Well, it means that the American government must now recognize same-sex marriage on a federal level. Therefore, same-sex couples, who are legally married in states that recognize their marriage, are now eligible for federal benefits. They don’t have to pay inheritance tax. They get social security survivorship and federal income tax benefits just to name a few. For a list of the 1,138 federal rights of marriage, click here.
This is a huge win for married gay couples everywhere, and I can’t tell you how excited I am as well.
Close but I was more excited than that!
Yeah, that’s about right!
Still, I couldn’t help but wonder:
What Does the Decision Mean for Married Gay Couples who Don’t Live in a State that Recognizes Same-Sex Unions?
First of all, it means that my husband and I are still not married in Texas, which has defined a marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
I know, right?
This will hold true for similar couples living in the other 36 states that do not recognize same-sex unions.
However, on a federal level, married couples like my husband and me will be able enjoy the federal benefits that had been previously denied to us. So while our state doesn’t recognize my marriage, my country now does.
This weekend my husband Bruce and I celebrate a milestone in our relationship–ten years as a couple. As the date drew closer, I fretted about how to celebrate such a wonderful event in our lives. I wanted it to be perfect, and if you know my husband, he’s extremely romantic and outdoes me at every turn. Sometimes I think he should be the one writing romance fiction instead of me. He’s just that good!
So I thought: what could I do that would show Bruce how important he is to me?
The answer: shout it to the word!
So, friends, family, and those of you who have stumbled upon this post, I want to share with you some highlights from the past ten years of our lives together. Naturally, we shall start at…
When Bruce and I met, we had no intention of becoming a couple. We were going through some rather difficult times in our personal lives, and we were only looking for friendship. Nothing more. Life, however, had other plans in store. Bruce’s friendship quickly became a source of strength. For someone like me, who’s a loner used to taking care of himself, it was both comforting and disconcerting. I had no idea what to do with this man who didn’t play games and who showed, instead of told me, how much he cared. I mean, he brought me a dozen roses when I came down with the flu, and we hadn’t even started dating yet.
Men didn’t do that! At least not the men I had dated!
It didn’t dawn on me that I had fallen in love with Bruce until I encountered a personal crisis in life. You see, he was the first person I called. I bypassed my mother and my best friend, something I had never done before. Even though he was (and still is) a busy doctor, Bruce took my call and talked me off the ledge. When I hung up the phone with him, I realized I’d been hooked, and all it took was his kind attentiveness and a flash of his charming smile.
Shortly after, we moved in together, and not long after that, we bought a house, creating a new family with my daughter and Bruce’s two children. I’ll be honest. I worried what the neighbors would think and how the kids would be treated. We lived in south Texas in a very conservative town in an uber-conservative state. I was worried that we would find burning crosses in our front yard, and the children would be terrorized at school. None of the awful events I imagined ever occurred. In fact, life went along as normal, but the extremely pessimistic man I sometimes am, I waited for the other shoe to drop.
Until a magical event happened.
That first Christmas we moved into our house, when our families were all going to get together for the first time, it snowed on Christmas Eve. Now, keep in mind, this is south Texas, where snow rarely falls, and it didn’t just snow it snowed! I’m talking inches, and the snowfall stayed around until Christmas morning, giving our town its first white Christmas, an event not likely to happen again in 100 years.
Bruce and the snowman
Me in the south Texas snowfall
George is wondering WTH is this?!
I took it as a sign. The rare south Texas snow was just like the love I had found with Bruce–once in a lifetime. After that, I just didn’t worry anymore.
After that first Christmas, Bruce and I settled into being parents and partners. It wasn’t an easy transition. Being a parent is tricky. Being a step-parent, as anyone who’s been there can confirm, is even trickier. A certain balance has to be maintained, or the entire applecart can be upset. I won’t say we didn’t have to run around picking up fallen apples at times, but like any couple we learned how to deal with the small disasters that sometimes create havoc in life. When we came across one of those situations, though, I knew Bruce had my back. We became quite the team, utilizing each other’s strengths and creating a pretty awesome parenting force.
San Francisco our 1st Family Trip
But beyond growing as a father and a partner because of Bruce, Bruce also taught me about the powerful healing force of true love. You see, it was during these years that I became quite ill. I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say, that it was a rough time for me. Bruce, being the dear, sweet man he is, picked me up off the floor and carried me on his shoulders until I was strong enough to once again stand on my own. He became my champion, my knight-in-shining-armor, who fought my illness when I wasn’t strong enough to do it myself. He refused to let me give up, and his strength became my own.
Quite literally, his love saved my life.
After re-gaining my strength and my health, it was time to make honest men out of us both. I proposed to Bruce, and he accepted. A year later, we were married in Provincetown, amidst the town we both came to love, the friends we’d made throughout our many visits over the years, and the family who came to celebrate the day with us.
After our vows
Cutting the cake
Our first dance
I fell in love with Bruce all over again in Provincetown, and when we were married, it solidified the commitment we made to each other. We told the whole world that we were unequivocally a couple! Whether it was legal or not in Texas didn’t matter. We were now and forever husbands to each other.
The Road that Stretches Before Us
Now, ten years after our first day as a couple, eight years after moving into our house and becoming a family, five years after beating an illness, and almost three years after marriage, Bruce and I are stronger than ever. Has it always been perfect? No. But then again, what in life is perfect?
I’m sure as hell not. And neither is Bruce.
But our imperfections don’t matter when we are together. They are merely bumps in the road, and it is these bumps that continually make us stronger and better capable to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
I know they are out there, coming our way, and that they might even be numerous. Our first child is now preparing to leave for college, and the other two aren’t far behind. We will have to grow and adjust to the challenges of an empty nest, and everything else life plans to throw at us. Still, I don’t fear what the future holds.
The road before us may be darkened by the unknown, but I know when I reach out my hand that my husband and my best friend will be there beside me. We will meet those challenges together, and against the two of us, life’s obstacles don’t stand a hell of a chance!
I love you, Bruce.
I can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring!
43 years ago today on June 28, 1969, The Stonewall Riots occurred in New York City. Many people in the nation, including the younger gay generation, are ignorant to the significance of this day in our nation’s history. While June has become National Pride Month, celebrated by parades and parties nationwide, Stonewall is often overlooked.
We simply cannot let that happen. Why is that?
Because without the riots at the Stonewall Inn, caused by gays and lesbians who had grown tired of being persecuted, we would not have the Gay Rights Movement we have today. Without those pioneers for equal treatment under the law, gay pride wouldn’t exist. Neither would same sex marriage or a president that has come out in support of gay marriage.
The progress we made started on the streets of New York City at Stonewall Inn, when the persecuted minority rose up and found its voice, and it is that voice that has carried us as far as we have come and will continue to carry us to full equality. Those voices gave birth to the parades, parties, and clubs we now take for granted because prior to Stonewall, those gatherings were illegal.
That’s what I tell my friends who ask me: I support gay rights, but I don’t understand the “need to parade.” Why do gay people feel compelled to line up in streets in provocative costumes and make spectacles of themselves?
The answer is quite simple–because we now can. Many people have no clue what it’s like to live your life in the dark, but homosexuals do. Now that we are no longer forced inside the dark closet of shame, we “parade” to tell the world that we are here, we are not going anywhere, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. Ever. Again.
So, to those brave men and women who fought back at Stonewall, I applaud you, but more importantly I respect how you helped shape the nation from what it was to what it now is. We still have a way to go, but with the strength and the voice you gave us, we will get there.
The following video is a result of a student’s graduation piece from Otis College of Art and Design. I think Macauley C. Johnson does a nice job of capturing the essence of what LGBT people are fighting for.
When I first saw this posted on ThinkProgress, I had to do a double take. According to a recent poll in Nevada, politicians in the “All For Our Country” State favor making brothels legal by a ratio of 3 to 1 over marriage equality.
Apparently, it’s good family values to pay for sex and cheat on your spouse. Well, better than two adults of the same gender committing to each other and raising a family. What does this tell us about our “family values” in this country?
For me, it reveals the true colors of many who oppose marriage equality. It’s okay for those people to screw up their own families with their own skewed version of “family values” because two men and two women are incapable of entering into a long-term, committed relationship and raise children.
Yeah, right. Tell that to your prostitute on your next visit, Nevada politicians
I’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend at the gym these days: people are becoming increasingly inconsiderate of others. I don’t know about you, but it just bugs the hell out of me. Gone are the days of alternating sets with someone using a specific machine or bench or even appropriate decorum or behavior within the gym itself. Since these discourteous actions seem to be on the rise, I thought I’d write a post about appropriate gym behavior, so you can avoid someone taking a dumbbell to your head for breaking one of these simple rules.
Rule #1: If you sweat on it, wipe it off!
It’s a gym, and we all sweat and smell while we’re there. I know I get all manstanky by the time I’m done, but when did it become common place for people to walk away from the bench press leaving almost a full body print of sweat behind? That’s just disgusting! No one wants to walk up to a bench to find it dripping with your nastiness. Every single person walks around with a white towel courteously provided by the gym. Use that towel for what it’s meant for and wipe down the equipment. It’s not only good manners, but it’s also hygienic.
Rule #2: Don’t set up camp
It’s important that we all remember we are gym members not gym owners. I don’t own a single piece of equipment at the gym and I certainly don’t act like it. Therefore, don’t become some oversized Kindergartener and hog all the equipment. Do you really need ten sets of dumbbells, three benches, the Bosu ball, a work out mat, and the four machines you’re cycling through? I don’t think so! Only use the equipment for the muscle you’re currently working on. If you’re doing bicep curls, then select the appropriate dumbbells and bench (if you need one) and do that exercise. When you’re done, you can move on to the equipment you need next. Don’t worry, the toys will still be there for you to play with; you just might have to wait your turn like the rest of the adults at the gym.
Rule #3: Socialize/chat away from the equipment
While I have been known to stop a set to chat briefly with someone I know or take an important call, I don’t stand at a machine/bench for fifteen plus minutes getting all the town gossip or stand idle at the equipment while I talk on the phone. If you see someone you know and the conversation is going to last awhile or you get an important phone call, move away from the machine. There’s no reason for everyone to stop their sets because you’ve decided to get all chatty with your BFF. I have no interest in your life and neither do most people, but I am interested in the bench press you’re preventing me from using, so proceed elsewhere. This allows you to get your much-needed dose of chit chat and allows me to move through my routine.
Rule #4: Do I look like I want to talk to you?
I’m at the gym to work out. I’m not there for your entertainment. But some people think it perfectly acceptable to strike up a conversation while I’m obviously trying to work through my set. I have my iPod ear buds in my ears for a reason. I don’t mind the “good morning” or “how are you?” I don’t even mind stopping for a minute to chat with a friend or acquaintance, but if I don’t know you outside the gym, there’s really very little reason for you to think I want to hear about your life or the fact that you like my shoes, even if they are fabulous! So while it’s perfectly acceptable to be polite and cordial, there’s also no reason to become overly familiar. That’s just creepy!
Rule #5: Save the grunting and screaming for the bedroom
I know that men have been doing this in the gym for ages, and I admit that I grunt occasionally when my muscles are tired and I need just a bit more than my body is willing to give. I get that. The grunt is our way of pushing the body passed its limit, but is it really necessary to grunt and scream through every rep for every set?!?!?! The answer is no! Moderation in all things is good, and this applies to those people who turn into apes while lifting weights. We all know you’re really trying to get attention. You’re grunting and screaming is saying, “Look at me! Look at how much I can lift!” But when the woman next to you is quietly lifting weights almost equal to yours, I think it’s safe for you to just shut the heck up.
Rule #6: Put equipment back where you got it
It seems that most people never learned to put away their toys when they were done playing with them. Need proof? Look at the gym floor. It is often littered with abandoned dumbbells, mats, and weights or machines are left with six 45 pound weights still resting on the bars. I mean, really? I have kids I pick up after at home. Do I have to also pick up after lazy, inconsiderate adults at the gym too? It’s really very simple to put everything back where you got it. I know I do it every time, and I still get out of the gym in about an hour.
Rule #7: Wear gym shorts over your bicycle shorts
This has become quite the problem lately mostly for older women at the gym. They wear skin tight bicycle shorts and a T-shirt, thinking all is good. Well, it’s not! I can see your panties through the bicycle shorts not to mention your camel toe. It’s really quite disturbing, so don’t do it!
Rule #8: Give me a break, not advice
While I’m always willing to learn something new, unless I ask your opinion, I’m not really looking for it. I’m not interested in your gym supplement that’s doing wonders for your body or how tightly you squeeze your glutes. Take your supplement and your clenched butt elsewhere, I’m busy.
Rule #9: Limit your gym buddy to 1
While women are typically the worse offenders at this, I have also noticed men to be slowly catching up to them. Having a gym buddy is great. It helps keep you motivated, but do you really need 4 people standing around you while you work out? I mean, come on! Don’t you realize how much time it takes for all four of you to go through three sets of 12 reps? Not only are you delaying the routines of others, but you’re really not contributing much to your own work out. If you have to wait 5 to 10 minutes between each rep, you’re basically just wasting your time–and mine.
Rule #10: Don’t confuse the mirrors at the gym for the ones at home
Now, we all look at ourselves in the mirrors at the gym. It’s how we can tell progress made during the day’s exercise, but is it really necessary for you to stand there and pose like you were competing in a bodybuilding competition? Must you flex your bicep and smile at yourself or take countless pics of your body with your phone? That can wait till you get home. All you’re accomplishing is looking like a complete douche and making us all laugh at you.
Have you seen people break these rules at your gym too? Does it make you as angry as it does me or am I alone on this? Also, let me know if I’ve missed a rule or two.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of hearing right wing extremists spouting that any effort for equality is a war on religion. Here are a two cases in point that drive me crazy. Texas State Representative Louie Gohmert believes that the Employee Non-Discrimination Act clearly proves Obama’s war on religion and opponents of The Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”) believe that forcing private organizations that use state funds to pay for employee birth control is another sign of Obama’s war on religion.
Let’s look at these for what they really are. The ENDA is a proposed bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. We currently have laws that prevent discrimination hiring practices against race, faith, gender, or physical handicap. What this shows is that this nation, over time, came to realize that discrimination in any form was unjust. In fact, 26 states currently have some form of state law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
To claim that the ENDA is proof of an attack against religion is absurd. The ENDA promises equal protection under law for every citizen in the nation. How could that goal possibly be connected to a war on religion? Isn’t religion, in theory anyway, supposed to come to the defense of those being mistreated? Not according to people like Representative Gohmert from Texas. But then again Gohmert isn’t really trying to defend his religious principles; he’s advocating bigotry against gay and transgendered people.
As for private organizations being forced to pay for employee birth control thanks to “Obamacare,” they too have it wrong. Churches are exempt from this, as they should be, but church sponsored organizations that utilize government money are not. Just like every other citizen and public organization that accepts money from the government, they too must follow the law. The government isn’t forcing people to use contraceptives, even though a majority of people including Catholics do. In fact, “28 states already impose such requirements,” which shows that this, once again, isn’t indicative of Obama’s war on religion.
There is a war in America, but it isn’t a war against religion. It’s a right wing extremist war against homosexuals and those who don’t prescribe to their views with hatred and prejudice at its very core. I just wish they would call it what it is. Though the Westboro Baptist Church is filled with a bunch of loons, at least they don’t hide their hatred. They are upfront about it. I can respect that more than politicians using the veil of religion to mask their bigotry.
If you want to hate me or someone else, then just hate. You’re free to do so in this country, but you’re not free to deny me or anyone else in this country equal protection under the law, and whether some people want to admit it or not, The Constitution of the United States of America proclaims we are all created equal.
In February, I posted about Washington State’s Governor Chris Gregoire signing the Marriage Equality Bill that crossed her desk. Well, unfortunately (but certainly expected), the law has officially gotten a referendum.
As reported by Queerty, “The number of names turned in far exceeds the required 120,577, though there have been some reports of fraud.”
Even with the signature tampering, a recent poll indicates “54% of Washington voters support marriage equality.”
In all, I remain hopeful. Though there are some people in Washington who remain prejudiced against gay rights, the majority supports true equality.
This past Sunday, Father Bob Pierson spoke to Catholics in Minnesota about why Catholics could vote no to the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment.
Father Pierson eloquently debunks common ecclesiastical beliefs on gay marriage.
He points out that the Catholic Church does NOT recognize civil marriage at all. Catholics who enter into marriages outside the church do not exist according to canonical law, whether they are gay or straight unions. Therefore, the Catholic Church, and any other church, should have no say what civil marriages a government recognizes. He further points out that reliable studies, not those sanctioned by bias, disprove that children are negatively affected by gay marriage. According to Pierson, love is love, regardless if parents are of same or opposite sex. And, finally, Pierson acknowledges that if gay marriage is recognized by the government, then the Catholic Church will have to follow government mandates on social services laws, if government money is used for those services. Neither the Catholic Church nor any other church or organization has any right to be excluded from government laws when government money is used. As he astutely states, that would lead to discrimination everywhere.
Father Pierson even uses words spoken in 1967 from “young theologian” Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict. Pierson said, “Our holy father taught in 1967 that we must obey our own conscience, even if it puts us at odds with the Pope. I doubt that he knew that he was going to be Pope when he said that.”
The clip above is from a documentary called “The Adonis Factor” by Christopher Hines I recently watched, and it got me thinking about the typical gay male quest for physical perfection. Why do we as gay men put such an emphasis on body image and how healthy is this pursuit on the individual as well as the community at large?
To find the answers, I started by looking at myself. I’m just as guilty at propagating this quest, and most who know me well are at this moment nodding their heads vigorously in response. It’s not like I can deny it. I watch my caloric intake–no more than 1,600 calories per day. For breakfast, I eat a protein shake with a banana and flax seed. I have a whole wheat chicken sandwich, another banana, and a protein bar for lunch, and for dinner a nice meal lovingly prepared by my husband, who knows my caloric and dietary restrictions. I drink water all day. No carbonated drinks cross these lips unless I’m having a vodka and sprite on those rare nights out. I go to the gym six days a week religiously, and I can be quite the bear if my workout schedule is interrupted.
Why do I do this?
Well, I do it to stay healthy. As the fat kid for most of my life, I have no desire to once again weigh 195 pounds, which is what I weighed at my heaviest, and since I stand only 5’6″, we all have to admit I was quite chunky.
But is health the only reason I do this? Of course not!
Looking good means being appreciated by others, and who doesn’t enjoy that? I certainly do, and I’m married with children! So to say that the quest for physical perfection is merely what we do to snag a mate is not true. The strive for physical perfection doesn’t stop once we’ve reached the happily ever after. And it’s not just me. I know many gay men who continue to hit the gym and watch their calories way after they are in a fully committed relationship.
“The Adonis Factor” claims that gay men are “visually programmed” and that “attractiveness is key to a man’s self esteem.” I can’t argue with those points. Like women, gay men are inundated with models of physical perfection in the media daily. The hunky models and the shirtless actors affect us as much as supermodels sometimes spur women to reach for physical perfection. We want to be desired like those hard bodies we see on the screen or in the magazines too. Also, to catch someone’s eye or cause that shirtless muscle man across the bar to stop mid sentence and stare at you with his mouth open just feels damn good.
Sample Ad depicting gay life
But I think the gay male’s quest for physical perfection goes beyond being visually programmed or self esteem. I think it appeals to a more base instinct–competition. Men are competitive by nature, and most don’t like to lose. I know I don’t. So while the promise of sex and the boost to our self-esteem are definitely contributing factors, I think so is competition.
Think about it. We work harder, so we can be the best, or as close to it as we are going to get. When gay men see someone with a hot body, do they want to be with that person sexually? Well, yeah. That’s usually a no-brainer. But most also secretly want to have that body longer than just for the night. They want their pecs to be as sculpted, their biceps to be as bulging, and their abs to be just as flat.
You can see it happening at any gym or gay bar. Gay men dress to impress, but their eyes are constantly scanning the crowd in search of a body they not only want sexually but one they wish they could have. The guys with the best bodies are usually either shirtless or wearing the tightest shirts possible, and they typically get the most guys coming on to them. They put what they have on display, and it motivates gay men who fall just shy of them to increase their reps at the gym or the number of sit ups the next day. When the inevitable craving for a chocolate bar or a pizza hits, those striving for physical perfection think about the hot guys at the club or on television, and they pass on the empty calories for the delayed gratification of a flatter stomach and more muscle mass.
And while this makes for a more healthy conscious community, what effect does the pursuit for physical perfection have on the individual and on the community?
There are certainly positive effects. Gay men maintain their bodies for far longer than straight men do, and as a result, typically suffer from less health problems. A study conducted by American Journal of Public Health and reported on in South Florida Gay News states that “… gay men are 50 percent less likely to be obese compared to their heterosexual counterparts.” Since we watch our weight, we suffer less from diabetes, heart disease, or other illnesses related to lack of physical fitness. The study also quotes Dr. Greg Pizzi, a psychologist, who states that “men or women, who are in relationships with men would generally take better care of their bodies, since men tend to be more visual in their attractions and make it pretty clear that they are looking for a partner who looks good.” So while gay men take care of themselves better than their straight brothers, there is no true altruism behind the gesture. They do it to remain sexually attractive and competitive with other gay men.
But this craving to remain as sexually attractive and competitive for as long as possible also comes with a price. I found an article titled “Men are Dying for Sex: Mating Competition Explains Excess Male Mortality” on Phys.org, a popular science, technology, and research news website that focuses on biology, among other subjects. The article states that “men compete with other men for mating partners and trying to make themselves attractive…. This competition leads to strategies that are riskier for men both behaviorally and physiologically, and these result in higher levels of mortality.” While the article focuses on male/female relationships, the information found within it can definitely be applied to gay men.
In the gay community, where gay man battles gay man for physical perfection and mating rights, the results can be dire, as stated in the Phys.org article. A recent survey reported on in PinkNews, a large European gay news site, states that:
48% of gay men would sacrifice a year or more of their lives in exchange for a perfect body.
The research also said 10% of gay men would agree to die more than 11 years earlier if they could have their ideal body now.
Nine in ten gay men admit they enforce ‘unrealistic’ images of lean and muscular men in conversation.
In comparison, only a third of straight men said they would give a year or more for an ideal body shape, and 77% admitted buying into the body image ideal.”
As you can see from the survey, the quest for physical perfection is problematic, when half of our community would die early just to have the perfect body. And if they are willing to die early, then logically this means that many gay men are falling into unhealthy body image issues, such as bulimia/anorexia, steroid usage, and cosmetic surgery. According to the survey, “record numbers” of men are seeking these alternatives. Another study conducted by psychiatrist D. Blake Woodside, a faculty member with the University of Toronto, states that gay men make up a significant portion of the 1 million men suffering from eating disorders.
So not only are gay men willing to die for physical perfection, but many are also killing themselves to accomplish it. Apparently, many gay men will do whatever it takes to be as competitive as possible in the meat market.
This has to stop. Perfection isn’t possible. We are human–gay or straight. As such, we are inherently flawed. The pursuit of perfection is unattainable and if we measure ourselves by our BMI, we may find ourselves alone but with a flat stomach. In our drive to reach perfection and the competitive sexual games played as a result, we focus on the exterior instead of what is on the inside. This is why dating sites like Manhunt or apps like Grindr and Scruff can be problematic. They reduce gay men to profile pictures that other gay men window shop through in order to find the picture that is most appealing, the perfect man with the perfect body. They also add fuel to the fire of left wing rhetoric that gay men are superficial and incapable of maintaining long term relationships.
We need to remember that what’s on the outside doesn’t reveal anything that is lasting. Our bodies will grow old, and they will get flabby and saggy. That’s simple biology.
Instead of striving for physical perfection and being competitive about that, let’s get competitive about being compassionate, loving, caring, industrious, intelligent human beings. If we commit to that with the same verve we pursue physical perfection, there are no limits to what the gay community can do. We could call this the Franklin Factor, after Benjamin Franklin. He was a flawed man, who tried his best to become the best man and citizen he could be. He even kept a journal on his progress toward becoming a better man.
If we as a community strove for the Franklin Factor, something far more lasting than physical perfection, we could bring about societal change that would not only benefit us but future generations, and if we eat healthy and exercise instead of strive for physical perfection, we will also look damn good while we do it.
So instead of trying to be an Adonis, as a community we should grab the occasional slice of pizza, see others for more than just their bodies, and enjoy the lives and bodies we have.
That certainly sounds like a better deal than killing ourselves for the perfect body. What about you?