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Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Coming Out in A Faithful Family

25 May

When a family has been exposed to one of our group (the LGBT community) in a positive way, they’ve the opportunity to grow and evolve past the prejudice that may have been present before. We have to remember that prejudice is first learned and cultivated in a vacuum of evidence while it is dissipated through experience and an open mind.

For young adults and teens growing up within the confines of religion and religious families, I completely understand the reasons behind the fear of coming out (or being out’ed).

It isn’t easy to take that leap of faith, in the hope that your family will react favorably to the news that you aren’t what they’d assumed you were (all these years later). You and I have had time to reach some level of comfort with and acceptance of our sexual orientation. Even while some members of our family may have “suspected” it at times, the “news” that we are gay is still that; news that they have to process.

I always tell young people who are contemplating the act of “coming out” to their families, the most important preparation for that day is to be certain that you love and respect yourself and as well, that you have a support system in place to fall back on if your “coming out” doesn’t go as well as you may have hoped.

Growing up I was surrounded by family members who were very religious. I was fortunate in that they didn’t “seem” to be the kind who would react dis-favorably if and when I came out to them. (That didn’t make it much easier.)

All but one has been fine with the disclosure. A few were, and are, perhaps uncomfortable talking about the subject matter but that’s only because they, like so many others, seemingly think of it as being only about sex and little to do with who we are in our heart of hearts). For those persons, I wish you would understand that in the end it’s no different than how you feel; it’s a matter of whom we feel most comfortable sharing our lives. That’s it.

I came out years ago (to my mother first, around 1988 and the to the rest of my family the following year.

To be honest, I don’t for the life of me understand why they never figured it out on their own. I never dated [girls] and if anything, the hidden young man’s underwear section of the Sear’s catalog in my bedroom along with what Mom repeatedly described as my “snot rags” (ROFL!) back in those days should have been cause enough to clue the family in.

People see what they want to see I suppose.

I’m well aware there are families that are more religious than mine, whose members have spoken and acted out hatefully while discussing homosexuals, our pride events and/or actions intended to bring about understanding, equality and tolerance. I understand the hesitation and fear [some] feel over the thought of coming out, even in this so-called more accepting and enlightened age. The truth is there are no guarantees and it’s that “not knowing” that often paralyzes us into inaction.

Prior to coming out, take stock of the situation carefully. Gauge your circumstances and come out when YOU are ready to do so, not a moment before and certainly not at the bequest or perceived need of another (a boyfriend or girlfriend perhaps). Will it be as though a burden has been lifted? Many have said it’s like finally being able to breathe. I know that sounds like every reason to do so but I always tell young people to not act in haste; to come out only when they are in a position to care for themselves if necessary (or have verified they’ve the support of others if worse comes to worse. Sometimes this means waiting until after you’ve completed your secondary training (college, etc) and don’t for a moment feel guilty about that.

The world is a wonderful place but it isn’t always fair; sometimes it is anything but [fair]…

The day arrives, and…

Sometimes it goes well and at other [times], total chaos and dissension ensue. I’m aware of young teens who were disowned and told “leave and never look back.” {sigh} It’s heartbreaking to me when I read of this happening (and obviously worse yet for the young person who’s lost all of the family he ever knew growing up). It isn’t right and depending on the circumstances, can lead to any number of bad decisions on the part of the youth; actions taken just to “get by” and/or secure love and affection from anyone who will accept him into their life.

My response to every young person who experiences the worst from their families after coming out is, “YOU are still the very same person you were before they knew. You are worthy, intelligent, loving and certainly deserving of a happy future. Don’t let the ignorant, unreasonable reactions of others, even if they are your family, make you feel any less of a person than the blessing that you are. If they are incapable of seeing you for who you are, that’s their loss. Don’t make it your own by losing faith in yourself.

In closing and to those reading who are young and contemplating coming out under what may prove to be difficult circumstances and duress. Look to those “you trust” for the support that you will need. Be very observant, careful to recognize the signs if a person is offering his or her shoulder to lean on (but in truth, has a personal agenda). There are good people and bad people in this world; some have ulterior motives and their “support” is anything but free and without strings attached. I want you to be liberated of your own closet (when you are ready) but please try to do so without stepping from one set of confines into another that may be much, MUCH worse for you in the long-run.

To put it bluntly, do everything within your power not to become a statistic; one who is taken advantage of emotionally (and perhaps even physically) during the process of coming out to your family.

Namaste,
Michael

Resource Links:

  • LGBTQ Youth Rights by Vickie L. Henry, Director of GLAD’s Youth Initiative — On first glance, this appears to be a fairly comprehensive and well thought out resource for LGBTQ youth growing up in families of faith.

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Baggage, Baggage Everywhere

08 Feb

What do you do when you’ve been lied to, cheated on, have left the guy and are now dating someone else? (And WHY is it so difficult to take one’s own advice? LOL!!!)

As you may’ve guessed, this subject also came up in another group — and as you may have also guessed, I’ve been there and the advice I gave is precisely the advice I need to remember whenever I’m dating.

So…

What DO you do when you’re in a relationship with somebody new and you’re still dealing with the feelings of distrust brought on by an ex’s actions?

At some point you have to trust that the new boyfriend is being true to his word (unless he’s given you a real reason to think otherwise). What you’re really dealing with is “baggage from your last relationship.” There’s really no polite way of describing it; it is what it is; baggage. Baggage that until it’s dealt with effectively will drive you utterly and completely bat-shit crazy.

You can’t presume to think the current BF is likely to let you down because of what ANOTHER man did to you in the past; they are two different people.

True, the current beau isn’t perfect (none of us are; we all have our flaws) but if you feel the need to judge, judge him on “the flaws that HE may have” — not the ones your ex- painfully revealed toward the end (of that relationship).

If you keep expressing feelings of anxiety and distrust toward the man you’re presently seeing, basing such distrust on what happened in the past with your ex, he will eventually tire of explaining himself over and over and will simply call it a day and leave. (After all, be honest with yourself; isn’t it highly likely you would do the same if the roles were reversed?)

There is nothing you can do about the past other than to “accept that it’s there and learn from it.”

Moving forward, however, you have to remember that your past IS the past and the man you are now dating is an entirely different person. It isn’t fair for you to assign to him, the distrust your ex did (in the end) deserve … all while refusing to give the current boyfriend the “trust you freely gave to your ex- back when you and he first started dating.

In closing I would say, “Don’t ignore any obvious signs of cheating” but at the same time, “don’t go LOOKING for trouble either.”

What we go in search of, we’ll find. (It may not be ‘real’ — but we’ll ‘find’ the evidence to justify the search all the same.) I know that this last bit of advice seems to go against everything else I just said, but it really doesn’t. All I’m saying is, “Don’t ignore what’s REALLY there — but do not assign, to the poor guy, evidence of things he really hasn’t done to date.”

For those reading who have had their trust violated, if it makes you feel ANY better, just know that every one of us who has been cheated on or lied to has been in the same damn place that you are today. LOL. It takes time to deal with the baggage that an undeserving ex-boyfriend leaves us with when we start our lives over without the cheater in tow.

Namaste,
Michael

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Valentines Day Again?

08 Feb

Happy Valentine's DayValentines Day is fast approaching [again] and I’ve seen several comments made within some of the groups I follow on Facebook by single gay men expressing feelings of loneliness. (This isn’t an easy time of year for any single person, gay or straight.) One comment in particular caught my eye as it was made by a guy who has been HIV-positive for a little more than a decade.

Basically, he’s trying to convey the message to other gay men in the group that if they truly want to know what it’s like to be lonely, they should talk to somebody who is single and HIV-positive. That doing so will give them an insight into the narrow-mindedness and prejudice that some within our community are capable of, afraid of the unknown and of even giving somebody who is HIV-positive the time of day. (Sadly, it’s been my experience that he has every good reason to make this kind of an observation.)

Even so, we’ve the power to turn it around. What follows is my response to the young man and the sense of loneliness he’s been experiencing.

I’ve removed all references to his identity for privacy reasons.

[Name removed]

Everything you have described, many if not all of us have experienced firsthand.

Some for being HIV-positive; others for being older (I happen to fall within both categories) and still others for totally unrelated reasons but as a consequence of some prejudice held by those we may have approached all the same.

The key to improving our own situation is no different than it is for anyone else (regardless of their HIV status). We must love ourselves first and foremost; we cannot gauge our own happiness on whether or not we’re in a relationship and have that special someone to cuddle up with at the end of the day. AND IT’S EFFING HARD!

I completely and thoroughly understand how difficult and how lonely it can seem when it appears nobody will ever give us the opportunities we once took for granted back when we were negative, young and had our entire lives in front of us. I don’t hold the short-sightedness of others (who reject me for being HIV-positive) against them. After all, I’ve been (when I was much younger) guilty of having done the same; passing up on the opportunity to get to know some wonderful people better because of my own unfounded fears back then.

Not getting angry for being rejected certainly doesn’t make me any less lonely — but it DOES prevent me from becoming bitter about the present situation. I know I’m a good guy.

Even if I never fall in love again with somebody who will take the time to educate himself and see past my disease, I’ll go to my grave knowing this and loving myself.

Once I accepted this state of mind I truly did reach some peace about being a single gay man with HIV. (Well, that and I had such a terrible relationship for 6.5 years, from 1994 until I left on my birthday in 2001, that being single IS PREFERABLE to the abuse I endured back then. LOL) It’s truly just a matter of perspective and we’re all a product of our own personal set of histories. With that in mind, I’m in no way judging you for feeling the way that you do. Your past is not the past I came to experience — even though we do share “some” very similar aspects within our lives.

One final observation (and this may or may not be applicable to your situation as I don’t know how you feel about yourself personally)… When one comes to respect and love himself fully, it becomes evident to all those around him. The odds DO increase that “mister right” will be attracted and make that added extra effort to get to know you for who you are rather than the disease you were exposed to at some point previously. That person will be more inclined to become an integral part of your life IF you feel comfortable in your own skin and love yourself for the man that you are today.

You are loved and appreciated. The real question is, “Are you yourself among that number?

If not then the best advice anyone can give you is that you find a way to change this; do things that make you proud of the person that you are. I am certain there ARE things you’re already doing that justify the love you should be feeling for yourself and when/if you accept that — others will start to notice the change as well. And those opportunities that once seemed so far out of reach? You may discover they are nearer at hand than you ever thought possible.

And before you say it, you would be right; it isn’t always easy to make that change or come to peace with being single until “mister right” veers near enough to your orbit to make an introduction. I get it (very, very well).

The final three paragraphs are basically the same advice I give to young people who aren’t HIV-positive but haven’t yet found a boyfriend or girlfriend for themselves.

Far too often, people (young and old alike) feel as though they’re “incomplete” if they’re not in a relationship. Relationships do not “complete” people; they’re wonderful and fun and it’s great to be able to cuddle with that special someone at the end of the day — but they don’t magically take away all of the loneliness you might be feeling if you haven’t yet come to love and respect yourself. Furthermore, it’s trying for a partner to always be in love with somebody who doesn’t yet love him- or herself.

Start within.

When you become satisfied with yourself others will likely want to get to know you better.

Namaste
Michael

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About “Open” Relationships

24 Jan

I was reading an exchange (a very respectful exchange, I might add) between two people over on Facebook about open relationships earlier today. In time I realized I’m less open-minded about the subject than I may have previously thought myself to be. I accept that it’s my upraising and my inability to feel “safe and [reasonably] secure” in a relationship that a partner and I might define as “closed.” Just baggage from a past relationship, on my part I imagine. But feeling safe and secure in an OPEN relationship would just be that much MORE difficult for me (and I think for most others as well).

If some [couples] can do it, more power to them. I just feel it’s a situation I can’t handle well since I basically HAD to accept my last relationship, by the definition of such by my [then] partner, was “open.” (Since I didn’t agree to an open relationship with him specifically, I call it “cheating” but what the hell.)

Here is what I personally have to say about the matter in response to the exchange between these two individuals on Facebook. I look upon “open” relationships as those where two (or even three if in a poly- relationship) people are are having sex with one another but are not exclusive; one or more of them are having sex with others OUTSIDE of the relationship, as well. Like Anthony, I find this disturbing and simply say, “If it works for others, fine but it’s NOT for me.” I’m trying hard not to judge others but will admit I hold couples who are capable of being committed and disciplined enough to keep their sexual proclivity between the two (or three, if in a polyamorous or polyandrous relationship) of them within the defined parameters of their “relationship” more admirable.

For me, a committed “relationship” exists when a couple (and again, I suppose even three people if it’s a poly- relationship) are:

  1. Living together within the same structure they call home;
  2. Share responsibilities within the household
  3. Share in the responsibilities for their combined expenses
  4. May or may not merge their incomes (though for me the former is more common when “trust” fully exists); and
  5. Make decisions that “affect the relationship in any way” TOGETHER.

I’m sure I’ve left out something important but you get the idea. The love they would feel for a “partner” is reserved (fully) only for one another and they share in the responsibilities and benefits of everything that affects the running and continued existence of the household.

I’ll readily admit my values, on cursory glance, seem to be more in line with Anthony’s idea of a relationship than with those who would enjoy “open” relationships.

I believe the latter is only an invitation for disaster as it’s only a matter of time before someone meets another person they are infatuated with and attract to. Somebody who, after having met the person, begins to question the value of his own relationship and thinks to himself, “Hmm, I’m having so much more ‘fun’ with this person; perhaps I should be in a relationship with him and not [partner’s name here].”

Let’s face facts; with the passage of time comes also the “the dreaded pattern.”

Life settles in to a pace in most every relationship; it can still be very passionate and enjoyable but EVERY relationship eventually settles into what the participants would define as a “normalcy” for them. The unexpected introduction of everyday spontaneity, though hopefully not absent entirely, occurs less and less often. The “energy” of the relationship may seemingly “boil” less often, replaced instead by an “idle” or a “simmering” of sort. For some, THAT overpowering sense of boiling passion and craving is something they seem to require — and opening a relationship to others increases the odds of their finding just that with “every new encounter.”

NOBODY can tell me this doesn’t present a real threat to the vast majority of relationships; something which increases the risk that the relationship will implode upon itself and end.

It may seem selfish to some but I’d like to think that if I and my partner took the time to commit to one another, to share in the responsibilities of the household and to “build a life together” — that it’s reasonable to make our plans with the expectation the other “will be there in the future.” This of course presumes we remain “in love” with and loving toward one another; are respectful, honest and continue to work to keep an open dialogue with our partner. (I’m not saying you can expect they’ll always be there if you don’t work to respect the relationship and keep your partner engaged. Too many unfairly expect that once they’ve put their best foot forward and “snared a partner” that they no longer have a responsibility to at least try and maintain some degree of being the interesting, engaging person he or she was when they first met. It shouldn’t be a game of, “Now you’re mine so I can quit putting in the effort [to keep you interested].”)

But that’s a challenge all on its own under the best of circumstances. You open the relationship up to others who ARE playing that game and “the risk of the couple’s going their separate ways increases exponentially.”

Personally, I’d like to think I’m more than just an animal and that I’ve some kind of a responsibility, both to myself and to my partner, to lessen those risks. There’s no reason we both can’t still work to keep the relationship with one another lively, somewhat spontaneous, healthy and enticing for each. We shouldn’t need a “new piece of meat” every time we start getting complacent and bored in the bed.

I suppose I am judging in that I value a closed, committed relationship MUCH MORE than any open relationship I’ve ever heard described. I can’t honestly give the kind of respect to an open relationship where, in my opinion, the participants don’t truly want to “settle down and commit” to one another but are instead only doing what feels good to each of them in the moment (with an expectation of being able to leave at a moments notice when either one gets bored with the other and it’s no longer “new and fresh”). In my eyes, it’s just too much to fathom; to think of building a life with someone who strays out into the arms of every new fuck buddy for a night when the normalcy of their own hearth and home settles into something resembling a routine and he gets “bored.”.

You can bet that if one is bored, the other probably is as well. Don’t you owe it to yourself and the man you love to try and spice up your own relationship rather than giving up and going elsewhere to fulfill your own immediate need? I kind of think that is what defines commitment; not acting like an animal with no ability to do anything but give in to what’s perceived as a carnal need.

I’m NOT saying every relationship should be closed but in my eyes, yes, a closed relationship takes more discipline, is less risky and by its inherent definition (to me) holds more value than a “let’s set up house but we’ll continue to fuck anyone and everyone we find attractive” [open] relationship.

As for those relationships where there are three participants, I can see where that might work (though again, I don’t think they’re for me).

Three people “can be” in a closed, committed relationship I’d imagine. I’ve had friends who were in such relationships and it “seems” to work for them. (How am I to really know since, as with every couple, there is only so much any one person is going to openly share about his or her relationship and whether or not he or she is completely comfortable with the established parameters of that [relationship].)

Those are my thoughts on open relationships. I welcome any observations others might have on the subject and encourage you to comment below.

Namaste,
Michael

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An Open Discussion About HIV (And Me)

20 Jan

I was diagnosed in 2001 and have been on meds since 2005, now having an undetectable viral load of < 20 and a CD4 count of near 1100; these are considered great numbers, BUT…

In my experience, the moment this topic comes up between myself and another, any interest that may have been expressed by him is wholly lost. The mere mention of the disease seemingly terrifies those who believe themselves to be HIV-negative. I couch it this way because a number of our community don’t get tested regularly (if even) – assuming just because they’ve not knowingly had sex with somebody who did not appear to be positive for an STD, that they are negative. Personally speaking, I pray they are correct (for their sakes).

Moving along… I’ve enough friends (couples) who don’t share the same HIV status as one another, whose relationships include healthy sex lives – and they haven’t exposed their partner to the disease. Because of this, I’ve moved on from “once being afraid to getting involved with somebody who isn’t themselves HIV-positive” to being comfortable with the idea of a relationship with someone of either status now.

Of major note, a two-year study reveals if one is HIV+ but adhering to an effective regime of meds and has an undetectable viral load – the risk of exposing one’s HIV-negative partner is pretty much non-existent. The study consisted of 767 couples with one partner being HIV+ while the other was negative (otherwise defined as “serodiscordant”). The couples had unprotected sex during the study and none of the partners who were HIV-negative became infected with the disease with the exception of a few who had sex with others “outside of the study” (determined by genetic testing of the HIV strain). Yeah, I’ll go out on a limb here and say those few had a little explaining to do!

Do NOT be mistaken; I’m NOT encouraging, or promoting in any way, unprotected sex. I’m of the opinion that anyone who isn’t in a committed monogamous and trustworthy relationship, both parties of which are KNOWN to be HIV-negative, should be using condoms.

And some might jump to the conclusion that this study was truly irresponsible and risky, to have been conducted in the way that it was but the simple truth is these couples were picked (as I understand it) because they were already having unprotected sex with one another). Initially, I didn’t understand that and was horrified that such a study existed. Even so, from a somewhat selfish perspective I did find it reassuring to hear the results (even before I understood that the couples were already barebacking).

Again, moving along…

I’m pretty up-front about my HIV status (with those I am planning on seeing on an intimate level). It isn’t the FIRST thing I start talking about, but certainly the topic comes up early enough that the person I’m interested in myself isn’t caught off-guard. I don’t think it’s fair to wait until somebody has developed an attachment BEFORE putting all of the facts out there for him to consider – but then, that’s just how I feel about it.

Having said all of the above, I can’t think of one time where my own HIV status “has not” gotten in the way of moving the relationship forward because of the stigma.

HIV-negative guys are, in general, terrified of getting involved with a man who is HIV-positive. I’m NOT judging; I’ve been on that side of the table and “I hesitated.” In the process I lost the opportunity to spend ten years with the man who was probably the love of my life. He saw the fear in my eyes (NEITHER of us knew he was HIV+ until later on, when his boss insisted he get a test — don’t go there please — I’ve enough anger over that asshole boss of his)…

At any rate when he saw how the news affected me (I was thinking back, trying to relive every sex act we’d had over the past year, asking myself “Were we safe?“). Rodney made the decision for both of us when he saw the fear in my eyes. He refused to take ANY chance of exposing me to the virus so he broke it off; he left Dallas and went to live with his family until passing away in January of 1998. (You must remember, his diagnosis came before drugs as effective as those today were readily available.)

My point is that this was ten years I “could have had” with a wonderful man, during which time I became involved with a total asshole who lied about his own status, who [ironically] exposed me to the virus anyway.

With regard to the previous statement, know this. For the record, I take FULL responsibility for my exposure to the virus. Not because I’m trying to let the asshole ex off the hook but because I didn’t insist on using a condom with him until such time as he’d gotten a test (and we knew he was negative). Well, that until I felt I could trust he would be monogamous, which never came. So no, I don’t blame him for my being positive (EVEN THOUGH he was the one who exposed me to the virus). What I blame him for is being abusive, for cheating and for lying to me. That’s all.

We’re all responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect ourselves when the variables are as yet “unknown.” I didn’t and I paid the price.

When it comes to relationships and “being available for somebody who might just be that one special someone you’ve been searching for your entire life,” one needs to be aware of what IS considered to be a risk and what isn’t. That’s why I felt it was important to mention the study above which you can read about here and here. I would also recommend that you read this article on the Queerty website.

Near to closing, don’t judge those who are HIV-negative, who don’t respond as you might wish they would to your reveal of being positive. Regardless of what studies reveal, many if not most who are HIV-negative are literally terrified of getting involved with those of us who are positive. That’s their right. As I’ve said, I’ve been on that side of the table. It sucked then (and it sucks even more now, being on the other side) but everybody progresses at his or her own pace. The best you can do is simply keep as positive an attitude about yourself that you can.

That’s easier said than done; see my comment below for an example of just how difficult it can be at times.

To minimize the number of times I’m hurt because I’ve gotten my hopes up [again], only to see them crash and burn — well, let’s just say that I’m “open” to the idea of a relationship when and if the right man comes along but I’m not putting a lot of effort into the pursuit of one these days. It just hurts too damn much when the shit hits the fan. LOL.

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Time For Change

14 Dec

It’s been a difficult year for many; at least from the perspective of dealing with political and moral issues across the land (including a lack of confidence in our law enforcement agencies).

With regard to the latter, a calling for many on the force was once seen as commendable and honorable. What else could it be when one’s future responsibility, encouraged by his or her own life’s experiences or simply cultivated by a history of familial service, all but guaranteed a quest to protect and serve others within his or her community?

Sadly, the focus of our law enforcement agencies has slowly devolved. Rather than serving their communities (much the same as politicians were once elected to “serve their constituents”) those on the department are now encouraged to do little to nothing more than enforce the law. They’re often discouraged from deviating from procedure, lest they be disciplined by superiors or embroiled in lawsuits brought on by society’s adoption of a more litigious nature. Compounding the problem of an already frustrated force, Federal factions have negatively influenced our local departments by further encouraging an “us vs. them” mentality by providing local law enforcement with military grade weapons every time the country steps away from an initiative overseas. When you combine all of these factors, how could our police officers NOT become more brutal and desensitized over time?

In order to change that we need to break down the walls that separate the average citizen from those tasked with protecting and serving him or her. I’m not in the state-of-mind right now to say with certainty that we can accomplish that. I’m hopeful we can, but unconvinced right now.

Economic Recovery? For whom?

Along other lines, we’ve witnessed a recovery in the economy (not wholly but the economy is doing better). However, personally speaking (and there are likely many who will agree) I feel my own situation has improved only slightly. It seems while companies are realizing more profits and influence in Washington, D.C., the same isn’t true of the average man or woman on the street.

The cost of fuel to run our vehicles has dropped [considerably] over the past several months but it cost more to put food on the table, a roof over our head and health insurance, if you can afford to pay for it, is an ever-growing JOKE!

The “Affordable Care Act” has done little, in my opinion, to better the lives of those living in this country. In fact, it’s had a negative impact on my own situation and (I believe) on the lives of many of our aged and our veterans.

Lest you think I’m faulting Barack Obama, I’m not. I’m blaming every damned politician in Washington, D.C. (both parties, Democrat and Republican alike) who has failed to work together to positively influence the lives of those they were elected to represent.

Then there is the stress of watching helplessly on as both parties battle for dominance (negatively impacting the average citizen in the process).

My own Health

Health remains a concern for me; perhaps more so this year than in years past. I need to get a handle on my weight (which became an issue after treatment began for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006, as well as having to commence taking meds for my HIV that same year). I’ve gone from an estimated 180 pounds in 2006 to 280 pounds as of this month — and I feel that it’s high time I did something about it. I don’t believe I can continue living like this. I’m fat, I feel much older than “I should” at fifty-one and I’m depressed because of the weight (intensified by other factors in my personal life, not the least of which is my having given up on any hope for a relationship in the future).

Let’s face it I’m just not feeling very attractive or optimistic these days.

But if one need find something to give thanks for, I’ve this to offer…

We are (a) alive, (b) most have food on the table and a roof over their heads and (c) for those of us who are LGBTQ, marriage equality is fast evolving from a “hope” to something real and concrete in more and more states around the country. (Good news for those who are fortunate enough to be in relationships.)

It should be said that for all of the good that may come into our lives there is always room for personal growth and improvement.

Given my depression of late, that has been my focus this past week or two. It’s a sure sign I’ll be doing a lot of soul searching and will [hopefully] have the strength to implement a lot of changes in my own life over the next twelve months.

Friends and Family

I cherish the friendships I’ve made over the years but as with so many things, you must sometimes let go and move on with your life. That became obvious for me at a point earlier this year with regard to a couple of friends I’ve known for almost twenty years. Our relationship had become strained over the past decade. I’m certain there are things I could have done differently to improve the friendship but the tension wasn’t all one-sided. Both are good people in all other regards but I rarely came away from a visit without feeling as though I’d been judged. One always went out of his way to mention an event they were scheduled for “that was only open to couples; not singles” (like I needed to be reminded yet again that I’m single). Both felt I wasn’t involved enough in the gay community and both made it a point of reminding me I’d not been attending church as often as (in their opinion) I should. I’ve been a member of the same church since 1986 but the atmosphere there has changed over the years, seeming much less like that which first motivated me to join decades ago. Besides, my faith is very personal for me. I don’t have to be “in a building, on a Sunday” to worship. In fact, I’m more comfortable relating to God in a one-on-one situation, like out at the lake or simply in a meadow in the country.

Anyway, you get the picture. Simply put, I felt that my friendship with them was taken for granted and that I would never measure up to the standards they had set since they met one another.

I [eventually] came to the conclusion our friendship had run its course and made the difficult decision to part ways. It has been HARD the past several months because they did play a large part in my life once — but there were tensions neither seemed willing to acknowledge and work on, so…

I put that chapter and their friendship behind me.

The same may [sadly] be said of some of my family members soon. There are those [family] who’ve yet to grow the hell up; they are [still] very homophobic or so I’m told. (This is especially frustrating as they relate fine to me in person but the grousing and complaining is alleged to be going on behind my back.)

A little bit of history.

My family discovered I’m gay when I was about twenty-six; that was twenty-five years ago. It seems some cannot wrap their heads around the fact that one doesn’t “choose” to be a homosexual or a bisexual. Whatever your sexuality is, it is. YOU can work through the process of accepting who you are but you’ve little control over what others will ever think of you. They either put in the effort to learn more about sexuality; what is true and what isn’t — or they stay the same, never moving forward in such a way that they can accept you for who and what you are.

After having given them twenty-five years to accept me I’m about ready to just leave the whole lot behind and move on. If they “want to be a part of my life” THEY can make the effort to do so.

I’m not perfect but my sexuality is one thing I can’t change about myself — and I’m tired of having it brought up as a tool to “shame me” when I least expect it, or as a means for some family to undermine me with others.

To paraphrase one family member, “Fuck it; I’m done.

So…

2015 promises to be a year of change. I fully intend on changing my eating patterns and exercising at every opportunity I can. I’m going to lose this weight if it’s the last thing I do in this life; I refuse to go to the grave weighing two-hundred and eighty pounds.

For the time being, I’ve given up on believing our elected leaders will ever pull their heads out of their asses and do “the right thing” for their constituents. They’re simply too busy doing for themselves and the plutocrats who support them. I’m losing confidence that the police across the nation give a damn about the citizens they should be “protecting and serving (they’re too busy acting the parts of bullies and flexing their fucking biceps).

I’ve no control over the latter two but by God I have [some] control over my body and it’s time to implement the change I desire or die trying.

I’ll likely be spending MUCH LESS time on social networking sites (as I expect the time I’ve “been” spending on them would be better spent doing cardio, working out in the weight room and even reading).

Doing so should reduce the “drama” in my life. One thing I’ve learned over the years — repeatedly — is that you just can’t please everybody. You say something that makes one person happy and agreeable, you’ve three or four more assholes who are pissed off at you (who are often only interested in feeding their need to foment drama).

I’m tired of drama, which means it may be time to cut some people “out” of my life. I’m just me, people. I’m not perfect and I CERTAINLY have a lot I want to work on in my life “but if you can’t get over the fact that I’m queer, or that on some issues I’m quite conservative (while on others, I’m very liberal) then we will be parting ways.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, folks!
Michael

This will likely be my last blog entry for 2014 (not that I have blogged nearly as much this year).

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Me, Myself and I (Alone with the Gay Community)

09 Dec

Ever felt like you just didn't fit in?The following question was posted to a group I follow on Facebook. “Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in with other gays??? Why?

That is such a loaded question because you have to be very careful in how you phrase a response if it’s being read by our [LGBT] own community. In my own experience, we can be a very judgmental lot.

Perhaps it is because we’ve been subjected to (more so in specific regions and definitely online) so much judgment that many of us have come to feel justified in adopting the same attitude for ourselves. With that in mind, I’m reminded of a phrase I learned early on in life. “Two wrongs do not make a right.” We — and I mean all of us — need to do a better job of trying not to judge and rather, listen to what people are saying around us. I know doing so can be difficult but you can’t grow and evolve if you’re always SHOUTING your own opinion to the point of ignoring and making it impossible to hear the opinions and truths of others.

(By “truths” I simply mean that it’s perfectly possible someone else could have experienced an entirely different set of life’s experiences so why not accept, for him or her, that what he/she is saying ISN’T intended to come across as judgment or that the individual is the slightest bit prejudice. Perhaps they’re simply expressing an opinion contrived from a different background that left them with an entirely different perspective on life than what you are used to or may have grown up around.)


Okay, I’m going to try and answer the question that was posed in the opening paragraph here without offending anyone. I’m certain that doing so will be impossible (somebody will be offended; one just has to open his or her mouth these days and say something for that to happen … LOL) but I’ll give it the good old college try nonetheless.

Yes, I [often] feel that I don’t fit in with what “seems” to best describe the values and interests of many of the gay men around me.


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Cheating, a Follow-Up

04 May

“Humans are naturally sexual creatures. We were not originally meant to sleep with just one person. So it is natural that we would want to have sex with as many people as possible.”

Ahem, I’ve heard that crap before and you’re welcome to believe it if you like but as far as I’m concerned, such a statement IS ONLY a very weak attempt to justify one’s unwillingness to settle down and commit to one person. It really is total crap!

Furthermore, for those who “might” be thinking of saying something like, “We’re gay; we don’t need to emulate the actions of the straight community by settling down, getting married, etc.” — I have but this to say… It’s not about taking on the behavior of our straight counterparts — it’s about respecting yourself and your partner enough so that you’d be willing to reign in your cock long enough to actually put your relationship (and the interests of your partner) ahead of selfish and brief sexual encounters. Often times, the blatant whore of the day will say anything necessary to set the trap that snares his/her soon-to-be partner (who doesn’t realize until it’s too late that “mister right” was “OH-SO-WRONG” for him!) This is precisely why I tell all of my young friends that communication is key AND AS WELL, that when your boyfriend presents colors that are anything but what you’d like to see on him – believe what you see rather than talking yourself into the old scenario of “oh, it was only a onetime thing” or “I’m overreacting.”

Odds are if he’s done something that isn’t sitting well with you today, it’ll be a much bigger problem down the road when you’re all in and both of your lives are much more intertwined.

The bottom line

Don’t give me this crap about “humans being sexual creatures” as an excuse for bad behavior.

We’re a species with higher-reasoning skills which should account for something. It’s only that our world has become so forgiving of the “I don’t give a shit about anyone but myself” attitude, that we’ve gone to hell in a hand-basket. While the past wasn’t perfect (certainly, women weren’t as well-respected as they should have been), there’s something to be said about having a bit of respect for yourself and for others, such that you’d be willing to recognize when you’re being selfish, petty and just plain uncaring.

I’m certain there are those who think I’m being completely unreasonable and perhaps a little disrespectful to those whose relationships are open (polyamorous). No, I’m really not trying to put everybody into the same mold. I’m simply tired of people justifying their disrespectful, unfaithful and relentlessly selfish attitudes by pretending they’ve no more self-control than a dog in heat.

Gay or straight, you are better than that.

— Michael

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What is Cheating?

03 May

What a cheating man might look like...

Top 10 most common signs your man is cheating on you.

A blogger asks “What is cheating?”

I would ordinarily go directly to the comments on his site and read those before throwing in my own two cents. However, this time will be different. (What follows is my own read on “cheating.”)

Ask anyone and you will get a number of different responses regarding the definition of cheating I suspect — and each one of those responses may be appropriate for the particular person who is commenting. However, it really boils down to what the couple involved have agreed upon. Some couples are so strong in their relationship that neither feels threatened by the idea of their spouse talking to somebody online. That’s the way it should be if your relationship is healthy. If it isn’t then you need to work on the relationship! Make it strong and keep the INTEREST alive for the both of you (then the odds are in your favor that there won’t be anyone elsewhere who could come close to presenting a real threat to your relationship’s continued good health and existence).

But just as plants in a garden require tender loving care and nourishment, so too does your relationship. Deny its needs and ignore it and it will die on the vine. Or to paraphrase, those fruits will start looking for another clay pot to take root within (pardon the pun).


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Love counts

26 Feb

The image of loveAs you can imagine, this photo has elicited some pretty interesting comments (some extreme on both sides of the issue) on Facebook.

Some will say, “Awwwww, isn’t that adorable” when a young child runs up to jump in the arms of his returning father (or the girlfriend/wife of that soldier does the same). It’s interesting that those same people; people like Buster Kincaid, are then the first to say, “I appreciate their service to their country, but this picture makes me want to puke~!”

Sorry you’re feeling ill, Buster, but if that’s the case then get off your ass, join the service and do the work yourself you sorry, closed-minded, small town lil’ bigot.

Every man or woman serving our country and the citizens that comprise it, who put their lives on the line daily (for us), who are separated from their loved ones for months and/or years at a time, DESERVE the opportunity to embrace and kiss their partner upon their long-delayed arrival home. If it makes you uncomfortable to see two people in love, then perhaps it’s because you’ve very little room for love in your own heart presently.

Make the room!

For those questioning (you’d have to read some of the comments on the photo, as shared on Clem’s page) the gender of the marine returning from deployment… His name is Brandon Morgan, returning to the arms of his partner Dalan (this info via Joe Moderate). The photo was first shared on the “Gay Marines” Facebook page here.

In closing, thanks to ALL those serving who put their lives on the line every day, in service to their/our country. Your sacrifice is appreciated!

Namaste,
Michael

Update: Anita Kinley (friend on Facebook) has written a wonderful article and included additional photos taken of both, Brandon and Dalan. For the doubting-Thomas’s of this world, if there are any, the photos of this loving couple that have made their way around the Internet tell only a part of the story. The love they share for each other is clearly evident while listening to them talk of each other (and VERY evident in a video of the same homecoming, that was shared by Brandon with friends on his own Facebook page earlier this past week). I am proud of both of these young men, thirty-eight (38-YO) year old internationally-acclaimed artist Dalan Wells and twenty-five (25-YO) year old and Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan.

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