Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Being Out at the High School Prom...I Wish

From my column with www.parentsociety.com:

Confession: I was the perfect prom date through high school, at least in the eyes of many parents. After all, I wore a tuxedo nicely, and even had my own that I could wear at a minute’s notice, without need of renting one. (I bought it used for one of the high school choirs I was in.)
  • I was outgoing enough that I was not a stick-in-the-mud when my date and I got to the prom.
  • I was respectful. Parents were glad when I showed up at the door with flowers in hand, a corsage, and they readily took the obligatory picture of my date and I before I opened the door and escorted their daughter to the dance.
  • I was (and am) a good dancer. I’ve always liked to dance.
  • At the end of the night I always went with my friends not to one of their houses for alcoholic beverages, but to Denny’s in downtown Portland, which was open all night long.
  • Usually, by around 1 a.m., I would get my date home. A kiss on the cheek, maybe a peck on the lips, and after being sure my date was back into the house, I would go home.
But that’s where the perfect prom date ended.
You see, falling in bed, I would dream wistfully of all the other hot men that were there that night, sad that we could not dance with each other or go out to Denny’s together. Being a closeted gay young man who danced really well with young women and stuffed his feelings for being with another man was, at that point in my life, my future. I secretly longed for a high school prom in which I could be myself, and dance with the man of my young adolescent dreams.
It was American, middle-class rituals like prom that pushed me deep into the closet and delayed my being out, gay, and in a same-sex partnered relationship. There were simply no safe, accepted, and supportive rituals of the American story that allowed me to be out and gay as a young man. But today there are, and these proms that welcome out lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth are helping provide a healthy adolescence for all teens — LGBTQ and straight alike — today.

Read more here: http://www.parentsociety.com/todays-family/same-sex-parents/being-out-and-gay-at-a-high-school-prom/

Monday, February 25, 2013

How HIV/AIDS Has Ravaged Our Families

From my www.parentsociety.com column:
A few weeks ago, I went to a showing of the emotionally charged film documentary, How to Survive a Plague, by David France. This film tries to capture the first days of the HIV/AIDS plague in the 1980s, reminding us that this was once called the “gay disease” or the “gay cancer,” infecting only a handful of men, before it spread, killing off 43 million. HIV/AIDS became (and remains) a plague, an epidemic that has ravaged the lives of individuals, significant relationships, and entire family systems. The film also follows the chaotic early days of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), which mobilized the entire LGBTQ community and health-service industry against the disease. Activists demanded action from the Federal Drug Agency and the Center for Disease Control to speed up the process of approving medication for combating this disease, as lives were being lost in the hundreds on a daily basis. In cities like New York City, San Francisco, Boston, D.C., and Chicago, the LGBTQ community worked assiduously to inform each other about what this disease was about and what they could do to halt or slow its deathly grip upon not only those of us who are LGBTQ, but also straight women, men, and children.
To hold the film together, France chose to follow a group of men and women who were leaders in the noble cause of stopping HIV/AIDS in its tracks. One of those men who stood out to me was Robert Rafsky. This Harvard-educated man got married and had a daughter, Sara, before he came out of the closet in 1985, divorcing his wife and moving out of the family home. In 1987, he was diagnosed as being HIV-positive. Soon, he joined up with ACT UP and used his knowledge of the media as a tool to draw people’s attention to the plague that was spreading across the world. He wanted people, leaders, not to wait for consensus, but to take charge and act boldly to find the cure to this disease. In 1993, Rafsky died of HIV/AIDS-related causes.

Read more here: http://www.parentsociety.com/todays-family/same-sex-parents/how-hivaids-has-ravaged-our-families/

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Slow, Steady, Changes in the U.S. Military Toward Marriage Equality

From my column on www.parentsociety.com:

In a previous post, I wrote about Lt. Col. Heather Mack and her spouse Ashley Broadway, who are parents of a 2-year-old and expecting their second child. Ashley was denied one of many privileges that straight couples in the U.S. military service receive without question.
You see, Ashley and Heather were able to live out of their closet because of the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT). But because Ashley is in a same-sex partnered relationship — which is not recognized as receiving all the rights and privileges as straight couples receive because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Ashley was refused membership in the Association of (Ft.) Bragg Officers’ Spouses group (ABOS).
Recently, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta outlined new benefits and privileges for same-sex couples, whether they are in a marriage, civil union, or significant partnered relationship (each state allows a different status to same-sex couples and families). These include the following (thanks to thinkprogress.org):

Read more here: http://www.parentsociety.com/todays-family/same-sex-parents/marching-toward-equality-for-same-sex-parents-in-the-u-s-military/

Friday, February 15, 2013

Post-Valentine Day Reflection

Will post soon my POST Valentine Day reflections.  After all, love lives on, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year.

The D.C.-N.C. Connection: LGBTQ Couples Finding a Way of Having a Baby Together AND Being Parents Together

From my www.goqnotes.com column:
What do North Carolina lesbian and gay couples do when the laws of the state make adopting a child by both people in a same-sex relationship nearly impossible? Where do they go when the laws and constitution of NC make it impossible for LGBTQ couples to wed, let alone live in a domestic partnership or civil union of any kind, shape or form? Where do gay couples in a significant long-term relationship go when they are desirous of being dads through surrogacy? Where do lesbian or gay couples go if they want to have both of their names on their infant’s birth certificate? Simple: North Carolina individuals or couples go to Washington, D.C.! Washington, D.C. has become the marriage and birth sanctuary or haven for many North Carolina LGBTQ individuals and couples who wish to wed, have receptions, give birth to a child or have a child through surrogacy.
I know I’m a little slow on trends, but this is a definite trend. It was unbeknownst to me until the last few weeks when “D.C.” started to arise when talking to gay and lesbian couples who were either getting married, having a child, adopting a child or having a child through surrogacy. The first inkling about D.C. being the hot place to marry came about when I looked through the photo album of a recently married couple of men who are gay and deaf. I realized that I knew three or four other couples who had recently wed in D.C. This led to the second “aha” moment when talking to a lesbian couple who were wed in D.C., claimed “residency” in the city itself before they were wedded (and have recently moved to N.C.), and plan to go back “up” to D.C. when their child (they are expectant parents) is born. Why D.C.? Because both names of the mothers can be on the birth certificate when a child is born in a D.C. hospital. I’ve now known three North Carolina lesbian couples who had their child in D.C. for this very reason. And, their N.C. families gladly trooped up to the city to celebrate the festive day of birth, in which the caravan then came back down with a new citizen of N.C.
Lastly, a gay friend and his new partner who have both always wanted a child have been working with lawyers and a surrogacy service in D.C., and they are expecting a child in October 2013. Will they be recognized as the “moms” and “dads” legally in N.C.? Apparently, there is already legal precedent in N.C. for recognizing either gay or lesbian parents when children born in other cities and states where it is legal to have both dads and both moms on the birth certificate.
“Necessity” and “desire” are the “mother” of invention, says the old tired cliché. And, on this matter, I’m glad that North Carolinians who love living in this state have found a way of both fulfilling their desire to be parents and securing their rights as parents through other creative means. I hope other wannabe couples and parents take advantage when other states are seeing the inevitable reality of this country, that we, who are LGBTQI, are slowly but surely becoming equal citizens of these United States. : :

Go here for the article: http://goqnotes.com/21173/the-d-c-n-c-connection/

Monday, February 11, 2013

Suicide and LGBTQ People and Same Sex Couples

From my www.parentsociety.com column:

I am not a person who has known the deep darkness of depression. I have had days when I was filled with great sadness for long periods of time. But this is not the same as depression. I am not acquainted with days where my mood was so low, it would take everything within me to take my head off of a pillow, get dressed, and to follow a daily schedule. I’ve not been weighed down with questioning my self-esteem or dealt with a loss of interest in life or absence of pleasure when pursuing my usual enjoyable activities.
However, I am well acquainted with friends who struggle daily with depression. And many of these people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) parents who are living — well, hiding — in the closet to protect themselves from a social culture of oppression and threat.
Examples of LGBTQ Suicides
The issue of depression and suicide among LGBTQ people became prominent mostly recently with the death of young Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old programmer. On Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, he was found dead in his apartment of an apparent suicide. His is but the most recent death of a young person who is gay, lesbian, or questioning.
  • In 2010, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi of Rutgers University jumped off the Washington Bridge after his roommate caught Tyler in a romantic encounter with another man in their dorm room.
  • In November 2012, Josh Pacheco of Michigan took his life after being pushed into lockers and teased by classmates because of the fact that he was gay. He was found in his truck in a closed garage, with this note: “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be strong enough.”
However, suicide among older closeted lesbian and gay men and women — many of them parents in opposite-sex or straight marriages — is under-reported. Numerous studies in the last decade have focused upon depression and suicide among adolescent and young adults who are LGBTQ. There is a higher rate of attempted suicide among this population than the same age group of straight people, and suicide in this group occurs more often in conservative parts of the nation where their experiences of oppression and fear may be greater.

Click here for more:  http://www.towleroad.com/2013/01/in-his-short-life-aaron-swartz-did-not-endorse-sexual-labels.html

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Oregon Baker and the Lesbian Bride

From my article on www.parentsociety.com:

The wedding cake is one of the most central parts of the wedding celebration, along with the wedding dress, the flowers, and the venue. The modern wedding cake originated in medieval England, where the cake was in several layers, and if the couple could kiss over the top of it, they were guaranteed a happy and prosperous life together. One of the first acts that a couple does together is cut the cake, followed by the happy “stuffing” of the first piece of cake into each other’s mouth. And often the top of the cake is saved and frozen, taken out of the freezer the year later to remind the couple of all that they had promised.
So imagine the shock and surprise felt by a young bride-to-be, a lesbian, who went into Sweet Cakes Bakery in Gresham, Oregon (just outside of Portland proper) to buy a wedding cake, and was denied. Aaron Klein — who admits he gladly serves LGBTQ customers without batting an eye — refused to make the young bride-to-be a wedding cake. Why? Because she’s a lesbian, and that is against his religious beliefs: “I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God,” Klein is quoted as saying. “A man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife … that to me is the beginning of marriage.”

Read more here: http://www.parentsociety.com/todays-family/same-sex-parents/lesbian-couple-denied-a-wedding-cake-by-oregon-baker/

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Star-Crossed Fan Base for Some LGBTQ Couples

From my essay on www.parentsociety.com:
It’s all the rage, recently: lesbian and gay Hollywood personalities raising babies. Even here on Parent Society, there have been stories about gay parents: comedian and television host Rosie O’Donnell welcomed the newest baby born in her large household; Glee and Nip/Tuck producer Ryan Murphy welcomed a new baby into his family; and music icon Elton John and his partner David Furnish recently announced the birth of their second son.
And these are just the most recent gay and lesbian stars who have had babies. There are plenty of others, like television star Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka, who have recently welcomed children into their hearts and homes.
While I admit to looking at my fair share of Us and People magazines, and listening the fun news on the E channel, I’ve rarely been wooed by the behaviors, fashions, or habits of those in the music industry, Hollywood, or Broadway.  I choose other people in this world as role models, people whose life stories make me realize that I am in the presence of someone who has courage or charity of heart. However, I am aware that I live in a society in which people’s very lives are modeled after celebrity stars and starlets … how else can we explain all the attention given to the Kardashians?

More here on: http://www.parentsociety.com/todays-family/same-sex-parents/hollywoods-gay-and-lesbian-parents-are-todays-role-models/