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Entries in Gay Life (18)

Tuesday
Sep202011

The Day has Finally Come

Do you feel that?  Don't Ask Don't Tell has been missing from the lives of American's for almost 24 hours now.  So, what has changed?  Not much if you ask me.  Our brave men and women are still fighting side by side.  The world did not end, and California didn't fall into the sea.  Just as Harold Camping was wrong when he told us that the world would end earlier this year, so to were many people wrong when they said that removing DADT would cause our military to colapse.

Here is the thing.  The United States is a vast country made up of people, all of whom can think for themselves.  Sure there are those who hate gay people, but most of them probably haven't met any.  The whole point of this website was originally to give people access to gay people so they could see how much alike we all are.  Today soldiers were able to get married, tell their father's that they are gay, tell his/her friends that they aren't interested in the guy/girl they are being set up with.  In short it was just an average day.  An average day that reinforced just how oh so similar we all are to each other.  Without differences this world would be pretty boring, so let's celebrate the small differences and let them unite instead of divide us.

 

 

Thursday
Jan272011

What Can You Do For Your Country?

There is an interesting article in the January 31st 2011 edition of Newsweek that got me thinking.  Former general Stanley McChrystal has called on all Americans to serve their country.  Not necessarily in the military but instead by performing a service in their communities.  Focusing on young adults, McChrystal would like to see students graduating from high school or college take a gap year to perform service with an organization like City Year, Americorps, the Peace Corps, Teach for America or Habitat for Humanity.

While I think that all of these are great organizations and that giving a year of your time is something that everyone should do, I think McChrystal missed an opportunity.  Yes it tends to be the younger generation that has the flexibility to take a year “off” and perform service work, but there are many organizations that can help those who cannot devote an entire year.  The missed opportunity I see is that there was no encouragement of those in the working world to take some time and perform service in their communities.

The focus on a year of service may scare some off, but don’t back away from working in your community just because you can only give a few days a year, or a few hours a week.  There are plenty of organizations that can use your manpower and expertise to affect positive change in our communities.

Having worked with the YMCA for the better part of a decade I know what a great impact you can have on your community year after year.  I have greatly enjoyed my time working with youth, helping them develop leadership skills and the skills that they will need for every day human interactions. 

We are very lucky today to be able to go to Google and look up organizations in our area that need our help, but finding the right fit for you can sometimes be daunting.  Just keep at it, because there is an organization that needs your skills, and I guarantee you will walk away with a great feeling knowing that you have done something good for your country.

Don’t know where to start? Check out Volunteer Match, and here is a list of national organizations to help you on your way.



Friday
Dec312010

What's In A Word?

As 2011 approaches many of us will take the time to reflect on our lives and make plans to better ourselves in some way, whether it be mentally, physically, socially etc.  Instead, I offer this as a suggestion.  This year make a resolution to make society better, a better place for all of us to live.  It sounds cheesy and it sounds impossible, but it can be done, and it can be done with as little as one word.

Since I announced to the world that I was gay in November of 2004 I have been on a mission to eliminate the word gay from the lexicon of my friends, family and even some strangers that I come into contact with.  It would seem a fairly simple task, but this word has become so engrained in every day speech that it has proved difficult.

Dictionary.com defines gay as: having or showing a merry, lively mood. Bright or showy. A homosexual person. 

Take a moment and think about the last time you heard the word gay used.  Now ask yourself was the word used in conjunction with the above definitions.  The answer is probably no.  In fact, the word gay has taken on a whole new meaning.  It is now generally used in a derogatory manner, replacing the words stupid or dumb in a sentence.

So what's the problem with this?  Over the course of time the definitions of words change, and perhaps that is just what is happening here.  However, because this word is associated with a group of people, every time someone uses it in a derogatory way they are putting down an entire section of society.  This can be particularly hurtful to people who have not yet come to terms with their sexuality.  Generally when we are talking to our friends we don't think about others around us, but other people can in fact hear conversations that are being had in a public place. 

Imagine that you are a teenager again, trying to make you way through an already extremely awkward time in your life.  If you hear yourself being put down every day, this is going to have an impact on your self worth (See related posting).  With the recent teen suicides I think it is time that we take a look at how we impact people around us, even when we don't know them.  I know many of my friends won't use the word gay around me now because I have taken a stand, but some of them probably still use it when I am not around.  My message to them and to all of you is that you never know who is listening.

This year I am doing something that I normally don't do.  I am making a new years resolution.  I am going to eliminate the word retarded from my vocabulary.  I realize it is hard to change habits. All I ask is that while you are reflecting on this past year, take a second to think about how easy in the grand scheme of things it is to stop using one word.  Who knows, it could make a difference in the life of someone you have never met, or maybe on of your closest friends.


From me to you,  I wish you a safe, happy and prosperous new year.

Sunday
Oct102010

One Year Ago

It has been just over a year since I launched Whatisyourgay.com with the support of a few friends and family.  Admittedly I have not been as good at keeping up with it as I had originally hoped, but I found something very interesting.  In the process of launching this site I spoke with many of my gay friends, many whom said they would be happy to record their story to share on the site.  A year later there are only three.

Over the past month it feels like the LGBT community has been delivered one piece of bad news after the next.  From a young man killing himself because of his sexuality and the thoughtless acts of his peers, the brutal beating of three men by a gang of nine, to the defeat of repeal for DADT.

These are certainly strange times that we live in.  For the past for or five years I felt like things were getting better for the LGBT community, but in the past few months I have felt things slipping backwards.  Of course strides are still being made in the fight for LGBT rights, but the news of late has been disheartening.

The easiest thing for all of us to do would be to hide, to shrink back because we are afraid.  Instead, I believe we need to band together and make our voices heard.  A project was recently launched called the It Gets Better Project which is asking people to record videos about their experiences growing up gay to help guide those that are being bullied, and give them hope for the future.

I can’t say I am not jealous as the project already has hundreds of videos and has been around for less than a month.  However, the goal of the It Gets Better Prjoect and the goal of Whatisyourgay are one and the same.  The goal is to provide hope for future generations, to let them know that this too shall pass and that they will come out on the other side a stronger person.

In honor of National Coming Out Day tomorrow October 11th I am asking anyone out there who has the means to record a video and make their voices heard to do so.  If you want to send it to me to post on this site great, just click here to see how.  If you want to post it to the It Gets Better Project great, just click here to see how, or do both.

At a time of great sadness in the LGBT community, we can either turn our backs to the world and hide, or we can stand together.  I am asking you to plant your flag in the sand and stand with me.  Share your story and your ideas of what being gay means.  Together we can ensure a better future for those that will follow.





Monday
Mar222010

The Health Care Door is Open

After years of yelling and screaming it has finally happened.  A new chapter in the story of the United States of America is about to unfold.  The passage of the health care bill last night is not the end but rather the beginning of what is sure to be a great adventure.

In many ways the passage of this legislation is like coming out of the closet.  The first step is the hardest, there is never a good time to do it, but once it is done you have opened the door for conversation and progress.  The legislation that was passed last night is not perfect.  It does not go nearly far enough in my mind and goes too far in the minds of others.  What we can all agree on is that this is the beginning.  The hardest part is over.  As the Republican’s are saying, “Obama shoved this down the throats of the American people,” but sometimes that is what is needed.

The Republicans had 8 years under Bush to change health care, to start the conversation but they didn’t.  They claim they have all these great plans that were ignored yet we never saw them.  While Republicans try to tell us they were shut out of the process, there over 200 amendments from Republicans in the legislation that was passed last night.  The vote may not have been bipartisan but the legislation as much as the Republicans will try to deny it, is.

I have learned a great deal throughout the health care debate, but something that struck me the hardest came only this past weekend.  The Tea Party in all its glory is not fighting health care, they are fighting people that are not like them.  What am I talking about?  Over the weekend as house members entered the building (specifically Barney Frank and John Lewis) Tea Party protestors yelled out insults, as well as racial and homophobic slurs.  It became pretty apparent that they were no longer attacking the legislation that was up for debate; they were attacking people that were different than them.  People that they see as being a threat to their way of life.

In some ways I am glad that they have shown their true colors.  They have lost the spirit of what the original Tea Party was actually about.  Instead of attacking the government they are now attacking individuals.  I hope that voters in the coming months will see these people for who they truly are, racist bigots.  Standing up for your rights is one thing.  Degrading someone based on the color of their skin or their sexual orientation is something else entirely.

What are your thoughts?  Are you happy about this health care reform or do you think it is the end of the United States?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.



Related Links:

Article on Racial and Homophobic Slurs

Watch the Debate on the floor of the House (Final comments happen in the last 20 minutes)

Transcript of Pelosi's Comments