Friday, June 28, 2013

Some Things Never

This morning while going through online message boards from after the last time Chick-fil-a's Dan Cathy spouted off about me and my relationship, I found this powerful story tucked between the usual "Eat somewhere else fags!" and "Stop trying to suppress this Godly man's freedom of speech!" comments from the Chick-fil-a "appreciators".

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to feel sadness that some things never change, or hope that things might change eventually, even if it takes a very long time.

The Cathys are one of those traditional "Old South" families, and that's fine. But no one can pretend that there is any distance between their "personal views" and the company's they own and run, no matter how many press releases Chick-fil-a's PR department type up.

The question is, will they ever join the 21st Century?

Click on the pic for a larger view. The original post can be found here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Equality's Day

Here are my two favorite photos from yesterday's news.

This one had me tearing up at my desk. My boss asked if I was coming down with a cold. (Maybe I should call in sick today?)

Michael Knaapen and his husband John Becker react outside the US Supreme Court
in Washington DC on June 26, 2013. By Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty.
Found on an excellent must-read post by Andrew Sullivan.

I love this photo because it elegantly expresses to the world exactly what this victory is all about. It's about equality, dignity and love; not about beating those who would oppose and oppress us. It says "We made it", without resorting to "In your face bitches, sashay away!" We'll leave that to our hero, Mrs. Windsor...

The cover of the latest Pride Magazine. Found on Joe My God.

And it's true. We do love you, Edie.

Bask in your victory folks, you deserve it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eat Mor Froot

For better or worse, cows don't have
access to autocorrect.
As I somewhat expected, there were plenty of prayers and bible verses. As I feared (and really should have known better) there was no bar.

But there was a cake. And the cake admonished the assembled employees and guests to "eat mor chickin". It turns out the cake was cruelly taunting us, as scouring every buffet table turned up not a single nugget. All I could find was fresh fruits and veggies and a selection of cheeses. I ate the cake.

My friend seemed so happy to see me there. We've had this discussion many times and she knows my feelings about her employer. I think she was looking forward to the opportunity to show me first-hand what an awesome place this is to work.

And it is a very impressive work environment. Kind of like working for Google. But whereas Google's mission statement is "don't be evil", the mission here is to "glorify God", with a narrow Evangelical Southern Baptist interpretation of what that means.

Part office, part museum and part Christian resort, my friend gave me the grand tour. The workout facilities rivaled the best commercial gyms I've seen, with full time trainers and nutritionists on staff. The massive cafeteria offered nearly any choice imaginable, all free of charge to employees. More fresh fruits, a large salad bar, even a brick pizza oven. Yet I still didn't see any fried chicken or waffle fries. I'm guessing this might be thanks to the pesky, aforementioned nutritionists.

So did I gain any insight which opened my mind? Has my opinion changed at all? Not really.

The carillon bells playing church music in the parking lot creeped me out. The Republican National Convention hairstyles (and overall vibe) were unnerving. The constant religious references will never feel right to me in any place of business. The need to call attention to the extent of each person's involvement in their church and/or missionary activity struck me as forced, and gives the distinct impression that career opportunities here are tied to how employees spend their "free" time.

As speaker after speaker took the dais, their obliviousness to the possibility of other points of view made it clear to me that these folks rarely wander far from their echo chamber. For example, an opening joke mocking gun control at an employee function would put any normal HR manager in a cold sweat. Not so here. An anecdote alluding to Grandmother's racism? It's funny 'cause that's how grandmothers were, bless their hearts.


Keep in mind my perspective isn't just that of a moderately liberal gay man, I'm also decidedly not religious. But I'm not anti-religious by any means. I love that our country upholds freedom of thought, of conscience and of religion. I believe private companies should be able to espouse the religious values of their owners, as long as no one's constitutional rights are violated, employee or consumer.

I admire a company that strives to do good in its community and in the world. I admire a company that puts people ahead of profits. I'd be happy if every company had a stated mission of making the world a better place.

But the fact is, even if 99% of your philanthropical resources are used for good, that 1% being used to hurt people will diminish your efforts disproportionally.

I love my dear friend. I respect her career choice and I admire how well she does her job. I feel sympathy for the conflicted position her company's owners sometimes put her in. I don't want want to see this place put out of business, although that's not likely to happen anytime soon. It's obviously doing just fine without my support.

But values and convictions are not the sole domain of bible-thumpers. Until things change, I choose to spend my fried-food money elsewhere.

Evidently Batman alone is okay, as long as he keeps his
true self disguised. But to have the audacity to unite with
Robin is to shake his fist at God and invite His divine
judgement on Gotham City.

Friday, June 21, 2013

New Car Itch Super-Twang

It's been a while since I've Songified one of Stevie B's blog posts. This selection is about a gay man who, after realizing the hot classmate hitting on him is a "daddy chaser", yearns to trade in his sensible sedan for some butch four-wheel-drive realness.

I'm not sure what caused the hiccup in the middle, but it appears Songify ate the entire "quasi-butch" stanza. I blame my antique iPhone 4. Bummer. But I do like the ending and it was getting past my bedtime.

It's best to listen to this after (or during) reading Stevie's post. I hope he likes Country, because yee-ha banjo slide-guitar...

Here are the lyrics for the karaoke fans. (Or is that bukkake? I keep getting those two confused. I've embarrassed myself at more than one orgy.)
It seems that it's that time again
I've got that itch, the new car itch
My four-door sports sedan is such a bore
I've got that itch, the new car itch
I don't want to be a grown-up anymore
I want a four by four
I'm going for butch gay-boy realness this time around
I've got that itch
 (something something quasi-butch?)
I don't want to drive a hyundai anymore
Getting old is such a bitch
I don't want to be a grown-up anymore
I've got that itch, the new car itch
I want to haul a load, maybe pull a trailer
I've got a lot of stuff I need to move
I'm going for butch gay-boy realness this time around
I've got an itch

That new car itch

Thursday, June 20, 2013

But Will It Help Me Proofread?

Do I have trouble focus... Wait. Week???

I'm sorry, what is it you hope to inject me with again?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's Up, WebMD?

"Heyyy boys! Got any SPF 69?"
I've never really liked running. At best I've learned to tolerate it when I'm in one of my phases where I'm trying to make a habit of it.

Like now, for instance. My primary motivation is to be in shape. You know, for the sake of my long-term health. I kid, of course. What I really want is to be able to go shirtless at the pool without being mistaken for an albino walrus.

My latest running phase has reached the point where my cardiovascular endurance has improved enough for my other physical frailties and weaknesses to come to the fore. I recently missed a week of running due to a calf muscle strain. (My gastrocnemius, for you medical folk and gym bunnies.) While self-diagnosing my injury on the Internet, I made a troubling discovery regarding another problem I've been experiencing.

No, not erectile dysfunction. At least they got pills for that. I think the reason I've always found running to be a pain, literally, is a syndrome... Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome. This perfectly explains all my symptoms! Except the morning sickness.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

So Gaily Main-Streaming

On Stevie B's blog this morning I read a poignant ode to Pride month. "A call to arms" as Stevie called it. (And I must say I'm also impressed with his partner Fuzzy's social media progress, considering I had to literally board a plane to friend him.) If you haven't read Stevie's post, you should. (Pride Month)

The process of coming out involves a leap of faith. When I took that leap, I was keenly aware of what I leaving behind... A "normal" life. My parents' expectations. My church's grace. An identity forged from childhood around what I assumed I was supposed to be, not who I knew I really was.

What I wasn't expecting was the beauty of all I was about to inherit as reward for having made the leap.

One of those magical gifts was automatic induction into membership of "The Gay Community". Nothing like a club or fraternity; no formal charter, rules of behavior, risk of banishment or elected leadership. More like a meta-ethnicity with an extremely rich history and a demographic so diverse, it's a wonder we see eye-to-eye on anything. I paid my initial dues just by coming out. How much more dues I would pay would be up to me. It still is.

While I understand where the author of Stevie's article is coming from, I can't say I entirely agree with his sentiment. Is our Community really diminished when a couple of polo-and-khaki-clad preppy-gays wants to move to the suburbs and raise kids? Is it assimilationist if they want to a be part of their mixed neighborhood community there? Would Harvey Milk approve? I don't know about that, but he did sacrifice all fighting for the right of everyone to live their lives freely and honestly. Even if it's their choice to be a "tamed" gay, whatever that means.

In my twenty years within The Gay Community, I've seen some of the changes against which the author is railing. The evil he calls "mainstreaming". At last year's Pride parade I marveled at the attendance. Not an insignificant number of the hundreds of thousands lining the streets were straight people, including families with children. This was not the case twenty years ago.

Twenty years ago I remember walking through the park during Pride and stopping at a booth which offered prizes to whomever threw the most rubber dildos through a plywood cartoon character's cut-out butthole. Even as I chuckled, I felt an awkward sense of self-consiousness as I questioned the wisdom of the few parents who brought their children to Pride.

Now the park is overflowing with kids. Laughing, playing, rolling in strollers and riding on broad shoulders. Some of their parents are gay but a lot of the parents are straight. Pride has gotten tamer. Does that make it lamer? Maybe for some, but I welcome the change. Whatever we've lost to mainstreaming, look at what we've gained. We wouldn't be where we are, and we could absolutely not get where we want to go without our straight allies. They are the ones giving equal marriage rights majority support. Not us. They're doing that.

It's natural to feel nostalgia for the things you leave behind on the road to something better. It's also a given that each generation will claim an attachment to the glorious achievements of themselves and their elders while expressing worry and doubt as to whether the next generation has what it takes to be entrusted with the legacy of our common heritage. As if we had a choice in the matter.

I remember reading a similar article twenty years ago. The author was mourning the demise of the language of Polari, and what this said about the future of The Gay Community. I empathized, but I also wondered... Is it really a sad thing that we don't need a secret gay language anymore? Isn't it a sign of progress that we now can communicate in plain English without fear and with nothing to hide? Wasn't the whole purpose of Polari to allow The Gay Community to exist while still blending in with the mainstream?

These worries are natural and not completely unwarranted. But it's my feeling that The Gay Community will continue to exist just fine so long as:

  • We continue to celebrate Pride.
  • We remain inclusive and resist all attempts, from without or within, to impose any single concept of it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.
  • We never forget the sacrifices of those who came before us, and whose accomplishments gave us not only a reason for pride, but also for hope.
  • We relentlessly impress these history lessons on the next generation. (Notice I didn't say "the next generation of gays".)
  • We keep paying our dues, so that, just maybe, future generations might include us in their Pride commemorations.

Trust me, in twenty years one of today's skater bois will be writing alarmist screeds bemoaning how the young gays are selling their souls for the sake of assimilation. How much The Gay Community has changed since the good ol' days when he first came out. And this will make me smile to read. And trust me when I say in twenty years we will still be fighting – now in alliance with the mainstream – for basic human rights. If not here, then in Uganda or Russia or China or the Ukraine.

But if not here, wouldn't that be wonderful?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Since I can't call Dad on Father's Day any more, I try to find creative ways to observe the day in a way that honors the memories I have of him. This year I spent the day drinking brandy old-fashions in underpants with zero elasticity left in the waistband.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Splash & Flash

A continuation of yesterday's post making fun of the swimwear I found in my latest UnderGear catalog.

If anyone begins to appear suspicious,
distract them by comparing penile
enhancement surgery scars.

Who says cruising on a budget means having to choose between liquor or pool couture? You can have it both ways with this crafty low-rise "napkini", some assembly required. So creatively stylish, nobody needs to know you acquired this hot little number from the lido deck buffet. Seriously, don't tell anyone.

Wondering how to show your Log Cabin stripes on your next gay cruise? Nobody will remember you voted for Romney after hoisting this red, white and blue mankini. Guaranteed to make any patriot act, if you're not the center of attention when entering your next tea dance or tea party meeting, you're sure to turn heads when you leave. You see, this new glory is actually a thong. God Bless America!
Oh say can you see?

A treat for all the senses, one whiff of this getup will have all the boys thinking "escort". After all, you can't possibly be the only queer on the boat who lost his virginity in the backseat of his mom's Ford Escort. If you're not too hot to touch, then your ass must be parked in the shade. Guaranteed to keep its new-car smell for seven days or 7,000 miles. (Void if exposed to chlorine. Or moisture. Or ultraviolet radiation.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pool Shock

BosGuy posted today about his Summer diet. He's motivated by the idea of taking his shirt off at the beach. I've met BosGuy and, while he unfortunately wasn't shirtless at the time, I really don't think that will be a problem. But I understand how people tend to be their own worst critics. Especially gay men when it comes to their own physiques.

My motivation lately has been twofold. One was celebrating my birthday last month and seeing the photos. As I mentioned in my last post, I'd really planned to start after New Years so I could be in shape by my birthday, but instead I was heavier than ever. This got me back in the park running the day I got home.

Then Stevie B convinced me to join him and his Denver gang on a Caribbean cruise. I found his tales of bears frolicking in hot, frothy whirlpool tubs to be appallingly unhygienic, yet erotically compelling. Thinking back on the conversation, I may have invited myself.

So my new goal is to be able to board a ship with thousands of gays and still feel comfortable sitting by the pool. With my shirt off. To help me envision this goal, I've taken to clipping pages from the swimwear section of my Under Gear catalog. (Formerly International Male. Which I guess after 34 years, started to sound gay.)

Thus begins my new feature: Splash & Flash. Enjoy.

Remember that scout jamboree where the other boys teased you mercilessly when, instead of flinging yourself with youthful abandon from the rope swing into the ice cold lake, your little white knuckles refused to let go? And then, when you did finally get the nerve to jump, your triumph morphed into humiliation when you realized you surfaced ten feet away from your trunks?

Well we do. That's why we designed the exclusive Belted Bikini. Splash headlong into the deep end with confidence knowing your ship nickname probably won't be Pink Raisin. Not this summer.

Roadkill Armadillo temporary tattoo
sold separately.

Not a fan of classic houndstooth? Our Belted Bikini is also available in faux denim.

And because nobody learned from Pajama Jeans, we also offer a faux denim trunk that's sure to put some Dukes in your Daisy.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Shopaphobic, Part 2

"So whatcha end up buyin'?" I'm so glad you asked, BosGuy.

Waiting until after Christmas to shop for clothes is a mixed experience. Sure, there are plenty of mark-downs and clearance sales to save you money, and the malls are less frantic with lots of easy parking.

But there was also a temptation to put it off a month or two. See, I kind of let myself go leading up to the holiday season. It happens to a lot of people, right? So why buy new clothes at a time I'm feeling my dumpiest when I have every intention of getting back on track and doing something about it?

Just as soon as the wave of New Years Resolutioners give up hope and wash back out of the gym. Who wants to deal with those losers, right?

When we got to Macy's I was relieved to see JB was leading me to the mens' jeans section and not the muumuu department. When I selected a pair of dark blue 34" Levis to take to the fitting room, JB handed me the same pair in 36". "Just in case," he said.

I guess that was JB's subtle way of saying my current relaxed fits have been looking a bit tense of late. And he had a point. The 36's fit perfectly. Waist size is just a number, I told myself. Like my age. Only this number doesn't necessarily have increment each year. I will buy these comfortable 36-inch jeans, but only to pose next to them in my "after" pictures by my next birthday. In May.

"Who are you talking to??" JB asked from outside the changing room door.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I was looking through the photos from my birthday trip to Denver and was struck by how much I resembled my older, heavier brother. This reminded me of the promise I made to myself in that changing room five months ago. I may have missed my deadline, but I resolved to keep the promise.

I'm no longer officially obese as a BMI below 30 puts me
firmly in the "overweight" zone. Yay! At this rate I'll be
buying 34's next Christmas.