All Good Things…

I have a problem.  It’s not necessarily a big deal problem, it’s just a problem.  I get bored.  I get bored pretty easily.  I don’t have ADD or ADHD or AED or any other acronym you might think of.  I can sit on my ass for hours watching TV or movies.  If I’m reading, I’ll stop because I can’t keep my eyes open before I stop because I’m bored.  It’s other stuff.

Those of you who visit this blog with any regularity have surely noticed that the posts have tapered off.  It’s because I’m bored.  Well, maybe bored isn’t the right term.  I’m… dissatisfied.

I started blogging last June.  I started my first blog here on WordPress two days before my 33rd birthday and had big plans.  I called the blog “Started Living” because I wanted to get out there and start living my life, something I hadn’t really been doing previously.  I created the blog on somewhat of a whim because I had something I wanted to say and I needed to get it out there.  I searched for a title that said what I wanted to convey and that hadn’t already been taken.  It’s amazing how I’m always behind the times on certain things.  I searched for “Life Starts Now”.  Somebody had it.  They hadn’t updated it in a long time, but they owned it.  I searched for “Starting Life Now”.  Same story.  “Starting Life”, “Starting Living”, “Life Starting”?  Second verse, same as the first!  Finally, I punched in “Started Living” and I got the glorious “this title is available” message.  I ran with it.

“Started Living” didn’t feel especially catchy to me.  I was frustrated with the lack of cleverness or even any real meaning behind it.  In the early days I reported some big events.  Part of my motivation behind the blog was to live more openly about my sexuality and to have a focal point and a reason to get out and start living.  I came out to a few people and I documented it on the blog.  I attended a smattering of events that happened to be taking place outside the four walls of my own apartment.  But all in all, I did not Start Living and so I started feeling unauthentic with the blog title.  I published my final post on “Started Living” on November 6, 2008.  At that point I had posted 81 articles and had 32 comments.  I’d had over 3000 hits.  But I didn’t like the direction the blog was going and I wasn’t happy with the name and so with my November 6, 2008 post “Started Living Didn’t, Finds a new Home”, I said good-bye to my unauthentic existence as a guy who hadn’t started living and hello to my truly unauthentic existence as “A Drunk in a Hard Place.”

“A Drunk in a Hard Place” was a tongue in cheek, unfunny reference to my life.  The reality is I’m not an alcoholic.  I do drink and like so many other people, I occasionally drink more than perhaps I should.  On one particular occasion, I drank much more than I should have and paid a very high price for that poor judgment.  But as a matter of course, I don’t drink a great deal and it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.  For a time I was reading a blog called “The Drunken Housewife” and I found her writing humorous.  So “A Drunk in a Hard Place” was meant to be a humorous reference to the fact that I do drink, sometimes a lot; the fact that at times my life is really hard (isn’t everyone’s?); and, I hoped obviously, a play on “A Rock and a Hard Place”.  It was meant as a joke, and I think for the most part, it was taken that way, but I became uncomfortable with it.  I left things alone for six months because I hadn’t thought of anything better.  Then one day, finally, inspiration struck!

I spent the last almost three years in therapy, only having taken a hiatus in the last four months to try and get my finances under better control.  I am not, by any means, “done” with therapy.  Insightful Therapist said, “you’re in the middle” during our last (I was going to say “final”, but I hope it wasn’t) session, and I think she’s right, which is why it’s important for me to get back as soon as I can.  Anyway, I have come a long way in the time I have been in therapy and I’m a much happier, better person now.  I feel like I’ve benefited a lot from therapy and I feel like I’ve got something I can share with others and so I’ve started something new.

From today, those of you who read my blog with regularity and desire to deliberately follow me can find my writing at http://riggledo.wordpress.com.  I will not delete this blog and cannot say I will never post here again, but from this moment my focus and my energy will be put into Riggledo.  So, let me tell you about it!

The title is a play on my own name.  I hope it’s something that will be catchy.  In my wildest dreams I hope it’ll become something of a household name, so to speak, along the lines of “Dooce” or “Amalah“.  I’m neither a woman or a mommy so I don’t expect to fall into their league, but it is my hope, that at some point, I will have a following of readers who are as committed as these ladies have and that “Riggledo” will be as much of a “household name” as these ladies.  Perhaps that will never happen but I can certainly give it a shot!

Riggledo is a conglomeration of my last name, Riggs, and what is part of the focus of the blog, to help my readers to remember that they’re “OK” just the way they are.  In other words, my name is Kevin Riggs, and I’ll do just fine just the way I am!  Riggledo (and so will you.)

OK.  End of the shameless self promotion!  And I hope this is not a “good-bye”, but rather a “follow me”.  I’m headed over to Riggledo and I hope you’ll come along!  See you there!

An Important Note to Self

A few weeks ago, I walked into my local, preferred grocery store and bought a handful of groceries to make salads for lunch.

The next day as I was eating the salad I had made I looked at the bottle of dressing I was using and lo and behold the expiration date on the bottle was a month earlier. Thanks Lucky’s!

I returned the bottle that saturday when I did my grocery shopping for the week and as I was halfway through the store, it occurred to me that I should probably check the dates on my packages to be sure that everything was fresh.  Things were looking good until I got to the package of pre-cooked chicken I had put in the cart and saw that it was dated for Feruary 14, 2009.  It was mid March.

This past Wednesday I went to the same store for a few items and included in that puchase was a package of sliced almonds.  I got home, made the salad they were going to go on and tasted a handful of them only to find that they don’t taste terribly fresh.  I looked at the package and noticed that the expiration date on it was “09 FEB 11”.  ‘Dammit’ I thought, ‘what is up with this store!!!’

I took the almonds back to the store for a refund.  I wasn’t hateful to the clerk but I was clearly annoyed.  I told her, “This is the third time in a month I’ve found something here that was expired. When I went through to do my shopping and I looked at the dates on the almonds, only to find that they all were labled with an expiration date of “09 FEB 11”.

Note to self:  Next time you’re ready to yell at the grocery store clerk, remember that “09 FEB 11” actually means the nuts expire on February 9, 2011 and not February 11, 2009 as originally thought….Douche!

Magic Pills

I just read a blog post that has really got me thinking.  It started with a tweet on Twitter.  Anita1956 said, “Would I take the straight pill? Here’s my answer.” with a link to her blog http://tinyurl.com/aa78mp.  Here’s what she said:


The Straight Pill

Date March 13, 2009

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..Straight in body

…..Straight in mind

…..Straight in heart

…....I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would restore all my lost friendships

…..And regain my parents pride

…..And give back my families respect

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would return me to my former ministry

…..And the admiration of the congregation

…..And the loving welcome of the church

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would replace the love I have for my wife with an equal love for a man

…..And we could legally marry

…..And we would be granted full rights under the law without fighting for them

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would mean no one would reject me for being who I am

…..And for saying what I believe

…..And for standing boldly as one who follows Christ

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill could take the world back in time,

…..Before I came out of the closet,

…..Before I said I was gay

…..Before I knew I was gay

…..Before inequality touched me

…..Before hate revealed its ugliness to me

…..Before anyone rejected me

…..Before anything was lost to me

…..Before I ever questioned God’s love for me

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking that pill would make me straight

…..And famous

…..And wealthy

…..And talented

…..And adored

…..And beautiful

…..And thin

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

I would never take a pill that would make me straight because

…....I love being who I am

…....I love being whole and free

…….I love seeing the world from where I stand

…....I love knowing God from this place

…....I love feeling passion burning in me for equality

…....I love being part of a people who are courageous and relentless

…....I love being one in Spirit with every queer youth

…………..With every gay man and woman

……………With every bisexual man and woman

…………..With every transman and transwoman

……………With every ally and friend

……………With everyone who questions, doubts and searches

…….And I love being one in Spirit with you

……………Bound in hope, and faith, and love

……………Bound in God

If there was a pill I could take that would make you straight

………..And taking that pill would end all your confusion and anxiety

……….And remove your fear that God has rejected you

……………I would not take that pill even for you.

You are gay.

…..You are not wrong.

…..…..You are not sinful.

…..…..…..You are not evil or perverted.

…..…....…..You are not unworthy.

…..…..…..…..…..You are not a mistake.

…..…..…..…..…..…..You are not to be ashamed.

You are gay.

…..God loves you.

…..…..God holds you.

…..…..…..God stands with you.

…..…..…..…..God delights in you.

…..…..…..…..…..God calls you “My own.”

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..And make you straight

…..And you

…..And you

…..And you

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

Before I even clicked the link to her blog I answered that question for myself.  “Yes!  I’d take that pill in a heartbeat!” Being gay is one of the biggest struggles I’ve ever dealt with in my life and most of the time I feel like if I could chose not to be gay, I would.

Growing up in a “Christian” home as a gay boy is an incredible challenge.  It is made abundantly clear to you from the beginning that homosexuality is wrong, that homosexuality is a perversion, and that homosexuals are damned for all eternity.  There is an incredible amount of fear that is driven into Christian children about hell and sin and damnation and we learn from a very young age that we want to do everything in our power to make sure we don’t go there.  This results in tremendous amounts of guilt and shame.

For me, the shame was too much to bear and I denied who I was for most of my life.  I chose to believe that I was not gay, that there were other, perfectly legitimate reasons why I was aroused by the images of the male models in the International Male and Undergear catalogues I subscribed to when I was a teenager.  I convinced myself that one day, when I met the woman God had in store for me, I would be physically attracted to her and I would feel normal and complete.

I finally began to admit to myself that I was gay and accept who I was about four years ago and I said it out loud for the first time when I told my therapist two years ago.  By this time, I had read the bible, The King James version, from cover to cover and learned that what I had been told my entire life was cut and dried, well, it really wasn’t.  I learned that there were a lot of discrepancies between the things I had been taught to believe and what I determined for myself in those pages.  I learned that while the Bible is an important resource that there is more research to be done and so I did.

I researched on-line the question of whether homosexuality is an immorality, whether it’s a sin and what it means to be gay and a Christian.  When it all started, I went in search of something definitive that would tell me what I was already sure must be true:  That Homosexuality is, in fact, an irrefutable sin.  What I found instead, was a whole lot of the same rhetoric, the same answers and explanations about why homosexuality is wrong, with all of the same holes that I had yet to explain away.  The same holes that made me question the accuracy, the validity of what I’d been taught.  These holes left me with questions and doubts.  The explanations didn’t sit well with me.  They didn’t feel… They didn’t feel true.  I believe that we all, each of us, possess a spirit that is to some extent or other, in tune with the Holy Spirit.  I started to realize that the reason these explanations didn’t feel or seem right to me is because my spirit knew they weren’t.  My spirit was hungry for the truth.

So I dug deeper and I found several resources with more information.  I found resources that did a better job of explaining what the various Biblical references which are used against us might have really meant.  I found scholarly authors who had a deeper understanding of what the times and the languages were like, and how the Bible might have been translated incorrectly over the generations and centuries that have passed.  And I found a reminder that the God I love and serve is a loving God who wants the best for me, who wants me to be happy.  I finally came to accept that the thoughts and feelings and urges that I was stifling for so many years, close to 30 of them, were normal and natural and a part of me, who I am, the way God made me.

I didn’t take this information lightly, and I didn’t set out to find justification for me to behave in a way that was not morally right.  Honestly, I set out to prove, once and for all, that what I was taught my whole life was absolute fact and that I had to continue to suffer until God saw fit change me and make me “normal”.  I resisted the things that I read that told me that I was OK as a gay man.  I resisted the urge to rejoice at the affirmations that I found because surely, as my mother would have told me were she involved, I was “possessed of the Devil”, I was “being deceived.”  Surely it wasn’t possible that I could, in fact, be gay and be acceptable in God’s sight.  But the evidence mounted, the case was made over and over again… and my spirit?  My spirit was at peace.  I stopped hurting.  I started healing.  I told my four closest friends.

I still struggle with the internalized homophobia that I was raised in.  I still struggle with accepting myself, but now, it’s because I’m programmed this way, not because I really believe that there’s anything wrong with whom I am.  I have to believe that as time moves on, I’ll struggle less and less and be more and more content in my life.

What I really struggle with, though, is the shame.  Not shame because I think there’s something wrong, but shame because I’m so sure everyone else will.  I get anxious when I write something like this because I’m sure that someone will read this and tell me that I can’t be both gay and a Christian.  (Of course I can.)  I’m afraid someone will read this and begin to scrutinize me and my behavior in a different way now that they know I call myself a Christian.  (I’m not living my life for those people, but no one likes to be judged.)  The truth is I hold myself up to the measure my mother has set out for me and I know I fail miserably.  Most days I’m OK with that.  I know I will never measure up to her expectations and I know that most of her expectations are unreasonably high anyway, but part of my internal programming is to see her expectations as those of all Christians and I assume I’ll be judged and condemned by all of them for one reason or another once they learn that I call myself one of them.  (I don’t really call myself one of them and I suspect that will make for another lengthy blog post in the future, but the terminology is the same even if the intent is different.)

The shame that I struggle with has crippled me with regard to coming out to my family.  Not a single member of my family knows that I’m gay while I have to believe some of them may suspect.  It is with this knowledge that as I bring this post nearer to its conclusion and prepare to press that “publish” button I am shaking and feeling genuine anxiety about putting this information out there for the world to see.  You see, my Twitter account updates my Facebook status.  My brother is my only immediate family member who is on Facebook.  I post links to my new blog posts on Twitter which means they’ll show up on Facebook as well.  It is not a stretch to think that my brother will actually see this post and because I am such a coward, this is how he’s going to learn the truth.  Will he say anything to me?  I don’t know.  Will he tell other members of my family?  He might.  Am I disappointed in myself that I can’t just say it to them?  Of course I am.

So if such a pill existed that could make me straight, would I take it?  I’m afraid that is not as simple a question as I first thought it was.  I’d be inclined to take it.  I’d never have to worry about telling my family the truth.  I’d never have to worry about facing the internalized doubts and fears that persist.  I’d never have to worry about having to tell people in my daily life.  And I’d never have to worry about trying to learn how to date as a gay man, or find someone that I could happily spend the rest of my life with.  Life would certainly be easier if I were straight.

On the other hand, maybe taking that pill would be like turning my back on everything that I learned in this process; that God did not make a mistake when he made me; that I am gay because that is how God intended it; that there is nothing wrong with me just because I’m gay; and that God loves me every bit as much today as he did the day I invited him into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior and the only thing that has really changed is, now, I know the truth.

If there was a pill that I could take that would make me straight, would I take it?  I’m sad to say that it would be a tough decision to make, but in the end, No, I would not take it.


———————————————————————————————

My special thanks to Anita, author of the blog that started this, first for writing the post to begin with and second, for granting me her blessing to re-post it here for all to see.

Such A Twit

twitterI’ve recently fallen pray to a new addiction.  It’s called Twitter and it’s more fun than one person is entitled to have.

I “follow” 52 people, most of whom are famous celebrities.  I have 13 followers following me.  Many of whom, again, are famous celebrities.  I interact with these people every day.  I read their messages, I laugh at their jokes, I click on their links.  We have a good old time.  ‘Course none of them are talking directly to me, and with one notable exception, I’ve never received a reply to anything I’ve directed at anyone specific.  Yes, that’s right!  @therealnph (to use proper Twitter lingo) has tweeted at me… ‘Course the jury is still out on whether he’s really the real NPH, (That’s Neil Patrick Harris, for those not in the know) but I guess I can now say “I’m friends with ‘therealnph’.”

I’ve really enjoyed being on Twitter.  It’s open on my computer all the time, whether I’m at home or at work.  I’ve got two separate apps on my iPhone for accessing the Twitter platform.  I’m always on Twitter and it’s great fun.  However, I can’t help wonder what Twitter feels like to someone who is like I was most of my life; easily discouraged, insecure, feeling unloved and unwanted.

You see, being on Twitter tests my ability to handle rejection and judge my own self worth.  Having been clinically depressed most of my life, having based a lot of my self worth on whether or not other people wanted me around (or how I perceived whether they wanted me around), I could understand how someone who experiences these things would quickly be discouraged, possibly even hurt, by being a Twit.  It would be easy to develop a false sense of popularity, or cool…ness.  I don’t have five real friends so 52 twitter friends seems pretty impressive, ‘course most of them don’t know I’m following them. (Doesn’t that make me more like a Twitter stalker?) I’m just one of a legion.  And those that follow me, probably follow everyone who follows them.  Let’s see…

hal-sparks-autographHal Sparks is being followed by 656 people and  following 327 people.  I’m one of those 327.  OK.  I guess I’m special.

hayden-panettiereHayden Panettiere is being followed by 341 people and is following 81.  Not only am I one of them but she added me as someone she’s following within minutes of me adding her as someone I’d follow.  I guess that’s kinda special!

gavinnewsomNow, Gavin Newsom is being followed by 1351 people and is following 1262 people.  I’m one of those people, but that’s 93% of the people following him.  More importantly, Gavin Newsom is the Mayor of San Francisco and running for Governor of California.  I’m sure his following me is politically motivated…  More importantly, I’m certain Gavin Newsom himself rarely, if ever, sees his own Twitter timeline and the person/people really seeing my tweets are interns working on his campaign.  Me?  Not so special.

livestrong3I follow the LIVESTRONG foundation.  Livestrong has 5905 people following them and they’re following 6182 people.  This would imply that they’re following 100% of the people following them and then some.  Once again, me not special.

scharzenegger_narrowweb__300x3790Arnold Schwarzenegger is being followed by 16,760 people and is following 16,487 people.  I’m one of those people, but that’s 98% of his followers.  Among the masses, am I.  (Who let Yoda in here?)  Arnold is our current Governor so obviously his Twitter activity is politically motivated.

maria-shriverMaria Shriver (mostly just ’cause I can) is being followed by 6708 people and is following 5515.  Well, that’s only 82% and she started following me pretty much immediately too.  I guess that would be kinda special but she’s the Governor’s wife.  She has her own political function.  Again, pretty sure it’s an intern of some sort running her show.  Besides which, nothing has been posted in her name since I signed up.

barack-obama-for-presidentOh, and then, of course, there’s Barack Obama.  Followed by 298,345 people and following 287,407.  That’s 96%.  I’m one of them, added on the same day.  I’d feel special but I’ve never been more sure of anything than I am that The President of the United States is not running his own Twitter account.

I seem to have gotten a little lost in my point making.  Oh yes.

While I could be wrong and one or two of the people I listed up there might have found something interesting in the very slight bit of information they might find about me, I doubt it very much and can only assume that adding me as someone they follow was somehow a political/career move on their parts.  If what they thought of me mattered, or if I was counting on Twitter Popularity to make me feel good about myself that would probably hurt me.  If I had some real hope of becoming friends with famous people because I Tweet (and if you’re reading this, I do want to be your friend.  Let’s do lunch!), I’d certainly be setting myself up for a fall.  But I don’t expect that’s going to happen. I take Twitter for what it is and I do not expect anything more than what I’m getting.

Clinical Depression is not something that just goes away.  For me, it’s under control now.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life and I have, at least some, of the tools necessary to deal with it.  So while I admit that I get pangs of unwarranted negative feelings about what happens on Twitter, I am quick to remember that this is not where my value lies and not what my self worth is based on.  It’s just a fun thing to do!

Oh!  And Hal, Hayden, Mayor Newsom, LIVESTRONG dudes, Governor Schwarzenegger, Maria or President Obama (or any of your Interns), if you’re reading this, thanks for following me on Twitter and for stopping by my blog!  You’re my favorite Comedian, Actress, Mayor, Charitable Organization, Governor, State First Lady, or President (or any of their Interns) reading this at this moment!

Living A Lie

My parents separated when I was two years old and divorced when I was three.  For as long as I can remember Gigi the Home Wrecker has been in the picture.  I found out when I was about 8 years old that Gigi the Home Wrecker is the reason my parents separated.  A few years later Dead Beat Dad and Gigi the Home Wrecker married and have been together ever since.

I don’t have a tremendously strong relationship with Dead Beat Dad and we go months if not years at a time without communicating, not out of any sort of animosity, but because there’s nothing for us to talk about.  So it has come as somewhat of a surprise to me, in the past, to hear when CPA Sis informs me of things such as this.  The following comes from an e-mail that CPA Sis sent to me recently:

I can tell you from past phone conversations that his relationship with her is more a mater of coexistence, now, then true love.  But he is determined to tough it out rather then make the same mistake again.

“The same mistake” that CPA Sis speaks of is walking out on his family, divorcing his wife.  Dead Beat Dad has carried around a considerable amount of guilt, for years, over what he did to his family.  The guilt, I think, is justified.  It’s also ancient history.  It’s been 30 years.  The rest of us are over it.  Maybe he should be too.

This e-mail wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this.  It’s also ten days old, so I don’t know why it was on my mind this morning, but it was.  I thought about what it must be like to live with a person, share your home and your bed with them, and not love them.  I’m not sure how much he likes her and maybe I’m making assumptions about that part, but I know that he finds lots of fault with Gigi the Home Wrecker.  I’ve seen that for as long as I can remember.

At first I thought his dedication was admirable.  It shows a maturity that he didn’t possess when he was married to my mother.  But then I thought more about it.  I started to think about it from a different angle.  I started to think about how I could relate to what he might be going through.  And I started to pity him.

You see, I can relate to the idea of living your life with feelings locked up that you can’t let out.  I understand how it feels to have something inside you that is life altering and detrimental to the status quo.

For me, it’s the fact that I’m gay and that my family can’t handle that news.  The fact that living openly is a challenge that’s difficult for me to face and which would be life altering.  Challenge the status quo.  For him, it would be the fact that he’s not happy in his marriage.  That he doesn’t want to share his life with this woman.  The circumstances are certainly not the same.  But I can imagine a lot of the feelings and effects are.  I can imagine that for him, it’s scarier to consider telling the truth and getting out of the situation than it is to deal with the daily impact of living a lie.

I would love to be able to bring this post to a close with  some brilliant revelation or realization.  I’d love to be able to say that looking at what he’s dealing with gives me the strength I need to live unafraid.  I’d love to be able to make a declaration that from this moment on…

I can’t.  The fear is real.  The danger is real.  The compromise is real.

But for just a moment today, I understand him a little better.  How ironic that I can’t share that understanding with him and have him understand me better as well.

It’s Just Emotions Taking Me Over

big-edenLast night I watched another gay themed movie I recorded to my DVR, off the Logo Network, Big Eden.  I didn’t really know anything about it other than what I’d read in the very brief description on my DirecTV programming guide.

henry

Henry, Big Eden

sampa1

Sam, Big Eden

Big Eden is the story of Henry Hart an out artist living in New York City who is about to have a gallery opening when he receives a call from a friend in his hometown informing him that his Grandfather who raised him had suffered a stroke.  Henry abandons his opening to go back to see Sam, who he calls “Sampa”.

dean

Dean, Big Eden

Not long after arriving back in Big Eden Henry finds out that his childhood friend – and unrequited love – Dean has moved back to Big Eden after his divorce, with his two young sons so that his parents can help him raise his children.

pike

Pike, Big Eden

grace

Grace, Big Eden

Henry is introduced to Pike a Native American man who operates the local general store.  Pike is known to be very shy, but Grace, the friend who notified Henry of Sam’s stroke asks Pike to assist Sam and Henry by picking up meals from the local busy body widow and bringing them to Sam’s house for the men (apparently Henry can’t cook).

The movie has a rather predictable element to it; a love triangle between Dean, Henry and Pike and an unsurprising outcome with Henry and Pike falling in love.

There were several things about this movie that I was surprised at how I felt and reacted to them.  To start with, Henry has never told “Sampa” that he’s gay.  It’s never really explained why this is, it’s just clear that Henry is afraid.  It seems as if everyone knows the truth except for Sam, or does he?

Henry is asked at one point, “Do you really think he never figured it out?”  And that question is answered in a scene late in the film when Sam confronts Henry about what his plans are.  Henry came back to Big Eden to check on Sam after his stroke, and stayed for a year.  Sam tells Henry, he’ll be “joining” Henry’s Grandmother soon and he’ll need to know what to tell her.  After Henry attempts to avoid the conversation, Sam says to him, “You won’t tell me who you really are.  Why?  Is it shame?  Did I teach you to be ashamed?  ‘Cause if I did, I did a terrible thing.”  Henry responds by bursting into tears and laying his head in his grandfather’s lap, allowing the older man to comfort him.  After Sam dies, Henry says to Grace, “I never told him.” to which Grace replies, “Well.  He knows now.”  I was a little confused and maybe slightly annoyed that no one pointed out that clearly Sam already knew.

It is clear from the beginning that Pike is attracted to Henry and wants a relationship with him, but Pike has always been a very stoic and quiet man, easily rattled and embarrassed, unable to adequately express his thoughts and feelings.  For a time he seems almost to dislike Henry as he avoids contact.  Day after day, Sam and Henry invite Pike to join them in the meals that he brings and he declines.  Then one night, Henry is out and Sam invites Pike to stay.  Finally, Pike accepts.

After just a few days of delivering meals to the men which have been prepared by a local widow, it becomes clear that the meals are not very pleasant tasting.  Pike takes a book entitled “The Joy of Cooking” from his lending library and studies it.  The next day Pike prepares a delicious meal and delivers it to the men.  The regular invitations are extended, the usual declination given and Pike returns home where he himself eats the unenjoyable meal provided by the widow.

As the movie progresses it becomes clear that Pike has feelings for Henry which he does not know how to express.  Many of the peripheral characters begin to see what’s happening and attempt to help.  Eventually, Pike comes by with a meal for the men but Sam is asleep.  Henry invites Pike to join him and after a few attempts to escape, Pike finally agrees.  They have a very pleasant conversation and a friendship grows.  Naturally, as must happen in such a story, Henry does not see what’s happening.  Henry is learning more and seeing more of Pike but does not understand Pike’s feelings.

Midway through the movie, Sam has a medical episode and has to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.  Henry spends the night at the hospital with Sam, awake all night.  In the morning, Dean comes and takes Henry home.  It’s been clear that there is a relationship developing between the two but it’s slow and awkward.  Until this moment, you’re not really sure what is going on with Dean.  After returning to Sam’s house from the hospital, Dean offers to cook some eggs for Henry and while he is cooking there is a moment of vulnerability and tenderness when Henry places a hand and then his head on Dean’s shoulder and places his other arm around Dean.

dh-kissDean pushes the pan aside and turns toward Henry.  The two embrace and there is a brief kiss before Dean turns his face away and they hug.

“I can’t,” Dean says.

“I know,” is Henry’s reply.

“I want to.  I just can’t,” Dean repeats.

“I know,” Henry says again.

There are a few things about this movie that affected me.  The first is the relationship between Henry and his “Sampa”.  It is so clear to the viewer and to everyone else in Big Eden that Sam knows Henry is gay.  There’s even a scene when Henry is away at a town picnic so Pike stays and shares dinner with Sam.  After they eat, the two men go out by the lake outside Sam’s house to watch the fireworks.  They’re still outside when they hear Dean’s truck pull up to drop Henry off.  Pike and Sam observe what might be construed as a tender moment between Henry and Dean but but is in actuality more a push-me-pull-me exchange about the nature of their relationship.  Sam looks at Pike and says, “I’m sorry, son.”  He knows that Pike has feelings for Henry but they both assume there’s something there between Henry and Dean.

I struggle on an almost daily basis with the idea of what it would be like to tell my family that I’m gay.  The situations are different.  Henry was just afraid with no real explanation as to the reason why.  I come from an extremely conservative fundamentalist Christian family which believes that homosexuality is a sin and to be gay is to be damned.  I do not share in their sentiments and do not have any guilt about my orientation, but being able to tell them the truth and to explain my beliefs to them is a far more difficult proposition with very unpredictable outcomes.  I watched this movie, and particularly the exchange between Sam and Henry about seeing “Grandma” and I thought, “Just tell him!  It’s clear he already knows and it’s obvious he will accept you!  What have you got to be afraid of?  Do you know what a precious gift this is?!?

I imagined what it would be like to be in a position of knowing that what I have to tell would be graciously and lovingly received without any judgment or condemnation, to know that I could be open and completely truthful about myself and my life with the people who are supposed to matter the most.  Unfortunately, I live with the knowledge that very much the opposite is true.

The real irony is that I suspect that most if not all of my family knows, or at least suspects that I am gay, so it would not come as a surprise to them, yet I’m certain they’re also hoping that I’ll never accept it, that I’ll never act on these feelings.  I’m sure they think that as long as I never act on the feelings and I never say “I’m gay” to anyone (including myself – too late), then it won’t really be true and I won’t be damned.

The second thing about this movie that affected me was the general existence of the character, Pike.  I could relate to him, in a lot of ways.  In the real world, I also tend to be very shy and socially awkward.  I don’t really know how to talk to people I don’t know very well.  I’m very awkward with my feelings and don’t really know how to communicate them effectively or productively.

The third thing about this movie that affected me, which actually relates to the second, is the scene I described between Dean and Henry.  When it’s finally clear to everyone that there is an attraction and feelings between the two, when they finally kiss, and then Dean backs away, saying, “I can’t,” a part of me screamed, “Why not!?!  What are you so afraid of?  Do you know how lucky you are to be loved?  Why be so afraid of your feelings?

And then I began to think about myself.  I began to think how I can’t relate to him after all.  I can’t think of a time when I have felt a powerful attraction to a person.  I can’t think of a time when I was just so overcome by passion that I wanted to rip our clothes off and make love, right then and there.  I can’t think of a time when I was so distraught, or was with someone else who was so distraught and in need of comfort, that the most logical course of action seemed to be sex.  I can’t think of a time when physicality was —

Well… I can’t think of a time when physicality was not a terrifying prospect.  I can imagine that, assuming I somehow found myself in a situation like Dean did, that I’d react very much the same way he did, assuming we even got as far as a kiss.  I can imagine I’d be just as afraid to act on my feelings.  And it makes me angry.  Why should I be so afraid to act on my feelings.

But the thing is, I’m inclined to say I don’t have feelings.  I’ve only been “in love” once and it turned out not to be real.  It fell apart at the first sign of trouble.  And I haven’t dated much in the 15 years since.  I’ve thought a bit lately about the relationships in my life and how I’d feel if they ended.  With the exception of my friend Eve, I don’t really imagine being terribly upset about the end of a relationship and I already know that relationship is going to end so I have time to prepare myself… I hope.

I’ve thought about what my reaction would be if one of my parents died.  I don’t think I’d have much of one.  I don’t think I’d be terribly upset.  I think I’d be relieved in a lot of ways.  I’ve thought how I’d feel if one of my siblings died.  I don’t expect I’d feel much differently.  I’d be a little more upset if CPA Sis died because she’s the only one I’m really all that close to.  But if Ex Con Older Brother died, I wouldn’t even feel like I’d lost anything.

What I’ve determined is that I don’t feel strongly enough about anyone, or anything, to have a strong reaction.  “I don’t feel anything” I thought.  “But wait.  I can be very emotional and passionate when I feel like I’m being mistreated or abused… So I’m only capable of experiencing negative emotions strongly?  That sucks.  And it doesn’t help my case any.  I’d like to date.  I’d like to fall in love and share my life with someone.  How do I do that if I don’t feel positive emotions?

You know, I was beginning to wonder how I was going to bring this post back around and this is it:

I don’t feel positive emotions.  I don’t feel attraction or affection and certainly not love.  So if I somehow found myself in a situation where I was so affected by and attracted to a person (male or female) as Dean was in this movie…  I’d have to be all over it.  I hope that I would not let that moment pass by.

Who Needs You, Baby

im-ignoring-you

Scared Kitty

A few months back, we had a little health scare with Scared Kitty.  He turned out to be ok, but the doctor recommended that I switch him from dry food to canned food.  An idea which Scared Kitty was only too happy to go along with.

The first week or so, I used regular spoons out of my silver wear drawer to scoop out and chop up the food I was feeding him, but I decided that I needed to get some spoons specifically for this purpose so I wouldn’t be using up my human spoons supply on the cat food endeavor, so I  bought a six pack of toddler spoons at Target just for this purpose.

Today I was at Target again and I stopped in the baby section to look for more spoons, not sure if I really needed to buy more of them (I did not), and for a moment, while looking at all the baby supplies, bottles, sippy cups, bibs, utencils, etc., the thought crossed my mine, “Awww…  maybe I want a baby.”

Ten minutes later, I was in the video section and walked down what I liked to call the, “Kill Me Now” aisle.  You know the one.  It’s the aisle where on one side are all the Disney movies ever made, each for sale for $19.99 a piece, never to go on sale because they know that you’ll make the mistake of taking your child down that aisle and the child will see, “Disney’s Princesses on Crystal Meth” and your own little princess (who may or may not someday be on Crystal Meth) will grab the DVD case and beg you, “Daddy, Daddy, can I have the Crystal Meth Movie?  Can I Daddy?  Can I, please, Please?  PPPPLLLLLEEEEAAAASSSSSEEEEEUH?” and they know that the only way to get your precious little future crack head to shut up is if you agree to buy the movie, no matter what the cost.

And on the other side of the aisle is all the educational type videos.  Little Einstein, and Elmo and (God forbid) Barney.  The “Kill me now” aisle, otherwise known as the “Birth Control Aisle”, not because you buy Condoms and spermicidal jellies there, but because one trip down this aisle reminds you that you never want to procreate, ever, EVER in your life.

Yes, I looked at the babby aisle and thought, “Awww….  maybe I want a baby.”  And then I walked down the “Kill Me Now” aisle, took one look at a Hannah Montanna video cover and said, “Nope!  No!  I don’t!  No baby for me, thank you!”