Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thought for the Day, #6

'I'm sixty-eight years old, and now I can say without a shadow of a doubt, "I'm gay.  I'm a Christian. And God loves me without reservation."  But for all those lonely, unhappy decades, I was a victim of misinformation that came into my life through ignorance and prejudice that began in the church.'

                                                           -- Rev. Dr. Mel White, author and filmmaker

(From Crisis:  40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America, p. 17.)

"It Gets Better," After 30, Too

For those of you who are gay and fast approaching the age of 30, I'm here to deliver good news: Not only does life not end once you reach 30, but, to borrow from Dan Savage's highly successful Project, "It Gets Better."  In fact, it gets a lot better.  And, if the past is any indication, it keeps getting better.  

That's right.  Maybe you thought the "It Gets Better Project" doesn't apply to you, now that you've been out of school for a while, and, for the most part, hopefully, you've left being bullied behind.  But it does. And even better than how life improves once you leave school is how much more it improves when you turn 30 and older.  

Just because we're gay doesn't mean we don't go through the same phases in life everyone does; in fact, we may go through them even more acutely because we're gay, because we're more sensitive as a result of everything else we've gone through.  And, if you're anything like I was in my twenties, you may well like the freedom you feel, after moving away from home, finishing post-secondary education, and even coming out.  But, overall, the twenties are a tough time--one of exploring and searching and wondering when the answers you need will appear.

That's what your thirties, and beyond, are about.

The past nearly twenty-two years (I'll be 52 this October) have been the best ever of my life--far better than anything before.  Here's a brief rundown of some of the key things that happened, after I turned 30:

1.  I met my life partner and fell in love for the first time, when I was 32.
2.  I was promoted to the most important, and best remunerated position of my career, when I was 39.
3.  I retired from the company I'd worked twenty-eight years for, when I was 47.
4.  Chris and I became debt-free, including no mortgage, when I was 47.
5.  I began to pursue my lifelong dream to become a writer, when I was 48 (not 65 as I'd thought).
6.  I found my voice, as a human being and writer, when I turned nearly 50.

Each one of these points reflects a significant event in the progression of my life, none of which happened until after I turned 30.  Let's take a closer look at a few of them.

1.  All the way through my twenties, I wanted a life partner, in large part because I was alone, lonely, and believed someone else would give me what I couldn't give myself--namely, love.  My early twenties were an important time for me as far as coming to terms with my sexual orientation is concerned.  Had I not gone through all the phases I did--from denial, to anger, to acceptance, and back again--I doubt I would have come out when I was 26.

The remainder of my twenties were about meeting new people, playing a more active role in finding a life partner, and learning what I was about.  These also set the groundwork for learning to love myself, always the foundation for a successful relationship--a journey I didn't embark on until I was in my early thirties.  In other words, had I not done the work in my twenties that I needed to before heading into my thirties, I would not have been ready for Chris when he arrived.  We might not be together today.

5.  From the time I was a little boy, I always wanted to be a writer.  I tell a story about Cheryl, a babysitter my sister and I used to have, and how she helped me, when I was about 10, to write a short story with a Western theme.  (If only I'd kept that story over all these years; I'd surely get a kick out of it.)

For most of my life, I was employed by a large financial institution in Canada. Over time, I worked my way up from a teller at a branch in Kelowna to the manager of a forty-person operation in Victoria.  I devoted everything I had to my career and had nothing left over to pursue my dream of being a writer in my spare time (which was nonexistent).  I fully expected I wouldn't be able to write in earnest, at least until I retired at 62 or older.

But Chris and I had made some great investment decisions early in our relationship, including buying real estate, and, after the Lower Mainland market went through the roof in the early to mid-2000s, we did all right for ourselves, which allowed us to travel and to pay off all our debt.  More importantly, I was able to retire from my job to pursue writing full-time.  Now, Chris supports the two of us while he pursues his career, and, in addition to writing, I spend my time managing and organizing the house and our lives.  

None of this could have happened when I was in my twenties.  In the end, time was our ally.  We made the best decisions we could at the time, lived fully along the way, yet kept our eyes on the achievement of future goals.  To get anywhere, you need to work with time, often a lot of it.  But never allow living for the future to diminish the importance of right now, this very minute, which is all any of us is guaranteed.

6.  Finding your voice is a tricky one.  Early readers of my blog know I struggled with this.  I wanted to be a writer, but I didn't know what to write about, what was mine to say.  I also didn't know what was truly important to me.  What I thought I had that was worthy of sharing with other people.  In other words, how could I contribute, make a difference, fulfill my purpose?

Whether you write or not, all of us have voices, and your voice is intrinsically connected to who you are.  So if you struggle with such things as your identity--as I did being a gay man, in part, because, even in my late forties, I still resisted my truth--then your voice will be mired in confusion and obscurity. To be a writer, particularly one who draws heavily from personal experience hopefully to help inspire and teach, you must become clear and focused and in tune with who you are and what you were intended to do.

This cannot be done in your twenties, nor, dare I say, in your thirties or even much of your forties--at least it couldn't for me.  Something about getting older forces you to take a closer look at yourself and your life, at what's really important versus what you thought was important at the time.  In the end, focusing on what you were really meant to do is not only right, it's also a better use of your time and energy.

There's nothing like knowing you no longer have forever to get on with your life's work to motivate you, to cut the crap, and to move forward with the task at hand.

I think a lot of people in their twenties like their lives.  What's not to like?  They're young, they're pretty, and the world is full of possibilities.  They get into a routine of partying, meeting new people, having a good time, and they don't want it to stop.  When you're gay, who doesn't want to dance the night away, succumb to the beat, attract attention, hook up with different people--in other words, party like it's 1999 and live as though there's no tomorrow.

But life is made up of phases, and your twenties is merely one phase.  I'm going to stick my neck out and say it's probably the least significant phase.  True, it's usually the time when you prepare personally and professionally for what's to come, but what's to come, when you grow older, is infinitely richer, more vivid and profound by comparison.    

So, when anyone tells you life ends at 30, tell him he's full of you-know-what. Believe me, it's just the beginning.  The best things in your life happen when you're 30 and older.  That's when you come into your own.  That's when you settle down and become the person you were meant to be.  That's when you sort out self-esteem issues, learn to believe in yourself, and accept your value to the world.  It's also when you discover the beauty, and the responsibility, of your gifts, and how best to use them.      

Life after 30?  Believe me, It Gets Better.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thought for the Day, #5

"The only way I have survived as a gay man is by embracing everything I was taught to hate about myself."
                                                                   -- Alec Mapa, actor and comedian

(From Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America, edited by Mitchell Gold with Mindy Drucker, p. 203.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kick Ass

WTF.  I thought things had gotten better for gay men since I was young and single, but I see they haven't.  It's time to get real, guys.  If there's ever been the need for a kick in the ass, it's right now.

Back in the day, I was not pretty and I was not hot.  I may have had youth on my side, but that was fast waning.  Thirty was just around the corner, and I was still single.  You know what that means.  My currency as a gay man was about to plummet, just like the stock market in fall 2009. I dreaded turning three decades old.  I thought that was it for me, I'd be alone and lonely for the rest of my life.  And I was only thirty.  Unbelievable.

Meeting someone I might want to spend my life with?  What a joke.  Oh, it's not for a lack of trying, believe me.  I put myself out there as much as I could. There weren't many places for me to meet other gay men, so I spent plenty of time at the clubs, hoping someone just like me would be there, someone who was looking for me as much as I was looking for him.

You know what I met instead?  Attitude.  Lots and lots of attitude.  From punks who I see now were so insecure about themselves, they covered it up by being nasty and bitchy. There's nothing worse in the gay community than a cute, young, gay asshole who thinks he's so much better than everyone else. Scratch the surface, and they're nothing but scared little kids.  Not worth the time of day.

In David Michael Connor's March 23 commentary on titled "The Trouble With Happy Endings," he writes Dan Savage's It Gets Better project sends the wrong message to today's gay youth.  School and "torture" may end, Connor writes, but " gay men can have a tendency to act just like those bullies in high school--maybe not physically, but the emotional effects can be the same."

Single, Connor will be thirty-three next month.  He lives in the gay village in Washington, DC but has no friends in the neighborhood.  He thinks he's probably unattractive to other gay men because:  1).  his face is pock-marked from bad acne when he was a teenager (you can't tell from his picture); 2).  he's not straight-acting (that is, he doesn't try to butch it up for the benefit of others); and 3).  he's not athletic or muscular (read: hot).  (Unfortunately, he admits to being "snarkastic," "always on the defense," and he has a few bad habits not helping his case.)

My point is this:  What the fuck is wrong with us?  We take all the crap in school only to give it out to our own after we graduate?  Have we learned nothing about how it hurts to be treated like shit?  Do we really think by being decent and pleasant and humane to another gay man, we'll have "Fatal Attraction" on our hands?  Really?

I'm worked up about this, yes, because I can't tell you how many times I was on the receiving end of the exact same bullshit.  All I had to do was glance at some of these fags, in the bar, on the street, at the mall, and I knew from the dirty looks I got they didn't have the time of day for me--a lower life form, no better than the fifty-somethings who trolled the clubs or public washrooms in malls to pick up boys.  Man, they thought they were such hot shit, but I wouldn't rate them lukewarm diarrhoea.  How I'd like to kick their sorry asses today.

What occurs to me, if you want to treat people like that, is it will come back to you.  I promise. You put out that attitude, you get it back--somehow, someway, someday.  You will.  You may just find yourself over thirty years old, alone, and wondering what went wrong, why you're not so appealing anymore, why all the boys aren't clambering for you.  And you'll get no pity from me.  

To those of you victimized by these fools, don't despair.  I was in my early thirties when I met my partner, Chris, and we've been together nineteen years. But the door with Chris behind it didn't open until after I began to see my self-worth, stopped trying so hard, obsessing about being alone, and realized I didn't need anyone in my life after all.  I really didn't.  I was all right all by myself.

And to those who continue to victimize the rest of us, by thinking your shit doesn't stink, go clean your pants.  My footprint's on your ass. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our Best Lives

In a recent post, I wrote the following:

Seeking ways to take being gay to the next level:  that's my goal, and I hope it's yours, too.  If you think of anything, small or large, that all of us should be aware of, not only to improve our experience of being gay but to elevate it to a higher level we may not have realized before, I invite you to respond to a blog post or to send me an email directly. 

Some of you may wonder what I meant by this, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to explain.

Assuming you're a gay person, perhaps something in your experience doesn't sit right with you.  For example, in the post titled "We're Better Than That," I wrote about how we're typically quick to get angry or become defensive when someone says something negative about us.  And how what is said, in the end, usually has no effect.  So the point of the piece was, why waste time and energy on our reaction when we can put them to better use elsewhere, helping to elevate our experience as gay people?

This came about simply because, when I check out articles on (which is my homepage), see opportunity has been given to folks to spew their hatred toward us, and read the resulting comments filled with corresponding hate, it seemed to me we were being drawn into the same old crap over and over again, that we're better than that, and we could do better than that.

Are you aware of a similar situation, a way we can take back control of how we think, feel, act, and turn it into something that works for us, that has the potential to change our lives for the better?  That's what I'm talking about.

I hope you'll take some time to give this some thought--to look at a common situation in a bit of a different way, see the opportunity in it, and share your ideas with us right here in my blog.

Help us all live our best lives as gay people.

We're Better Than This

In yesterday's post, I wrote about the opportunity we have to change our experience as gay people by changing our perception and our resulting actions. Here's a perfect example of how we can do just that:

At the risk of giving this more publicity than it's already received, reported on Friday that Victoria Jackson, who performed on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" from 1986 to 1992, wrote an op-ed piece for WorldNetDaily.  Among other things, she said last week's kiss on "Glee," between Kurt and Blaine, was "sickening."

Today, the Daily News on included a segment of video from "Showbiz Tonight," in which Jackson defended her position as a Christian, quoting Bible verses, connecting homosexuality with immorality, and claiming there are no safe programs on TV for her teenaged daughter to watch.

As you might expect, Jackson's comments generated angry reaction from gay people and those who support us.  Many took what Jackson said personally, commenting she's a has-been, her voice is irritating, and calling her a nutcase, a sow, and a bitch.  Other comments went into much more detail, attacking her, her version of Christianity, and her interpretation of the Bible.

In other words, gay people did what they always do:  overreacted and went for the jugular.    

Here's where we went wrong on this matter:

1). should never have reported news of Jackson's comment, or included a video allowing her to justify herself.  Many other publications, online and otherwise, including WorldNetDaily, with no LGBT affiliation, are fine places for Jackson to express herself, if they so choose to report it.

I don't see the point of giving Jackson a forum in a publication that's supposed to support and celebrate what's special, unique, and noteworthy about LGBT people.  So we can become angry again over the same issues thrown in our faces countless times in the past?  So we can attack Jackson and make ourselves look like fools?

To me, giving her this forum is the equivalent of African-Americans giving white supremacists an opportunity to spew their hate.  What's the point?  Why do it? Who does it serve?

2).  We should never react the way we typically do unless there's a direct threat to our safety, our welfare, or our rights.  In the grand scheme of things, will Jackson's comment mean anything to us? Will the fact she thinks Kurt and Blaine's kiss was "sickening" change my life?  Will it change yours? Of course not.

Tomorrow morning, we'll get up just like we did this morning, and we'll go about our lives like we always do.  Over time, circumstances for LGBT people will continue to improve, just like they have for decades, and Jackson's comment will have no bearing on that.

So why do we pay attention to dreck of this nature?  Why do we allow someone like Victoria Jackson to get to us?  Is this really a battle worth fighting?

During the final year I worked for a major financial institution in Canada, I heard an expression continuously.  Especially for those of us who were in positions of authority, it came up when we complained about all the changes we had to adopt and sell to our staff, all the pressure we were under, all the unrealistic expectations of us.  And that expression was this:  "It is what it is."

So it is with people like Jackson.  They have always been there, and they will always be there.  They will always believe they're on the right side of God.  They will always take a position of superiority based on their understanding of Christianity.  And they will always think it's in our best interests they change us.

Just like everyone else, gay people want to be accepted and liked by everyone? Wouldn't that be nice if it could happen.  But it won't.  Not as long as there are people like Jackson.  So why bother trying? What's the point?

I see a lot of time and energy wasted when we succumb to that knee-jerk reaction toward people like Jackson.  Why not focus our precious time and energy on something constructive, something that will do us good, something that will elevate us to a higher place.  

You can take the gay experience to the next level--one of greater consciousness, greater personal awareness, and greater fulfillment--by ignoring the Victoria Jacksons of the world.  Their opinions don't mean a damn.  We're better than getting angry and sending hate.  You know it, and I know it.  So let's stop doing it and get on with what's really important.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Seeking Ways to Take Being Gay to the Next Level"

An observant and valued reader contacted me late last week to ask why I'd changed the tag line on my blog from "Together, Taking Gay to the Next Level" to "Seeking Ways to Take Being Gay to the Next Level."  So I thought I'd spend a few minutes to explain.

As I've written before, my blog continues to evolve.  Early this year, I changed its focus to one of helping gay people to see how self-loathing affects us, and how learning to love ourselves (or improve our self-esteem, if you prefer) is one of the best ways to take "gay to the next level."  (I invite you to peruse these posts written between early January and mid-February.)

But, as I discovered, it isn't the only way.  While I continue to believe raising our collective self-esteem, which is completely within our control, is one of the best ways to improve our experience as gay people (and which I'm committed to writing about here on an ongoing basis), I realize we can contribute to achieving the same goal in other ways as well.

On March 10, for example, I wrote a post called "The Gay Lifestyle."  In it, I dispelled the notion of such a thing.  Sure, some gay men end up living alone and lonely, abusing drugs and alcohol, and engaging in anonymous and promiscuous sex--what is often considered the gay lifestyle--but just because that's what you most commonly know doesn't mean that's all there is.

Thousands of gay couples, Chris and me among them, live in happy, committed, long-term, and monogamous relationships; you just don't hear about them as much, that's all.  And part of what I've tried to do here is show you, through sharing details of Chris and my life together, what a working gay relationship looks like (hint: not that different from a straight relationship).  

Increasingly, I want my blog to play a role in helping gay people to look at themselves and their lives differently.  As I've continued to write posts on aspects related to being gay, I've realized some of the subtle and significant ways we can change our experience, often by doing little more than changing our perception. Through my ongoing search and writing about it, I hope to open up that world for you (as I've done in the past), as well as for me, so we can move our lives to another level.

Have you ever gotten stuck, thinking or doing the same thing over and over, because you fell into a routine, because the tried and true worked, because you never needed to turn it upside down and take a closer look at it?  What if it no longer works, or is no longer the best response?  In other words, maybe the perception we have of ourselves as gay people no longer works either.  Maybe we need to take a closer look at what being gay means to us, and see what hand we have in creating a new reality.

Seeking ways to take being gay to the next level:  that's my goal, and I hope it's yours, too.  If you think of anything, small or large, that all of us should be aware of not only to improve our experience of being gay but to elevate it to a higher level we may not have realized before, I invite you to respond to a blog post or to send me an email directly.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you and, hopefully, to a vigorous exchange of ideas.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Response to a Comment Received from Sarah

On Saturday, March 12, I received the following comment from Sarah, to the post titled "The Gay Lifestyle":

You know, Rick, when I was trying to do a little "background" learning before I started as a facilitator at that youth group, I bought a few LGBT magazines, as well as that collection of coming out stories you knew about. I think you've mentioned this before, but I was really struck by how much of the magazine (one more so than others, of course the name escapes me, but it was a Canadian publication) dedicated space to fairly trivial and sex-related stuff, as opposed to articles about issues facing gays and lesbians, or just current events/political issues, and how they affect the LGBT community. Given the volunteer work I do (at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre) I'd certainly describe myself as "sex positive," so I don't mean I have anything against sex, but there was just a very casual, "how to hook-up" feeling to the articles, it didn't represent the gay men who I know very well (you included, if I may presume to say I know you!) Anyway, I think what you're doing really fills a void. As you write these posts, perhaps some day you'll consider putting them together into book form? It could be a really wonderful thing for young people who are just coming out/beginning to navigate within the LGBT community to have. I would, of course, be honoured to proof-read for free!!

Here's my response:

Thank you, Sarah, for this comment.  What you wrote not only validates the content of some of my posts here, but also gives me, and my readers, the point-of-view of a straight mother, someone with a fresh perspective, and a positive and supportive attitude toward LGBT people.  

With regard to your discovery about the content of the magazines you bought, you are right, I have written about this before, and many publications intended for gay men are filled with inconsequential articles and overly-sexual advertising. Every time Chris and I go into Little Sisters, the gay and lesbian emporium in Vancouver, we see stacks of free magazines at the entrance to the store.  In most cases, they aren't worth the paper they're printed on, and the ones on the newsstand often aren't worth much more.  

That said, two of my favorites are The Advocate and Out, both of which are difficult to find on newsstands (which is why I subscribe to them online).  I believe they strike a better balance between interesting and useful articles, and those that are merely titillating.

Still, here's what I found:  In the March issues, Out contained a total of twenty-eight advertisements, eighteen percent of which featured some form of male nudity, and The Advocate contained a total of thirty-four ads, twenty-six percent of which featured some form of male nudity.  And, by the way, several articles in both showed semi-dressed or virtually naked men, from Darren Criss (Blaine in "Glee"), to male models, to Francois Sagat, a French gay male porn star.  The content of the March issues is typical for these magazines.

In general, my issues with gay publications are the following:
  1. As you write, the emphasis often appears to be on sex and "how to hook up," as opposed to something gay men can really use.  There's a big difference between wanting to meet someone for sex (which I find meaningless) and wanting to meet a life partner (which I find meaningful). I'd like to see articles on how to be the best person you can to prepare yourself to meet a life partner, which, in my opinion, is more constructive. But, of course, sex sells, sex ads generate a lot of revenue for publications, and gay men seem to like sex.  So... 
  2. As if it isn't bad enough that the self-esteem of many gay men is battered by those who discriminate against us.  In our own publications, we see picture after picture of handsome, hunky men, displaying ripped bodies, and selling a fantasy image and lifestyle.  Sooner or later, we all start to ask ourselves, do I look like that?  Do I measure up to this ideal?  Am I obsessed with trying to live up to an unrealistic example of what I'm told gay men are, at the detriment of more important things, which is just about everything else?  
  3. Youth, youth, and more youth.  I don't know who these magazines cater to, but the population demographic is changing along with the aging of baby boomers.  In the next decade or so, older gay men will outnumber younger. Their spending capacity will be significant, and they will look for representation of themselves in terms of positive images in the media. Those who provide the images, as well as thought-provoking pieces specifically for older gay men, will realize the windfall.  We can no longer afford to ignore grey gay power.  Being gay is no longer about just being young and beautiful.
Yes, it's true, Sarah, you and I have never met.  But, believe me, you know me better than most people because you've read my blog, and because I've shared with my readers personal parts of myself I've never discussed with anyone.  So, when you say you don't think the material in the gay magazines you bought represent me, you're right.  I try to be thoughtful and introspective, to look at what being gay means from a different angle, and to make the road to being out and fully realized easier for those who come after me.

I can't realistically assess to what extent I've been successful doing that through this blog, because I never know if what I write makes sense to anyone else.  All I can do is be true to myself, continue to write as honestly as I know how, and hope my words resonate with someone.  I believe what I do here is important work.  I'll be fifty-two this year, I've been out of the closet for twenty-five years, and I'm hopeful living this long in my skin will have the benefit of helping someone understand himself better and accept himself more.  

Certainly, I realize I've accumulated an abundance of written material in this blog over the past two years, probably enough for a book of some sort.  I won't pretend I haven't thought about putting it together and seeking publication--because I'm a writer and, ultimately, that's what I want to do--but I feel I still have more work to do, more posts to write, more areas of myself to explore in the process (after all, part of this is about helping me to better understand myself, too).

I'm thrilled that what I have to offer is available right now to anyone who is open to reading and thinking about it.  If I succeed in helping one gay person to look at himself and his life in a more positive and enlightened way, then I believe the effort I put into this will be worth it.

As always, thank you so much for your ongoing support, your kind words, and your friendship.  I appreciate the difference you've made to my blog and your contribution to the ongoing conversation.

I invite any and all of my readers to be a part of that conversation, too.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Reminder

Here's a tidbit I found in today's issue of The Vancouver Sun, in an article titled "Guide urges new Canadians to leave old prejudices behind."  The following was added to Discover Canada, the citizenship study guide provided to people immigrating to the country, suggesting they leave their '"violent, extreme or hateful prejudices"' behind.

"...Gay and lesbian Canadians enjoy the full protection of and equal treatment under the law, including access to civil marriage [p. A1]."

What better reminder to all Canadians, new and old.

(I am very fortunate indeed to live in a country like Canada and never want to take that for granted.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Power of Coming Out

I knew topical novelist Jodi Picoult would write about gay rights sooner or later. Although I've never read anything she's written, her new book Sing You Home, released March 1 and already a bestseller, is at the top of my current reading list.

In an interview with Tracy Sherlock, Books Editor of The Vancouver Sun, Picoult had the following to say:

'...People who are against gay rights often feel that they don't know anyone who is gay.  "If you know someone gay, if you have a gay friend, or a gay butcher or a gay cousin, you know that these people want exactly what a straight person wants: to be happy, to be healthy, to fall in love, to get married and have a baby...[p. D6]."'

(The above quote is from "A Mother's Mission," published in the Saturday, March 12, 2011 issue of The Vancouver Sun.)

Coincidentally, Picoult can also add to the list of gay people she knows her own nineteen-year-old son, Kyle, who came out to his family in 2007, during Picoult's writing of Sing You Home.  (She admits she knew her son was gay when he was just three years old.)
In past posts, I've written about gay people coming out all at once, suggesting the straight world would be so inundated with the sheer numbers of gay people, they'd have no choice but to sit up and take notice.

Another benefit would be that straight people could no longer claim gays are a part of other families, not their own.  When they realize how many gay people are in their own families, and how much they love them, they'd sing a very different tune in terms of human rights for gay people.

As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently, "Gay rights are human rights."

Together, taking gay to the next level.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Gay Lifestyle

I came upon a concept that interested me today--that of some gay people who are unhappy being gay because they don't want to live a homosexual lifestyle.  In fact, they feel so strongly about this that they won't come out of the closet, or they seek help from religious organizations who try to cure them of their sexual orientation.      

I won't be naive and write that I don't know what they're talking about, because I had the very same concerns they do, particularly when I was much younger and going through a difficult, and protracted, period of coming to terms with my homosexuality.  At some point, I knew I was gay--I could no longer deny it--but I hated what appeared to go along with that: the lifestyle I'd have to live because I thought all gay people did.    

And what did that lifestyle look like?

At breakfast this morning, I completed a short brainstorming exercise about what I thought typified the gay lifestyle, some of the more negative aspects that didn't appeal to me, and here's what I came up with, not an exhaustive list and in no particular order:

  • Loneliness
  • Sex in public places (parks, washrooms, etc.)
  • Substance abuse (cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs)
  • No recognition of older gay people
  • Overemphasis on youthfulness and physical beauty
  • STDs, HIV, and AIDS
  • Growing old alone
  • Older gay men hitting on cute, young guys for sex
  • Promiscuity 

While some of these are part of the straight lifestyle, too (if there is such a thing), others are certainly specific to gay people, particularly gay men, and it should be no surprise that anyone on the verge of stepping out of the closet and walking into a full-blown gay life might have concerns about what course it's likely to take.      

So, I'm here to tell you, after over twenty-five years of being an out gay man, that some gay men live a good proportion of the gay lifestyle outlined above for some or much of their lives, but it doesn't have to be that way.  You do not have to be a part of anything that makes you uncomfortable, fails to conform to your moral code, or turns you off.  In short, as a gay person, your gay lifestyle can be what you make it.

What you don't often see are all the gay people living and working in your own neighborhoods, who quietly go about their daily business, just like everyone else, drawing no attention to themselves, and having little to nothing to do with the stereotypical gay lifestyle.  That's the great thing about being gay--no expectations to get married, have children, or live up to a heterosexual ideal, if you don't want to.  

So don't think for a minute that, because you're gay, you'll end up alone and lonely; dependent on alcohol and drugs; looking for sex in places where it shouldn't happen; invisible and forgotten when you're older; sick and dying of AIDS.  Millions of gay people today live happy, productive, fulfilled lives, in committed, long-term, and monogamous relationships.  You just don't hear about them that much.  In other words, they live like everyone else, like you're used to seeing people live, like you want to live yourself.

If you need more proof of this, take a look at other posts in this blog, particularly those under the heading "gay relationship."  As much as I can, I try to live my life as an example of what's possible for you as a gay person, and I talk about it openly right here.  I never wanted to be a part of the so-called gay lifestyle, and so I wasn't.  You don't have to be, either.

                                                                    Together, taking gay to the next level.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Only Love, After All

So I'm searching through a file yesterday, and I find a snippet originally published in "The Vancouver Sun," on Friday, December 18, 2009, with the following partial sentence underlined.  It's in reference to Ang Lee's 2005 motion picture "Brokeback Mountain":  "...Heath Ledger's heartbreaking performance as [Ennis Del Mar] a young man who discovers love in an unlikely package [p. D4.]"

Of course, as we all know, the package is another man, Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.  In the movie, Del Mar is married to a woman, Alma, and together they have a young daughter.  We can only assume Del Mar loved Alma at some point in his life, which led to marrying her (the natural course of events for young men, we're told, is to fall in love with a young woman).  But that may not be the case. Perhaps he discovered he never loved another human being until he met Twist, that summer of sheepherding up in the mountains of Wyoming.

Juxtapose that with a recent comment I received here on another post, from elevencats, in Estonia, including mention of a 2009 Brazilian film he recently watched called "From Beginning to End" (English translation).  According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), it's about "two brothers [who] develop a very close relationship as they're growing up in an idyllic and happy family.  When they are young adults their relationship becomes very intimate, romantic, and sexual."

Curious about the details of the movie, but having no access to it, I watched a few YouTube videos elevencats referred me to, and came away with, if not a complete understanding of what happens, at least an overview:  Two half-brothers grow up extremely fond of each other during childhood--sleeping together, arms innocently around each other, the older later defending his younger brother to their father during an argument, as though they are something more than siblings, even then.  Their bond becomes stronger as they grow older, which concerns the father, who tells their mother the two boys are abnormally close, emotionally and physically.

Finally, as young adults on their own, the two brothers share an apartment, and tentatively take their sibling relationship to the next level--moving their love for each other into physical intimacy.  In effect, they become a gay couple, their lives lived together in that context.

This got me thinking.  In light of the aforementioned line referring to "Brokeback Mountain," and the taboo subject of two half-brothers becoming adult lovers, the following questions played in my head: Do we have control over who we love, or does love direct us, giving us no choice but to follow?  And is the course of love ever wrong to the extent it must end?  (I hasten to add, this is not a discussion regarding heterosexual love, between two biologically-related people who have the physical ability to procreate. That's something else altogether, beyond the scope of this post.)

How many of us could imagine being told the love we have for another human being is wrong, unnatural, forbidden, and that it must end?  Assuming you're straight, what if someone said to you, the man or the woman you love with all your heart, mind, soul, and body is wrong, that you cannot love that person, that your love is forbidden, prohibited, for whatever reason?  What then?  Are your feelings for that person supposed to simply end?  

I've never believed real, true, meaningful love is ordinary or common or recurrent. Rather, I believe it's rare and precious and magical.  It's a shame to think not everyone experiences love of this nature during his lifetime, even though I'm certain that's the case.  Those who do might acknowledge it as a one time thing--a fateful meeting of two people, of whatever gender, at the right place, at the right time, and in the right headspace, to be open to the opportunity of love and the possibility of its transformative power.  In other words, although our birthright, love is a singular gift, one we cannot deny or ignore when it happens.

Do we always know, to use the quote above, what the "package" we fall madly and passionately and physically in love with will look like?  If you're a man, can you always say the package you fall in love with will be in the form of a woman? If you're a woman, can you always say the package you fall in love with will be in the form of a man?  Would you be surprised, even stunned, if you experienced strong and undeniable feelings of love for someone of the same sex?  

It happens.  Believe it or not, some people don't discover until their 50s, or even older, that the love of their lives is someone of the same gender, when they had no inkling whatsoever of that possibility.  Are they nothing more than latent homosexuals, having refused to succumb to earlier attractions to people of the same gender, because of familial, religious, or societal pressures?  Did they finally muster the courage to be their true selves, realizing time was running out, where they could no longer justify making someone else happy at the expense of their own happiness, and where they simply didn't give a damn anymore?

Or did love have the last laugh, arriving in a package different from anything they could have anticipated?

Excluding all that complicates it, from simple attraction to sex--which, of course, is impossible--can it be said love always finds where it belongs, where it's supposed to be, its rightful home?  Are we responsible, then, to accept, respect, and honor love, despite the form it takes, because we know to love is the only reason we're here, and because we should all be so lucky to experience it firsthand, regardless of its form?

The Sex Education Gay Men Never Get

The following was an exchange between Burt Hummel (Mike O'Malley) and his son, Kurt (Chris Colfer) in last night's episode of "Glee," titled "Sexy," written by Brad Falchuk.  For those of you who don't watch "Glee," Burt knows his son is gay.


Burt:  For most guys, sex is this thing we want to do.  It's fun, it feels great, but we're not really thinking too much about how it makes us feel on the inside, or how the other person feels about it.

Kurt:  Women are different?

Burt:  Only because they get that it's about something more than just the physical.  When you're intimate with somebody in that way, you're exposing yourself.  You're never going to be more vulnerable, and that scares the hell out of a lot of guys, believe me.  I can't tell you how many buddies I've got who've gotten way too deep with a girl, who said she was cool with just hooking up.

Kurt:  But that's not going to happen to me, Dad.

Burt:  No.  It's going to be worse, because it's two guys.  With two guys, you got two people who think sex is just sex.  It's going to be easier to come by.  And once you start doing this stuff, you're not going to want to stop.  You got to know it means something, it's doing something to you, to your heart, to your self-esteem.  Even though it feels like you're just having fun.

Kurt:  So you're saying I shouldn't have sex.

Burt:  Kurt, when you're ready, I want you to be able to do everything.  But when you're ready, I want you to use it as a way to connect to another person.  Don't throw yourself around, like you don't matter. Cause you matter, Kurt.

(Italics are mine for emphasis.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Love and Courage

Love takes courage.  Choosing love takes courage.  Choosing to love takes courage.  Choosing to love completely takes courage.

Early on, before Chris and I had been a couple for two years, we moved in together.  At the time we decided to sign the lease on a brand new apartment in Yaletown, I told Chris I had no intention of cohabiting with him if he thought we were roommates only.  I wasn't looking for a roommate; I was looking for a life partner, a relationship, a commitment.  I didn't want him thinking all we'd do is share the rent--so we could live in a nicer place than either of us could afford alone--and conduct our lives independent of each other, including romantic experiences with others.  That was not acceptable to me.  I would not have stood by and watched that happen.

Several months later, established in our beautiful apartment in the sky, with an unobstructed view of downtown Vancouver, I said something that would put a pall on our relationship, at least for me, for years to come.  What I asked Chris freaked him out, and he said something to the effect that he didn't know if our relationship was "'til death do us part."  Spooking him resulted in a long list of things coming from his mouth he'd never communicated to me before.  Why hadn't he said them to me previously, before we'd moved in together, before I'd been allowed to think my relationship with him was on a solid foundation?

My heart shrivelled like a dying flower that night, closing itself up from everything I'd taken for granted about us, everything I'd thought to be true about the life Chris and I had made for ourselves.  In our separate beds (we've had separate sleeping arrangements from the beginning--another reason why we've been together for so long), neither Chris nor I slept that night.  As I lay there, eyes wide open, I thought that was it for us.  The sense of panic Chris had expressed over taking our relationship to the next level--articulating how much we loved each other, how important our relationship was, how we wanted nothing else but to spend the rest of our lives together--had spread to me.

Envisioning the dissolution of our relationship, and the life we'd embarked on, I couldn't imagine not having that young man in my life.  The thought of that was unfathomable.  I couldn't imagine all of our things going down in the elevator and in different directions once they arrived at the bottom, just a few months after everything had gone up and been brought together in a symbolic gesture of our love for each other.  I wished I hadn't pushed Chris.  I wished I hadn't scared him. I wished I'd known just how frightened he was, the misgivings he still had that we might not be meant for each other after all.    

The following morning, Chris and I stumbled into the kitchen, exhausted, bleary-eyed, and low-key.  We mumbled a few words at the table as we went through the motions of breakfast.  I expected him to tell me he didn't want to be together any longer.  After all, he was just twenty-five years old.  I was thirty-four.  I was ready for a long-term, committed relationship, more than ready.  But he was just twenty-three when we met, a young kid, who'd had almost no experience as an out gay man.  He'd been with virtually no one other than me.  He'd never had his fun, his playing around, sexually or otherwise. Would he hold that against me?  If we didn't break up then, would we later on, because he didn't know what he wanted, but it wasn't what we had?  Were we just putting off the inevitable? Should we cut our losses now rather than later, so I didn't spend any more time investing in us, in a future that would never be?

On the way to work that morning, Chris and I walked the few blocks together before he continued to his workplace downtown, and before I turned to climb the Seymour viaduct on the Granville bridge.  Chris apologized for what he'd said the evening before, for upsetting me, for allowing me to think our relationship was in trouble.  As he began to tell me he was going through a mid-life crisis of sorts and needed time to catch up to what was happening to us, he began to cry.  What had gone on between us in the previous twenty-four hours had hurt him, too.  He realized what he'd done with just a few words to upset the stability of nearly two years together.  He assured me everything would be all right.  He said we were back on track, as though nothing had transpired between us the previous night.

But we were anything but back on track, as far as I was concerned.  I didn't buy it.  I wanted to buy it--God knows I did--but I couldn't.  Not when I knew how he really felt.  Not when I knew he'd finally opened up another side of himself I'd never seen before, and what I'd seen had hurt me beyond description.  If he didn't end things between us now, should I?  I wanted to be married.  I'd wanted to be married for years.  Should I let him go, move on, keep up the effort to find someone I wanted to be with--and who wanted to be with me?  Could I afford to invest anything more in Chris and in us when, at any time, he might tell me he wanted out?  Could I take that risk?  Did I want to wait until he figured out whether I was the one he wanted to be with?  I'd be devastated if we broke up. But how much worse would I feel if I hung around, waited for him to make up his mind, then watched him walk out the door a month, six months, a year, later?

On the other hand, I acknowledged Chris's youth.  I felt for him.  I thought maybe I hadn't been fair to him.  An older man putting his clutches on an innocent, a babe. Maybe he should be with someone his own age. Maybe he needed time to figure himself out. Maybe he needed to get clear in his mind what he really wanted. Maybe he needed more experience with other gay men, to see what was out there, what was available to him.  After all, he'd only wanted a coffee buddy when we'd met, another gay fellow to socialize with, so he wasn't on his own all the time.  What I'd offered him from the beginning was the chance to be in a settled relationship, but maybe he didn't want to be settled.  Maybe it was too early for that.  Had I pushed too hard?  Did I give him a fair chance?  Should I let him go and see what happened?

What I wasn't sure Chris saw was just how good we were together, how lucky we were to have found each other.  I'd had a few relationships in the past--what I refer to now as affairs--and not one of them had been near as good as what Chris and I had.  He was so different from all the rest.  He was kind and sweet and gentle.  He'd never smoked, done drugs, or slept around--all deal breakers for me.  I'd been with the addicted smokers.  I'd been with those who'd had sex with plenty of other men.  I'd been with the jaded, the untrustworthy, and the messed up, in large part because that's all I thought I could get.  Chris was none of that. He was a breath of fresh air.  He was exactly what I needed, exactly who I imagined I'd need to meet for a relationship to work--someone who hadn't been eaten up and spit out by the gay life.  He was open and honest and utterly beautiful in so many ways.    

I made the decision to stay, to wait it out, to see what happened.  For months, years even, I held back. I gave Chris space. I didn't crush him with my growing feelings for him.  No more serious conversations about forever.  I became focused on today.  I knew I had him for today, for each and every moment we shared together.  I knew that's all I really had, that's all any of us has, whatever's going on in our lives. Today we connected.  Today we enjoyed each other's company.  Today we experienced something new. Tomorrow was tomorrow. Tomorrow would take care of itself.  If I was still with Chris tomorrow--if he chose to be with me--so much the better.  I hoped he would.  I hoped over time he'd realize how much I loved him, how love wasn't a scary place to be after all, how he could be everything he was meant to be within the context of our relationship. I would see to that.

The idea Chris could leave me at any time ran through my mind constantly, for years, often sending me into a panic.  I was more reserved around him, so, in case he decided to leave, it wouldn't hurt as badly. But who was I kidding?  Every day I spent with him made me love him even more, made the idea of no longer having him in my life unbearable.  All I had was hope.  Hope he'd come around.  Hope he'd realize just how lucky we were.  Hope he'd recognize in me what he'd always wanted in a partner but hadn't define for himself yet.  Of course it was a waiting game.  Of course there was risk.  Of course everything could backfire on me, and I could find myself in a heap on the floor, wondering what had happened, wondering if I'd ever love the same way again.  What choice did I have?  I loved Chris with all my heart, and all I could do was hope he loved me too, and that he'd give us the chance we deserved.    

How do two people, from two very different experiences of love, come together and make a relationship work?  One from a broken home, his father leaving his mother when he was a young teenager, witnessing first-hand the devastation wreaked on the path of love lost?  The other never seeing the nature of true love, not between his parents and not from them.  How do two adults overcome the pain and the disappointment of love, find the strength to rise above what they know of it, believe the sum of what they've seen isn't all there is?  How do they open their hearts to another human being, not tentatively, but fully, generously, and with abandon--the only way love should be, the only way it truly has a chance--recognizing at any time, love can end, turn on them, tear them apart?

The only answer I can come up with is this:  We open our hearts wide to accept love because it's in our nature to do so.  We were made for love.  We were made to love.  Because, aside from everything else that makes up our lives, love is all that matters.  Because to not experience true love, at least once, is to live a life without meaning, without purpose--to merely exist.  I can think of any other reason to draw breath than for love.  To love someone else, and to be loved in return. Love must always be our starting point, our goal, our raison d'etre.  We have nothing without love.  Nothing matters without love. Love is all we need.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I had a flash, a vision so clear and definite, of a world in which no gay man or woman is imprisoned any longer in a closet, in which all are out and authentic and thriving.  And you know what I saw, what I hadn't considered before?  I saw not only how gay people themselves would benefit from such a reality--which I've commented on before--but also how the entire world would benefit, too.  The bigger picture.  I liked my glimpse of the bigger picture.  It felt real and possible.

Think about it.  What happens when an entire segment of our population--if we are to believe gay people make up 10% of our population, then we're talking 3.3 million gay people in Canada alone--is no longer suppressed, is no longer prevented, because of attitudes and religious prejudices and discrimination, from being themselves, from being the full human beings they were intended to be, from fully taking advantage of the special and unique talents and abilities they have?  How would that benefit the individual gay man or woman on a personal level?  How would that benefit our towns and cities, our country, our world?        

At this very moment, a young gay man, not yet out, is at a crossroads, much as I was in 1977, when I graduated from high school; when I had the option of pursuing whatever line of work made my spirit soar, my heart sing; and when I consciously made the decision not to pursue anything that drew more attention to me for being gay than I'd already had.  Hair styling was out.  Interior design was out.  Travel consultant was out.  Fashion design was out.  Pretty much anything creative was out, because these were lines of work women entered, not men, not real men, not self-respecting men, anyway.  

Instead, I entered the banking profession, where I remained for twenty-eight years.  Where, although I hit some awesome highs in my career, my spirit died a little every day because I wasn't doing what I really wanted to do.  Because I didn't have a creative outlet.  Because I couldn't work with hair or fabrics or color or paint or furniture or exotic locations or whatever.  I chose comfort and safety and tradition.  I chose what would fall under the radar.  Back in the day, men had to.  It was either that or face the possibility of odd stares, ridicule, insults, or worse.

Today, that young gay man at a crossroads wants to be a dancer more than anything in the world. Dance is his passion.  It's what makes him feel alive.  His spirit flies when he's on the dance floor.  His whole being overflows with joy.  He knows people appreciate his talent, experience magic when he performs.  He loves bringing his passion and joy to them. It makes him feel good about himself. It makes him feel like he's making a contribution.  He knows his life is on the right course.  

But he also knows the reputation of men who enter the field of dance.  He knows the uphill battle to be seen as a talented male dancer, and not as a talented gay male dancer.  He knows how other men will look at him, judge him, think less of him.  He wonders why sexual orientation plays a role in anything beyond who one loves, who one spends his life with, who one grows old with--and why anyone cares, anyway.

How many young, closeted, questioning or gay people, even today, make decisions they'll have to live with for the rest of their lives, based on needing to live up to their family's, friends's, church's, culture's, and country's expectations? How many of them don't have the courage to follow their hearts, their dreams, because they've heard the message they cannot be who they are?  How many of them have the strength to battle everything that says you're not good enough as you are, you must be something else, and win?

How has everyone else, the rest of the population, lost out on what these fine young people have to offer when countless numbers turn their backs on who they are, who they were meant to be, what they are most passionate about, and decide it's simply easier to give in, not to fight the uphill battle, to make everyone else happy, not to upset the apple cart?  How much dance goes undanced, how much design goes undesigned, how much beauty and innovation and creativity goes unrealized?  How much worse off is our world as a result?      

In my vision, not one gay man or woman is closeted, held back in any way because of sexual orientation.  In my vision, every gay man and woman is exactly who he or she most passionately wants to be.  In my vision, the entire world is transformed through accepting people for who they are, by encouraging one and all to live up to their fullest potential, by taking advantage of the energy and talent and creativity that remains undiscovered, ready to be shared at any moment.      

This is only one small part of what I mean by, taking gay to the next level.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Positive Images (Part Three)

So this is what we missed, if we watched Sunday night's Oscar telecast, when Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem appeared on stage together to hand out two awards, and the camera cut to Penelope Cruz in the audience, lingering on her for an unusual length of time.

I have to tell you, seeing two straight, masculine men like Josh and Javier kiss is kind of hot, but it's cool, too.  Good for them.  Why they kissed makes no difference to me.  The fact they did increases their attractiveness in my book.  I appreciate the positive image they portrayed of two men engaged in an intimate gesture.

Boo to ABC for preventing this from being shown.  What a great opportunity they turned their back on to show two men being affectionate with each other.  We see men killing men all the time on TV, including all the blood and gore.  I guess that's more acceptable than a simple kiss.


"I've often wondered what would happen if all LGBT people came out on [National Coming Out Day], the exact same October 11.  What if Monday, October 11 of this year were that day?  Yes, this very year. Just a few short months from now, all people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered would be out.  No more closets.  No more hiding.  No more pretending to be something we're not.  Then what?

"The reason I bring this up is because I believe there's power in doing something in large numbers.  If just a few do it, there's no impact on a grand scale; however, if many hundreds of thousands, or even millions, do it, all on the same day, don't you think the straight world would sit up and take notice?  Don't you think all LGBT people, and the ongoing issues we face, would finally be taken seriously, because we'd give the straight world no choice but to take them seriously?   

"Our numbers would be too impressive, too overwhelming to ignore.  And straight people, who had thought their families had been spared the embarrassment of someone lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, would learn otherwise.  They'd realize that uncle who never got married, or that sister who seems to have no interest in boys, or that young son who prefers the arts to athletics, and, yes, even that man who's married to a woman, or that woman who's married to a man--they'd realize all of them are gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered.  We're everywhere.  The problem is that, as a group, we're fractured, separate from each other.  But put us all together, and who knows what we'd be able to do." 

Back when I wrote this in July 2010, in a post titled "Living Fearlessly:  National Coming Out Day, October 11," a critical piece was missing--that of how to pull together all those LGBT people, no matter where they are, so they could be at the same place, at the same time--to gather, to march, to be seen and heard and no longer ignored.

Well, that piece is now in place, and we're seeing the potential of its power played out on our TV screens and in the pages of our newspapers, in the form of thousands upon thousands of people demonstrating in countries across Northern Africa and the Middle East.  The piece I refer to is social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, both of which are being used at this very minute to topple oppressive governments from Tunisia, to Egypt, to Libya.  Because of social networking, people who didn't have a voice before, and who tolerated all manner of human right violations for decades, are finally being heard, and they are literally in the forefront of history-making revolutions.

In "The Revolution Will Be Tweeted," published on, Ben Patrick Johnson recently wrote the following:  

As LGBT people, we have long been marginalized and refused a place in mainstream society by shunning or threat of violence. We socialized in the shadows of an underground speakeasy, the docks of port cities, and clandestine clubs and societies. Interaction was always accompanied by a nervous glance over the shoulder, an awareness that one might be caught and persecuted. We began Gay Pride parades and festivals to carve out a bit of space for ourselves [to] push back against this phenomenon, but it persisted.
Now, with social media, we have the opportunity to form new, very visible constructs with people of like mind or experience. For the first time, our opportunities are just as rich in Bozeman, Mont., as Boston, Mass. There is no upper or lower age limit, no expectation...of being pretty, or butch, or tall or able-bodied. Starting a group on Facebook requires nothing more than a web browser and a few clicks. Posting an opinion is far more practical and less scary than standing up in public and speaking one’s mind.
In closing, Johnson had this to say:  
As an activist, the sense of liberation I get from speaking my truth is something I wish all could and would experience. A street corner is one place I can share my feelings (and have on occasion), but it’s exponentially more effective online.  
Of course, the revolution Johnson refers to is a possible gay revolution, essentially our equivalent of what's happening elsewhere in the world, where social media have been used to rally people toward a common goal of demanding change.  More than ever, every man and woman has a voice, and when all those men and women are compelled to say the same thing, brought together by powerful media tools now available, well, as we've seen already, the course of history is changed.  
So what would happen if gay people in all of our major cities across the country rallied together, showing up in the thousands, or even the tens of thousands, to be seen and heard?  For what purpose would we congregate and demonstrate?  
I suppose that depends on where you live.  South of the border, for example, same-sex couples do not have the right to be married in all fifty states (don't ask me why the U.S. federal government hasn't taken this in hand and made same-sex marriage legal across the nation; probably has something to do with the different ways in which Canada and the United States are governed).

What if enormous numbers of gays and lesbians around the country showed up on the grounds of every legislative building of every capital city from Alaska to Florida?  And what if those people stayed put until promises were made to grant them what they want, what they are entitled to as human beings and as citizens? Do you think Americans would have a revolution on their hands?  You bet they would. Would state governments around the country sit up and take notice?  You bet they would.  They'd have no choice.  

North of the border, we've been fortunate enough to have the right to legally marry since 2005.  So for what purpose would we use Facebook pages or Twitter tweets to rally LGBT people?  What would we have to gain?

I think one of the greatest benefits would be to pull together the LGBT community. Right now, we live spread out all over our cities and towns, as opposed to specific areas.  As a result, our community is separated, and our power is diluted. Rallying would not only bring us together, but also it would unite us no matter where we live, and, most importantly, it would show us we are not alone, we are not in this fight by ourselves, and we do have the collective strength and power to affect change.  

My guess rallying would also encourage a good many people who are not currently out to publicly declare their sexual orientation, thereby freeing themselves from the mental and physical imprisonment that is so much a part of their lives.  When those who are still closeted see everyone else show up and be accounted for (I, for one, would be there, as I know Chris would, too), they'd be empowered to do the same, taking advantage of the safety in numbers and of the best opportunity ever to tell the world who they are, what they're about, and what they want.  

In other words, their journey toward authenticity would take a big leap forward, finally, ending entire lives of secrecy and shame.  There's no telling what the benefits of a national group coming out day would be, but I'm confident it could be enormous, for every person involved and for the country.      

But, most of all, I think what would be gained is we'd find our shared voice, and we'd be heard at last. Our enormous numbers would speak for us loud and clear--that we're human beings first and foremost; we're lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered; we're a part of the greater world; we're everywhere straight people are; we're not going anywhere; and we demand to be treated with the same dignity and respect as every other human being.  Oh, and we're not going to put up with any more of the bullshit we've tolerated for years.    

No doubt whatsoever, we'd be a force to contend with.  Our revolution, too, would change history.  

***For the full text of my post titled "Living Fearlessly: National Coming Out Day, October 11," please click here.

***For the full article by Ben Patrick Johnson on, please click here.