This is ours.

25 Jun

Last night as I sat in my bedroom in front of my computer screen in half work clothes and half loungewear, I witnessed history. I watched State Sen. Steve Saland of New York stand at a lectern in the Senate chamber and announce that he had finally decided he could no longer deny the same rights and privileges he and his wife of 40+ years enjoyed to LGBT New Yorkers. I watched State Sen. Mark Grisanti announce repeatedly that he had “done the research” and he “could not legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage.” I watched State Sen. Ruben Diaz flail wildly for his last opportunity to rail against what he sees as the world’s greatest evil, love. Moments later I watched as NY Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy announced one of the most amazing things that had happened in my lifetime: the New York State Senate had voted 33-29 to amend the state’s relationship code to allow marriage between two people of the same sex.

Immediately my Twitter and Facebook feeds erupted. On Facebook I saw post after post of people cheering the vote and declaring their love for New York. With one swoop of the pen, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo extended marriage equality to 19 million New Yorkers. I watched Neil Patrick Harris, a piece of my childhood from his days on Doogie Howser, MD announce that he and his partner David Burtka were going to get married as soon as they legally could. I, too, posted on Facebook that I was thrilled with the New York marriage victory, and today at work a very devoutly religious coworker stopped and told me about her cousin who had moved to Massachusetts to marry his partner. I saw pictures of the Empire State Building and the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis decked out in rainbow colors for Pride, and it was an emotional high so amazing that I still haven’t come down.

People have tried, though. People have tried to bring up the odious fundraiser President Obama attended in New York City on Thursday, where he actually went into the belly of the beast and proudly announced “I do not support your cause. I disagree with you. I don’t support your right to marry the one you love. Please give me money anyway.” I’ve watched as several people have attempted to give President Obama credit for this marriage equality victory, tried to sweep under the rug his repeated announcements that he’s against marriage equality. I’ve watched as people have attacked Lt. Dan Choi for being honest about President Obama’s position. Those who would defend President Obama or give him any slack on this issue are kidding themselves. He does not support marriage equality and he will not fight for it…and yet he still expects the financial and field support of LGBT people for 2012. That is indefensible.

This is not his. This is not his moment, not his movement. He deliberately sat out. He has had opportunity after opportunity to make history. Last night in Albany we saw the great courage of Sens. Saland and Grisanti as they quite possibly risked their political careers to support love, and we have a president that refuses to do the same…and still wants my vote. And his supporters still think I should support him. Pardon me if I’m a little puzzled.



23 Jun

Hey, four blogposts in a week*! It’s not just a wave, it’s practically a tsunami!  Anyway, lots on the plate today and none of it’s big enough for a meal, so it’s a giant plate of munchies.

*three here and one at Blogging for Michigan, graciously front-paged by BFM’s Powers That Be

1. My BFF Julie has, for a long time, been my Friend In Fat. We’ve both got chronic health issues and we’re both foodies, so we’ve long been the ones who embraced Fat as a valid means of existence. Well, until Julie went and got all skinny and hot. You can read about her #NotSoFatBastardDiet here (side note–I know I’ve already said this, but I’m gonna say it again because I can: honey, I am *so proud* of you for pulling this off. You’ve always been a hero to me, but now you’re a bona fide goddess). Her post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just got back from five days of a lot more physical activity than I’m used to, and it absolutely kicked my ass. I ended up calling into work on Monday and Tuesday because I just physically couldn’t do it. On Monday I practically couldn’t even get out of bed because my knees hurt so bad and my foot was swollen. I’ll stop short of making any grandiose promises about what I’m going to do for my own Not So Fat Bastard experience, but it’s in the front of my mind and I’m doing better. I can’t be this miserable anymore, and somehow I’m going to drag myself out of it.

2. Tonight is the Big Gay Fundraiser in New York City with President Obama. Memo to my friends in New York: Just freaking VOTE already. I’m so over the waiting game and the vote-counting-nail-biting-number-crunching-hanging-on-the-NY Times’s-every-word game. This will be the domino that gets all the other dominoes in the country falling left and right and may be the death knell for DOMA. Seriously, New York, just GET IT DONE.

3. Every time I throw myself headlong back into the world of politics I’m brutally reminded that not everything in the world is black and white, that I’m not always going to totally agree with someone or totally disagree, that there’s subtle nuance everywhere in politics and sometimes we just have to do the best we can to sort it all out. I’ve long been a fan of the It Gets Better video project (and have actually pondered writing an IGB video myself, if I could figure out a way to produce it without having to actually be in it), and earlier today employees of Target Corporation released a video. On the surface I think it’s great that Target did a video. It’s a great gesture. But it’s just a gesture. The reality is that if Target Corporation had their way, it wouldn’t get better. They’ve thrown tons of money at anti-gay causes, and yet have somehow managed to convince  a large portion of the LGBT community that they’re allies. I don’t agree with much that Feasts of Fun says about the IGB project as a whole, but I do agree with this: “Here’s my response to Target: if you want to stop bullying, start with yourself.”

4. This story, My Ex-Gay Friend, came across my Twitter feed earlier today. On the surface it’s your basic story about pressure from religious fundies driving a young kid so far into depression and self-loathing that he lashes out and has a bit of a mental breakdown. What caught my eye was this:

Don’t put your faith in some man, some flesh. That’s what we do when we’re stuck in the gay identity, when we’re stuck in that cave. We go from guy to guy, looking for someone to love us and make us feel O.K., but God is so much better than all the other masters out there.

Um…duh? Isn’t that we all want? To be loved? To have people who care about us, maybe one who cares about us more than everyone else does? I don’t know–maybe it’s just me. I’ve got so many physical issues (and the Fat Thing) that I’ve got exactly zero self-esteem, and I know for me the whole idea of a romantic connection is the idea of finding someone out there who loves us wand wants to be around us no matter what our flaws are. I know how all-consuming that search can be, how demoralizing it is, how sometimes it’s the only thing I ever think about. I can certainly understand wanting nothing more in the world than to break away from that and reclaim a sense of self, a sense of wholeness. Find your love wherever you can, I guess, but having received approximately 9000 hugs last week in Minneapolis and exactly zero since I’ve been back, I believe there’s no substitute for friends, family, and yes, a partner you can actually see, talk to and touch.

Anyway, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to turn my attention back to Twitter and what’s going on in New York. This is going to be a watershed moment for My People either way.

Oh, for fuck’s sake…

21 Jun

This just came across my Twitter feed, and I got two paragraphs in before I started to gag. As I mentioned previously, this weekend White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer sat down with Daily Kos Contributing Editor Kaili Joy Gray, and she pretty much ate him for breakfast. While I agree with those people who said Gray’s dismissive, eye-rolling tone got to be over-the-top and disrespectful after the fifteenth time she sighed and verbally rolled her eyes, she did something no mainstream media reporter has had the audacity to do for the last two years: corner a member of the White House staff, ask questions, and expect real answers.

Predictably, the media is now eating Gray alive for not eating up Pfeiffer’s rambling, nonsensical Obama apologia. “The Netroots hates Obama!” they say. “They hate him even though he’s accomplished everything they ever wanted and more, and given each and every one of them puppies!” they cry gleefully, as if they’ve just now uncovered some great and exploitable rift in left-of-center American politics. Besides the obvious irony of Michael Grunwald addressing the left with the same eye-rolling, sigh-laden tone Kaili Joy Gray used with Dan Pfeiffer, he couldn’t get two paragraphs in before he started spouting bullshit. Somehow the gay community has become the poster child for the accomplishments of the Obama Administration and DADT has become the *only* legislative accomplishment the White House and its supporters can name.

And why should [Dan Choi support President Obama]? What has Obama ever done to help gays serve openly in the military? Other than repeal don’t-ask-don’t-tell, so that gays can serve openly in the military? Ah, “the professional left,” never happy unless it’s unhappy.

Stop right there, bucko. Two things: DADT is not gone, and even if it was, President Obama didn’t have a damned thing to do with it. Gay soldiers are still being fired. DADT is still mired in an open-ended certification process that may finish sometime in the 21st Century and may not. Time will tell. DADT is not repealed. It’s still on the books and still happening, and President Obama doesn’t exactly seem to be in a big hurry to make it go away. When pressed by Kaili Joy Gray to tell us when President Obama (who, coincidentally, is the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Services) would order a halt to the discharge of gay soliders, Dan Pfeiffer’s response was pretty much awkward silence. Furthermore, the credit for passing the bill in question doesn’t go to President Obama, not by a long shot. Joe Lieberman introduced it in the Senate, Nancy Pelosi delivered a solid victory in the House, Carl Levin and the Senate Armed Services committee got the job done, and the Senate finally passed it. Those with short memories (i.e. the crowd for whom Obama can do no wrong) conveniently leave out the fact that Obama didn’t say a word about DADT during the whole process.

TL; DR: For fuck’s sake, stop using DADT as the gold standard for legislative accomplishments and proof that Obama is the amazing progressive leader we’ve always wanted and should unquestioningly support.


21 Jun

So this is what being a disaffected liberal feels like. I just got back from Netroots Nation, the largest and most influential convention for people from the left side of the political spectrum, and as I often do when I come back from NN (I’ve been to five of them now) I’m trying desperately to get back into the swing of blogging. I know it’s my giant ego talking, but I have a brain and ability to string together coherent sentences, so I often feel like there should be a place for me in the Professional Left. But as I poke my nose into various corners of the lefty blogosphere I’m starting to feel like it’s a vastly unfriendly place.

My journey through the lefty blogosphere began seven years ago during the run-up to the 2004 election. One of my side hobbies is commercial aviation, and in addition to their political commentary has a weekly feature called Ask the Pilot. As I made my weekly visit to Salon I started poking around in the other parts of the site, and I was completely fascinated with this concept that there are people who are actually paid to sit and write down their opinions on political stuff. I started to read more and more of it, and then one fateful day I made the glorious mistake of accidentally clicking on a link in a Salon piece and ending up at Daily Kos. I had hit the mother lode. In its infancy Daily Kos was a haven for incredibly smart people writing incredibly smart things on a wide range of topics, from labor law in American Samoa to warrantless wiretapping to food policy. I was struck by the level of untapped genius present in the pages of Daily Kos, and often wondered why these people weren’t the ones running our country. Over the next couple years Daily Kos went from a distraction to an addiction.

But Daily Kos, like all good things in life, must come to an end. What killed Daily Kos is up in the air and is a discussion for another day. The upshot is that Daily Kos is no longer the friendly haven of effete liberal intellectuals and caring people that it once was. The much-heralded new Daily Kos platform, DK 4.0, is an embarrassment that should end the careers of whoever was dumb enough to design it, for it’s absolutely unusable. So what’s a guy to do? Go looking for a new blogging home, I guess. But seriously, ugh. I’ve spent the last couple hours poking through some of the bigger, more vibrant communities out there, and I’m thoroughly disgusted.

I suppose there are a lot of people who feel the way I do, going all the way back to Booman Tribune a half-dozen years ago. Every couple of months someone gets disgusted with what’s going on at whatever community blog they’re a part of and goes off elsewhere–BooTrib, OpenLeft, MyDD, FDL, it’s a story that’s been told a hundred times. This weekend at NN I ran into (well, tried desperately to avoid) an old acquaintance I’m not very fond of, and in the two years since I’ve seen her she’s taken over two of the outposts of disaffected Kossacks (and no, I’m not going to name either of them so that I don’t end up getting hate mail). All weekend every time I saw her she and her partner-in-crime gave me a pitch about why I should come and write for them. I pondered it, then went and visited their blog and the first sentence I saw was her calling out Barack Obama for being a “right-wing corporatist”.

On the other side there are the sites for whom Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are the greatest thing since sliced bread, the ones who can do no wrong. This weekend at Netroots Nation White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer was actually held to answer for the complete and total failure of the Obama Administration to accomplish…well…anything in the two years they’ve been in office, and within seconds the internet erupted into a chorus of Obama apologia and the tired refrain “What are you going to do, vote Republican?” I suppose I’m not going to vote Republican, but at the same time you’d think in the 11 years I’ve been eligible to vote we would have made *some* progress as a country, that we’d have *something* to show for the billions of dollars we spend on elections, the millions of man-hours we’ve spent with our boots on the ground knocking doors and campaigning for these guys. You’d think that when asked to sell us on the accomplishments of the Obama Administration Dan Pfeiffer would have had a list longer than the Lilly Ledbetter Act*.

*Disclaimer: the Lilly Ledbetter Act is awesome, don’t get me wrong. But it was signed nine days into Obama’s presidency, and Congress hasn’t done a damned thing since–and if the next words out of your mouth/keyboard invoke the phrase “don’t ask, don’t tell” I will smack you myself.

And so I retreat to the relative comfort of my humble and fairly ugly WordPress blog where I can say whatever I want. No one’s going to read it, I suppose, but I’m not in this for the ad revenue. It’s a big internet, and a very tiny corner of it is mine.

*clever title goes here*

6 Jun

Nigh on a year ago when I started this blog, I included the obligatory About page and wrote:

“I like new things. If the shirt getting a little faded, the car is getting a little old, or the laptop has a scratch on it, I want to throw it away and buy a new one. This blog is totally an extension of that. It’s new and shiny and I had fun setting it up, and now I’m kicking the tires, and six months from now I’ll forget that it exists.”

I know myself so well.

And yet, sometimes Twitter isn’t really long enough for the thoughts that are bobbing around in my head. And so, The Blog.

  • Those of you who know me know (or know of) my dear friend Christina. Our friendship comes from the Cheers and Jeers crowd at Daily Kos, and somehow over the last seven (yes dear, seven) years we’ve become pretty close. We’re close enough that she just rolls her eyes when I’m acting like a jackass. Earlier today during the whole Anthony Weiner debacle she made some flippant throwaway comment about men being pigs, and I absolutely lit into her, then quickly texted her an apology and explained that it was a typical terrible Monday and I needed someone to light into and she just happened to catch it. Her text back to me was pretty much “Yeah, I know, I expect that kind of juvenile jackassish behavior from you. I hate you for it, but only for the next five minutes and then we’re cool again.” Mmmhmm.
  • Speaking of Cheers and Jeers/dKos, etc. I have to endure six more workdays and then next Wednesday I’ll be leaving on a jetplane for the beautiful city of Minneapolis, Minnesota for Netroots Nation. This will be my fifth NN, and although I’m terribly excited to see all the Usual Suspects and to meet some amazing new people I know are going to be there, I’m just not as psyched about this one as I have been in the past. I think it’s probably attributable to the Twitters and Facebook and all that, but I don’t feel like I’m having some grandiose once-a-year reunion with people I love to pieces…I’m just going to be tweeting at them in person rather than through the computer. Yes, I’m looking forward to the time off work, but I’m just not as excited about the prospect of hanging out and talking to people that I generally talk to every day. It’s an odd feeling.
  • Speaking of people I talk to every day, about two years ago some major political thing happened–it’s not really relevant what it was, and I tweeted some flippant snarky remark about it (SHOCKER). At the time I had my tweets unprotected, and I got a reply back from some complete stranger. The aforementioned stranger used a photo of himself as his avatar, and my thought process was pretty much “Liberal, agrees with me, funny, writes in complete sentences, easy on the eyes…*follow*.” Within the next two weeks I gleaned from Teh Twitters that Ryan lived in Kansas City and was partnered with an equally-liberal-equally-intelligent-equally-easy-on-the-eyes fellow named Ben. And completely by accident, two years went by and they are now two of my closest friends and favorite people on Earth. They’re people I talk to every day, people I look forward to seeing every day, people who challenge me intellectually,  people who calm me down when I’m having a coronary, cheer me up when I’m mad at the world, make me laugh uncontrollably, and who on two occasions now have helped me pick up the pieces when the world came crashing down. They’re my partners in online shenanigans, and two of the many people who actually give me a reason to wake up in the morning. And it all happened because of some bizarre chance Twitter meeting. Why am I rambling on and telling you this crazy nonsensical story about nothing at all? Because today is Ben’s birthday, and this is my long-winded and rambly way of saying thank you, Ben (and Ryan!) for sharing little bits and pieces of your most recent trip around the sun with me. Happy birthday, friend.

That’s what’s up. See you in six months?

She Doesn’t Know (A Postscript to “Coming Out”)

27 Jan

A while back I wrote a post called Coming Out, about the never-ending process of acknowledging my sexual orientation to friends, family and other folks, and then earlier this week the whole thing jumped up and smacked me in the face. I’ve told the following story to about six friends since it happened, and only two of them really understood the ramifications of what happened, because they are the only two who know I’m gay.

I’ve only mentioned it in passing on my blog, and those of you who don’t know me in real life are probably not aware of the fact that I, um…what’s the PC way to put this? I deal with physical challenges. In all honesty, although it makes my day-to-day life infinitely harder than my sexual orientation, my advocacy on the disability front largely takes a backseat to my part in the fight for LGBT rights. But it’s there. I deal with it every day. Anyway…

Monday night I came home from work to a note left by my aunt, accompanied by a clipping from a regional newspaper. The article was about a girl about my age who suffers from the same genetic disorder I do, and the note attached said (paraphrased): “I came across this article in the Daily News about this girl with spina bifida, and I took the liberty of contacting the author of the article to get the girl’s contact information. I contacted her, and she’s looking forward to hearing from you. Here’s her email address. Isn’t she attractive? *wink wink nudge nudge*”

*jaw drop*

Everyone I’ve told this story to immediately picks up on the fact that my aunt is a totally meddlesome whackadoo who completely invaded my privacy. Everyone understands when I said I was tempted to call my aunt and scream at her about having boundaries, and how inappropriate it was for her to go behind my back and set this all up without consulting me.

But now I’m in the position of having to call or see my aunt and say to her, “Not only was it totally inappropriate (and really, really weird) for you to contact this girl and give her my contact information without my permission and create the expectation that I would contact her, but…I have to be honest and tell you that I really have *zero* interest in doing that because, well, because I’m gay.” I’ve made a conscious effort not to discuss this issue with my family, because frankly it’s irrelevant to my daily life at this point and really a non-issue. I’m not in any relationship with anyone, and given my physical issues (and frankly, the fact that I’m a total whackjob) I’m not going to be in one for the foreseeable future, so I never really had any need to tell anyone. But now the doors are blown off.

Frankly, I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a rusty fondue fork.

Coming Out

6 Jan

Over yonder my friend Ben has an intriguing post up on the nature of Coming Out. His mother-in-law apparently asked him about his “Coming Out Experience,” and at Ben’s behest I get to respond…

I think the conclusion that Ben reached about the Coming Out Experience is similar to mine, although he never explicitly says it. The upshot is that the Coming Out Experience his mother-in-law asked him about doesn’t really exist. I think there’s a misconception that LGBT people go through some sort of month-long metamorphosis where get over that first hump of acknowledging our sexual orientation to a family member (usually The Big Coming Out Dinner With The Parents), then systematically go through all of our friends and family and sit down and have The Talk.

The truth is it doesn’t really work that way. Coming out is a life-long process that starts over every time you meet somebody new. I started when I was about 13 years old, and I had my most recent Coming Out Experience this morning. Every week I come across new people and new situations, and if it’s relevant, then I have to make the decision whether I should acknowledge my sexual orientation, and take the risk of any blowback that might happen.

(WARNING: The next few paragraphs are long, wordy, boring, and largely irrelevant to my point.)

I started with my friend Sean, my first real Internet Friend (because Internet Friends aren’t really real, right Dad?). Back in the oh-so-very-ancient AOL days, I stumbled upon AOL’s Urban Legends site and chatroom, part of their Hub channel, and I was hooked. I was hooked because they had a chatroom full of people who were a) smart, and b) talked to me like an adult even though they knew I was 13. I made a lot of great friends there that I think about to this day, but the best was my friend Sean. Sean and I would sit and talk for hours, and I really did consider him my best friend in the world (even though Internet Friends aren’t really real, right Dad?). One of our other friends was a girl our age who lived out in California with her mom, who was one of the UL chatroom moderators, and we used to banter back and forth and “fight” over the affections of this girl…until one day I just emphatically stated that I wasn’t really all that interested because I was gay. Sean was totally supportive…and several years later I found out he and I actually play for the same team.

I didn’t come out again for nine years. I was a senior in college and my friends Dayna and Amanda were talking about this great new comedian they were fans of, Stephen Lynch. Dayna was showing me some of his music and she made a comment about how funny he was, and I said “And he’s cute, too!” Oops. It…just…kind of came out…so to speak. Fortunately they’re some of the greatest and most supportive allies I know, so it worked out.

Then there’s my biological family. They still don’t know, at least not officially. I never had the opportunity or a reason to tell my mom before she died, and I don’t have a good enough relationship with my dad to tell him, and frankly I don’t have any reason to. It’s not like I’ve ever brought a boy home or ever will. That said, my mom knew. Moms know these things. And my dad knows, or at least I think he does. We used to sit and watch TV, and occasionally he’d make a comment about how some girl was hot, and a few years ago those comments just kind of…stopped. Incidentally, a couple weeks ago I had coffee with my dad’s Ungirlfriend (don’t ask) and another one of our friends we’ve known for years, and the Ungirlfriend decided to get all up in my grill about my emotional attachment (or lack thereof) with my father. We started talking about how I never talk about any emotionally heavy stuff with him because he has no emotions and because I’m scared shitless of him, and somehow then the other friend chimed in with a story about a guy who she used to work with. I still have nightmares about the look in her eyes when she coyly smiled at me and said “And of course he’s gay, too, y’know…” Um…wha huh wha?

My logical family all know, they largely knew up front, and they’re all a) okay with me specifically, and b) LGBT allies in general. If they weren’t I wouldn’t be friends with them. I make most of my friends online these days (Internet Friends aren’t real, right Dad?), and I find them in places where LGBT-friendly folks tend to congregate. I still crack up when I think about standing in Red Cedar Grill a few years ago with a then-stranger who is now my girl CeCe, and we were talking about election canvassing, and she pointed out that I may meet my wife out canvassing. I immediately corrected her and said “Husband.”…and that was the end of it. I had just met her earlier that day, but because of the context in which I had met her, I trusted her from the get-go and knew that it was okay to say that.

That said, there are some contexts in which I still find myself struggling to come out, and I do the best I can. I’m not “officially” out at work, but I am Facebook friends with a lot of my coworkers (dumb idea, that one), and until recently I did have my sexual orientation listed in my profile. (I took it down not because I’m scared to have it there, but because I find it insulting that if you have your orientation listed as gay, naturally Facebook’s advertisers assume you’re interested in nothing but a thousand different permutations of Manhunt). As Ben mentioned in his post, I do look forward to the day I can stand around the proverbial water cooler (we don’t actually have a water cooler) and talk about this great movie I watched with my husband.

Then there’s my gaming life. (The other day I was discussing some past drama and pain caused by some of our former WoW friends with my co-guildmaster, and we both lamented the fact that when we tell non-gamers stories about the struggles (and sometimes joys) of dealing with other gamers, people hear the words “World of Warcraft,” and immediately write us off as nutcases and write off our problems as unimportant. If you’re one of those people, skip the next paragraph.) Yeah. WoW people. Not exactly the most open and accepting bunch of people on the planet. Blizzard Entertainment, the parent company that produces WoW, is legendary for looking the other way at the blatant and disgusting homophobia that comes from much of its player community, but I never expected they’d actually endorse this behavior by adding it into an official part of the game…but they did, and I will forever hate Stonecore because of it. God, I’m rambling again, aren’t I?

The point I was trying to make is that WoW is a whole other area of my life where I’m frequently presented with the choice to either acknowledge my sexual orientation or not, although admittedly at no physical risk. Both of the guilds I’ve been in have been nothing but supportive of the LGBT community…or so I thought. I am out and open about who I am, and the leadership of both guilds has been warm and welcoming of LGBT folks…until last week. We had an incident where a guildie started spewing some hateful stuff, and long story short, my co-guildmasters actually sat there and told me that it wasn’t offensive and it wasn’t a big deal. Then, this morning I was online and listening in on a discussion in Trade Chat (yeah, Ben, I see you rolling your eyes at me) about religion and how churches spend their money, and I stupidly chimed in with my opinion about how churches should spend more money helping the poor and less money to make sure that I can’t get married. And that’s exactly how I phrased it. Facepalm. It was so ugly that I actually logged off.

Point…point…I know there’s one in here somewhere…*rummage rummage rummage* *dig dig dig*…

Oh. That.

Yeah. My point is this: feel free to ask me about my Coming Out Experience. I’ll be happy to share the details of how it went…as soon as I’m done. And at this rate, that’ll be the day before I die.