Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mega Family Champions

I am in the Corporate / furnished housing business and recently attended our annual conference for the largest organization that represents us in our industry. This year I served on the membership and the conference committee and found it to be a lot of work. I had conference calls and responsibilities for both committees and a "job" to do when I got to Vegas. This was my fourth annual meeting and up to this point I found it informative and a "nice break" from work but that was about it. This year, through my involvement, I learned the inner workings of the organization and how things are done. I learned the core principles of the organization and found the conferences value quadrupled for me. The price of the conference was SO worth it when I realized that I knew what was going on and even had a hand in it.

I know this "idea" was stolen from someone so I'm not taking the credit but....
The value of something should not be determined by what you get out of it until you think about what you are putting in to it.

I learned this lesson this year. I know now that if I really want to get something out of an organization or event that I need to put something back into it. Thats why I volunteered to serve on the board of Mega Family and recently added myself to the list of Mega Family Champions. My 2 cents in time and money may not mean much by itself, but combine that with everyone else and we both gain from it. I've never believed that as much in my life as I do now. I hope that the readers of this blog will feel the same. Get out there and contribute whether it be your money or your time. JUST DO IT :).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Give your children some credit....they are smart!

A few years back at the end of my first relationship after my marriage ended, my daughter and I sat down to watch TV one night. Before starting the show we were going to watch I turned to her and asked her if she knew something about me that we had never discussed. I'm from a small town, people talk and I had just finished a 3 year relationship with someone who had a son who was 5-8 years old while we were together and he didn't want to come out during that time. My daughter just looked at me. I DO know that I'm gay don't you? She said..DUH lived with a partner for 3 years! I said to her "but we slept in separate rooms when you were there". Her comment was simply "And you thought you were fooling somebody?" lol. At the time she was 12. I was just sitting there stunned. I figured being from a small town she would have heard people talk, but I really thought I had kept something quiet from her all that time. Kids really are perceptive. They see right through us when we have problems or are in trouble. They usually know that we are down or hiding something. I'm not saying that we need to share with them all of our struggles or drama. I do think that we need to be honest with them when they ask questions and at least give them the minimum information we can at that moment so they see that we are sharing with them. How else can we expect them to be honest with us and share with us when they need to. My daughter turns 16 this July and I'm proud to say that she has asked to march in the Pride parade with me this year. Yes, sometimes kids are a lot smarter than we think. Sometimes they can teach us a lesson.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

From a Smart Fifth-Grader....

The other day, on the ride home from work/school, my ten-year old daughter randomly asked, "Mama, what do you think God thinks about the world today?" Wondering what she was about to say, I responded, "Hmm, I don't know. What ideas do you have?"

Morghan said, "Well, people litter and leave their trash everywhere. People kill each other, there's wars, etc."

"Wow, those are some problems right now," I acknowledged.

"And just think what he must have been thinking back when we had slavery! He must have really been disappointed," she wondered.

I validated her sentiments once again. As we drove on, I had a few ideas and I felt quite good about the thoughts running through my mind.

First of all, I was proud that homosexuality was NOT on her list of problems God would be upset about. Most of all, though, I was proud that the things she does feel are a problem are obvious injustices, which cause harm to others (i.e., pollution, violence, exploitation, etc.). As parents, I know we want to protect our kids from the ills of the world, but since they nevertheless exist, I'm glad my daughter recognizes them and knows these are the real problems (well, in my opinion, at least).

Sunday, March 09, 2008


This is my first posting here so I thought that I would introduce myself and why I'm here. I'm a new board member with Mega Family in Atlanta. I'm the Facilitator for the Gay Fathers of Atlanta. I guess I'm the "odd one out" in this arena as a divorced gay father of two wonderful young adults. What we have in common is that we want our lives and the lives of our children to get better every day. I'm very much an advocate for GLBT individuals and families rights. If you had asked me 6 years ago I would have said you'd lost your mind. Five years and a few months ago all that changed. I came out with a "bang" in a very small town, divorced, and left a place I had lived for 37 years and was very much a part of that town and everything that town represented. I thought my life would never be the same again and in many ways I was right. I was one of the lucky ones! I have 99% of the friends I did then and hopefully 100% if not more of the respect of those that I had when I was married. I talked openly about where I was, where I had been and where I hoped I was going (though at that time I had no idea where I WAS going). I kept my main focus on my children and myself trying to make sure we all made it through this process with as few scars as possilble. I never forgot that I was divorcing someone who for 17 years had trusted me to be a loving and faithful husband. Two years later when our facilitator had some family issues to deal with I took over as the Facilitator for the Gay Fathers of Atlanta. Looking back I realize how important it was for me when I first came out to see that men who were in various stages of their divorce, coming out, moving on experience, were dealing with everything and how they kept going in spite of what can be some really huge obstacles. What I know today is that without them I would be a different person. Without those role models (mostly I would not have been able to become who I have and am becoming. I know that I owe a debt of gratitude to those who went through this before me and were willing to share their stories of ups and downs so that I could possibly know what to expect and to see examples of how to handle certain situations. Today, my goal is simple. I want to be an example of a good, respectful, gay citizen and father. Please, we all have things about us we don't want to share with the world, but sometimes its those very things that help someone else through their own issues. I look forward to sharing my feelings and thoughts on gay fatherhood and other issues as I navigate my way through the coming days. I also welcome any questions or thoughts from readers that might have experienced or be experiencing similar situations. My son is 20 and my daughter is 15 and are the main reasons I exist. My daughter says my role in life is to keep her At least I have a purpose. Until next time....

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why so much hate as a result of love?

You hear talks about hate crimes, and you hear stories of where a homosexual is attacked by a complete stranger, simply for being gay. On a less severe, yet more common level, you hear and experience stories of discrimination from others. What hurts most, I'd say, is when the hate comes from someone who was supposed to love you no matter what: a parent.

Okay, so my partner is in Korea, and I have this unbelievable opportunity to go visit her. One of my colleagues is married to someone who generously hooked me up with a buddy pass...making the flight affordable. My kids have also reached the ages where they can spend a week with someone else. So, I started thinking about ideas for where they could go. After all, I wanted them to have a good time wherever they are. I would feel guilty if I went off to Korea, having the time of my life and then found out the kids were not having a good time on their spring break. So...I knew their father was not an option. He has never opted to have them for more than his alternating weekends. And besides, he works that week. Then, I thought about all the times the kids have asked to spend more time with my mother. When I told them I had the chance to go see Kristin in Korea, they were incredibly supportive and asked me to see if Grandma would have them over.

First, let me explain that my mother and I aren't close at all. Our relationship has been strained since my teen years, when she started a new life that really had no room for me. Don't get me wrong, I tried. But, she doesn't like that I'm gay. Prior to that, she didn't like that I was divorced. Prior to that, she didn't like the man I had been married to. Prior to that, she didn't like that I was not a practicing Catholic, the way she thought I ought to worship. Prior to that, she didn't like my job as a client relations representative at a sperm bank, because she said it was against God's will. And prior to that...I was just a bad teenager who disappointed her. Prior to that, she claimed she was subjected to vicious gossip, because she was 15 and pregnant with me, and that I should be grateful that she gave me life, rather than aborted me. I feel very fortunate that my Nana (her mother, who is still alive, yet "gone" as a result of dementia) actually raised me and loves me no matter what.

Anyway, that was the "nutshell version." But, in the past few years, I thought about extending myself somewhat to my mother. People always tell me it's better to try and have a relationship, rather than carry animosity. I've long gotten over the fact that we'd never be the mother-daughter pair you see hanging out, telling each other intimate stories, etc. But, I had hoped we could just "agree to disagree" about issues...that she could be happy that I found happiness, and I could accept that she has her beliefs and that it's okay we don't see eye-to-eye. I had also hoped we'd have some sort of interaction outside of bumping into each other at the family Christmas dinner. Most of all, I'd hoped she could have a relationship with the kids...they hear all their friends speak fondly of times with their grandparents...and they wish they could have the same thing.

So...I thought this might be a chance. The kids requested that I ask her before anyone else about them spending their spring break with her. They wanted to go, because on the rare occasions we are in her home (usually an extended family gathering), they have such a great time with their aunts and uncles, who aren't much older than them. Plus, she works from home, home-schooling her kids, and helping manage my step-father's business. I was nervous about asking, but I figured the worst she could say is "no." I definitely trust her to look out for the kids, and I knew they'd be happy. Boy, "the worst" was a lot worse than I expected.

My mother not only said "no," which is okay, because it's her prerogative to have visitors or not, but she fired back with a negative preaching. She treated me as if I didn't understand the difference between love and platonic friendship. Among other things, she explained how she was closer to some of her female friends than she was her husband, but that her friends could never serve the role of her spouse. She also told me God didn't intend it this way, and reminded me that I "chose" to enter into an unhappy marriage years ago. She wouldn't refer to my partner by name, only stating "I hope you friend makes it home safely."

In the email exchange, I tried to be very tactful, but I did respond by stating I accepted her position on the matter. However, I asked her to consider that I'm nearly 33 years old, that I'm very self-aware and have no confusion between platonic close friendships and romance, and that even though she didn't approve, my relationship with Kristin is very real. I also mentioned "feeling gay" before attempting marriage, but that I didn't always have the confidence to come out with it. My mother then responded to it with two more emails, stating she will only accept that I chose to be a lesbian. She also took the opportunity to vaguely refer to the past, stating I made choices that strained our relationship. In addition, she referred to my failed marriage as a reason to support her belief that my current partnership could not be taken seriously (though I was 20 years old and way too young when I got married). that, I told her how I felt, and that I could have done without the assault-by-email, and reminded her I was only trying to reach out (because I have trustworthy friends who are having the friends over that week), and left the door open. I stated I was okay with our differences, but that I couldn't be disrespected. I said if she ever decided she could have a relationship with ME, to let me know. To that, I got no response, and I'm at peace with the fact that we may never have much of a relationship.

I think about my mother, and I think about the random people (i.e., picketers at Pride who waste perfectly good weekends expressing messages of hate), and then I think about extreme hate crimes. Of all the issues people debate, why is there so much drama about gays? This is one issue where, people could honestly agree to disagree and not be impacted. Who do we hurt by being gay? Which non-gays are inconvenienced by gays? Again, this is not to say others should feel obligated to change whatever beliefs or opinions about homosexuality...but how are others honestly hurt by us, and why is there such a strong of a need to either suppress us, harm us, or merely dissociate themselves from us?

Personally, I've been very fortunate. I haven't lost straight friends after coming out of the closet. Most everybody I've worked with or otherwise associated with professionally seems to accept me. At this point, nobody has harmed me because of it. Really and truly, the person most hateful toward me has been my very own mother...who really just needed a reason to be against me. But, these stories others tell me of being the victim of hate...I'll never understand the purpose of it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Loving ever ounce of their bodies and souls

Ever have a day when you realize the love you have in your heart for your child is bigger than every ounce of their body? It is scary to love a little being so much, but it is the best thing ever at the same time.