Category Archives: Coming Out

I’ve Got Nothing


Other than Barry Manilow coming out, I’ve got nothing to say today. I’ve never much cared for Manilow, but welcome to the family anyway.

Also 100 years ago today, the United States entered World War I.


Why Coming Out Isn’t For Everyone 

Coming out is a powerful experience. It is a story that many people in the LGBTQ community have in common. Whether subtle or dramatic, disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is often met with celebration and praise. With the advent of inclusive religious institutions, scholars, and others who make a strong case of God’s love and intention behind creating queer people, it would seem that now is a better time than any to fling open the closet door.

Despite these many gains, we must exercise caution before encouraging others to come out of the closet.

While coming out can be an empowering and life-defining experience, the blinding light of excitement around the event must not obscure the danger that exists for many should such personal information become known. Disclosure of one’s sexual and/or gender identity is intensely personal, and motivated by many factors.

As vital as one’s sexual identity or gender expression is, there are other aspects of life that need to be taken into account if they are to assume the risk of disclosure.

Personal acceptance, emotional and financial independence, and safe distance from harm are only a few of the realities to consider when an individual decides to come out. If any one of these factors are not in the person’s favor, then disclosure may actually impact their ability to have basic necessities met.

Bringing up this reality might seem negative, given the current status of our religious world.

While many churches still adhere to anti-LGBTQ theology and doctrine, there is a significant challenge to that status quo. Campaigns such as It Gets Better offers advice, encouragement, and hope for those who are struggling with their identity. Groups such as The Gay Christian Network and queer clergy of all sorts of religious practices are stepping up to aid in this process.

This issue is not that these advances in the public conversations are wrong, or even that they are not evidence of progress. Rather, the concern is that these joyful accounts are often elevated at the expense of the harsh realities that LGBTQ people still have to endure.

For some, it gets better. For many others, coming out makes things worse.

At least one trans woman was murdered each month this year.

And in early June, the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando provided a harsh reminder that even our “safe places” are not truly safe from violence. Rates of homelessness among LGBTQ youth are through the roof—often the result of religious parents. Having a public gay or trans identity still puts one at risk for unemployment or employment discrimination across much of the United States.

All of these incidents are far more likely to impact queer people who are also people of color. It is a fact that coming out can lead to people coming to their end.

It is a victory to stand publicly in one’s truth. It is also true that a healthier way to honor that significant event is to make the world a safer place for people to be who they are without fear of starvation, homelessness, and death. It is important to remember that people have to “come out” because of society’s deep, unfair assumptions about who people are and how they should exist in the world.

It is not queer people who should be pushed out of closets; it should be society that is forced out of its hatred.

Coming out should continue to be celebrated. With that celebration should come the acknowledgement that it is still not safe for many to do so. The work to make the world safer for all—and to eliminate the need for “coming out” altogether—must continue.

From: Believe Out Loud (http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/not-coming-out-gay-queer)


Swoon

You may already know that Colton Haynes is on the cover of Out Magazine this month. You know I can’t let that go by without commenting about the article. There are three things about the article that I want to comment on.

First, Colton says that he discovered that his ex-boyfriend was a serial cheater. Let me just say, Colten’s ex must be a true dumbass. If Colton was my boyfriend, I’d do anything and everything possible to keep him. Colton is sweet and delectable, who wouldn’t want him?

Second, Colton says that he was told that his father committed suicide after finding out that Colton had come out at age 14. That is a lot for a 14 year old to deal with, whether it was true or not. When my own mother found out I was gay, she basically lost her will to live and has suffered from depression since then. Now she just lives in denial. I don’t know what I would have done if my mother had committed suicide, which she has often contemplated.

Finally, Colton talks more about his depression and anxiety, as well as his therapist. My new doctor has convinced me to see another therapist, since my depression has not gotten much better and my anxiety level has gotten worse.

I may be overweight, ten years older, and not a celebrity, but in many ways I can identify with Colton’s struggles. As a teacher at a private academy in the south, I too had to go back in the closet after being out for a number of years. While I had to switch professions and move to come out again, I’m glad Colton was able to come out and be such an inspiration. He shows that depression and anxiety are real issues for real people, and I admire him for discussing it publicly. I can’t help it, I just love and admire Colton Haynes.


Science Friction 

It’s been a rollercoaster week for Trekkies everywhere following news that Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu — formerly played by George Takei and portrayed by John Cho in the latest reboot — is discovered to be gay and married in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.

Cho broke the news to Australia’s Daily Sun, saying, “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out of it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations.”

But Takei, to whom producers were giving a nod by turning his iconic character into a gay man, was surprisingly displeased by the news, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Following that, Star Trek writer and actor Simon Pegg, who plays chief engineer Montgomery Scott (known affectionately as “Scotty”), told The Hollywood Reporter that he “must respectfully disagree”:

“I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humor are an inspiration. However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.

“He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?”

Now, openly gay actor Zachary Quinto, who portrays Spock in the reboot films, has let the world know that he’s 100% in favor of the plot choice , telling Pedestrian.TV:

“As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed.

“Any member of the LGBT community that takes issue with the normalized and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema… I get it that he has had his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with this character but, you know, as we established in the first Star Trek film in 2009, we’ve created an alternate universe.

“My hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people, who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be.”

Where do you stand on the executive decision to marry off Sulu to a man in the name of representation? Sound off in the comments below.

From: Queerty.com


Sulu Comes Out

Last year, George Takei told Time magazine he’d once asked “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry why the original series, which depicted biracial relationships and tackled other civil rights issues, didn’t include any LGBT characters.

According to Takei, Roddenberry told him, “I’m treading a fine tight wire here. I’m dealing with issues of the time. I’m dealing with the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and I need to be able to make that statement by staying on the air. If I dealt with that issue I wouldn’t be able to deal with any issue because I would be canceled.”

There have been three instances when this almost came into being. First, Commander Riker on The Next Generation had a fling with an androgynous being, but turned out that she felt more female than neutral and was “reeducated.” Then, there was Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine whom shared a kiss with a woman that she’d previously been married to as a man, both in different lifetimes. Then in the non-sanctioned web series Phase II, Kirk’s son or nephew (I can’t remember) was depicted as being in a relationship with another man. When Enterprise came out, it was rumored one of the characters would be gay, but it never materialized.

Now, one of the “Star Trek” universe’s most beloved characters is revealed to be gay in the latest installment of the iconic franchise. John Cho told Australia’s Herald Sun that his character, Hikaru Sulu, will have a same-sex partner, with whom he is raising a daughter, in “Star Trek Beyond,” which hits theaters July 22. This is one of the most exciting things I’ve heard in years.

The 44-year-old actor said that he approved of the way his character’s sexuality will be handled in the film, in that writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin opted not to make it a major plot point. “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,” he said.

Lin and Pegg’s decision to depict Sulu as a gay man was a nod to George Takei, who played the role in the original 1960s “Star Trek” television series and in six subsequent films, Cho said. Takei, 79, came out as gay in 2005, and has since gone on to become an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights.

Unfortunately, the Star Trek alum and LGBT activist spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the news on Thursday, July 7, saying it strays from creator Gene Roddenberry’s original vision for Hikaru Sulu. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” Takei, 79, told THR. “Unfortunately it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Its unfortunate that Takei feels that way. I think it’s a great legacy for Star Trek, the character of Sulu, and Roddenberry’s belief in equality and a better universe.


I’m Coming Out 

I’m Coming Out (Original CHIC Mix)
Diana Ross

I’m coming out
I’m coming
I’m coming out

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

There’s a new me coming out
And I just had to live
And I want to give
I’m completely positive
I think this time around
I am gonna do it
Like you never do it
Like you never knew it
Oh, I’ll make it through

The time has come for me
To break out of the shell
I have to shout
That I’m coming out

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

I’ve got to show the world
All that I want to be
And all my billities
There’s so much more to me
Somehow, I have to make them
Just understand
I got it well in hand
And, oh, how I’ve planned
I’m spreadin’ love
There’s no need to fear
And I just feel so glad
Every time I hear

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

From Wikipedia:

In 1979, Diana Ross commissioned Chic founders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards to create material for a new album after taking her daughters to see the band in concert, following the success of Ross’s final Ashford & Simpson-composed and produced LP, The Boss. Rodgers got the idea for “I’m Coming Out” after noticing three different drag queens dressed as Diana Ross at a New York club called the GG Barnum Room. The lyrics hold an additional meaning to Ross, as she was leaving Motown Records and “coming out” from under Berry Gordy’s thumb.

“I’m Coming Out” still stands as an anthem for the gay community. The way it is perceived and its queer significance is to celebrate who you are. It refers to coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Queers who had not revealed their sexuality had shut out a part of their identity. Most would find it safer to pretend that they are heterosexual rather than reveal their true sexual orientation. Queer individuals use this phrase to express that their identity is real. It is used over other phrases because it most closely describes the process of coming out from hiding who one is and exposing to the world that they are proud of who they are.


Colton Haynes

I didn’t have much to say today, but I’m still ecstatic that Colton Haynes came out. I had to go,out and buy the Entertainment Weekly with the article in it. It was actually harder to find than I thought it would be. Luckily, Barnes and Nobles had a copy of it. In it he gives a quote that he says could be his mantra. It’s from a writer named Ben Loory: “Once there was a man who was afraid of his shadow. Then he met it. Now he glows in the dark.” I like that quote and I guess we all have to face our fears at some point in life or they just paralyze us. Haynes opened up about his lifelong struggle with anxiety, which he said led to hospitalisation, unemployment, and loss of friendships. It is somethin people should hear more about because mental illness can make people feel so abnormal when in fact millions suffer from various forms of mental illness.

Haynes,who is immensely popular and active on a number of social media platforms, has previously refused to discuss his sexuality and love life, although fans have often speculated about it. However, he has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights, sharing pictures and messages of support online of his gay brother Joshua and his husband Scott. In a Tumblr post posted earlier on Saturday, Haynes expressed excitement about 2016, saying he “can’t wait to live a happy/healthy life this year.”

“No fear this year,” he had tweeted on New Year’s Eve. “Cheers #2016.”



Vermont v. Alabama 

  
I received the following comment on my Saturday Moment of Zen post:

Joe, you have now been in Vermont for a month. What about a post on the differences in the aspects of living in the Deep South and living in Deepest New England? Your comments would be very interesting. Your last post touched on accent and way of speech but what else – not just material things, such as food and the time difference, but the way people behave and think?–The Academic 

The first thing I had to get used to, especially when driving around, is that I am in the mountains. Where I live is about 750 feet above sea level. Alabama’s highest peak is 1445 ft, whereas where I grew up was about 400 feet above sea level but so was everything else (In other words, it was relatively flat). The mountain that I am closest to, and is part of the university’s campus is 2382 feet. To get anywhere, you seem to have to go over or around mountains, so while a nearby town may only be 10 miles away, it takes roughly 20-30 minutes. That being said, I am not complaining. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, I just have to get used to the very steep hills, especially when they are covered in ice and snow during the winter. Also, while other towns are 20-30 minutes away, I was already used to that where I lived in rural Alabama. The exception being that here I actually live in a small town which has some of the conveniences you’d expect in a small town. An added bonus is that I live less than a mile from work, whereas in Alabama, I lived 40 miles from work.
Similar to where I was in Alabama, the young guys still drive trucks that are far too loud, and they race up and down the streets in Vermont just like in Alabama. That is one of the things that struck me as very similar to back home. There are a lot of similarities between Alabama and Vermont, as both are rural states. There are churches everywhere, but the ones up here are more accepting of gay people. Sadly though, there are no churches of Christ that I can find. Yes, there are United Churches of Christ, but that’s a totally different animal. It looks like I might be going to a Lutheran church with my boss, at least they celebrate communion each Sunday. 

Besides the churches, everyone seems to know everyone else. When I went in the pharmacy the first time and explained that I had out-of-state prescriptions, they knew exactly who I was and all about me by the time I returned that afternoon to pick my prescriptions up. It seems that the wife of the university president works there. I’ve lived here a month and already people in the stores and post office know me. That’s a nice feeling. Whereas the same could be said about Alabama, in Vermont the people are genuinely friendly, not the fake friendly that many people are in Alabama. When someone sees you, they are actually happy to see you, not just being nosy trying to figure out what you are doing and what gossip they can either get from you or make up about you. I am stereotyping badly here, but there is a certain truths in it.

As for food, there are a few differences, like “bombs,” which is a hot sandwich that comes on a roll that is halfway between a hot dog bun and a hoagie roll and is usually filled with a meat and a cheese. They are quite yummy. Also, when they say “greens,” in Alabama, it meant collards or turnips, here it means kale. They put kale on everything up here. I am surprised that I can find a lot of foods familiar to home in the grocery stores here. I don’t think I’ve seen grits, though they do have polenta, but I have seen corn meal. Surprisingly, though what is hard to find is self-rising flour. When I went to the grocery store last night, they had only one kind of self-rising flour, and they did not have self-rising cake flour. They also don’t sell PET milk, which didn’t matter since they did have Carnation evaporated milk and I had already planned on using heavy whipping cream in a recipe instead to give it a richer flavor. One other thing about food, you are much more likely to get local meats and cheeses and many restaurants try to use as many local ingredients as possible. Vermont cheese is phenomenal, by the way. Nearly every town seems to have their own beer brewery, and some places make hard cider, which I like better anyway. Citizen Cider’s Unified Press is delicious, but that stuff will sneak up on you.

Also, Vermont politics are odd, especially the fact that with my political beliefs I’m considered a liberal Democrat in Alabama and more of a moderate Republican in Vermont. I’ve always said that I was a moderate, but don’t expect me to start considering myself a Republican just because I live in a “hippy-dippy liberal” state now. The town meetings and how they conduct their primary will be quite interesting.

Now to what I suspect you all really want to know: how do I perceive the way they treat gay people up here? First of all, let me say that Vermont does not have a single gay bar. They do have at least one bar that has a monthly gay night. I’ve looked into this to kind of understand why, because Vermont is a very gay-friendly state, but what I have found, or have been told, is that there isn’t a need for a separate gay bar. As a gay man, and I think many of you will agree with this, you don’t always feel welcomed at hetero bars, but it’s different here. I’ve been in a few bars and such here and it always seemed like there was a good mix of gay and straight people. Everyone is treated the same. Sadly this means that there are no go-go boys dancing nearly naked on the bars or shirtless bartenders, but I can live with that, as I have found the waiters and bartenders tend to be cute and flirty jut the same. Also, there seems to be a wide array of gay groups in the state. I’m thinking of volunteering for Vermont Pride.

The thing is, sexuality seems to be a non-issue from anything I’ve seen. My boss went out of her way when I interviewed to let me know how open and accepting the university is and how supportive the president is of LGBT issues. I never mentioned I was gay, but I didn’t try to hide it. It’s part of who I am, but it’s not my defining characteristic. I have sort of mentioned things here and there but it was just in normal conversation. One of my coworkers was asking me yesterday how I was adapting and how I liked it up here, and I told her how much I really love it. I told her that “I had wanted out of Alabama, because it’s just not a good place to grow up as a gay boy.” I think she was happy that I confirmed it. I didn’t want my sexuality to be office gossip, but I figured that at some point it would come up. This particular co-worker confided in me after I’d actually said that I was gay, that when I’d had my phone interview and I’d said that the school had put me on charge of the drama club, even though I had no previous experience with the dramatic arts, she knew she wanted to get me out of Alabama and really pushed for me to get the job. They had really liked my cover letter and resume, so all I had to do was back it up and be a pleasant person. I’d already been told that it was a unanimous vote amongst the staff to hire me, but I had no idea that they’d basically decided to hire me after my telephone interview.

The important thing is that I am free to be me. I can be myself, and I don’t have to worry about hiding my politics to keep my job or hiding my sexuality to keep my job or hiding anything for that matter. I get to be the me that I’ve always wanted to be and do a job that really is a dream job because I am in a job where I am actually valued for my expertise and my work and opinion matters. Most of all, I am happy.
PS I realize that the winter will be harsh, but so far Mother Nature has been good to me. She is slowly easing me into winter. I’ve been told that Vermont is having its mildest November in a long time, and December is expected to slowly bring us into the brunt of the winter. I am sure that in a couple of months, I will be complaining about the weather and how cold it is, but right now I am looking forward to it.


Gus Kenworthy 

  
Just days after he came out, Olympian Gus Kenworthy was asked a question many gay and lesbian people dread on Twitter by a random user. But Kenworthy handled it so well, and we can’t think of a more perfect way to respond to such a cringeworthy inquiry.  

“Are you the man or the woman in the relationship? That’s all I need to know right now,” the user wrote. 

Kenworthy, 24, followed up with: 

In a relationship I am the man. As is the other man. I’m gay. Not trying to emulate a heterosexual relationship. https://t.co/AJwyskECWf

— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) October 24, 2015

The professional freeskier, who nabbed a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, revealed his sexuality in a simply-worded tweet posted on Oct. 22. 

“I am gay,” he wrote. 

The tweet was accompanied by a photo of the athlete on the cover of ESPN Magazine. The new issue, which hits newsstands on Oct. 30, features an in-depth profile on Kenworthy, in which he recalls his early struggles with his sexuality.  

“You’re constantly lying and constantly feeling like you’re being deceitful,” he said in a video on ESPN that was produced in conjunction with the article. “I’m just at that point where I’m ready to open up and let everyone see me for me and I hope everyone accepts it.”


First Gay Club

On Saturday, Wicked Gay Blog posted the following post which went viral, “Question of the Day: What was the name of the very first gay bar you ever walked into?”  The post itself has gotten over 200 comments.  David at WGB has one of the best blogs on the net.  He’s been around for years, but sadly, he will be ending WGB at the end of the year.

Besides asking what was the name of the very first gay bar you ever walked into, David also asked a few other questions.   Were you nervous? Where was it located? Do you remember any song that may have been playing? What year was it?

I’m going to go first and answer the questions, and I hope that you will follow suit in the comments below.  The first gay club I ever went to was Oz in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I was a little nervous, but I had two female friends with me.  This was in 2001 (I think) when I was in graduate school and attending the Southern Historical Association’s annual meeting.  I don’t remeber the music that was playing (I’m terrible with music), but my guess is that it was something by Brittany Spears.  I remeber dancing with one friend while the other sat at the bar watching the go-go dancers.  This of course was pre-Hurricane Katrina and the bar was jam packed and back then it was also about twice as large as it is now.  I vividly remeber going out on the dance floor and being surrounded by all these beautiful gay men and smelling the musk and manliness of the sweaty dancing men.  It was intoxicating and I was so aroused.  I still find myself aroused by that particular smell of a group of gay men.

The other thing I remeber, and is always my favorite thing about Oz, were the go-go dancers on the bar.  When we sat at the bar with our other friend, I will never forget her comment, “I’d give him [the go-go dancer] a tip, but that is the ugliest colored thong I’ve ever seen.”  And though the thong showed off the dancer’s assets very nicely, I will admit that the orange/peach color of is was not very flattering.  I also remeber that the other dancer on that section of the bar was not wearing anything but socks and tennis shoes and merely had a hand towel over his crotch, which occasionally he would move out of the way.

Oz is still my all time favorite gay bar/dance club.  I’ve been in gay bars in Europe and across the United States, but Oz has always had the nicest bartenders and the hottest, sexiest, and sweetest go-go dancers.  I’ve had a lot of fun flirting with the dancers at Oz, and when it’s slow, they usually love to squat down and have a chat with the patrons.  By the way, I’m almost certain the picture above is either from Oz or the Bourbon Pub across the street.

 


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