View from my dinner table

Full moon over Ft Lauderdale Beach

Full moon over Ft Lauderdale Beach

Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale earlier this evening. After a long day of travel, checking into hotel, unpacking and a few work calls…Fearsome was a mighty hungry Beard so I took him to an oceanfront dinner at Casablanca Cafe. (Don’t tell him but it was actually a birthday dinner for the better half. Happy Birthday better half!)

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My girl’s Birthday

Patsy, the youngest girl in the pack, is six today!

Patsy was born in Tijuana in the dirt under an abandoned car across from my housekeeper’s home. When Celia saw that a mother dog had dug out a hole in the dirt and was giving birth she took the mother and her seven puppies in. Six girls and one boy were born that day six years ago. Only Patsy and her brother were adopted so Celia kept the rest including mom.

Celia still has all five of Patsy’s sisters and her mother passed away about a year ago. Celia still comes to work here once a week so Patsy gets to see grandma and smell all of her sisters weekly.

Patsy moved into our home at eight weeks of age, just six weeks before our fifteen year old chocolate lab, Diva, passed. Patsy would lay with Diva to stay warm and it looked as if Diva had a puppy of her own. With her coloring, Patsy keeps the chocolate in the family. We are blessed to have her.

Happy Birthday to You Happy Birthday dear Patsy Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday dear Patsy
Happy Birthday to you!

Now make a wish and blow out your candle so you can have your butter cake!

Now make a wish and blow out your candle so you can have your butter cake!

(I think she may have wished for the whole piece, but she had to share.)

Not forgotten

It was early summer probably about 1985. I remember sitting on the couch of my then boyfriend listening to Bronski Beat.

We discussed how we could relate to the story the lyrics told. We moved to the rhythm and the beat of the music. We shared a few beers and a home made dinner as we discussed what we both had done at work that day. John was a good cook. At the time I was a respiratory therapist at a local community hospital, he was the new director of the newly opened AIDS community center.

When we had AIDS patients in the hospital it was I that was assigned their care. I was single, gay, had no kids and had probably been exposed. Thus it was always my job to take care of them, as they were always gay men just like myself. John’s job had him entrenched in the community. He was tasked with care, education, support and most of all organizing disorganization and fear. Fear infiltrated our culture. People feared us that we might be sick. We feared each other. We feared our own selves and what was to become if us. We did our best. We somehow found strength.

I cared for my patients, he for his clients. All were sick and dying. More were getting sick daily. Our friends, sex partners, lovers and those we didn’t know other than seeing them. It quickly became identifiable. A look you could tell, once they were sick. Others weren’t yet sick but knew of people they had been with who were.

At the time AIDS was a horrible death sentence. No one knew how it was transmitted. The treatments were next to non existent and those they had were only experimental. Still somehow we marched on. We were fearful yet managed. We were the dirty ones, the diseased feared by everyone including sometimes each other. Yet we stayed strong for each other, we were all we had as a community.

We danced. We danced to music and danced the dance of life. Loving each other as this was the life we were given, it was our time as the twenty somethings. We were the future. I don’t know what happened to John. It was a short boyfriend-ship. We each moved on. Many of my friends died, past lovers died and “encounters” died as well.

At the time we lived and survived. We still dreamed. We marched on. The ability to take a relationship to the level of government recognition let alone marriage wasn’t even part of those dreams. I remember just dreaming of a day when I wouldn’t be afraid of becoming sick, a day when my friends weren’t dying and that I would somehow escape to have a long happy life myself.

One of the dreams I shared with my lover Tim was to move to San Diego one day. Neither of us had ever been to California, but San Diego sounded like a nice place. That dream went to the place dreams go to, somewhere far away. Neither of us made any moves in that direction. Tim and I went our own way after a couple years and Mark came into my life.

By this time we had tests. Anonymous test because if it was recorded it was on your medical record and you were marked. I tested negative for the HIV virus. I was elated. I know I had been exposed multiple multiple times, because men I had been with all the way back to age 18 were either sick or dead. I was elelated that I had escaped, thus far. So Mark decided to get tested as well.

To get these anonymous tests you had to go to back entrances to county health facilities. It was less than glamorous. Usually standing in an alley behind a building with other men like yourself. Heads looking at the ground, little if no talking as fear permeated like a rancid fog in the air.

Mark’s test didn’t go as well as mine. He was positive. We stayed together for a couple years. Unfortunately Mark was not a well man on many levels and our relationship ended not because of his HIV but because of other reasons. Mark is no longer with us. I remain negative to this day. But I remember the horror of what HIV/AIDS is in graphic detail.

Why do I post such a memory today? The day that our federal government validated our relationships as equal. I post this memory in honor of all of the men that I knew, loved, cared for and laughed with. These were the men that marched before and with me. The men that paved the way for what we enjoy today. One step at a time. They worked, opened businesses, loved, shared, lived, gave, volunteered, taught, lead, cried, feared, parented, fought, built, created, cared, mentored and marched. I owe what I enjoy to all that came before me as well as those who march with me today.

They may have never dreamed this day would come, but in ways that they do not know, they helped get us here. They aren’t here today to call, hug or share it with in physical form. They are in spirit. They are in my heart. They are in your heart. All live through us. Let us not forget them, but rejoice with them.

….lets dance, love & celebrate Love. Love won today. Freedom won today. Our constitution won today. We won today. Those who walked before us won today!

(Posted in memory of Jerry Smoot. Thanks Jerry for teaching me to dream. Dreams really do come true.)

 

 

Marriage, it’s legal.

My last post went up minutes before the U.S. Supreme Court validated our relationships nationwide.

Congratulations to all!

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We, a married couple, in front of U.S. Supreme Court in April 2015 just before our 25th anniversary. Today that court validated all Gay and Lesbian relationships as equal and validated us for who we are, who we love.

And what about marriage?

Growing up I never dreamed that I would marry. In fact when I came out to my parents at age 16 my mother cried. She said she was crying not that I was gay, but that I would never be married, have a life long love or children. The children part didn’t bother me but the life long love and equal partner did.

I was gay and if that meant I would never marry then I was going to have to learn to live a single life. I would hope to meet a partner one day that would stay with me. We would live a life together without a legal contract. We would be subject to others making health care decisions for us. Others having rights to what we had built together if something happened. We would have to make our wishes known and protect what we could through trusts, contracts and wills. We could love but we would be different. We would never be able to marry or be recognized equally and legally.

Today I live a life that was never even on my radar. We have been together 25 years. We were able to marry here in California in 2008. In 2013 our marriage was recognized nationally. We now can make healthcare decisions for the other should we need to and our estate that we built together is ours. We are equal. Our life, ourselves to its core at the deepest level, is validated. It means more to me than I could ever begin to conceive that day when my mother cried.

I write this as we wait for the decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Many couples like ourselves wait to see if they too can be recognized as we are…Equal & Validated. I sit in anticipation that hopefully my brothers and sisters, who like me were born with a same sex attraction, will all finally be able to choose to marry if they wish.

Love, it’s a four letter word, a good one.

Why this beard likes Hillary

Disclaimer:….Being that this is not a political blog, this entry is not meant to rouse support for any one candidate nor is it written to sway anyone to any political leaning. I write to journal my thoughts about a woman that I happen to admire….

 

I was raised Republican. I voted the party line until the 1992 Presidential elections. I voted for Bill. I had started to get away from the beliefs instilled in me mainly because I was gay and had grown tired of watching all of my friends die of a disease that I felt our government should be doing more about. Therefore I pulled the lever for a Democrat for the first time. I felt like I was betraying the values I had been raised in.

A lot has changed in me since that day. I have become quite the liberal over the years. While I don’t necessarily vote straight democratic, I vote mostly democratic. I try to keep an open mind but most that resonate with my current core values are liberal and sometimes very much so. That’s me and a bit of my background, I hope that readers can respect that.

Hillary as we first got to know her.

Hillary as we first got to know her.

Bill had this blonde wife that came out with a powerful positive get it done energy about her. She stepped out of the classic First Lady role into a leading role. I really liked that. A woman not afraid to speak her mind and then do something about what her mind was set on. I found this not only refreshing but inspiring.

She got a lot of backlash. I guess she was too much, out of the classic First Lady role, too fast. The powers that be had to do some damage control and tone her down. I was disappointed about that. I remember thinking “Two for the price of one! Now let’s get some work done!” Then I was reminded that Bill, and only Bill was elected, not Hillary. Damn. I had been toned down as well I guess. She went on to do well as a First Lady and Bill as a great President. I was sad to see them leave office, but that’s how it works here and I believe in limits and the spirit of rotation.

Then off to New York and in short time Hillary became Senator Clinton. I was elated. The woman that I respected with her drive had gone to work. Work to continue moving forward. That is an ethic I admire. No retirement after hubby dear finished his presidency. No writing only a book and making dollars off of speaking engagements. She  was a liberal woman with ideals to help the working class American get and stay on their feet. She was vibrant and ambitious, she put herself to work to keep working for others. Face it, she and Bill were set for life after his term was up. They could be living comfortably without this stress.

So as if service in the Senate was not enough, she threw her hat in and ran for President. When she wasn’t nominated she didn’t stop. Back to being a Senator. Then when the new President that beat her out of the nomination called, she was there ready to serve as Secretary of State. One thing Hillary is not afraid of is work. Hard work. Stressful work. Hell, when does this woman sleep? She so inspires me. I do not have her drive to serve, nor do I wish to have that much drive. But she inspires me to have some drive to serve others, help others, better my community and keep on working. There is reward in service and work. It’s worth the time and effort. She reminds me of this easily forgotten fact.

Hillary

Secretary of State Hillary

After her Secretary of State position she actually did take a couple years off. Well deserved time to rest, reflect, examine, decide and plan. Decide she did. As most thought she would do, she is running for President. No retirement, no golf courses or painting classes. Bill makes a fortune speaking. Chelsea is married, has a child and a career. Hillary has many reasons that she could just stop. Both she and Bill have left a great legacy of service and good. But why stop? She has drive. She has good ideals. She can still work to make even more of a difference. She can help a people, a country and a world. She’s going to continue working. I love her for that.

Yep this Beard is a Fearsome Hillary fan. I look forward to the coming Presidential race. I wish Hillary all of the best. May strength, passion, health, vision, wisdom, insight, drive, humility, care, compassion, service and positive force energy be hers in the coming months.

….if you haven’t had enough of my babble, this video knocks it out of the park. Worth the watch even if you aren’t a Hillary nut, but would like to know a bit more of what’s inside that blonde mane.

Thank you Hillary for being a champion of good cause, a fighter and an inspiration.