Coffee Douchebags!

Finding the break room coffee pot simmering on empty sets off a tirade of self-righteous anger my head. Every time. On a regular basis. What kind of butt wipes am I working with?

If I’d tried to get away with this kind of behavior during my extended tour as a Denny’s waiter, my up-do, aqua net plastered, polyester skirted, co-workers would have snubbed out one of their constantly burning cigarettes in my left eye. That “training” became a “value” I’ve taken to heart. So now I’m outraged that my present day office co-workers don’t perceive the empty pot with the same sacrilege as myself.

Douchebags!

Of course, as I’m making a new pot of coffee in my silent rage, it is quite possible that chatter-all-day Bill from “Good-Neighbor-Southern-Twang, USA” who has just walked into the room is equally incensed at my continued reluctance to make small talk about the unrelenting repetitive weather patterns of Los Angeles. How could I repeatedly sidestep his attempts at small talk? How could I be so rude as to answer his daily inquiry of, “How are you this fine day?” with “Good, thanks.” Didn’t my parents teach me better than that?

And then there is the tough young lesbian who gets pissed when I hold the door for her, somehow diminishing her dignity as a fully capable person. Where is my cultural sensitivity?

And the princess on the 3rd floor who sees me walking into the building as she’s parking her car (in customer parking) who has long ago written me off as the Neanderthal who doesn’t know how to behave around women because I won’t wait for her next to the door prepared to open it upon her approach.

I suppose the cycle of impropriety is never ending.
 
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29 Gay Men Murdered in Fire – “The Lord had something to do with this.”

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the largest gay massacre in America. I did not know that until I saw this post on Facebook today. In June of 1973 I was enjoying the summer break between my 2nd and 3rd grade years in grammar school. Forty years have gone by and not one of my educators mentioned this massacre. I have worked and lived in a gay city my entire adult life and I have not heard about his until today. How is that possible?

Tomorrow the SCOTUS is going to announce their decisions on marriage. If it goes our way, do we just say “thank you” and blend neatly into hetro-normative society forgetting all the hate? Do we continue to bury this type of history because it makes the middle class assimilationists uncomfortable?

I’m just asking here, because the burial of this story for forty years – the story of my people being hideously murdered in mass – is outrageous.

Again, how is this possible?

Silence = Death…still

Notifying a community that they may be at risk for a potentially fatal disease for which there is currently treatment and a vaccine is not “yellow journalism,” it is leadership.

James Peron’s blog post in the Huffington Post attacks Councilmember John Duran’s press conference, suggesting that Duran’s actions unnecessarily put the gay community’s political agenda in peril. This is looking at the small picture and ignoring our community’s history. This is not a time to let our own internalized gay shame slow down remedies that will prevent people from dying.

This article misrepresents what Councilmember Duran said at the news conference. I was there. He stated the facts as he knew them, had LA County Health there to clarify details, and made it a point to call for calm while looking this problem directly in the face. Duran’s leadership could be the reason this scare becomes a non-issue. Ignoring a treatable communicable fatal illness that is likely to spread fast among gay men would almost certainly cost lives. Because of the news conference many many men will now get vaccinated or treated for symptoms and this out break will stop before it gets started. The author of this article appears to believe that we need a high body count first. Men like Duran and myself have seen that movie – we lived it. We won’t let it play again. Our friends died while nobody touched the uncomfortable topic. Such silence will never happen again because those of us who were there, know that silence = death. If that makes a few people uncomfortable, they can click away!



MikelGerle.com

The Talk of Shame

Hello Shame. We need to talk.

Why don’t you sit your veil ass down over there in your favorite chair by the fire – the fire of my mind – that fire you had convinced me the world was not ready to see.

Yeah, it’s bright and beautiful isn’t it?

Shush! You’ve had your say. And there are plenty of others out there still convinced that living without you will leave them rudderless – drifting in a life with no meaning. Just shut up, listen, and then you’re free to go.

No, I don’t need the protection you’re offering. I’m not falling for that again. That’s not power or stability. You lie. That tool you offer is just a sea anchor you use to dredge up flotsam only you can feed off while the rest of us starve and spiral deeper into our own individual voids. I see what your protection has done, and worse, what it has NOT DONE for my mom and her sisters, and their mother as well.

Your coaching to find fault and ability to twist a knife in others only leads to a sharper blade that feeds your ability to bleed the soles of those who wield it. You foster nothing but their ability to scar the lives of those they love the most.

The feast with this family is over Shame. I will not feed you! It is over. And hear me on this, I am watching you with a vigilance tempered by the forces of love and dignity. Your prowling in this arena will only leave you wanting.

Yes. I agree. You should definitely be going now.

suspended between two worlds

Airplanes, like the one I’m flying in now, used to be places where reality was suspended between two worlds. They bridged the gap, the chasm.

I was a son to my step-mom Patsy in North Platte, NE, only to get off the plane and be a son to my bio-mom DeLene in Tucson, AZ.

I was the gay ballet dancer in San Diego, only to get off the plane and be the fabricated version of a boy they had known before I moved away.

The plane was the only place I was neither and none of those things.

How strange it is to be on a plane being all of those things at the same time – closer to being whole than I’ve ever been – ready to share all of me with the bio-family I truly don’t know, and ready to accept all they are willing to offer.

Echoes of our previous lives

Transplants take root, but the echoes of our previous lives live deep inside us.

I try to cover the tainted reverberations of small town youth with a gym body, fierceness, designer tennis shoes, and a biting wit – but the seed of discontent will always be with me. It lays dormant, unfed, and contained. I had convinced myself that it was dead forever, that I am now freed from past. Free from the pain of being different, shamed, hunted, and persecuted.

Then I agreed to go back to the town of my birth to shelter my mom as they lower her mother’s body into the ground. It is my honor to be there for my mom, no matter what her shortcomings. It is a reminder of how far this gay man has come. It is a reminder that those memories were not a nightmare.

What kind of world is this?

This is one of those days we are going to be talking about years, or even decades, from now – the time when it was against the law for two men or two women to get married.

Maybe the weirdest part of today is how commonplace everything around us is while something so extraordinary is happening. I dropped off my dry cleaning this morning, jotted off a to do list at work, checked my email, and all the while the Supreme Court of the United States is discussing marriage equality for gays and lesbians. And it’s looking good for us.

Today, in the state of California, in the United State of America, I cannot legally marry the man I love. When gay pride rolls around in June that reality will quite possibly be changed forever. I will no longer be legally second class.

It’s mind boggling.

I no longer need to wonder how this feels – feeling embraced by the world rather than shamed by it. Seeing thousands of people support my LGBT tribe in person at the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. and on facebook with red equal sign profile pictures is astonishing. Seeing Time Magazine’s cover proclaim that we have “already won.” Hearing the President of the United States, and the recently retired Secretary of State publicly state that, “gay rights are human right.”
What kind of world is this? Please don’t wake me up…  

The "heartland"

The Supreme Court of the United States heard Prop 8 arguments yesterday, DOMA is being heard today, and this gay man just confirmed his reservations for a three day trip to Gothenburg, Nebraska. I will consider this trip to the hearland a success if I make it back without my heart being ripped from my chest. A pleasure trip this is not. But it could be interesting. I’m going to play like I’m Jane Goodall. It will be a safari into the natural habitat of the right wing. I’m an out gay leatherman. My mom is cool, so we’ll see how the rest of the family and I get along over Easter and my grandmother’s funeral. The trip will possibly be the last one I make to my birth state. All my other bio family has moved to other states and Nebraska’s other attractions are… well, there aren’t any.

I can’t help but feel like I am about to step into a time machine or possibly an alternate reality. Beam me up Scotty!

I am a Heretic

Seth Godin says, heretic = artist = leader. I like that. ​​

This heretic is here to change your life – our lives, the lives of gay men and anyone who is effected by gay men. The change will not be easy. It never has been. But it is necessary, and the rewards are enormous. No matter how comfortable it becomes for gay men there will always more work to be done. For gay men, the status quo is not only unjust, it is dangerous. What is true today will not be true tomorrow. The era of change is upon us. We either lead the change or accept what happens to us and our culture by external forces. The good news is that there are more opportunities to effect change than ever before. Social connectivity platforms have suddenly given us all a voice more equal than at any other point in man’s history. What are you saying with yours? How are you using it to effect change?

The challenge, is getting past your own fear.

Writing these words on a public web site is not done without fear, but I am doing it nonetheless. I have faith that others in the tribe will be moved to create their own change, your own change, that is parallel to my own. Create something that is true to your own authenticity, that is diverse, and is vibrant. Let me be clear, I am not asking you to follow Mike’s prescription for change. I am asking you to create your own, give voice to it, and lead others who respond to your message.

I will not be deterred from action or agree to “not now” assertions by those whose fear has paralyzed them. Many of these assertions are coming from our usual enemies or the institutions build by GLBT people. It turns out my own tribe is not immune to the lures of the status quot.

I will not accept attempts to shame me by those saying I’m being selfish by focusing on the needs of my gay brothers when so much work remains undone to save the planet, on human rights, on minority rights, and on GLBT rights in general. What I will do is focus on the dignity of my own tribe and celebrate the leadership other leaders give to their tribes. When that happens, not only will the lives of gay men get better, but so will the lives of GLBT people in general and those of the entire planet.

The ripples of dignity fueled change lift up the lives of everyone. Feed your tribe.

​Stop asking permission. Start leading.
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Be the heretic that ads light to the color band of the rainbow that speaks to you. Celebrate its uniqueness, promote its message, and foster the people who are drawn to your light. It will happen. It is happening. And every time that it does, we all win.

Do not be deterred by the establishment; by those asking you to wait, asking you for the polls to change, or for  permission that comes from a hierarchy. The hierarchy is no longer vertical, it is horizontal. YOU are the hierarchy. There are no longer people above you and below you. There are only people beside you. I am beside you. Many more are beside you waiting for you to lead them.

Gay Men vs. Gay Men

This article is indeed, food for thought. Gay Men vs. Gay Men It makes me sad because I believe that most of it is true. As gay men, we do attack each other with alarming frequency and vitriol. I try to remember that the queen and/or gay bully spewing the venom is simply mirroring the world he has known his whole life. He believes, either consciously or not, that gay men should be torn apart, that a show of strength or status comes from tearing down the queer. With very few exceptions, gay men are raised in a non-gay culture that is usually hostel to our very existence. We’re just doing what feels natural.

Our challenge is to step into an entirely new paradigm where we see gay men as our family, our tribe, and our responsibility. When the tearing down happens we need to change the subject, challenge our brothers to operate at a higher standard, or just walk away.
When the cool kids are the ones NOT tearing other gay men down, things will change. But sometimes you need be the freak who challenges the status quote. And if you see someone else challenging the mean girl paradigm, buy them a drink, join in their dialog, feed their message.