Monday, 26 May 2014

Acceptance is the crowning touch to happiness . . .


We are inundated daily with stories of intolerance and hatred toward the LGBTQ community.  Usually these stories emanate from the USA as our brothers and sisters struggle with equality in the cumbersome USA legal and political systems.  We’re also hearing alarming stories coming from Africa where it is still okay to be condemned to death for love.

I shake my head and count my lucky stars daily that my father insisted upon immigrating to Canada.  Not that it’s absolutely perfect here, but based on the media stories that abound, it’s one of the best places on Earth to be gay.

In my own life, I’ve found people either don’t care or are enthusiastic supporters.  I suppose those that are not in favour of my “lifestyle choice” simply shrink into the darkness and don’t express themselves.  That works for me.

Acceptance has come in a variety of ways.  Some subtle, others not.  Bill’s daughter is our own personal Pride parade.  She would shout her love and support from the mountain tops if she could.  Bill’s son, however, has been less than forthcoming with his support.  He has told us that he will not be attending our wedding because, while he is “okay” with our relationship, he does not want to “witness” it.  I’m not sure where this comes from because he gets along very well with Bill and I.  While he doesn’t want to publicly declare his support, he does display acceptance in other ways, such as calling up and asking me “what are you and your hubby doing today?” and during a photo session at Bill’s recent retirement, he said, “it’s time for the lovers to pose now”.  Small measures of acceptance are just as important.

My mother has been struggling with the concept as well.  She has never met Bill even though she only lives an hour away.  That is her choice.  Bill and I have been in our relationship for over five years and only now my Mom is asking about him in small ways like “what’s he going to do now that he is retired”?  I suppose that is also a tiny measure of acceptance.

Other forms of acceptance come when we’re in social settings.  The other evening, at a cast party for one of Bill’s community theatre productions, a hetero guy came up to me while Bill was performing at the karaoke and said: “that’s your future husband up there”.  Yes, indeed.  Other straight friends commonly refer to him as my “hubby” and others, more correctly, “my finance”.  We get total acceptance in that community. 

Recently I ran into another high school parent in the grocery store.  She chatted away about her daughter’s impending graduation when Bill walked up beside us.  I introduced him as my fiancĂ© and without skipping a beat, she inquired: “haven’t I seen you on stage”?  Well, yes, he was recently starring in a local production of “Man of La Mancha”.  We eventually ended our chat with her hearty congratulations for our soon-to-be wedding.

I have to admit that occasionally, a shadow crosses my mind as I allow myself to feel like a minority which, due to “programming”, implies “less than”.  I immediately reject the thought because we are all Earthlings and equal regardless of our sexual orientation, skin colour or eye shape.  I suspect those errant thoughts come from the media inundation and hopefully once there is acceptance for all, we can all feel safe and happy. 
 
Coming out has been the most liberating experience for me and "everyday" acceptance is the crowning touch to happiness . . .

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Wedding thoughts for a rainy day . . .

It’s raining again today.  Our plans have changed as a result.  We were going to go to Bill’s house to get some outdoor work done in preparation for listing it with an agent.  Now we’re turning the day into a “wedding” day.  In other words, shopping (ostensibly for wedding stuff).
The wedding is two months away tomorrow.  I’m not being phased by it yet.  It’s funny how some little things can cause me heaps of anxiety but often the bigger things don’t.  Sometimes I think it’s probably just because I don’t fully comprehend what’s going on.  That’s okay.  The thought satisfies me and I carry on without a care.  I need to learn how to apply this concept to the small things.
I am bowled over by the support we’re getting from family and friends.  The other day, I created a checklist of things we’d already arranged and I was amazed at what friends have already contributed:  venue, wedding invitations, photography sessions, marriage commissioner and the list continues to grow. 
There are still a few things to arrange and we’d better do that soon but I have absolute faith that it will all come together in time.
I like rainy days . . .

Thursday, 15 May 2014

You Can Play . . .

A few weeks back I received an email through this blog from Alex Sanz of the Associated Press.  He had seen a photo I posted of the 2012 Vancouver Pride Parade and asked if he could use the photo in an article he was writing on the You Can Play Project.  He was interested in the picture because it contained two of the feature interviewees of his article, Manny Malhotra and Patrick Burke.
 
The You Can Play Project is a campaign dedicated to the eradication of homophobia in sports.  It's premise is centered around the slogan, "If you can play, you can play."
 
 
 
I supplied Alex with two photos and they can be seen on his YouTube article published today:

 
On another note, I was truly showing my age today when Alex sent me the link to his "article".  My response before checking it out was: "I look forward to reading it".  LOL.
 
I'm not that interested in professional sports but I now know, if you can play, you can play . . .  

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Getting married . . .


 
In my younger days I was “Mr Marriage Booster”.  I loved the institution of marriage and I took every opportunity to extoll its virtues.  To me, being married is what a loving couple did as an expression of their love for each other and in so doing, solemnized their bond to each other publicly and without reservation.   It was how couples would “conquer the world” together.   Of course, being deeply in the closet at the time, marriage to me was the sole purview and domain of straight couples.  I don’t think I even dreamed of the concept being applied to same sex couples.

My infatuation with marriage came to a grinding halt when I suddenly found myself without one.  My wife made it very clear one day that our marriage of 19 years was over.  It was a shattering experience and changed my outlook completely. My view on marriage had soured and I looked upon it with disdain and cynicism.   

As I’ve written before, the failure of my marriage became the catalyst for me stepping out of the closet and I began to explore my new-found sexual liberty.  I immersed myself in learning about life as a gay man and occasionally, I would find myself in discussions about gay marriage.  I encountered the naysayers, the gay folk that believed marriage is too “straight” a concept for gay people and should be left to hetero’s and I encountered the same-sex marriage proponents that yearned for the same right to marry that everyone else had.  Still, after much discourse and thought, I hadn’t personally formed an opinion about whether same sex couples should be able to marry, let alone exercise that right.  For me, I was quite certain I was done.  I made sure everyone I met knew that I “will never cohabitate with anyone again and I will never marry again”.  Period.
 
In the intervening years, I have decided that same-sex couples have the intrinsic right to marry, even if the law doesn’t allow for it.  Simply put, the law must change and I’m happy to note that I live in a country that recognized this inherent right some years ago.  Regardless of my evolved support for gay marriage, my cynicism about the institution itself hadn’t waned. I still didn’t understand why anyone would want to get married, even if they could.
I’ve learned over the years to “never say never”.  And even when I was saying “I will never . . .”, I knew deep down within my cerebral cortex that “never” was not necessarily sustainable.  My intent to remain unencumbered for the rest of my life began to weaken when I met my soul mate, Bill.
The first test of my resolve came in the second year of our relationship.  As now, we lived in separate homes that are about 30 minutes apart, but as it happened that Christmas, we both had two weeks’ vacation over the holiday season.  I ended up staying at his place the whole two weeks.  It was awesome, but my goodness, how could it be?  I decided “I could do this”. “I like it”!  But, I cautioned myself, “I’m still never getting married!” 
A few more years have gone by and the love between us has grown immeasurably.  This fall, Bill needed to take some time off work for health reasons and this time he lived with me for almost three months.  It’s been a few years since our first cohabitation test and again it was awesome.  Just around the time he was returning to work, he turned to me and said, “You know, someday I’d like to get married again”.  Holy smoke, is this a proposal?  I didn’t know what to say.  “Can we think about this”?  “Oh sure”, he said “there’s no rush or pressure”.
The truth be known, I’d been mulling over marriage for some time.  But like coming out of the gay closet, I found myself fearful of stepping out of the “no marriage” closet.  After all, I had failed at that once and it wasn't, and still isn’t, pretty.   After that, Bill never said another word about his desire for matrimony but his unsolicited “suggestion” kept my mind occupied.  We have been “going steady” (he’ll hate the juvenility of that phrase) for over five years and in terms of our relationship, the years have been truly magnificent. I decided I would give him an answer over this past holiday season.  On New Year’s Day 2014, I said to him, “I’d like to talk about marriage again . . .”
Unless one is very famous or one does something extremely public, I don’t think a regular person can get anymore “out of the closet” than being in a same-sex marriage.  As we know, even people who appear “gay” may not be, but getting married to someone of the same gender will leave no doubt about that couple’s proclamation. 
As if there were any lingering doubts, Bill and I are delighted to announce that we are stepping “way out” of the closet as we’ve decided we are getting married . . .

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year . . .

 
My wish for you is that 2014 is everything that you want it to be . . .
 
In retrospect, my 2013 was pretty darn good.  In fact, it was a 1,000 times better than my 2012.  In the past year: I started the year living in a new home, my divorce was finalized, I went on a few trips, things at work settled down (although they are started getting weird again toward the end of the year), and Bill and I co-habitated for pretty much the last quarter of the year (although it was unfortunately because of his health).  So, all in all, a good year from my perspective.
 
We finished the old year with Bill, my sons and I drinking some bubbly while watching Ryan Seacrest and Jenna McCarthy (and unfortunately Miley Cyrus) usher in the new.  The kids had mostly fallen asleep but I woke them in time for the countdown.  I thought young people had more staying power than this!!
 
The new year promises much change and excitement.  The biggest change(s) is that Bill is retiring and he's moving in with me permanently.  We're both looking so forward to this.  It means a lot of work, each downsizing our own "collections of life" and consolidating into one place.  It also means getting his house ready for sale.  As Martha says: "It's a good thing".
 
So, wherever you are, here's to a Happy New Year . . .

Saturday, 28 December 2013

To comma, or not to comma . . .


I believe that I over-comma my writing.  I was going to seek your advice on comma'ing but then decided to Google it instead.  I found this great site: Grammar Book with a whole list of rules about commas (in fact too many rules to remember).  I tend to use rules 8 and 11 quite a bit.  Maybe too much. 
 
I'm probably still no further ahead.  Next, apostrophe's, but for now: to comma or not to comma . . .

Friday, 27 December 2013

Like a moth to a flame . . .

It fascinates me and I don't know why. 
 
 
It fascinates me to see the slow, downright evolutionary pace, with which our gay American cousins are having their human rights "granted" to them.   In Canada, we're only a few years ahead, having gained same-sex partnership rights at the end of the 1990's and out-right legal marriage since 2005, so from my own perspective, what's going on south of the border has no effect on me.  My intense interest, therefore, must come from the fact that I paid no attention to the topic when Canada was wrestling with this "demon" over a decade ago.  At that time, I was a deeply closeted, "straight acting" father with no interest in the affairs of gay people. 
 
How times have changed.  This past summer, like millions in the USA, I was riveted on the internet news feed, waiting for the Supreme Court of the USA to rule on this topic. And ever since that historic day, the anti-gay marriage faction's house of cards has been slowly crumbling.  Ever so slowly.  On last count, less than half of the USA's states have enabled gay marriage. 
 
Most of my current news comes from following gay marriage "pioneer" Stuart Gaffney on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stuartgaffney). 
Stuart Gaffney (r) and his husband John Lewis
His posts several times a day have me entranced by the machinations of the ultra right wing agenda as they throw every obstacle they can muster in the way of allowing people the basic human right to love whomever they wish.  The good news is they seem to be losing on a daily basis.  Even as that bastion of morality and values, Phil Robertson, while wrapped in a bible and standing before a burning cross, gets his duck called by A&E for voicing his racist ideals and his idiotic views of homosexuality, the "moral majority" is losing the battle.  Hallelujah!
 
Even though A&E has gone soft on patriarch Phil, I haven't.  He, his show and his family will still be "on hiatus" with me.   And although I have no say in the matter, I will continue to wish the best for those that desire the "land of the free" be truly that, and I will continue to observe the slow march to freedom for USA LGTBQ couples.  
 
Like a moth to a flame . . .    

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Season's greetings to you and yours . . .

Monday, 11 November 2013

Lest We Forget . . .


The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month . . . We Will Remember Them

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Happy Anniversary to Us . . .

Five years ago today we met.
 
It started out with an early morning coffee at a Tim Horton’s Donut Shop about halfway between our two homes.  He didn’t actually want to meet. He thought we lived too far apart (about an hour) and wasn’t interested in a long-distance relationship.  We had connected online and something about his profile piqued my interest so I persevered.  Eventually I got him to agree to a phone call.  That conversation then spurred him to agree to a face to face meeting on “neutral” ground.
 
We both are biological fathers from failed hetero marriages.  We have similar jobs.  We both came out later in life.  We lived on the same Island.  It seemed a good start to me.
 
I arrived at our rendezvous first and although I had a rough idea what he looked like from an exchange of photos I still doubted my capacity to spot him in the crowd.  Naturally I was nervous.  I missed seeing his entrance but somehow he saw me and quickly arrived at my table.  He tells me he fell in love at first sight.  We had a warm and comfortable conversation.  I wasn’t very adroit at dating and although I was enjoying our conversation, I looked for a way to end this initial encounter.  My father always advised us as children to “quit while you’re having the most fun so that you will always end on a good note”.  I certainly didn’t want to overstay my welcome.   Remembering that I had recycling materials in the back of my truck that I had planned to take to the garbage dump, I stammered that I needed to go.  As soon as I said it, I realized it sounded contrived and terse so I followed up with “would you like to go with me?”  To my pleasant surprise he said “yes”.
 
We abandoned his car and we drove to the garbage dump as well as a few other chores.  Our connection seemed immediate.  Through conversation, we realized that we had much in common.  Our marriage and parenting experiences matched very well, our coming out stories were very similar and before we knew it, the minutes had turned into hours.  One of the goals I had, which also resonated with him, was that I wanted someone “that I could do things with”.  We ended with a romantic candle light dinner at a nice restaurant near his home.  When I finally returned him to his car, twelve hours had passed since we first laid eyes on each other in the morning.
 
Since then, we’ve progressed from a casual date to “going steady” to being in a “committed long-term relationship”.   I am still in awe that we lived within a relatively short distance from each other and that he matched me so well.  He is the kindest, most forgiving and generous man I have ever encountered and I am indeed fortunate, and “count my lucky stars” every day to have met Bill and to have him in my life.
 
We've been happily in love ever since that first day.  Happy anniversary to us . . .