August 3, 2015

I'm Leaving On Monday

The bar lined the Limmat,
Not too far from the park,
Where heroin addicts spent most of the 1980's.

I put up with the smoke,
Or smog,
Whatever it was,
For close to three hours.

Then I made my way across the bridge.

Do you really like to dance in that stuff?

I wasn't used to a small city,
Just yet.

I found myself longing for the late-night eateries of New York.

The bar was closing as I walked in,
And three people started to speak German.

"I'm looking for food."

You laughed,

Opening a pizza box on the bar.

One smiled,
The other man gave me a weird look,
And the bartender seemed annoyed and tired.

"You can have one of mine, if you want."

I ate while you talked,
And you told me that you'd be back on Wednesday.

"I'll see you later. Thanks for the food."

"I used to live in Oregon. Outside Portland."

"He's trying to close, no?"

"How long are you here again?"

I was leaving a few days before Wednesday,
On a Monday.

Further Reading: To Zürich & Beyond.

July 30, 2015

Millennials: More Racist Than Homophobic?

In 2007, I came out as gay. In 2014, I dated a black person. Guess which situation went over better?

While my coming out was relatively seamless (other than my mom trying to convince me that I was straight because I played sports), my black partner inspired a slew of questions and comments, such as: “Oh, I didn’t know you were into black guys!"

In New York, we received dirty looks while holding hands in progressive neighborhoods —from whites and blacks alike — something I almost never experienced with a white partner.

I’m in no way comparing my experiences to the brutal bigotry faced by black Americans, but these little instances added up; they helped me become more empathetic to the daily struggles of African-Americans. They also opened my eyes to the failings of my generation. On the outside, it appears millennials — those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s — are accepting of minorities, but internally, are we that much different than our parents and grandparents?

There's data to suggest that millennials aren't as racially tolerant as we'd like to believe. A 2009 study found that "younger cohorts of whites are no more racially liberal in 2008 than they were in 1988." The results claimed there's little evidence of a decline in the racial divide over the past few decades. And while 93 percent of millennials believe that it's "all right for blacks and whites to date each other," black-white marriages make up less than three percent of all wedded unions.

The dearth of interracial marriages doesn't necessarily imply that millennials, or older generations, are racist, but it all goes back to exposure. As I've lived in racially-segregated cities with large LGBT populations, like New York, Buffalo, and Los Angeles, I believe regular interaction with different people is the number one requirement for acceptance, respect, understanding, and, yes, relationships.

So while black and white may not interact as much as they should in this country — because of things like white-flight and unequal access to education — gays and lesbians reside in every state, city, and neighborhood in this nation. That reality, aside from increasing media exposure, translates to growing support for gay rights among millennials.

When national marriage equality passed in June 2015, an overwhelming majority (73 percent) of young Americans supported same-sex marriage. Over the past decade, millennial support has climbed 24 percentage points.

As a relatively masculine gay guy, I'm an "undercover" minority; I make first impressions and friendships as a white male. People get to know me as a individual first, rather than making a snap judgment about my character and background. Racial minorities don't have the opportunity to "surprise" someone with their minority status; they're sized up before they even utter a word.

Thanks to the constant othering of African-Americans by whites and the aforementioned systemic segregation, there's no question that the majority of millennials are more racist than homophobic. If you don't agree, poll your straight, white friends this weekend: "Do you want to go to a gay bar in the West Village or a club in the Bronx?"

June 8, 2015

Pride 2015: Why I'm Proud To Be Gay

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are greedy.

That's why our pride flag has so many colors. We want it all and we won't settle for anything less!

Well, technically, we've been settling for less for a majority of human history, but things are changing for the better. My biggest concern at the moment is that I'm unable to tell if handsome dudes in the Financial District are gay or straight.

Would it be inappropriate to propose that all people must wear their Kinsey scale ranking like a badge of honor?

What a terrible life I endure as a gay, white Millennial living in New York City.

But, in all seriousness, it makes me think: Why am I proud to be part of the LGBT community? Why am I proud to be gay?

Outside of being LGBT, you hear it a lot, especially on social media:

"I'm proud to be an American."

"I'm proud to be black."

"I'm proud to be a woman."

Again, why? On the flip side, it would typically be deemed inappropriate or bad taste for me to say that I'm proud to be white and male. I am proud of those attributes, but let me explain: I am proud of my mixed Caucasian ancestry - German, Irish, English, and so on - and how my ancestors came together in the United States.

I'm an American mutt, and I appreciate the struggles and roadblocks of my family since this country was founded.

I am proud that I stand up and advocate for the black, Hispanic and Asian people in my community. I am proud that I stand up and support women. I'm proud that I don't float along through life with a biased and ignorant mentality.

Thus, this is the reason why I am proud to be gay.

Being part of the LGBT community has allowed me to not only advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals in the United States and beyond, but it opened my eyes to the issues and concerns of various minority groups.

Sure, it made me apprehensive at times to advocate and assist individuals who were potentially hostile towards gay people.

When I was building huts in Trenchtown, Jamaica during one summer in college, it made me a little uneasy that, statistically, I was building a new home for a homophobic individual or family. Human rights groups consistently rate Jamaica as one of the most violent and homophobic places on Earth.

I thought there was a correlation between heavy marijuana use and open-mindedness, but I guess not.

This June, similar to every other month, I am proud to be gay. I'm proud to be from Buffalo, New York - one of the most beautiful cities in the country - and I'm proud of my home in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

If you're part of the LGBT community and attending events this month, take a moment to reflect; are you proud because you're simply part of this group, or are you actually participating and pushing the human race forward?

June 6, 2015

I Used To Think

I used to think there was a heaven,
And a place where people went,
When they didn't follow the rules set by man.

I used to think things would make more sense,
When I walked across the stage after four years,
But now I feel like I have more questions than before.

I used to think that love was a powerful force,
And I still believe this to be true,
But it's hard for me to grasp it in all dimensions.

I used to think that things would turn out fair,
And that I would tell my kids a story of the old days,
But now I don't know if the stories will be happy or sad.

I used to think about a lot of things,
And now I think about a lot more,
And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I used to think about my future,
As I sat with my back against my door,
With Nirvana playing across the room.

My parents had told me to go to bed hours before.

But I couldn't fall asleep,
Because I knew my future was coming,
And I just couldn't wait to get there.

May 4, 2015

Smith College: Transgender Women Now Welcome

Smith College, founded in 1871 in Northampton, Massachusetts, is one of the oldest women's colleges in the nation. After years of debate, the institution will begin admitting transgender women.

The new policy will impact applicants applying for fall 2015 who identify as women, no matter if they were born male.

"The board's decision affirms Smith's unwavering mission and identity as a women's college, our commitment to representing the diversity of women's lived experiences, and the college's exceptional role in the advancement of women worldwide," said college President Kathleen McCartney and board of trustees chair Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard in an announcement on Smith's website.

Smith faced criticism in 2013 when the college refused to accept an application from a transgender student.

This past August, Mills College in Oakland, California, was the
first women's college to admit transgender women.

April 10, 2015

Koreatown Apartment

I miss my apartment,
And the extended family who lived across the way.

Two floors down,
The alley diving us.

They'd have dinner at the same time every night.

I miss my neighborhood,
Not too far from downtown,
But far enough from the glitz & grime of Hollywood.

Just enough,
'Cause when I cruised down the miracle mile,
I never wanted to turn right.

I kept on driving,
Bringing me to the water in Santa Monica.

I miss my apartment,
My Koreatown apartment.

And the fire escape where I wrote in my journal,
And the room where I started my blog,
And the kitchen where I ate cheap food.

Because I was crazy, broke and happy.

I'll be back California,
Don't worry,
Maybe to Los Angeles again,
But probably not.

And there I'll be,
Writing love letters to New York,
Maybe from San Francisco,
Probably from San Francisco.

Saying how I miss my apartment back east.

April 9, 2015

I Lost 50 Pounds. Thanks, Alanis Morissette.

A lot of things in my life have been accidental.

I doubt my mother sat my father down in the summer of 1988 and said, "let's have a baby out of wedlock and see what happens!"

They claim I was planned, but some nights, I wonder if my bastard status inspired me to lead a life of homosexuality?

Just kidding. The thug life chose me, bro.

Last October, my relationship of almost a year came to an end. I spent the next day listening to music from the 1990's and feeling bad for myself, which is expected.

One can only listen to Alanis Morissette so many times before you wish you were the man at 1:12 in the song "Ironic."

I figured I might as well listen to songs while I was running, so I grabbed my gym bag and walked to New York Sports Club in Park Slope.

For an expensive and desirable neighborhood in Brooklyn, the locker room of this location is atrocious. I thought a demon was going to claw its way out of the shower drain and drag me to the deepest pit of Hell. Needless to say, I'm happy to run in Prospect Park once the weather improves.

Over the past few months, I've made changes that added up; running five to six days per week, compared to once or twice; swapping out (rare) sugary beverages for water or club soda; ordering food when I was hungry, rather than if it "looked good."

Six months ago, I was pushing 210 pounds. As an athlete for 13 years, I suppose I was able to carry it somewhat well; probably appearing around 185 pounds.

As a former high school wrestler in one of the higher weight classes, I never really felt the need to be super fit and toned. I had been comfortable with myself, and assumed I was leading a healthy life over the past few years. After I began to run consistently, I realized what a transformation it could be -- and not only for my weight.

My anxiety (and obsessive-compulsive disorder) went down drastically, my skin looked more clear, I was more productive and focused at work and ironically, I had more energy, even after running six or seven miles a day. I feel more creative and spontaneous.

As cliché as it sounds, I started to run because one day of feeling bad about yourself is more than enough.

I understand there is a lot of debate regarding access to healthy food and the cost of a gym membership, but if you're looking to make a change, please consider this:

Parks are free, moderation is free and water is typically free.

So, I'd like to thank a 90's diva (by my standards) for forcing me to leave my bedroom that day. 'Cause I've got one hand in my pocket and the other one is holding a one-liter Schweppes club soda.

And Ms. Morissette, you better believe it's sodium free.

April 8, 2015

Short Story: Buffalo 2088

Abigail wondered why it was the only thing that wasn’t overturned.

She made her way around the massive statue, circling the creature without getting too close, as if she didn’t want to intrude.

“What does this mean?” She asked Kody.

“You know that I don’t know,” he whispered, although they were in a clearing and no one was around.

“I’m not even sure what that thing is. It looks evil.”

"Evil? It does not."

She looked at Kody, and then at the statue, and tried to pull a memory from when she was younger. Was it something she was told? She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but this thing was of importance. It must have been before the crash.

Did these things, creatures, used to exist?

Her light strawberry blonde hair almost looked white in the direct sunlight. Kody kept his eyes on their discovery, although he would rather sneak glances at the beautiful girl off to his side.

They’d been in the same tribe since the snow melted, but both youth knew that anything romantic was out of the question. The elders who looked after them would not even consider it.

“Let’s go,” Abigail said as she grabbed her bag. “Let’s make our way west so we tell the others. We’ll have to explain why we were alone, too.”

Kody let out a hearty laugh, which surprised him.

“Tell the others? Tell them what, Abigail?”

“What we found. Well, what I found.” She said with a smile on her face.

He couldn’t remember a time when a discovery meant anything good.

April 5, 2015

Short Story: 28th in Galway

“No, it’s the western side of the island,” Brennan muttered into the phone, in a tone he typically reserved for his mother.

“Shouldn’t you be the one to know?”

The café had remained steady throughout the day, but more people started to trickle in as the sun began to set. He hurried her off the phone as he got his things together.

“Love you,” he said. “And sorry. I've just been a little stressed out. I’ll give you a buzz in a few days.”

Brennan wasn’t sure why he’d chosen Galway. And he wasn’t sure why he made the impulsive decision to leave London; he had dinner plans with coworkers a few hours later.

The one-way ticket was a little more expensive than dinner at one of his typical hangouts, so he booked it quickly online and figured out the best time to grab a cab.

“Great. You’re leaving,” he heard a friendly voice say from behind. “I wanted to set up shop for a bit.”

“Oh, yes. There’s a quota on how many Americans can be in here at once,” he answered slyly, without turning around, noticing how the man spoke similar to his mother.

Was he also from New England?

He spun around, and the man seemed at odds with what to say. They both laughed, and a wave of anxiety and curiosity swept over Brennan.

“Fuck the quota,” the man said. “I’ll grab another chair?”

Brennan sat back down, and racked his brain for something interesting and smart to say. Almost instantly, Galway seemed like a bad idea.

March 26, 2015

The Silver Lining of LGBT Bigotry

Similar to many Millennials, and the generations before us, my activism kicked into full swing when I began college in 2007.

It was a glorious and interesting year: The Anaheim Ducks clinched their 1st-ever playoff berth and Volcano, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche, was released.

Wait, sorry. I think that was 1997.

My Alma mater, Canisius College, is a small, Jesuit-institution fueled with liberal and humanitarian beliefs, so I assumed I’d stumble upon a great relationship. My coming out to friends, family and classmates was relatively seamless, so in my mind, it made sense that a healthy and happy courtship was on the horizon.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

Sure, I had some nice relationships and flings, but the worst people I dated in my life were in college. And that’s a good thing. To be fair, the good people I dated were students at Canisius. And my ________ at Canisius. “Ooooops.”

I was advocating for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights – a lot of my pursuits based upon LGBT acceptance and legalizing gay marriage – when it hit me.

“What the fuck am I fighting for?”

It was a little surreal to fight for marriage equality in New York, and nationally, while I was dating assholes who would make terrible husbands. The more I wrote, and planned, and protested, I thought: What type of man do I want to marry? What type of person represents the ideals of a (generally) happy marriage?

And further, what type of qualities would make me a great husband? I was in my early 20’s, so needless to say, I wasn’t the ideal partner, either. Weren’t we all so awesome as college sophomores?

When I mention LGBT bigotry, I’d never like to suggest that hate crimes have a silver lining attached to them, but I suppose as an undercover minority (I’m white! I’m male! I live in Park Slope!), I’ve seen the juxtapose of initially being accepted by some people, and then ignored or disrespected. I’ve had to see the silver lining in a lot of bad situations; many, or most, outside of my identity in the LGBT community.

As a Millennial, I was raised on the cusp of the of the gay rights movement. In a weird way, I thank the political bigots who are against same-sex marriage in helping me understand what I want out of a husband, a marriage and a family.

That being said, I will never disrespect the gay activists of the past and marry an asshole.

Share This