Friday, April 17, 2009

Through the Eyes of an Openly Gay Man

As an openly gay man living in the world today, there are so many prejudices to get past and so many myths that we have to work hard to disprove. What many people in this world fail to realize is that, before we came out to live our lives as who we really are, we were just like you; we were your friends and family, neighbors and co-workers.
There is one defining day in the life of a person living in the LGBT community. One single day in our entire life will, for some people, make or break how the rest of our life plays out. Thankfully, I'm one of the lucky ones. I have a great group of friends and family that I have surrounded myself with over the years; they are all very supportive of every thing that I do in life. My decision to finally come out was not an easy one, but it was something that needed to happen. For anyone, making the decision to finally come out is not an easy one. It can sometimes take years and years of struggling with your own personal demons to finally come to terms with the fact that you're going to be living a very different lifestyle than those around you.
While I can't speak for every gay person in the world, what finally pushed me "out of the closet" was the fact that I couldn't stand living a lie any longer. While you can be yourself to some extent before you come out, you can never truly live your life because of what you're hiding from the rest of the world. If I'm being completely honest, telling everyone my biggest secret was terrifying. It's something that, once the cat's out of the bag, so to speak, you can't take back.
When I made what I consider to be the ground-breaking first step, I couldn't even say it, I had to write it down. After that, the person that it took the most courage to tell was my dad. I cried like you wouldn't believe when it came time to finally tell him. After he and I had become so close, I didn't want to let him down. He reassured me that he was going to be there for me regardless and let me know that nothing had or was ever going to change between the two of us. Considering the level hesitation that I felt with the first person that I let in to that part of my life, it has become easier and easier with each person that I tell. This experience is unlike any other that I can think of. The coming out process is something a gay person will be doing this for the rest of his/her life.
The vast majority of people who choose to come out, especially teenagers, face the possibility of rejection from friends and family. Being faced with this rejection can push them in to different stages of depression, and can possibly push them to consider, or even commit suicide. For just such reasons, programs like The Trevor Project have been created and are available for gay and questioning youth who feel that they have no one left to turn to.
Recently, we have seen both defeat and victory in the battle for equality. The first major blow was Proposition 8 in California, reversing and banning the same-sex decision that was put in to effect by the California Supreme Court. Since then, several states have granted same-sex couples the same rights as the other citizens of the individual states. Among the most recent, Iowa, by way of the state Supreme Court was the first state in the Midwest to grant equal rights. Vermont, however, made history by being the first state in the Union to grant equal rights on a legislative level. The Supreme Court of California must rule by June 3, 2009 on the legal status of same-sex marriages in that state. One would assume that, since the Supreme Court was the body that made them legal the first time in California, they will make them legal once again. Although we still have a long way to go in this country before all is well, and while we'll never be able to forget what so many have gone through to get us to this point in history, I firmly believe that a major change is coming our way.
With time, we will inevitably get past the prejudices that are currently making headlines today. It's hard to believe that this is going to be the last great struggle for equality this country will ever see, but I have faith that we will learn from the mistakes we've made in handling situations like this. I suppose that only time will tell, but I've got a good feeling that things will start to turn around.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friends... At Least That's What They Used To Be

As I go through life, I'm starting to realize that you shouldn't care about how many friends you have, but the quality of the friends you hold dear. There are times when I try and figure out what I've done to make people not want to be friends with me any more, but then I find that I really don't care. I know who my true friends are and I've come to be able to pinpoint those who are just there when they need something from you.

There have been people who have come and gone, and regardless of how it happened, I suppose there's a reason for it. Perhaps we're to learn life lessons from failed attempts. One of the things I don't understand is why some people let their relationships get in the way of their friendships. Nine times out of ten, the person you're letting slip away has been there longer than the person you're dating. As harsh as this may sound, there are people in my life I could take or leave right now. Then again, there are some people who I know I couldn't get through life without and I won't let anything come between those relationships.

I'm sure we've all received those e-mails that say what "true" friends are and that you should pass it along to half of the people you've ever known if you life or you'll get horrible news in the next 5 seconds. To me, there are a few simple things that define a friendship: knowing that you and that other person are there for each other any time, any place; wanting nothing in return for befriending someone; and, even if after not talking on the phone or seeing each other in person for a while, you pick up right where you left off and it's never awkward.

Today, it's no secret that we live in a world where technology basically consumes our lives. I have to say, however, it's the little things from my friends that make my day. Like this morning, for example, a friend and I were going back and forth on Facebook, another friend commented on my status and I'm sure when I'm at work, my IM will be going off at least a few times throughout the day. Just a quick "hello" or asking how some one's day is going can mean the world. I'm sure this is starting to sound like another post I did a while back, but I think it's worth repeating.

Make sure you're in your current friendships for the right reason. Few things hurt more than realizing that you're being or have been used by someone you thought you had a connection with.

Some may come, some may go, but those you can't live without will always be right here...

Friday, April 3, 2009

And The Good News Keeps On Coming

On what seems to be a landmark day, especially for Iowa, it seems that the good news keeps on coming! Below are two (2) links that I would like you to check out. The first is one of the many articles out there today about the Iowa Supreme Court finding that the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. On a personal note, let me point out that I've never been more proud to say that I am from, and am still living in the first state in the Midwest to legalize gay marriage. The second link is somewhat on the same subject. It's a clip from the ABC TV show called "What Would You Do". It placed actors (they're a real-life couple as well) in a New Jersey sports bar with and were told to act themselves. They also paid another (straight) couple and a "gay basher" to try and get reactions out of people in the bar. It's interesting to see how it turns out. Maybe there's hope for this country after all? 

CBS News Story:

"What Would You Do" Clip: