Saturday, December 17, 2011

The First Time...

The first time I felt different from other kids happened in kindergarten. Mrs. Bue, the kindergarten teacher, and Miss Kroeger, the 1st grade teacher, pulled me aside before recess. They sat me down at a table, placed a piece of lined paper and a pencil in front of me, opened a tan and white SLA book in front of me, then asked me to read each line, then write what I read. “I am Tam the Ram,” then “Tam the Ram I Am,” then I read and wrote the next two lines on the page. When I finished reading and writing, I gave them the paper when they looked at each other with horror. Mrs. Bue thanked me, and then told me I could put on my jacket and go out for recess. The next day, I was told I would spend the first part of kindergarten with the first graders’ reading class. I was a grade ahead in reading class until 5th grade.

The first time I knew I was gay happened when I watched an episode of Soap. I kept wondering why Jodie Dallas was the gay one?…why couldn’t it be his brother, Danny? He’s way cuter…

The first time I had a crush on a male celebrity it was Robert Urich. When his character on Soap, Peter Campbell, was shot, he was wearing swim trunks in the shower. He leaned against the shower stall then slid down all the while water showered on him. “WOW!” and “DAMN!” went through my head. Months later, when he starred in Vegas, there was a scene where he stripped down to cotton boxers and dove into a hot tub. For those 60 seconds, the world stopped and I creamed my jeans.

The first time I fantasized about gay sex it was Starsky and Hutch. Since I didn’t really know what happened in gay sex, it involved a lot of kissing, groping and nudity.

The first time I had gym class in the sixth grade was strange. I had the Robert Urich moment over the summer, so I had something to hide. Between changing into gym clothes and taking showers, I was self-conscious of my body and how it looked. And I couldn’t look at any other guy in class. The separate boy/girl thing was weird, not to mention what we were really learning. Was it sports? Or male camaraderie? OR becoming socially acceptable men?

The first time I was sexually aroused by someone I went to school with happened my freshman year in high school. He was a senior who lifted weights…serious weights. His upper arms were built like someone’s thighs. I kept looking at his arms wondering what he’d look like in a sleeveless shirt.

The first time I didn’t conform to my classmates in high school was my junior year. I didn’t go to prom. When everyone was excited over who was going and with whom, everyone avoided asking me if I was going. I didn’t ask anyone, still feeling like the ugly fat fag I was branded since sixth grade. I stayed home. I went downstairs to the pool room, played pool, watched SNL and Solid Gold with a few bottles of beer my sister left in the fridge. I was more hurt and upset at the time, but I realized the non-conformity and the rebellion years later. I chose not to be some place where I didn’t feel welcome. I chose not to be around people who didn’t make me feel I was a part of the group. That made me feel I had the freedom to define myself and to find what that definition is.
The first time I was sexually aroused by a friend happened the summer between my junior and senior year. I saw Brian naked, noticed his large cock and wished I hadn’t. I was turned on; buy the reaction ended up as weirded out. Since I was in complete denial of whom and what I was, nothing made sense. I started distancing myself from him, and he started telling all our mutual friends how I bugged him. By the end of the school year, most of our mutual friends sided with me. Brian ended up not graduating, because he spent a lot of time drinking and partying.

The first time I said, “I’m gay” was my second year at UW-RF. A friend of mine (at the time) talked with me in his room about Tim, the lighting designer from summer theatre the previous summer, sent him this letter about how he was in love with him. That letter lead to a talk about being gay and I said it during that conversation. Unfortunately, this ‘friend’ was a needy, self-absorbed mind fuck who said or did anything to anyone to get what he wanted at any given point and time. I did eventually join the fledgling LGBT group on campus, who easily replaced the mind fuck I first came out to.

The first time I made real friends they were from that UW-RF LGBT group. We’re still all connected, at least through me on Facebook. It’s hard to believe its 26 years since then and we’ve all been through a lot. I never had real friends until this group, and I still feel lucky we’ve been there for each other.

The first time I fell for a guy, I swear I got a concussion. Grant started at the Gazette a week after I did. For the next year and a half, it was casual passing in the hallway or on the loading dock when he had a smoke. We then met for lunch one Sunday and had a nice time, although I felt like I gave off a bad impression. Apparently, I didn’t, because six weeks later, Grant invited me to his place. We talked about assorted goofy stuff and he kissed me. Maybe that kiss was the concussion? He confessed I was the first guy he was ever with. I told him I’m not the kind of guy who normally does this sort of thing. And our clandestine relationship started. It didn’t last. His need for a heterosexual appearance outweighed his heart’s desire and it was over. I really believe he struggled with it all, but his blaming me for leading him into the temptation of evil wasn’t my doing.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Food blog 2 - Corn tortillas

Does anyone else keep stuff in their fridge or freezer thinking, "I'll think of something to use this in."?
I do. This time, it was 2 dozen corn tortillas in the freezer.
Why did I save them? I probably got them on sale.
For the past few months, they'd be staring at me, wondering what to do with them.
So, this idea popped into my head. 1 batch homemade refried beans, the 1 cup leftover hot salsa, 2 8-ounce packages reduced fat Mexican cheese and a recipe taco meat using Boca crumbles.
One layer of 6 tortillas, half refried beans, half salsa, one layer of 6 tortillas, half taco Boca, one package cheese, one layer of 6 tortillas, rest refried beans, rest salsa, last layer of 6 tortillas, rest taco Boca, other package of cheese.
I baked this in a 9x13 pan at 400 for 25-30 minutes.

Now, what to call it...Mexican lasagna? Tortilla pie? Can't decide.

the so called friends...

I used to hate the person who’d yell the ‘F’ words at me. (you know…fairy, fem, faggot…)

I’d make damn sure they saw me look at them. Who knows what they thought? All they really cared about was that I was singled out as somehow different from them and those ‘F’ words covered all the bases. He/She is not me, and I didn’t belong. That’s all that mattered.

As time went on in middle/high school, I learned to hate the friends who stood around the person who yelled the ‘F’ word. Their condescending stares of disgust…learing at my every reaction to their friend’s call out, then the turn and huddle as they dissect my every move.

These people…excuse me, those condescending eyes passing judgment without jury…were more dishonest, more terrifying, more inflicting. The person who shouts it out, to a certain degree, is honest about their feelings. But the circle of ‘friends’ around him/her…they’re the ones to look out for.

7th Grade English Class...

7th Grade English class – the class was at the end of the day.

Every year, there was a spelling bee. Every year, we all competed. The line was down to 3 students, including me. The teacher, looked at his sheet of words, got an evil smile on his face, looked at me, and said, “Masculine”.

The entire class erupted with laughter, including the teacher. I stood there, glaring at everyone individually. Some tried to cover their face, some looked away, some kept looking right at me – including the teacher.

I said, “What’s so funny?” No one stopped laughing. The teacher looked back at me and I asked, “What’s so funny?!” Some laughter died down, but the teacher just said, “Just spell the word.” I did. It was correct. We moved on.

The next day, we had another contest. He did it again. No one laughed that day. I spelled the word correctly again, but added, “Your little joke wasn’t funny today, huh?”

At High School Graduation...

I looked around at all my classmates on the night of my high school graduation. During one of the speeches, that seemed to go on longer than it really needed to be, I realized something.

I don’t have to see any of these people ever again.

Suddenly, a wave of happiness came over me, with this realization. I never have to walk in the war zone that was middle/high school ever again.

I don’t have to be stared at with their homophobic gaze. I don’t have to be whispered about. I don’t have to objectified and speculated about.

I’m free to be…

I’m Not Sorry…

I’m not sorry you didn’t want to be around me – in public.

You were ashamed of being seen with me.

You didn’t want anyone to see us together.

What were you afraid of?

What people would think?

You didn’t want to be called fairy, faggot, fem to your face?

That was okay for me, but not for you?

How were you different?

Did your other friends make fun of you?

Hanging out with the fairy?...are you one too?

Was that what you were afraid of?

People think what they’re going to think.

People feel what they’re going to feel.

You. Can’t. Change. That.

Oh, so that’s why you bragged about your girlfriend the way you did.

You wanted everyone to think, “You’re a man.”

You’re somebody. You’re just like everyone else.

You’re not me. I bug you…or so you said.

I’m not sorry. It’s not my problem. It was yours.

Have the balls to claim it as yours.

Don’t pin your insecurity on me as if I represent all that you’re not (supposedly).

I’m only sorry for one thing. We WERE friends. Friendship is a gift. I take it away.

Hate yourself for all I care.

I may appear smiling...

I may appear smiling, with no clue to the world. But don’t let that fool you.
Because you don’t know what’s going on in my mind.
Straight people are all “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

My life doesn’t revolve around spouses, soccer practice or other kid drama, but it’s still important.
I do more than work…really.
You can ask me about, I’d really like it if you do.
I’d like to talk about all the things you can’t do because your heterosexual lifestyle doesn’t permit itself to let you do.

After all, you all subject me to yourself to your heterosexual bullshit…how about some of mine?

I have to proceed with caution when the laws of attraction come into play.
As I wonder, “Is he really attracted to me?” I also have to add, “Or is he lost in his straight guy world?”
I mean, does he have a clue what he’s doing? Is he flirting with me, or just playing with my mind?
If I ask, will he feel threatened? Will I be hit?
If he asks, is he joking? Will he humiliate me in front of people?

And what if a straight woman is attracted to me and I say no. I’m gay, sorry not interested.
Will she persist, convinced all I need is a good fuck from the right woman to cure me of my problem?
Will she treat me like every gay hairdresser, gay interior decorator, or gay friend a straight woman has on every television program she’s ever seen…like a lap dog?
Will she politely go away or assume I want to be the Will to her Grace?

And what if I have an actual life, and am asked about it…will they realize I’m just as human as they are?
With real feelings, emotions, thoughts and desires…just like them? Would their world shatter if they realized…I’m just like them?
Could they still hold their right-wing, conservative, homophobic values if they realized…I’m just like them?

Or would they spontaneously combust on their own ignorance and hate, like time bombs?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In addition to...

My previous writings, I'll be including blogs about food, cooking, and those moments of culinary creativity.

For example, this one...

My mom used to have these huge red raspberry bushes in her garden. These bushes grew LOTS of berries. Mom always had enough berries for a pie or two, plus berries to freeze for future pies.
One year, Mom had so many berries, my Uncle Tom said he'd take some. A few weeks later, he returns with these bottles of red liquid. He said he made raspberry vinegar, then gave them to us. We didn't know what to do with it, since our family wasn't so culinary at the time. So the bottles were in the cupboard waiting to be used.
When I lived off campus at UW-RF, I was offered to take the raspberry vinegar bottles. One time, I was making some homemade barbecue sauce, but ran out of I ended up using the raspberry vinegar. It was sweeter than I was used to, but good. After that, I did get more courageous with the raspberry vinegar.

The last gift Uncle Tom gave me was a large blue bottle of his raspberry vinegar. I never realized it until after his death that he passed his culinary creativity onto me with that bottle.

When he passed away, all I wanted was four recipes from him. One of them was the raspberry vinegar recipe. My cousin, Meighan, sent me the recipe. I have made raspberry vinegar plus adapted the recipe to make cranberry-orange vinegar, pomegranate vinegar, blood orange vinegar, strawberry vinegar and blueberry vinegar. Black raspberry vinegar is still eluding me, but all this creativity is in my uncle's name.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gay bars and vegetarian restaurants...

I'm slowly becoming convinced that there are a lot of similarities between gay bars and vegetarian restaurants. Both businesses specialize in catering to a specific group within a society where those who a part of that smaller community can feel they are not alone. And both seem like they are becoming nostalgia in our current society. Let's face it. With vegetarian restaurants, there still is that connotation of out-of-date hippie/Grateful Dead fans who preach out of date 60's rhetoric while serving you pan seared tofu and wheat grass drinks. Truth is, vegetarianism has branched into many different forms, and who knows if anyone uses labels like "ovo-lacto" before vegetarian anymore. Gay bars seem to become eerily similar. There's still that connotation of the barely lit whole in the wall place where guys and girls (and all combinations in between) come to meet, drink and possibly hook up. But the truth is, being gay has also branched into many different forms. There are many different variations of gay and lesbian now than there was 20-30 years ago. And our community has included the notion of a fluid identity, which further introduces complexity within the identity.

But where each of these places offers someplace reclusive for the members of its identity, there are also members of the mainstream who filter in with curiosity of the alternative. How many times have we seen/experienced straight people going into gay bars for that "need to walk on the wildside" or devoted carnivores going into a vegetarian restaurant to "be healthy for dinner"? As alienating as that can be, I strangely like the idea of the mainstream experiencing that peak into a subgroup, if for no other reason, for the mainstream to experience what it's like to not quite fit in. As a gay man and a vegetarian, I've had plenty of experiences where I don't fit in as either in our society. And that situation reversal has been and continues to be refreshing.

I fantasize about opening a gay vegetarian restaurant/coffee house. Picture it. A very classy yet earthy place where the food is all sensual and fantastic. The kitchen staff would be more fluent in soy products that any other restaurant that has a token pasta primavera as their token vegetarian item. And quiche! There would always be one on the daily menu! All those wanna be chefs who pride themselves to be Alice Waters devotees would get a chance to show their stuff - buying and cooking with local produce! But mostly, there would be an overwhelming feeling of GLBT and vegetarian acceptance. Oh yeah, almost music. Gotta have an acoustic guitar or a jazz piano in the corner.

That's all I can think of for now.


Temples of our Familiar

Am I the only one who has a favorite place where we are transported back to a place and time where you felt a connection to? Or a place where you had an incredible experience that compels you to return to it...almost like a pilgrimage? Or someplace special where your memories foster and your muses revel in inspiration?

If you are like me, who have these temples of our familiar, copy and paste this passage, then start a list below, then share this list with others.

1. Bylery's grocery store.

When I was going to college at UW-RF, my friends and I would go on what we called Target runs. Because there was no department store in River Falls, Hudson, or any accompanying town, we would drive to Woodbury, MN, to the Target store and stock up on household stuff, like shampoo, cleaning supplies, toilet paper at the Target Store just off White Bear Ave. For lunch, we would go to the restaurant at Bylery's grocery store. Since I was from a small town, the idea of a grocery store with its own restaurant was incredible. And I'd never seen an upscale grocery store before. There was a chandelier over the frozen foods section. I never saw sushi until I was in the grocery store. Lee Ann Chin's. An unbelievable deli. Their own Wild Rice Soup! Fresh lobster in the tank at the seafood bar. I could go on an on, because I only heard about their sampler days, where some friends of mine have gone there for lunch and left stuffed! But I remember the coffee the most. The coffee they served in their restaurant is available in the store. And it was incredible.

The grocery store is still there. The restaurant is still there. The coffee is still available. The chandelier is gone, though. Mind you, there are more grocery stores with upscale features that are very similar. I can go to Whole Foods in Madison and it mostly satisfies. But when I'm visiting friends up north...I find an excuse to go to Bylery's and stock up on decaf Restauant Blend coffee.


Another temple of my familiar

October 5-7, 2007. My 10 year class reunion @ Beloit College.

I never understood the whole reunion thing. Let's face it. I vowed on my high school graduation I'd never go to any of those reunions. After all, why go back to someplace you wished you never wanted to be in the first place, let alone someplace where you never felt like you belonged? There's no interest revisiting who I was in high school.

Which makes going back to Beloit College interesting. I went there as a part-time student for 2 years and as a full time student for 2 years until graduation finally happened. When I was there, I just wanted to get a degree. What I did was prove a lot of things to myself. I discovered my self worth, who I am, how I feel about life and my ability to change whatever happens in it. My college career was a new lease on life, and I went for it. The end result...a BA in Theatre/Communications (Radio/TV emphasis) and a self designed minor in Gay and Lesbian Studies. You saw that right...and I've been told from one of the members of the Alumni office that I'm the first to graduate with that minor. Talk about my own personal claim to LGBT history!

At the reunion, I visited some of the old buildings I had classes in, not to mention the library, the commons area and places I was with friends and colleagues. It was like I never left. For the first time in ten years, I felt that "new lease on life" feeling again. Walking around on the was as if I never left. Meeting the other alums was a trip...who'd think that talking with other folks who experienced life on this same campus would come back in that swirling mood of reflection and rejuvenation all over again?

When I drove home Sunday morning from the alumni breakfast in the commons area, that's when I got it. We go back to reunions wanting to visit a temple of our familiar. We know we can never physically go back to a place and time where we experienced a special connection (for lack of a better word) in our life, but we can go back to it in our current place and time knowing the connection lives inside us, ready to awaken when we step on that physical place.


Happy Samhain!

I've been studying Paganism for the past couple months. Mostly because I'm coming to terms with the fact that I've probably been a Pagan but not fully realized it until recently.

I've always liked this time of year. Halloween turning to Thanksgiving turning to Christmas. This whole part of the year never really felt like the year about to close more than a new year ready to start. It sounds weird to say out loud and to write, but it's true. Especially when the sun light hours are decreasing and there's more dusk and night. To me, there seems more life energy turning inward now that makes everything seem...magickal? Or maybe all those years of school and college made fall seem like the start of the year, huh?

I never really believed all the devil business. Growing up, it always seemed like a way adults made children mind them. Or at least in my house. Halloween should be a celebration of the first harvest. Thanksgiving should be a celebration of the final harvest. The Celtic festival of Samhain should be a time to remember family and friends who have passed away before you. If I were to actively celebrate it, I'd like to have honored my grandma and my uncle. My grandma was a farmer's wife and my uncle really loved gardening - especially vegetables. Every summer, he'd plant around 200 tomato plants and he'd can all of them into sauce or whole tomatoes. There wasn't a time where us kids weren't somewhere pulling weeds out of the gardens.

Before I stray too much, there is a point (believe it or not). I've always been aware of Earth as a vital living evergy that gives back what it takes in. The seasons, the all has a powerful connection. When I think of past Halloweens, Thanksgivings, and Christmases, I'm all too aware of how that connection is still intact and how much we carry on those traditions. In my studying of Pagan traditions and how many or all became Christianized, that connection remains...magickal.

With that in mind, I wish everyone a Happy Samhain. Honor the spirit of someone who is no longer with you in this life. Carry on a tradition or two.

Blessed be.


to those whove ever wondered...

It was Spring of '86. The show at the time was Working, The Musical. I became friends with a guy who no longer is a friend by any stretch of the imagination. He opened up to me he was gay, and I eventually did, albeit quietly, come out. The theatre department had already decided I was, which explains the speculation and avoidance, but my coming out happened then.

At the same time, there was a LGBT group forming on campus. It was extremely brave at the time, but Tom did it. That group became the folks I still consider friends, for better or worse. I could be myself with them, say what I wanted to say, be what I wanted to be...although I was still very cautious and worried about what people thought of me. But they all let me get over it eventually.

I was fortunate to be a part of the LGBT community at Beloit College when I returned to college. I was so amazed by the students who were so confident then, knowing who they were without shame or fear. I wish I had a drop of that when I came out at UW-RF.

I was a little disappointed by coming out. Everyone talked about it like a parade with streamers and confetti would happen when I announced it. Instead, there was a peace that took over my personage that I never felt since I was in grade school.

That's how I've continued to live my life. It is what is, so mote it be.

Happy Coming Out Day!

By the way, I still feel that I'd be the only one who'd end up singing the hook like to Notorious B.I.G's Mo Money, Mo Problems while everyone at the gay bar is singing Diana Ross' I'm Coming Out.



This is my New Year's Resolution for start a blog. Every once in a while, I need to share what's on my mind. This will be sporatic, but hopefully something you and I can share. I'll look forward to hearing what you have to say, but play nice. Sarcasm will not be tolerated.