You Had Me At The Swing Of Your Kilt.

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What can I say; I love a man in a kilt. Perhaps that’s why I always wanted to wear one or maybe it was due in some small part to my heritage being Scottish and Irish. It may also be that I have been jealous of women being the only one to wear something like that, this was before I knew about Scottish people wearing them. Regardless, a man in a kilt can cause your heart to skip a beat and dance to a Scottish song. Need proof, I give you Gerard Butler (see below). And he is only one; David Tennant, John Barrowman, Graham McTavish(also below), Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy, and Billy Boyd.

In an article on Quora by Janie Keddie titled “Why do Scots wear kilts?”, she says “Men look and feel fantastic in kilts. You see them stand differently and develop a swagger. It’s extremely attractive! ” It’s true, I see it in myself. Wearing one elevates your confidence and definitely puts a bit of strut in your walk. When the pleats swing in time with your walk it is utter hypnosis to the masses. Not to mention their functionality is amazing. Confidence is an amazingly sexy thing, so when a man wears a kilt it just adds to that. Sure it’s a bit strange the first few times you see it, but you have to admit that your eye lingers a bit longer on a man who is wearing one.

As amazing as they make me feel and as much as I love seeing a man in one, there are some frustrations with them. Sitting down in a kilt  can frustrate me to no end because I still have not mastered the smoothing of the pleats. They always seem to get bunched and with a cargo kilt style, the box pleats combined with the material can leave the pleats folding awkwardly. And you gain a new found respect for women learning how to sit and maintain their modesty. I have been asked on more than one occasion about the fetish aspect of wearing a kilt. I have seen the images and videos out there of sex in kilts and it even is intriguing, but that can be said for any garment that becomes fetishized. After all, there are leather fetishes, jean fetishes, shoe fetishes, and the list goes on and on. I love my kilts for the fashion aspect, the comfort levels, and how they alter my confidence.

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So history time, kilts have been worn since about the 16th century and are a variation of the Great Kilt (feileadh Mòr). Before that time Scottish men wore long tunics and cloaks of wool. As the fabrication and availability of wool became easier, that style started to mutate into the great kilt. Traditionally it was two bolts of cloth stitched together to make the garment. The lower half was folded into pleats and belted at the waist while the upper half remained looser to wrap yourself in to keep warm and prevent wind. Wearing the tunic underneath afforded the kilt more modality so that it could be taken apart and used as a structure or a large blanket at nights.

Around the 17th or 18th century, a much simpler version was created called fèileadh beag.It was reduced to only one bolt of cloth that was belted at the knees and the pleats were stitched in for ease of wearing. This also made it much lighter to wear and easier to march in. No longer was it able to be used for shelter or blanket and lending more to ceremonial or daily wear. This is the version of the kilt that survives today. Using what is called a fly plaid and a brooch you could achieve a similar effect to wearing the full Great Kilt, but with much less weight and greater ease.

I don’t post about kilts often because part of me feels that talking about it cheapens it in some way. If I just wear them as I would any other garment, it becomes less of an issue. After all, how often does someone write a post, or talk about wearing pants? Not very often, unless its a fashion piece or about a specific designer. Simply put, I really enjoy wearing them. They are comfortable, unless your pleats bunch up. Not everyone wears them, so it does create a talking point. They are vastly multifunctional. Thrown on a t-shirt and a kilt for knocking around the house or town, pop on a polo and loafers or boots to dress it up for dinner, or add a waistcoat or blazer, a button down, and a pair of oxfords and  you have a nice looking piece for meeting people, business settings, or fancier engagements. Lets not forget about formalizing it for wedding and etc.

I may not be Gerard Butler or Graham McTavish, but I do think I look damn good in a kilt. People notice mine often and comment accordingly. Similarly, I love seeing men in a kilt and wish more would take up the trend. It is nice that they aren’t common because I do like the attention and talking to people about them. My heritage doesn’t change or accentuate my love for wearing them. I encourage you to also take a chance and try one on. Remember that we have Kilted Bros close by who can  help you out with all your kilted needs. AND fine YOU GOT ME, it was also a ploy to be able to post hot guys in kilt pics and who can’t appreciate that?

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Isolation Amongst the Crowds

Merriam-Webster defines choice as noun 1. the act of choosing: selection, 2. power of choosing: option, 3 a. the best part: cream, b. a person or thing chosen, 4. a number and variety to choose among, 5. care in selecting, 6. a grade of meat between prime and good, or of choice, or to be preferred. Adjective  1. worthy of being chosen, 2. selected with care, 3 a. of high quality, b. of a grade between prime and good. It’s important to understand the meaning of word when you are trying to use it to explain something. Because of this very word CHOICEI feel that LGBTQIA are the overlooked marginalized minority.

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We all have had this dream, more than likely. You are in a room surrounded by people that you may or may not know. It is a fairly large room full of people and you are walking among them and you notice that they are looking at you. Some of them are in shock and disbelief while others may be laughing and making comments in whispered tones to others. As you move about the room you realize that their reactions may be about you. Suddenly, you are in front of this group of people and you can’t imagine why. You think you may supposed to be speaking or presenting something, maybe it is even going over your book report. As you start to check yourself for you notes you realize you are naked in front of everyone and all the reactions make perfect sense. You are exposed and vulnerable, you try to cover yourself and make apologies but all it does it draw more attention to how you do not fit in. Your anxiety rises, your pulse is racing, sweat is pouring off of you in rivulets, you feel like you are about to throw up, and you are turning more shades of red than there are possibilities. It’s a horrifying feeling. You can’t seem to get away fast enough and  you know there is no way you can fit in.

In the simplest terms, that is how most LGBTQIA people feel every moment of their lives. No matter where we go, the people we interact with, or the situations we are in we constantly know we do not fit in and are afraid of how people are judging us. The difference is that in many situations it’s not veiled comments behind hands, it turns into acts of violence. Cleveland, Ohio having more than 15% of the this year’s national transgender homicide rate is proof enough of that. Let us not forget the tragic events of Matthew Shepard being abducted, stripped, beaten to near death and tied to a fence post in Wyoming, all because two straight men thought he deserved it. Still mainstream believes that we “choose” to be LGBTQIA.

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Now imagine waking up every day and seeing yourself in the mirror and know what you see isn’t who you are. That it just feels like you are trapped in a shell that isn’t right. You get dressed every morning, as to how you are expected to be, and you never feel at ease. Feeling like you are pretending to be someone you are not. This in turn creates depression and a sense of self-doubt and loathing. You start to wonder what is wrong with you and why can’t you be like everyone else. What if this or what if that? Always feeling scared and confused. Never sure of whom you are or what you are feeling. Would you choose to feel that daily? Would you want to endure that kind of life?

As I was growing up, I simply knew that I was different. I didn’t have attractions to females. I didn’t like typical boys things and I knew that I didn’t fit in with other boys my age. Even trying to fit into those molds didn’t make it any better. What I did know was that being around other boys gave me the feeling of butterflies in my stomach. At no point were there ever options presented to me. Don Pardo wasn’t standing next to me saying, “Behind Door #1 is heterosexuality. You will have women to date, football to watch, buddies to hangout with and have fun. A lavish life of normality. Or you can have what’s behind Door #2, being hated for being different. People telling you that you are a sinner and going to hell. Being hated and kicked out by your family and living your life as a sexual deviant.” I mean what kind of options would those be and who would ever choose Door #2 if they were told that’s what was waiting for them?

I am not here to change your mind about any of this. I am here to be the foundation for someone who is already going through these feelings. To let them know that there are others out there like them. To let them know that it does get easier and they do have people to turn to. There are welcoming groups who do not seek to change who they are but encourage them to live at the truest authentic person they are. To try to love themselves more than others hate them. It is for them that I write this and for them I offer my strength.

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Not a single one of us, LGBTQIA or heterosexual, chooses to be who we are, it is simply a combination of biological factors that creates us to be who are. One isn’t right and the other wrong. Those kinds of labels are created by society and placed upon us to make us fit into nice little boxes. In fact, not a single one of us can fit into any box that we are put into. Each human is greater than the sum of his or her parts and we should learn to respect us for what we do instead of who someone thinks we are.

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The truth of it is that sexuality, orientation, and gender identity do not really matter in the real world. They are just more forms of labels that are used to describe someone on a limited basis. There are reasons for them and they do, in fact, have to be used, but people are more than just the sum of their parts. Saying only that I am a gay male doesn’t tell you anything about me, no more than saying I am a 45 year old male does. We need to move beyond such things and deal with what is important and that is that we are all humans. Being male, female, LGBTQIA or straight doesn’t determine who you will be, even DNA doesn’t give an inevitable result of how you will turnout. We should be embracing our differences and celebrating them.

I cannot change anyone’s mind in a 1200 word post. To make an impact or change someone’s mind you have to know the person and their situations. You have to view them through the lens of non-judgment and to understand the choices that have brought them to this very moment. My words are here for those that need strength in their moment of weakness, safe harbor in the storms they endure. To make them realize their lives are important and they do matter. You may very well be the voice that shapes the world to come.

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When I Grow Up

It’s common knowledge that gay men seem to have more role models that are women than men. I come from an earlier time of coming out, so we really didn’t have openly LGBTQ people to idolize. So we latched on to what was most available and it is funny how most gay men seem to develop role models from the same groups of women, even before we come out and meet other gay men.  The likes of Madonna, Diana Ross, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Linda Carter, Lucille Ball and the lists go on. Watching shows like Bewitched! I Dream Of Jeannie, Designing Women, Golden Girls, Wonder Woman, and Dynasty. We all seemed to have attached to this same pool of strength of character, funny quips, and pride.

When I was a young gay man, there weren’t many gay male role models we could easily identify with or pattern after. Sure we had the likes of Elton John, David Bowie, Paul Lynde, Melissa Etheridge, and a scant few others, but prior to early 2000s it wasn’t as socially acceptable to be out and famous. To many characters in movies and shows were heterosexual idealized versions of what we were, so we often appeared weak, lack of depth, overly effeminate, and always codifying to someone more masculine. So it’s no wonder why we latched on to women who seemed to be true icons and forces to be reckoned with. Picture the boardroom scene of Mommy Dearest as Joan Crawford addresses the board of PepsiCo.

Growing up I always knew my mother was a strong person, I may have not known the depths of her strength at the time, but I knew it in my bones. So little seems to truly phase her, I am not saying she didn’t get upset, it’s just that very few things seemed to throw her off kilter. We were, simply put, a poor family. Both of my parents worked 40-hour weeks to just scratch a survival. My father ruined my mother’s credit shortly after their marriage. And I even remember the point at which my mother said she had had enough of working in factories and started taking night classes to better her options of employment. All of this while raising two kids and one that seemed to have every medical issue that a kid could, namely me. I look back now and know that I admired those qualities in  her and was the first role model I had for strength.

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Wonder Woman was probably one of the first super heroes for me, I idolized many things about her. As Diana Prince she fit in with the people around her and they were unaware of who she truly was, she had to struggle for people to accept her for her strengths. These were things I felt, but didn’t truly understand. I knew growing up that I was different that my cousins or friends, innately different. When I was around them I had to act a certain way that I felt allowed me to fit in and they never knew who I truly was at heart. When Diana Prince was witness to a crime or wrongdoing, she find a place in seclusion and spin around as fast as she could and transform into Wonder Woman and then she would be off fighting that bad guy. Her full strength could be used, her intelligence was accepted, and people were in awe of her true nature. I longed for that, in the seclusion of my imagination or private spaces I could be whom I felt inside. The red, blue, and gold outfit with the knee high red leather boots and golden jewelry were all things I was awestruck over. She was the very embodiment of what I wanted, freedom to be what I felt I was in my soul.

I remember dancing to my 45s singing Diana Ross dressed in my mother’s gown, wearing a bra that I used stuffed animals to mimic having breasts, trundling around in my mother’s shoes singing into a curling brush. I was on stage performing for my fans and giving them my very essence where in truth it was usually taking turns singing with my sister. It felt more right to me than any of the times I played basketball or football during lunch with my straight male friends. Those were the times I felt that I truly had to shut myself away in a small box.

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Ah memory lane, how it does distract from the purpose of this post. So let’s circle the wagons and regroup. As I said, it is amazing how so many young gay men develop these ideals without fully understanding who they are and meeting others that share similar experiences. What gives us this collective desire to gravitate to these models and does it hold true today? Professor Heather Love a professor of English as Pennsylvania University has studied gender studies and queer theory states that gay men choose women becomes women are marginalized and we can identify with them.

Enter the modern era, with the onset of the early 2000s, our equality came and it was much easier for artists, actors, and sports figures to be openly gay. You can look at the music artists today to find someone who can sing about the struggles you go through. Take Lady Gaga for example, many LGBTQ youth easily identify with her ease of gender bending and music that speaks to our soul for strength and courage. International star Pabllo Vittar is a gender bending self proclaimed “Drag Performer” who already has hit songs with the like of Diplo. Check them out!!! Londoner Olly Alexander is breaking into the pop scene writing songs specifically about male on male love, something that was mostly unheard of openly, in my youth. Unless you count the veiled references from The Cure, Depeche Mode, and Pet Shop Boys. He is known for his honeyed voice and soulful R&B textures. And Big Freeda the undisputed queen of bounce music. A native of New Orleans, she still keeps it real by performing for her hometown. She has worked with the likes of Drake, Beyoncé, and Lizzo. And she still is a force in the queer underground scenes. Another you should check out.

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The point is that today there are much more options available for LGBTQ youth, so do gay men still flock to the same female icons as we did in earlier generations. Or is there a need for us to pattern ourselves after them with the onset of more openly out LGBTQ icons. That is probably a questions better left to the individual as it is as personal as coming out. Personally, I continue to find my strength in strong women and will continue to do so. Their qualities are the fiber of my being and the strength on which I rely. As a testament, I leave you with Julia Sugarbaker.

 

LGBTQ People That Have Shaped History

With this being National LGBTQ History Month, I also think it is important to celebrate the present. Our city, Cleveland, has had a few victories this year that definitely need celebrating. While we still have a fight ahead of us, acknowledging where we have made advances gives us strength to fight on. Share with me in this and know that each of you are a part of this.

All to often you can see lists of historical people that may have been LGBTQ and it is hard to know for certain how true that may be. There are many factors to consider such as what was culture like at the time, was this because there seemed to be an over familiar bond with a specific person, or was it a choice for purposes we don’t understand. When I think about LGBTQ people who have shaped our history, I prefer to look to the ones that were identifiable, as such. So here is a list of people I feel have truly shaped our history and moved us forward.

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Alan Turing.  For all of us that enjoy our phones for our apps, playing video games, wasting countless hours on Facebook, and playing with computers, be sure to thank Alan Turing. He is the father of modern computing. Turing also built the computer that broke the Nazi code in WWII. Turing also created the Turing test; if the name is unfamiliar you may have seen it in movies or books like I Robot or Ex Machina. It is designed to test artificial intelligence in relation to human intelligence. Turing hid his sexuality for most of his life due to homosexuality being illegal in British Government. He was arrested in 1952 and sentenced to chemical castration for meeting another male for sexual interactions. He later took his life by taking cyanide due to depression. Sadly, we will never know what else he may have created due to the loss of this genius.

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Barbara Gittings. Barbara, an out lesbian, started battling for LGBTQ rights at least a decade before the events of, the now famous, Stonewall. In 1958 she founded the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first Lesbian Political and Civil Rights Organization in America. Gittings is also credited for leading the movement that led to the changing of psychological and psychiatric views of homosexuality as a mental pathology. This was the groundwork that led to the 1973 American Psychiatric Association revoking the designation of homosexuality as a disorder.

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Christine Jorgenson. “EX GI BECOMES BLONDE BOMBSHELL: OPERATIONS TRANSFORMS BRONX YOUTH,” was the headline of New York’s Daily News.” This was how she came out as the first out transgendered woman. This was years before the term transsexual was replaced with transgender. Her beauty, elegance, intelligence, and style gave a new voice and opened up the view that gender was not only a binary state. Jorgenson knew at a very early age that she did not fit the typical male ideal. She grew up, went into the armed services and served her country know she was out of place. It wasn’t until after her term of service that she heard about the reassignment surgeries that were taking place in Europe. She started her first surgery in 1951, once completed she returned to the United States and shortly after the famous headline appeared. She had a career as an actress, nightclub entertainer, and had several song recordings. Her celebrity status gave her the perfect opportunity to be one of the first transgender advocates.

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The Wachowski’s. Okay, as a nerd, geek, fanboy, I hate to admit that I didn’t know this one. If you have watched Bound, the Matrix, V for Vendetta, or Cloud Atlas, then the Wachowski’s are the ones who have made those movies possible. They are also behind the acclaimed Netflix series Sense8. This trans woman sibling duo has been a huge influence on Hollywood. Rumors had spread since the early 2000s that there was a possible transition with Lana, but it wasn’t until 2008 that she officially came out as a trans woman, her sibling Lily would come out in 2016.

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Bayard Rustin. In the 1940s and 50s being black was a hard enough struggle in this country, but Rustin was also openly gay. He stood on the forefront of the fight for Civil Rights, working to shape the future. He is responsible for helping set up the 1963 March on Washington that lead the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Many in the movement openly disapproved of their sexual orientation and made it quite known. Later Dr. King would speak out against homosexuality calling it a mental illness and distanced himself from Rustin. In 2013, President Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work on Civil Rights. His long time partner Walter Naegle accepted the award on his behalf.

Gov. Kate Brown. “On the day that I was sworn in as Oregon’s 38th governor, I experienced what it’s like to be labeled – to have my first two decades of service eclipsed by a single phrase: ‘the nation’s first openly bisexual governor,’ a phrase that appeared after my name in virtually every headline worldwide.” She as also made Oregon the third state to ban so-called conversion therapy on minors.

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Rebecca Walker. Time named Walker as one of the most influential leaders of her generation. She is an author of several book about living outside of the boxes that society tries to force upon us. She wrote her first book at the age of 25 called “To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism.” She also wrote the book “On Big Happy Family” that talks about various aspects of modern love, such as: open adoption, mixed marriage, polyamory, and single motherhood. Walker is openly bisexual and the co-founder of The Third Wave Foundation, a feminist and activist foundation that works to support “the vision and voices of young women, transgender and gender nonconforming youth.”

When looking for role models, it is easy to see there are plenty for us to cast our eyes upon. Many who have made large steps forward in our struggle for equality. I personally tend to look for those who show strength of character and the tenacity to not be bound by standards of others. To look for modern influences as opposed to history where we are left on speculations of who they may have been. Also look to the future for the voices that are yet to come, they will be the new front line. Boxes are meant to be opened and boundaries are only limitations until we see we can reach far beyond them. Share in our history and let it push you to shape our future.

Oh, the times they are a changin’…

With this being National LGBTQ History Month, I also think it is important to celebrate the present. Our city, Cleveland, has had a few victories this year that definitely need celebrating. While we still have a fight ahead of us, acknowledging where we have made advances gives us strength to fight on. Share with me in this and know that each of you are a part of this.

Say what you want, but gay bars have been the cornerstones of LGBTQ culture for a very long time. They have been sanctuary, front lines of rebellion, keystones to neighborhoods, and starts of our “out lives”. As we move forward through our history, we are seeing a decline in those establishments.

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Leather Stallion Saloon Cleveland, OH

In the 1960s, as New York’s gay community started coming into its own, we needed a place where we could come together without fear of reprisals. Until that point, there were laws in place, in most of the country that gay men could not be served in public. All it took was for a bartender to assume you were gay for them to not serve you and even have you arrested. Sit to close to another guy, busted. Touch a man that looked intimate, cops showed up and probably smashed your head. Even meeting in public places was dangerous. Cruisy areas were heavily patrolled and regular arrests were made. But the LGBTQ community had an unlikely ally, the Mob.

New York had a liquor law that barred what they called disorderly conduct on premises, this was used to make sure that gay men didn’t dance together in bars or even be romantic with one another. The Mob saw this as a perfect business opportunity. The Genovese family was the “Dons” of Manhattan’s West side bar scene, which included the Village, where the LGBTQ community was getting its start. “Fat Tony” a.k.a Tony Lauria bought the Stonewall Inn in 1966 and made the first gay bar. It was run very cheaply; no running water, no sanitation for dishes, bathrooms not cleaned or maintained, and no fire exit. It was, however, a place we could go freely and be who we were without fear of being arrested. It also gave a safe place, as long as it was open, to runaways and LGBTQ homeless.

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Stonewall Inn New York

After the events at Stonewall, more gay bars started popping up in cities all over the country. As years progressed, they weren’t just limited to larger progressive cities. This gay more rural LGBTQ people opportunities to meet others like themselves to alleviate the feeling of being alone, even if it was only once every month or so. We knew we had a place to go where we felt like we belonged and could meet others. For me I remember it being more like a community center with a bar. TVs showed LGBTQ movies, TV Shows, and videos. Events were held each month and clubs like Leather Clubs or Pride Committees. It was the place you could come and see people you didn’t get to see daily and just be yourself. The Internet hadn’t really come to handheld devices yet, so this was our meeting place.

Over the years, LGBTQ bars in Cleveland have come into existence, thrived, and closed often. Leaving the landscape shaped by their being. In the 1970s there were as much as two-dozen gay bars, according to Cleveland.com. Their main areas were the Warehouse district and a small stretch of St Claire. From then until the mid 80s, they scene was thriving and exciting Many bars held specialty balls and events and the parties were wild. U4ia and Bounce were some of the bigger nightclubs and more popular for drag shows, both have now closed. A Man’s World, Leather Stallion Saloon, and Cocktails tended to be more neighborhood styles bars with Man’s World and Stallion catering to the leather crowds. At present there are roughly six LGBTQ bars left in Cleveland; Leather Stallion, Twist, Cocktails, The Hawk, Vibe, and the newest Shade. Leather Stallion frequently holds neighborhood events and caters to its original leather clientele. While Twist and Cocktails have smaller stages, they do host drag events.

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Twist Social Club Lakewood OH

As the 90s moved into 2000s, we saw computer gets smaller and cell phones move to smart phones. Apps were being developed that let us meet people without having to leave our homes. This was the start of the decline of the gay bar scene. Craigslist also gave freedom for random sexual encounters. With all of these changes, we saw that the bar scene slowly started falling away as the cornerstones they once were. Society, as a whole, has shifted as well. It is now much more accepted to be LGBTQ than it was in the 1960s, so the need for the sanctuaries has seemed to have fallen away. Many more conventional bars are more accepting of all sexual orientations, so niche bars are less frequented.

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The Park Roanoke, Virginia

Throughout our history we have celebrated our differences. We have reveled in our promiscuous sex life and wanted our own safe place to be as we are. With the shouts of “We’re here, We’re Queer, get used to it,” we expected others to take us at what we were. History progressed and we slowly started fighting for our right to marry, have a family and be like everyone else. Our radical sides fell away and we wanted to go back into the closet, so to speak. We fought against heterosexuals for so long and now we were fighting to be like them. Our acquiescence is what has caused a central core of our community to be left behind. I am not saying that it right or wrong, it just is.

I think it is important to remember where our foundations lie and we must accept that gay bars were a vital part of that foundation. Our community has changed, but it is still the gay bars that were where our fight began. Let us remember them and if they still exist near you, frequent them to show that you remember. We may need them again, one day.

 

 

It’s my coming out party and I’ll be meh if I want to…

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Many people have coming out stories that are filled with horror to rival the best Hollywood scream fest. Others still, seem to have blissful parties surrounded by beautiful bodies waiting to take them into the fold for a life of carnal lust and endless disco dramas. Me, you ask? Well mine was simply less glorious.

From a young age I simply knew that I was different. I didn’t have a means to put my finger on it, but still it was there in the back of my mind. Like most young men, I did sneak into my father’s cleverly hidden porn stash, due to the curiosity of my young hormones. The strange part for me was that I always seem to be drawn more to the images of the men in the magazine. If was something like a Playboy, I simply was not interested. I needed to see the male flesh. I soon learned the term for that was “QUEER” or “FAGGOT.” I knew they were different and different meant you were apt to get made fun of by your peers. So, I did what every other closeted queer kid did, I hid those feelings while trying to steal furtive glances at the boys in the locker rooms

My youth was spent trying to hide what I was and pretend to follow a path I thought my parents wanted for me. I knew my father was not keen on anyone or anything that was vastly different from his way of thinking. It was hard enough being his son watching him react with my friends in boy scouts. I always felt like I was his disappointment and this didn’t help my self esteem one bit. Foolishly, I fumbled around and dated a few girls in high school and tried to be the boyfriend I heard other guys talking about in the halls before and after classes. That worked out as well as you can imagine.

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It wasn’t until I went to college that I finally said that I would like my live a little more close to what I knew that I wanted. So what did I do? I joined a fraternity. There, I did meet a few guys who had same thoughts and desires as myself. It gave me a chance to experiment to see what I had been missing, all while still mostly hiding. Finally in about 1994 or 95, I was thrust out into the open and the veil I hid behind was ripped off like a Band-Aid.  The guy I had been fooling around with decided he wanted more and that it would be a great idea to out me to the girl I had also been dating. I decided to preempt him and tell her first. As it turned out she too had been keeping to herself a desire for the same sex. Basically, his grand schemes fizzled out more akin to Wile E Coyote.

This didn’t abate my fears much as next I had to come out to my circle of friends. I was in terror of how that would happen. My circle of friends was small as it was and primarily focused around my fraternity. The best way, in mind, to do it was one night while we had all went out to a bar near the college we attended. After becoming drunk on apple pie shots, Jack Daniels, and tequila I broke down into tears and decided to tell everyone at the table. I told them how much I knew they were going to hate me and how much I was sorry for betraying them. They all looked at me smiled and said it was not a big deal. One even joked that maybe I could help him learn to dance a bit better. Yay for the stereotypes!! But they were accepting; all the same, more than I thought would happen.

As they say, you never stop coming out. I returned home in 95 with my newfound freedom and started going to a gay bar about 45 minutes from my house. I was living with my parents at the time, so my every weekend out was starting to draw a notice. I decided that it I would also have to come out to my mother. I went to visit her on her lunch break to have lunch with her and share my dark secret. While we were eating Campbell’s soup and sandwiches, I dropped the bomb on her. She looked me dead in the eye and said “Its about damned time you finally tell me. I have known since you were a kid dressing up in my gowns, shoes, and singing into a hair brush.” I was the one left in shock and dismay. How did she manage to know the one thing I was unsure of and hid from everyone? Her response was, “A mother knows.”

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I think it was after that I dealt more with issues from people than when I came out. That could also be from growing up in a small southern town. The first time I moved in with the guy I was dating then, we moved to a small town not far from my house to rent an apartment. The complex we rented from wasn’t especially gay friendly. We inquired about a single apartment and were met with resistance because they couldn’t understand how two men only wanted one bedroom. So invariably we ended up with a two bedroom that we outfitted as both were occupied, for keeping up appearances. We kept an immaculate apartment, but upon leaving we were told we couldn’t have our security deposit back, due to the nature of the apartment’s condition.

We moved to North Carolina afterwards because that where he wanted to be. While living there I worked with Spencer Gifts as a manager, up until he died from complications due to HIV in 2000. Then I transferred back to my hometown due to not really knowing anyone in North Carolina. I transferred with Spencer’s to a store there and immediately was entrenched with coworkers who already knew I was gay and not happy about it. They made it purely inhospitable for me and told the District Manager that I was being intolerant and belligerent. It ended up I was fired based on these accusations and when I confronter the Human Resources Department about it, their response was they agreed that I was being harassed but giving me back my job would create more issues than not and since Virginia, in early 2000, had no protection status, I was left unemployed.

As I said, my coming out was more of a fizzle than a feud. I wasn’t disowned, at the time, or kicked out of the house. My friends still cared for me and do to this very day. My rough patches of being Gay has come much later in life. Losing a job due to being gay, dealing with people’s inadequacies of being able to deal with someone who is different. But nothing to the degree that many have witnessed or endured, I am fortunate in what I have experienced. I have friends with the horror stories you hear about. I have witnessed teenage kids kicked out of their house and left to their own devices to survive. You can even read the statistics of the many youth that still opt for suicide. Rest assured when I tell you that it does get better. Know yourself and be yourself, fully. Learn to love who you are and what you can contribute. Your story of survival could be the inspiration someone else needs to survive. Know you have people who will listen and help. My contact information is included in my blog, use it if you need to vent. There are people there for you.

 

Closets are for clothes

National Coming Out Day is next Thursday. Whether you are for or against coming out, it is a huge deal that takes a lot of bravery to do. Here are just a few fun facts from UselessDaily.com

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  1. Founded in 1988, in the feminist and gay liberation spirit of the personal being political, the emphasis is that the most basic form of activism is coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person.
  2. The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views.
  3. In the LGBT community, “coming out” means the voluntary self-disclosure of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  4. NCOD was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary. Eichberg, who died in 1995 of complications from AIDS, was a psychologist from New Mexico and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience.
  5. O’Leary was an openly lesbian political leader and long-time activist from New York, and was at the time the head of the National Gay Rights Advocates in Los Angeles.
  6. The date of October 11 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
  7. Initially administered from the West Hollywood offices of the National Gay Rights Advocates, the first NCOD received participation from eighteen states, garnering national media coverage.
  8. In its second year NCOD headquarters moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and participation grew to 21 states.
  9. After a media push in 1990 NCOD was observed in all 50 states and seven other countries.
  10. Participation continued to grow and in 1990 NCOD merged their efforts with the Human Rights Campaign.
  11. National Coming Out Day is observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement.
  12. The first decades of observances were marked by private and public people coming out, often in the media, to raise awareness and let the mainstream know that everyone knows at least one person who is lesbian or gay.
  13. In more recent years, when coming out as a lesbian or gay man is now far less risky in most Western countries, the day is more of a holiday. Participants often wear pride symbols such as pink triangles and rainbow flags.
  14. National Coming Out Day is also observed in Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  15. In the United States, the Human Rights Campaign sponsors NCOD events under the auspices of their National Coming Out Project, offering resources to LGBT individuals, couples, parents and children, as well as straight friends and relatives, to promote awareness of LGBT families living honest and open lives.
  16. This year (2016) Coming Out Day has its 28th anniversary.
  17. In the past, spokespeople for NCOD include Betty DeGeneres (Ellen DeGeneres’ mother), Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sally Field, Lady Gaga, Whoopi Goldberg, Anne Hathaway, Cyndi Lauper, Don Lemon, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Mo’Nique, Pink, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Stanley Tucci, and Lana Wachowski.

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Source: https://www.uselessdaily.com/world/national-coming-out-day-trivia-17-facts-you-werent-aware-of-about-this-awareness-day/#ixzz5OGlnLDDp

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