Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Love makes a family, part 3

In today's installment, I'm going to tell y'all about some of the people you probably DON'T know personally. They're also people about whom I care deeply. Fear not, my friends who live a little closer...more posts are yet to come. (Patience is a virtue, Brendon...though neither of us has recently been accused of being virtuous.)

Judy - Yes, Shepard. Matt's Mom. I've gotten to know her a bit over the last 8 years, and couldn't respect her more. She embodies grace, poise, and compassion. She fights for GLBT people everywhere, especially youth. She's a mom, though something akin to an enraged momma grizzly. She will fight until she can't do so anymore. Fight for a world where everyone is safe and welcome in school, where all kids deserve a home and supportive "family" despite who they love, and where everyone should keep their job if they're a good employee. Dennis and Judy made one of the most generous and forgiving decisions ever...one I know I couldn't have made. Judy for President!

Jackie - My adopted PFLAG grandma. She looks like she wants to bake you cookies. She also knows a four letter word or two! When my mom told me there was a lump in her breast, I called Jackie 10 minutes later. I knew she'd been a "cancer buddy" for one of her friends, driving her to chemo, holding her hand, etc. The next day Jackie brought me a book with everything I needed to know. She later wrote my mom a letter of support, and they became fast friends. Mom would spend more time having coffee and chatting with Jackie than she did with me on her visits to Laramie! She and my sister bought the rainbow disco ball that hangs in the RRC, and Jackie was one of the first volunteers the center ever had. She's always been there for me, and is truly family.

Dave and Jennifer - Okay, some of you know the O'Malleys, and more of you know OF them. I first met Dave in the course of the investigation of Matt's murder. He later told me that I was the first gay person he KNEW was gay when talking to me. He used to be VERY homophobic, but today is one of our greatest supporters. Jennifer has a heart of gold coupled with a sharp tongue she's not afraid to use! Camping, cocktails by the chiminea, pride parades...we've done a little bit of everything together. I respect them SO much, and always have an amazing time when I'm with them. Nobody gives me shit so well or so regularly. ;)

Amy - She held my hand when I had to talk to my mother over the phone about being the Chair of the LGBTA, and that I was going to be on the nightly news because a friend of mine had been attacked. She gave me the first housewarming gift for the kitchen in my brand new house. She held me when I cried over my mother's death. And she introduced me to new worlds as my shamanic teacher. She knows just when I need a phone call or email, and just when it's time to have lunch together at Corona Village. We are the voice of reason for each other, and help each other cut through to the heart of the matter. A champion for diversity, nature, and all living things.

Lisa - My red-headed cohort in crime from college. We lived on the same floor in the dorms for 2 years, and were inseparable. We came out together. We went to our first LGBTA meeting together, hand in hand. We watched the "Puppy Episode" together...not suprising since the entire SERIES of "Ellen" was a weekly ritual for us. Our friends used to say that everytime we were together, it was bound to be an adventure. And it was. She'd tell me a "camp story!" every now and then, from her days as a wrangler and counselor at a ritzy summer camp in the mountains outside Estes Park. I'd read her the latest "depression in an envelope" from my mom. When our friend swallowed a bunch of pills our senior year, she drove to the hospital while I carried her drowsy body. She and Steph had me over for dinner the night news broke about Matt's attack. I wouldn't have made it through college without her, and it certainly wouldn't have been as much fun.

Rod - I met Rod when four poor kids from UW went to speak at a GLBT Youth Leadership conference at CSU. Three of us stayed on the floor of his apartment for 2 days. And boy did we bond! He was like my counterpart in Fort Collins, and it became a ritual to call him for lunch or cocktails anytime were went south. Now he's in San Diego, and I got to spend some time with him on the now-infamous road trip to "the UnHoly Lands." We think a lot alike, and both want careers in GLBT activism. And it doesn't hurt that he's a very nice guy and cute to boot. We've even been to a Cher concert together! He also has the BEST use for the Book of Mormon (or Bible) I've ever heard...

More to come later...and yes, Brendon...you'll be featured sooner or later. Just remember...you asked for it! ;)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Love makes a family, part 2

A few more entries about the people in my extended family...I figured that we could all use something happy today, as tonight I plan on drinking heavily and screaming obscenities at the TV during the State of the (dis)Union address tonight.

Jess - We joke about her being my wife, and her husband Andrew is my husband-in-law. Whether working together on AIDS Walk, moving patients through Albany County Family Planning, or drinking beer at our bowling league, we always have a good time with each other. A fierce and fabulous feminist, Jess cares deeply about all sorts of social justice issues. I speak in all of her Women's Studies classes as a token homo, and love that she's so committed to educating UW students about diversity. Laughter abounds when we're together, and once in a while we visit with our friend Hope. ;)

Bob - Our designated cheerleader for AIDS Walk, Bob is always a ray of sunshine in our lives. He's gone through so much in his life, and still comes out of the gate smiling. He's also done just about everything one can imagine, and listening to his tales of yesteryear is always a good time. Bob knows just how to make you feel special and important, and continually reminds us that every day is a gift. Drag mother and choreographer extraordinaire, he's not afraid to cut a ho...including himself. His humor is edgy, vulgar, and usually in questionable taste...a man after my own heart. I can't wait to hear what will follow his next "Miss Gurl..."

Craig - Scott's better half, and someone who's become a true and steadfast friend to me as well. His quiet, laid back demeanor makes you feel safe and welcome. Don't let him fool you though...he's just waiting quietly for the next chance to fire a barbed insult or other hilarious comment. Thanks to him, many of my horizons have been expanded, and I've met several amazing people in Denver through Craig and his cronies. He's an amazing listener, and has always given me great advice and a clear perspective. (Yes, even I ask for advice from time to time.) I know how much he loves and cares for Scott, which makes him a-ok in my book. I also know how much he cares about his friends in general, and that makes him amazing. I can only hope to find someone like him someday! And girl looks GOOD for her age, but don't tell Craig (or Scott) I said so. And for all the good times we've shared together already, I know there are even better days ahead.

Josh - Recovering coffee roaster, current manager with Hertz at DIA, and sistah-friend-for-life. We hated each other before we'd even met, as we were afraid the other would sense the gayness and reveal us for the raging homos we were at heart. Just after he came out, a mutual friend invited us to a brunch at his house. Our lives would never be the same. Since he's 11 days older than me (and I'll never let him forget it), we bonded instantly in our group of "Elder Queens." We are a dangerous duo, and can drink just about anyone (except each other) under the table. We're known for patriotism, hot tub parties, and our special sangria recipe, which is known as "Jug o' Fun" or "Liquid Boxer Remover." Though we've had our ups and downs, we're fused at the soul, and will be sisters for life. Who else could dance with me at my sister's wedding, causing my mother to grumble and my aunt to feel faint. We danced to "Angel Eyes" by the Jeff Healey Band, for the record.

Rae - Jesse's wife, and the best dance partner a guy could ask for. I've known her longer than Jesse has, and may have done my best to play cupid. *insert innocent whistling here* She's got an amazing sense of humor, and she is one of the only people who will ruthlessly match me insult for insult. We've almost been kicked out of movies for having too much fun...though the previews hadn't even started. Shopping buddies, dance partners, and gal pals. At my class reunion, she bragged to my female former classmates about how Jesse and I make the perfect husband. I take her to chick flicks, underwear shopping, and dancing. He fixes the house, brings home a nice paycheck, and handles that nasty hetero-loving stuff. My classmates started plotting to find their homo-hubbies on the spot. I'm glad she'll be keeping me on my toes for years to come, whether on the dance floor or trading insults.

Travis - I remember the first time timid little Travis walked into a Spectrum meeting. Two weeks later he was an officer, and I've gotten to watch him grow into an amazing activist and powerful person. Finishing his third year in law school while juggling committees, student groups, and AIDS Walk is no small task. One third of the FABulous Stilettos, Ms. Oblivia (Queen of the Clueless) is a dear friend. Many's a night we've laughed and cried over a martini or other suitable adult beverage. While I hate the thought of not having him around for homo-happenings in Laramie, I'm loving the thought of having my own free lawyer! Hey, I wrote him a GREAT letter of recommendation for law school, and figure I ought to get SOMEthing out of the deal.

Don't get your knickers in a twist, folks...there are plenty more profiles to come...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Time to get naked...

(Not to worry...part 2 in the "Love makes a family" series is coming soon.) I knew that title would get your attention. ;) So the early morning workouts continue. Getting out of bed is no small feat at 5 o'clock in the morning, especially when the temperature outside is 15 FUCKING DEGREES BELOW ZERO. Mother Nature's pilot light has gone out, and she doesn't seem to care. Aside from the physical and mental benefits of working out, there's one extra bonus for going to the gym before even Gawd gets out of bed...drooling over pretty people!

I would like to say that I'm not so shallow as to objectify the well-built, toned, fit folks at Half Acre. I'm not going to, but I'd like to. ;) Aaron, the Rev, and Scotty and I have turned it into something of a game. Or at least a pastime/spectator sport. We each have our favorites, though there seems to be a continually revolving parade of hot men and women so we're never bored. And I'm the luckiest of them all...the gay man who showers at the gym!

I'll answer the next question...of course I look. If you were in a room full of naked people of the gender(s) of your choice, wouldn't you brighten your day? But this got thinking this morning: how would most straight men react if they KNEW there was a sissy among them? And how much denial must they live in to think there isn't? I wear rainbow bandannas on my head at the gym. My two rainbow tattoos are plainly visible in the gym AND in the shower.

I don't leer. I don't ogle. And I don't feel guilty. I'd probably look at the aesthetic of naked women were I to shower with them too. Even one of the straight guys commented this morning "I don't care who you are, that's nice" as we walked into the showers. (Sadly, he wasn't talking about me....yet. ;) But it made me think about what the big fear is. I'm really not going to sexually assault a guy in the steam room. Having a homo see your penis doesn't alter your own sexuality...if only it were that easy!

It all comes back to masculinity, I think. If a guy is checking you out, it puts you in the position of the object, not the viewer (Senior Seminar flashback, here we come). The position of the woman. And being the woman is bad in our patriarchal society. I must say that my hetero workout buddies have handled showering with Laramie's Queen Bee quite admirably. No stammering. No avoidance of eye contact. No paranoia that conversation will imply consent. And no feeble attempts to remain "out of sight, out of mind."

When it comes down to it, none of us are there for sex. We're there to workout and become svelt so that more people will WANT to have sex with us, but that's another story. ;) And if, at 7am in a Laramie locker room, we can all learn to get along and that being near a gay person ISN'T threatening, why can't we do it elsewhere? It won't destroy "unit cohesion." It won't turn school children gay. It won't make teens in a high school GSA any more or less likely to have sex...or even be gay!

I also smiled this morning, as I imagined what I would say if someone did get in my face. If they took offense to a gay man seeing them in a towel...or less. "How arrogant. What makes you think you're so homo-licious that I won't be able to control myself in your presence?" Especially when it's 15 below outside...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Love makes a family...

I've talked about it before - the difference between the family you're stuck (born) with, and the family you choose. As many of you know by now, Jesse and Rae got the phone call on Tuesday that they'd been selected. After more than two years on the waiting list (and several more of trying on their own), they're adopting a baby boy! This has gotten me thinking again about how little blood can mean, and how strong love is. In this vein, I wanted to tell you about some of the amazing people who are part of my "family." And so I begin the first post in a series highlighting folks who mean the world to me. For regular readers, don't worry. If you're not in the first post, you'll be in future ones. The names are presented in no particular order.

Jesse - We've been best friends since third grade. We grew up together and were attached at the hip. For years we've thought of each other more as brothers. We went to college together, later roomed together, and work together still today. It was GoBots that first brought us together. On weekends, we'd meet at the elementary school and play with the cheap Transformer knock-offs for hours. I've driven him to the hospital (twice), and he was right where I needed him when my mom died. He and Rae have been waiting for a baby since they were married, and I couldn't be happier that he's finally a dad! The best hunting buddy a guy could ever ask for, and someone I admire tremendously.

Scott - Most of my readers already know Scotty, though to some he'll always be "Puppy." We used to travel in VERY different circles in the gay community; I was TOO gay and activisty for him and his friends, and he was too pretty for me to reach out to him. ;) And then he decided to get involved in Spectrum and AIDS Walk. We hit it off instantly, bonding over our common love of wine. All wines. *grin* It feels like we've known each other forever now, though it's only been about 2 years. He's now my personal trainer, and has done more for my self-esteem than I think he realizes. Though most importantly, he's taught me that the changes I've made and things I've accomplished have come from within, not from him. Whether we're dancing in the Denver clubs, spinning poi, drinking wine/martinis/anything in sight, or just watching Project Runway together, we remind each other always - No Day But Today!

Mandy - The Grace to my Will. We met through She Who Shall Not Be Named many moons ago. There were some wild times in college, I tell you. Late night trips to the hot springs in Saratoga. "Fairy Commando" raids to homo up campus. Sugar benders with 80's video games. We've been through (too) many boyfriends, heartbreaks, and crushes. We've made road trips to judge speech meets, spent hours laughing with her mother (affectionately known as "Lady"), and cried on each other's shoulders all night long. The laughter has far outweighed the tears, though, and even when she's far away (Anchorage...Arizona...) we harass each other. I don't even know how many times we've texted each other randomly from a dance floor in Denver or equally debaucherous locale on the Vegas strip.

Jerry - I first met Jerry at Pride in Denver. He saw my UW hat (or was it a shirt?) and came bounding up to me with his salt and pepper hair. "I went to school in Wyoming too!" Then he promptly pulled his pants down to show me the tattoo of Pistol Pete on his ass. We saw each other again at Rendezvous that year. After way too many overly-strong cocktails, we were BFF. I stay at his condo on about half my trips to Denver now, and can't imagine life without Jerry and his partner Chuck. Generosity doesn't begin to describe this total sweetie! Old enough to be my father, but SO young at heart. He was with us on New Year's this year...bopping along at a mini-rave with us. He's blunt, funny, and always willing to party and drink heavily.

Brittany - The multi-colored punk squid. When I met her, she was a spastic, scattered, frightened little thing. Always up for an adventure, often loud, and ever amusing. I've watched her grow into an amazing young woman. She came out and got involved...in a big way. I'll never forget seeing her in a meeting with the Dean of Students and VP for Student Affairs. Terrified out of her mind, she calmly and cooly explained what the "Day of Silence" was all about, and asked for their support. They were quite impressed with the planning (which Squiddy was in charge of, thanks to the closeness to AIDS Walk and the involvement of the other board members in THAT) and said "We're totally behind this. What do you need? Want some money?" She's still loud and spastic, but in a much more controlled, adult way. ;) I can't wait to see what she takes on next.

The Rev - Ah, Linus. Though he'd probably never admit it, he's calmed down so much since I met him. Dinner at Sweet Mel's with Mandy and Abra is where we met. The kilt was a novelty with the girls, and they decided he and I would get along fairly well. After 3 hours of raucous laughter and feeding off of each other's stories and jokes, the girls decided maybe we got along TOO well. Years later I now refer to him as my heterosexual lifemate who coparents with me in shifts. In other words, he's my designated house and puppy sitter. Since neither of us is a spring chicken anymore and we both hang around with a bunch of young whippersnapper college students, we often commiserate about being old. We also share of love of Broadway, all things 80's, and pretty slender things younger than ourselves. Some have called us twins separated at conception. Well, except for the fact that he's straight...in the bedroom. The kitchen is an entirely different story. And then there's his stories. He's got one for all occasions. Even one night back in 1984...

More profiles later...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Body Image, Revisited

A while back I posted on the topic of male body image, eating disorders, and men. As of today, I am down 70 pounds. I'm wearing clothes that were long ago lost to the back of the closet, marked as "when I'm skinnier." I'm getting there, and this morning at 6am the Reverend and I braved the cold winds and lightless day to meet with our personal trainer for the first time. Granted, that would be Scotty, so he's not so foreign to us, but still... We made it through our first morning of cardio fairly well, and are even playing handball after work with Brendon and Amber. But this is not what prompted today's post...I just thought an update seemed appropriate.

Today on gay satellite radio station, they were discussing an article about "obesity report cards" which are being sent home in several states now. In addition to grades for reading, spelling, or history, students are now being given report cards on their height/weight... It's being done in an effort to combat the growing "childhood obesity" in the U.S. A noble intention, but I don't think I'm going to like the methods...or the results.

At first thought, the concept of grading kids on their bodies is abhorrent to me! one of the girls discusses in the article is 6 years old. She received a letter in her report card that she's in the 80th percentile for BMI. Though she doesn't know what those terms mean, she's stopped eating for fear she'll get in trouble at school. Doesn't this sound like the beginnings of a beautiful eating disorder? IN A 6 YEAR OLD!?! That concept terrifies me.

Callers on the radio show were split. Some said "they're going to be teased if they're fat anyway, so they might as well have all the facts." Others echoed my thoughts of anorexia and bulimia, as well as overall self-esteem. I was that kid in school. Overweight, despite the fact that my eating habits didn't match my voluptuous and curvy figure. Teased. I hated going to school because I didn't want to hear more of the taunting. And now we're going to GRADE kids on their bodies?

How many more supermodels have to die of starvation before we get it? While I appreciate the efforts to control childhood obesity, there has to be a safe and sane way to do it, without our schools convincing kindergarteners to pick at their plates or stick fingers down their throats.