Wednesday, December 10, 2008


A good friend of mine who used to work at IT recently passed away from cancer. Sharon was my date for the IT Holiday party for years, and was like a grandmother to me. Another friend described her best by saying "she was the kindest, most loving bitch you've ever met, and I want to be just like her when I grow up." Sharon used to cuss and swear up a blue streak. She told you she loved you and you damned sure knew if she was unhappy with you.

Needless to say, her death hit me pretty hard. Especially since I'd been asking friends about her the night before she passed. I'm a big advocate of reaching out to friends and family before it's too late, and yet even I can't be perfect about it. (This would be a good chance for you to call or email loved ones. I'll wait for you... Done? Great!) It didn't help that later that night we got a call that Jesse's grandmother was back in the hospital and wasn't doing well, to the extent we started warning boss-types and puppy-sitters that we might have to take off in short order. (She took a turn for the better and is doing well now.)

Add stress over money, trying to get the house in order, preparing for the holidays, and it adds up to a crappy series of events that could have me/us pulling out hair. Thanks to having good friends (and each other) to lean on, we're doing okay.

Today's lesson could be my one of my favorites, making certain you tell people you care about them, but it's not. Today's lesson is that even when the odds are overwhelming and you're feeling down in the dumps, there's always hope. We humans are incredibly strong and resilient, even when we forget or don't believe it. Lean on others when necessary, but have faith in yourself...and the Universe. Just for good measure, though, spend some time before the holidays reaching out to loved ones.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today is a day full of birthdays for me. My nephew Alex is one today. Yes, I'm bitter that I'm not there to celebrate with him. It's also the birthday of our very own Squee-piddly! She's been an incredible friend over the years. At times I'm her "Mama Gay," and help advise, support, and care for her. At times, she does the same for me. She's 22 today, and I'm so glad she's been in my life for the last batch of birthdays. Run on over to her blog, wish her a happy and a merry, and guilt her into posting something. ;)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Every year around this time I try to take a moment or two to ponder what I have. It's been a rough year in many ways. Job was poopy, money tight, house in disrepair, rights being stripped away across the country, friends moving away. Plenty of things to be stressed and worried about, and yet here I sit with a smile on my face.

I reminded myself that I HAD a job and that I had more money than some. There is still a roof over my head and I don't live in a place where I can be put to death for being gay. Thanks to phones and email, I can stay in contact with distant friends. All in all, I have a lot to be thankful for.

I'm also thankful to have enough control over my life to effect some change as well. I now have a new job, and we've done a fair amount of work on fixing up, cleaning, and redecorating the house. There's plenty more work to do, but we're making progress.

As usual, I'm most thankful for my friends and family, be they near or far. I'm thankful for a new and deep love in my life, and the future Jesse and I are planning together. Each day I fall a little deeper in love. I'm thankful for Bob and Jess, Squiddy, Ryan and Kass, Troy and Maggie, Scotty and Craig, Jerry, Jesse and Rae, Nell, Rob and Tracey, Kalley, Josh and Adam, Joe, Sean and Stubert, Mandyfish, Brendon and Tara, Jace and Leena, Chad, Dan, Dave, Sue and Mark, Ella and Alex, Dean, Greg, Ryan and Jenn, Dave and Jennifer, Lainers, Turbo and Reese, Ryan and Ethan, Beth and Wendy, Heidi and Bill, Lynn, Lisa, Jackie, Bev, Janet, Livi and Sophie, Joanna, Joee, Dennis and Judy, Torry and Julia, Keith, Kristen, Lynette, Coley and Margaret, Tamara and Mark, Liam, Mary, Max, Punch and Stephan, Rod, Christy and Rowdy, Linus, Tessa, Flynn, Todd, Zach and Whitney, and so many more.

Despite what I lack, I have so much, and think most of us are in the same situation. I'm thankful for all of you, and hold you all in my heart. I have a bounty, and my cup runneth over.

Thank you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Two birds with one stone...

In the wake of California's passage of Prop 8, some folks in the Vermont legislature decided it would be a good time to introduce full marriage. The Governor says he'd veto. He also says he'd rather they focus on the state's funding shortages. Critics very rightly pointed out that working on civil rights doesn't REALLY detract from working on the budget, but I'm going to be a little more radical in my thinking. Go figure.

How many times do we have to tell you that allowing gay marriage makes money for you? Currently, I can get married in Connecticut. Massachussetts is removing the residency requirement, so that will be two. Folks, I'll be getting "gay married" in the next couple years, and will probably have to travel to one of these states to get the license to be all legal and official. This means tax dollars and tourist traffic. Think about the money that brings in.

Florists. Musicians. Photographers. Hotels. Caterers. Formal wear rentals, sales, and alterations. Gifts. Honeymoons. Massachussetts estimated that allowing out-of-staters to get married would mean another $110 million in the state economy plus $5 million in marriage license fees and sales/occupancy taxes. They also saw an influx of new residents as gay workers moved to a more welcoming climate despite higher costs.

Huh...seems like a simple fix to me, Governor Douglas. "We're too poor to care/do the right thing" doesn't add up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Breakfast in bed

Since the day Jesse and I started dating, I've been the happy recipient of countless little surprises. Random flowers, whether purchased from a store or plucked from a nearby tree or bush. An unplanned visit to work to deliver a kiss to me and some candy for everyone in the office. They're all simple little gifts or actions, but they've meant the world to me.

We went to bed early on Tuesday, as Jesse had to get up early and work on his math homework. He finished earlier than he thought, so he decided to whip up a little something and serve me breakfast in bed. He woke me up 15 minutes early, carrying a tray with bacon, eggs, and toast. Nobody had every done that for me.

And it was a good thing, too, as I stepped into the shower only to discover the hot water heater had tripped its internal breaker and there was no hot water. While simultaneously trying to avoid hypothermia and stressing about how I would pay for a repair, I realized that it was still a good morning. I was still smiling over the random act of kindness.

And that's today's lesson: caring gestures, while seemingly small, can mean the world to someone, even when everything else is going south. Do something unexpected and kind for someone you care about. Make them a card, bake them something sweet, or pick up a little present for them. You never know what difference it can make.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Always the bridesmaid...

I figured I better post this quickly, as news is traveling VERY fast. Lest anyone feel slighted that they didn't "hear it here first..."

On Friday night I went out to Happy Hour for a cocktail with some friends. Jesse joined us after he was off work. We then went home and were expecting some friends over after a bit. In the meantime, we fought off the cold by making a fire. We were cuddled up in front of said fire talking when Jesse said "So you wanna marry me?" I said "sure, though it turns out that it's a bit harder to do it in California these days." I turned around to give him a kiss, and that's when I saw it:
Yes folks, I am engaged. I teared up and was speechless for about 20 minutes, and those of you who know me personally know that doesn't happen very often. Apparently Jesse had been carrying the ring around for about a month, "chickening out" every time he worked up the nerve to ask. "What if he says no? What if it's too soon?" were some of the reasons he mentioned. He'd talked to many of my friends about it already, and some had already seen the ring. (I will be continuing the witch hunt, so fear not...I'll deal with YOU all later. ;)
He called Jesse, my oldest friend, to ask permission. He'd been trying to get my sister's info but, being unaware as I was, I kept forgetting to send her "emergency contact info in case anything ever happened." We took care of that on Saturday, when he met her via webcam. "Are you sure you WANT to marry him," she asked? Thanks, sis. She told him to keep me in line (yeah, right), and that the only other condition was that he had to be a Harry Potter fan...and read all the books.
Yes, we're acting like the lesbian stereotype, but we're also not racing to set a date. Yes, it's still not legal in Wyoming, but who knows what could happen in just a year or two? I'm sure I'll keep everyone posted about plans, but it might be a while. We're not looking to "get hitched" tomorrow, so everyone take a deep breath; we'll get there. Relationships are a marathon, not a sprint.
I am obscenely happy and giddy and such, as is to be expected. How many times have I said on a panel "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." Well, I might not be a bride per se, but I am engaged to a wonderful man I want by my side for the rest of my life. I've been jokingly saying "Fuck you California, we're doing it anyway!" But know this isn't a joke to me, or something I(/we) are taking lightly. We love each other, we're committed to each other, and we're making that formal.

Monday, November 03, 2008

One more day...

I know, I'm sick of election crap too. But it's important. We all have the right to use our discretion and make our voices heard. That's something not all countries can say, and that means it's that much more important that we exercise our right to vote. I think it's clear who I'm casting my ballot for tomorrow, but that's not what this is about.

Whether you're a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, or something somewhere in between, get off your ass and vote. Tomorrow we get to pick a leader. We get to select the direction of our nation for the next 4 years. As a key player in global society, we are influencing the direction of the entire world for years to come. That's an awesome privilege, and we owe it to the future to cast our votes and stand up to be counted.

We will also vote for our local representatives. And ballot initiatives. And referendums. And optional taxes. This is our chance to set our own course. Vote tomorrow, or forever quit your bitching because you don't like what happened when you had something better to do.

Vote your conscience tomorrow, but for fuck's sake...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What if we held marriage hostage?

Last night Maximus was telling me about a catty, witty gay commentator who had a great idea. He pointed out that should Prop 8 pass in California, there are enough queer Californians to get an initiative on the ballot for next year. Prohibiting marriage between a man and a woman. Of course it would never pass, but it would point out the absolute lunacy of the current measure. But it got me to thinking...we could go even further. We could go on strike.

If voters in California want to lock us out of the Chapel of Love, let's do the same in return. What would happen if the GLBTQ folks went on strike? It's hard for straight people to get married without florists, cake decorators, and church organists. Half the choir might not show up. Don't even think about hiring a wedding planner. Designers would refuse to create or alter bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. Booking a stylist to get your up-do would be pretty tough too.

We make great photographers, so you better buy a bunch of disposable cameras and pray for the best. Without chefs, caterers, or waiters, you'll be dining on cocktail weenies and Oreos...buffet style. I hope that when you go to get your license, the clerk didn't have to settle for a separate-and-inequal "civil union." You'll probably going to need blood tests too, but good luck finding a male nurse or HIV clinic worker to draw samples. And just think...we have a lot of straight allies who might also go on strike with us!

I realize this buys into a host of stereotypes and is a little silly sounding, but I think you get my point. This isn't something that affects nameless, faceless statistics on a sheet of paper. It affects your neighbors, your cousins, your children, your bankers, your landlords, and your coworkers. This is about human beings and their right to love and be free in America today.

To love, comfort, honor, and cherish. For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. In good times and in sorrow. For as long as we both shall live. Those are the words, after all. It's such a simple little vow. And we're not entering into it unadvisedly or lightly. How does anyone have the right to prevent me from making that promise to my partner? To say that my partner and I are somehow less capable or deserving of these things, or that our relationship is different and "less" in some fundamental way?

It's not about forcing any religion or church to honor or perform weddings for same-sex couples. It's not about mocking the institution of marriage or destroying the fabric of American families. It's not getting something extra, different, or "special." It's about dignity and respect, and whether or not the government has the right to tell me who I can love. Who I chose as my partner. Who I want to come home to after a long day. To hug, cook dinner, do laundry, take care of the puppies, and clean the kitchen. It's about spending our lives together in boring, codependent, quiet normalcy.

It's about having the same rights as those around us, and wanting the same thing as everyone else: simply to love and be loved. Vote no on Prop 8, and if you don't live in California, ask your friends and family who live and vote there to do so.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Time travel

Last weekend the boyfriend (Jesse, for those who didn't already know) and I went "back home" to Kaycee, WY for his dad's 50th (and cousin's 16th) birthday party. What's that? You don't know anything about Kaycee? Well, the population is around 250 people. There are 2 main streets through town, both of which are also highways. It's about 50 miles or so from my hometown (Wright) and is about an hour north of Casper. Ranching and agriculture are a large part of the community, as is mining/oil/natural gas/minerals. There's a general store, but no supermarket. There are two bars, a couple of mom-and-pop restaurants, a motel, etc. It's very small town America, and sits right on the interstate. It's also in a different time zone...around 25 years in the past.

Where else can you reserve a public hall for an event that has "No smoking" signs posted on the walls and cabinets in the kitchen labeled "Ashtrays?" Where else can you hear the Eagles followed by old school country, mixed in with "Happy Birthday Sweet 16?" Where the whole town is working together to fundraise for a statue in the new park...dedicated to the memory of the hometown local boy made good (Chris Ledoux)? Where the party included keg stands, and even some of the grey-haired party-goers were upside down?

To say that I had flashbacks to my own life growing up would be an understatement. We went out to one of the family's ranches outside town to see the buffalo and so I could see the ranch. Even stepping into the restroom reminded me of all the ranch houses I grew up visiting. There had been a late night fight resulting in an ambulance call while we were there. By early the next morning, the grapevine had the information spread across town. Over the course of the weekend I overheard several different versions, and the story grew with each re-telling.

The party was open invitation, and we had seating for around 100 people (yes, that's almost half the town). Just about everyone showed up, I think, and it reminded me of the family/town functions that I used to attend as a kid. A fish fry out at the Marquiss ranch when the hunters from Florida flew in. The annual Reynolds dance in Gillette at the K of C Hall. Brandings. Town festivals. Family reunions. Folks gettin' together who've known each other forever and probably know more about you than you'd like.

It was interesting watching faces as Jesse introduced me to people. Sometimes it was "I'd like you to meet Jim Osborn." Sometimes it was "this is my partner, Jim Osborn." Naturally I took my cues from him, but the reactions were, at times, priceless. Seeing someone process the term partner, then their eyes opening slightly as they found it in their mental rolodex. Watching someone's eyes narrow or their lips purse as they shook my hand. Seeing a devilish little twinkle and broad smile as they realized Jesse's "gay lover" had come to a public family/town function in the middle of nowehere, and that they were so happy he's seeing someone willing to do it.

Sure, Grandpa made a comment or two that might appear a bit backward. But he didn't bat an eyelash when telling Jesse and I we would be in bedroom with the double bed so we MIGHT have enough room. Jokes or slurs like "cocksucker" were overheard, but they weren't directed AT us. The only comments I heard about ME came from a couple of high school or college-age guys who were administering the often-mandatory keg stands. "He sure is a BIG guy, iddn't he?" I simply smiled, as I knew this meant I wouldn't be required to invert myself while sucking cheap beer through a communal hose.

In other words, things really are changing out there, even in the smallest towns in the most rural places left in America. Even the good ol' boys are adjusting to someone showing up to the party with his boyfriend. Sure, we didn't kiss or dance or grope each other in front of the crowd, but nobody else was doing it either. And isn't that what equality is all about? The right to be boring and normal with everyone else?

Friday, October 10, 2008


My life has changed in countless ways since Matt died, and I know it will never be the same. And though it might sound strange, I owe him so much for those changes. I’ve spent the last 10 years doing what I can to make the world around me a safer and more welcoming place for everyone. I volunteer more in my community and have done some traveling, talking to people about hate and violence. I recently changed jobs…and careers, now working in the Office of Diversity and Employment Practices. I’m working to make my passion my profession. But the impact on me and my life goes much deeper than how I earn a paycheck.

It hasn’t been easy, by any means. Many people hear the words “Matthew Shepard” and think of him as an event; I think of my friend who’s no longer here, and how much it hurts that he’s gone. I miss seeing his incredible beaming smile, the one that came not just from his mouth, but from the sparkle in his eyes and from deep within his heart. I can’t find words to describe the pain of losing someone to such violence. Working through the loss and grief in the public eye has also been a struggle at times, though I think it has made me live more honestly and openly. I speak more from my heart, and those around me probably know me better.

I value those around me more, and try to be more deliberate in letting them know it. I only had the honor of knowing Matt for a few short months before he was killed. I was planning Gay Awareness Week during that time, and kept telling myself that I would make a point of getting to know him more in depth afterwards. One of my greatest regrets is not taking that time from the start. He was worth that, and so much more. I view everyone as worth it these days, or at least try to. When I think of Matt, I call or email someone I haven’t spoken with in a while, and know my life is all the richer for it.

I try to view others as people first. I learned that from Matt, I think. He didn’t look at someone and see them as black, or Jewish, or disabled. He saw them as a person first and foremost; the rest was just insignificant differences, since we have much more in common than anything that separates or divides us. He used to strike up conversations with strangers, homeless folks, or anyone he found interesting or compelling. I think he liked learning about people, and valued their experiences in a way most of us don’t. He taught me something about the value of humanity and how we’re all connected. I suppose he taught me to give everyone the dignity and respect they deserve as a human being.

I’ve also seen the power we as individuals have to change the world around us. Romaine and I created and organized Angel Action in response to Fred Phelps’ presence in Laramie. We didn’t want his messages of hate and intolerance to go unanswered or to be what our friends and family saw on the news before they went to bed. The people of Wyoming and America deserved better than that, and Matt would have been the first to say so. We didn’t plan to become part of a play, an HBO movie, or a media storm. We just wanted to do something to combat hate, but in a peaceful and loving way. We didn’t want to sink to the level of Phelps and his group.

Perhaps most importantly, Matt’s murder taught me how important it is to stand up for those who can’t. To speak out for those who have been silenced through fear or through violence. Matt wanted to spend his life doing something to make the world a better place. He wanted to help others and make a difference in someone’s life. He can’t do that now, and so I and many others have to do it for him. I feel an obligation to carry on his dreams and work toward his goals. Someone has to be his voice, and to share his light and love with the world he’s left far too soon.

Yes, I owe Matt so much for the lessons he taught me, both in life and in his death. For the changes he’s brought about in my life, in Wyoming, and in the hearts and minds of people across the country and around the globe. Perhaps I’ve repaid that debt to him in some fashion. But I still keep telling people about him. About his murder. About hate and violence. I keep “fighting the good fight.” I do it because Matt also taught me I’m responsible for those around me, that if I stay silent or inactive I’m no better than those who killed him. I don’t want another parent to know the pain Dennis and Judy feel. I don’t want another community to be scarred by the manifestation of ignorance and fear. I do it for Matt. For his smile. For his heart. I do it to change the world the way he changed me. Hopefully that change won’t require more loss and sacrifice. Please think of Matt today, and help me build a world he’d be proud of.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I remember...

...being at the meeting, and going over the list of activites and events for Gay Awareness Week. Everyone was excited and looking forward to a great week. A poetry reading and art exhibit. Our keynote for the week was Leslea Newman, author of "Heather Has Two Mommies." She was a big name, and we couldn't wait to have her speak in Wyoming.

We went to the Village Inn after meeting, as we always did. We pushed several tables together, much to the chagrin of the staff, and were too noisy. We were celebrating our upcoming big week with pie, caffeine, and maybe even some food if you could afford it. It was a night like any other. We told stories and laughed. But like every other good thing, it had to come to an end. People started to split off, leaving to do some homework or heading out to meet friends.

Tommi gave him a ride that night. Both to and from The Village Inn. I don't know what time he left, as I wasn't paying attention. Why would I? I don't know what time he got to the Fireside. I don't know how long he was there before they approached him. I don't know what they said to him, or how they convinced him to go. I don't know why he got in the car, or what happened after they left the bar. And I never will. But he did. And 10 years ago tonight he was attacked. It was some time after midnight, but I don't know how much after.

I do know it still hurts. I do know I still have questions. I do know there are amazing people here in Laramie and abroad doing incredible work. They have opened their hearts and minds. They have looked around them, rolled up their sleeves, and jumped in...working to make their corner of the world a safer, more welcoming place for EVERYone. It might be one person at a time, or in a way that reaches thousands, but they do whatever they can.

Tonight I think of Matt, alone on the prairie on a cold and windy October night...just like tonight.

Today's lesson: Do whatever you can, whenever you can. Never underestimate your power to affect the world around you.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Full circle

Saturday was a very interesting day. The morning began with the dedication of a bench in Matt's name in front of Arts and Sciences. Dennis and Judy spoke, as did President Buchanan, and they all did quite well in my opinion. The mood was reserved and somber, though I suppose that's to be expected. The messages of the speeches were spot on, though that's not what struck me most about the morning: the crowd.

There were many familiar faces in the audience. Many were faces that I have been seeing for 10 years, and it felt so right that they were present. There were also many new faces, or at least folks who weren't here 10 years ago. That fact spoke volumes to me about whether or not "the discussion" was still going on, whether in Laramie or around the country.

Many of the folks in attendance were 8, 9, or 10 years old when Matt was killed in 1998. Yet there they were, working their way toward the front. It showed what I have known for the last 10 years. People who didn't even know Matt were (and still are!) affected by what happened to him, and conversations about hate and violence are still happening in our classrooms, living rooms, and places of worship. As well they should!

The day ended with my friend Julie's wedding. It was the shortest wedding I've ever attended; the happy couple stood under a flowered arch in the middle of the dance floor. They read the vows, exchanged rings, and kissed. Then on to dinner and the party! Not only was it blissfully short, it was perfect for Julie and Galyn.

Jesse and I sat with a table of strangers, but had a good time and even managed a little chit-chat. Everyone was simply happy for the couple, who both deserved to find a fabulous partner as they continue their walk along the road of life. The prime rib was decent, the music a lot of fun, and the floor show beyond compare. A boy and girl, probably around 3 years old, stole the stage.

They didn't know each other, though te bounced up and down while she ran in place or in circles. They were far too precious for anyone's own good, and reminded us all how fun life can be. To stay young at heart. To dance your own dance. To be nice to strangers, and that meeting new people is a good thing. All in all, a perfect way to end the night.

Today's lesson: Life and death are connected, sometimes even in the same day. We probably won't understand it all the time. We can't control it, but instead should focus on living it as best we can. You can dance a lot of dances in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Angel Action

The President called me one day to tell me he'd gotten "the fax." The message from Phelps saying that he would be coming to Laramie for Henderson's trial, due to start Monday, April 5th. Romaine called me soon after. Like me, she was frustrated that the last thing people would see on the news would be his messages of hatred and intolerance. "Somebody should do something."

I mentioned an idea someone had sent me: great big angel wings, surrounding his group with symbols of love and peace. "Wow, that's awesome. Someone should really do that," she said. "Wouldn't it be great," I replied. She then told me that she had to go get ready for work at the coffee shop, where she used to see Matt on a regular basis. I went back to whatever pointless thing I had been doing. Two hours later, my phone rang again.

"How many angels can you get in Laramie, and who do we need to call about permits and shit? WE are gonna do this." I simply smiled and said "Yes, we are, aren't we?" She went on to tell me that she'd been talking with a friend at the coffee shop. When she'd mentioned the angels, he got chills. Being a handy sort of guy, he thought for a bit and started sketching. In a matter of minutes, he designed a simple framework for wings, and they already had 4 Denver angels lined up. Thus the angels were born.

We plotted and planned for a while. Romaine called Dave O'Malley, still a Commander with the Laramie Police Department. I called Tim Banks, Chief of the University Police Department. It turns out there were no permits required, and though they were a bit nervous about possible conflicts, we made arrangements for security and safety. We assured them that they would have no problems from anyone in wings and that we'd be going over plans with all angels in detail to ensure there wouldn't be any incidents.

There were 11 angels that first time. We gathered everyone together for a meeting beforehand, cramming people into the livingroom of my old apartment on Baker Street. We covered the basics, reviewing with everyone how Phelps operates. What they might expect to hear, and that everyone needed to fully understand this before they tried to wear a halo. We talked about how important it would be to remain silent, peaceful, and loving, and how difficult it might be. Everyone was given a pair of earplugs too, just in case the sounds of hate behind us became too much for anyone. And Romaine gave us perhaps the most important tip: "Pee before you put on your wings!" They weren't easy to get in or out of, so it was important to wring out the kidneys before gettin' our holy on.

We met downtown at her sister's shop, The Jaded Lair. Made from PVC pipe and bed sheets, the wings stretched out almost 8 feet. It was a true Wyoming morning, grey and overcast. Amazingly, there wasn't much wind, but it was still bitterly cold. We all wore coats and jackets as best we could while still strapping on wings. Hats and gloves were problematic, and few of us had them. After transforming someone into a "holy roller," they had to perform a strange form of limbo to climb out of the basement without catching a wing on the door.

We met in the alley briefly, and shared with one another our reasons for being there. "I want my daughter to grow up in a better world." "I don't want the last thing my nephew sees on TV to be Phelps." "I'm here for my brother." We were also supposed to come up with a happy thought to hold onto, so that we could have an angelic, peaceful smile on our faces no matter what horrific things we heard from Westboro. We then walked in a line down to the courthouse, dodging street signs and lamp posts. Crossing the street had to happen in 2 shifts, as we couldn't get all the angels across a light in a single group. Our stomachs were knotted, our palms sweaty, our bodies chilled to the core...and we pasted on our most peaceful smiles.

We could hear Phelps and his group shouting things like "Matthew Shepard is in hell" and "God hates fags." As we walked up to take our positions, the most incredible thing happened. Though it only happened for a moment, their group fell silent. They didn't quite know what to do about us; we had made Phelps silent. They quickly regrouped and redoubled their shouts and taunts, but we had love...and Matt...on our side. Our smiles beamed brightly. Our halos rustled in the breeze, and our wings created a white wall of love just as we'd hoped.

That's not to say it was easy. Seeing the young children holding up signs with messages like "AIDS Cures Fags" was tough, especially for the parents in the group. We hadn't quite seen that one coming. The cold was a big problem for us. We were standing in the shade of the courthouse addition, and started at 7am. We were concerned about frostbite, especially in the feet. None of us were dressed as warmly as we should be, and it's hard not to think about hate speech or hypothermia when trying to smile and be silent. As if all of this wasn't enough to keep us locked in the moment, we couldn't help but notice the snipers on the roof. Just in case something went wrong...

We had a few things to keep us going, though. We had amazing support from the onlookers, at least once they all figured out that we were not part of Phelps' group. My friend Steph ran home and returned with a thermos of hot coffee. We took turns passing it around - not to drink the coffee, but rather to warm our fingers and hands. Every now and then, one of the police officers walking the space in between Phelps and our group would whisper words of encouragement, "you're doing great, keep it up" and "thank you for being here."

After an hour we followed Uncle Freddy to campus for a second round, this time in front of the Union. As we walked, we sang an original song, "The Holy Pokey," where you put you halo in, then you put your halo out. This time we were in the sun, so it wasn't quite as cold. UMC, the Keepers of the Fire, and the Union's convenience store brought out a cart of food and hot beverages labeled "Angel Food." Sugar cookies and hot apple cider never tasted quite so good. Phelps and Company didn't quite make it through their second hour of protest; naturally we like to think it was because we successfully kept them from getting the attention, media coverage, and confrontation upon which they thrive.

As the Westboro clan drove off we let out a cheer, and those gathered around joined in with us. We all felt a huge sense of accomplishment as we paused for a group photo. It had been a tough morning, but we all knew it was worth it. We honestly didn't anticipate the amount of media coverage we'd get. We also didn't expect to be a key part of play, destined to become the most produced play in America and an HBO movie adaptation.

My sister was an angel. My boss was an angel. Classmates, friends, and strangers. We stood together, not representing any one group, faith, or sexual orientation. We simply wanted to take a stand against intolerance and hatred. I still carry the memories with me. I will never forget the sun shining on the tree overhead at the courthouse. I remember thinking of Matt's smile the whole morning, struggling to fight off tears and maintain my own smile. And I remember the feeling of making a difference. I had rainbow angel wings and a halo tattooed on my ankle to remind me that we all have wings, we just need to stretch them more often.

Some time after the fact, I talked with Rob and Dave. They were in the courthouse that morning preparing for the trial, and someone called them to the window. It gave them strength and hope to face their own obstacle that morning. Another friend, someone with whom I had worked at the junior high during my student teaching, was also in the courthouse. She told me that she and her coworkers cried as the angels walked up. And I remember so many faces smiling back at us in front of the Union.

Today's lesson: Doing the right thing isn't always easy. Standing up and speaking out for those who can't is no easier. But it MUST be done if we hope to create a better tomorrow. Do what you can in the face of intolerance or discrimination. Do what you can, even when you don't want to. It will change you life in ways you cannot begin to imagine today, and hopefully do the same for the world in which we live.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Armbands 101

I have decided to do a series of retrospective posts. I've been doing a few interviews and some planning for the 10 year anniversary of Matt's murder. I've also been talking with the American Heritage Center (love you, Keith!) about putting some of my archives/momentos/etc into a collection there. I am actually HONORED to be able to share these stories with you all. It means so much to know there’s “another generation” who care and are willing to learn. And I suspect some of the "old guard" will remember some of this, and hopefully smile, even if at times it's through tears. This first post is about the yellow armbands.

The armbands were first created by the United Multicultural Council, which was a fairly new student organization at the time. They wanted to do something that would allow students and staff to VISIBLY show their support for the GLBT community and to make a statement against violence. The yellow was inspired by the yellow ribbons used after the Oklahoma City bombing. The green circle is the international symbol of peace.

In order to create the armbands, we simply took yellow fabric and cut it into uniform strips. We then used green craft paint from the Campus Activities Cenver, also available in the craft aisle of any department store. We unscrewed the lid to the paint and poured it into disposable plates, then used the bottom of the paint lids as a “stamp.” It kept things uniform, was easy to clean, and meant we didn’t have to be artists. They were then hung on makeshift clotheslines strung throughout the old CAC. Back then there were pillars and desks and things, and we used string to create mass drying areas. We used the clothesline, couches, chairs…any surface where they could dry. They made over 1000 armbands the first day, and bought the fabric at Wal-Mart.

As it was just before Homecoming and EVERYONE on campus was feeling what happened to Matt, the armbands flew out the door. They passed them out in the Breezeway, and they were all gone in a matter of hours. Students from many groups (and even random individuals) volunteered to make more, and they stayed until the early morning. They went back to Wal-Mart to get more fabric and paint. When they found out what it was for, Wal-Mart refused to accept payment for the fabric. Instead, they simply asked “How do you want this cut?” and then the craft department spent their time cutting the armbands so the students only had to paint and dry them.
Production continued for days, and eventually there was no more yellow fabric available in Laramie. Someone must have called a friend, because at one point we got a phone call that some students from CSU were driving up from Fort Collins. They’d passed a hat around and bought as much yellow fabric as they could afford, and they intended to hand deliver it so nobody had to drive to get it.

The Casper Star Tribune printed the symbol full page in color so people throughout the state could display them. They created a banner with the symbol to march behind in the Homecoming parade. It was behind this symbol that a group of 100 turned into over 1000. It was behind this symbol that we spoke in front of the Newman Center at a candlelight vigil…with a crowd nearing 1500. The volleyball team used them to tie back their hair during games for the rest of the season. The football team had it turned into a sticker and wore them on their helmets for the rest of their season. I also saw the symbol in Washington DC when I spoke at the vigil held on the steps of the Capitol. Someone had found a copy of the Casper Star or scanned it from the internet, but there it was. In the window of an apartment just off Dupont Circle, and only 4 days after the Homecoming game. Love travels quickly.

We brought the armbands back for an anniversary. Phelps was going to be here for the Homecoming game, so we organized a Peaceful Positive Presence. Once again the Union was littered with yellow scraps and string…and hope and love. Most of the marching band wore the armband during that game, and we didn’t take any home. I eventually got the yellow threads off my living room carpet. In an odd way, I was sad to see them go.

My heart still swells when I see a dirty, dingy, faded, or tattered armband. On a backpack. On a car’s rear-view mirror. In an office. How powerful and amazing, that a few scraps of cloth and craft paint could unite thousands of strangers and neighbors with a simple message of peace and non-violence. And how universal the message. Couldn’t we all use more peace and non-violence in 2008?
Next time: Angel Action

Three words

They are usually hard to say, at least out loud. It's scary to be the first to say them. But it's worth it when you hear them back. And you both mean it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

10 years...

For those who've been waiting, here's a post about something OTHER than the boyfriend...

I cannot believe that it has been almost 10 years since my life changed. Since my town changed. And since I lost a friend. The 10 year anniversary of Matt's murder is coming up in under a month. The press have already started lining up. So far I've done interviews with the Advocate, the Boomerang, and NBC Nightly News (story to run online). I've had calls from NPR, Channel 13, and a radio documentarian from Iowa. I'm speaking at the University of Denver on the 9th, and Spectrum is shoring up their plans for events throughout the month.

I'm not sure I'm ready for another round of interviews, but I refuse to be silent. I will continue to speak up and speak out in place of a voice silenced too soon. I will continue to tell his story. I will continue to speak out against hate and violence. I will continue to make the world better. But I admit it, I'm tired. With a new relationship, a new job, and the start of semester, I'm already run pretty ragged. It's more the scheduling than anything else, I think. Trying to fit in interviews and phone calls, respond to emails, coordinate with those making's keeping me hopping, to be sure.

Today I'm reflecting on how funny time is. It speeds up and slows down at will, it seems. Scotty and Craig are moving to St. Louis by October 1st, and time is slipping away before they leave. 10 years has passed in the blink of an eye, and yet it also seems like a lifetime ago. The morning was done before I knew it, but the afternoon is creeping along in the most painful fashion. It's such a fickle thing, that time is.

I know that things will work out. The Universe will provide, and I'll make it through to the other side. It's just...pensive. Weighty. And definitely emotional. Thank goodness for the weekend, and a trip to see Avenue Q in Denver!

Monday, September 08, 2008

A four letter word

Yes, dear readers, I do believe it's happening. I've fallen in deep smit, and the dreaded L word hovers on my mind. And my lips. And I'm not the only one. It's been just over a month now, so let's review:

I've been pampered and doted on. Not only have there been "formal" flowers (rose petals and candles on the bed with a dozen roses on the nightstand), on several occasions I've been given random flowers, picked from a tree or nearby bush. I've been taken to lunch, dinner, cocktails, and everything in between.

Most of my close friends have met Jesse, and I have yet to receive a negative review. Scotty and Craig were up this weekend, and we all went to the game. Brittany has known him for a while. Jess and Andrew, Bobbers, Nell, Ryan and Kass, Jerry, Tracey and Rob...they're all on board. And giving me copious amounts of shit, needless to say. I've met his friends too, including many of his fraternity brothers. They're giving him some shit too, but we all seem to get along quite well.

We've had trips out of town, quiet evenings at home, nights apart, nights together, nights on the town, and a fantastic month overall. We're communicating well too, and this weekend checked in with each other. "How are things going for you? Have I been a good boyfriend so far? Is there anything annoying you or that you want to change?" The answers were all very good on both sides.

We want similar things out of life, and have encouraged each other to do what needs to be done. Again, it's nice to date an adult in that regard. I've met a lot of his family, and the other day his mom asked him how I was doing. Apparently, she approves so far. In other words, things are going very well!

I've been walking on Cloud 9 for some time now, though another part of me is terrified. I feel like the other shoe should have fallen by now, like I should have discovered some fault or flaw that could be a deal breaker. My own self-doubt nags me about what he'll find that HE doesn't like, and run screaming. But it hasn't happened, and I'm not going to spend my time focusing on that. Instead, I'm focusing on what's going right. On how I feel. On my overflowing heart, and hopes for the future. On my thoughts that he could be the one.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes things are scary. Don't let that keep you from something that could turn out to be amazing. Fear is powerful, but hope and love are stronger. Take a chance.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It's definitely Fall semester

There's no mistaking it anymore. There are hoards of students roaming the streets on weekends and running across campus streets and walkways. I've been buzzed by bike riders many days in a row. Friends who teach have been stressing over their syllabi, friends who learn have been prepping homework lists, and friends who do neither shake their heads at all the activity. Stress is already growing for most of the folks connected to the Rainbow Kingdom.

Work is no different. Meetings are picking up and we've already had new complaints in the office. We're starting new projects and initiatives, so there's more than enough work to go around. Invitations, meeting rooms, search files, thank you's, brochures,'s jumping around here, I tell ya. And it's only likely to get busier.

And then there's this dating thing. It's still going well. We're exploring our relationship. Figuring out the logistics necessary for dating someone. How do we juggle busy schedules, social engagements, and still make sure we have time together...just the two of us? What's the next step? We've talked a bit about holidays, vacations, etc. Nothing permanent or serious, mind you, but the first steps. After all, I've already met the bulk of the family.

I told him the other night that it's so refreshing dating an adult. We haven't had petty squabbles about "why are you going to go do that instead of spending time with me?" or similar junior high school problems. We both understand that we have jobs, class, committees, friends, family, and other obligations that we have to make time for. We understand that we're on call, and sometimes we have to put a friend first due to crisis, dilemma, or timing.

Today's lesson: Take a breath. Yes, this is a previous lesson revisited. It's started up again, so deal with it. It's time to go back to scheduling things carefully. Planning time for readings, laundry, cooking, and showering. Figuring out how to cram it all into 24 short hours a day. It's not easy, and usually comes with a fair amount of stress. But it's also usually worth it in the end. Hang in there. You've likely done this before, and will do it again. You really CAN handle it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The birthday report...

I have to admit, it was one helluva birthday. We started things on Friday night, and made rounds to the Alibi before landing at the Library. There was also a quick stop at a house party, and I was up until around 4am. A fantastic night, to be sure. After waking up late on Saturday, I lounged about the house a bit before heading out again.

Saturday night was birthday karaoke at the Library, and I would be remiss if I didn't thank Stew for juggling the DJ schedule there in order to make it happen! Josh, Randy, and Adam even came up from Denver to surprise me! Many fab friends showed up over the two nights, and it felt FAB.

Sunday there was more lounging with the boyfriend, and a few cocktails at the Library. I'm definitely becoming a (more) regular there, thanks in large part to the proximately to the frat for Jesse. :) My boss told me to take my birthday off, so Monday brought a 3 day weekend! I had lunch with Jesse at the Library, got a free dessert and serenade to boot. We went back to meet friends for cocktails later that night, got a birthday shot, another serenade (gotta love Songwyn!), and more time with the bf. Yes, you're sensing a trend.

Tuesday I woke up, shaved, showered, and got dressed to go back to work. They're replacing the windows in Old Main, and it was our turn. So when I showed up, everything was covered in plastic and moved around. We couldn't use the computers, turn on the meager portable air conditioning units, access the fax machine or files, etc. So it was decided to close the office. Gee, darn!

I took the chance to catch up with some folks, so I grabbed donuts and went down to the Laramie Reproductive Health (formerly Albany County Family Planning) clinic to see the gang. I got to hang with Bobbers, Jennie, and Charlotte in the morning. I then went down to the flower shop to return a vase after our reception last week. I ended up doing a couple deliveries for her since she was short staffed and I had a free day. I even picked up a new orchid...for Jesse. He loved it, and I think I earned a few brownie points. ;)

I went back to the clinic to try to fix up some of the computers in the afternoon, and then headed home. Jesse came over in the evening to hang out, do some laundry, and work on his Spanish homework. I have to admit, things are going very well there. I'm falling into DEEP smit, and doing my best not to pick out china patterns JUST yet. This was my first birthday with a boyfriend, and I am a big fan! I was pampered, adored, and spoiled rotten. *swoon* All in all, life is going very well.

Today's lesson: When you find yourself with some extra time, do something nice for someone else. It feels good inside, helps make things easier for those around you, and helps you reconnect with people around you.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Monday is my 5th annual 29th birthday. And I'm not overly happy about it. Each year it serves as a reminder that the semester is starting and the chaos is returning. That I'm another year older and more removed from the college students who surround me. That another batch of friends has left to start their "real lives" after college...or they soon will.

But the flip side of this logic is that it's another year of unique experiences, amazing friends, and unforgettable memories. It's another year of accomplishments completed, obstacles overcome, and challenges met. For every cloud, there's a silver lining, after all.

I don't like aging, but it's a necessary evil if one wants to live and learn. And it's important to celebrate making it through another year. To that end, there will be some going out going on this weekend. I'm spending Saturday afternoon with the boyfriend and his mom, and Sunday afternoon I'm helping Nell move. I think the Alibi and Library are likely bases of operation for the weekend, and Friday and Saturday nights will probably be spent OUT! Stop by and find me, give me a call to track me down, and for pity's sake, buy me a drink if you see me out! ;)

And remember: I may be getting older but I refuse to grow up!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm gonna snap into my own and tweak someone in the melon!

See, I knew it wouldn't be long before I witnessed something that pissed me off, and lead me to post about something other than my love life. Two things have me steamed this afternoon:

  • Long time readers might remember that I had a few substantial posts during the last summer Olympics. I L-O-V-E the games, and miss watching them with my mom. I love the spirit of the games, the stories, and the sportsmanship that usually dominates. Last night I was out at the Library watching Jesse play poker while I took advantage of "Margarita Monday." The games were on, and eventually a loud group came into the bar and started paying attention to the TV's like me. When Phelps won a gold medal in one race and qualified for the next round in another, they started cheering and chanting "USA." Yes, go team, indeed! When they cut back to men's gymnastics, the comments and shouts took a different turn. Suddenly I was hearing derision about the other teams. I admit that I do sometimes say "don't stick the landing" or "feel free to bobble on the dismount" when the US is neck-and-neck with another team. Last night, however, I heard racial slurs and epithets being tossed around by some of the folks in the bar. It's one thing to cheer on your own team. But to get personal and insult or attack the other competitors because of happenstance of birth? NOT OK. Friends, please don't ever let me catch you falling into this pattern, because I hate ripping into my dearest ones. But Mama Gay will do so if necessary.
  • Meet California Chief Justice Ronald George. He's the one who just wrote the majority opinion that legalized same-sex marriage in the Golden State. After 34 years as a judge in California (17 of them on the high court), he's largely known as a careful jurist. He was first appointed by Ronald Reagan (uber-Republican), and another Republican (Pete Wilson) appointed him as Chief Justice in 1996. He's been highly touted for modernizing and streamlining the court system in California. He's been tough on crime, and forced prosecutors to stick to their guns in the Hillside Strangler case, resulting in a conviction and 9 counts of murder. All in all, not someone most would call "an activist judge." Until now. Now, he's likely to have to raise one metric butt-ton of money to mount a re-election campaign. And I quote:
    ''Absolutely, Ron George should be thrown out for voting for gay marriage,'' said Mike Spence, president of the conservative California Republican Assembly. ''He has a very radical view of what's a family.'' (from the Advocate)
    You disagree with his opinion, so he should be out of a job?! Why not ask the correct questions, like "Is he a bad jurist? Has he been unfair in his decisions? Are his rulings consistent with the law?" His view of "family" is NOT grounds for a smear campaign. While we're at it, why don't we talk about the fact that he did not "VOTE for gay marriage." He interpreted the laws of the State of California in regards to a case on his desk. And three other justices agreed, hence the term "majority." I am SO sick of people tossing around the term "activist judge." It was used with Roe V. Wade. It was used with Brown V. Board of Education (you know, that whole separate but equal thing). Basic logic tells us that we can't always let majority opinion dictate what is right. It's why the judicial branch provides a check to the legislative. The rights of the minority cannot be left up to majority vote. If they were, women and people of color likely wouldn't even have the right to vote against gay marriage. Wyoming would not be a state. Interracial marriage would still be illegal. How many of things do we now look back on and say "Damn they/we were so stupid and blind. How could they have thought that was right?" You don't like the law? Work to change it. It's how the human rights movements have been working for ages. Work within the system, but don't get personal with someone because they're paid to read and review the rules.

I leave you with some quotes; please note they are not from dumb people:

  • In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority. - James Madison
  • All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression. - Thomas Jefferson
  • One great object of the Constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just rights. - James Polk
  • Too many Americans don't understand the importance of minority rights and the independent judiciary. - Douglas Abrams
  • The majority is always wrong; the minority is rarely right. - Henrik Ibsen
  • Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual). - Ayn Rand

Monday, August 11, 2008

Date #4

So it's been a busy week. Since my last post, there have been 2 more dates, two trips to Rendezvous, an interview with NBC Nightly News online (to run in Oct), and another day of moving.

Work is continuing and is going well, though I'm working my tail off and struggling to learn SO much SO quickly. I do love a challenge, though. We're gearing up for the start of semester, which means several training sessions on sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination.

I took Britt and Krystal up the mountain to see Jerry and Chuck for dinner on Tuesday, and we went up Saturday night as well. Good food, good friends, and campfire hijinks abound. I got to see several friends from Rendezvous past, and it was nice to catch up with some of the folks I don't see often.

NBC is putting together a story for the 10 year anniversary of Matt's murder. Rather than a 2 minute segment for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (who is funny and fairly yummy, by the way), they're working a longer piece for NBC Nightly Online. It won't run until October, so don't start googling yet. I'll post links and such when it goes live. :) People is working on a story already, as is the Boomerang. I have no doubt that more will follow soon. *sigh* Here I go again as the poster queen for Wyoming.

Now to the good stuff....the boy. Things are going well enough that I now feel comfortable revealing the secret identity of "my man" (for lack of a better or more official term). Some of you might know Jesse Taylor. He's an SAE, an anthro major, and is 29 years old. adult! Date #2 was jazz night followed by karaoke. He endured the first "public" date well, and Britt, Krystal, Nell, Jess, Andrew, and Tamara all got to meet him (again, in some cases). It was REALLY nice being able to hold hands with someone in public.

Date #3 was yesterday. He came over around 2:30 and spent the afternoon cooking dinner for us. Yes, he can cook. Very well. Brought some fresh treats from his garden too. We ate on the back porch. Table cloth, formal place setting...the works. He cleaned the kitchen as he went too, earning major brownie points. We spent the day watching the Olympics, talking, learning more about each other, and cuddling on the couch. We've got SO much in common, and so far are getting along swimmingly. Date #4 is tonight. For those keeping score at home, this is 4 dates in a week. That might be more than I've had in the last 2 YEARS. So yeah, I'm grinning like an idiot.

So there's the update on my life, folks. I'm sure that soon I shall return to more ponderous subjects rather than trying to rely on book report-esque updates on my life. But many of you lurkers out there are starting to ask about the boy, so I thought it best to cut y'all off at the pass. More later....

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Shit...that may have been a date!

I don't know how it happened. I wasn't looking for it, to be sure. But then again, that's when everyone says it's supposed to happen. Hell, that's when I've said it's supposed to happen. It all started Friday night...

I was dragged, kicking and screaming of course, out on the town Friday. We were supposed to wander around the Farmer's Market, pick up ingredients for dinner, and then go to someone's place to cook. Naturally since there are several fine establishments downtown, we'd stop in for a happy hour along the way. As per usual, plans quickly shifted, and after the happy hour we went to Altitude's for dinner.

Later that evening, we hit the Buckhorn for one drink. Then Tommy's for a martini. By this time, some of us were decidedly intoxi-fi-mi-cated. I know...shocking, right? The group split and I diligently followed my designated driver and crew to the 3rd Street Cowboy. Being the social butterfly that I am, I ran into several folks I know. Rob, Doug, and Devon. Todd. And someone I hadn't seen since a karaoke night a while back. Someone I've always thought was cute (we'll just call him J for now), but never gave me a second glance. Or so I thought. That's when I felt the pat on the ass. Or did I imagine it? I was pretty liquored by this point, after all. Maybe it's just my wishful thinking, imagination, or the large quantities of vodka.

Half my crew went out to the patio, and soon J was there too. And we talked. And flirted a bit. And texted. We both agreed that we were interested, but wanted to be adult and find out what the expectations were for each other. And that it was a conversation best held when less tanked. So I was told to call him on Saturday, and we parted. (And texted more before finally giving in to booze and exhaustion and sleeping.) All in all, a great night.

Saturday ended up dedicated to manual labor, in the form of moving a friend into a new apartment. Hot, sticky, sweaty, and sore. Needless to say I didn't get a phone call made. But I did get a text sent off Sunday morning. Which Verizon decided not to deliver. *grumble* So I called Monday evening, and after several rings J picked up. He was on his way to a poker tournament at Altitudes, and invited me to come. I deferred, as poker's not really my thing. I've played before and can have a lot of fun, but organized, public poker? Not so much. I told him to call me when got done.

And so it was that at 8:30pm on Monday, my phone rang. And I agreed to go out for dinner and a drink at Chili's. As I walked out the door I realized...shit...this might be a date! Am I ready to date? Am I wanting to date? What does he want? What do I want? SHIT SHIT SHIT. I activated a phone tree or two to obtain any info my spies might have about J, just to make sure there wasn't some history of mental illness, dickishness, or a secret boyfriend I didn't know about. Green light on all counts. So there I was, getting into a car, headed for a date (or at least pre-date), with no real notice/planning/preparation. SHIT SHIT SHIT. Inhale, exhale, repeat as needed.

We had a great time at dinner. Talked for an hour and half. Laughed. Found a lot in common. Smiled a lot. And went to the Library for a night cap, as neither of us was quite ready for the night to end. We talked some more, and laughed some more, and found more in common. And had a great night. I'm heading up the mountain tonight to have dinner with Chuck and Jerry, but think I'll have an escort to Jazz Night for tomorrow. And at midnight when this Cinder-fella turned into a pumpkin, there was a good night kiss. A good one. And then another.

As I was in bed ready to fall asleep last night, we texted a bit more. And will be talking more. As I woke up this morning I realized: yup, that was a date. How in the hell did that happen? But I'm glad it did. We'll see where this goes. I'll keep you all posted, though remember: patience is a virtue. I'm not posting his name to 1) protect his privacy and 2) to avoid jinxing something that could become something. Ladies and gentlemen...please hold on to the bar.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Um, what happened to summer?

It's August now. In 25 days I'll be celebrating my 5th annual 29th birthday. My question is: what the hell happened to summer? June disappeared in a flurry of doing everything I could while leaving the old job and racing to get a handle on the new one. Pride rounded out the month, and then it was gone in a blink. July didn't last long either. There was the 4th and Craig's retirement party. Jubilee Days and the Brew Fest. And more work. I've had no camping trips, no BBQ's...I'm not ready for school to start in just over 3 weeks!

In other news...for the last few months Ruby Slippers has served as a shelter and refuge for wayward souls. As a result, I've drafted some "house rules." I recommend everyone do the same, especially if you often have visitors, houseguests, or long-term infestations of friends. Without further ado, I give you:

The Squatter's Guide to Ruby Slippers
  1. If you turn it on, turn it off when you're done using it. Especially lights.
  2. If you open it, close it. This includes food.
  3. If you get it out, put it away.
  4. If you spill it, clean it.
  5. If you break it, please notify the management.
  6. If you use it, replace what you can.
  7. Help with groceries, cooking, and cleaning are greatly appreciated. You should at least clean up after yourself. Marti is the headliner, NOT the maid.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today would have been my mother's 70th birthday had she not lost her battle with breast cancer July 4, 2002. This date doesn't usually bother me, but for some reason the round number 70 is a bit tough for me today. I'm missing her and her laugh. Her smile. Even her frustrated sigh.

Call someone you haven't spoken to in far too long to tell them how much you love them. Send a card to a relative just because. Do something fun you've been putting off. It's worth it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A month later...

So I've been in the new job for just over a month now. It's taken Tracey (my cohort in office crime) and me this long just to sort through the files, organize the paperwork, and figure out where in the hell everything is supposed to be. And what to do with it. It's been an adventure, but we're getting there.

We're starting to get serious about work on some of our new projects. Diversity training, for starters. And we're working on an announcement of a partnership with 4 of the country's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's). I've been working on compiling information about the over 100 HBCU's for a week, and finished it up last week. I also dug in and figured out another part of the new software program we use to track EEO data. Yeah, I'm feeling like a rock star there.

Soon there will be the start of school...and a few large annual reports to the EEOC. You know, nothing major. Just an analysis of the hiring for the last year, breaking down applicant info by race and sex. By department. And the last round of academic hiring paperwork. Just in time to start sexual harassment training for supervisors. So's gonna be a busy year at work.

But we're having fun doing it. And I'm doing my best to enjoy the summer. Jazz nights at the Cavalryman. Happy hour on Fridays with friends. A BBQ here and a concert there.

A quick list of more Jim's Good Gay News:
  • C(raig) is now officially out of the military. And gay.
  • On Independence Day, we were set free. From Jesse Helms. I don't revel in his death, but I didn't cry either. At all.
  • This week Massachusetts may repeal the 1913 law that prevented non-resident couples from getting married. This would help couples in New York and is another step toward equality.
  • Bishop Gene Robinson is going to crash the Lambeth the most polite and respectful way possible. He's taking a stand for GLBTQ people of faith. And will probably have to wear a bulletproof vest the whole time, like he did for his consecration. How's that for Christian love? But still he loves on...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

False advertising

This morning as I was driving to work, I followed a car onto the Interstate. One of their bumper stickers caught my eye, and I had to share. The sticker was a fairly plain white background with pretty rainbow lettering (hence catching my eye). It read "God chooses life." The irony washed over me, and it made me ponder how many people use words, phrases, and symbols without any realization of their meaning. I grant that we homos don't have a corner on the market when it comes to rainbows, but this particular sticker was quite the gay design. I wondered if the owner of the car would display the sticker if it read "God loves gays too." It gave me a snicker, at any rate. It also made me think about false advertising. Jesus loves you, but don't forget to check the fine print. Gay people are too promiscuous, but we don't want them get married either.

It reminded me of the many times someone has come up to me and commented on one of my bits of rainbow jewelry. "Oh how pretty! And it goes with EVERYTHING!" Often people use my jewelry as a way to identify themselves or show their support. While out having a night on the town with my new boss a few weeks ago, a girl saw my bracelet (Thanks Smith!) and simply said "Family? Me too!" Then there are the folks who have NO idea what the rainbow means. They just see it as pretty. My favorite is when they ask "Where can I get one?" I'm not saying gaydar is perfect, but I know I'm not THAT bad at spotting the cousins. My standard response is "I got this one in Denver/San Francisco/DC," which is true for most of my jewelry. Occasionally I have to explain further "at gay pride..." or "in the cutest little gay shop..." After all, I wouldn't want them advertising themselves in the wrong market. Well, maybe some of them... ;)

I'm also heading to Denver this weekend for two reasons. Squid and I are going to see the True Colors Concert at Red Rocks on Saturday. It's all about being yourself. We're also going down for C's retirement party. After 20 years in the military he can finally be himself. Yes, in a few days I will be able to post his full name without having to worry about turning him into a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" statistic. His family is going to be in town, as is his boyfriend's family. I certainly don't fault C for his own form of false advertising; it's been a necessity for him to finish his first career. I am still more than annoyed that it's even necessary, though. A threat to unit cohesion, they say. Didn't they also use that line when integrating the military too?

Who knew that a simple anti-abortion bumper sticker would connect my brain to DA:DT? Well, most who know me won't be surprised, but still...

Have a safe and fun 4th of July! And as I mention each year, cherish your loved ones. Mom died on July 4, 2002. She finally had her freedom after 2.5 years battling cancer, and my sister and I agree it couldn't have been more fitting. So tomorrow afternoon, send a little love out to the Universe in my mom's honor, and call those you love. TELL THEM!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Last weekend was Pride down in Denver. It meant 4 days of relaxing, cocktailing with friends, and steeping myself in pure gayness. 2 days by the pool. 1 day at the Pride Festival, dancing and seeing familiar faces. 3 nights going out on the town. All in all, a very good getaway weekend. It was nice not having to fight my boss for time off too. *evil grin*

  • Seeing Romaine and meeting her partner and baby
  • Getting to do a day of Pride with Mandy and Teel
  • Lounging by the pool with Jerry, Adam, and Squiddy - it'd been too long
  • Going out dancing with Adam and Squiddy
  • As always, spending time with Scotty, Craig, and Kalley
  • Getting drunk with Chad in Civic Center Park - and dancing about to Martha Walsh!
  • Reconnecting with myself and remember why I do what I do
  • Hearing that Denver now hosts the 7th largest Pride celebration in the country

We didn't go crazy like we have in the last two years, and that was just fine by me. Not everyone could be there, and though we missed some folks, we still had a blast. I feel like a person again. I had some down time from work that wasn't connected to a doctor's appointment, meeting, or conference. I got to stare at hoards of hunky men in very little clothing. I got to spend time with really good friends. I got my tan back. What more could a girl ask for?

And Squiddy and I will be heading down again for the 4th of July, as we have tickets to the True Colors Tour at Red Rocks. Look out kids, I'm gonna be at full gay strength again!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy Gay Marriage Day!

I had a phone call yesterday from my friend Rod in San Diego. He called me 16 minutes before most folks could get a license. It's a good day to be gay. I have to believe that the voters in California will have the sense NOT to vote for the amendment to the state constitution, and the marriages performed between today and election day will not be invalidated. Please please please.

I have also completed 7 days at my new job. All is going well. We're coping with a filing system that was...problematic. Even considering I've spent too much time coping with someone who didn't do anything for at least 6 months, I heart my new job. I already knew that I would love my new boss, Nell. My coworker Tracey is a hoot too, and I already knew her by virtue of her husband. We're rocking and rolling in the office. The files are almost done, and it's on to training development now.

In other is good once again. MandyFish will be here tomorrow(ish), Pride is this weekend, and my gay batteries will soon be recharged fully. Who knew that June could bring such bliss!? The money crunch is on, but all else is "all speed ahead." I even got to help facilitate a SafeZone session tonight for a high school camp on campus. Bright kids with smart questions. There is once again hope for America, folks.

Yes, boys and's a good day in the Rainbow Kingdom.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Here we go!

Today is my last day at IT. I'm currently sitting in Orientation resetting passwords. Yesterday I got most of my office boxed and moved out. I've backed up my computer, exported my iTunes purchases, and copied all my IT files to a server where my coworkers can access them. I've done everything I can do to get them ahead, and most things are done up through the middle of August. In short, I'm all set to go today.

Earlier this week I had dinner with my new boss, Nell. For 4.5 hours. We had a ball, and talked about some of the things we'd like to do, changes that need to happen, and where to begin. I'm just getting more and more excited about the job and the challenges it will bring. We're going to be doing a heck of a lot. As Nell put it, we're gonna be shakin' and bakin'.

I'm REALLY looking forward to new adventures, and I can't wait to share them with all of you! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Empress Airlines flight 201 with service to the 4th floor of Old Main and continuing on to the future. Please fasten your seatbelts in preparation for take off, and make sure your tray tables and seat backs are in their full upright and locked position. We hope you'll sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight. We know our flight crew will.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Life updates

  • I have 3 days, 2 hours, and 55 minutes left with IT. But who's counting? This week is doing its best to crush my soul, largely due to Orientation and trying to organize my office, files, etc. Oh yeah...and pack 12.5 years worth of crap. I'm refusing to give in. My office aide is helping with this greatly. She's treating this like Hanukkah, and I'm getting little gifts and surprises every day. Janet doth rock!
  • I'm already getting email requests for my new job, though I have no idea what to do with them. Nell (my new boss) assures me they will wait until Monday, and I'll know what to do with them soon enough. I'm not used to not knowing things, but I'm looking forward to the learning curve. I'm sick like that.
  • I am currently without TV. It seems my Dish Network receiver has had a hard drive failure that can't be fixed. They're sending me a replacement that should arrive no later than Thursday. It's one thing to be without current shows. What has me fuming (and sobbing) is the loss of some of the shows I had saved long term. In addition to the last few episodes of various series I watch, I'm losing some of the documentaries and news specials about Matt. Things I can't replace.
  • Summer is underway, and I finally believe we might just possibly perhaps be beyond the days of snow. I won't swear to it, but I'm crossing my fingers. The yard got its first mowing of the season (thanks Squiddy!), and I'm wearing sandals again. A little more sun and I'll be able to wear shorts with more confidence.
  • Pride is just around the corner. So are the summer camping trips. And the True Colors concert at Red Rocks on July 5th. With the new job, I must just get to have a social life this summer.

These are the important updates I can think of.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ch- ch- ch- changes...

As some of you are aware, I recently applied for a new job as the Assistant to the Associate Vice President for Diversity at the University of Wyoming. This morning I was offered and accepted the position, and will begin my new job on June 9th. I admit to being a bit nervous as I have worked at Information Technology for the last 12.5 years, and have only worked here since my sophomore year of college. At the same time, I'm VERY excited about about this new direction in my life.
My new position will involve assisting with diversity training, committee work, and helping with diversity efforts on campus. This is the next step in making my passion my profession, and I'm looking forward to it! This is all happening very quickly, and there will be a decent learning curve for me. I'm leaving today at 12:30pm for a long Memorial Day weekend in Denver, and am so glad to have something to celebrate in addition to taking some much-needed down time. My email address and cell phone number will not be changing. I'm going to be very busy over the next while, first in trying to make things as easy on IT as possible and then in trying to learn a brand new job. Thanks for your patience if I'm less available for a bit. ;) And thanks for the love and support so many of you have given over the last few months. You all mean the world to me, and I can't wait to share with you all the new adventures down the road.

Today's lesson - if you do something you love, you'll never work a day in your life. (Yeah, it's not a BGJ original, but fits nicely, I think.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Highs and lows

I've often heard life described as a roller coaster. Sometimes it feels more like a helicopter, shooting up and down without much forward motion. I had several posts floating in my brain, and most of them are positive. Then I opened my news today and wanted to cry. All of the posts are timely, so here's a quick summary:
  • Milestones: I recently hit 300 posts (this is #302). It's a fun milestone, and I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my thoughts, rants, and adventures as much as I've enjoyed posting them. Thinking about my posts has taught me a great deal about life and myself, and I hope some of the "lessons" have applied to you all as well. Comment more often, so I know what you're thinking too!
  • Speak up, speak out: The Diversity Summit on Monday went well, I think. 85 people sat in a room for 6 hours for the first annual President's Diversity Summit. There were students, staff, faculty, and administrators. I've not heard any negative feedback, but there are a few folks I want to specifically ask. If nothing else, I think we got people talking, and that was the most important part to us.
  • The future's so bright: I went and spoke to a group of students at the high school yesterday. I think it went well, and I managed to keep around 8 teenagers engaged and talking for 90 minutes. Who knew?! Straight kids, not so straight kids. Allies and a Christian student who didn't really know what to expect but wanted to learn more and have a conversation. The high school GSA is going to meet with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes before the semester is out. Talking with them made it clear that there's hope. They're far more socially conscious than most adults, and only two of them had ever HEARD of the game "Smear the Queer." Change works!
  • The weather fits my mood: After a few days of tantalizingly warm and sunny weather, the clouds are rolling in again. The same is true of my mood today. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled yesterday that because of the same sex marriage bans, governments and universities in the state are not ALLOWED to offer domestic partner benefits. Apparently it's not enough to keep us locked out of the chapel of love. On the off chance the dirty homo's can convince a government to treat them fairly and equally, we'll sneak it into the law. Not overly fair since the supporters of the ban specifically told voters they were only trying to prevent marriage, not benefits. There could be a federal appeal, but it's a huge step backwards. Any bets on whether the Republicans will use the term "activist judges" when the decision goes "their way?"

Today's lesson: The journey is never done, and whether it's a roller coaster, a rocket ship, or a helicopter, hold on and enjoy the ride.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Just a few more days

That's do-able, right? I know that students are in the throes of Finals stress. Papers, tests, projects, presentations. Staff on campus feel this same stress. Partly because students have a tendency to scream at us as a result of their stress.

My life is no different right now. I just finished up with AIDS Walk and Drag Queen Bingo. There's still a fair amount of paperwork to do for that, and last night I made the final arrangements for the board's "thank you" dinner for Monday. Today I have at least a 3 hour meeting for PACMWA. We're deciding how to give out almost $40,000 today. As chair, I'm running the meeting, and have spent the last week processing and reviewing grant applications.

Monday is the President's Diversity Summit, which I'm also planning. The facilitator flies in on Sunday. The RSVP list is at 75. It was originally supposed to be about 50 people. I'm expecting 85 by the time we're done. We've had to change dates 3 times. The catering is ordered, the A/V arrangements have been made, the rooms are reserved, and I think we've thought of everything. I have to print the handouts and coordinate name tags with the President's Office. While I'm excited about the event and the chance to get so many important people at the table to talk about diversity, I'm ready for the semester to be D-O-N-E, done.

There are a few other irons in the fire causing me extra work and stress right now, but for the moment I have to keep my cards close. More info will be coming soon, I promise. Add to this a host of friends with stress and drama in their lives who have turned to me for help, a stack of housework, back problems, and perpetual singehood, and you have a recipe for a nervous breakdown. Fortunately, I have amazing friends who remind me of my own advice: left foot, right foot, repeat as needed.

The point of all this: there are just a few more days until the worst of my stress is behind me. The trick is to break it down into parts. Focus on the first step. Worry about left foot first. Right foot can come tomorrow. You don't have to do it all at once.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Well, I'm mostly back among the land of the living, so it's time for an update on AIDS Walk. My feet are still in a lot of pain, and have large deep tissue blisters. 6 inch heels will do that to you when you stand on your feet for 5 hours one night and turn around and do another 3 hours the next morning. The new corset did its job well, though some of the boning poked through fabric. The puncture marks and cuts are healing nicely, and aren't infected. As Livi said, "if you have to suffer for beauty, then we must be gorgeous!"

But none of that is what's really important, is it? What's important is that we raised over $20,000 on Saturday. This means we've raised more than $100,000 since the Walk was created 7 years ago. What's important is that bingo was packed to standing room only, and that people donated $4300 in 4 hours. What's important is that we can continue to support people living in the state with HIV, and that we can help make life a little bit easier for our fellow citizens.

What's most important are the hearts and minds we touched. The 100 HIV tests we did at the clinic. Getting new people signed up for assistance through the state and federal programs. Getting representatives from the state government involved to help spread the word throughout the next year. Making people aware that HIV is in Wyoming, and that people need to protect themselves.

Today's lesson: Making a difference is worth a few blisters and open wounds. Go do it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stamp out stigma!

It's here - AIDS Walk Week, that is. The walk is Saturday, and registration opens at 9am in the Union . The opening ceremonies kick off at 11am, including our keynote speaker Secretary of State Max Maxfield. Drag Queen Bingo is back again too; this year we're out at the HoJo and the doors open at 6pm - the show starts at 7pm.

This means it's time to shave my...everything...again. You don't fully appreciate the social stigma against women and hair until you find yourself shaving your toes and the tops of your feet. I've been making new jewely all week too. Raising pledges. Collecting prizes. Meeting after meeting. Hanging dresses. Learning new numbers and developing a choreography plan. Charging walkie talkies. So much to do, and so little time to do it!

There is a huge amount of time and energy that goes into making something like AIDS Walk happen. And truth be told, it's an honor to go through the extra work and stress. It feels good to make a difference in the lives of people I know and total strangers. There's a definite thrill that comes from seeing the final tally at the end of the walk and knowing that it was all worth while.

This is something important, not only to me but to those I care about. It's something I've been connected to and affected by for a long time. I remember the first paper I wrote about AIDS, back in 9th grade. (First person to do the math and mention the year gets their head shaved!) I remember being trained as a peer educator and counselor when I was a senior. My mom had to sign a special permission slip, because we were going to talk about condoms. That's where I met someone who was HIV positive for the first time.

Today I have several folks in my life who are HIV positive. Heidi and Isaac - our keynote speakers for the walk, times 2. Bob - my drag mother and hero. Robert - one of my favorite bartenders in Denver. Walt - a former coworker. Jason - one of the founders of AIDS Walk. The two Mary's - amazing women I met through AIDS Walk. The list goes on, and these are the people who are open about their sero-status.

There are also a whole host of people I know and care about who are not or cannot be open about their HIV or AIDS. Some of them are newly diagnosed. Some of them have known for a few years. Some of them contracted it because a partner cheated on them and brought it home. Some of them had unsafe sex knowingly, while others had a condom break. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter how, when, or why they were infected - they were, and there's some serious stigma out there that goes with a positive test.

Some worry about losing their job, though it's illegal to fire someone because they're positive. It would still mean a lengthy, costly, and public fight to try to keep it. Some worry about losing family and friends, though some already have. The looks, the stares, the whispers...that's all stigma. You'd think that in 2008, knowing what we do about the disease and how it's transmitted, that we wouldn't have to deal with bias like this. But we do, and that's the theme of this year's walk: "Be a friend, not afraid. Stamp out stigma."

Please join me on campus for the walk. Please come to bingo, or the "There's Got to be a Morning After" Drag Brunch at the Cavalryman on Sunday from 11am to 2pm. If you're already booked, that's okay. Perhaps you could sponsor me by pledging a donation to the walk. If nothing else, please take a moment to examine your own hearts and minds. People who are HIV+ aren't bad people, and they don't deserve scorn, ridicule, or harassment.

To learn more about HIV in Wyoming and around the world, watch this video I put together for last year's walk. It's about 13 minutes long and will probably make you cry, but it's far too important that we learn to respect ourselves and protect ourselves...and help those in need. (

Today's lesson: People are people. Period. Treat them as such. Period.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Adventures of Hooker Dream and Slut Magic

One of my friends is having some serious relationship problems. He and his partner are needing to take a step away, create some space to make decisions, talk things through, etc. Last night he showed up at the house and is staying with me for a few days. Some of our mutual friends have commented "you're such a good friend." He's thanked me profusely and it got me thinking - what about this is so out of the ordinary?

It's certainly not the first time my house has been a shelter/hostel/time out/safe space. When my sister's first engagement went south in a hurry and she had to get out of her apartment, she moved into mine. MandyFish and Nerdy have crashed at Ruby Slippers before. Levi (and sometimes Gretchen) lived with me for over a year! And several others have been on the "I might show up" list over the years. I can't imagine ever telling members of "my family" that they couldn't stay with me when they hit rough times. Everyone deserves a place to feel safe. Period.

That being said, I know not everyone is in a place where they could do something like this. Some wouldn't want to be near to potential drama. Some don't have the space. No doubt there will be challenges and it'll be a strain from time to time. To me, that's called life. I grew up with next to nothing but was always taught to share what you have and do what you can. Whether it's for friends, family, or strangers. Helping people when you can is what it's all about, right?

Last night my temporary roomie announced that we needed nicknames. I shall be known as Hooker Dream and he shall be called Slut Magic. No particular reason or story, just something fun in the face of something that isn't. I'm sure the adventures shall commence forthwith, and there will be laughing, learning, and crying. It's what I like to call life. People are messy sometimes, and life certainly is.

Today's lesson(s): Do what you can for others in need, whatever that might be. Do what's right, not what's easiest. And remember to find humor anytime and place you can. The good times wouldn't feel so good if we didn't also feel the lows once in a while.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A fab gay post coming soon

Hello faithful reader...or random strangers. There is an inspiring, motivating, and giddy post coming about the Bear Dinner very soon. I had planned to type it up tonight, but I'm tired. The Squid and I were in the car at 5:05am today, after a fantastic weekend! Another low-key tame weekend centered around an amazing event for an amazing cause. So many stories, but they shall have to wait.

287 was open this morning, so we snuck in while the rest of the roads were closed. I was at work on time, and spent my lunch hour at the new clinic location for Laramie Reproductive Health. The move happened this weekend and we open back up tomorrow. It looks amazing. I hung a few posters and put a few boxes worth of meds in the closet.

Back for another 4.5 hours of work. I did steal the time for a quick dinner before going to the AIDS Walk Meeting. Back to the clinic to make sure they were done and didn't need more help. Fortunately, they accomplished the impossible today, and it's ready to go! So I carried all the luggage in to discover Turbo is sick.

Puppy laundry, dinner, baths...then I can unpack. Who knows...I might even get to do my own laundry yet tonight. So...the inspired, passionate post will have to ferment in my brain a little longer. In the mean time:

We are home safe. The dinner was incredible. Exciting things are going to happen. More info soon.

Today's lesson: Know when to stop. Take a moment for yourself. Breathe. Not everything has to happen at once. There's a lot to do this time of year. Pace yourself. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Breathe again. Repeat as necessary.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dancing with a Voluptuous Star

Okay, I admit I delayed posting this to give my Barack Obama post some extra airtime. It was a serious post, but now it's back to gay gushing!

The latest season of Dancing with the Stars started on St. Patty's day. The uber-queen in me goes giddy for the sequins, tuxes, and almost over-the-top costumes. The amateur dancer in me wants to cha cha and foxtrot for a crowd, especially with a studly professional wearing the yummiest of outfits. When they announced the new cast, I knew I was hooked and that this season is likely to be pure candy for me.

Extra hunky men. Iconic women. And a few twists, that make me want to kiss ABC. They've been fabulous in the past, hosting men and women of all ages. From Jerry Springer to Jane Seymour, and Scary Spice to Mario Lopez. They've included people of color, athletes, actresses, and Hollywood icons. I was floored when Heather Mills, who wears a prosthetic leg, did a cartwheel. I was just as impressed when she fell on a different night, and not only got back up and finished like a champ but came back with renewed determination.

This season, as hot as some of the male celebs might be, my out of the gate favorites are some of the ladies. What gay man could resist rooting for a figure skating legend like Kristi Yamaguchi? I have long been a fan of Marlee Matlin, and have huge respect for the brass she's shown. I am going to LOVE watching her push herself and adapt to music she can't hear, and laughing at her AMAZING sense of humor. I can't imagine trying to dance by the feel of the beat and the count alone. And then there's Marissa Jaret Winokur.

She's best known for her Tony award-winning performance as the curvy and bossomy Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray on Broadway. She's now taking to the ballroom. She's the shortest contestant in the show's history, not even reaching five feet tall. She's also the biggest gal in six seasons, and they couldn't have picked a better rep for the bigger girls. She makes no apologies about her size, and expects none from someone who notes her girth. "It's just the way my body is, and that's okay." She quips "I'm here to represent all the girls who aren't a size 2!" And she does it with SUCH personality, energy, and heart. You can't help but love her!

She represents part of what has been missing on TV and in the media. She's a regular woman, who doesn't starve herself to fit into the latest runway fashions. She's got big hair and makes no bones about the fact that she's positively giddy to be ballroom dancing like the stars she grew up idolizing. Did I mention she's got some talent as well? In her first dance, she drew a standing ovation, and nearly endless screams from the audience. She looked GREAT doing the cha cha in her plus-sized sequined electric blue gown.

I can only hope Ms. Marti Gras looks and moves half as well as she did on night 1. I love that shows like Ugly Betty exist. They remind the not-so-pretty, the not-so-popular, and the not-so-thin folks out there that they're okay too. That they can DO. They can BE. That it takes all shapes and sizes. And colors. And sexualities. And religions. That we should always be proud of who we are, and always reach for the stars. Dream big and take risks. Even if you're trying to change or improve, LOVE YOURSELF.

It's one of the hardest lessons, and is one I struggle with every day. I think we all do in our own ways. In the end, I think that's why I love Dancing with the Stars so much. And the Olympics. The Oscars. They give us hope, and show us stories of real, everyday people who have achieved incredible feats despite overwhelming odds. They show us dreams DO come true. And so I say "Dance on, ladies, and kick some ass!" Show us what you can do, and better yet, show yourselves!

And if I have to watch sometimes shirtless hunks gyrating their hips in the process, I can suffer. ;) Speaking of curvy divas, I have one last gay gush. I've now been measured for a custom corset. It will be more comfortable, more durable, and MUCH more fabulous. Look out kids, Marti is planning to WOW at this year's Drag Queen Bingo (7pm, April 19th, Laramie Ho-Jo: more details to follow).