Monday, July 29, 2013

Pictures, and Michelle Tanner, Say a Thousand Words

I had quite the week this week!

Each morning began with watching episodes of "The Hills," no matter who objected to it.

I attempted to increase the distance I run in the mornings. 

Courtesy of

And with vigorous exercise comes vigorous eating…with an emphasis on healthy. 

I begun reading the brilliance that is David Halperin's "How to Be Gay," a book that studies the culture of homosexuality and how this culture is enforced by and learned from one another.

Because something had to keep me occupied once the weekend nights came around, and being away from Santa Barbara, my friends, and parties means I lack a social life.

I bought 4 books about varying sociological issues. While this was an $80 value, I got them all for under $5 at a book sale.
Courtesy of

I even had time to meditate and contemplate the deeper meanings of life.
Courtesy of

I updated my Instagram, but no selfies this week. 
Courtesy of

Of course, many online couples were making sure the Internet knew they were in a great, exciting, and busy relationship with their numerous pictures, check ins, and status updates.

 And at the end of this busy week, I'm getting ready to do it all again next week.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mormons, Gays, Fire, Bridges

Matt here.

So, this week. Keeping Mormons after dropping Mormonism.

I have a couple of friends in SLC who are Mormon and who believe in the church, but also strongly support gay rights. One of them even volunteers with the Trevor project. They've each hosted me in their homes and supported my plans for love, family, and atheism; it's pretty much a no-brainer that their Mormonism doesn't bother me. They're good friends, and easy to love because they love me, and I can feel it.

But then, if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?

I have a few friends in Utah and Arizona, including my roommates from the Cozy House, who are more traditionally Mormon. They voted for Prop 8 and similar and think the recent SCOTUS decisions were the result of activist judges. They "don't agree with homosexuality."

These people are much more difficult to love. Conversation often gets strangled as I try not to bring up the guy I have a crush on or how happy I was when Prop 8 fell and so on. Sometimes one or the other of us will not be circumspect enough and prick the other with a needle about their delusions or my immorality. Keeping a relationship with these people often hurts.

Yet, they've also shared their homes with me. These people have listened when I needed to be heard and held me up during scary-dark times. They're generally good, smart people, focused on their families. I have memories with them, and connections, and in most cases I don't want to let them go.

Keeping up our relationships is a bit of a dilemma. Talking with these Mormons is usually as uncomfortable as it is enlightening, as infuriating as it is good to reminisce. I find myself weighing each one: Is this worth keeping up? Do I want to still know these people?

Mostly the answer has been yes. In large part, this is because I want to be a man who has a wide filter bubble. Partly it's because I don't want one's opinion about homosexuality or religion to be a dealbreaker, and partly it's because I don't want everything to always come back to me and people like me. I don't want other people's narrowness to make me narrow.

Sometimes, it's a dilemma. Egg* and I, for example, were homeschooled and then early college students together. She's essentially my sister from another mister, in that we had our phases of hate and love and we spent far, far too much time together. Egg is very Mormon (the kind that Doesn't Agree With Homosexuality), and it was difficult for her when I came out over the phone while at BYU, but it also made a lot of sense, and she's adapted well. Although she, like my sister, feels the need to remind me that she Doesn't Agree every time we talk about boys, we do talk about boys.

However. While I was in Japan she got married to a Mormon man who also Doesn't Agree With Homosexuality--so much that he literally will not stay in the same room as me. I was at his house visiting with Egg; he said hello, moved to another room, and put in headphones. I took a chair next to him at a recent event; he sat stonily for five minutes and then moved to the other side of the yard, where he remained until I left, an hour or so later. Egg confirms that he is creeped out because I'm gay, and I have to say, that makes me livid. The bridges I've tried to build to him (because he's Egg's husband) are on fire.

. . . but then, if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?

The bridges may survive, scorched, because he's Egg's husband. There's a point where it's just not worth it, even if it means giving up Egg. There's a point where I'm going to start throwing gas instead of sand.

But we're not there yet.

*My Egg is not at all like this Egg, I just couldn't resist the urge to share.


Here is a related article.
Here is a second related article.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Of Bikes and Boats

                When I was a teenager, my dad bought a motorcycle. It was a thick hunk of a bike, with a wide ass and long handlebars. It was definitely one of those bikes built for the veterans of biking, for the kings of the open road. It was meant to me ridden with leather chaps, aviator sunglasses, and an American flag bandanna wrapped around your head. It was a classic.
                My dad is not a biker. At least, no one would label him that way. I didn’t really even know this bit of my dad existed until he brought the bike home that day. I came to find out that my dad rode dirt bikes when he was a teenager. Despite the poverty he grew up in he even had his own. He loved the thing, and somewhere beneath his forty-something years that same love of riding and of life lived on.
                When I was a teenager, my mom bought a boat. It was a solid little speedboat that would race across the water, tossing the sun and the wind in your hair. We would take it out on the weekends during the summer, packing a lunch and eating out on the water. Our friends loved the boat. We learned to hate the question, “when are you taking the boat out again?” Eventually we got good at sneaking out of the neighborhood unnoticed.
                My mom grew up in a boating family. It’s in her blood. She loves being out on the water, either in the driver’s seat or on a set of skis trailing behind. And even though the water washes away the makeup and flattens her hair, there’s something regal about how she looks, sitting in the boat in her bathing suit with a towel about her waist like a skirt. That love of life and of the water that she possessed as a youth lives on.
                Looking from a distance, the bike and the boat would definitely be labeled as the manifestation of my parents’ mid-life crises. Sometimes people talk negatively about that kind of thing, but it happens to more people than you think. Not everyone goes for the motorcycle or boat. Some people get facelifts, others quit their jobs, and some people even get new marriages. But there seems to be something about that middle section of life when people make a dramatic change of some sort.
                I think about the period between my parents’ youth and the bike/boat era. What happened that stifled those passions deep beneath the surface? My dad went on a mission and to college. My mom got a job. They got married, had me and a few other kids, and started a medical practice. They worked, went to church, threw birthday parties and went to elementary school choir concerts. They did everything that they were supposed to do. Or rather, they did everything they were “supposed” to do.
                And then they hit the point where things grew stagnant, where they hungered for the same energy and passion that they felt before. And it wasn’t gone. Oh, no, not by a long shot. They bought the bike and the boat, and they locked into that feeling of life and euphoria. Were these purchases responsible? Not completely. Even teenage me wondered how we were going to afford this. But reconnecting to the passion of life was worth it.
                As I go through life I think that we all fall prey to the expectations of the world. The “supposed to’s” that we get pounded by over and over since we are born. In order to please the world and be accepted into the broader community we stifle our passions, mainly because they’re not “realistic”. We sacrifice our childhoods on the altar of responsibility, hoping to earn a salary and that elusive feeling of being an adult. Then we hit our mid-forties, and adulthood sucks so much that we start dressing like we’re teenagers and going clubbing like we’re twenty.
                The key, really, is not necessarily to act one way or another. It’s not necessarily to buy motorcycles and boats. The key is to be authentic, to build and structure our lives the way we want them to be. It’s to stop worrying about what might be, stop hiding behind the coffin of stability, and step into the sunlight.
                These crises don’t only occur in mid-life; they happen anytime life shifts just a bit, giving us the chance to reinvent. They call to us, inviting us to let go of the convention and the “way we never were” and live. Do the things that make us happy. And they’re simple things. Turn off the tv and read a book that makes you wonder.  Get lost in the city and meet someone new. Take a painting class, go to the gym, join a band. Do whatever you must do, but stop waiting for life to happen to you! ‘Cause it won’t. If you don’t make life happen, the only thing that happens is existence. And we’re meant for so much more than that.
                The bike and the boat are gone now. I guess in some ways they’re not needed like they were before. I can see, however, how the last years have brought that life back to my parents. They are more relaxed. They have loosened their grip on the supposed-to’s.  And I think they’re better for it.
                I want you to think about it right now. Tell me, what’s that thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never have? I bet it’s already in your head. It was the first thing to pop up, because it’s always waiting right there. No more dreaming. Take that thought, and make it real. Do something right now to put it into place. Open a word doc and start that novel you’ve always wanted to write. Put on your running shoes and train for that marathon. Go hiking. Call your old friends. Drive around town and sing with the windows down.
                Because eventually life ends, and it becomes too late.
                I read once that when asked, the elderly respond unanimously that their greatest regrets were things they didn’t do. Sure, they made mistakes, but they survived just fine. Those weren’t regrets. The things they put off to someday, those were the things that were lost, things they would never get back. Life that went unlived. Their advice? Stop being afraid to live.
                So go.
                Live strong.
                Live deliberately.

                And never look back. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Leave Your Prescriptions at the Closet: A Note for Allies

And in a political movement that aims at representing us, the fluidity of our experiences should be recognized, and none should be prioritized over another, or prescribed to the rest of us as the way to be simultaneously LGBTQ and Mormon.”
I wrote this in my post last week, which attempted to position myself in the LGBTQ Mormon movement and articulate the validity of my Mormon identity without church attendance. And this quote has resonated within me throughout this past week.

In terms of my sexuality and religion, I have been told all my life how I should be living.  People, institutions, and norms have prescribed for me various ways on how to live my life. One such way was to stay closeted about my sexuality and be the good Mormon boy who goes to church, gets married in the temple, and has kids: a very normative life. And that whole gay thing? A phase I will work through. Desires I can put aside. Feelings that don’t define who I am.

Coming out and reclaiming my sexuality, and identity overall, was the ultimate “screw you” to norms and rules that sought to dictate the course of my life. Coming out was the ultimate act to forever repel any thoughts or advice from others on how to live my life.

And yet, these prescriptions keep on coming. Surprisingly, they come from allies in the LGBTQ Mormon movement—yes people aimed at supporting my own community.

In any movement, allies are an essential part in promoting effective change and tolerance. Their support makes a whole lot of difference, especially in movements by the minority aimed at changing the majority. However, being an ally means having to check oneself continuously as to make sure they are not abusing their position as the majority. And as of late, I’ve seen many allies within the LGBTQ Mormon movement profess their own insight and experiences as “the way for everyone to be ____” or “how we all should _____.” Yes, these non-LGBTQ identified people are telling ME, someone who is LGBTQ identified, how to live MY life within a movement aimed at resolving ME.

Running into these types of discussions this past week has only reminded me of the quote from my post last week. Because many of us who are LGBTQ and Mormon identified are and will continue to be at different positions in our lives, carrying out our intersecting religious and sexual identities in different ways. No way is better than the other, and there is enough room for everyone to express themselves how they would like to. Because coming out of the closet was the last time I subjected myself to anyone’s prescriptions. And in a movement aimed at representing US, the voices of those actually LGBTQ identified and Mormon should not be silenced, especially by our allies. Nor should our allies tell us how to express ourselves. Because once you tell me how to live my life again, you’re shoving me back into a closet.

Visually, the shift from our current ally culture to a better one would look like this:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Roommates, Now and Then

Matt here.

Things are going well for me here in the Bay Area. This coming week I'll find out whether or not the Navy wants to hire me. Last week I was approached about a job with a nonprofit, so I have a safety net in case the military isn't in my future. I'm buying a car on Monday.

And I love my roommates. The outgoing one and I go out every other week or so--last night we went to dinner, a show, and karaoke with a bunch of friends. The quiet one and I go to the gym together four or five times per week and have lovely discussions about the DOD budget or immigration or whatever happens to be on NPR. Every now and then we'll all go out on a hike together or something. It's such a pleasure to share a house with them.

My last set of non-family roommates and I also got on well. We lived south of BYU in a four-person place we called the Cozy House. Two were brothers, everyone but me was a choir boy. We also got on well and did things together, but when it came down to it there was always a bit of an elephant in the room: They believed in Mormonism, and I didn't. They thought homosexual activity was bad, and I didn't. They were as kind and sweet as could be, but those disagreements (and the pressures of coming out at BYU, blah blah blah) put a damper on things.

It's interesting to see the contrast. There are things I miss about the Cozy House setup, like Brian's tendency to do big messy building projects in the kitchen or Spencer's tendency to talk about fantasy novels or Jeff's tendency to bring people over, but the things I don't miss are heavier. Constant worry about the future of my eternal soul. Being the only one who doesn't share wads of Mormon assumptions about life. Inability to trust myself.

Sometime soon--possibly this summer--I'm going to meet up with one or two of the guys and see how things are now.  I wonder if we'll get on now, if the elephant will be bigger or smaller. I wonder if our disagreements will matter.

Oh man! Thank you for reading through my reminiscences. I wanted you to know some of the context that's in my head as I prepare for next week's post, in which I'm planning to discuss the pros and cons and maybe the how-to's of keeping and maintaining friendships with Mormons after dropping their church.It's something I think of rather often, and I imagine at least a few of y'all do to. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

If You Don't Go to Church, Then Why Do You Care?

As I delve deeper into LGBTQ Mormon activism, surrounded by individuals attempting to reconcile their sexual or gender identity within traditional Mormon spaces, others increasingly ask me this question. As a result, I have even begun to ask myself this as well. Indeed, I am no longer attending church, so why do I care about LGBTQ Mormon movements?

First, I think it’s important to point out the implications this question has: in order to identify religiously, one must regularly attend church services. For many of us identifying as LGBTQ and Mormon, ex-communication and being forced out of religious spaces is a common experience, and our desire to worship is disregarded. Thus, the problem with defining identity in terms of church attendance is that it erases the history of many LGBTQ-identified individuals, people who have been forced to leave and find religion some other way. Additionally, this definition of a religious identity prioritizes one way of having a religious identity over others. For me, this means I see the potential in non-active church members working with LGBTQ religious movements. Because disregarding current activity status, I at one point in my life was carrying out both my queer and religious identities simultaneously. Because I remember the pain and want to help create a space for others in situations I once was in. I also see connections between the LGBTQ Mormon movement and other issues within the Church, such as feminism (both struggle with the prevailing patriarchy). Many of these issues remain close to my heart and ones that I want to see resolved.

And truth be told, it’s not as simple as stepping away from the Church. Many of us are born into the Church, and brought up in Mormon households. Our households and families remain Mormon, despite our lack of involvement with the official Church. The customs and upbringing in Mormon spaces remains ingrained for many of us, as Matt demonstrated in his post a few weeks ago. And even if I seek spirituality elsewhere or nowhere, this institution exists and continues to halt the progress of the people and causes I care about. And it exists within us: our minds, our families.

It is this variation in experiences of LGBTQ Mormons that needs to be recognized. Whether active or inactive, single or in a relationship, there are many different ways to be simultaneously LGBTQ and Mormon. And in a political movement that aims at representing us, the fluidity of our experiences should be recognized, and none should be prioritized over another, or prescribed to the rest of us as the way to be simultaneously LGBTQ and Mormon.

A few months back, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop at UCSB presented by two of the authors of Original Plumbing (be sure to check out this wonderful blog here). During the workshop, an individual expressed the opportunity he has had to speak and educate about trans issues, despite many people being unaware that he identifies as trans also. He referred to this as a shift of consciousness from a trans-identified voice to a non-trans ally, and how this has allowed him to have a different approach and perspective in his activism.

This resonated deeply with me. In many ways, it’s how I feel currently. I may never return to Church, and I may decide existing in spaces of worship no longer works for me. But no matter what, I will still have my experience, at one point in my life, of being gay and Mormon. And while I’m working to create a space for those still in this or similar parts of their life, I’m also working to create a space for the teenager me that wanted it to be okay to be out, and find a more accurate religion of love and acceptance. And maybe it be a drastic restructuring of a flawed institution or resorting elsewhere to other means of worship. But I’ll never get closer to discovering what this all would look like if I don’t join in making it reality. And in no way does this invalidate my experiences and the identity I hold onto.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Far from the Closet, Looking Back and Wondering

Pride was something special for me this year, mainly because it was the first time I've celebrated. I went to the San Francisco parade. Probably half of the signs were exulting over the supreme court decisions. Seeing the people marching, the crowds of them, the rainbow flags and the equals signs, the Facbook contingent that seemed to go on forever--it felt good. A celebration throughout the city, all to do with me. For the first couple of hours my eyes were leaking regularly.

Then I was pretty over it. I mean, the fact that there are all these people who are supportive is great, but you can only watch them walk for so long. It was good to go and get a feel for what Pride is, but in the future I'll probably avoid it.

To be honest, after a while I sort of wished they'd stop making such a big deal about it. I understand that Pride serves a purpose, that it's a push back against long suppression, but I, personally, don't feel the need for that pushback anymore. I like the idea that it keeps happening because I feel like there are many people who do still need that pushback, but I'm not one of them. I don't feel very connected with them. I don't have all that much patience for them, actually. Maybe someday I'll feel more connected with them, feel more kinship with them, and so be willing to do pride things on their behalf or in solidarity with them or whatever. But for now, I don't feel much kindship with the ones who are still terrified and frightened. I find it hard to imagine that anyone could still be in the closet.

It occurs to me that this is a failing on my part. Where did my empathy go?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Man in the Arena

                Sometimes I catch myself stuck in hypervigilance.  What do I mean by that? I mean that whenever I interact with certain people, certain ideas, or go certain places I find myself on my guard, waiting to be attacked or offended.
                Trauma theory suggests that this is due to some pretty tough issues in my past, which makes total sense to me as I look back. But I’m more concerned with the “what now” rather than the “how come?”.
                I do this with Facebook. I get tense, on my guard just in case someone posts something rude or biased. I do this when I talk to my family sometimes. When I go back to Utah this happens a lot.
                This also happens walking down the street with my boyfriend. Of course, sometimes being aware of your surroundings is a smart thing in the city, but I’m talking about being more obsessive than that.
                Last week there were two occasions on which homophobic slurs were directed at us on the streets. I found myself baffled, wondering when I left one of the most queer-friendly cities in the nation. The implication that I was somehow less than them really stung. I am more than my sexuality.
                I think what I also don’t like about this hypervigilance is the inherent assumption that I don’t get to decide my circumstances, my life, or my emotions. I don’t like feeling like my inner life has been hijacked. I want to be able to choose whether or not I let people’s judgment get to me. 
                Last month I listened to a 30-day program called Personal Power.  It is slightly self-helpy, but it is all about discovering what you want, and structuring life to get it. As I listened to it every day and did the exercises I found my confidence rising, my life-satisfaction getting better, and my control over my life increasing. I did things each day because of one reason: I was choosing to do them.
                Sometimes things come back and try to take that power away from me. I have to go through my exercises again, clear my head, and take it back, but that is difficult. Especially when those things trying to take power can seem like the reality of the world we live in.
                For example, sometimes in the heartland of conservative Mormonism clergy and members alike wield cruel and false information like a sword of almighty truth. “This is the revealed word of God!” “This is the truth!” “We have no truth that actually helps you, only one that is oppressive and destructive to the soul, but it is the truth of our loving God, dammit!”
                You can see the irony in that. If we believe this to be reality, as real as the laws of physics, then we’re gonna have a bad time.  But it’s not. And the glorious thing about being autonomous human beings is that we can investigate and discover the world for ourselves. Through experience we can learn what is real, and whether or not the proclaimers of absolute truth have the clout they claim to have. We are not slaves to the words of anyone.
                Standing up to people or cultures and taking our power back from them exposes us, however. As LGBT people we become a target for those who don’t like the way we are. Living in the reality we experience makes us vulnerable to criticism, to estrangement, and even to abuse. If we want to live authentically, free from a false reality, we must do it no matter the cost. We must step out, experience, and give our God-given consciences the chance to communicate reality to us, direct from the source. As for the resulting backlash from the haters, I turn to my muse Brene Brown and her book Daring Greatly.
First, “Don’t worry about the haters; you’re not the jackass whisperer.”

And finally, a quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
                “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
                “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
                “who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while Daring Greatly.”

                That is a life well lived. I’d rather end up at the throne of God bruised, skinned knees, and dirt on my face, than pristine with a heart that never had the courage to step into the arena and fight for a life of glorious experience.

                Here’s to life, and to Daring Greatly!

Monday, July 8, 2013

And It Shall Come to Pass

A simple thought today.

To anyone who reads my posts on here (which I’m not sure who or how many, but thank you to those who do!), it is evident that I am extremely critical of progress in social movements. My posts on marriage, pride festivals, Boy Scouts of America, and women’s position in the Church show how I am unable to accept change that does not address the larger issues, as well as change occurring while another individual/group is still being oppressed.

But I’m shifting the focus to personal progress today, because I don’t think I give myself enough credit. It’s crazy for me to think that 2 years ago, I was afraid to confess my sexuality to myself and live my life the way I wanted to, even if it went against what was religiously endorsed for me. That only 2 years ago today, I had come out to myself, as well as those most closely involved in my life. The person I am today has grown so much and come so far from the me 2 years ago, and I don’t get many chances to dwell on that. If I did, perhaps I would feel more confident in my path and better about the way my life is unfolding.

But when I do get to reflect, it’s because of people. Some people are sent to remind me of where I have been, all that I am, all that I can be, and all that is possible in life. These people make me happy, contemplative, emotional, and liberated. And these people may not be in my life forever; as much as I appreciate and try to keep these people around, they could very well be here for only a mere moment of my life. But maybe it’s not about how long they’re around for. Maybe it’s for the reminder they give me. And if I’m lucky, conditions will work out so that they can stick around. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Commitment Minded Matt

Matt here.

I went to a hot yoga class today. The first time I did hot yoga was with the guy from this post, so I've been thinking about him on and off. I'm fitter now than I was in college, largely thanks to having a roommate who doubles as a gym buddy and the specter of Navy boot camp looming, and I did pretty well. Kinda wish that guy could see me now.

It's one of those faint sort of longings that you can hold on to for a moment and then let go of.


The friend who went to yoga with me is freshly married! He and his husband were among the first batch to be married at City Hall in San Francisco after the supreme court decisions. They didn't tell anyone--just went and did it. They figured ten years was long enough to wait, and the big celebration can come later. He's all full of talk about caterers and locations . . . it's sweet.

Probably no one is surprised to find that marriage is on my mind. Being Californian, Prop 8 was a big deal, and being a Navy applicant, so was DOMA. And they were both made even bigger by the fact that I met a boy recently, a boy who makes me feel the fire inside. Not, ironically, from the Bay Area. Between him and the rulings, I had a few reasons to think about marriage.

So I called my sister. We talked for an hour or so about who's and why's and how's. I worry about the commitment, I told her. I worry about falling out of love. I worry that I'm not experienced enough to be a good judge of when I'm in love, and that the simple logistics of the thing won't work out. These are things that I've generally been able to push out of my mind because I was at BYU or I wanted to get a career going or there was no chemistry or I was in Japan or it was illegal. But, as my sister pointed out, I'm at the age now (24) where it's normal to start looking at starting to look at looking at thinking about coming close to maybe someday deciding to start a family, if that's something that I want to do.

She brought up hard times. She's happy now, eight years in, she said, but for the first few years of married life she wanted out over and over again. More than once she was ready to go, and the only thing that held her back was her Mormonism. And her question for me was, minus Mormonism, what's going to keep me in a relationship during the times when I can't stand the guy?

Love? Hope? I'm not sure. I hope, probably unrealistically, that those times won't happen. Heck, I don't even know if things with this guy will go anywhere to begin with. I'll keep thinking about it. And if you have any advice about deciding to commit to someone, feel free to comment or email.


For your viewing and listening pleasure: All American Boy (It's a gay country song.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pride and Marriage and Homophobia - Oh My!

Your boy Ryan is exhausted.

So much has happened this past week. So many things I’m trying to make sense of.

San Francisco Pride was yesterday. And as many flocked to the city to participate in the festivities, I remained inside my air-conditioned home, avoiding the heat and flocks of people. I am grateful for spaces like pride festivals and see the good and potential they have to be powerful spaces. My feelings can be adequately summed up by this cartoon:

The turn-out to pride festivals, especially among heterosexual "allies," alway surprises me. I would love to know where these “allies” can be reached the other 364 days of the year, while my community works on projects to address homelessness among LGBTQ identified youth, as well as issues of homophobia, harassment, and violence. It’s also important to remember that many individuals choose not to come out about their sexual or gender identity as a matter of pure safety and survival. That for many years, as a closeted teenager, I myself looked onto pride festivals and wondered if I would ever get to participate in them, if it would ever be safe for me to do so, and how would I even get to the point where I could. When are we going to address this problem?

But perhaps I forgot an important part of the puzzle: for pride festivals to include these things, people need to be present to make sure they’re included. In other words, for issues that I want to be represented, I should ensure that they are. And moreover, my own self and life journey need to be celebrated every now and then. I can certainly critique pride festivals and work towards more inclusive spaces, without having to completely withdraw from them.

A pride festival this year without marriage equality as a key focus was inescapable, as the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and California’s Prop 8 on Wednesday. I knew the equal signs of the Human Rights Campaign would be plentiful throughout this year’s pride.

These decisions are historic and celebratory for those who will now be able to access marriage and its benefits. When the Supreme Court undertook these cases back in March, I wrote about my feelings on same-sex marriage

And to this day, they remain the same.

The magnitude of these decisions is large. But to be honest, some individuals within the LGBTQ community, including me, are not even thinking about marriage at this point in our lives. This ruling does not address the fact that I am still called “fag” while innocently walking the streets where I live. This ruling did not address the persecution many LGBTQ and religiously identified individuals face within their churches. If anything, The Church’s response to the rulings shows how that opposition has only strengthened. The list of inequalities and unfairness goes on and on. This ruling did address assimilation into social norms, specifically heterosexual social norms, as a way to obtain privileges and benefits that maybe should not be available solely through marriage. While marriage is a great opportunity, it won’t mean much if people are dead and unable to enjoy it. This spoken word piece addresses that:

Despite this ruling, many have assured me (especially “allies”) that this is a great step for my community, and an initial way for people to come around to eventual acceptance. But is it?

Amid my worries with pride and the hype of the Supreme Court rulings, I missed quite a bit in pop culture. If you’re like me, and have missed the Alec Baldwin Twitter controversy, catch up here

Baldwin was quickly reprimanded for his “homophobic” tweets. While I don’t invalidate these claims, I notice how easily things are labeled homophobic, and only homophobic. This excludes the gender, racial, and hierarchal issues at the center of many of these instances. In the case of Baldwin, the word queen refers to matriarchy and femininity, used derogatorily to demasculinize the reporter. And femininity is enforced here as a bad thing. Thus, the use of “queen” incorporates a gendered element necessary for discussion, as femininity is seen and deployed as an insult.

What did strike me about Baldwin’s statement, however, was his apology. In it, he claimed to have “done political work with marriage equality groups and insists he wouldn't advocate violence against someone for being gay.”

It’s ironic how this apology utilizes marriage equality as a way to denounce hatred towards gays. But the point remains that Baldwin’s remarks are seen as offensive towards members of the LGBTQ community and, based on my breakdown before, to femininity as a whole. Can we really say, now, that the prevalence of same-sex marriage is going to solve the LGBTQ community’s various struggles? These supporters of same-sex marriage, who claim to be or allies, still perpetuate many harmful issues for our community, that are we really moving forward? Are we really closer to changing people’s minds?

That’s it. I don’t do pride, I don’t do marriage, and I don’t do homophobia. And behind all these beliefs is this thought: am I a bad gay? Is there something wrong with me that I can’t enjoy a pride festival? Or be excited about marriage? Or ride someone’s comments off as purely homophobic? I think it means I’m just unwilling to drink to the Kool-Aid anymore that others keep trying to feed me. And that’s fine. That can be prideful. That can be relationship-material. And that can combat societal ills.