Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Die 2016. Just Die Already.

**Strong Language Ahead. Reader Discretion is Advised**

I wanted to post something unbearably clever about 2016, since this will be the last post of the year, but really all I can say is, 2016, you're a whore. You're a dirty, crusty whore. From losing jobs to break ups and car accidents, this has been an incredibly fucked up year. Now, I usually pride myself on being resilient, hard times usually don't phase me. But 12 months of utter chaos are taking their toll, and I just want to run away and live on the beaches of Fiji, smoking Himalayan Temple Ball, and watching the sunset over the ocean. But then I remember that I have better things to kill my brain cells with (Like Scotch!) (+500,000 redeeming points because I like Scotch. Scotchy scotchy scotch), and I hate being bored. So without further adieu, let's hit the highlights and low points of the year. I'll keep score and let's see how 2016 does.

I lost my job in January (-500 redeeming points. Also, thanks for that one, former bosses. January is THE BEST time to lose your job). Yea, this caused some stress, but at that point I was starting to look for a new job anyway. Sending people to collections because they haven't handed over a tax credit seems shady at best, and downright illegal at worst. I found out that I was going to be losing the job on or around January 15, so right as the semester was starting. Again, thanks for that. Now, I realize that they had to do what's best for the company, and I understand and accept that. It's totally fine.

Skip ahead to March, and I find an amazing new job in... a town that's 64 miles away(+50 redeeming points)!! So, this one is a blessing and a curse. I love my job(+10), and I love taking a proactive role in helping victims of domestic violence(+1,000). I love my co-workers(+10), and I just love my job. Plus the town it's in is super nifty. Notwithstanding, I have to leave my house by 07:30(minus like five million for this. I hate mornings. But not really. (-500), otherwise I'll be late. Awesome. So because I was settling into a new job, I had to finish the semester without attending class(-500). But I did it through no small amount of effort and the help of an amazing friend(+100).

June was awesome, because Pride (+300). Except that during this glorious weekend, my boyfriend and I got into a fight(-600), which kind of overshadowed the whole thing. But that's fine. Just 2016 doing it's thang. Oh, and Bernie Sanders lost the nomination(-500). To conventional Democrats and those who subscribe to identity politics, I would like to offer you a deep, sincere, and heartfelt fuck you. America has changed more than you know, and you have to throw white folks a bone every once in a while. If you run on a platform for and by the minorities, you will lose the Presid... oh wait. GOOD FUCKING JOB GUYS. *Sigh. OK, let's keep moving.

July-August were pretty unremarkable. Thank god. 2016 has been the kind of year that, when an unremarkable month occurs, you're happy. (+1,000. I feel sick that I had to assign those points. Just for being life, without anything shitty happening. Awesome)

September probably takes the cake. My ex-not boyfriend broke up with me(-1,000,000), I moved (all of this happened in the middle of the semester. -1,000,000). Seriously. Fuck 2016 with a hot pipe. Two major life events in the middle of the god damned semester. Whatever. It's fine. Frankly the break up kind of colored everything till November. I went out and partied a lot, met some amazing new people (+1), discovered that gay men just can't be friends (-40 redeeming qualities), and worked on doing and being my best. I honestly was really happy (+500) because our relationship was toxic and it really exacerbated my depression and his. We're both good people, but at that point, not for each other. Anywho, so partying, drinking, staying out too late continued till I started my competitions. I had three competitions in four weeks, all in different cities in California and Utah. Good times were had (+500).

And now we're in December. I wrecked and totaled my car (+1,000,000. How fucking sad is that that the best thing to happen to me all year is a car accident? Lulz). My semester is done (+500,000), but I find myself in a severe depression (-1,000,000). But it sucks because I'm a high functioning depressive, so yea, I want to lay in bed and cut myself (not in bed. Blood is a pain in the ass to get out of luxurious 500 count Egyptian cotton sheets). But I don't. I get up and drive to work, deal with insurance bullshit, and go home. Nobody knows the crushing darkness I'm in right now, and that sucks.

So, let's tally and see how 2016 fared. Total negatives: -3,002,600. Total Positives: 2,003,421. Year Outcome: -999,179. Verdict: God-awful, not good, very bad year. Sentence: Having to read the tweet from Carrie Fisher's dog after she died every day for the rest of your life. OH YEA! Carrie Fisher died! But what a way to go, she drowned in the moonlight, strangled by her own bra. Tack on another -1,000,000. I grew up with Star Wars. Fuck. You. 2016.

Oh yea. And Trump. But he doesn't even deserve a cursory nod. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

3 Things Gay Guys Need to Stop Doing

So I've noticed something, when I was reintegrating into gay society, and I'm sure that a lot of straight women will agree with me. Boys suck. The sheer depth and breadth of the self-serving, narcissistic nature of men makes me want to be a hermit in the mountains. Now, I should clarify. I'm sure that not all gay men are stupid, but it surely seems that the lion's share of them are. This post isn't going to be about bottom shaming or any of that stuff that my social justice warrior colleagues peddle. I just want to give three ideas that may help gay guys be less... stupid. If that's possible.

1. Learn how to be friends with other gay guys you are attracted to.

OK, You've just met someone who is just way too attractive to not talk to. However, they're recently out of a relationship, new to the gay scene, coming to terms with their sexuality, insert reason here. They've told you their not ready for a relationship and only want friends, and you do pretty good at the "just friends" thing for a minute, but then the little innuendos work their way back into the conversation, the joking flirts start building sexual tension, and before you know it, you're full on hitting on them again. I've noticed that single gay men seem to gather around them other gay men who they aren't interested in boning. Yea, they have a great personality (*insert hardcore eye roll here), but you don't like their hair, they're fat, they're stupid, or you're just not attracted to them for whatever banal reason. That's fine, it's OK not to be attracted to someone, but being forced to surround yourself with people you're not attracted to because you keep chasing off the attractive ones because they don't want to bone or have a relationship is just bad form. Now, this is coming from a place of deep frustration, because I thought that I had made some good friends during my reintegration into the community, but they couldn't seem to understand that I just wanted friends. I didn't want friendship with the added emotional, romantic tension of, "I'm fine being friends right now, but I'm waiting somewhat impatiently for you to be ready to date again. So while I'm waiting, why don't we cuddle?" So yea, I'm frustrated right now because I thought that I had set down clear boundaries, but these were swept aside, and I've had to distance myself from people I thought could be my friend. I don't want to be unfair here, so I will say that when the flirty innuendos start again, it's super easy for the person who's not ready for a romantic entanglement to flirt back, thereby sending the wrong signals. So it's not all on you to observe and enforce the boundaries. The person who set them should also be cognizant of them, because it's super easy to send the wrong message to the person who is interested, and at the end of the day, all there are is a lot of hurt feelings. So learn how to just be friends. Those relationships will be a lot more rewarding if they're cultivated with care and patience.

2. Observe boundaries.

So to piggy back off of that, talk to your friends and/or/ your romantic interests. Ask them how they feel about things, ask for clear cut boundaries. I'm going to complicate it a little bit by saying that in my mind, there are hard boundaries and soft boundaries (calm down SJW's. Let me explain). First off, I'm a mega-busy person. I spend three days out of the week doing 16 hour days, homework on weekends, competitions out of State, etc. I won't say I'm introverted, but I do know that I'm just tired a lot of the time. So with friendships and my relationship, I want to be able to just say that I'm tired, I want to go home and go to bed early. That's a soft boundary, because if my boyfriend says, "I know you're tired, but I'm feeling neglected." of course I'm going to go cuddle him and tell him how important he is to me. Hard boundaries generally seem to involve sexy rumpus, so in regards to that, observe the hard boundaries in the bedroom. No means no. Don't infer that they're OK with what you're about to do with that zucchini. There are hard boundaries outside of the bedroom too though. If they're a sexual assault survivor, find out what their triggers are, or if they are dealing with internalized homophobia, ASK what makes them comfortable or uncomfortable. Learn each other's boundaries, live each other's boundaries, love each other's boundaries. Now, it's important to note that boundaries will change over time. No one lives in a homeostatic universe where their personality will remain the same for years and decades to come. You will change, just as your partner will change, so communicate openly and honestly. Don't let your late night conversations be all about pop culture and clothes (or whatever pods of gay men talk about), actually try to learn something about your boyfriend/love interest/partner. Finding out what their boundaries are will make your life a hell of a lot easier and the relationship a lot more rewarding.

3. Stop being so damn catty.

HYPOCRISY ALERT: I am an extremely sarcastic asshole. It's my second language. But I also know when to rein it in and be serious, compassionate, etc. Being sassy all the time is not cute or endearing. I hate it when I'm trying to tell a story and I get interrupted by some baby gay who has a killer one-liner. And it's not limited to the baby gays (those who are just barely coming out of the closet). I've watched many gay men be unnecessarily sassy or catty, and it's just irritating. I understand that you have a sharp wit, but there is a time and a place for everything, so learn when it's appropriate. I know that being the bigger, adultier person is not fun, but we need a community of mature men that can interface with the powers that be. If all the outside world sees is a bunch of guys being sassy bitches to each other, it decreases our standing in the world at large. Have some maturity for once. Control your impulses to cut down or denigrate someone else. Complement them instead and see your life get better. Like I've said, I'm an offender on this point, because I fell in love with that little bump of adrenaline that I get when I'm sassy. I love the face the person makes and I love that I can render someone speechless. But, that's also a great way to end up alone because it ultimately pushes people away. "Yea, James is a good guy, but I just can't stand how sarcastic he is." It's something I still struggle with, but telling someone how nice their hair looks or that you're glad to see them really makes the day brighter. This world is dark enough without us being bitches to each other.

So that's my list of things that really have been grating on me lately. Take it for what you will, it's not a sure and fast way to have a happy life, indeed it seems that these actually take more time and effort than just giving in to my baser instincts. I suppose that's probably because gay men look at each other like we're disposable. Don't like your boyfriend? Get a new one! Want sex? Have a hookup! Intimacy is hard, but I've found that when I actually apply myself, observing these three things, along with a few others, makes me a better person, and because I'm a better person, improves the quality of my friends and friendships. Last, but certainly not least, have a merry christmas. Go spend time with those you love. Be humble, don't stumble, and I'll see you again soon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Case for Hate

I was laying in bed the other night, texting back and forth with a more conservative friend of mine, and they brought up the point that I should feel lucky to be in the US, because in Iran or Saudi Arabia, they just push homos off of really tall buildings or set them on fire or hang them with cranes. Yes, how fortunate that I live in a Country where I don't have to fear institutional retribution for who I am. I should be thankful that this isn't a Muslim majority country that has instituted Shariah. So yes, I should fear and hate Muslims for what they've done to members of my Community.

But wait, that doesn't seem quite right does it? It would seem that I should feel fortunate that I live in a Christian majority Country, where I only have to worry about being denied marriage equality, healthcare that is LGBT informed, and the ability to hold hands with my boyfriend without fear of having the shit beat out of us. So no, I don't have to worry about being killed, but I do have to worry about the institutional discrimination that I, every member of my Community, and every minority in this supposedly great Country has to face.

So I'm curious. Why should I hate and fear Muslims when I face discrimination here at home by people who have a deeply held religious belief? Why should I be tolerant of their reticence and intolerance? Why should I be tolerant of their subscription to Divine Command Theory as a viable code of ethics?

Because I'm a decent person, that's why. I will stand up for my Christian brothers and sisters (I'm still Catholic) and fight for their rights to worship god in whatever fashion they want, and I will fight for them to be able to post on social media about how evil marriage equality is, or that HIV/AIDS is god's punishment for being gay until the bitter end. And I will fight for women to have ultimate control over their bodies and equal pay to men. And I will continue to fight until the bitter end. But it's striking to me that this seems to be a two way street, but one lane is empty.

I've been admonished by my deeply religious friends not to judge an entire faith by the actions of a few misanthropes. So why the hate and distrust for Muslims? There are over 1 billion Muslims in the world, they compose roughly 1% of the US population, and while there are radical Muslim terrorists, how is the Westborough Plains Church any better? How is legislating against a minority in the US Congress any better? No, they're not hanging us, but they are stripping away rights, and it may continue to the point where gangs can tie up young men to fence posts and beat them to death. A democracy must take into consideration the well-being of ALL people. Not just the minority.

Finally, isn't Love the fulfillment of the law? I've got to jet. Be humble, don't stumble, and I'll see you again soon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Homophobic Monster (Pt. 2)

Last week, I confessed that I suffer from a case of internalized homophobia, or more succinctly put, hatred of self. This is, in large part, because I was raised in a deeply religious home, and I was also home schooled, which only served to intensify everything. I remember learning Leviticus 18:22, which states that, "A man shall not lie with another man as with a woman. It is an abomination..." I vaguely remember the end of the plague years, when effective medication was finally created and released for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, specifically that HIV was sent by god as a punishment for their (mine) wickedness. I remember members of my family calling Ellen DeGeneres, Ellen DeGenerate instead (admittedly, that's clever. But still not OK.) Above all, I remember feeling two very conflicting emotions. 

One was, "Yea, those people should know better and come to god!" I was pretty high on the Holy Spirit at that time. I remember thinking that being gay was a choice, and that these heathens were just so lost in sin that they refused to change, similar to the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. How could they refuse the saving grace of god? It just felt soooo good going to church on Sunday, singing hymns, learning immutable truths of the universe. But that didn't play well against who I was as a person.

Because I knew from probably around age 10 or so that I was different. I knew that I liked seeing shirtless boys at the swimming pool, and I knew that I had a crush on one of my guy friends. So I pushed that down. It was a choice, after all. 

Except that it wasn't. The feelings never went away, so I mentally, emotionally, and spiritually vilified that part of myself. I hated it, whenever I would see a cute boy, or when I felt the stirrings of adolescence towards another guy. During this period, I was equally high on god and filled with self-hate, and it appears as though self-hate has a longer shelf life. 

What I truly wanted to put into words this week is the self-loathing, hate, and sadness that comes along with this problem, however some trite thought experiment fails to capture the raw, visceral emotions that come along with this. It feels as though you're perpetually disappointing your parents, making them sad, and angry all of the time. It's like carrying the full weight of every wrong you've ever done, but you can never right this one because it's who you are. It's like looking in the mirror and not recognizing yourself, because, in my case, the amiable church going, god believing in, trying to be hetero guy is not looking back anymore. It's a complete loss of personal identity (when you first come out, and years of cognitive dissonance thereafter), knowing that you're disappointing your parents, sadness, and anger. 

And these don't go away easily. If, during the formative years of your life, you are indoctrinated in a certain way, that simply doesn't wash away with a few therapy sessions and a good cry, because that was your identity up until the day you come out. It's not something that confronting the homophobic people in your life fixes, and it's certainly not something that resides quietly in your mind. This monster roars persistently until you deal with it. But the way you deal with it matters. 

Speaking for myself, I need to learn to love who I am, including the nasty, messy, squishy emotions. I need to truly believe that it's ok to be gay, and I need to learn that ALL of me is intrinsically valuable, not just the parts that please my family or friends. So I hope that this sheds a bit of light on what homophobia feels like, and that what you say to yourself or to your gay friends really does matter. I don't usually say that we should treat people like delicate little snowflakes, but in the case of LGBT people, especially those struggling with homophobia, it's important to be cognizant of what you say, because this affliction kills. Gay kids are eight times more likely to kill themselves. 

I've got to jet, be humble, don't stumble, and I'll see you again soon!

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255. Suicide doesn't fix anything, it just prevents even the possibility of things getting better. Stay strong.