Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Holidays Part by E

HAPPY NEW YEARS BLOG-O-SPHERE!! Last week I talked about Christmas and how bitter I tend to get during Christmas time.  Well now it's New Years Eve, one of my favorite holidays and I'm SOOO excited to get to celebrate this holiday!  New Years is the time when quickly-broken resolutions are made, when people say good bye to the old them and hello to the newer-but-still-old them.  It's a time for drinking, eating, dancing and partying, a time of joy and happiness.  This is a great holiday, my own little mid-Winter's celebration!  In one week I will be living 7 hours away from where I am now and I'm hoping to make this last holiday in Small Town, UT, a great one! *lifts drink* here's to you Blog-O-Sphere, all those who read and/or write here in this Breaking the Silence blog, to those who think the are alone and will (hopefully) soon realize that they are not, to those who want to make new decisions and choices, to those who are stronger than they realize.  Here's to you and your wonderful self.  Love it, enjoy it, be it, do what is necessary to live true to you.

Me, I'll be living somewhere new, making new friends and connections and learning new things and it is my hope that I will end 2014 in a better place emotionally, maybe off a few of my meds in a good way ;) It is my hope that I will have a chance with someone who makes my blood sing, someone who makes me feel the way Coffee Shop Guy and High School Crush do.  It is my hope that I will still be my same clothing size.  It is my hope that the world will be a better place and that marriage equality will have taken a majority, if not all, of the states by storm.  It is my hope that suicides and rapes will be down, and happy relationships up.  It is my hope that everyone will live for hope, strive for it and make it their goal to never be hopeless.

To a happy 2014 and a great life! *glug*

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013: A Year of Celebration

I have returned! Sorry I disappeared there for a couple weeks, with the holidays and all, things just became sort of a blur. OK, that also may have been the brandy egg nog…

Anyway, being that this is my last rant of the year here, I thought we’d look back at some of major victories we’ve had in the Movement in 2013.

Wedding Bells Are Ringing
Yes, the biggest news of the year has been on the front of marriage equality! In June 2013, the Supreme Court issued two decisions that turned the tide in our favor. First, they struck down Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act, finally granting Federal recognition to the marriages performed in those states which have equality. The Court didn’t strike down the whole Act, but they kicked open the floodgates a bit.

The second decision of the Court was to remand the decision of the Prop 8 case to the district court, allowing that court’s judgment to stand. The fight over marriage equality in California has been one of the longest yet and after five years, the battle is over with a victory for our side.

On the state level, things have been picking up steam as well; eight more states now have marriage equality. Utah’s has been the most surprising, coming from the state court decision Kitchen v. Herbert. In that case, the judge struck down Utah’s state constitutional amendment barring gay marriage as unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. As of now, the judge’s ruling stands. If it stands, there is no reason for other state’s constitutional amendments to hold up under judicial scrutiny.

ENDA Advances
Another long time battle has been with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994. In November, it passed the Senate for the first time, advancing it to the House.

Being that the House is more conservative leaning than the Senate, the bill may stall there. But after nearly twenty years, it’s nice to finally make some serious advancement for employee protection.

California’s AB1266
California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1266 into law earlier this year, making it the first bill in the nation to offer Trans* students protection in the state’s public school system. The bill protects students’ gender identity from discrimination in school facilities, classes, or extracurricular activities.

The opposition has tried to derail the bill, using their tried and true scare tactics, but as of this writing, their efforts have failed and the bill goes into effect in January.

New Jersey Bans “Pray Away the Gay”
Following California’s lead last year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law banning conversion therapy (“Pray Away the Gay”) for minors. Most of us in the Community have either experienced such “therapy” ourselves or have at least read the stories of our brothers and sisters who went through it. The “therapy” is pure junk science with no basis in reality or even success rates. Now Gov. Christie has offered our young brothers and sisters’ protection from this form of psychological brutality.

Hopefully more states will follow soon.

It has been an incredible year for us in the area of equality, we have scored several major victories and the opposition is on the run (NOM, the National Organization for Marriage, reported major deficits in fundraising this year).

Let’s take the momentum and keep running. Maybe in 2014, we will reach that final mountaintop and finally be equal citizens.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Miracle in Utah by E

My home town in is Utah, even though I'm not right now, and I am so happy that marriage equality has, unexpectedly, reached that state.  There has been so much controversy over the last few days about all of it and because of my meds (hooray anti-depressants!!) I'm only feeling true emotion in short bursts.  When those bursts do hit I feel so happy that, if I wanted to, I could marry the woman of my dreams in my hometown and it would be just as legal as if I had married the man of my dreams.

If you enjoy reading law journals, which I do when it's about something awesome, I suggest you read this article, published in Michigan Law Review in June of 2012 about the constitutional basis for keeping your marriage intact when you move from a state that supports marriage equality to one that doesn't. I am hoping that it will be lawyers like this author, cases like the ones the brought down Utah's Amendment 3 and DOMA, and people like myself and my family that will bring marriage equality to the federal level.

I personally am not planning on getting married unless I'm going to bring children into the equation, but should I decide to get married, I want to do so without the fear of having my union nullified only because I love, and want to start a family with, a woman. I want to be able to look into my love's eyes and tell her that our love is now recognized by the law and that nothing can keep us apart; we are now family and connected legally to each other.

I have friends and family who do not believe in marriage equality and that leaves me at a crossroads: do I unfriend them on Facebook and ignore them in the real world, or do I just shrug and say "oh well"? The fighter in me wants to tear these people apart and say, "YOU LOVE ME BUT YOU DON'T THINK I SHOULD BE ABLE TO MARRY THE LOVE OF MY LIFE AND HAVE THE SAME PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW THAT YOU DO?!!" I want to show them the hundreds of pictures coming out (teehee) of the great state of Utah that show how happy the couples are; the tears and kisses and hugs and dedication! I want to show them all of the legal precedence that has been laid. I want to show them that they are on the wrong side of history, that they are anti-freedom and anti-love, they will be viewed by their grandchild the same way we view racists of the '60's and '70's.  But the pacifist in me knows that I won't change their minds and quicker or easier than they will change mine.

This weekend has been a crazy one and the coming weeks, as this legal battle develops, will be even crazier.  Until then, this is a holiday miracle that will not be forgotten: same-sex couples were able to marry in Utah!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Sense of Self by E

What is a sense of self and when do you know that you have it?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here, but I have depression.  I am not depressed, I am not my disease.  And that is what this is, a disease, an illness, the mental equivalent of the flu. Except there is no vaccine.  I see a therapist for talk therapy and a psychiatrist for medications and both agree that one of the big roots of my depression is my lack of a solid sense of self and values.  Okay, well how do I get that?  Where do I go within myself, or without, that will help get a sense of self?

Two big aspects of self and values, for me any way, are sexulity and belief of what lies beyond.  I don’t have solid thoughts on either of those.  I like men and women, but up until a few weeks ago, I thought I was gay, that I’d never sleep with another man after my ex-fiance. But lo and behold, I am currently sleeping with Cowboy, crushing on Coffeeshop Guy and going on dates with Mormon Boy; ALL MEN! I don’t have any women in my line up right now and that is weird for me because I really want a girlfriend.  On the other hand I love having sex with men.

My therapist thinks that the human body gets depression when something is wrong; wrong relationship, wrong sense of self, wrong program in school, wrong roommates, wrong town, wrong religion.  He also thinks that everything in life is fluid and rarely stays the same.  And that goes for sexuality as well.  Combining those two thoughts, maybe my bisexuality was trying to save me from getting married, something that was wrong for me, by completely turning me off to guys for a while and once I was clear of marriage, I reverted back to being bi?

There are a lot of different kinds of sexuality and the two that I’m trying to decide between are pansexual and bisexual.  I don’t quite understand the difference between the two.  I’ve heard many definitions and they don’t make a lot of sense to me.  From what I’ve heard, pan is being able to love and be attracted to and connect with all people regardless of physical sex and gender identity, where bi is able to love and be attracted to and connect with men and women.  Yeah, I don’t see a difference, but oh well.

I think one thing that I need work on in order to build my value system is to say “no” when my guts tell me to.  I talk big about following your instincts, that they know best and will help you more than any advice you could get from anyone, but I don’t do it myself.

Isn’t that another part of depression, not following your values? I think that is what I’m going to work on next, but how do I do that? Suggestions please :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Pieces of Me by E

If I ever had all the pieces of me, I don't have them now
I don't know where they are or who has them
Maybe I still have them, how to put them back together
Maybe someone else has them, how do I get them back

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Film at 11

In ten years of being an activist, I’ve gotten my fair share of press coverage, nothing national, but I’ve been in the local papers more than a few times and I’ve been on the local news a time or two. When I was away at college in Terre Haute at Indiana State University, it wasn’t really a big deal, but when I returned to my hometown after I graduated, I nearly caused a family panic.

It was back in March, there was a demonstration down in Indianapolis at the Statehouse, the Supreme Court was hearing the oral arguments in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, so the community in Indy joined in solidarity across the nation to show our support for marriage equality.

I drove in with my boyfriend at the time, who was a bit nervous since he had never been a demonstration before. I assured him we would be fine, I’ve never had any trouble protesting in Indianapolis. We drove down to the protest site, signs in the back and some good activist music playing on the car stereo.

We got there, unloaded the signs and stood tall, we were amongst friends, several fellow cast members from our local Rocky Horror show were there, there was a couple guys from Terre Haute, and even a few of my old camp staff buddies had shown up to show their support and solidarity.

As the demonstration progressed, my boyfriend and I were tapped to hold this giant rainbow flag on the steps of the capitol building as the speeches rolled on. We stood up there with the others, holding the colors proudly as one speaker after another spoke on the bullhorn about the fight in the Supreme Court and what it meant for all of us.

Well the scheduled speakers finished up and the young lady running the demonstration looked around and said, “Does anybody else have a few words?”

The guys from the Rocky cast were looking at me, my old camp staff buddies had that little grin on their face, my boyfriend was smiling, and of course, my buddies from Terre Haute were egging me on a bit.

So I walked up and took the bullhorn, my blood pumping with that righteous anger familiar to all activists, I started rattling off about our birthrights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, the progress of the movement, how we were seeing the beginnings of the last struggle, all that sort of thing. I finished up by getting the crowd in a good chant and then stepped back to the flag.

The demonstration wrapped up, we packed up our signs, drove home and went our separate ways. It had been a good evening, pretty good turnout at the statehouse, good speeches from the schedule speakers, and it always feels good when old friends share the picket line with you.

I was at work the next day, ringing up sodas, lottery tickets, and gas when this lady comes up to the counter. She was one of our regular lottery customers and she looks at me and says, “Hey, I saw you on the news last night.”

I got confused for a minute, thinking maybe she mistook me for someone else, so I replied “Really? What was going on?”

She got excited and said, “It was some rally downtown. I told my husband, ‘I know that guy! That’s the guy from the gas station!’”

I handed her the usual lottery tickets and wished her the best of luck. I didn’t think much about being told I was on the news, I thought it was kind of funny that I had been out of action for nearly a year and the first demonstration I show up at, I end up on TV. Still, it didn’t seem all together unusual.

Then I got home from work.

My mother called me in a near panic, “You better thank God that your grandfather no longer watches the local news!” Apparently she had caught the piece on Channel 6 where they used my fiery improv speech as their introduction to the story.

“Son, I didn’t care when you did that sort of thing in Terre Haute, we don’t have family out there, but the last thing your eighty year old conservative grandfather needs to see is you draped in a rainbow flag and holding a bullhorn on the local news.”

She was right, it would have been a nasty shock; my mother has accepted my sexuality, even if she doesn’t always understand my hellfire activism. The other members of the family? Well most of them don’t know about my sexuality and as far as the hellfire activism, yeah they’re a bit in the dark about that too.

My grandfather didn’t see the news story, but I’m pretty sure my Uncle Bill did since he hasn’t really spoken to me since.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Traditions by E

As the holidays as upon us I find myself pining for traditions that have nothing to do with Christianity.  This is something I have been feeling for some time.  When I left the Mormon church, I also rejected most of the traditions and holidays that revolved around it; I didn’t want to be associated with it anymore.  But it left me wondering, “What am I now?” I don’t want to be a cultural Mormon, I’m still too close to my leaving to be able to do that and be happy, I’m still too bitter.  I also resent being American, I feel like there is too much blood and shame in the history to be proud of that heritage.

I have been exploring religions, reading up on different kinds, taking quizzes that ask about my personal beliefs and so far I have been attracted to Unitarian Univeralism, Secular Humanism, and Neo-Paganism.  What I am looking for something in a religion, or belief system, is a group of people, close knit with a sense of community, that believes in something.  A group that shares traditions, that celebrates things together.  I would prefer a group that celebrates the changing of the seasons, like Paganism, or a group that celebrates scientists and scientific achievements.

Why is this important to me?  Why is this something that I have been investigating so heavily? Why do I have such a strong desire to define myself, even if by someone elses terms? Is it a desire to find a group that identifies the same way I do? That is plausible.  I wish that I wasn’t leaving the area that I was in.  I love the nature, the trails through the mountains and the way the summer is.  I like the people...kinda.  I would love to make more connections, investigate UU or some of the Pagan groups.  I would love even more to become a member of the Mounted Posse.

The more I think about it, the more I think that is right: I’m just craving connection, a group, my herd.  I’m even more excited to move to Wyoming now, if only to start to build more connections. I’ll miss the few connections that I have here in Small Town.  I’ll miss my bio family and my family-of-choice and my coworkers and my friends.  But I’ll have a chance to make new friends. And that is exciting.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"The Giving Tree" Poem

With Thanksgiving just passing I wanted so share one of my favorite poems. 

Once there was a tree....
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired,
he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree....
very much.
And the tree was happy.
But time went by.
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree
and the tree said, "Come, Boy, come and
climb up my trunk and swing from my
branches and eat apples and play in my
shade and be happy."
"I am too big to climb and play" said
the boy.
"I want to buy things and have fun.
I want some money?"
"I'm sorry," said the tree, "but I
have no money.
I have only leaves and apples.
Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in
the city. Then you will have money and
you will be happy."
And so the boy climbed up the
tree and gathered her apples
and carried them away.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time....
and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back
and the tree shook with joy
and she said, "Come, Boy, climb up my trunk
and swing from my branches and be happy."
"I am too busy to climb trees," said the boy.
"I want a house to keep me warm," he said.
"I want a wife and I want children,
and so I need a house.
Can you give me a house ?"
" I have no house," said the tree.
"The forest is my house,
but you may cut off
my branches and build a
house. Then you will be happy."

And so the boy cut off her branches
and carried them away
to build his house.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time.
And when he came back,
the tree was so happy
she could hardly speak.
"Come, Boy," she whispered,
"come and play."
"I am too old and sad to play,"
said the boy.
"I want a boat that will
take me far away from here.
Can you give me a boat?"
"Cut down my trunk
and make a boat," said the tree.
"Then you can sail away...
and be happy."
And so the boy cut down her trunk
and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy
... but not really.

And after a long time
the boy came back again.
"I am sorry, Boy,"
said the tree," but I have nothing
left to give you -
My apples are gone."
"My teeth are too weak
for apples," said the boy.
"My branches are gone,"
said the tree. " You
cannot swing on them - "
"I am too old to swing
on branches," said the boy.
"My trunk is gone, " said the tree.
"You cannot climb - "
"I am too tired to climb" said the boy.
"I am sorry," sighed the tree.
"I wish that I could give you something....
but I have nothing left.
I am just an old stump.
I am sorry...."
"I don't need very much now," said the boy.
"just a quiet place to sit and rest.
I am very tired."
"Well," said the tree, straightening
herself up as much as she could,
"well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting
Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest."
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.

Let us all keep gratitude in our hearts as we approach this wonderful Christmas season. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, folks! I'm stuffed with turkey, potatoes, and pie, so I'm taking the day off. I'll be back next week with more rants, ramblings, and revelations.

Be thankful to be yourself and be thankful for all the progress we've made this year in the struggle for equality.

-Walter Beck

Wants and Desires really do come true


I have to say, I've been shocked by the findings of what's happened this week.

I keep a list, a specific list...that allows me the ways of channeling and reminding myself of what I truly want. I update it constantly, and write it both in my blog along with a printed out copy I leave on my doorstep. This ensures two things: 1) That I'm constantly reevaluating what it is I want every day, and (2) I see it everyday I wake up and just before I go to bed. If you want, you can view it at this link here.

This is what I do. This is who I am. And this is why I keep at it. But I wasn't sure if I was actually ready for it.

You see, I recently discovered this list just a few weeks ago as I was preparing on writing my blog today. As I reviewed it, I checked and found that there were some parts of me that were missing, some parts that I didn't have resolved. Some parts of me that I still wanted to ensure were going forward and not going through.

Then I found this. I had made this December 2012, hoping that I may get this far in my life within maybe 5 years. The fact of the matter is, though, that I actually had started and even completed most of these within that same year! I was shocked.

 I created my own graphic design business. I wanted to be a motivational speaker to those who wanted to know about my HIV and such. I wanted to also have a great job and close relationship with my family. And I had been studying more in relation to my language, doing work, and going back to school, which I am in the process of doing next year.

What it comes down to is that the importance of self-reliance, trust, and pushing yourself to do more in your life is really what makes you an important person and a great member of society! And it all comes in how you view yourself .That's really what matters. What you truly desire and want in your life can become yours.

And the way to get there is by doing things like this. I just don't see how things can be done any other way because of that knowledge. I work toward everything I truly want in life...because that's the basis of agency.

I will expound on this as I go to my next blog, how the LDS church has helped me as a gay male. I hope this inspires those who read it :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Appreciating July. (I'm Gonna Be 500 Miles-Sleeping At Last)

     I first want to apologize for not posting this on sunday. My laptop was being nothing less an irritating and for some reason I could not connect to the internet on it. Please forgive the delay :(

     When I was a child I distinctly remember my worries being carefree. As a child my brain was constantly running, constantly imagining things. My worries were not of love, or money, or family, or school, or work. My smiles did not hide pain, or lies, or secrets. My life was simple. My worry held fear of the monster beneath my bed and the thought of somebody stealing my rusty red bike. I stressed over who I was going to play with that day and a bad time was from the shadow cast by the silence of boredom. Every day that passed my childhood was placed behind me with no regards to the innocence held by my childhood. With each passing day the understanding of real stress and worry became all to familiar. Every second that clicked my innocent brain was replaced by the understanding that my happiness was in my hands. That in the end, I was going to be the one to write my own story....and with that understanding the stress, unhappiness, and worry only piled up like the snow that gathers knee high with each dropping snowflake. 
     At the age of 25 I have seen that sad pile of stress, unhappiness, and worry melt away. I have seen it dissolve into hope, happiness, joy, and child like smiles. But just like each winter brings more snow there is always a time in my life that the snowflakes of stress, unhappiness, and worry begins to accumulate in my life....every time with different significance. The past couple of weeks my mind has focused on one particular apprehension.   LOVE  
     I keep trying to pin point at what point in my life I started stressing about falling in love. And the more I think about it the more I realize it wasn't so much a time as an event. I remember the first time I truly fell in love. The moment I looked into their eyes and saw nothing but comfort and happiness. The feeling that I was flying....That I could accomplish anything. My smile held secrets and lies hidden deep in my past....but after falling in love....after having my heart stolen...my smile did not hold pain. Everybody feels love differently.... I felt it like I was up to my head in stress filled snow....and my love....their love.....was my July. Unfortunately, though I hope I am one day proven wrong, nothing good last forever. As much happiness that was brought on by falling in love just as much pain was emptied into my heart from watching them fall out of love with me. That was the point....the event that changed my whole out look on love and life. Before falling in love I never knew what pure happiness was. I had always been happy and content with in myself but having somebody to share everything with...having somebody that knew every dark secret hidden in my pathetic past, and still loved me was a miracle in my eyes. And every day I search for that miracle...I search for that happiness that somebody else out in the world holds in their hands. I'm patient....I'm not worried or forcing anything. I want my next love to come to me....to need me. I'm patient because I know without the snow.....I could never truly appreciate July.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

When I Came Out By E

Five months ago today I was sitting across the table from my mom at our favorite restaurant.  It was my birthday lunch and I was super nervous because today I was going to tell her why I broke up with the guy she wanted me to marry, a guy I had been with for two and half years, a guy I loved.  This guy and I broke up because I decided that I liked women.  The following are the reactions of my family members after I came out them.

Agnostic Mom: Am I supposed to be surprised?
Blonde Sister: You’re an ally, not one of them! *tears*
Mormon Brother: *high five* Was that everything?
Red-headed Sister: Can I get back to my movie?
Mormon Dad: Nothing can change how much I love you.

The only adverse reaction I’ve gotten from the members of my family was from Blonde Sister.  She hates the idea that I like women because for my entire life she’s seen me as one way, liking only men, and now she has to see me in a different way.  I have wondered of the last few months why me liking girls is such an issue for her, even if it is because she has to see me differently.  I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why it bugs her so much. I wish I could talk to my sister about things, like girls I have crushes on and such.  Maybe one day… I hope.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Acceptance of Oneself

I relate to three very distinct identities, and I’ll go over each one-at-a-time. The first one, being LDS/Mormon, has been deeply engrained in me as a kid and stuck with me, even during a period of time where I didn’t consider myself one. The values and morals I learned came strongly from my family and extended family, most all of them being LDS in some degree. So I guess you could say that particular others played a strong role in how I viewed myself that way.

It wasn’t always this way, however. Because I also am a member of the GLBT community, I viewed myself when I first came out to my family and friends as not involved in any way with the LDS religion. But as time progressed, I realized that I wasn’t happy with not having religion in my life, and it was my constant feeling as time progressed. Religion was what I based my life on, gay or not, and it gave me happiness in a way that couldn’t be found in any other way.  Secondly, I consider myself musically gifted, as I mentioned.

I’ve taken piano for 9 years and played for about 15 years now, and enjoy expressing myself through this medium. This is important to me because of both the particular other (my family and friends) and the generalized other in mix. The first one is obvious: I enjoy being able to touch my close friends’ lives through music, a medium that I understand and can use. However, I also want to influence society at large, and society can be taught so many great norms that I can do through music. Some of these include temperance, love, devotion, happiness, and so forth. It isn’t about attention for me but rather what I can communicate through music that I cannot otherwise.

Finally, I consider myself somewhat of a geek. This was engrained on me since childhood, as I was considered very smart and into new things. I constantly wanted to be challenged, and even some of my old teachers mentioned that I would get bored easily because I felt like I wasn’t being challenged enough. Plus, I found I love using technology, namely computers and so forth. I’ve worked in technical support for a major wireless company, which I loved doing and could fix virtually any problem that was presented to me. At first, I considered it a negative label because I didn’t have many friends and was constantly teased as a kid. But as time went on, I accepted this as part of who I am, and quite frankly, I love knowing that much more than some of my peers. It’s an identity which I love to show out there.  Moving on, there were many identities that I have that have changed over time, such as being a Democrat/Liberal, open-minded, humorous, and pro-gay.

I will elaborate on being open-minded, for I wasn’t there for a time. It was a difficult change for me because in the LDS religion, you’re taught to view things of a negative nature as bad and to not explore them for fear of temptation to do evil or sin. I’m sure this is how it is with many religions, but it is strongly expressed in this religion.  Well, I did because I knew I was gay, something that completely contradicted the church, and so I ventured out into that aspect of myself. These experiences made me realize that I need to accept things objectively. Great and awesome ideas come from those outside of the church while at the same time hurtful and detrimental ideas also come, which made me inquisitive into how everyone works out to be. It’s simple really: I can be exposed to anything I would like but don’t have to take it at face-value. I can, for myself, decide whether something is of worth to involve myself with or to shun out based on my personality and beliefs.

Being involved with the LGBT community has taught me that. Now I’m happy to be open-minded to anything and everything and not take a side until I understand both sides.  Finally, on the activity of those who gave me traits, I was pretty surprised at what people view me to be. I consider myself very shy just because I don’t have many friends and don’t like talking one-on-one with people. I get intimidated and scrambling for things to say because I don’t usually stand out in a crowd. Why I mention this is because I had nearly half the class say I have an outspoken or outgoing personality. I do definitely in class because I’m passionate about learning (always have been), so in that respect, I can see why people would see this in me.  I will admit, however: I would love to be known as outspoken in real life. I guess it’s my past that changed how I viewed myself. I was always shy as a small kid, and I guess it carried over into the person I am today. Maybe I should get out more and enjoy life and talk to people. I’m sure they can’t hurt me, right?

(Excerpt from my Thinkpiece III assignment- COMM 1010)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

We Got Your Back

Dedicated to Brother Phoenix, who lit a fire under me.

Yesterday was Transgender Day of Remembrance, where we gathered in cities, towns, and online to remember our brothers and sisters in the Trans* community who were brutally murdered this year. We made a pledge to honor the fallen and work towards a better day where there is no more innocent blood spilled. It was a beautiful moment of solidarity across states and across nations.

But such solidarity is rarely seen throughout the rest of the year.

It has been one hell of a year on the front, no doubt, more and more states are passing marriage equality, the Supreme Court ruled in our favor in the DOMA cases, and ENDA passed the Senate for the first time in its nearly twenty year history. The opposition seems to be on the run as they lose one battle after another, 2013 seems like it could be the beginning of the end of our long fight for equality and liberty.

Hold on, not so fast. The opposition isn’t giving up so easy; they’re just turning their sights on a new target.

While we’re celebrating our wedding vows, our brothers and sisters in the Trans community are facing more fundamental fights, the fight to use the bathroom in peace, the fight to be able to go to school without fear of harassment, the fight to be recognized as real human beings who deserve respect. And the opposition is zeroing in on them.

In California, Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1266, which protects the rights of Trans* students in California public schools, it allows them to participate in classes, extra-curricular activities, and sports with respect to their gender identity. The bill has been widely celebrated as the first of its kind to protect Trans* students in public schools. Naturally, the Right went completely apeshit.

The Pacific Justice Institute was the first to strike, spreading false stories about a Trans* student in Colorado who was allegedly “harassing” other students in the bathroom. The backlash against the student (known as “Jane Doe”) was harsh and violent, with people openly calling for her mutilation and threatening to kill her. The school Jane Doe attends said there had been no harassment. But that didn’t stop PJI from stating that her very existence was tantamount to harassment.

Privacy for All Students was the next group to get in on the fight, supposedly a grassroots movement against Gov. Brown’s bill, the group claims to have gotten enough signatures to challenge the bill in a ballot vote. As far as what they plan to do to protect Trans* students if the bill is repealed, they told activist Jeremy Hooper, “Finding a ‘solution’ is above our pay grade.”

Oh and just in case you forgot about them, NOM decided to get in on this fight as well, I guess because being solely against gay marriage isn’t paying the bills anymore.

So what is the LGB community doing to defend the T in all this? Well sadly it doesn’t seem like much, there doesn’t seem to be the powerhouse organizations in the corner of our brothers and sisters in the Trans* community. And the sad part is, that seems almost par for the course, a lot of mainstream gay rights groups shy away from the Trans* community, HRC is notorious for throwing Trans* people under the bus when it’s politically convenient and in 2007, HRC endorsed a version of ENDA which did not include gender identity protections. I suppose in their minds, half a loaf was better than no loaf at all.

Well maybe we don’t need them; I’m here to talk to you, dear reader, not them. You can stand up, you can do something to help our Trans* brothers and sisters. You don’t need a big checkbook and you don’t need a congressman in your pocket, you just need yourself and the belief that they are your brothers and sisters in this fight.

I wasn’t always such an advocate for the Trans* community, it took some brothers out in Arizona to light a fire under my ass. It was back in April, I was on assignment with Polari to cover the fight against Arizona’s bathroom bill, which would have made it a crime for a Trans* person to use a public restroom. Frankly, I thought we had already decided that it was a fundamental right to take a piss here in America; I thought we established that back in 60’s. But I was mistaken.

I talked to a group of Trans* people who were fighting for their basic right to go when you gotta go. I saw what the opposition was saying about them, I saw how they were being portrayed as monsters and criminals, I heard their stories, I reported what was going on out in Arizona. I went in as a half-crazed journalist and left the story a fierce fighter, ready to stand tall and strong with our brothers and sisters unto the Gates of Hell if that’s what it took.

That’s what I’m asking you to do, don’t perpetrate the divide of our community. Those in the Trans* community are your brothers and sisters and they need us now. We all remember when the opposition zeroed in on us, are we going to abandon them now that they’re the ones being targeted?

You don’t have to move heaven and earth, just stand with your brothers and sisters, tell them you’re on their side, tell them we together are united and strong and show them that if we stand together, no force the opposition can muster will tear us apart and no force can stop us from being free and equal together.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What am I? By E

I know Carrie isn’t gay, but sometimes I wonder if this is my life.
I like girls. A lot. I want a girlfriend someday.
I like boys. I like to have sex with them, and to look at them.

Am I shallow? Am I a bitch? Am I bi or gay or straight or hasbian or wanna-lez? I hate labels, being called things I am not, or things I think I am not.  But sometimes it’s nice to know what I am and right now, when it comes to my sexuality, I don’t know what I am.

My mom just told me that I'm lucky, I'm lucky because it seems like I'm bi, and that means I get the chance to love freely and choose freely. She said, "I have had girl friends that I've loved, but could never be with because I'm straight, but for you it's different."

What and who am I? Does it matter that I don’t know? Do I have to know right now?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oh The Places I'll Go ("The Fighter"- Gym Class Heroes)


     When I was younger I was very chubby and had a bowl cut and dressed like a boy. I was often asked by my peers if I was a boy or a girl. I always had friends and I was never the target of excessive bullying, but I was often brought down by my own thoughts. I was a bully....to myself. In elementary school I don't ever remember my "difference" holding me back... I don't ever remember it enabling me from being social or hanging out with my friends. In middle school however the fact that I was different started to be more noticeable. Maybe not so much to my peers but more so to me. I specifically remember being in elementary when the thought that I could be gay started to creep into my mind. However being so young I didn't know much on the topic and it was easy to convince myself that I was just going through a phase and that next year I would be more girly and like boys more. In middle school.....well that was a little harder to do. My feelings towards girls were not as easily ignored. I had crushes...multiple crushes that I hid within friendships. I started to separate myself emotionally and physically from people, scared that if I got too close they would start to see who I was......A monster. I started to tell myself I was a nobody.....that I was a mistake. In high school the depression started to creep in like a plague. I alienated myself from my close friends because they were all dating and having the boyfriends....and, well, I wasn't. Growing up in the mormon church my thoughts were often led to temple marriage and eternal families and it was like I had unconsciously made a decision that I could never be happy. That I would never be normal. I felt like a failure all the time. After struggling through high school and putting on a brave face I graduated, excited of what my future had to hold. I had unknowingly planted these dreams and expectations of what "real" life was. I speculated that once I graduated things would magically change and I would be happy. I. Was. Wrong.
     I struggled all through my college years trying to find out who I was. If you've read my last post you'll understand when I say I "hit rock bottom". Once you hit rock bottom you don't automatically pop out on top. You have to fight to get there. So this last week that's what I've been doing..... Fighting. I have spent my whole life telling myself I was a monster, a nobody, that I was worthless and a mistake. I have spent  my whole life tearing myself down....being my own bully that now.....Well.....its hard to tell myself I'm not. I have been searching the past couple of weeks for strength to keep fighting this war going on within myself...... And then while at work I was reading to one of my disabled students a book that changed my life.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss (I've highlighted my favorite parts)

Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away! 
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go. 
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care. About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there." With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street. 
And you may not find any you'll want to go down. In that case, of course, you'll head straight out of town. 
It's opener there in the wide open air. 
Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you. 
And when things start to happen, don't worry. Don't stew. Just go right along. You'll start happening too. 
You'll be on your way up! You'll be seeing great sights! You'll join the high fliers who soar to high heights. 
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed. You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. 
Except when you don' t Because, sometimes, you won't. 
I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true and Hang-ups can happen to you. 
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a Lurch. 
You'll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump. 
And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done. 
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked. A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win? 
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right... or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind. 
You can get so confused that you'll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place... 
...for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting. 
Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting. 
NO! That's not for you! 
Somehow you'll escape all that waiting and staying. You'll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. 
With banner flip-flapping, once more you'll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you're that kind of a guy! 
Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. there are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV. 
Except when they don't. Because, sometimes, they won't. 
I'm afraid that some times you'll play lonely games too. Games you can't win 'cause you'll play against you. 
All Alone! Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you'll be quite a lot. 
And when you're alone, there's a very good chance you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won't want to go on. 
But on you will go though the weather be foul On you will go though your enemies prowl On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. 
On and on you will hike and I know you'll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are. 
You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left. 
And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.) 
So... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way! 

     Right in the middle of reading this book I paused and struggled to hold back tears. I realized through this silly Dr. Seuss book that all those years of putting myself down had only led to to where I was now. On Top. I finally realized that I had made it. That I was on top of my mountain. But I'm not stopping there. I know life is full of ups and downs and thats okay because there are so many other mountains to climb....and to keep climbing them at one point I'll have to slide down. So though I may be on top now...I'm NOT going to stop fighting. I'm going to fight for happiness, for peace, for love, for equality, for whats right and against wrong, for the handicapped, for the sad, for the lost and the down, and for me. There is so much that awaits me! So many adventures and places to see. My expectations are high, my smile is big, and my desires and huge. The sky is my limit! All I need is the strength....and I'll fight for it, cause I'm a Fighter....and Oh The Places I'll Go.


Guest Post: On Silence

Hi, everyone! I'm your Saturday guest blogger, though I used to be a writer here so I'm not technically a guest, and probably I won't publish this until Saturday night because I'm the slowest, laziest person. Anyway, my name is Kylie, and I used to be the bisexual Sunday blogger until I unexpectedly stopped writing without telling anyone why. So this is my make-up post to explain and apologize, and hopefully reach some helpful conclusions about what led to my silence.

First of all, I stopped writing when I got engaged over the summer. For one thing, planning a wedding is time-consuming and stressful, even when you're think that you're not that into weddings so it won't be time-consuming and stressful. Sadly for everyone, that mentality never pans out, which was disappointing. Also, I'm a woman who got engaged to a straight man, so I had all those anxieties bisexual people have about being invisible and being judged by the lgbtq community for appearing to be in a traditionally straight marriage and doing traditional things like planning a wedding which is rude because most members of the lgbtq community can't do so. So that was the first anxiety.

The second anxiety related to my parents, who started reading my blog. In a way, that was good to know, because really all my blog posts in some way related to my anxieties about my parents, and really I guess I was secretly hoping they'd be reading it all along, since I couldn't talk to them in person about all the things I wanted them to hear from me anyway. But then I got worried that I'd been being mean to them, and I felt too insecure to come back and write knowing my more specific audience that I could visualize and cared about and whose feelings I really didn't want to be hurt.

The third anxiety is the one I'm actually going to write about a little bit, because I'm still not sure what to do about the first and second ones. This one relates to my then-bishop, who, I should clarify, was a very nice, very sincere person who, I think, really, really, really wanted to help me. So I told him I was bisexual, and he did a little digging on me, and found this blog. I'm not surprised, and I've always written this blog with a BYU/LDS audience in mind, since those are the communities I belong to, and I hadn't tried to hide anything I'd written or been ashamed or embarrassed about it. But suddenly, this man I hadn't known until a few months earlier had read every single one of my blog posts, and this led to him asking me if I'd ever had sex with a woman in spite of me telling him that I'd been in a committed relationship with the same man for four years and telling him already that I obeyed and always had obeyed the Mormon law of chastity, i.e. no premarital sex with anyone. He sent me to meet with the stake president, or the person higher up in him than authority. I met with this man too, and continued to be very uncomfortable being asked questions about my sexuality and if I'd ever had sex with a woman (because heterosexual people don't know they're heterosexual until they sleep with a member of the opposite sex and know with absolute certainty they're super, really, definitely straight), and so on and so forth.

Again, I really believe that both men were doing what they thought was best for me (and doing what you feel is best without consulting the person you're trying to help, even when you really, really, really believe you're helping and being so kind and so nice, is an entirely different issue that I could go on and on about). And the problem might not lie so much with them as with the overall establishment's need to figure out how to proceed with people like me who, say, want a temple recommend but are comfortable being bisexual. The end result is: I became embarrassed and ashamed of what I had written here, and in attempt to appear more worthy to the people who felt responsible for judging and questioning my worthiness instead of letting me be responsible for my own worthiness or accept my own answers about it as true, I let them kind of take over, and stopped writing on the blog without telling anyone why.

So. That's the long story made short, eliminating the many sleepless nights of crying and crying about how these older men had asked me these really specific questions about my sexuality that I didn't feel like they had any right to ask and that made me feel awful, being a rather quiet and prudish person to begin with, and that made me feel embarrassed and ashamed of who I was, and that led to me unintentionally deciding that the easiest course of action was silence and inaction over anything else.

The issue is that I didn't actually feel unworthy, and it's that I'm not actually ashamed of anything I've put on this blog. I put my real thoughts and feelings here, and I don't think there's anything here to be embarrassed of. I'm sometimes rash, and what I put here doesn't convey what I always think 100% of the time, and my opinions on things are likely to change. But a depressed, bisexual adult woman in a committed relationship should be allowed to say what she wants on a website created by a BYU student specifically to "break the silence" without being questioned on her worthiness as a human being or as a spiritual person.

Anyway, I'm a little bit scared to post this because that whole weird thing happened in May and it was just a wretched, wretched experience that made me feel horrible, which is kind of a terrible way to feel when you get engaged in May and just want to be excited about being with the person you're with. I also don't want to make my parents sad, and I don't want to make the bishop or stake president feel bad, because they really were doing what they thought was best, even though it ended up being so horrible and traumatic and the worst. So. There's that. But even though I'm kind of scared and putting this out here makes me feel vulnerable all over again, I wanted to put my experience here because every once in a while, I remember it, and instead of feeling like crying, I feel like I want to do something about it. I'm an anxious person as it is, and if there's anything I can do to alleviate that anxiety and be less anxious, I'd like to do that thing. So my final thought after this whole long rambling thing is that sometimes you let other people silence you, and, as my therapist would say, sometimes it's okay to ride that silence and not to fight that battle right now, and leave it for later when you're more equipped to deal with it. And sometimes it's time to be loud and make your voice heart and talk about the ways you got hurt, especially so the system can know about it and try to deal with that, so that's kind of what I'm doing now, even though it's in a long, rambling kind of way.

Anyway, thanks for letting me share this here. I'm really excited about all these new bloggers and to see what you guys are talking about here, because it's valuable and good. I'm going to go finish watching Love Actually and probably cry myself to sleep, mostly because it's cute and not because I'm sad. Which is nice.