Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Two Months

So, it's been almost two months since I realized I'm gay, and yeah, I've been reading and looking for information.

A lot of people online say that lines are starting to bleed when it comes to whether you can tell someone's gay or not. Being gay is not about being like the opposite sex, it's about being true to yourself. For me, dressing or acting like a woman was never appealing. I'm a guy who enjoys being a guy, and I like guys.

My dress sense has adopted a few changes. I used to wear sweats or my slacks from work, now I wear jeans. (My sister is really proud of me for doing that.) I bought a lot of new shirts, but a lot of them weren't appropriate attire when we got a heatwave that struck our area.

I haven't tried to keep my sexuality a secret, but on the other hand, there's no point in yelling "HI! I'M GAY!" everywhere you go. As a result, I don't think a few of my coworkers picked up on it. I did tell my store manager flat out, and the assistant manager knew. (But now they've both found new jobs and left.)

Audrey, Shaun, and Gen (my younger sister, her husband, and our even younger sister) came up from Texas two weeks ago and I got to visit with them and they all noted I was feeling more confident than the last time they'd seen me.

It's crazy what people think about gay people. First off, they assume it's all about sex, to which I have to wonder how sick are you to think about other people having sex so much? Sexuality is defined by the attraction you feel. What defines a person is their personality, and yes, your sexuality can play a part in this.

Gay people get stereotyped as flamboyant because those are the most noticeably different people. More and more, people who aren't flamboyant, like me, are opening up about their same-sex attraction. It is becoming more well-known that the average looking guy picking up tools at Home Depot might be going home to his boyfriend.

Another thing I keep seeing people come up with is that gay people want to force their lifestyle onto others. For me, I don't see this. I'm a normal guy, aside from the fact that I like other guys. Furthermore, if someone doesn't have a same-sex attraction, I don't think they should be gay. I'm pretty sure a lot of other people feel this way, too.

There's a scientific theory about why some men are gay: the more boys a woman has through sequential pregnancies, the more likely they are to be gay due to antibodies trying to feminize the fetus, mistaking it as a foreign object. I have two older brothers. My two younger brothers have a few feminine touches in their face (Audrey noted my baby brother looks like her), and to be honest, I really hope that's all they got if this theory is true.

It's not that gay people are trying to force their lifestyle on others, it's that they are being oppressed and are standing up for their rights. In the past, being gay was enough to get you arrested, and less than 20 years ago, a landlord could evict you based on your sexual orientation. This current election season has seen a lot of focus on gay people, with Michele Bachmann's insane stances on homosexuality, Rick Santorum, and now Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has even gone on record as saying that he doesn't think gay people should have jobs.

When a country founded on the basis of freedom wants to take away rights from certain people just because of something they can't control, something is seriously wrong. Needless to say, despite my having voted Republican in the past, my vote will be going to Obama this year. It's not so much that I agree with the Democrats as much as I'm finding myself completely disagreeing with the Republicans.

It makes it all the more disgusting that people often pull out a faith card to justify this, and it is here I see for the first time ever the need for a separation of church and state. When we are using a faith supposedly based on the principles of love and the value of all people to deny other people rights, then something is seriously wrong in how religious values are being applied to law.

Enough with segregation! Being gay or straight should not be being on one side or another. Supporting a certain political party should not mean you're taking one side or another. Race should not mean taking a side. If we're not looking past these labels, what good are we to each other? United we stand, but if we let differences divide us, we aren't united.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pen Pals

Now that we have e-mail, Twitter and Facebook, actual pen pals are a thing of the past. Still, I had a couple. And they prove to really make me think.

When I was quite young, I signed up for a pen pal service and a kid in Alabama and I would exchange notes and postcards. I don't recall much about our correspondence. I know it was a boy I was writing to and we didn't do very many, and we both enjoyed the Oz books. I recall the last letter I got from him was telling me that he got a role in a play, and then I never heard from him again. Probably the fact that I'd given up Oz at the time didn't help.

Much later, I met a girl at church. I don't want to say her name here to protect her privacy, so I'll give her the pseudonym Nancy for easy reference. I didn't think much of her at first, in fact, I thought she looked a lot like a friend of my mother's that I didn't really care for.

Still, Nancy and I wound up talking. We connected over a mutual fandom of The Lord of the Rings (she lent me The Fellowship of the Ring on VHS), and eventually, we decided that while she might be away from church due to work concerns (her family runs a commercial garden), we'd stay in contact by writing each other actual paper letters.

We discovered that we had a lot in common. We were both hard workers, neither of us felt like our mothers really understood us, and we both had a variety of interests and hobbies. Some interests we shared, and some we didn't, a big example being she liked Star Wars while I'd only seen The Phantom Menace at the time and didn't really care for it. (I did see the original trilogy years later.)

We were also pretty different. Genders aside, I had a large family, she had just a brother and a sister. My dad worked a job to support the family, their entire family worked their own business (as well as other jobs) and earned a very respectable income. I was beginning to have aspirations about being a writer, she wanted to be an actress. Finally, she could afford to go to college, no chance for me.

I have to admit to misreading our friendship: I thought I was falling in love. But what I now realize was that what Nancy and I were sharing was actually a pretty good friendship. Being socially stymied, I assumed friends were just people who you knew who were nice to you. That sadly is as silly as I was.

So, of course, I made the stupid mistake of writing a letter where I "confessed my love" to her. Well, she was taken aback by it, and I regretted sending it almost right off. We eventually decided that whatever I was feeling wasn't right for either of us and tried to ignore it. Of course, since I now know I'm gay, that really wasn't a romantic love I was feeling at all.

We attempted to keep on writing each other, but her own personal pressures and starting college eventually made the letters peter out. Deciding that she wanted this, I decided to let her have it. I can't recall the last time I saw Nancy. I have her as a friend on Facebook, which informed me that she has married and she has at least worked part time as tech in a theater, which she does by volunteer still.

While not a traditional pen pal, I have been corresponding with a young man named Sam Milazzo in Australia since 2006 via e-mail, Facebook, and we record podcasts together through Skype. We also occasionally send each other packages, though mine are often delayed in getting out, sometimes by months.

Sam and I connected over a love for Oz and a desire to make Oz movies. We also have some shared interests in film and literature, but generally not music. We also discuss what's going on with our lives and our jobs.

Yes, we have been teased to be "boyfriends," but we're not. Seriously. It's not going to happen. Though Sam has some admiration for other men, he's straight.

Sam and I did meet and share a few days together last summer during which we attended an Oz convention in California. (I always had the feeling that if we met, it should be neutral ground: neither of us would be at home.) And I'll say it: Sam is an attractive young man. And in a case of gay staring me in the face and I didn't recognize it: I did feel a little attraction. (So did another guy who was openly gay.) But the closest contact I made was giving him a hug. Okay, more than one hug.

Sam and I are friends and that's all we are, and that's all we'll ever be. And I really hope he can find the right woman for him. Someone's gotta keep the last name "Milazzo" going. It's a cool last name.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stranger at the Gate (1994 edition) review

In my quest to find reconciliation between my faith and my sexuality, I found this book Stranger at the Gate: Being Gay and Christian in America. The book is by Mel White, and the edition I read was from 1994. It seems there's a newer edition out with some revisions.

Mel recounts his life and struggles with same sex attractions being from a Christian home and growing up in the 1940s and 50s. He boldly shares his life and attractions for other boys and young men and how he repressed his feelings until he was a married man and serving in the ministry, serving rallies and making films.

What got to me is that even though he was finally doing the healthy thing by giving into his natural urges, he was basically having an affair by having relations with someone other than his wife. And if he'd admitted that in the book (he does once), he calls these "God's gifts." I kept reading hoping to find how he found affirmation for same-sex intimacy, but it never came.

Still, he does make a compelling case for how the religious right unfairly persecuted gays and lesbians.
 And though White sounds judgmental, the fact is, he also writes about how he worked with people like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson before they knew he was gay.

Now, times have changed a bit, and the persecution of the LGBT community has eased up a little, so that is likely why the book was revised.

Anyway, although Mel's story did inspire some thought, I don't really think I'd recommend this one to anyone struggling to find answers to their faith and sexuality.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I don't know your Jesus

Jared, if you are truly following Jesus Christ, then you should repent of homosexual behavior and follow SEXUAL PURITY. If you aren't following Jesus Christ, then do whatever you desire. Kind Regards, ___
I never replied to that message. In fact, I "archived" it, meaning I attempted to delete it and Facebook said it was archived, so I could still bring it up, but it wouldn't be in my regular message listing.

What does being a Christian mean? According to its Greek origin as a word, it means "Follower of Christ."

Okay, so someone who follows the teachings of Christ? And what did Christ teach?

Love. Repeatedly throughout the Gospels, Jesus rarely condemns anyone. He mentions a final judgement, but He makes clear that this is done by God, His Father, not Himself. Right down to the end of Jesus' story, He practices love for everyone, even the people nailing Him to a cross to have Him die a gruesome and painful death, even praying "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

And those words seem to sum up mainstream Christianity very well. Christians don't know what they're doing.

I posted on Facebook and Twitter today about how people call president Obama the Antichrist and how his newly-revealed stance in favor of gay marriage is likely going to make people reiterate that statement.

However, I pointed out that the way mainstream Christians act, the Antichrist is actually looking like a good thing. "American Christians by their actions in the name of Christ say that Jesus was into favoritism, and hated people that didn't agree with his actions," I posted. Antifavoritism and antihate would be nice.

I went to church for over 20 years. I heard the message that "your actions reflect Jesus" many many times. It's even the concept of that "What Would Jesus Do?" craze. The thing is, while Jesus, according to the Gospels, had no limit to His love, his self-proclaimed "followers" are making limits. I understand being human and reaching your limits, but this isn't the same thing. The people who taught me those things are the first ones to shun and condemn gay people. Way to follow Matthew 7, people.
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."
The best Bible student I know (my mother, who has made the effort to display love to people who drink, smoke, and are of differing sexual orientation) explained to me that "judge" in this context means "criticize and condemn." This is the words of Jesus, the basis of Christianity, yet it seems so hard for people who call themselves Christians to follow. Frankly, I've seen people who claim to be atheists who are better at following this.

The man who sent me that message basically told me that if I was gay, I shouldn't be a Christian. If the belief of Christians is that anyone who does anything you don't agree with is unworthy of God's love, then maybe I don't want to be one. At least, not by this definition.
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." — John 15:12
I think I'd rather live by this commandment of Jesus rather than trying to hold everyone to my criteria.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother's Day

In my time online, I've been rather hard on my mother. Perhaps all kids think their parents are unfair.

Subjectively, my mother has remained married for over 30 years to my father, and given birth to seven children, all but two of which are now 18 or over. You have to admit, for a woman in this day and age, that is an achievement.

My mother eventually found additional solace and comfort in her faith. Perhaps she was a little overbearing with this. And a criticism non-family members had was that she ignored her children to study her Bible. They may have been right, but let's not look at what my mother did then. Like any leader of anything, she made mistakes, but I feel she had the best intentions at heart. While we suffered (I feel my personal growth was horribly stunted), most of us have turned out all right in the end. We've had time to heal.

My oldest brother had a daughter with his first wife and now raises her with his second wife, along with my baby brother who they offered to care for when it was felt he should be in a more stable home.

My younger sister is married to a man who loves her devotedly and they've helped my other little sister get her first job and ensure her education is finished.

The only child still in my mother's care is my little brother who is going to school, was elected his class vice principal last year, and this year doesn't even have a contender. He's also impressing me with his film-making.

As for my older brother Drew, my roommate, he is living contentedly and almost independently. (If I wasn't here supplying him with home internet and cable, I don't know what he'd do.)

As for me, a few blogs back, I shared with you her response to me realizing I'm gay. Her response to love and not judge still impresses me, and she is even attempting to understand this, which is cool. I'm not sure she's entirely comfortable with having a gay son, but as I told a friend, "she's just as new to this as I am."

So, as much as our childhoods may have suffered, we've healed, we've forgiven and moved on, and I know she taught us to live like that. Thanks, Mom.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an artist.

When I was a teenager, I wanted to do comics.

Now I'm a writer.

There are times I wish I'd continued with doing art. Occasionally, I get the idea of a picture I'd like to draw, but my ability falls short of it.

People who follow my Oz blog know I recently published a book called Outsiders from Oz. I'm glad to prove I can actually come up with a book-length plot and keep it going, but to be honest, I think my best works are yet to be written. Oz is fun to work with, but it's not my world.

My friend Jami and I are currently working on a Gary Stu-like series of webcomic strips called Jami and Jay. Jami is based on Jami, and Jay is based on me. I had the idea that a sitcom could be derived from my Twitter correspondence with Jami, and we turned it into a webcomic concept.

Instead of being friends via Twitter, Jami and Jay live together in an apartment having funny conversations, geeking out, and living life. We've conceived a story arc for the series, which I advised not to try to make indefinite. Still, as much fun as it is working on this, I don't consider it my best. Even though Jay is based on me, he's a very fictionalized version. (He isn't the biggest fan of puppies.) And really, I came up with Jay's story, which has him doing something I've never done.

Still, I know I can do better than this.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


So, my brother Drew and I banter a bit. Here's some of the best.

Me: "You want to go to Rapid Robert's?"
Drew: "Okay."
Me: "You should probably get pants and shoes on, then."
Drew: "You mean they won't let me in without them?"
Me:" If you go like that, you'll get attention, likely the wrong type. Like that guy who came in without a shirt today. I tried to be professional and hid behind the broiler."
Drew: "... Wow. You are not professional at all."
Me: "No I am not."

Drew: "Angelo is your clone. Well, he doesn't look like you, but he acts like you."
Me: "Will he discover he's gay at 25?"
Drew: "I hope not."

Me: "This e-mail is from two years ago. I never delete e-mail. You never know when you need to blackmail someone."
Drew: "How would you blackmail someone with that?"
Me: "I don't know."

Me: "I didn't get The Big Bang Theory at first. It just seemed to be about a bunch of nerds with poor social skills. But now, I kinda like it."
Drew: "Because you're a nerd with poor social skills?"
Me: "Probably."

Me: "You can go out and pick up a hooker and ask her to watch the rest of Animation Domination with you for $2. And she'll say 'Does that include Bob's Burgers?' and you say 'No,' and she says, 'I'm in.' But she dies of lung cancer in your lap. Meanwhile, I'm sitting over here thinking, 'I'm so alone...'"
Drew: "Hey! You have Phantom!" (Phantom is my cat.)
Me: "... I'm so alone..."