unless of course, one of them is gay.  I can speak from experience when I say that even the thought of losing your family is a terrifying agony.  So many people delay coming out to their family because even the possibility of being utterly rejected is too real, and should it actually become reality, it would be horribly devastating.

My own family has been more amazing than I probably give them credit for.  I know they struggle.  I know that where I am now was never in the grand plans that my parents had for me.  But all in all, they still love me.  My parents haven't abandoned me.  My sisters still want to see me.  I still get to be an aunt to my nieces and nephew, and a chew toy for the nephew-dog.

I know I'm lucky.  I have a family who tries.  They don't understand it, I know they don't.  But they try.

For all their awesomeness though, they will probably always be separate from the parts of my life that lead me to Pride.  I would be willing to bet that neither you nor I will catch them marching in a Pride Parade.  They've probably never heard of PFLAG.  I wonder if they'd ever really be "proud of my daughter and her wife," like one of the signs in the parade today proclaimed.

In the Pride Parade, the PFLAG group always makes me cry.  The signs they make, the smiles they wear, the honest love they express...it's beautiful.  But it's also difficult to watch.  It makes me cry.

But as I walked the Festival with my girlfriend and our straight friends who were with us, I realized that I do have my own PFLAG.  Maybe my parents aren't members, maybe my sisters aren't, but maybe they will be one day.  Until then, I've got some really amazing friends who love and support me no matter what.  My awesome friend Greg said to me today, "as long as you're happy, I'm happy."  And our other friends feel the same way.  I know they've got my back.  And that's a great feeling.

PFLAG is an organization that is built upon themes much like the ones mentioned in the beginning of this post.  They seem to understand that family is where it's at, and no one is any less important because of where their life takes them.  I can definitely get on board with people like that.

So thanks to the people that are my PFLAG.  Your support means more than you know.  Your love and friendship help to get me through the cloudy days, and help me smile more on the sunny days.  You are my family too.

Indeed, family is where it's at.  And I am so lucky to have mine.

03 June 2011

Success

What is success?

Success: favorable outcome
Succeed: attain a desired object or end

You can look "success" up in the dictionary and it will give you a definition.  But what success truly might mean to you is not something you can find in a book.  The words of Merriam-Webster won't describe what success will look like in universal terms.

Here in this community, there are many different versions of success.  For some, their favorable outcome is to stay active in the LDS Church.  Embracing religion and living it with all their mind, body, and soul gives them that feeling of succeeding.  For others, success could be rising above the religion of their youth and embracing themselves.  For others, it's finding a balance that they can be happy with.

But that's the point.  Success is about finding an outcome that you can be happy with.

I don't live your life and you don't live mine.  That will never change.  You get one life and you can't live anyone else's.

My success has been in overcoming.  There were nights where I didn't want to live to see the dawn.  My success has been to put that misery behind me and embrace the happiness that comes from being true to myself.  My success has been to take the weight of Pretending off my shoulders.  My success has been to find a deeper level of spirituality than I ever found within the four walls of a church building.  My success has been to allow myself to love someone and truly learn what "unconditionally" means.

My success is to give myself the opportunity to be a work in progress.

No matter who you are, I know you have success too.  What does it look like for you?

30 May 2011

All, Or Nothing At All

There was a religious debate at work the other day.  These always crack me up a little bit, because you can't argue religion and politics in my opinion.  There's too much emotion with either one, and it really comes down to how you feel about the facts instead of the actual facts themselves. 

In this particular debate, I didn't hear most of it, but I did hear a point that I thought was valid.

"I would rather not live a religion at all than live it half-heartedly.  What's the point of doing that?  Do you really think God would rather have me fake my way to whatever salvation might be waiting?"

Good point.

Granted, God knows all, and He would be more than aware that you were faking it.

I didn't stick around to see who "won" the debate, but it did give me a tidbit to think about, so I just thought I'd share.

UPDATE: School

I don't know if I ever blogged here about my school plans/dilemmas, so I thought I'd catch you up on how that's turning out.

I received my Associates Degree at the end of last semester.  This was awesome because I could cross "get a degree" off my 30 List.  Okay, it was awesome for other reasons too.  I'm glad to be moving in the right direction when it comes to my education.  I'm also really glad that I actually *have* a direction.

My plan has always been to major in Aviation Administration.  When I originally was looking at the degree, the only school I knew of that offered this degree was Utah Valley University.  So I applied there and got accepted.  But when I got my acceptance letter, it was signed by one Matthew Holland, who was/is very involved with the Prop 8 campaign and the National Organization for Marriage.  And then suddenly, I didn't really want to go to Utah Valley anymore.

So I got looking into other schools and I found two really amazing schools.  The first is Westminster College here in Salt Lake.  I was actually a student there once before and I really enjoyed it as much as I could, but I was not in a place where college was important to me.  The other is Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  This school only offers degrees relating to aviation, whether it be as a pilot or air traffic controller, a management degree, an engineering degree, you get the idea.  They have main campuses in Florida and Arizona and other remote campuses worldwide.  I found out later that they have a remote campus at Hill AFB, but I applied to the Prescott Arizona campus.

To my great surprise and delight, I was accepted at both schools. 

As much as I would have loved to go to ERAU and be a part of an educational community where everyone loves aviation as much as I do, I found that it wouldn't be financially beneficial to move.  Maybe if they still had an Outback in Prescott that I could just transfer to, but they don't anymore.  Westminster is also going to give me more financial aid than ERAU would have.  So I sent my tuition deposit to Westminster and I will be starting in the fall.

Now, to clarify, when I say that I'm majoring in Aviation Administration, a lot of people mistakenly think that I am going to be an air traffic controller.  I've looked into that but I don't meet the strict qualifications.  An Aviation Administration degree is actually a business degree with an aviation emphasis.  This means that I'll be working either for an airport or a specific airline, dealing with the business aspect of the aviation industry, so financials and things of that nature.  I decided on this because it's kind of what I've been doing at the restaurant.  I like doing administrative things, I just don't want to continue to be in restaurants.  The restaurant is making me crazy!  So I thought if I could combine something I know I like with an industry that I would love to be a part of, I would end up with what everyone wants: a career that they enjoy.

So in the fall I will be a Griffen again, and I'm shooting for graduation in 2013.  I can't wait!

UPDATE: Summer Plans

I've been out of school for about a month now and I'm mostly enjoying my summer.  So far I haven't really done anything extraordinary, except for work more, and read the most awesome series of books I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  But that doesn't mean I don't have upcoming plans, and in the interest of proving that I am still human, I thought I'd share them.

First, I am super excited about Pride.  Last year was sweltering, so this year I'm guessing we'll have rain.  Since rain has been the weather of choice lately, I'm sure it's not such an extreme guess.  I had a lot more fun last year than I did the first year I went.  This year we'll be going with some of the same friends, some new ones, and I'm looking forward to it.  If nothing else, it's a Sunday that I don't have to work.  Hopefully I will see some of you there!

I'm planning a trip to visit my sisters.  That will be amazing because I really need a vacation.  I'm burned out at my job and I get sick of the nonsense that comes with working in a restaurant.  IT'S JUST FOOD PEOPLE, CHILL OUT.  But it will be good to catch up with them and their families and to have a dog around again.  I miss having a dog.

We're going to the Motley Crue concert on June 19th, and that will be quite the event, I'm sure.  Motley Crue is one of my girlfriend's favorite bands.  Poison, one of her other favorite bands, will also be there, so it should be an amazing show.  AND it's at Usana, which is one of my favorite venues in Utah.  There's not a bad seat in the house. 

If it ever stops raining, I'm sure we'll be going to baseball games and maybe we'll even go to one where they have fireworks.  I'd like to go to a soccer match this year as well, but we'll have to see if that works out. 

My girlfriend is also going to be taking three weeks off from her day job, so I'm excited that we'll have more time together before I go back to school and that takes up all my time.

I'm also looking forward to the release of Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in the Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin.  You may have heard of Game of Thrones, which has now been turned into an HBO series.  These books are absolutely amazing.  You will never find an author who has the great character development that Martin does.  Granted, it's a fantasy series set in something like medieval times, so it can get graphic at times.  But I have really been enjoying these books.  There's supposed to be seven books, so it will be awhile yet before the series is finished.  That's okay, because as much as I hate waiting, I hate more that the good times will have to end.

Hope all your summer plans are treating you well!

25 May 2011

The Numbers Behind NBA slurs

I don't know if any of you are into basketball, but this sport has always been my first love.  I grew up watching John Stockton and Karl Malone play for the Jazz.  I played backyard ball with the neighbor kids and at recess.  I have always loved it.

Of course, this last season has given me reason to ground the Jazz and to be greatly disappointed in the league, both with players and with David Stern.

Late this season, Kobe Bryant from the LA Lakers and Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls have been fined for gay slurs.  Kobe directed his at a referee, while Noah directed his at a fan from the opposing team (which is much worse, in my opinion).  Both players were fined.

So let's break this down a little bit.  Granted, I'm not sure how money works when a team goes into the playoffs, but there are 82 games in a regular NBA season.

KOBE
2010/2011 salary: $24,806,250
per game, he makes: $302,515.24
amount fined: $100,000
percent of income fined: 0.004%

NOAH
2010/2011 salary: $3,128,536 (next year, he will be making 10,000,000)
per game, he makes: $38,152.88
amount fined: $50,000
percent of income fined: 0.016%

So Kobe makes more in one game than the amount he was fined.  $100,000 sounds like a lot of money to someone like you and me, but do you think this means anything to Kobe?  I highly doubt it.  With Noah, it would be like not playing one and a half games. 

Hmmm...

So if the punishment means nothing to these players...do you really think it's a punishment?

David Stern, in my opinion, needs to take lessons from Roger Goodell.  Roger Goodell is the commissioner of the NFL.  Last season, he suspended Ben Roethlisberger for six games.  Roethlisberger was accused of rape during the off-season.  The charges were dropped and he maintained his innocence during the incident. 

So wait...the starting quarterback for the Steelers (aka their superstar) was involved in an incident AWAY from the football field IN THE OFF-SEASON, he was not convicted of ANYTHING, and he was still suspended for six games, which is half the season?

Good on you, Goodell!  Roger Goodell understands that even when you are not on the field, you are still a representative of the National Football League, and he won't stand for behavior that will defame his organization.  This is someone who will make sure that the League maintains integrity and class, and will be an organization that is upstanding.

Now, I can't speak for what Goodell would do if he had to deal with a Kobe or a Noah situation.  But I'm not impressed with David Stern and the way the league has handled these situations.  The message that they are sending is that it does not matter.  The players were fined because the league had to do something, so it imposed the bare minimum to appease the masses, and now everyone can go on their merry way.

NOT COOL.

This is a game that has always been part of my life.  These are players who are hanging on posters in bedrooms of young kids, whose jerseys we wear, who we pay to go see play.  These are supposed to be role models. 

Thanks Kobe, for teaching those kids looking up to you that it's okay to call someone a "faggot" when you're really angry and frustrated with them.

On the other side, there are NBA players who are stepping up and taking a stand on things like this.  You need to go here: http://youtu.be/PxZgVPf69zY and watch the commercial at the beginning of the clip.  I couldn't believe it when I saw it airing on national television.  The interview with Grant Hill was also really good.

This is the example I'm glad to see.  These are the kind of players I admire.

And in a beautiful twist of irony, the Dallas Mavericks swept the Lakers and knocked them out of the playoffs, while the Miami Heat came back from behind to beat the Bulls last night, going up 3-1.  The next time the Bulls lose, they're done for the season.  Let that be a lesson!

17 May 2011

Nobody's Perfect...

...so why do we try so hard to prove to everyone else that we are?

I've blogged about this before.  For whatever reason, there seems to be this pressure to make everyone else think that you don't have problems, or stressful things happening to you, or that there is nothing in your life that you are ashamed of.  Which I think is sad, because I know from experience that the really difficult things help you grow the most.  Why would you not be proud of that?

I took my mom to lunch a few days after Mother's Day, because (surprise, surprise) I had to work all day on the actual day.  It was nice to spend time with her.  We were talking about family, because I asked about how the family dinner went, and she said something that kind of surprised me.  This isn't an exact quote, but it was something to the effect of...

"The more life I live, the more I've come to realize that there are no perfect families.  It's just how you get through everything together that matters."

Wow.  I was not expecting that.  But that is a belief that my mom has held onto for a long time, because of that idea that you have to be perfect, because if you're perfect, there's no chance you can be unhappy.

But then it reminded me of something that my girlfriend often says...

"I don't think being gay is a trial for me.  I think it's a trial for other people, to accept me and to love me without judgment.  Maybe I am gay to help teach someone else tolerance."

True that. 

Now, I'm not saying that you need to air your dirty laundry for everyone to see.  That's not the point.  But if it's generally accepted that nobody is perfect, I think it's okay to admit that no, you're not perfect.

So here I am.  I'm not pretending to have the perfect life, free of stress and problems and sleepless nights.  I have them.  I for sure have them.  But as long as I'm doing the best I can to live my life and be a good person, contribute in some positive way to the people around me, I don't see why that's not something to be proud of.

Nobody's perfect.  It's not an excuse...it's a fact.  So let's cut ourselves some slack. We have enough to worry about.

21 April 2011

Disappearing

In talking with some of my gay friends, I've noticed a trend.  Perhaps this isn't always the case, perhaps you have a different experience, but I just thought I'd point it out.

When you have a Mormon family and you are also blessed with being gay, coming out is a huge deal.  It can be traumatizing and messy and there are tears and sleepless nights.  In the aftermath, there is often a period of time where the one who is blessed with being gay will "disappear."

Where do we go?

I can tell you where I don't go.  I don't go to events where the extended family will be.  It's awkward and often it's difficult to tell who knows and who doesn't.  For the ones who do know, I don't want to chance a confrontation in front of those who are still blissfully ignorant.  That has a way of ruining family functions.

But not being there also means that they don't get to see how happy I am.

I'm not terribly miserable, which doesn't fit the "living in sin" model.  I should be unhappy and addicted to drugs and spiraling out of control.  That's what happens when you're gay, after all.  We party like rockstars and give each other diseases and threaten all that is good and wholesome about families and stuff.  Or something like that. *sarcasm*

I just don't know if I'm strong enough to stand up to them if they come at me.  I'm not saying they would, but I find that if I'm prepared for the worst, I can face anything that happens.  I would be overjoyed if there was no hint of confrontation or judgment or disapproving scorn.  But that's not a guarantee.  So I gotta get my emergency preparedness on.

In the beginning, that emergency preparedness mandates that self-preservation comes first.  That's why you won't see me.  I'm no martyr.  I know that I've got to toughen up my skin, find my footing, and know that there is a peaceful center within me that no one can touch with ugly words.  I've got to find a way to stop apologizing for being who I am, because there is nothing wrong with me.  I have to believe that, because there are people out there who won't, and who will try to tell me differently.

The people that I know have gone years without seeing their families because the LDS Church acts as a barrier between them.  I'm still in my disappearance phase, but I don't want that to happen to me.  I'm glad that my immediate family has not shunned me completely.  I wish that I didn't feel anxious and afraid to see my extended family.  But I do.

They're having potato salad and ham, laughing and having a good time.  I'm not there, but that doesn't mean I'm not also laughing and enjoying my life. 

You don't see me, because I don't trust you yet to see me, but I hope that one day I will.  I'm not sure what it will take.  All I know is that I hope we can both have the understanding pieces of ourselves present when that day comes.

15 April 2011

Seeing Through The Snow

(Since it's April, you may be wondering why I'm writing about snow.  If that's the case, you are clearly not from Utah, nor have you ever lived here...but that's okay.  I still like you.)

We had some weather recently.  It snowed for about three days and didn't stop.  But just because it's snowing doesn't mean that life stops.  So I was driving home from work one evening, through snowflakes that make you think of bread.  At night, when your headlights are on, snowflakes like this can make it rough to see.  Fortunately, it didn't stick to the roads.  But in weather like this, you have to know a couple tricks to make it home safely.

You can't look at the snow.  It's difficult sometimes.  After all, it's coming directly at you, all lit up by your headlights, hitting your windshield.  But if you look at it, you get distracted.  You have to see through it.

I was thinking about this during the snowstorm because I've been caught up by distractions lately.  It happens sometimes.  There's quite a lot in this world that is more than willing to kick you off the path you're on.

So I'm gay (I know, it's news, and you're all surprised).  And most times, I'm really okay with it.  But we all know that it's not an easy thing to be gay in Utah.  And there are sometimes when that gets to me.  I love my girlfriend so much.  And love is not distracting.  But the looks we get when we go out, the awkwardness that sometimes creeps into a servers voice when they ask if we're on one check, the disapproval that is so prevalent...that can definitely be distracting. 

When I think about my feelings, I know they are real.  There's nothing wrong with the relationship I have with my girlfriend.  We care about each other, we take care of each other, we're best friends.  We're lucky.  So I don't know why I get caught up in watching the snow.

So we're gay.  So what?  We know where we're going, and no amount of snow will stop us from getting there.  We need to look through the flakes, see beyond the snow, and know that we have each other so everything will be okay.  There are still streetlights to guide the way.

The good thing is that you only have to get through the storm.  As anyone in Utah will tell you, if you don't like the weather...just wait fifteen minutes.

29 March 2011

A Grain Of Sand

I tend to be a lurker sometimes.  I don't always comment on blogs or Facebook threads, but I do a lot of reading and contemplating, and often sympathizing with the poor, unsuspecting soul who had a status update turn into a comment war between their friends.

Such was the case the other day. 

As I was reading the comments posted on this fellow Moho's status, one of the thoughts that crossed my mind was the degree to which a non-Moho does not understand the plight of a Moho. 

Here we all are, growing up in this faith, being taught the same things--marriage is under attack, only marriage between a man and a woman is ordained by God, homosexuality used to be a sin all by itself, but now it's not, and as long as you don't act of those same gender attractions (aka "temptations"), you're not a bad person...but not everyone believes that you're not a bad person, and there are those who still believe that it might be better to be dead than to be gay (SO UNBELIEVABLY NOT TRUE!!!)...and a non-Moho will take that at face value with no reason to question it.

For me, that grain of sand took a very long time to change into a pearl.  But I had to, because it was about me, and something inside me didn't buy what I was being sold.  I had reason to question, I had reason to doubt, and I had reason to chew on the conflict between what I was being taught and what I was actually feeling.

Someone who does not have that same grain of sand will never understand what that truly feels like.

If the leaders of the Church decided to proclaim that blonde hair was contrary to God's plan, how would someone born with blonde hair feel?  Perhaps they could dye it, make sure that no one knew, make sure that no one ever saw, make sure they did everything within their power to conform to what is acceptable in God's eyes.  But they would still have blonde hair.  And either you keep pretending you're a brunette, or you dare to question, to consider that blonde hair doesn't actually offend God, and maybe He thinks you're beautiful no matter what your hair color is, and maybe He still loves you despite the fact that your religion preaches against your "sinful" nature.

Maybe it's nice, to go to church and never worry about what will be said.  Ignorance may be bliss for some people.  But faith standing on ignorance seems awfully shallow to me.  Heaven forbid they ever meet the test that comes from a grain of sand.

23 March 2011

The Ones We Lose

I've recently been thinking about the ones who go by the wayside when our true identities are revealed.  This wasn't just a random thought.  I noticed the other day that I had been unfriended on facebook by two of my friends from high school. 

Now Facebook is not a huge deal to me.  It's not that they aren't my Facebook friends anymore that upsets me.  It's that they were really good friends to me in high school.  We were close.  Just the other day, I found a letter that T had written to me when she went away to college, encouraging me and telling me that I had so much to offer, and that I needed to find a way to share my personality and talents with the people around me.  She wrote that I was a good person.  She wrote that she was happy to be my friend.

But high school was awhile ago now.  I get that.  Things are different now, ten years later.  She's married, has a family.  And I'm not.  Instead, I came out.

I remember seeing things on my newsfeed from her, things that seemed more like something Glenn Beck would say than she would, so I guess I could have predicted that me changing my relationship status to dating a girl wouldn't go over so well.

And then there is the case of my former roommate.  Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile know what I'm talking about, but I'll provide a quick recap for those who have recently joined.  I was friends with C since my senior year of high school.  We worked together, and we became roommates after I got divorced.  We lived together for four years.  The closer I got to coming out, the further I got from her.  And when I finally did come out to her, she asked me to move out.  It was messy, and we really haven't spoken since.  That was about a year and a half ago.

Coming out is not an easy thing.  But we get lots of practice at it.  When we meet new people, we are constantly entering into that place of having to come out, or weighing the pros and cons of doing so. 

Not always the most pleasant place to be in.

So sometimes we lose people.  The lousy thing is, these friends will probably not be the last.  If they decide they can't accept me for me, it's unfortunate.  I don't know all of T or TE or C's reasons for deciding that they are better off without a gay friend in their life.  I don't fit into whatever box they define as their ideal life, I guess.  That isn't my fault.  It doesn't always ease the sting though.

Does it hurt?  Of course.  Is it worth losing friends if I can be true to myself?

Absolutely.

17 March 2011

Unfriendly Publications

My parents were out of town last week, so I was "watching" the house.  My dad has a space on the counter where he puts a lot of his work papers and where his cell phone charges and things like that.  It's just his general area.  So when I was sorting the mail, I happened to glance over to the "pile" and lo and behold, there was a copy of "God Loveth His Children."

I've heard a lot about this pamphlet through the Moho world, but I've never actually seen a copy.  I flipped through it briefly, but figured "whatever."  I'm not a fan of it, I'm not a fan of the policies and double standards, but whatever.  The Church is pretty much everything to my parents, and I know this, so of course they are going to turn to doctrine and publications to try to process my sexuality.  That's fine.  We all try to deal with things in the best way we know how.

Now, by itself, this incident is not really a big deal.  But there's more to the story.

Rewind a few days, before my parents left, when I was at home before school.  My parents get both the Salt Lake Tribune and The Deseret News, so there are newspapers everywhere.  My dad is the type that will rip out an article or comic when he thinks it's interesting or that someone else will find it interesting.  It's one of his quirky things, I guess.

Anyway, there was one of these ripped out articles on the stairs.  It was actually from the Letter to the Editor section.  Some guy had written in about a study that he had read about.  It was a reparative therapy type of study and apparently about 30% of individuals reported that their homosexual tendencies had significantly diminished.  The conclusion, and consequently the headline, was that "gays can change."

Again, by itself, this incident is really not a big deal.  I know that my dad has had a more difficult time in accepting me than my mom has.  I think it's because he and I were closer than my mom and I were before I came out.  I don't know if it's because he didn't see it, or because it makes sense now when he thinks about it, but he's still pretty distant sometimes. 

In combination though, putting the two together made it into somewhat of a big deal.

I don't really know how to act anymore around my dad.  I'm not as angry as I was, but I'm still kind of hurt by the whole thing.  And that makes me kind of angry too, because I hate it when I can explain something logically but my emotional response is the complete opposite. 

It's not my most favorite situation, not my most favorite response.  I hate how my dad can ignore me for days, not speak to me when we're both home, and then other days it's like it used to be.  He just talks to me like nothing has been wrong at all.  It's really not a lot of fun to have that sort of back-and-forth game get played.  I try to remind myself to be patient.  I try to remind myself that it's not easy.  I try to remind myself that Time can give me hope.

In the meantime, I swiped "God Loveth His Children."  Maybe not the most ethical thing to do, but I figure he can always get another one if he really needs it.  I just wish he would find some more friendly publications.

16 March 2011

8

I have finally seen 8: The Mormon Proposition.  I've been wanting to see it since it appeared at Sundance, but I just haven't had the opportunity.  So I thought I would write a couple of my thoughts about it, even though I know that a lot of you have seen it and blogged about it already.

First, I think Tyler and Spencer are absolutely adorable.  I love cute gay boys, they make me happy.  I think Tyler and Spencer deserve every happiness and I'm glad for them, that they took the opportunity to get married while they could.  Hearing their story was such an emotional experience, but I am glad that they would share it.

Secondly, there was a lot in the film that reflected my own feelings about Proposition 8.  I think that this country was founded on the belief that people should be allowed to practice their religion without interference from the government.  I think this is a fundamental right.  But I also think it should work the other way as well, and that government should be free from the religious interference. 

I know there are arguments about what gay marriage will do to society.  One of them is that gay marriage will be taught in schools to impressionable children.  Okay...but what about evolution?  Evolution is taught in science classes and is generally accepted as fact.  Yet the Bible and many churches will teach about creation.  So what do you do when your eight-year-old comes home after learning about Darwin?  We were told that evolution was science's explanation, but our religion taught us to believe in creation, and that's what we accept as fact.  I really don't see gay marriage as being any different from this.  Be a parent and teach your children what you think are acceptable values and morals, and if you disagree with gay marriage, so be it.

I am not asking to get married in an LDS temple.  I have no desire to try and pick a fight over that matter.  Besides, I don't really want to pursue having the blessing of a Church that has no interest in granting it.  And that's fine.  Religions should have the right to dictate their rules and regulations about all aspects of their doctrine and religious practices, marriage being one of them.  But if the government is willing to allow marriage to gay couples as well as straight couples, they should have the right to. 

Perhaps there are those who don't share my opinion.  And that's fine.  This is my opinion, I will own it, and I'm also not going to fight about it.

But I've gotten a bit off track here.  All in all, I found the film to be interesting.  I would watch it again.  I didn't really find that the film changed my opinion about the Church.  Regardless of what you think about the film or the filmmaker, or religion and politics, it's difficult to deny that the Church was involved in the campaign in California.  Based on their actions during Proposition 8, I already felt betrayed and hurt by the Church, so anything that was brought up or discussed during the film didn't have any more of an effect on my opinion.

Perhaps my favorite part was Tyler's mom, Linda.  She is an absolutely amazing person, so supportive and so strong.  You can tell that she really loves her kids, including her son-in-law, and that she would fight for them at any time, in any place.  I have actually seen her before, I just didn't know it.  My very first Pride in SLC, when I was still basically in the closet, Linda and her husband marched with the PFLAG group.  I remember them because of the posters they were wearing around her neck.  One had a picture of Tyler, and their daughter Amanda, and it read "proud of our gay kids."  Now, the PFLAG group always brings tears to my eyes, but I remember that poster, and I remember them, because I remember wondering if my parents would ever even think the words "proud of my gay daughter."  I still don't know if they ever will.  But Linda is awesome, and I would love to shake her hand one day.

I also didn't know that David Baker was in the film, so that was a pleasant surprise, to see him in it and hear a part of his story.

But there you go, that's my reaction to the film.  If you're gay and LDS, or if you're LDS and know someone who is gay, I would recommend seeing it, if for no other reason than to see a different perspective about the effects of Prop 8, and how it changed real people.

Quick Recap

So I've been absent for most of this month, so I thought I'd take advantage of some much needed Spring Break time to catch you up on the little bits and pieces of my life. 

Being a student is taking up a lot of my time.  But the good news is that I'm making progress.  Hurray!  I am in my last semester at Weber State and I will be receiving my associate's degree after this semester.  Once Spring Break is over, there are four weeks left in the semester, and that's it!  It feels like it's going by quickly, then it feels like it's dragging and I'll never get through it.  But I've gotten signed off by my advisor, I've filed for and paid my diploma fee (of course, they can't let you graduate for free, no matter how much money you've ALREADY paid them to get the darn thing), and I'm just trying to get through these last fourteen credit hours.  It's not easy--my nutrition class is the epitome of evil.

The only other consistent thing I do is work.  Which is the same.  But I've decided that I should write a book about the people that come into the restaurant and ask their crazy questions or make crazy comments.  I've got some great stories already.  Anyone know a publisher?

My girlfriend and I are doing well.  She's been so amazingly supportive of me during school.  It's nice, especially when I get frustrated.  We're trying to figure out what I'm going to do in the fall.  I'm trying to decide between two schools.  The one that I would really like to go to is a private school (don't worry, definitely NOT BYU), so it's more expensive.  It's going to depend on my financial aid.  But I've got a backup school if my first choice doesn't work the way I want it to.

We are still dorks, just hanging out and being happy with each other.  We've been together for nineteen months now, and it's still really good.  Sometimes it feels like we've known each other for so long, because we're so comfortable together and we watch out for each other like we've been together for longer.  In other ways, it still feels new and exciting, and we both just want to be with each other all the time. 

That's probably kind of sappy, and not necessarily information that you all need to know, but I like telling it, so I'm leaving it in this post.

In other brief news, I'm really disappointed in the Jazz management these days, but I'll always support my team.  I just may have to become a Nets fan on the side, but I haven't fully committed to that yet.  I'm finding my social networking to be branching out, thanks to Twitter (@drakames , if you're interested) and Words With Friends and vloggers on YouTube.  We're looking forward to baseball season and March is the only time I watch NCAA basketball, so it's going to be a good few weeks for sports.  Also, the USAF Thunderbirds kicked off their season, and they are coming back to SLC this year in September, so I'm really looking forward to that!  I love that jet noise.  We're also talking about going to Seattle for their Pride this year.  We've got a lot of stuff to look forward to, and I think it's going to be a great time getting there.

Hope you all are doing well!

03 March 2011

Hello World

I know I have been absent lately, and I hate that I have been. School has buried me for the last few weeks but my Nutrition teacher has promised that the second half of the class is a lot easier than the first half, so I'm hoping I will have time to blog again soon. I've got a few ideas for posts. I'd like to get them actually posted!

So I just wanted to let you know that I'm alive and I've been thinking of you, out there in Blog Land. I hope you're doing well.

I was also thinking that if anyone had a question or topic you would like my opinion on, I'd be happy to take suggestions.

Have a great day everyone!


(This post made possible by: my awesome iPhone)

18 February 2011

Playing Basketball

I found a link to this blog while I was blog stalking one day (yes, I still do that).  He asked his readers to help him get his blog out there, so I thought I'd help.

http://bballinthecloset.blogspot.com

He's got a really great story.  He's a gay man who plays in the NBA.  I love basketball, so I find it pretty interesting.  Check it out if you like.

Lifting Silence

We had a creative writing assignment in my English class about the intangible things that we carry.  Most largely for me is the fight between my timid nature and my desire to help other people, and get the message out there that gay people are not evil, terrible people.  A gay life is not a bad life.  But sometimes my lack of a loud voice, and my lack of confidence in the voice I do have keeps me from helping spread this message in a more powerful way.

I thought about the lives the we lose because of bullying, because of stereotypes, because of judgments, from the people we often care most about.  I thought about the responsibility we have to "gay it forward" to the kids who are always listening.  I thought about don't ask, don't tell.  I thought about the fear that I still have when I meet new people and they find out that I'm gay.  We all carry things like that, I'm sure.  

So this is what I wrote, and I thought I'd share it with you.

"Lifting Silence"

I carry silence,
the fearful silence that is made of scars
and a history written
with the ink of emotion,
entertaining thoughts without a voice
while trying to find a voice.

I carry the knowledge
that silence and change
do not often meet at the same table
or shake hands in greeting.

I carry the responsibility
that is given with the discovery of truth,
to be honest when asked
and to tell those who will listen
that too many go missing in the silence,
and too many hide their voices,
and too many lose their belief
that a new day is just beyond the horizon.

I carry the conflict
between heart and mind,
between silence and voice,
knowing that if someone could listen,
a new day could be written
and even the quietest voice could be heard.

15 February 2011

Baptist Jesus Loves You

Most of us in the restaurant business are not what you would exactly call religious.  But we do come from a variety of different religious backgrounds.  Being that it is Utah, even the most unpolished of us can and often do come from LDS backgrounds, but that's not the only case.

One of the kids there is Baptist.  And he is fond of reminding my girlfriend and me that "even if Mormon Jesus doesn't love you, Baptist Jesus does."

I find it amusing and sad at the same time.

I think it is sad that this is the message that has been sent from LDS leaders and the Utah LDS community as a whole--Mormon Jesus doesn't love you.  I don't think this is necessarily the message they are hoping to send, but it is the one that is coming through the static.  I think it is also sad because I think one of the goals of religion should be to better people through spiritual messages, no matter what the religion is.

Of course, I don't think there is a Baptist Jesus and a Mormon Jesus and a Catholic Jesus.  Christ is Christ, and it's us with our small minds that make Him different for different groups of people.

Regardless, I think that if there is one thing Christian religions should agree on, it is that God and Jesus love you, no matter who you are or where you live or what your religion is.  Teach about the Bible, teach about the ten commandments, teach about consequences for the things we do in this life...or don't.  But God's love for all His children should be a staple.  But maybe it's just me and my way of thinking that believes that the knowledge that God loves everyone is a fundamental principle to any Christian religion.

At any rate, it's good to be reminded that Jesus loves me, because leaders in my own religion are often fond of trying to get me to believe otherwise.

So remember friends, no matter what Elder Oaks says, Baptist Jesus loves you.

10 February 2011

Class of 2001, part II

Still deliberating on the reunion thing, but since there isn't even a date set yet, I figure that the time to stress about it is not right now.

So in this Facebook group, it's all the rage to post what you were doing 10 years ago and what you're doing now.  I wasn't going to participate.  But then it occurred to me that this could be a useful thing to feel out the climate of the class.  I was in no way popular.  I didn't have a lot of friends.  I was just a band nerd, trying not to embarrass her cheerleader sister (which sounds pathetic, but it's the truth). 

Therefore, I thought I would share what I posted in the group.


10 years ago I…

-had a few close friends instead of a large group of friends
-was convinced that no one knew who I was
-went to class but never said much
-played saxophone in the band
-music was my life, especially loud, rowdy rock music
-drove a really monstrous car called “The Beast”
-worked at the Delta Center
-cared too much about what everyone else thought
-wasn’t interested in guys
-couldn’t wait to graduate
-was ashamed to struggle with so many things in my life

Now I…

-have quite a few amazing friends
-am going to classes and still not saying much, but learning more
-am working towards a career in aviation administration
-play the radio instead of my saxophone
-music is still my life, especially loud, rowdy rock music
-get to watch Jazz games instead of work through them
-see some of you every now and then at the restaurant where I currently work
-was married at one point but am not anymore (which is better, trust me)
-care more about what I think than what you think (no offense)
-still have no interest in guys
-am not ashamed of what I went through to get to where I am today



I tried not to be completely transparent, yet still honest.  From here, we'll see where it goes. 

03 February 2011

Class of 2001

I had someone add me to a group on Facebook having to do with the ten year high school reunion that should be happening later this year.  Yikes.  I can't believe it's been ten years already.  Weird.  That makes me seem like I should be all adult-like, and I'm just not.

We haven't had any other reunion since graduation day.  I don't know if that's typical.  Both my parents had five year reunions.  But my ten year will be my first.

I am so undecided on whether or not I will be going.  My situation now is nothing like when I was in high school.  I hope that there are many other people who can say that, but in my case, it's a little more extreme.  I was a mess in high school.  Like, completely terrible.  I hated my life and I was miserable ALL THE TIME.  I didn't have a lot of friends.  I hung out with the goth kids during my senior year just because I wanted to be left alone by everyone else.  Come on now, that doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

Secondly, my high school...I don't even know how to describe it.  We had a 95% enrollment rate in seminary.  The town is small, but not rural, and you just didn't venture further than what was expected of you...which is pretty much what the Church would expect  from you.  So, now that I'm gay and have a girlfriend, I just don't know how that's going to go over. 

Not that I really care what they think of me, because I don't.  I'm glad that high school is over and done with.  I can count on one hand the number of people from DHS that I associate with now.  But I also don't need to put myself in a situation where I'm not going to be comfortable.  That's just not necessary, right?

But another part of me thinks it might be kind of fun to go with my girlfriend.  Kind of a "ha ha, thought you knew me" sort of thing.  And it might be nice to prove that I am not miserable anymore, even if it's only to myself.

I don't know.  I'm back and forth, back and forth.  There are pros and cons, and I don't think that one outweighs the other right now.

Does anyone have any thoughts or stories about class reunions, or advice that might help me better decide?

29 January 2011

Terminology

I am gay. There are a lot of terms out there that could be used to describe me. We all use words that we're comfortable with, and that's completely fine. But for me in my gay life, I really don't use much more terminology than the actual word "gay."

For instance, I don't like the terms same-sex attraction (SSA) or same-gender attraction (SGA), which are the terms frequently used in the LDS church. This is because it is often phrased as "suffering from same-gender attraction" or something like that. That just makes it sound like such a terrible thing, like a cancer or a mental disease. I definitely do not believe that being gay is the equivalent of having a disease.

Another term that I don't really enjoy is "lesbian." It's not going to offend me if you call me a lesbian, but I don't use the term much myself. I don't really know why. My only guess is it has something to do with those miserable junior high days.

Of course, there's all the offensive names, which I don't think I even need to mention.

And then there's "partner." I just don't like it. Not really sure why, I just don't. My girlfriend is my girlfriend. Maybe someday we'll get married, or "married" in the best way we can, and then she'll be my wife, or my spouse, and still my sweetheart. I can't explain why on this one, I just know that I don't like how "partner" sounds.

One term I do like, that my girlfriend and I have coined is "qweird" (which is queer + weird). But that's because we are. We're just dorks, and we have a lot of fun, so we love every second of it.

So there's my two cents for today. This is just me, so if you're good with SGA and your lesbian and your partner, cheers to you.

What do you think about gay terms?


(million dollar phone approved)

26 January 2011

Video Blogs

I love vloggers.

I don't know if that's the correct terminology or not, but I just love people who make video blogs.  I find them very interesting, entertaining, and enjoyable to watch.  I could spend hours on YouTube, just watching vlogs.  Don't get me wrong, I love bloggers too, and I have spent hours bouncing from blog to blog, reading story after story.  With vlogging though, you really get to see someone's personality instead of imagining it.  You can hear their tone of voice so you can better understand the emotion behind what they are saying.  It takes some of the projecting and guessing out of someone's message.  I like that.

Of course, I have specific videos that I enjoy.  When I was first coming out, I watched the videos that Clark Johnsen made so many times that I lost count.  Another channel that I have frequently watched is MorMenLikeMe.  This is interviews with Moho's.  I love hearing other stories, how much we have in common, how much we differ on.  Just recently I found AGayADay.  This is a collaborative channel with five different guys, each taking a different day, to make a video.  You can probably guess that they are all gay.  Be forewarned, they are not Mormon, so don't watch expecting religious speeches.  They are secular, but for me, that's part of the appeal.  They are also very young...two are still in high school, I think the other three are in college.  But it's encouraging to see kids that young being so proud and comfortable with who they are.  I find that to be completely awesome.

I wish that I knew of a channel like these, but where it wasn't all boys.  I love gay boys to death, but I think we can all agree that gay men and gay women lead different lives.  If ever I found the right computer equipment and self-confidence to make a video, maybe that is something I would pursue...although, I don't know if I qualify as someone interesting enough or with enough to say to be making video blogs.

Needless to say, I love bloggers of all kinds.  I love you guys!