One by One

We change hearts and minds One by One.

Let’s kick off San Diego Pride 2019 by sharing love, joy, peace and respect with all of those around us.

Cher – One by One – 1996

Happy San Diego Pride Y’all!

Shapeshifting

Being the 50th anniversary of Stonewall I search daily for a new video that resonates. Some days the videos just pop into my YouTube suggestions, some days I run into them on another blog and still other days I take the time to search. Today I searched and I learned, I found growth…growth in my understanding.

I’ll never be able to fully understand the plight of those born into the wrong body, but I can try to empathize through understanding from pieces of my own personal experiences. Even though I was born into an exterior male body that matches my inner gay male persona, I can understand this new term I learned today, Shapeshifting. While I didn’t have to act as a different sex, I did have to lie and act as if I was attracted to the opposite sex in order to hide who I really was. I can still catch myself shapeshifting as it was something engrained deeply in me early in my life.

I cannot claim to understand the complete experience of transgender. I can love, accept, embrace and support to the best of my own empathy and understanding.

Vulnerability = Courage

Fearsome reflects

Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s I remember a time where what I felt and who I was attracted to was a secret. I learned early that I had a secret and a secret it would remain.

Therefore today when I run across a video such as this one in which a famous young gay man lives behind his secret I can empathize.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish Elton and others had been out and able to lead thus showing me that I was ok. However, I understand. I understand now that for them the safety of the curtain allowed them to live two lives. One life in front of the curtain out on stage and another in secret behind it. Society actually demanded the separation.

Stars of the past who tried to live their truth found their careers ruined and were ostracized, rejected into oblivion.

Today Elton is able to live as an out gay man. He is married and has two children. After all those years in hiding, today he can live as an example. Unfortunately Billy Haines never made it to see the day where his lifelong relationship would be validated much less that he could live and work as an out gay man.

What Billy Haines chose isn’t lost on me though. He chose to live his truth and to live as an out gay man, but it lost him his career. In his own way he blazed a trail by refusing to live a double life, or in other words he refused to live a lie.

Elton chose to live the lie until eventually his truth started to be too obvious, yet fortunately for him the times had changed to acceptance. But I don’t fault Elton. He had much to contribute, and contribute he did through his work and art. He was fortunate that thankfully times finally changed.

Societal “norms” keep people from fully expressing and living their truths.

Isn’t it time we appreciate differences and continue to challenge societal norms? Isn’t it time we actually question gender stereotypes? Isn’t it possible that the actual organ isn’t the actual sex? Isn’t it possible that sex, or sexuality, doesn’t even fucking matter?

Peppermint & Cazwell’s video Blend has appeared here before. It’s worth a re-post.

If we all do not understand, empathize, love, accept, support, forgive and STAND UP for each other then who will?

Let’s celebrate each other. Let’s celebrate life.

All are welcome here

I live only about 15 miles from the San Ysidro port of entry from Mexico into the U.S. I can actually see the hills of Tijuana from the window of my bedroom.

San Ysidro is said to be the busiest U.S. border crossing. This international connection between two North American countries enriches our lives greatly here in San Diego. Culturally and economically both San Diego and Tijuana, as well as both countries, prosper from our connection and relationship.

Migration through this port of entry is yet another benefit to all of us living and working in this region. Immigration is simply the backbone of the birth and growth of the United States. Cities like San Diego and Tijuana function in unison each benefitting the other. Immigrants support these regions and beyond into the heartland of our country.

All are welcome. Bring with you your culture. Bring with you your strong work ethic. Bring with you your desire for a better life. Bring with you your desire to belong. Bring with you your language, character, love and laughter.

I want you here with us. I am not the only one.

The Boss

Diana Ross

Because I need this today.

Sometime about 1981 a young impressionable homosexual of somewhere near 18 years of age (maybe not quite due to a really good fake ID) excitedly awaited his first drag show at his local gay discotheque. He was sitting on the floor laughing with several new gay friends and sipping cheap draft beer. The bright lights shimmered off of the sparkly fabric of the backdrop as the Emcee announced the opening act.

Carolyn Sue Wilson took the stage in her best Diana Ross drag. As she expertly  lypsynced this very tune, that young impressionable homosexual had found his home amoungst friends. He was no longer afraid and alone. He was part of.

Drag queens did that for us back then. Hell, they still do that for us outcasts today. Drag, at least for me, has always been inclusive. Drag is beautiful. Drag is accepting. Drag is outrageous. Drag is fun. Drag spreads love. Drag exudes acceptance.

That old gay dance club was a haven for this young impressionable homosexual. The memories of that club have always brought me comfort. That club helped me to realize I was inherently good. I was part of humanity and not some freak to be thrown away for no good.

I made many friends at that club. Many of those friends faded away.  Many died from the terrible plague we shared in the 1980s. Several of them are still with me to this day. Lifelong friends whom I love dearly.

Wherever Carolyn Sue Wilson is today, I dedicate this post to her. Thank you Carolyn, you always made me feel part of. You always shared a smile and gave this young homosexual the love and acceptance he needed. You girl -were and still are- The Boss.

Carolyn Sue Wilson
Miss Gay Roanoke 1975

San Diego LGBTQ Pride 2018

It’s here. It’s already here.

San Diego celebrates in July. After the other two large cities in our Golden State take the last two weekends in June, San Diego gives everyone a couple week break and then  continues the celebrations.

I’ve been celebrating Pride since the first one I ever had the opportunity to attend. That particular pride was Seattle Pride 1990. I have been out of the closet since I was but a teenager however the place I lived had yet to have a pride celebration.

What Pride means to me is simply that we can be and are or authentic selves. In that we respect each other and support each other in living authentic lives. We celebrate and embrace diversity, acceptance, understanding, respect, affirmation, love and freedom.

Pride is, and should always be, a place of safety to simply just be. Just be. Be without judgment, discrimination, hatred and intolerance.

Be authentic. Be real.

Welcome here

Have a beard? Welcome here.

Don’t have a beard? Welcome here.

Black? Brown? White? Colorful? Colorless? Any spectrum? Welcome here.

Religious? Non-believer? God? Buddha? Allah? Flying Spaghetti Monster? Satan? No one? Higher Power? Universe? Welcome here.

Citizen? Alien? Traveler? Migrant? Resident? Refugee? Welcome here.

Politcal? Apolitical? Independent? Party Affiliated? Non-Affiliated? Welcome here.

Female? Transgender? Male? Undecided? Welcome here.

Sexual? Asexual? Fetishist? Puritan? Curious? Hetero? Homo? Bi? Welcome here.

Lonely? Popular? Outcast? Poor? Rich? Disadvantaged? Advantaged? Welcome here.

Need help? Welcome here.

Helpful? Welcome here.

Tired? Welcome here.

Giving? Servant? Selfless? Welcome here.

Respectful? Welcome here.

I love

In order to live as a human among humans I must learn to accept.

I must learn to accept that we are different. I must learn that we are the same. I must learn we share. I must learn I will not like everything. I must learn that not everyone will like me. I must learn that many times it’s better to focus on similarities rather than differences. I must learn that not all human aspects are good. I must learn to forgive.

In order to live a life that I myself can feel good about, I must, and will, stand up for righteousness.

I will lead by example. I will do good. I will be kind. I will speak justly. I will convey honesty. I will practice equality. I will appreciate diversity. I will look for commonality. I will share. I will understand. I will give. I will grow. I will listen. I will strive for betterment. I will serve. I will teach. I will encourage. I will compliment. I will support. I will practice. I will be vulnerable. I will gain courage. I will laugh. I will cry. I will accept. I will stand. I will love.

Mesuggah Shack

Mesuggah Shack is my local coffee shop. It’s just a kiosk on the corner across from my office. To my understanding Mesuggah is Yiddish for crazy …crazy in the good funny witty way.

Yesterday afternoon the owner of Mesuggah Shack wrapped his wonderful little coffee shop with this meaningful banner filled with words of welcome.

Mesuggah Shack San Diego CA

Mesuggah Shack San Diego CA

I bought an extra cup of coffee today.

Andy

Yesterday I found a new (to me) blog called Raising my Rainbow. I found it while wading through the train wreck of negative political crap that I can’t seem to stop looking at these days over on The Huffington Post. There was a post that caught Fearsome’s attention…could that be a post about a positive, touching and inspirational story? Fearsome reminded me, as he sometimes has to, that we need to be focusing on the good not the bad. He convinced me to click on the story.

The post led me to the actual blog from whence it came. A beautiful blog written by a loving mother about raising her son, life with her family and moving through a world that sometimes places upon us stereotypes and expectations. A blog so touching to me that I immediately added it to the Fearsome Buds blogroll for easy access.

Anywhoo, you can catch up with that story by either reading the re-blogging of the story that led us there yesterday or by clicking on the link labeled “blog” above or simply click the new Raising my Rainbow link over in Fearsome Buds.

Who is Andy? Well he’s not the boy from the blog. Andy is someone that was once very dear to me whom I lost tragically many many years ago. The new blog I found flooded me with emotion, emotions surrounding memories of Andy.

While in high school Andy showed up in one of my classes one day back about 1981. There was no missing Andy. From his outrageous clothes, flamboyant voice, dramatically gestured movements to his coal black dyed hair and eyeliner there was no way to miss him. We instantly became close friends. While he turned heads as we walked by no one even questioned as to why I walked with him. It was very early in the 1980s, I was only in high school but I was out and proud. Gay as a goose and everyone knew it.

You see after a very tumultuous junior high experience where I had been ridiculed for being different, in high school I had embraced my differences and found that once I owned my gayness it took the power out of the name calling and suddenly I was ok. In fact in some circles I was the cool token. Andy had already embraced this before he landed at our high school. Even though he raised more eyebrows than I did and was way more flamboyant than I, he was ok. Unfortunate was what landed Andy at our high school.

Andy’s grandparents and uncle shared a duplex about two blocks from my home. Andy’s uncle on one side and his grandparents on the other. Andy’s uncle had taken him in at the request of Andy’s parents. You see they were strict Greek Othodox and Andy wasn’t accepted by his parents. His uncle, who was not gay, was his only hope as his parents no longer wanted him in their home nor around his one year younger brother. Andy was a black sheep and in their eyes not good for the perfect jock model son younger brother.

While Andy could handle high school and the occasional insult or cruel remark, he was deeply wounded by the rejection of his parents. I had my challenges as I was gay. Andy wasn’t only gay but also gender non-conforming. Back in the early 1980s in small town Virginia we had never heard of gender non-conforming. Andy was considered a freak. I loved him for who he was and so did several others that we hung with. He was hilarious and always having a good time. He did pretty well getting along at school. His parents tormented him.

Andy and I grew close. I got to see the other side of Andy that the casual high school friends didn’t. I got to know the wounded, battered, damaged vulnerable Andy. Andy just wanted to be loved by the people that he called mom and dad. Mom and dad ridiculed him just for simply being who he was. They called him a sinner and a disgrace. Thank god for Andy’s uncle Marty. If it wasn’t for Marty I’m afraid Andy would have been another teen suicide.

Occaisionally Andy would act out. I mean who wouldn’t? We were young and alcohol and drugs were just starting to enter our lives. Andy loved the escape. Overall though he didn’t take it too far. We had fun.

It was about six months into the school year and or newfound friendship, Andy didn’t show up to school. Not unusual as his attendance was mediocre at best. I mean he lived with his uncle and he could get depressed. Then I got the news. Andy was dead.

Andy’s brother had come to spend the night with the grandparents. Andy and his brother were close when mom and dad weren’t in the way. They were only a year apart for god sakes. They had taken one of the cars, a convertible Pontiac Gran Ville, out for the evening. Two brothers on the town. Andy’s brother was driving and apparently lost control of the car on a windy rural road… a road that actually was one of my favorites. The car had flipped and both boys were killed instantly.

1976 Pontiac Grand Ville

1976 Pontiac Gran Ville

I had only known Andy for about six months but we had become the best of friends. My friend Cathy drove me to the funeral home. There was a huge crowd of people. As we approached the door I could see through the open double doors that there were two caskets, one on each end of a long room. One end was full of people, flowers and distraught family. On the other end of the room sat Andy’s casket. Andy had just a few flowers by his casket. It was open I could see he was dressed in a conservative suit. He would have never ever worn anything remotely like that suit. There wasn’t anyone by Andy’s casket. Cathy immediately commented to me about this horrible sight. Then the arm grabbed me.

“You are not welcome here” a stern voice said to us as we were stopped in our tracks. I was shocked, Cathy wasn’t having it. She immediately asked “Why?” “You, your kind, you are not welcome here” was the reply as the family member stared right at me. We turned and left, both in tears. Andy was a friend of Cathy’s too.

I’ll never forget the loneliness that Andy described to me in those hours of his despair. I’ll never forget the loneliness I witnessed seeing his lifeless ignored body alone in a casket at the opposite end of a room where his perfect jock model child brother lay in a casket surrounded by flowers, family and tears at the other. I’ll never forget being refused entry into the funeral of a friend.

I know that the family cited religion as to why Andy was rejected. I believe it was ignorance and fear as to why Andy was rejected.

Andy was a blessing in my life. His circumstances are obviously a scar in the fabric that makes up my life. Andy taught me to have an open mind. Andy re-enforced my self expression. Andy showed me the healing power of laughter. Andy demonstrated making the best one can out of a situation, even when it hurts. Andy helped me to gain courage. Andy shared vulnerability. Andy made me appreciate my family, my life and my circumstances.

Blessed be the parents that accept their children with open hearts, open minds and unconditional love. Blessed be the parents that embrace their child’s differences and encourage their children to be just who they are. Blessed be the parents that share their experiences thus opening minds and enriching the lives of others. Blessed be the parents who change minds and grow understanding.

Andy never got to see Ru Paul’s drag race. Hell, Andy never got to see a drag show. If Andy had …he would have been up on that stage and starring in the next show. This Halloween whether C.J. knows it or not, Andy is right beside him cheering him on.

 

Changes of heart

This morning while sippin’ coffee and cruisin’ the internets I found a well written piece on a voter and his change of heart. I found it interesting, informative and enjoyable.

I share it here for others who might enjoy a thought provoking election read that isn’t just talking points and hype, but one voter and his wrestle with the candidates and his ultimate internal resolution. If you wish to take a gander of it yourself just simply click right HERE and you will be wisked away to the post itself over on HuffPo.

So moving on to me and the loss of The Big Brother … I’m doing ok. Today marks five days since his passing and through the title I chose for this post I realize the change of heart I have had, and am having, regarding my brother, my emotions and my relationship with him.

Siblings we were. Siblings often have unresolved issues. We had issues. When children we don’t have the knowledge, experience or tools to deal with situations and feelings that arise from our daily interactions. These interactions can often leave scars that carry into adulthood. Old patters of misunderstanding and poor communication follow us as we mature yet go our separate ways leading to a continuation of previously established patters.

Stepping back I can begin to heal, begin to have a change of heart. I can realize the humanity of both of us and the ultimate imperfections that make us each who we were and who we are. Being human I can empathize that we each have blind spots. I can use this opportunity to either dig deeper into resentment or to grow into a better man. A man who understands just a bit better.  A man who accepts just a little more.  A man who loves a tad deeper. A man who learns forgiveness for faults I perceive in others that are also faults of my own.

It’s nicer than Betty Monroe had

The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released 40 years ago today. I didn’t see the show until about 5 years later at a midnight showing at the local XXX theatre. Suddenly I found myself in a room full of people like me. The first time in my life that acceptance, love, fun and laughter was shared by all…unconditionally.

Needless to say, I was hooked. Each week I would return for many showings to come. By the time I graduated high school I probably had at least 100 showings under my belt. I admit that the film had an impact on me, one that helped shape who I have become.

(Tipped by JMG)

Own it.

image

I realized earlier today that I was obsessing about something from my past. It kinda drained the energy out of my day. I just wasn’t getting things done that I wanted to. I felt off, not good at the game. I didn’t purposefully choose to, I just let my mind drift into thinking about it. I started to replay different scenarios in my mind. I was letting my ego run with it. My ego was trying to place blame, it was feeling victimized. The ego will do this when left unchecked in order to build itself.

I finally snapped out of it when I heard a comment from another person that was on another subject (this was playing only in my mind I had not brought it up). This person was talking about himself when he said “I must own it”.

Light bulb! His comment opened my eyes to the present. It brought me back from the non-reality of my ego dwelling on the past.

I must own it. It happened. My evening has been so much better than my day. I’ll sleep good tonight.

image

Acceptance continued….

For some reason acceptance keeps popping up in front of me. It’s like my life’s central theme at this moment in time, this moment in my evolution, my growth.

I’ve been distracted and didn’t even realize it until yesterday’s post. I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing, I’ve been focusing on what I perceive as a couple of problems in my life. I Find my head thinking about the issue, trying to think of a way to change it…the problem, situation or person involved. I can’t change anything but me, my perspective, thoughts and attitude.

This is an excerpt from a reading in a certain “big book” that is used in many recovery programs that I find applies to me at this moment:

“Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact in my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I can accept that person place thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this very moment. Unless I can accept life on lifes terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.”

I must remember that when I stop living in the problem and begin living in the answer my problem will go away. For me the first step toward living in the answer is acceptance.

Acceptance and life…

Fearsome and I have had quite the busy week and weekend with our head just full of thoughts and contemplations. We have been quiet. Sometimes being quiet and trudging along through life is good, sometimes just simply necessary.

This thought which I noted a while back puts it all into perspective and helps us get through when stress rears its ugly head:

“The job of the rider is just to show up and let something higher take place.”

I have no idea where or who that quote came from. I recorded it in my phone one day when it resonated with me. It’s resonating right now. It reminds me that I am not always in control and that is ok. I just need to show up, do what I need to do and let be what is. I cannot do any better than my best. I can’t control outcomes. I have to trust.

So today I trudge ahead. I work. I do my best. I trust.

This helps me to stay in the present moment.

There is no need to worry, doubt or project. I can only control my actions and reactions. As long as I do my part the best way I know how, all will be fine.

I accept.