July 16, 1969

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11.

With Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on board, Apollo 11 would land man on the surface of Earth’s only moon 4 days later on July 20, 1969. This first ever lunar landing is one of my very first memories.

The Apollo mission occurred during one of our country’s most turbulent times some 9 years after one of our greatest presidents set a simple, yet difficult, clear goal with a time limit. Good leaders challenge us to grow, great leaders bring us together. It is only together that we can achieve great things.

In honor of yet another 50th anniversary of history, I post my favorite musical memory of 1969.

 

🎵Harmony and understanding🎶                                                                                                                 🎵Sympathy and trust abounding🎶

Worthy goals for a society. May the lyrics of this 50 year old tune inspire and enlighten our society toward better.

The 5th Dimension – Aquarius / Let the Sunshine – 1969

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1969-2019

It has now been just over 50 years since the raid of The Stonewall Inn.

We’ve come a long way.

Now isn’t the time to turn back.

Live, love, hope and vote like your life depends on it. Because? Because your life and freedoms actually do depend on your participation, on your vote.

Happy San Diego Pride Y’all!

I Believe

Congrats to US Women’s National Soccer Team.

They have something to say. Nike is helping them be heard. We here at Fearsomebeard wish to help them be heard as well.

Gay Anthems!

Dance parties often start with an easy intro. You know, a tune that starts a crescendo that will serve as a foundation on which an incredible dance party experience builds.

I’ve posted this tune more than once before. By now Fearsome Beard regulars will realize it is one of my all time favorites. I post it today specifically in honor of all of those before me who dared to love the love they deeply understood, the true love they felt, even though society told them that dare not.

I dedicate this incredibly beautiful anthem those who inspire us today to be who we are and to stand not only for ourselves but those who will follow us. I dedicate it to them because they were never Being Boring, they were just finally being themselves.

Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring – 1990

To those courageous people who finally said “Oh, Hell No!” …Thank you!

50 Years

My human memory does not start when I was born. My memory starts sometime after that in small fuzzy flashes. From what I gather from family photos, conversations and history, my memory probably dates back to sometime about 1969.

I can honestly say that the most significant thing I remember from 1969 was the moon landing we watched on our color console TV. I can also honestly say I do not remember the Stonewall riots in New York City that same year. I grew up in a small city in Southwest Virginia. Happenings in the metropolis of New York didn’t really make headlines there, especially happenings that involved police raiding a gay bar.

Tonight marks the 50th anniversary of that raid of The Stonewall Inn. A raid that was the spark that started a movement. A movement that I would call an uprising. An uprising that is still underway. An uprising that must continue.

May we see Stonewall for what it is. It is an inspiration. An inspiration worth continuing.

Happy Pride Y’all!

XO

Beyond Stonewall

All of us are part of history.

We each have our own story.

Our stories affect others, thus we affect a greater society.

Sometimes the smallest action creates massive change.

What’s your story?

I came out in high school. As a young freshman in 1979 after having been beaten by a group of bullies, this “queer faggot” was suspended from school. The rules were that no matter who or what caused a fight, if you were involved you were suspended. After a trip to the hospital and many facial stitches I faced a choice. Move to a private school or return and face my oppressors.

I chose to return and face my oppressors. After walking back into school with the swelling and bruises still apparent, I walked past them. This time when I was called faggot instead of denying it, ignoring it or hiding from it I took it as my own and replied “So what if I am?”

The bullying changed. I won’t say it stopped completely, but I will say it stopped having power over me.

I found that some started to accept me and over time the bullying practically disappeared. Yeah there was a comment now and then from an insecure asshole, but it was no longer aggressively oppressing. I had the power now because I took my power back by accepting and saying “I am gay, I am a faggot, queer or whatever.” High school turned out pretty good after all. Not perfect, but pretty damn good.

The change I see is this:

I changed my world by accepting who and what I was. I changed other’s worlds by allowing them to see, know and be friends with an out gay man. I also allowed others who were gay to follow me into their own truth.

Tipping Points

While the video’s title didn’t thrill me by starting with the words “Old Gays”, I was interested to see what insight the video held. My takeaway is when the one immediately responds that the significance of Stonewall is what happened afterwards and that is still unfolding.

As pride month continues in its 50th year after Stonewall let us continue the significance of this humble rebellion and it’s aftermath. Happy Pride.

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.

Christopher Street West

While Stonewall is commemorated as the flash point into LGBTQI activism and equality, LGBTQI history is diverse and lengthy.

This short documentary gives a glimpse into the life and movement out here on the west coast prior to, during and after Stonewall.

We have come a long way, yet we have a long way ahead of us as well.

Lifting us all up

This is a wonderful video of someone sharing their own story about the experience of being there at the Stonewall uprising.

Fearsome highly recommends everyone clicking play.

Jay, Thank You for sharing your story and for walking the path leading us all to better and lifting us as a community. You are an inspiration.

If they ever do find a cure,

I just want to be there.

 

1989 was the year the film Longtime Companion was released. 1989 was the height of the  AIDS crisis. My friends, and lovers, were being diagnosed left and right. My friends, and lovers, were dying left and right.

Needless to say this movie was a timely written timeline of the short decade that proceeded it. The short decade that was my coming of age as a gay man. I came out while in high school in 1980. Almost, not all, of my early friends and lovers in the gay community at the least became infected, or died. At the time this movie was released I was but one of very few I knew who remained HIV negative.

It wasn’t if I would succumb, it was when. Somehow I remain, thankfully, uninfected.

When this final scene came up on the big screen in front of me and my friends with which I sat, we began to cry. Sobbing with ugly tears. Tears of grief, loss and yet hope. Hope that one day our nightmare would end. Hope that one day we might once again see, hold, love and kiss those we once knew. Hope that at the least we wouldn’t loose any more loved ones to this horrible disease.

Time passed, infection rates dropped. We learned and eventually treatments improved.

Today there isn’t yet a cure but there is prevention. With science and research, particularly STEM CELL RESEARCH, a cure may one day become reality. Remember that your vote counts, your future vote may be needed to not only ensure the necessary research we now have but to restore it.

It’s pride month. Be proud of who you are. Respect others for being who they are. Understand those who are different. Love your sister and your brother. Vote for progress. Strive to be better.

(This Post is dedicated to Jerry Smoot who was my first friend, and occasional lover, I lost to AIDS. At a young 38 years, he was just coming into his prime. Jerry, when the scene came on the screen I envisioned you running onto that beach to hug me, kiss me and hold me.)

Loving oneself

Growing up gay ain’t easy. Growing up gay the first things I learned is that I was wrong.

I was wrong for being scared the ball would hit me. I was wrong for twirling the baton. I was wrong for wanting to take dance lessons. I was wrong for having a knack for color and redecorating my room over and over. I was wrong for being in the band and wanting to be the drum major …right up front. I was wrong for knowing the answers and being a good student. I was wrong for crushing on boys. I was wrong for just wanting to hang out with girls playing mystery date and gossiping. I was wrong for simply being me.

I learned to hate myself. I learned to hide myself. I learned to lie. I learned to loathe, loathe myself. I learned that I should try to be something I wasn’t.

Luckily I found a way to appreciate who and what I was. Luckily I learned it was ok to be gay. Luckily I got on my feet before I harmed myself in any permanent way.

However the scars remain.

It was those individuals before me that took a stand and they cleared a path. A path that I could follow to live better. I could learn to accept myself and one day love myself. I could learn and allow those scars to become strength.

However it isn’t easy.

It doesn’t have to be easy. I just must remember to keep moving forward and to love myself. To keep moving forward and broaden the path for others behind me.

Pride month isn’t about flagrant narcissistic pride. Pride month is about loving yourself and loving others. Loving yourself for being simply who you are and loving others for simply being who they are.

Oh…and I must remember that I am enough.

Stonewall

The accuracy of many varying accounts of exactly what happened at the Stonewall Inn the night of June 28, 1969 are often debated. The story below offers several first hand recollections laying to rest several myths as well as confirming other truths.

What we do know is that it was a chaotic scene which resulted in a movement. A movement which simply asked for respect.