Thursday, November 13, 2008


Above: Dan (left edge), me, and Richard at the Prop 8/Mormon Church/Equal Rights rally last night in NYC. Thanks to Chris S. for the pics!

Do I look happy? I totally am. The mood was...demanding and festive. It was an odd combination.

There was also some anger, of course, but it wasn't the shrill kind screamed by the few brave souls of ACT-UP. It was the kind of anger that knows its own numbers and knows it will be heard.

What we want is not revolutionary. The revolution has happened. Most people, and certainly most educated and thinking people, understand that equal rights are morally necessary. Equal rights are the true basis of our country, not any re-written ideas of tradition.

We are no longer a small few representing a terrified many. We are many representing ourselves, without fear of retribution. We are also allies who have no personal stake in the outcome, other than seeing justice done.

And we make damn pretty signs.

Below: stealing a kiss from Richard.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Seriously people, it's 2008.

Via Towleroad and various Internet sources:

Prop 8 Protest Against Hate
Mormon Temple, Manhattan
125 Columbus Ave at 65th Street
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
6:30pm to 8:00pm EST

I admit it. I am spoiled.

I entered the adult world in the mid-1990s. By that time the foundations of equal rights for gays were well-laid. Thanks to ACT-UP, NGLTF, HRC, GMHC, and too many others to list, the government was no longer ignoring the AIDS crises. Thanks to a variety of courageous pioneers, gays no longer hid shamefully in the corners. We were beginning to be openly elected to public office. Thanks to superior antiviral treatments we weren't dying left and right. Thanks to the accumulated victories in the many small and large struggles over the previous two plus decades, a huge cultural shift was beginning, affecting everything from prime-time television shows to the gay ghettos, which became less necessary in order to live a safe, mostly discrimination-free life.

The way America's views on queers has changed in the past three decades is wonderful.

And yet.

I have been aware of the various constitutional amendments and legislation that has been passed in states around the country with the intent of "protecting" marriage. These things were irritating but not particularly surprising. The snowball of cultural enlightenment and tolerance was rolling downhill, and despite these bumps, we would continue to inch our way toward equality in all things, without pushing too much.

And then there's California.

I think the marriage equality fight was ill-timed. Had we waited another five or ten years to begin demanding equality in that area, the battle may have already been half-won thanks to the time spent living openly without the world ending. Marriage equality by nature only benefits a small portion of the queer community which is interested in getting married--many queers I know, including myself, have no desire to validate their relationships using this antiquated heteronormative ritual. Fighting for legislation like a trans-inclusive ENDA seems like a far better investment of our resources.

Still, the rights that couples can acquire through marriage are important. Financial considerations, health decision making, and other such civil rights are can be critical things. And the philosophy of separate but equal, i.e., civil unions, chafes my delicate places, to say the least.

So when California's Supreme Court ruled that the citizens of that state could marry, I was very happy. It seemed to be a huge victory. It was a continuation of progress made in Massachusetts and other states. And it seemed to be a solid victory--with 18,000 couples married in California since that ruling, it seemed impossible to think that anyone could still genuinely argue that the world would end if gays are allowed to marry. Years and years of battling discrimination and bigotry couldn't be reversed overnight.

I was wrong. Bigotry won the day.

It feels to me like the snowball came to a screeching halt and then somehow rolled back uphill. It's unfair. I'm angry. Suddenly it doesn't matter to me anymore that I was lukewarm on the marriage equality issue. It doesn't matter that I don't live in California and I don't anticipate ever getting married.

The bigots won this victory for a variety of reasons, but a big one is money. Tens of millions of dollars were spent convincing people who could otherwise care less that it was best for them to vote yes on Prop 8 and constitutionally remove rights which queers had fought hard to earn. This was all accomplished in California, and while it's not my favorite state, it's a place where I believe most people know better than to permit this kind of discrimination. I don't believe that more than 50% of Californians want to take away rights from their queer neighbors. I believe that many were victims of a well-organized and well-funded marketing campaign.

The Mormons were the largest contributors of money to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. The church gave money directly and incited its members to give even more. This is in direct defiance of one of the oldest tenets of our government, that church and state should remain separate. The separation of church and state is more than a tradition, it is an important axiom of our culture and government. And yet it is regularly flaunted by Christians in the course of trying to constitutionally limit marriage to their traditional interpretation.

I'm sorry folks, you can't have it both ways. If the Constitution and the ideas of our country's founders are really sacred to these conservative religious people, then it is incumbent upon them to first respect the fact that the founders forbade them from allowing religion to dictate personal liberty. In order to ensure the religious freedom which was the goal of the pilgrims, government is a secular institution. And once religion is removed from the argument, there is no legitimate reason to deny gays the right to marry.

There are a ton of religious groups to blame for this injustice. The Mormons become the largest target in this case because they gave the most money.

So I'm going to picket the Mormon temple in Midtown Manhattan this Wednesday. If you're so inclined, come join me. Let's show them that we won't go quietly back into the dark corners.

Friday, November 07, 2008


I love Cafe Grumpy. It's my favorite coffee shop on the planet. If you're ever in NYC, stop in! Despite the name, they're really quite nice.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Where the wild things are.

Above: Matt, me, Jerry, and Daisy, ready to go out on the town on Halloween evening. Thanks for the pic, Matt!

Matt was a King, I was a spreadsheet (not visible is this awesome Excel icon I made), Jerry was his usual country bumpkin hotness, and Daisy was simply awesome looking (if pressed he would say wizard, but free your minds people, costumes don't have to be literal).

We headed first of all to Snaxx, where we ran into a few friends. Ricardo and Steve were fabulous in their hoop dresses. Gustavo and Rich King always pump out groovy tunes at Snaxx, but unfortunately that's about the only thing I enjoy at the party. It's cramped in the basement of the Westside Tavern and generally full of heatherbears who have no concept of flow in a room and no qualms about squishing anyone smaller than themselves (yeah, that means me).

Afterwards Matt and Jerry headed to the Eagle. They report that it was packed and rockin', with tons of great costumes.

Daisy and I went over to Nowhere for a party there. I have no desire to go back to the Eagle any time soon and Daisy wanted to see friends at the Nowhere party. The party there was okay. We saw some people we knew. Friday night is a tough night to go out, when one is tired from a long week. So we didn't stay very long.

And, though it pains me to say this, I'm not a bar person anymore. I used to make fun of people who said this. I used to cajole them, saying they should support their community institutions.

I guess I'm getting older, or wiser, or more boring. I don't know, but I do know that I don't much enjoy standing around in bars any more.

Still, it was a great night to be out and about in the city. The trains were packed with people in costumes having a rollicking time. It's always fun on those days when New Yorkers let their guards down and interact with each other in public.

Happy Halloween! And to Matt, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


This is Matt and myself at the Saint's Halloween party at Roseland this weekend. Thanks for the pic, Peter!

Matt was dressed as an Oracle. Not seen here is a really awesome cape/cloak he hand made from sheer black silk. And you can't really see it above, but he's in this awesome sectioned skirt which he also made. He looked great!

I didn't dress as anything in particular for this party. I used some purple and lime green rope which I bought at IML to make two leg harnesses, which came together at the top. Jerry helped me pull it all together--I needed more than two hands to hold everything! Matt braided the extra ends together in a long plait which went around my back side. Daisy was kind enough to do up my face with some groovy makeup. I have no idea if the whole thing worked, but I certainly felt good. It felt like the best dancing outfit I've ever had.

In fact, the whole party was very enjoyable for me. It feels great to return to a place in my life where I am enjoying stuff like this again. It felt really remarkable to be there with a special person who was on a similar wavelength as me. And as I danced among my friends, some of whom are especially close and important to me, I felt truly happy in a way I have only recently begun to experience.

The last Saint party happened last June over gay pride weekend. I helped decorate for that one also. It had all the ingredients for a good time. Unfortunately, that was the time when I was under attack by other members of NYboL who had petitioned to have me removed from the club. My anxiety, anger, and hurt at that situation kept me from enjoying the party. I left early and went home feeling more dejected and rejected than I had since the debacles with my parents in my late teens.

Little did I realize that those feelings could and would intensify. I learned this shortly thereafter, when, thanks to some fooling around with the procedures, the votes of only two NYboL board members were sufficient to oust me from the club of which I was one of five founders.

In the wake of that vote, and in that moment of utter despair, I decided not to exercise my right to appeal the decision to the entire NYboL membership. I believe that had I appealed, I would not have been removed from the club. Only the fact that most of my detractors were board members allowed the ploy to succeed. If I had the chance to make the decision again, I would do differently. However, Mr. Smartypants that I can be, I wrote a very short appeal time into those very bylaws which were used to kick me out. By the time I came to my senses, it was too late.

However, I have no regrets. While the ouster was one of the most painful, terrible things that has ever happened to me, it also served to broaden my perspective and it taught me some powerful lessons about people, including myself.

Don't get me wrong, I will never thank those who caused it. I can't say for sure if there is such a thing as right and wrong, good and evil, but if there is, I believe that malice of the sort that was directed at me falls in the latter of both those spectra.

As hard as I and the other founders faught to be an inclusive organization, some club members faught to exclude me. Whether I had done anything to deserve this is entirely debateable--after all, the charge was essentially "conduct unbecoming" a brother, which is about as subjective as it gets. I believe the accusers were guilty of conduct equally as unbecoming as mine was alleged to be; they simply benefitted from being the ones to first file a formal complaint.

Regardless, the change of philosophy from inclusion to exclusion is by itself unjust, unfair, and ill considered. I won't even go into the procedural manipulations used and the lack of any understanding of the concept of due process.

To me, "being leather" was first and foremost a rebellion. The leather community, therefore, is a collection of people who share some similar interests, but who are fiercely individual and unique. I believed we were all rebels. Disagreements are to be expected and differing opinions should be embraced.

The decision to exclude me from NYboL represents the antithesis of leather. It is a move toward conformity and politically correct behavior. It demonstrates that in order to be leather and belong to one of the community's organizations, one must repress individuality and conform to the majority. This idea is anathema to me.

Nevertheless, good can come of bad. My singleminded dedication to the leather community for all these years was shortsighted. There is much more to me than can be expressed within the rules and regulations of leather. I am exploring once again the kind of "gayness" which came naturally to me in high school, when I first began to explore my sexuality. I understand much better now the nature of judgment and how it can affect me and the people around me. I am reigning in my constant urge to control. I am beginning to explore some areas of artistic talent which have lain dormant for a very long time.

And, most importantly, I am building friendships with an eye toward quality rather than quantity. I am living a life that is more thought-out and directed. I am taming my demons and asserting control over more of those areas of my life where control is an asset, rather than a deficit.

It has taken me all these months to write about the club situation. It still hurts to think of it. I develop a tightness in my chest which I can't relieve with any amount of deep breathing. But I don't have panic attacks anymore. I no longer feel unworthy of love and friendship. I don't believe I deserved anything like the treatment I received, but neither was I without fault.

I am finally, truly moving on.

In the future, I will treat my friends with compassion at all times. I will refrain from judgment where the topic does not directly affect my life. I will speak less and listen more. I will use more caution in all things, guarding and nourishing my relationships with care and deliberation. I will try to figure out what else should be on this list! When I fail to do these things, I will try to look at myself with ever greater honesty, making apologies and amends without reservation or hesitation.

Wow, how did this post ever go this direction? Weird. I guess it needed to come out. I expect I'm probably wrong about a lot of what I've written. It's so hard to figure out how to "do right" sometimes. Ah well, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

This weekend shows that, depite it all, I am a very lucky man. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!