Pride and Periwig

30
Nov
2007

I really only have two gay friends of note in Indianapolis, Blake and Danny (Blake’s boyfriend). I first met Blake by chance many years ago when I was living in San Francisco. I was out at one of the bars and this guy approached me and struck up a conversation. I was just about to leave when he mentioned he was visiting from Indianapolis. My interest was piqued and we had a conversation about Indianapolis that inevitably involved my mother’s renown in the gay community. Blake was explaining to me that he had just recently come out (some 6 months earlier), although at that point he still wasn’t out to everyone, and not out at work. It was about that point that I noticed his hairline looked a little funny. I tried not to stare, but it was fairly obvious at that point that he was wearing a toupee. He actually copped to it later with a little embarrassment. It occurred to me at the time that his self esteem and desire to “fit in” with what he thought the standards of beauty were in the gay community led him to this awful hair decision.

When we are first coming out, there are so many things we worry about and acceptance within this new community is of paramount importance. It takes a while before we discover our niche and the process can be quite bruising. Gay male enclaves can be notoriously superficial and unforgiving, especially in the larger cities. It can make it really hard just to be yourself.

Since that time, I have watched with tender affection the path of Blake’s coming out process. In a couple years’ time, he had lost the wig, and come out at work. Not much later he bagged a great bf (Danny) and shares more of his life with his friends and family. He is one of the sweetest people I know, and it is always a treat for me coming back to Indy to spend time with him and Danny.

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Blake puts on the rug for old times’ sake.

Seatbelts bring out the kooky Libertarian in my parents

27
Nov
2007

My parents, I have noticed since being back, have a strong aversion to wearing seat belts, and an even stronger aversion to seat belt laws. So much so that they routinely get cited and have had to pay numerous fines.  They feel quite strongly that seatbelt laws infringe heavily on their personal freedom and that the social (and other) cost arguments for their existence are completely bogus. Nevermind that actually wearing seatbelts is statistically much safer than not wearing them.

For my part, in the grand scheme of things, I can put up with wearing them. It isn’t such a big deal. And it is safer. I think there are much better battles to pick in showing civil disobedience. Then again, I don’t own a car or drive much.

Notes on Indiana: heartburn

26
Nov
2007

Something about the food here gives me heartburn. A lot. In the past 10 days, I have had 4 cases of it, and quite major. Is it the greater amounts of red wine I have been imbibing? The much greater amounts of carbohydrates? Whatever the cause, it isn’t pleasant.

An Indian in Indiana

24
Nov
2007

My friend Rahul (from Mumbai, but now studying in Ohio) came to visit for a couple of days while on break from school. I have been playing tour guide and showing him around the great city of Indianapolis. Since it is Thanksgiving weekend and the family is in town, I invited him to join in our yearly family traditions of hanging out and hitting the gay bars. A good time was had by all as my brother and cousins and various partners and friends hit the dance floor at Greg’s just a few blocks from home.

Strange objects in my life.

23
Nov
2007

Sometimes I stumble across or notice strange objects in my life. Below is one such object that I found in our basement. It is a handbag my paternal grandmother Cecilia made for my maternal grandmother Annette well over 30 years ago. The main compartment of the handbag seems to have been built or inspired by an old dutch shoe. Crafty old Grandma Celia then lightly shellacked the outside and added Victorian style framed vignettes containing photos of our family to the exterior surface. Inside, a useful compact makeup mirror is affixed to the handsome herringbone felt lining. Finishing touches include a genuine leather and brass closing latch strap, and a handy carrying handle made of brass and stained wood.


What aesthetic tradition could have possibly inspired this handbag? Was it some sort of pattern project from the pages of Good Housekeeping? Did my grandmother have a dark vision in a dream? Did she secretly hate my mother’s mother? Whatever the reason, I am the lucky beneficiary of possibly the greatest creative enigma since Abstract Expressionism.

Thanksgiving vs Christmas

23
Nov
2007

Thanksgiving is the ideal holiday for me. I love it, and every year I love it more. It has all the elements of the perfect holiday. It is about getting together with people you love and sharing a great meal and expressing gratitude. The size of ours changes a little from year to year (this year stood at 18) as people bring friends and partners home with them at various times, or as more children are born. But the good feelings are always there, and we never miss an opportunity to remark on what we are thankful for in our lives, or to let each other know how much we love each other.

I remember when I was a child really being embarrassed by my loud, neurotic, political, sometimes overbearing family. But over the years, as I have come to accept myself more, I have come to love my family more and more. Not only do I not gloss over our idiosyncrasies, I now find that I revel in and enjoy them. Each one of my family is a special part of what makes thanksgiving wonderful. I find that Thanksgiving in particular brings out what is best in each of us. It is the one time of the year that we are all committed to being together and renewing the bonds of family and friendship.

Contrast this with the consumer orgy that is Christmas/Hanukkah in the US. Here is a holiday that is completely about giving and getting, expectation and disappointment, recrimination and regret. It is all about materialism, and I think it stinks. It is the holiday that reinforces values that I find most problematic in our culture.

Notes on Indiana: Thanksgiving prep

22
Nov
2007

When I think about it, this isn’t really so much an Indiana thing as an American thing (and soon to be a world thing). We went to one of the warehouse club stores (Costco) yesterday to shop in preparation for today’s Thanksgiving meal. These places represent both the best and the worst of America in my opinion. On the one hand, they are models of supply chain efficiency. On the other, they lay bare the orgy of overconsumption upon which this nation is based.

Online Dating tips (gay, straight, prude or slut)

20
Nov
2007

I was going to call this post “Gay internet dating etiquette” or “hook-up site etiquette”,  but I realized these rules were probably more universal than that. These rules should work the same whether you are straight or gay, enjoy long walks on the sand or just want a quick roll in the hay. (Hey, that rhymed!)

In no particular order:

1. If someone compliments you, always respond with a thank you. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in them or not, this is common courtesy.

2. You do not have to respond to someone with no pictures in their profile (except in the case above, and then only to say thanks).

3. When someone insults you, they should simply be ignored and/or blocked. There is no reason to engage them.

4. Never go directly to someone’s home or allow them to come to yours. First meetings should be out in public (at a coffee shop or the like if possible).

5. If you should come across a profile of someone who is using your pictures instead of their own, compliment them on their good looks. Then report them to the site owner.

6. Never trash talk any member of a site to any other member (with the possible exception of the above member who stole your pics).

7. If someone does not respond to a message you have sent to them, drop it. Do not send endless followup messages asking why they aren’t interested. This reeks of desperation and the other party should be expected to apply rule number 3. You should apply the same rule in the reverse situation.

8. If, upon meeting someone, you discover that:

a. Their pics are at least 10 years old, OR
b. Their pics are not at all identifiable as them, OR
c. They have lied or misled you about important details (up to you to decide which these are, but being married might be one)

you should feel free to end it right there with a polite “This won’t work for me, but thanks for playing. Good bye.”

The blank stare

20
Nov
2007

Sometimes you realize that, with no bad intentions on anyone’s part, communication can be difficult in different worlds. I love and adore my family, but the choices we have made in our lives are different, especially so in the last year. This can make communication about certain things a little difficult.

I have been thinking a lot about my “next steps” recently. Mostly this is because I get asked about it all the time. “So, what are you going to do now?” It seems not quite ok to say, “I don’t really know” or “I am thinking about it” or even “I may move to Mexico”. These responses meet with a blank stare. Perhaps it is merely a projection on my part, but trying to divine the meaning in this blank stare leads me to read things like, “Isn’t there some time limit on this little mid-life crisis/ fantasy trip of yours, Stephen?” or “Isn’t it time to put away childish things?”

I’m sorry, guys I’m just not there yet. Something is undone, and I am not quite sure what it is. I am in the midst of figuring out some things about life, and I need more time. And since I am no financial burden on anyone (at least not yet), why not take this opportunity to keep exploring the world? How many people are this lucky? Why throw myself into an upstanding career right now when I honestly don’t know what I want to do? I may be forced by economic circumstance to do just that at some point in the future, but until that time leave me my exploration.

Everyone makes different choices in their lives, and often they need to justify them as the best ones for everyone. I am perfectly comfortable with the notion that each of us takes our own path. I don’t need other people to make the same choices as mine for theirs to be valid. But perhaps it is inevitable for us to project our ideal of happiness onto those we love, especially if we are happy in our own lives.

I would love it if people felt more comfortable engaging with the other (and themselves) in their what-ifs. I am (mostly) genuinely interested in the lives of those around me, and am comfortable engaging in examining their joys and sorrows and asking questions. Perhaps it is difficult for us to put ourselves in the shoes of the other and ask more probing questions or offer more than a simple “ok, whatever”. But it is worthwhile to try.