Tuesday, July 23, 2013

If this is what being gay means....

then I might not want to be gay.

As I ease myself back into the gay community, and specifically the gay male community, I'm finding things I don't like, and remembering that I didn't like them before, either.

I recently went to Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. I stood in line for the first of two films I wanted to see, and soon a group of three men got in line behind me. In a mere nanosecond, one of the men immediately began whining, "Oh, this festival has gone to hell since they let the girls take over!" 

My immediate thought was, "What blatant sexism!" and then I thought "Well then, bitch, why are you here and how would you make it better?" But, as I am practicing my newest lesson of staying in my moment and in my head, and no one else's, I said nothing. And what would it have proven, anyway? This was my first time at Outfest, so I had nothing to compare it to. And these three were dropping names like ice cream melting on a hot day. So, they'd been here before, and knew some people in positions. Precisely, who they knew and in what positions they knew them is unknown to me.

When I first came out in 1983 I remember meeting many men back then who were my age now, and they were simply bitchy old queens. They couldn't find anything nice to say about anything or anyone. I wonder why? Is it the difficulties we faced growing up that has turned men of my generation sour? No, I've even seen young drag queens "reading" each other, also known as "throwing shade."
  • -Girl, those clothes look like a donkey f*cked a piƱata and threw up! 
I just don't get the negativity. I was brought up that if you couldn't find anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Besides, many of us have had enough bullying in our closeted lives, we shouldn't have to put up with it now that we're out. And, least of all, by people who are supposed to be on our side in the struggle for equality.

If being gay means I have to whine, bitch and throw shade, no, thank you.

I have also been frequenting a little bar in my area. Okay, it's not exactly around the corner, but it's close. Closer than West Hollywood, where the shade can be thrown so fast and thick, you have to watch where you step. I have been chatting with the bartender and found we have a few things in common; like photography. Now, before any of you matchmakers get any ideas, he is younger than my ex, and that makes him AI, (Age Inappropriate), though he is quite GD, (Geographically Desirable) as he lives between my house and the bar; but, closer to my house. He is also Latino, a plus in my book, and about my height, also a plus. And, yes, I would say he's cute. (Many Latino twenty-somethings are.) Definitely a plus. And he's personable, but I suppose that's a requirement for the job. But, there are a couple of other considerations, other than the fact I am not looking for a boyfriend; he has a two year old son with his live-in girlfriend. (Yes, this is a gay bar I am going to, there are several rainbow flags on the roof! And he did refer to her as his girlfriend in a direct conversation with me.) 

But, that's all beside the point. 

One night I was sitting there playing with him, (We were playing Jenga! Get your minds out of the gutter!) and two old queens were sitting at the other end of the bar. By 'old', I mean my age, and by 'queens', I mean QUEENS. These men were there when I walked in and had already built a nice collection of glasses in front of them. The music was pumped up and they were probably ten feet away from me. They were saying things like, "How many shots will it take to get you to take your shirt off?" or "How many shots till we get you out of your pants?" or "How many shots till I can blow you in the bathroom?" They were obviously pretty loud if I could hear them over the music!!

And while I felt for the bartender, as he seemed uncomfortable with the unwanted attention, I knew it was not my place to act. They weren't directing the comments at me, so it was not my moment. Once, when he came over to me to make his move (in the game!), I told him admired him for having a strong personality to put up with shit like that pointing to the two old queens. He chuckled and said he just laughs it off. 

And yet, if it was just between him and those other two, why did it bother me so? I was trying to stay in my moment, not enter his. Though I guess I had when I commented to him about it. 

They say you shouldn't go through life narrating every experience for you don't get to enjoy that experience. That's true. But, this became a learning experience for me. Why did the objectification of this young bartender by these two old queens bother me so? 

June 1985
Because it took me back to the days when I was young, cute and objectified; when I was groped and felt up against my will, leaving me feeling cheap and degraded back then. Very few men wanted to take the time to get to know me for who I was, not simply for what I looked like. If I went on a date, and he got what he really wanted, he never called again. If I went on a date, and he didn't get what he really wanted, he never called again. Being young and naive, I took it all personally. Now, I know better, though it still surfaces at times and has become an obstacle for me to overcome now that I am single, again. And the objectification of this nice, intelligent, creative young man, or anyone for that matter, still bothers me, maybe because I didn't know how to deal with it back then so I am sensitive to others being objectified.

So, why do we view people as objects for our sexual gratification? To use them and toss away like dirty old tissues? There could be as many answers as there are people on the planet. Perhaps it's because some people set themselves up to be objectified and then we expect others to as well.
In the few times I've set up an online dating profile, many of the profile pictures other men have posted were of their naked torsos, or they were reclining on a bed or sofa with a carefully placed fold in the sheet, or just in their underwear. They also offered 'private' photos, or sent them to me, unsolicited, in a message. Many of these shots are not showing the guy's face. Perhaps they feel they still need to hide their identity on a gay site, or because it's an online hookup/dating site, or they're trying to hide from someone else. What this also suggests, to me anyway, is that is all they see of themselves. "I have to use my body to get someone's attention. So, let's start with the sex and see what happens as a result."

As for the whining, complaining, and throwing shade, we all do it to some extent; gay, straight, drag queen or not. The objectifying, it happens. It will happen, it will continue to happen. I think it's here to stay, unfortunately. So, I will have to learn to accept a sincere compliment and then let it be. I need to learn how to determine when someone is looking for something he's not going to get or is genuinely interested in what's between my ears and in my heart, not just what's between my legs. I'm not a kiss-on-the-first-date-(and-maybe-not-even-the-second)-date kind of guy. Okay, maybe a kiss, but nothing more than that.
If being gay means I have to objectify men, even if they ask for it, no, thank you.

I guess I'll have to treat the gay male community like one great big Al-Anon meeting;

I'll take what I like and leave the rest.
And take nothing personally.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ancient History

With very little fanfare, HM Queen Elizabeth II gave her assent to the same-sex marriage law in London last week, making same-sex marriage legal in England and Wales. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own parliaments and will debate such laws on their own. While LGBTQ people and their allies around the UK and the world greeted this event with fabulous enthusiasm and pride, I received an innocuous, yet puzzling message from someone who has been a staunch supporter of mine in terms of equality and my new life post-divorce. The message alluded to the queen as a horrible person thinking she could wipe away all her disgusting acts with a stroke of a pen.

While I am trying to learn not to get into the head of another person, as there's so much chatter going on in my own, this truly puzzled me. I first sat down and asked myself what horrible deeds has she, or her government, done after her ascension in 1952? The only things that come to my mind are the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Falklands War, and Britain's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, I went back even further in history and yes, I did come up with some horrible deeds, but these all happened before she was even born. So, is she responsible for the actions of her ancestors? I don't think so. Successors to every government would have to then be held accountable for the deeds of their predecessors. Can, and should, current governments be held accountable for the past? One could also argue children are then responsible for the events of their parents as their successors.

History is replete with despicable events. Every war is despicable. Colonization brings a host of tragedies to the colonized people. Newly formed governments of former colonies are often no better than the original colonizers. All of these events have one thing in common, innocent victims. And often the stories of these innocent victims gets lost as time marches on.

I believe it is important for the victims to tell their stories; first, for their own recovery and then for the rest of us to learn. For those who do not learn from the past are doomed (destined?) to repeat it. And these atrocities must not be repeated.

(Note: I could mention several horrific events from history, but I will not, except for one, for fear out of appearing to omit a particular group due to a perceived bias. See, I'm getting into your head.)

The pink triangle was the badge given to gay men in the camps.
In 1945, when the liberating armies reached the concentration camps in Nazi Germany, all prisoners were released, except for one group; homosexual men. They were left behind to finish out their sentences, and to clean up the camps. Some men who were released, were re-arrested on charges stemming from before their original arrest. It wasn't until the 1980's these men were even acknowledged by the German government to having been imprisoned at all.

Without appearing to be callous to the sufferings of victims of any atrocity, history is history. It's over. Let us be where we are and move forward. Let us help the victims to move forward as best we can and then let history be.

I'm not exactly sure what HM Queen Elizabeth could do to make up for the past deeds of her predecessors. I'm not sure what any government could do to make it up to the people their predecessors had wronged. Yet, perhaps a simple acknowledgment of what happened could be enough.

My ex announced his wish for a divorce in an email he sent me while we were in the house together. He had come to this decision on his own without talking to me about these feelings he'd had for over a year. It hurt. Badly. Things he's said and done after have added to the hurt. If he were to crawl here from his new home on the east coast to acknowledge how much he has hurt me, to take that responsibility, would it change what has actually happened between us? No. Would it help me to come to terms with our own history? I don't know.

But, I'd appreciate the gesture.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yes! That's It!

For a few months; okay, a couple of years, I've been debating/contemplating/worrying about dating.

I've expressed my fears, concerns, bewilderment at the prospect.

And while I do acknowledge my fears:
  • fear of intimacy;
  • fear of rejection;
  • fear of repeating past mistakes not learning past lessons; including
    • settling for someone I'm not worthy of;
    • not accepting that the relationship was no longer working,
    • not accepting that it is okay to end it,
    • losing too much of myself in the process,
    • not heeding my instincts early on,
    • not taking care of myself in the process,
there was still something else that was missing in all that. And I couldn't put my finger on it.

Until this morning.

I woke up earlier than usual and since I couldn't get back to sleep, (my mind had already begun racing through the events for the day) I started reading the news on my iPad. I eventually found myself at the Huffington Post, where I check out a number of regular pages. One page in particular I check out is "Divorce." While the majority of the articles are written by women for women, I still try to 'find' myself in the articles, blogs, etc. Sometimes I do.

This morning was one of those times.

I read an article entitled "To Date or Not to Date? That is the Question," by blogger Aimee Vlachos. That is where I have found myself, at that particular crossroad. Do I? Don't I? Friends have been trying to fix me up; a lesbian couple had a friend for me the moment they heard I was single, which ironically was the same night I met them; friends have been asking if there are any 'prospects', Facebook friends have been openly posting on my Timeline, other friends telling me "I just want you to be happy, you deserve it."

And even though I have been reticent to begin dating, their 'encouragement' (which I acknowledge comes from their love for me) has only made me dig in my Aquarian heels a little deeper. (We can be so obstinately stubborn determined to do things on our own timetable!)

And the unsettledness as to why I didn't want to begin dating was still gnawing at me. Was it really all the pressure in addition to my own fears? Was there something else? After all, a friend who had broken up with his boyfriend had already moved on to someone new; and my ex had as well. So, why hadn't I? Yes, I know, we all march to our own drummer. And sometimes mine isn't even in the same parade as the rest of society. (It's an Aquarian thing.)

But, that wasn't it, either.

As I read this article, Ms. Vlachos mentioned being very happy for her friend who had found happiness after losing her husband two years prior. Yet, Ms. Vlachos still wasn't ready to look for her own happiness, two years after divorcing her husband. The idea of meeting, and talking to someone new gave her a sense of claustrophobia. Gods, can I relate!  I had blogged earlier that even the thought discovering another man's idiosyncrasies gave me the creeps, something Ms. Vlachos and I both understand. And for me, the idea of sex and intimacy had me considering a new career in the priesthood. (Okay, maybe not the best analogy, but I make my point.)  I had toyed with the idea of a platonic roommate but that, too, filled me with a sense of entrapment. So, obviously I didn't want anyone in my life or personal space, right now.

While there are a few other things Ms. Vlachos and I share, there is one thing we might not. She states she is still looking for that piece of the puzzle she doesn't have, while I think I have found mine.

I have been in a relationship since 1986. My first partner and I started dating that summer and remained together until his death in 1994. Approximately ten months later, I met He-Who-Would-Become-My-Ex-Husband. We were together from that moment until 2010. So, short of about ten months in between my husbands, I have been in a relationship for twenty-four years!

When that hit me, it was like a 2x4 upside my head. I nearly leaped out of bed like Archimedes at the baths, "Eureka!" It all made sense. I didn't want to date anyone else, because I wanted to date myself. I wanted, no, I needed this time to get to know me again, to celebrate ME!

And it's about effing time.

Photo courtesy of GJ Spiller Photography!
For the original article, click here:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Who Am I?

I've been thinking about me a lot lately.

You know.

I'm divorced. I can't change that. Even if I were to marry again, it's a matter of public record.

I'm middle-aged. I can't stop the aging process.

I'm a man. Short of undergoing sexual reassignment, I will stay a man.

I'm gay.

I think.

I mean I'm attracted to men, I find them more of a turn on than women. Yet, no one seems to turn me on anymore. Well, maybe that's not true. My latest secret crush is a man who, in my humble opinion, is totally hot; very bearish, seemingly intelligent, but quite GU and AI. (That's Geographically Undesirable, and Age Inappropriate, as he lives over 1500 miles from me and is even younger than my ex who is 16 years my junior.) So, I'll cyber stalk him for a while, as it's highly unlikely we'll ever meet.

And, the last few times I've been in West Hollywood, it felt all wrong, like I didn't belong there. Maybe it's what WeHo represents to me: overpriced shopping, restaurants, bars and clubs; shallowness and narcissism.

Plus, on a different note, I have a difficult time finding decent inexpensive parking without having to surrender my first born child or next adopted pet or apply three days in advance for a parking permit. Traffic through WeHo is bad, and I'm even not talking during rush hours. And there's no great direct way to get there from my house.

And yet, sometimes I do feel the need to go there to connect with my alleged gay roots as well as check out settings for stories I'm working on. Maybe I need to check my attitude at the border. Because not all men who live there are shallow and narcissistic, and SOME restaurants are actually priced fairly.

Maybe it's just the overall attitude I've been having lately that's bringing me down in WeHo. For there is one thing I do see in WeHo. Solidarity.

I'm not anti-gay right now. I just think I have a different set of values than most of the men I have recently met.

I think I'm more anti-relationship at this point in my life than anything else. I'm still dealing with some emotional fallout from my divorce. My ex has moved on and in with his new partner, and now they have moved across the country. When friends asked me how I felt about each of these events, I really didn't know how I felt other than I wasn't going back to him, nor would I take him back. It is now his life to lead, and he now has the opportunity he has always wanted; to experience life outside California. Bully for him, I already have. 

It seems I'm really coming to terms with the fact I'm divorced, it's really sinking in. Yes, it has been nearly three years, but sometimes there is a re-recognition, a re-affirming of the fact. My ex has moved across the country with someone new; our dog died, so that's one less connection to him. I'm still living in our house with our one surviving cat, so those connections are still here. (I'd sell and move if I could, but I can't so I am still here.) And as much as I make it MY house, we bought it together with some money from his mother's estate, which is yet another connection.

The idea of meeting someone else is daunting. A friend showed me a picture of the latest movie star every gay man seems to have a crush on. The man was shirtless in the picture showing a hairy chest, nice muscles, but did nothing for me. My friend was shocked. "I thought you liked muscles and fur!"

Nope, nada, zilch!
Normally, I do. But, nothing is doing anything for me right now. (Except Mr. GU AI.)

I think I'm just going through a phase. An asexual phase.

It's been coming for a while, no pun intended. 

Well, maybe a small one.

I'm sure that as I move on, things will change.

And I will continue discovering who I am.

I know I'm in there somewhere.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Independence Day 2013

It's over.

C'est fini.


In August 2010, I received a devastating email from my husband who was in the house with me at the time.

He asked for a divorce.

He moved into the guest room that night, and out of the house two weeks later.

It was finalized legally almost one year later after that.

But, is it ever truly over?

Even though we had split, we still had tangible connections, even if our emotional connection had been severed and was quite negative. Still is, to a degree.  We still had three of our surviving furbabies to take care of. Even though I have made some physical changes to make the house more mine, it will remain a historical connection between us in a number of ways; he lived here, we used some of his inheritance from his mother's estate to purchase it, and there is still furniture here that he touched, sat on or slept in that I cannot afford to replace at this point in time.

In the two and some years since the split, we still maintained contact, mostly to settle things at first, and then for him to maintain a relationship with the furbabies. 
And now we both have moved on. 

In different directions.

Both metaphorically and literally.

I'm moving on personally, looking at myself and wanting to grow - emotionally, spiritually, creatively.

I can't answer this for him. Yet, personal observations lead me to wonder....but, let's not go there.

It seems our literal separation is now greater.

A few thousand miles greater, as he and his new partner are currently relocating from the Big Orange to the Big Apple.

A few people have asked me if I was jealous of what he now had; a new partner and an adventure. 

Hellfuckingshit, no!

In time, I may be jealous of that idea, but not now. 

What I have that he doesn't is independence. 

Independence to take a good look a myself. 

Independence to determine what I want
in life
in love
in a partner
in me

Independence to figure out who I am
as a man
as a gay person
as a teacher
as a writer
as a human being
as me

Independence to do this 
at my pace
on my terms

Okay, so maybe the Universe may have some say in these last two, and indeed this will be a lifelong process, but it's where I am at this moment.

I admit that I was feeling a bit sad at this realization. I had originally titled this piece "Melancholia" because the facts that my ex was now moving with his new partner to New York, and that now only one of our furbabies survives today (and she is in perilous health), all conspired to force me to realize our connections were breaking which all meant it was really, finally, truly hitting me that I was divorced.



Yet, I wasn't feeling sad that I wouldn't see him again for there were many times I swore I never wanted to. I was feeling sad in that the truth was sinking in.

But, what is it they say?

The truth shall set you free!

It seems it has.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Prop. 8, DOMA and Me

Last week was a monumentous week for LGBT rights.

I mean monumental. Huge, bigger than huge!

After I forget how many years, the Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS, ruled on two separate issues regarding marriage equality: the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the US Federal Government from recognizing same-sex couples thereby denying them benefits heterosexual couples receive automatically upon marriage; and Proposition 8 which, in California, defined marriage as between one man and one woman. In a nutshell SCOTUS struck them both down which meant we were equal. We were first class citizens in the eyes of the law. Effects were immediate. Within an hour of the decision, a Federal judge halted the deportation of the legally married-but-only-in-their-home-state non-US-citizen husband of a gay US citizen, just hours before he was to board the plane.

Also, marriage equality returned to California after five years making it the newest state in the Union to recognize same-sex couples. In a surprise, but welcomed move, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay that prohibited same-sex marriages from happening while the case wound its way through the court system. Normally the Appeals Court waits twenty-five days for the SCOTUS decision to become final. They did not. They waited two.

Rallies were planned for all over the state regardless of the outcomes. With the decisions expected anywhere from Monday June 24 on, the rally dates kept changing. When they finally were announced on Wednesday, June 26, two days before Stonewall Day, social media exploded.

I was nervous anticipating the results. Having been same-sex married, and now same-sex divorced, I wanted equality for my brothers and sisters. I wanted to be seen as equal as my straight counterparts. Should I ever decide to marry again, I wanted those same tax benefits, and all the other 1100+ rights that come along specifically with the "M" word. I didn't want to be part of, in the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "a skim milk marriage." I wanted a real one. With all the fat.

For Possible Decision Day No. 1, I got up, tuned into a live feed from the Supreme Court and read the feed. Nothing. I did the same thing for Possible Decision Day No. 2, and nothing again. But, the feed said all remaining decisions would be announced on Definite Decision Day No. 3. And when the decisions were finally announced, I felt nothing. I did not cry with joy,  I did not scream with happiness, I did nothing. Oh, I messaged a friend the news, tweeted a couple of things and went on with my day.

Okay, I did react. Yes, I was happy to finally be equal, but I did not feel happy.

My friend said I should go to the rally in West Hollywood. He said I should go celebrate. No, he thought I needed to celebrate. I told him I'd think about it.

In the end, I stayed home and dusted.

I was still recovering from a bad week with my ex over the unexpected passing of our my dog. Yes, technically he was our dog; we got him, we trained him, we loved him. However, my ex left him. My ex is now moving across the country with his new boyfriend and had already said his goodbyes to Mufasa. I feel that makes Mufasa now mine. I nursed him out of his depression after my ex left, I took him to the vet when he was ill, I fed him and gave him his medications, I finally got him partially housebroken and cleaned up after him when he forgot. I was the one who watched him take his last breath, I was the one who surrendered him to be cremated, I was the one who collected the remains. Even though he'd already said his goodbyes, I kept my ex in the loop that last week. I kept him abreast of the prognosis and the doctor's reports. When I told my ex that Mufasa had ultimately died, he expressed condolences for our loss. And then he made it very clear he was not going to help with any addtional money beyond his usual support. From there the discussion deteriorated.

Perhaps the SCOTUS decisions were all too soon. Maybe the coincidence of  it all happening at once was overwhelming. The tragedy of unexpectedly losing my sweet Mufasa, the argument with the ex and my reactions to and thoughts of it all so fresh in my heart and mind that I could not appreciate and internalize the magnitude of the SCOTUS decisions that granted us equality. I just don't feel it. Maybe, I'm just soured on the idea of relationships at the moment to take it all in.

And yet, I appreciate the fact that history was made this week.

We are EQUAL at last.

At least in some states and in the eyes of the Federal Government.

And, it's only just beginning!

And in time, I'll come to internalize it.