I think that coming out is one of the hardest things I’ve done. I believe and I could be wrong but I think most gay people suffer the same angst about coming out to family and friends. I thought this clip summarized it perfect. Let me know what you think.
I once thought I had to be dramatic to be fascinating; fascinating as being attractive to someone. Fifteen years had passed since I had dated. The dating scene had changed. All I knew was that everyone was meeting people online. No more accidental meeting at a party or a bar. No more blind dates. Why go out when you can shop at home? I was single and I hadn’t a clue how the dating scene worked.
So, I joined several dating sites but I never received a wink or nod. If you are past 40 and single in the gay community you might as well commit hari-kari because it’s hopeless. Like the straight community older gay men want to meet younger gay men. I was 45+, single and I was not an “A” gay. No one was especially interested. I did my fair share of sending winks and nods and saying hello but I never received a single response. So, while the dating scene had become digital, rudeness was everywhere. In the old days you could say hello to someone and you talked. Today, you heard silence.
After a few months of batting zero a friend suggested that I change my profile headline. He suggested some clever, double entendre which was lame but I did change it. I can still remember the headline – I may look like an angel but I’m not. After the headline rewrite he told me to “rewrite my profile and use that sharp sarcastic wit that you’re famous for, if that doesn’t work then nothing will”.
The competition is fierce in the dating world. The Internet changed everything. You have to have a gimmick to stand out in the crowd. You need to create intrigue to be attractive. A week after I made the changes it happened. I received winks and nods. How did the story end? I met someone. He ticked all the boxes. We’ve been together 14 years. He said my profile was laugh out loud funny and sarcastic.
Are you dating? Using an online service? Share yourself and don’t hid your personality. That’s how you make yourself attractive.
When I was in elementary school I had a penmanship book. I received a grade for my penmanship. I went from using a pencil to using a fountain pen. Can you imagine, using a fountain pen? But more importantly I learn to write everything with a fountain pen. When I went to high school in 1965, I dreamed of visiting all those faraway places I read about in books or saw in movies.
I had a long list of pen pals. One in London, one in Paris, one in Melbourne, one in Bangkok, one in Tokyo and one in Warsaw. That’s a long list of people and I wrote to them with my fountain pen. I would sit and read their letters and reread their questions about life in America and I would write and write.
If writing letters is a dying art then writing letters by hand using a fountain pen died when the Roman Empire fell. People don’t do it any more. We’re all too busy sending emails. It’s immediate and requires no real composition. There is nothing to savor. There is nothing to reread; delete when finished.
Letters are a legacy that live on long after we’re gone. It’s a connection to the past. I still write with a fountain pen. In fact I have two. Nothing is nicer than to receive a note written by hand and written with a fountain pen. I don’t know why it is, it just is at least for me.
I recently begun a journal and each time that I write I add something that I’m grateful for. Sometimes it’s as simple as what a beautiful day it is and I’m grateful to be alive to see. You know the alternative to being alive is not very pretty. Sometimes I’m thankful for the people around me. I say thank you, sometimes in my mind other times out loud. I found that since I started to take the moment to appreciate life around me I’ve been calmer.
It turns out that a study conducted a few years ago revealed that people who kept a gratitude journal were 25% happier than those that didn’t.
Are you in the closet? I think you’ve heard variations of that expression several times but usually it’s directed to a gay person. It goes along with coming out of the closet. But I’m not asking if you are gay or straight. What I’m asking is are you hiding some aspect of who you are from us, your family and friends?
So, I’m asking again. Are you in the closet? If you are then you are not capable of maintaining any relationship with anyone much less fall in love since honesty is mandatory. Honesty with yourself and everyone who is a part of your life.
Living in a closet is not the sole domain of gay people. The closet is the same for everyone. The closet prevents us from become who we truly are since we are hiding. Why do we choose to live in a closet? For me the answer is very simple. Fear. We are afraid of what someone will think of us. We’re afraid of rejection and rejection is one of the emotions we dread most.
Saying you have terminal cancer or telling a child that mommy and daddy are going to divorce are both equally difficult. Hiding those feelings is a perfect example of living in a closet. Hiding those feelings denies your true self from us. Withholding your emotions is withholding yourself.
The first time you share yourself completely with someone is the hardest. Each subsequent sharing becomes easier. You gain confidence in yourself but you begin to trust people around you. When I came out to my friends for the first time. They laughed. They knew I was gay long before I did. Long before I admitted it to myself. The same applies to you.
People have the natural ability to love, to share, to contribute and to want to belong to something bigger than themselves. You share yourself and people will embrace you and share back with you. You withhold yourself and there will always be a canyon between you and everyone else and they won’t share with you because you not honest with them or yourself.
You need to decide what’s the next step. No one can make you do anything. No one can make you step into the sunshine unafraid to drop the mask. It’s your decision and the first step is always the hardest.
A long time ago, I decided I wanted a new job. I had what I considered to be the near perfect job but I was bored. It was time for a change in venue. It was time to move up the corporate ladder and it was definitely time for a pay increase. Every Friday, I had dinner with two of my female friends. In truth dinner was a bitch session. We bitched about everything and everyone and because we worked together we fell into hysterical laughter when one of us did a parody of the designated target of the week. The target was someone we decided did not know their ass from a hole in the ground. It was always the same sad ones that we joyfully ripped to shreds.
One Friday night after our weekly dinner in the same Indian restaurant in Rockefeller Center I went home and sat down with a piece of paper and I made a list of what would be the perfect job. I listed all the responsibilities I wanted in the new job and of course I listed all the things that I didn’t want to do. I further decided to consider what I thought were my strengths and limitations. I compared this list to my optimal list of what constituted my perfect job. That list was an eye opener. Now I clearly knew what I wanted and didn’t want and how my skill sets matched up. But now I also had a gauge to compare all prospective future jobs in a meaningful way.
Fast forward, I did find and accept what I thought was the perfect job but nothing is ever perfect. Everything is always in flux. You need to deal with it. It‘s the old balancing act until you’ve gone beyond the point of no return and you need to find another job or you’ll be terminated.
This can also apply to relationships. You need to know what you want and what you don’t want. You need to understand what kind of person will attract the kind of person that possesses the traits that you want in a companion.
My partner and I have been together for almost 14 years. For a long time, I didn’t want any involvement. I didn’t want a relationship and I didn’t need one. But as you can guess one day I changed my mind. I did what I did to find my perfect job. I made a list. I refined the list focusing on the must haves and eliminated the rest. I considered what type of person would attract my ideal partner and voila one day I did meet him. He was 90% of what I said I wanted.
None of this is very hard. It takes patience. It takes time and an investment in yourself to find the one that best matches what you have defined as your ideal partner.
So, go have a few drinks and let your mind wander. Consider what this person will look like. Consider what type of person you want this person to be. Consider the values that you wish this person to have and then boil them down into the must haves. Then consider what type of person you need to be to attract this person. It isn’t impossible. It can be done, it just requires some work.
One finally note, you need to write it on paper. The reason is simple. Putting it in black & white makes it real. You cannot change your mind afterwards. Post it where you’ll see it every day. It needs to become part of who you are. Almost like a suit of armor. That’s it. Not too difficult and it will work.
Can you tell us what you want? Is it possible to tell us what’s important to you? Do you dream about it? In 1971, I saw Sunday Bloody Sunday. I found the story to be both moving and powerful in an unconventional way. It presented themes that I could not have conceived. Over the next several years when it played in revival houses I would go to see it. I watched the same scenes over and over and over and I tried to interpose myself into the story.
Sunday Bloody Sunday is a story about an unconventional love affair. In fact, it’s a triangle. Peter Finch is Daniel, a gay Jewish doctor. Glenda Jackson is Alex a human resources director. Murray Head is Bob the artist and the focus of their affections. Finch and Jackson know of each other and they know that Head is sharing their respective beds. How does that work? Convention would say that it’s a no-win for all involved. But is it really?
Everyone is a free agent. Everyone participates and for a time this most unconventional love affair works. Alex then wants more or she really slowly realizes that there is no hope in this relationship, at least not when there are three people in it. Head announces a trip to The States but before leaving there is one final confrontation between Alex and him. That scene is pivotal because Alex makes the remarkable revelation that, sometimes having something is better than nothing and sometimes having nothing is better than something. She finally realizes that she is the creator of her world and that only she shapes and reshapes it into any shape she wishes. That applies to you and me.
The decisions we make are ours and no one can claim them or change them. Our world for the most part is only limited by our imagination. No one can define what will make us happy or move us to tears. It’s all within our control.
At the risk of telling you the end of the film, Daniel speaks directly to the camera. He talks with affection about Bob and regardless of what anyone says, Bob made him happy. Without regret, without tears and without much fanfare Daniel defined what made him happy as Alex did. The question is, what makes you happy? Can you verbalize it? Can you dream it?
It’s 1535. The players are Henry VIII and Sir Thomas Moore. Moore refused to swear to the Act of Succession and to the Act of Supremacy. Not taking the oath to either of these two acts was treason.
The plot focuses on a man’s struggle with his conscience to do what is right under the law but also before God. In the end, executing Moore is the only solution. A solution that’s expedient for the government, Henry VIII, and all at court since Moore is now a visible sore that is beginning to fester.
Moore’s problem is his conscience. In fact, you have one and I have one. Our conscience guides us. Our conscience is our moral compass. It’s easy to ignore your conscience and many of us do it everyday when we ignore the suffering of others. It’s easy to turn a blind eye away from what we choose not to see. It’s easy to believe that what you do or don’t do will not affect others or yourself. The people affected are faceless and that makes it all the easier. The people affected are not like us. We diminish them by citing a higher, moral authority to confirm our actions. When do we realize that our act, tiny as it seems, is the first step to stepping on others’ rights and to support our superiority. It’s the first step ensuring our place in society at someone else’s expense.
Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, vetoed SB 1062. SB 1062 allowed businesses, small and larger, to cite religious belief to discriminate. It allowed discrimination against gays. People that aren’t like us. Arizona vetoed SB 1062 not because it was morally right but because of pressure from big business. I wonder what that says about the clout of big business?
SB 1062 is going nowhere fast. But what about tomorrow? Is it going to reappear in another form? What about the same law awaiting passage in Missouri, Georgia and Kansas? Did you know that Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma are considering a similar law? This war is not over.
Winning the war requires your participation. You cannot think that someone else will fight it. You cannot believe that big business will continue to do the heavy lifting because big business is solely concerned with making a profit.
Participation isn’t easy. It’s safe to ignore what you don’t want to see but then one day you discover that someone trampled on your rights; citing a higher, moral authority.
America believes in the separation of church and state yet SB 1062 uses religion to discriminate.
The clip is from A Man for All Seasons. The scene is long but it accentuates my point. You can turn away, you can remain silent but at some point you will need to stand-up for your beliefs. The question is, are you willing to die for your beliefs? Are you willing to die for them if you believed that your death protects your children?
Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, finally vetoed the controversial anti-gay law SB1062 pasted by the legislature. This law provided safety to anyone who refused to serve someone they perceived to be gay. If signed into law who would have been next? Refused to serve blacks? Foreigners? Women, perceived to be divorced?
This poem is by Martin Niemoller, a German Lutheran theologian.
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
We’re in a strange time. There are forces that are trying to impose their views on others, on us. It always starts with the smallest of changes, One small change leads to another until one day when we step out in the sunshine we discover that we are living in a world constructed by others for us. Suppression of one group’s rights by another is something that you cannot allow because one day if you’re not careful you’ll find your rights are gone.
What kind of person are you? Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? I pose the question because how you answer it indicates, to me, how you view your surroundings and perhaps yourself.
We learn many of our of basic attitudes. We learn them from our parents, primarily. We learn from them from our peer group and society, secondarily. It takes hard work to overcome what we’ve learned and to develop our own opinions and our own values.
Everything around us, specifically in America, preaches youth, health, vitality, and a host of other desirable attributes. Having these physical traits guarantees happiness in all the ways that movies and commercials depict. Everywhere we see images of perfection. We don’t see all people, all the research that created that image. We don’t see the master plan behind the image. We don’t see an unrealistic or an unattainable image but want to be that person. We want to have that person’s life. It’s all very subtle but it’s there and our children have listened and continue to watch and believe that those images, those messages are real. You and I know those images aren’t real.
Now imagine for a moment that you’re a person of color or a female that doesn’t fit the presented image. I won’t even include the LGBT community in this discussion because until recently gays didn’t exist. But now imagine that you’re a child then conflict follows. Despite the success of the woman’s movement, women need nerves of steel to hold up against the onslaught of pressure from their friends, their families, the workplace and society to conform and to be submissive. People of color continue to deal with stereotyping. It’s it a matter of perception. Can we change it or do we indirectly support its continuation because we have not yet found our voice to influence change to a more realistic, acceptable scenario?
I’m not sure if the conflict will ever go away but then again, I could be very wrong.