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The Times We Live In

It's not been an easy week. Two police shootings. Riots. Our presidential candidates are meeting on Monday, and I'm already expecting a barrage of insults back and forth. We live in a crazy time. A time of anger, a time of indifference, a time of unparalleled technology, a time of beauty and madness and trials and judgments and confusions and hope. Our parents look at things and say we have it easy. We look at our parents and say "Thanks for handing us an American Dream that doesn't exist."

2016 is three quarters of the way over. We live and die by memes. We put our fears and anger and opinions onto social media. We join together, we come apart, we fight back, we argue, and we find a common ground (though, sometimes we don't). I have no answers for any of this. I have my opinions, and I'll share them here and there. I guess all I can say is: we gotta keep trying. We have to keep working at this 250 year experiment. We can't give up on each other. America is not over. 2016 is not over. Things are not easy. What I know is that negativity must not come in, unless it's being used for good. We have to keep working. We have to keep fighting back. We have to have those uncomfortable conversations we don't always want to have. We have to find a way out of this mess.

I'm talking about the America we live in today. I'm talking about when we choose fear over hope. We choose pessimism over optimism. When we hide away when we should be spreading love. When we say it's broken and we don't look for ways to fix it. When we are this close to electing a demagogue into office. 

I don't think America is over. But I do wonder, how did we get here?

I don't want to be a meme, though. Memes don't solve problems. Memes don't lead to donations and change. Memes don't fix systems, change minds, or bring about happier homes. I don't want my opinions to go viral unless they move someone into action. I don't want to be fodder for a blog if it's not going to lead to some kind of change. I want people safe. I want people to be able to walk the streets and not worry about what's going to happen to them. I want the bloodshed to come to an end. I want a traffic stop to not end in death. I want the children of war out of the rubble and somewhere safe. I want to create things that make the world a better place. I want to create things that give people joy. And I want to use whatever platform I am given to help people. If all I have right now is my pen, then that's what I'll do. If I have more down the road, then I'll do something with it.

We are all family. We are all citizens. We have disagreements, battles, opinions, thoughts, feelings. We are all here, trying to work through things. And maybe it's in these battles that hope can shine through. And maybe it's going to get bad before it gets better. And maybe 2016 has been our wakeup call. But November's election is going to come, whether we like it or not. We must decide what we will choose. Hope or fear. Regret or love. Hate or change. Violence or kindness. It's on us.

That's what I hope. And hope is the thing that drive us. Hope is the thing that must keep us going.

We Believe

We believe we have an obligation to tell stories that make a difference.

We believe that what came before us will inspire us in what we make today,

We believe in showing the LGBTQ community in a positive light.

We believe that there are many stories within the LGBTQ community that are not being told, and it's time that we tell them.

We believe that LGBTQ youth need heroes that they can look up to.

We believe LGBTQ elders need stories that can inspire them, enliven them, and honor who they are and what they accomplished.

We believe that the leaders of LGBTQ history need to be honored.

We believe that LGBTQ organizations are still as necessary and vital as they have ever been, and we must continue to give to them.

We believe in the power of many voices to help move progress forward.

 

On This Love

Things about Love:

Don't shy away from love. It's real and it's good. It's easy to play the one who has the upper-hand. It's easy to make sure you decide the rules. Never committing, sticking to what you know. Thinking that the only way to make love work is to control it, shape it, and mold it to your liking. That's not right. Let go. See what it's like when you're not in control all the time. Be someone that someone can trust. It's easy to be cold. It's easy to think you're better than someone else. This way, you get to make the rules and you get to decide how the other person is going to act. So, you text less. You don't respond as much. You only see the person when it's on your terms. Sure. This works for a time. And sure, it ,makes you look like a prize worth fighting for. But what's it really doing? What are you really doing? Is that really the way you want to win someone over? Is that how it's supposed to go? Hurting them and making them crazy until they have no choice but to giver in to you? The answer, if you were wondering, is no. Making it hard on someone else shouldn't be part of dating. And just because you have a ton of friends, and a busy life, and Netflix back at home, that doesn't mean that you should string someone along. Be better than you think you can be. Be nicer. If you think you're something amazing, then be amazing to other people. Keeping it to yourself, like it's this fine treasure, shows there was nothing there to be begin with.

Fight for what you want. If you like someone, tell them that you do. Ask them out, take a chance, get beyond that fear. And if you fall on your face, good. That happens from time to time. We're meant to be emotionally bruised up every now and then. Be OK with not knowing everything. If he seems nice, then talk to him. If he seems like a decent guy, see where it might go. Say what you want. Make your feelings known. Be open and honest. Don't worry your mind over what he's thinking. Don't think you're going to say the wrong thing. We always say the wrong thing. Life is weird and messy and silly. You're going to slip up every now and then. if you think he's worth something special, then take the leap. And if it goes sour, then at least you gave something to it. At least you tried. That's more than most people in this world ever give.

But know you're worth more. You are more than just a torso for someone to ogle at. More than a name behind a phone. You're more than just a career for people to either be jealous of, or to look down on you for. You are more than the family you came from. Don't let anyone make you feel sorry for yourself. Don't ever let them make you think you're too fat, too thin, too butch, or too femme. You're you. And what you are is the most fabulous thing in the world. You are a bright, shining unicorn. It's not about that catchy turn of phrase that you make a party. It's not about the cocktails that you have on Fridays with your friends.  It's not about being the life of the night, or being smarter than someone else. It's not about the outer things that you think make people look up to you.

You are your passions, and your spirit, and the things that mean the most to you in this world. If someone can't see that, then be done with them. Life is far too short to spend your days hoping someone likes you. Don't let the opinions of others decide your feelings. Don't let an unreturned text, or a bad date, make you question the beauty that is so inherently you. Those are people who don't deserve your time. You are someone to love. You are someone who will find someone incredible. Stop letting a man take the lead. Stop letting a man decide how you feel about yourself. Because no matter what, no matter what happens in this life, you're going to stay beautiful. The right one will come along. The bad ones will fall away. That's why this life is worth living.

 

Do We Need Heroes?

I believe we do need heroes.

First, there are the heroes we see on television, the stage, and on movies. The men and women who choose to create works of art that speak to the LGBT experience. Larry Kramer, Nathan Lane, Dustin Lance Black, Laverne Cox, Tony Kushner, Stephen Sondheim, RuPaul, Craig Lucas, Bill Condon, Pedro Almodovar, Rachel Maddow, Ellen Degeneres, Harvey Milk, Barney Frank, Billie Jean King - the list goes could go on for miles. They are people we look up to. They are people who speak when we can't. The ones brave enough to tell our stories.

But there are other heroes out there, and they deserve to be honored just as much, if not more. For their lives are not big ones, not sexy ones, not covered in the limelight, not profiled in a Barbara Walters special. Their lives instead are lives of quiet strength and unrelenting passion. The two moms who both work long jobs, yet still manage to get their kids up in the morning and out to school. The single dad with the adopted son, just trying to figure out how to take each day. The young kid in high school, stuck in a small town, who just wants to get out and be some place where he'll be loved for who he is. The trans person who decides to live life on their terms, even in a world when simply going to the bathroom is an act that's been outlawed in some states. The elderly couple who've been together for decades and seen the world change beyond their wildest dreams. These are the heroes that matter most in the world.  Their stories are the hidden ones. The daily lives they lead - full of groceries, crappy bosses, nights out, moments on the couch, walking the dog - those are not ones often celebrated on celluloid. Their stories are not often told, whether on the screen, the page, or even in the news, but they are the lives that mean the most.

Our heroes are those who came before. Our heroes are the ones who bled for us, fought for us, and screamed for us. They are the ones who got us here. Our heroes are the ones who are out and proud in every stage of their life, whether they're waving the flag or not. The bus drivers, the long-shot politicians, the cooks, the waiters, the farmers, the janitors, the counselors, the teachers, the scientists. The men and women who go about their lives everyday, proud of who they are and proud of the lives they have made for themselves. It's not always about being in front of the camera, or making a speech at the Oscars. Sometimes, it's just waking up each day, sending the kids to school, feeding the dog, being out at work, and going back home, proud of the day you accomplished. They call it a simple life, but there is nothing simple about being who you are in a world that keeps telling you to be someone else. There is nothing simple about living and loving when everyone would rather do the opposite. Nothing is simple about loving someone else, choosing to marry someone else, choosing to be yourself, choosing to be a parent.

Some of these heroes had to leave home and start over. Some had to find a tribe far removed from the one they were born into. While others stuck around, moved to the suburbs, or found a home where home always had been. They didn't have to look too far outside their window. But really, though, it doesn't matter how they got to where they are, what matters is that they made it. Through fear and darkness, through worry and regret, through change and upheaval, through anguish and laughter and joy. They made it here.

They are our true heroes. Because they found a way to live the lives they wanted. The lives they chose.

So, as I continue to think about heroes, I think about this. These are the heroes that I want to celebrate. These are the heroes that I keep with me when I begin a story. These are the kind of lives that really mean something. Because when you have heroes, when you know there are people out there just like you, living life just like you, then you're never alone.