I’m thrilled to say that I’m Author of the Month over at My Fiction Nook. I’ll be blogging over there every week this month.
My first post was last week, where the Provincetown Series was featured. I also shared 5 little known facts about me. You can read the post by clicking here.
This week Being True is highlighted, and I share a list of some of my favorite things. If you’re wondering what those are, click here for that post. I’m also hosting a giveaway for a free e-copy of Being True.
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.
It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of the year to once again begin our annual trek to Provincetown, Massachusetts, the land of, uh, milk and honey. This year will mark our sixth consecutive year of summering in Ptown (as it is more commonly called), and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Those of you who have followed my blog know of my love of Ptown. I’ve posted about it here and here, and with just four days till I once again stand on the shores of what I hope to be my future home, it also means that I must begin the arduous task of preparing for my month in Provincetown.
Step #1: Step Up the Work Out
This step actually occurs all year round, but as Ptown draws closer, it’s always a good idea to increase the reps and amp up the cardio. There are plenty of well toned, nicely sculpted bodies parading shirtless down Commercial Street and don’t even get me started on the barely there swimsuits at the pool or beach. In order not to feel too bad about myself, I increase the weights and the reps to help add more definition to what I’ve been working on for the eleven months up to my return. Thankfully, this year we arrive during Bear Week (and I love the bears!) instead of during July 4th, which I lovingly call Twink Week. Since the bears tend to be of heartier fare, it’s a nice way to begin the month vacation and ease my way into the Ptown scene. I always feel petite during Bear Week, so it’s a good ego boost for me. (If you don’t know what I mean by bear, click here for a reference guide).
Step #2: Eat Meat
As part of the slim down and bulk up routine, it’s a good idea to eat meat and abandon the carbs as much as possible before the eventual arrival in Ptown. The added protein helps build muscle while the absence of carbs helps shed some extra body weight. Additionally, if you’re like me and drink more alcohol than you consume food while in Ptown, your body will need the extra sustenance.
Step #3: Dress Like a Straight Boy
During the week before departure, I don’t wear the clothes I’m taking with me because I don’t want to have to do laundry the same day I’m packing for the trip. So, I go to the back of my closet for the loose shirts and open the drawer containing my baggy shorts and don those the entire week up to my flight. The extra fabric is cumbersome; I freely admit that, but the time saved is well worth it.
Step #4: Gather the Gear
Provincetown has many themed weeks and an assortment of parties, so you have to make sure you are adequately prepared for the underwear and leather parties at the various clubs. Different clubs allow different “costumes,” and variety is the spice of life! Beyond the parties, you have to bring comfortably stylish clothes for general exploration of the town, a whole different set for dinner (when it is consumed), a different wardrobe for tea (which is a daily party from 4-7 at the Boatslip), and then clothes for the clubs at night. That’s a lot of different ensembles, but being prepared is well worth it when you get there and saves you the trouble of buying new clothes when you are there.
Step #5: Play Supermodel
Once all the different outfits have been assembled, it’s important to try them on before you actually get there, so I turn on my favorite iTunes playlist and start the fashion show. It’s a good way to determine whether what looked good last year held the test of time, and what gay boy doesn’t enjoy being the star of his own runway every now and then? Favorite shirts fade or sprout holes, and it’s better to find out before you leave then when you get there and have to scramble for a new look. Last minute costume changes are the worst!
With only four days till my departure, I’m currently at step 3. Steps 4 and 5 will take place on Wednesday and Thursday since my flight to Boston is on Friday. While this week is a lot of prep time, the end result is well worth the labor!
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.
A few weeks ago, I was introduced to “The Outs.” It’s a six-episode web series produced and located in Brooklyn, NY. The tag line for the series is “Just because it’s over, doesn’t mean you’re over it.” Based on the first two episodes, which are only about 12 minutes long, the series focuses on relationships and their complexities. And even though we might not live on the East Coast, I’m sure we have all been where these characters are at one point in our lives, whether gay or straight.
The story lines are solid and the acting is well done. I’ve included the first two episodes here. The third episode is hopefully coming soon.
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?
The clip above is from Ryan James Yezak, a film maker in California. The clip is titled “I Want to Know What It’s Like” and it addresses the plight of those who are bullied and/or discriminated on because of prejudice. It’s a moving video, narrated by actors speaking in poetic verse. The purpose of the video is to raise funds to shoot his film Second Class Citizen. The film is a documentary and according to Yezak, it will:
…encompass all areas in which we are discriminated against. The general population is not aware that discrimination against the gay community goes beyond marriage & bullying. There is far too much hate directed towards our community and I want to capture that hate on camera. In addition, I want to explore where this hate comes from, why it continues to exist, and what we must do to get rid of it. A better solution is needed because the solution we have right now isn’t working fast enough.
I hope you enjoyed the clip as much as I did, and I can’t wait to see the documentary.
This video by Elliot London documents the reception and first dance of Jed and Fabi. The couple isn’t who you think they are from their names. When you watch the video, you will see just how traditional non-traditional can be. Love is love. Family is family. That’s all that really matters.
I came across this video from a Seattle Vlogger named Matt Brown. He composed the video for his boyfriend who lives over 5,000 miles away in a country that doesn’t accept homosexuals. The video is titled “I love you more than…” and Matt cites a litany of cutsie items and situations. It’s sweet and silly, but after the silliness comes the meat of the video.
The second half of the video showcases pictures of Matt and his boyfriend, who is pixelated in each one. If his identity was made known, if those who employ him and consider him friend and family were to learn of his sexuality, Matt’s boyfriend would lose his career and his family. In all, Matt loves his man more than the pixels he hides behind, and in the video he vows “And with all my might, I will rip those pixels off, one by one, until their souls are raw.”
Here is what Matt had to say about the video he made:
It wasn’t meant for anyone else’s eyes, but I thought the message was sincere and good enough to be seen by others…This is the Valentine’s Day video by me for my partner, XXXXXXX XXXXX. My partner lives somewhere across the Atlantic. He lives a very hidden life because of the way his society will treat him if it found out about him being gay. I’ve made this video for him to show the support and passion toward my Love and human rights. It was supposed to be a private video, solely for my boyfriend’s eyes, but it turned into a statement of fighting for the one you love when I realized I wouldn’t be able to say his name or show his face in the video. XXXXXXX, Happy Valentine’s Day! Someday society will let us feel fully accepted!”
What this video shows is Matt’s unconditional love for a man, who is trapped within a society that would shun him should he embrace true love as openly as most everyone else does. What could be truer love than that?
Matt’s video also shows those who believe that homosexuals are promiscuous partiers who cannot maintain a long-term relationship what true love really is. It’s not about what anyone else says about you or who you love. It’s about how you feel about each other, and about the fires you would willingly walk through to be with the love of your life.