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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

 
 

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

 
 

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.

 

Not What I’d Intended To Write About Today..

17 Jan

We walk the paths forged of choices we’ve made over the course of our lives, in an effort to grow and evolve, to feel and to love, to imagine and be consumed with bewilderment.

This is what I believe.

Our actions either rise from a source of love and light, or they are rooted in hate and the absence of love. Mine are a mixture of both, as are (I suspect) the thoughts and actions of many of us. The exception being those who are aptly described as Wisdom-seekers and more importantly, selfless.

Many make excuses for their trials and their contributions to the strife in the world around them. It’s so much easier to place the responsibility on someone else; our leaders, a neighbor we may not like, exes, etc. Doing so means not having to own the responsibility and thus, having to put the effort into learning from the experience or figure out a way to make our existence more harmonious. Blaming another being means we can claim “they” have to be the one to change and not ourselves — but in so doing we make it that much more difficult for the change to take place.

Rewind…

It’s entirely plausible to say many of us feel as though we’re living and experiencing one of the more trying periods in human history, that no matter what we do individually things are “so bad” the overall effect on the world around us (by our own changes in behavior) would be minimal. Saying that is entirely understandable if your goal is to “give up” and embrace the defeatist and/or victim attitude.

That attitude has NEVER served anyone well; today or in times past.

My “go to” example here is something that happened to me about eight years ago but honestly, even though this is my blog and it seems reasonable (to other bloggers) to write always about ourselves, doing so only validates the opinions of others that bloggers are narcissistic. Okay, I personally think we’re all a little narcissistic but that’s neither here nor there. LOL

At any rate, I’m going to forego my own personal “go to.”

Rather instead I’m simply asking each of you reading to think about one thing that’s happened during your life, that you didn’t think you could get beyond — but DID!

Every one of us has a story and if you’ve lived in this world long enough, chapters of your own story (to varying degrees) are no doubt darker than others. You didn’t know just how you were going to get through the situation at the time; beyond that feeling of hopelessness and desperation but ‘somehow’ you did just that — the unthinkable. You survived and eventually made your way through to the other side.

Never give up. You may feel defeated at times but don’t let the emotion overtake you to the point you stop moving forward. Our situations only change if we continue to keep the momentum (even if only slightly) — and then…

Change is inevitable.

Namaste,
Michael

“Creator and spirit within all of us, thank you for the life I’ve been given; the friends and family who surround me and for the four elements that nourish and help to (dauntingly, I might add) purify the embodiment of my soul. This life hasn’t exactly been the one I envisioned as a young man but every trial and mistake that was made along the way has helped to make me the man that I am. Those ordeals which seemed the harshest over time brought me to my knees in such a way that, where once I may not have been “so inspired” today have brought me closer to the love that resides in us all. I’m by no means perfect (far from it), nor have I achieved the level of enlightenment this life was meant to afford an opportunity to attain — but with Your blessing and Your help, perhaps the goals set forth for me by the Spirit that connects us all will be illuminated and recognized. A’ho

 
 

Family Dynamics and How They Change

28 Dec

Why are “family dynamics” so contrary and difficult?

Family, they’re people we grow up with. We start out our lives knowing aunts and uncles as the adults who know everything and then they become the adults who don’t understand us. LOL

Of course, when we are young we’re all about the cousins, the aunts and the uncles and doing things with family when they come into town. We’ve no idea what it means to be an adult. It’s impossible to imagine what a shitty responsibility it is to pay the bills that make those occasional trips possible or dealing with the disagreements that inevitably occur when people of different backgrounds and life experiences come together.

Then we get older and we’re like, “What the hell? I just want to go back to being a kid and not having to deal with all of this shit!” {laughing}

(Tell me, honestly, this isn’t something you haven’t told yourself on at least one occasion. I dare you to deny it! LOL)

As a child, I had one brother I grew up with (he was a pain in my backside, or so I thought back then) with whom I get along GREAT with now that we’re adults.

I had/have another brother and a sister by the bio-father (neither of which I was raised with but of course, knew and loved in my own limited way) and had as well, a step-sister from my bio-father’s third marriage. Billy Marshall wasn’t very successful when it came to relationships; Billy was the paternal spectrum of the “gene” pool that made my life possible. I could speculate as to why his relationships weren’t successful but the closest I could come is to say he was self-centered and thought mostly only of what would make “himself happy” (regardless of any responsibilities he might have created along the way). That’s the way it seems to me anyway. It’s difficult expressing this, knowing his sisters (my Aunts) might be reading this post and they likely saw other sides of him we kids never saw. (After all, there MUST have been a reason my own mother was once attracted to him; I hope, I hope.)

But when one has three kids from three different marriages and has done little to be much more than a “physical presence” in their lives, having seemingly expressed little to no interest in understanding those children. Well, at some point or another, the children (now adults) have a tendency to quit thinking of the person as much more than a member of the gene pool. It’s difficult to have respect for someone who showed so little interest or respect for you growing up, even if he’s since passed away.

But this [blog] entry isn’t intended to be about Billy; it’s about the dynamics between myself and the rest of that side of the family.

You see, when I was growing up I got teased unmercifully about the “little red-headed girl” (Hell, I can’t even recall her name now … LOL … Margaret, I think) next door. My uncles figured it was funny, teasing the little nephew about girls and such, having no knowledge that even as far back as in my early years of Elementary School I pretty much knew I was “different from the majority of the rest of the kids.” Sure, I saw myself growing up and having a family; just not with a girl.

Those feelings weren’t because of anything I’d gone through — or hadn’t experienced — as a young child; they just “were.” Seeing myself as a man one day, with my arms wrapped around another man was as natural to me as what I’m sure any straight boy can imagine, visualizing a woman in his own arms later on in life. (Okay, at that age, girls are “icky” but you get my point.)

Even so, I felt it was best not to let anybody know how I felt on this particular subject at such a young age. Better to just live my life, as a kid in a family that played cards, rode motorcycles in the summer up in the mountains and enjoy my youth with family I loved/love rather than distance myself from them with my very different ideals of what the future held “for me.” There would be time enough to figure all of that out years down the road.

The years went by and we kids grew up. Puberty came and went and I couldn’t wait to get out of the smothering, conservative little town I’d grown up in and move to the big city. I’d “finally” be able to just be myself and explore the side of my life I’d dared not speak of to others. You think it’s difficult dating and coming into your own as a straight boy or girl? Just IMAGINE what it’s like when you don’t feel safe asking the football jock you’ve had a crush on since mid-high [school] out on a date. After all, “he might not be gay and despite the fact that you are considered a friend, he might ‘spill that secret!’ Then you’ll be the butt-end of every damned joke in town for being the local queer boy.” (Yeah, it wasn’t fun…)

So I moved to the city — and I immersed myself in a culture of dating, hooking up, equal rights activism, etc. To put it succinctly, I grew up.

Just understand that “growing up” doesn’t necessarily mean “maturing, developing the skills and resources necessary to make good decisions and effectively being able to see things from another person’s point of view.” What it means is you now get to pay your own damn bills, live your life (make mistakes) as you get your ass handed to you, repeatedly, learning from all of the bad decisions you make along the way. …and trust me, I’ve made (and likely, more will follow) my fair share of hellacious mistakes over the years!

Which brings me to the point in time where our family dynamics changed … and not necessarily for the better.

I got involved with an asshole ex- (whom I couldn’t trust to keep his dick in his own pants when we weren’t together). I had good reason not to trust him; I’d discover just “how justified” those reasons were AFTER we broke up (actually, I’d find out many years later).

At this particular point in time, I didn’t feel I had any option but to take him with me to visit family in Carlsbad. This was during the summer of 1989, twenty-five and a half years ago. Sitting at the kitchen table in my grandmother and grandfather’s home, it was obvious to all (but granddad, bless his heart!) “what the score was” and the dynamics shifted. It wasn’t my best and brightest move but at least the veil had [finally] lifted and perhaps my uncles would finally get off my damned ass about the “little red-headed girl next door.” You’ve no idea how frustrating it can be, even if they don’t know what they’re doing, to constantly be reminded “you are different” because family members are pushing you along a trail on some ridiculous journey you know isn’t intended for you. Again, I knew I was gay long before I ever hit puberty.

But on that day, the day when we were all sitting at the table in my grandparent’s home; THAT was the day that the dynamics between myself and the extended family I loved so much would forever change. Oh, sure… nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes — but I was “the fag.”

And twenty-five and a half years later, long after my grandmother, my grandfather, my Great Aunt and the biological “gene” that made my presence on this earth possible have all passed — I’m told they still don’t understand that this isn’t a “choice one makes.” If I’d had a “choice” in the matter, does one really think I’d have signed up for a life of second-guessing and ridicule (if not openly, at least behind the scenes)? Does one really think we “want” to be made to feel unwelcome (this was more so back then — not so much now) around family? ..and do you truly think a person wants to be made to feel “less than” because, in the committed relationship he or she might share with that special someone, taking the next logical step and get “hitched” (married) will always be problematic because it’s either illegal (in the state one lives in) or it’s seen as some kind of an attack on the sacred institution of love and commitment. (Seriously, I wish I had a dollar for every person who feels that his or her own “straight relationship” is any more important than a loving relationship between two persons of the same gender.) The last time I thought on the matter, I came to the simple conclusion that “love is love.”

Anyway, does any of this sound like a rational reason to make a ‘choice’ to identify with the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community? Does doing so make any sense to anyone at all, who wouldn’t be into sadomasochism. For the record, I’m not into S&M (I’m actually quite vanilla). LOL. I’ve no doubt my family loves me but to this day I question whether they’ve taken time to investigate and really open their minds to the possibility that they “might actually be wrong, in that being gay really isn’t so much about making a ‘choice’.”

(To their credit, it doesn’t help that there are so many [people] in the world who identify as bisexual, able to swap love interests from one gender to the other. Compounding the matter (and thus giving “some” family members false hope for a different outcome), many so-called bisexuals give in to the implied (or directed) pressure of conformance, feeling “encouraged” to at least make the effort, if only initially, to be “normal” (I’m being sarcastic and the translation here is “straight” for those who might have missed the point) by dating and/or having a family with somebody of the opposite gender. I know of at least one young man who likely feels as though the love and approval of his mother are fully contingent on his “fitting in and wearing the shoes of a straight male.” The judgment on his mother’s part has motivated him to make decisions that were fraught with risks, as well as consequences (and one blessing) he will have to live with all of his life. (Fortunately, I’ve confidence in him and think he is strong enough to have a happy life, regardless of the strings his mother keeps attaching to the love she feels for her boys.)

The most heart-felt and precious gift a family member can give someone is his or her love and an honest attempt to understand that which seems so foreign.

So again, I won’t say there isn’t cause to speculate “being gay” is a choice; especially when it seems so many appear to be able to be in relationships with both, the opposite and the same gender. But I suspect for the VAST MAJORITY who identify as gay or lesbian, it’s never been a matter of “choice.” It is simply a part of who and what we are, no different than the color of our eyes or the tint of our skin.

Neither is it so much about sex.

Certainly, I have (and will continue, I’m sure) made plenty of comments about the bodies of handsome, young sexy men — but in all honesty, it’s more about the “feeling of total attachment (in a healthy way) and attraction” that I feel for somebody swathed in the body of the male physique … more so than it is about “what parts fit where.”

I might enjoy the sex… (be honest, who of us doesn’t enjoy a great orgasm?) but for me it’s more about my feeling “at home” with my arms wrapped around a man — or his arms wrapped around me, for that matter. It’s about being fully attracted to somebody, in every aspect; on a sexual/physical level and as well, on an emotional/intellectual plane.

The only “choice” I ever made was to accept myself for who and what I am. So for those who fail to understand, yes, there was a choice; it just wasn’t the one you might be thinking it was.

Namaste,
Michael

 

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).

Related Links:

 

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.


Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

The Pitiful Life Of Scott Lively

08 Dec

Scott LivelyIt’s no secret, how I feel about those who spread a message of hate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and “questioning” (LGBTQ) persons.

Fred Phelps, may he not rest in peace, was a disgusting, vile, evil and abusive bastard who managed to imbue most of his own children and in-laws with the same manner of hate and prejudice.

But ole’ Fred is now [finally] dead and rotting in the ground, likely as not to be disturbed by the maggots that would otherwise feed on the dead’s flesh (I’m convinced maggots have a higher set of standards).

Enter, Scott Lively

I refuse to acknowledge that this self-important, hateful old gas-bag has a doctorate (likely as not) and even if he did, I’m hard-pressed to give him the credit for same since, in my eyes, doing so would detract from the many others who have done something good and productive with the fruits of their own studies.

No, Scott Lively is just another example of evil and hate… A pitiful man who tries to hide his pathetic failures by slandering an entire group in the world who are simply trying to live their own lives and find some happiness.

But that isn’t all he is; actually, it’s FAR WORSE. Not only does he slander but he seemingly takes joy in pretending to know what God wants and consequently encourages acts of genocide toward anyone who might be a member of the LGBTQ community (or merely perceived to be as such).


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Images Parked for MCC Ocala, FL

10 Aug

Image for MCC Ocala, Florida
 
Different font for bottom; misspelling of ‘Metropolitan’ corrected and logo same dimensions as original MCC logo.


 
Image for MCC Ocala, Florida
 
Different font for bottom; misspelling of ‘Metropolitan’ corrected and logo ‘width’ expanded to be consistent with that presently shown on your page.


 
NOTE to MCC of Ocala, Florida: To save the image for your organization’s use, hover over the image, right-click with mouse and choose “Save image as” (and save to your computer for your own use). This was recreated for your use as a favor from myself; no charge, all rights are yours and yours alone. Have a wonderful week!

 

My Thoughts On The Minimum Wage

25 Jun

On the issue of the minimum wage, I’ll admit it hasn’t really kept up with the rate of inflation so perhaps a “slight” increase is called for. Having said this I want to make an important distinction between those who are expecting to make a “living wage” and those who are simply out there “flipping burgers” and the like. In recent months, we’ve heard a lot about minimum-wage earners employed at fast food joints who are bitching, claiming they can’t make a decent living at their job…

What do they expect?

These people need to get off their ass and get a job that wasn’t intended to be anything more than a “temporary job for a school kid in need of a bit of spending money while attending junior high or high school.”

It chaps my ass when I hear about some knucklehead working at McDonald’s (or any fast food joint for that matter) who’s complaining he or she isn’t making twenty bucks an hour.

If such a person really wants to make twenty or more dollars an hour then he/she needs to get a real job that requires more of a skill-set than just being able to toss some fries in a cardboard envelope and slopping a burger in a box. Demanding such a wage for that kind of work is a slap in the face of every person who actually goes the distance to make the effort to lift him or herself up by learning a skill so that he/she can provide a necessary service or create a product that requires more skills than that which a 6-year old child might possess.

Yeah, I know… that isn’t a popular opinion but I stand by it.