Coming Out

In honor of National Coming Out day (Oct 11, 2014), I thought I’d write about my Coming Out experiences.  I write in my book about first coming out to my brother.  I wrote him a letter.  I was in my late teens so not all that comfortable with verbal communication.  I wasn’t sure how he’d take it but he was ecstatic.  It made us just that much closer.  It opened up a world of Gay Pride Celebrations, learning to become comfortable with myself and living a life out of the closet, not having to look over my shoulder or conjure up stories of “roommates” or “female friends” and why we’d lived together for years or went out together every weekend.

It wasn’t always happy times though.  There was a lot of anxiety to begin with along with the fear of rejection from my family and friends.  When I was a young adult, I decided, along with some pressure from my brother, that I should tell my mom.  She took it ok.  She grieved some over me having a “normal” life but in the end, she was resolved to just wanting me to be happy.

It took a few more years before I was able to come out to my dad.  I guess I knew that my mom wouldn’t reject me but I wasn’t so sure about my dad.  As with my mom, he said he’d known all along but his struggle was with how to introduce me and my partner to his friends.  We went through some practice scenarios until he was comfortable.

I was beginning to be comfortable, wearing my Keith Haring Coming Out t-shirt, but still not truly out of the closet.  My employer didn’t know and the majority of my straight friends didn’t know.  It took even more years to get through to them all.  When we decided to move to another state, it forced us to come out to our employer.  I quit my job and needed to be on my partner’s insurance so it was imperative to not only come out to them but to ensure that they offered domestic partner benefits.  It was a huge hurdle to overcome but it was so necessary.

What made things a bit easier was that me and my partner ended up working at the same place so it sort of forced people to face the fact that they worked with gay people.  It was a bit of forceful acceptance.

What’s funny is that when Facebook first came around, I was terrified to join because I knew that I’d have to come out to more of my old friends from school.  I’d already come out to both of my parents, my only sibling, co-workers and employers but still faced the fear of rejection from lifelong friends.  I expressed my concerns to my partner and heard her when she explained that if those lifelong friends couldn’t deal with the fact that I was the same person that they’d known for our entire lives, then we didn’t need to continue to be friends.  It was loud and clear and I even agreed but I didn’t want to lose my friends.  And I haven’t.  Most already knew, just as my parents and my brother knew and the others that didn’t know, didn’t really care.

I live my life now, not even giving being gay a second thought.  I have an incredible person that I share my life with.  We don’t put a label on ourselves so we don’t expect anyone else to.  We’re just who we are.  We do the same things that straight people do.

I know it hasn’t been this easy for everyone and I don’t take that for granted.  My brother is actually gay as well and I thank him and all those that have come before me.  They paved the way and made the first, crucial breakthroughs that have allowed others to walk after them, with our heads held high.  Having come from a small, rural, southern town, my brother was actually shot at.  He had bullet holes in his car.  That is inconceivable to me today but I know that it still happens and it’s just ludicrous.  How one human being can want to harm another human being just over the person they love is just stupid.  There is no longer room for narrow minded people in this world.

Differentiation is what makes the world goes round.  If there’s anything I could offer to anyone that has yet to come out, it would be to find someone that you trust and are comfortable with and talk it over with them first.  It will allow you to try out your words and find your voice.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for who you are.  And know that you’re not alone.  We’ve all faced the same fear to which I hope you find resolution and comfort to.

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Football Follies

It seems that the NFL has been in the (negative) spotlight lately.  They tend to come out swinging, saying they’re going to do this or that and then nothing ever happens.  They make promises and then don’t deliver.  That made me think about a few other things that have seemed to go unnoticed or maybe it’s just me.

First off, what happened to the female referees that were so publicly displayed during the preseason?  They seemed to have disappeared.

And what happened to the Redskins changing their name?  I thought I read an article that said they were going to be the Washington Warriors or something like that.  Why are they still the Redskins?  And not to run down a controversial alley but why not – yes, I do feel they should change their name.

If the NFL is so into head injuries, and the new rules certainly prove that with penalties being more prevalent this year than in past seasons, then why do players still head-butt one another after a great play or a touchdown?  Why do they continue to slap and pound one another in the head to congratulate each other?  Isn’t that just stupid?  I know a slap or a butt isn’t like having a 400 pound man ram you in the head but they get pretty pumped up at times.  I can see the head being moved when they’re celebrating that way.  It just seems like it’s not right when there’s so much focus on keeping athletes healthy.

And when the hell are they going to stop the end zone celebrations?  It’s just disgusting.  I don’t need to see gyrating, humping, or any other pre-adolescent motions.  How is it not considered unsportsmanlike behavior?  It’s just not necessary and I feel it’s actually wrong.  Grow up athletes and set the example you’re supposed to set.

OK, enough of that ranting.  I love football.  I love baseball.  I hated leaving my beloved Red Sox behind and I miss Fenway Park but it’s fun to visit other parks and learn other teams by moving around.  I think the Red Sox will forever be in my heart, however.

I used to love hockey but seemed to leave it behind.  I moved from a warm state where I loved hockey to a cold state where I left it behind.  Weird.  With hockey though, there’s the issue of fighting.  It’s funny that when I went to games all of the time, I thought it was a part of hockey.  You can’t have hockey and not have fighting but now that I’m not that in to it, I’m not sure I still agree with it.  It really doesn’t set a great example for kids.  And of course, it’s all about the children these days.  God help the children.  Don’t get me started.  Oh right, and I was supposed to just be talking about football.

So, it’s Thursday night and I’m already thinking about what type of football food I’m going to make for dinner because sports is actually all about the food, as are most things in my life.

Virally Social or Socially Viral

When I published my first book, my partner and I knew that the only way to get it out there was to get it out on social media.  Duh, right?  Well, what I didn’t take into account was that I’d have to be social in order to get it to go viral.  How does a person, that’s anti-social, become social?  I haven’t quite figured that out yet.  And my book is not selling.  It’s frustrating and ends up taking me to very dark places in my mind.

You would think that going “viral” would be easy.  I hate the term.  It puts such a negative connotation on the thing that I want to go viral.  Having a virus is NOT good.  Catching a virus is NOT good.  But going viral is the best possible thing when marketing. It just doesn’t make sense but a lot of things don’t make sense.

I joined several meetup groups but haven’t been to any of them.  I’m afraid to go.  It’s more of putting yourself out there which I’m not comfortable with doing.  I stay home, I write.

We designed and purchased business cards but I’ve strategically placed maybe 20 of them.  I read an article that business cards should be flowing out of my hands.  So, I put one on the mirror of a restaurant bathroom.  I put two in an empty tourist brochure holder.  I tacked 4 to a community board at the library.  That’s pretty much how it’s been going.  You have to be out and about in order for flow to happen.

I created a Twitter account and found that just between Facebook and Twitter, it takes an exceptional amount of time combing and following and watching everything that’s going on.  So, now, I’m no longer writing, I’m advertising.  I’m on my Twitter account all day waiting for someone to post something that I can retweet, or answer a tweet in order to bring more people to my Twitter feed so that they can become aware of my book.  It’s truly crazy.  And it appears to be making no difference whatsoever.  It’s frustrating.

I’ve been told to be patient, however.  It’s been a month since I published the book.  A month.  I have to give it some time.  I have to go to meetups and meet people (even though I don’t want to).  I have to be patient (which is something I’m so not good at either).  I have to continue to learn the ins and outs of Twitter and maybe create Pinterest and Instagram accounts as well (which will take more time away from writing).  I struggle with what’s more important – writing or marketing.  I’ve figured out that if I can’t get this book marketed then there’s no reason for a second book, so for now, I have to focus on marketing.

I guess that’s enough bitching for one day.  I do get to write on my blog (another marketing tool) which allows me to vent and rattle on about miscellaneous thoughts that cross my path.  I enjoy it the most because it’s marketing and writing all in one.

Work Backup

Have you ever just wanted to send someone in your place for the day?  It could be to the office or just as a fill-in for whatever you do every day.  In our case, it’s just the two of us so the only logical substitute is the dog.  We paint the picture by discussing him trotting into the office, going down the hallways, with little glasses on that we feel he needs in order to make him look more professional.  He could hop up into our chair at our desk, putting his little paws on the keyboard and looking at the computer screen like he’s perfectly comfortable and confident in what he’s to do.

For me, I’d have him write blog posts about getting to fetch fluffy toys, how to properly discover and roll in stinky things in the yard, best practices for reminding your owner of when it’s dinner time.  He could research Twitter members to help promote my book.  He knows if he helps his mamas, he gets more cookies.  He’d look up Lassie and Bub to follow, like minded pets and people that he can relate to.  He’d take a break every so often to get a drink of water and ask to be put out for some fresh air.

For my partner, he’d drive to work, honking the horn and barking at everyone that cut him off or for the horribly long traffic lights.  He’d sit in meetings, play on his smartphone, interject every so often with a sigh and a growl before retreating back to his open office, adjustable desk.  He’d shake all over flinging dust and hair onto the neighboring desk but since it’s just a guy, he barely notices.  Before heading to lunch, he lets out a big yawn causing half of the office to pass out.  It’s all a part of his plan to get in front of them before the caf gets too full.  He grabs a slice of pizza, eats it right on the floor and retreats back to his desk where he curls up and sleeps for a few hours.

Upon waking, he heads outside again before heading to the next meeting where he tries to draw his plans on a white board but can’t reach so he just scribbles on the wall below it.  He drops the marker on the floor confident he’s made his point, knowing that he’s a genius and under-appreciated everywhere he goes.  And with that, he hops back in the car, drives home with the windows down so the wind can blow the hair from his face.  He arrives home exhausted, pleads with his mamas not to make him do that again, has some dinner and retreats to his fluffy bed where he can curl up with his plush toys and sleep through the evening.

My partner and I discuss if anyone would actually even notice the substitute.  Would he end up biting the people we didn’t like in the office or growl at them?  Would he get distracted and end up peeing on the floor or try to mark every desk and pee on each one?  Or worse, get frightened and poop right in the middle of the hallway.  We think it might be too much for him but want him to succeed.  Just then, he lifts his head to peek at us from behind his bangs.  We’re stare at one another for a moment as if he knows we’re talking about him.  He flops his head back down on his bed, down for the count.  We face the realization that there is no backup.

Coastal Motorin’

Driving along the highway, through a small storm cloud, I felt the tiny needles of rain pierce my jeans and spatter on my helmet. The moisture rich air smelled clean and warm even though my nose was getting cold as I drove toward the northern hills.  Taking the exit started the series of sharp turns, narrow streets, and bottlenecked cars with drivers too busy looking at the cavernous hillsides and streets lined with eucalyptus trees shedding their bark and casting shady shadows on the road.  The scent of eucalyptus washed over me as I passed by.  I breathed deep, wanting to take the smell with me on my journey.

Once I’d made my way over the mountain, I maneuvered through some downtown streets and then started on the coastal roadway.  Within minutes, I was cruising high up on the road with the sea far below.  The cliffs were stunning and the see was a blue-green against the powdery blue of the sky.  Up and down hills, around corners and I was suddenly at sea level with white-capped waves crashing on white sand beaches with the orange, brown and green cliffs in the background.  The sea salted air filled my helmet and the tiny particles of mist covered my shield.  It was beyond beautiful.

As the road flattened out further up, it was green for as far as I could see.  There were manicured rows of fruits and vegetables. I always love to see the anal retentiveness of farms.  It smelled of manure and fertilizer which wasn’t pleasant but it was so amazing going between the extremes that I didn’t mind.  I could see the sea just beyond the rows of green.  I thought that it must be magnificent to own a farm right on the ocean.  It’s the best of both worlds.

I continued my journey for over 100 miles and finally wound my way back home, tired but exhilarated at the same time.  It was my new favorite thing to do.  I felt fortunate for the opportunity to experience something, a ride, a site, an area, that some may never get to see.