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Forty and one day
June 9, 2012

So, yesterday was my birthday.  The Big Four-O.

Having never celebrated birthdays until I was in my late twenties, they never really meant much to me.  In fact, I kind of dread them, but not for any vain reason, like getting older.  We all get older whether or not we celebrate our birthday.  I dread them because, while I’ve had great times celebrating with my friends, it seems that there have been some pretty sad things happen around it as well:

1999:  My friend Craig commits suicide.
2003:  My Uncle Shelby passes away.
2005:  Marlene, my mother-in-law passes away.
2009:  My father passes away.
2011:  My Aunt Inez passes away.
2012:  My friend Rosie passes away.

These days it seems like Death is around every corner.  There’s crazy things going on in the world.  Earthquakes and tsunamis and vampires and zombies.  But are they any crazier then they ever have been?  Maybe…  Maybe not.  Maybe it’s just that we are all connected way more thanks to the internet and 24 hour news channels that need stories to fill up all that time.

Regardless, here I am at forty years old and I’ve taken to (over)thinking about things a lot.

Last year a friend of mine from my youth died in a car accident.  We were friends on Facebook, but just the polite, somebody that I used to know kind of friends.  The kind of friends that like posts, but rarely comment.  After he died, I went to his page for the first time.  From his page, I followed a link to a website that he had set up to show off his photography.  It was a great website, I’m sure he spent many hours getting it put together, however there were no photographs.  There was only this phrase, “Here is where I will be posting my photographs to share with you all.”  Sadly, it was written the year before and there were no photographs.  I’m sure he meant to post things there.  I wish that he had.  But it was so sad to see the empty space of what might have been.  I’ve thought a lot about that page over the past few weeks.  Honestly, the thing that gets me the most is how it feels very much like this page.  I’ve posted twice or so in the past two years.

I don’t want to be that kind of person.  However I’m not going to say that I’m going to write every day.  I know that the odds are heavily in favor that I probably will not write something everyday.  But, I don’t want someone to come here after I die and be saddened by the posibility of what I didn’t do.  So, I’m going to do my level best not to disappoint.  Or, at least to disappoint them with the reality of what I did do.

Hero
April 24, 2010

I see him in me
a little more every day.
Like father, like son.

ZAP!
February 4, 2010

ZAP! (A lunchtime haiku)

Microwaveable
frozen dinners warm the souls
of office dwellers.

Prayers for Bobby, Thanks from LaMar
January 26, 2009

So, last night I taped “Prayers for Bobby” on Lifetime.  I just finished watching it and felt compelled to enter quick blog.

I expected it to be emotional.  It was. 
I expected it to “hit close to home.”  It did.
I expected that I would probably cry.  I did, the entire last hour.

Watching Bobby’s story made me reflect upon my own.

I admitted to myself that I was gay at age 14 in 1986.   As a good Christian boy, I did everything that I could to change.  I prayed three and four times every single day for God to take away my “sickness.”   My church didn’t necessarily teach that being gay was a sin; however they believed that acting on my natural gay-tinted instincts was.   I never understood why God would give me these feelings, but condemn me for acting on them.  It never made sense to me, but I didn’t feel like I had any grounds to question Him.

I knew in my heart that if my parents ever found out about me,  I would cause them a world of hurt.  I thought that they would be better off with a dead son, than a gay son.  So, I attempted to take my life.  Thankfully, I was not successful.   After I graduated from high school, I moved away from Prattsville in hopes of being “myself” without letting my family know.

In 1996, I came out to my new friends.   My old, church friends no longer spoke to me.  These were my new friends at college in Missouri.  For some, it was  no big deal.   For others, it wasn’t as easy, but they were still supportive.  

After college, I moved to Amarillo and started living my life as an openly gay man.  This is where I met the love of my life.  Once I knew that Wayne was going to be a permanent part of my life, I felt that I had to let my parents not only know that I was so very happy, but why I was so happy.  I came out to my family in October, 1998.  (Actually, I came out to my sister and she outed me to my family, but that’s neither here nor there.)

It was not easy for my parents in the beginning, but over the past decade, they have not only come to terms with having a gay son, they have accepted me for who I am; they have accepted Wayne into our family; they have accepted other gay and lesbian members of my family.   These are all accomplishments that I would have never thought would have ever happened.

Bobby was successful in taking his life.  If I had succeeded, I would never have met the love of my life.  I would never have known that there is such a thing as unconditional love.  I would never have known know just how truly special my parents are.  I would never have been sure that there is a God and that (S)He loves me.

Here’s hoping that no other gay or lesbian teenager will ever have to go through what Bobby did.  And if they do, here’s hoping that they will reach out for help from organizations such as The Trevor Project (www.trevorproject.com).

A Decade of Christmases
December 28, 2008

So, this year marked the tenth year that I really celebrated Christmas.

Yes, you read that right.  I truly didn’t celebrate Christmas until 1998.  Now before I tell you that my family didn’t celebrate Christmas for religious reasons when I was growing up, let me tell you that my parents are the most awesome people you’ll ever meet.   While I didn’t grow up believing in Santa or decorating a tree each year, I was in no way neglected.   My parents made sure that I had everything that I needed, and most of what I wanted.  I also want you to know that I didn’t grow up hating Christmas, I just grew up thinking it was like every other day.  A day that I either didn’t have to go to school or to work because of, either was fine with me.  In fact, I think it was harder not celebrating Christmas for my parents than it was for me, John or Dee.  They had grown up celebrating, while we didn’t.

So, what was so special about 1998?  Well, that’s the year that I met the man of my dreams and settled down with him.   He never actually came out and said it, but I know that he must have thought that I was a bit of a freak.   Having grown up in the Catholic Church, he never knew life without Christmas.   

That first year, I told him that I hadn’t really ever celebrated Christmas before, but I don’t think he really grasped the situation until we opened stocking gifts on Christmas Eve.   You see, I didn’t really understand that Christmas Eve stocking gifts were kind of like appetizers for Christmas morning’s main course.   Since this was a new concept for me, I actually put Wayne’s “best” gift from me in his stocking, because it was long and slender and would fit there best.  This is the year that on Christmas Eve Wayne got a bottle of wine from the vineyards of Stan and Ann Rice, complete with a bookplate with Ann’s signature attached to the bottle; then on Christmas Day, he opened packages of shirts and a hat.  I’m sure it was kind of a let down.

That first year together we started traditions that we still have to this day.  Every year our Christmas village grows because I always buy him something for it.  Every year, we both try to be the first one to buy the other a new Christmas ornament.   In the years since his mother has passed, we always buy an ornament in memory of her as well.

Now that Christmas is over, only 361 days until the next one, I’m finding myself reflecting on the last decade.  It’s been a good ten years.  Wayne and I have had years of excess and years of overdrawn checking accounts; years of not enough room under the tree to years of wrapping boxes bigger than necessary to make the tree look fuller.   But, through it all, one thing hasn’t changed:  I get to spend the season with my best friend, lover, husband and fellow little-kid-at-heart.

When I started this post, I intended to comment on how many “Christians” do not act very Christ-like during this, the holiest of holy days for Christians.  However, reflecting on the season has softened my anger and I just want to bask in the glow of the Christmas tree, which will be up until the first weekend of January at our house.

Here’s hoping that next 361 days pass quickly!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

 

Remembering my friend
October 17, 2008

So, I’m not much of a poet… at all… really… not even close.   I do enjoy writing, in fact, my minor in college was creative writing.   However, my strength was (and I hope still is) writing prose.  However, this month would have been my friend Craig’s 37th birthday.  Over the past month I have been inspired by another friend’s talent and passion.  The result is the poem below inspired by, and for, my friend Craig.

Craig was the person who helped me come to terms with being gay; the one person who more than any other helped me accept with who I am at my very core.   Having already attempted to take my life because of my sexuality, Craig’s friendship ensured that there would be no second attempt.   For that one reason, although there are many others, I will be grateful for the friendship he extended to me.  It is somewhat ironic that the man who would save my life, and lead me away from self-destruction, would have his own life come to an abrupt end by his own hand.

After graduating college, I moved to Texas and started a new life.  But Craig was always there.  When I found out my boyfriend was married, he was the first call that I made.   When I met the love of my life, he was the first call that I made.   When I came out to my family, he was the first call that I made.    When Wayne and I had our first argument and I wanted to call it off, it was Craig who calmed my anger and fears.  So, when I received the call telling me that he had taken his own life, my soul was shattered.

I blamed myself for not being there for my friend… and on some levels still do.  Even though I know it’s a game with no winners, I often play the “What If” game.   What if I had moved to St. Louis instead of Texas.  Could I have made a difference?  Would Craig be alive today if I had?    Maybe, maybe not.

 

BENEDICTION
Self-imposed darkness wrapped me like a cocoon
spun from the fears and taunts hurled at me as a child.
Children are creul, but innocent;
adults are deliberate and sadistic.
Only expecting wrath and destruction,
I never anticipated that I might emerge
to the light of acceptance or tolerance,
let alone the hope of friendship
or love.
It would take an exceptional endurance
to be my friend… 
to break through the fear and loathing
churning in my broken spirit.
Yet, the challenge was met and allowed.
You led me down that narrow and
jagged path to love, however I
found that my own acceptance
would be the most elusive.
While mending myself, I didn’t see
the tortured scars on your soul.
I never knew the fears that haunted your dreams
or the demons that pursued your thoughts.
You hid them well, too well…
so I carried on with life as normal.
Even though you were the one to teach me
that there is no such thing as normal.

Thank you, my dear friend, for helping me
when I could not return the kindness.
I miss your presence in my life,
though I often hear your laugh when I am sad
and sense your gentle reassurance when timid.
For you, my dear friend, I offer up
a multitude of silent prayers and petitions
that you achieve the peace and tranquility
you found always to be out of reach.