Wednesday, October 30, 2013

One Year Ago...

Sitting in the dark  at the Club Quarters Hotel, Wall Street, which had neither power, or running water, watching trash cans fly by like tumbleweeds.    Work in Learning and Development kids!  It's a real adventure! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Remembering a Different Life...

The following is a updated repost of  one of the first blog entries I ever wrote, back in  October, 2006.   

I was bouncing around the web a couple of weeks back and stumbled on It is a site than helps you locate addresses of people. So out of curiosity I typed in the name of my best friend from High School. Sure enough a result for his name came up. Not sure if it was the right person rather than call, I sent a note with my business card attached saying, if this was who I thought it was, to please write back.

A couple of weeks went by... and I forgot about it. I honestly didn't expect to hear anything back. Then the other day I got an email and it was indeed from him. It is an interesting experience in a way. I really have not heard from him since I attended his wedding. At the time I really envied him. He was marrying a wonderful gal and starting to build a life. They now have a five year old son with a daughter on the way due in December. He said it was amazing to hear from me couldn't wait to hear all about what I have been doing over the past few years.

I will confess, I have mixed feelings about that.

For the most part, I have not kept in touch with anyone from my High School days. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed High School, had great friends and good memories. Yet it really was a whole different life. Like many LGBT kids in the mid to late 80's I was closeted and terrified of coming out. On some level every day had some undercurrent of fear of my "secret" being discovered. The ultimate put-down was to say something was "gay" or to be called a "fag". You saw the kids who were even slightly effeminate or "different" getting tormented on a daily basis.

So you kept your mouth shut and your eyes closed. When you watched those 80's brat-pack movies, while your friends oggled Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, you didnt admit to anyone, not even to yourself that you thought Rob Lowe and Emilo Estavez were really hot.

Add to that, the media was full of stories of this new "gay disease" called AIDS, and the Reagan and first Bush Administrations were not interested in getting any information about it out to the public. So like a lot of gay kids I didn't know what to think. Could I get AIDS by coming out? By even holding hands or kissing a guy? Was it really God's way of getting rid of homosexuals? The fear you felt was this huge cloud that hung over you every day. You really did wonder if you were destined to be miserable and alone for your entire life.

And of course at time I thought I was the ONLY gay kid on earth. Now I know that there were in fact more than a few. Even at my own school. But at the time, the sense of isolation was overwhelming. But then, time moved on. I left and in many ways never looked back.

I moved to Europe, studied there, came back to WI and went to college, after graduation worked, traveled back to Europe, then even moved to Asia. Eventually, I came back to the US and settled in Chicago, and then I came out.

Like many people, for me coming out was a frightening and painful process of self-discovery and acceptance. I think back on the fear I felt in those days and it seems like I am watching a movie of someone else's life. A life that I would not ever want to revisit. Yet in truth it was MY issue, not my friends. They had no way of knowing what I felt. The whole traditional High School experience of the first date, first dance , first kiss, first umm... "whatever", while a given for everyone else, was just not possible for a lesbian or Gay kid in South Central Wisconsin in the 1980's. Or at least not for me.

Many Gays and Lesbians who should be my age never lived to see today. The statistics on suicide for LGBT youth in the 1980's and 90's will give you nightmares. I am so amazingly fortunate to have the family that I do. My parents are the two most incredible, supportive and amazing people in the whole world. Coming out to them while scary as hell, was truly the end of an old life and the beginning of a new much brighter and happier one.

( Just in case I haven't told you - Thanks Mom & Dad.)

I marvel at many of today's LGBT kids with "Gay Straight Alliances" and alternative proms. When I read about kids taking their same sex partner to a high school dance, I can only smile and be amazed at how, at least in some places how far we have come. Though certainly for thousands of LGBT youth in America the reality has not changed from the one I knew .

Over the years I didn't stay in touch with people back from "back home". One wedding, an occasional Christmas Card was pretty much the limit of my contact , and even that soon stopped. Someone recently asked me why I didn't keep in touch with people from those days, and honestly I didn't really have a good answer. Hence my card to my friend.

I know what you are wondering. Will I tell my old friend (s) that I am gay? Will I open up my life now to those people from my life "then"? Does it even matter?

Honestly? I don't know. I'll keep you posted...
FLASH FORWARD  Seven years...  October 11, 2013

It is worth noting,  the friend I wrote about  in  2006 , like so many other  amazing friends from my life  have shown me  in words and deeds  what I have always suspected,  my friends are in general, a lot wiser than I am.   As  I mark today's  National Coming Out Day there are straight allies in my life who  I still cannot thank enough,  

From the friend who answered that  letter in 2006,  and reminded me  why were friends in the first place, and  still today  reminds me to laugh at life  more than  30 years on.   To other amazing  friends  who challenged my own  stereotypes of how I thought they would react to my coming out,  and instead ended up teaching me invaluable lessons about  acceptance and true friendship.   And as always, my incredible family who just by being themselves  encouraged me to be myself.

And yes,  to those who,  for reasons political,  social,  and religious  felt they could not  continue our friendship,  I thank you as well.  Not because  I don't miss you,  for believe, me,  I  do miss you , every day. Yet  I owe you my thanks for  showing me that the choice to live authentically does not come without cost, and therefore must not, ever be taken for granted.  

Lastly,  to my amazing husband  Eric.   Who without even trying,  provides me with  living proof every day  that taking those steps to come out of the closet were by far, the best ones I have ever made.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Travels and Shutdown thoughts...

Well , I made it back to London yesterday  after  two weeks in the U.S.   I spent a week in New York City,  then managed to get back to San Francisco and see family and friends  for a couple days, before heading down to  Los Angeles  for  a week of meetings there.  It was nice  to get back to the U.S but it was a long two weeks, and I am glad to be home.

It is always  interesting to get back to the States these days.   Even more so  the past two weeks, because of  the current  political standoff  between President Obama along with Congressional Democrats, and the  House Republicans along with  the Junior Teapublican Senator from Texas,  Ted Cruz.

For my friends on this side of the Atlantic  who  are wondering what all the drama is about,  it boils down to this:   The  United States Government is required to have a budget by a certain date each year.   The Congress and the President rarely, if ever manage to agree on one in time to make that deadline.  So  the Congress has to pass a series of  "continuing resolutions".  These are mini-funding bills that  allow the Government to keep operating  while a budget is  worked out.     The use of CR's  to keep the Government up and running is not new,  but the frequency of the need to pass them is what has sharply increased over the last  decade.

In the past a Government Shutdown resulted when the President and the Congress  couldn't reach agreement on either an overall budget or a continuing resolution to keep the Federal Government up and running.    The last time  this happened was in 1995 when President Clinton and the Republican controlled Congress, led by  then-Speaker Newt Gingrich  failed to reach agreement on a budget or passing a CR to keep the Government running.

So what  brought us to this point  this time around?   Well that is where  things get interesting.   The issue at the center of  contention in 2013  was not  proposed spending  but rather a Republican obsession  with an existing law.    The  Affordable Care Act,  aka - "ObamaCare".     The far right wing of the  Republican Party (the "Tea Party" wing), led by  Senator Ted Cruz of Texas,  is obsessed  with destroying  what is seen as President Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, and have shown they will stop at nothing, even shutting down the entire Federal Government  to undo it.

This obsession with repealing  the ACA is not because these Conservatives  have philosophical differences on Heath Reform,  but simply because  the  far right wing of the GOP cannot accept  that  they lost  the last two  Presidential Elections.

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What we are seeing play out in the United States this week,  is the political and legislative equivalent of a temper tantrum thrown by a childish cabal of sore losers.

The sad fact is, this is a tantrum that is not even driven by political ideology, but rather by a nonsensical hatred of this President.  The core tenants of the  Affordable Care Act are in fact,  Republican ideas.  Ideas that were enacted by their recent Presidential  nominee Mitt Romney,  when he was Governor of Massachusetts.    The obsession by the Tea Party Republicans with  repealing  the ACA is not Political,  it is not even Philosophical,  it is Pathological.  It is  driven by a deep seeded  hatred of  President Obama that has no basis in facts or reality.

What we are witnessing  is nothing short of the death knell of the  Republican Party, as it  self destructs from within, and tries desperately to drag  the rest of America down with it.