Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Well Of Compassion...A Letter To My Husband

Dear Readers,

Todays post is actually a letter to my husband who, when we were having a conversation about helping people and getting hurt for it, asked me to put my words into blog form because he felt he hears me better when I write then when I speak. That said, even though the nature of to days post will be very personal, that doesn't mean that it is...well...private. All of us, as human beings, are challenged to open our hearts at times and finding the balance between taking risks with our hearts or choosing to protect them instead. That said...even though this blog may be personal, it is also a very human experience and I invite your opinions on the matter. So without further ado...

Dear Jay,

Recently we had spoken about your feelings about opening up to people to help them only to be hurt in some way in return. I know that several things had contributed to the weight on your heart...On this day it happened to be the ongoing conversation over Jodie Foster and the question you asked the internet about when do we, as individual members of the gay community, have a responsibility to stand up for our own rights...whether we are celebrities or just everyday people. seems like there were a LOT of people who don't feel celebrities had any responsibility to use their voice or their power to help others...or even just themselves. As someone who has risked much to be out at vocally stand up to coworkers who cheered the day after prop 8 passed...who has spent so much time and energy making YouTube videos and spent countless hours talking to people who just needed a shoulder to lean on until they could find their own courage to come out....this felt like a slap on the face. I know you felt like, if no one else felt any responsibility to stand up for gay rights or to help others...then why the hell should you? After all, it's not your job to save the world. But then...if we each feel that way, who will? It seemed like there was a larger proportion of people for whom it was someone else's job to stand up...just not theirs.

Even today, I know you are still getting angry hatemail. But I also know that this was just the tip of the iceberg  We had also opened our home, our lives and our hearts to those who needed it only to have those things used and disrespected as if they were just expected and of no value. You had put your heart out to someone you trusted only to have that trust shattered completely as they were not what they seemed. That is a lot for anyone to bear...even when they have hearts as big as yours.

As you read comments from people that you liked and respected referring to you as "a bully" I could see the hurt in your eyes and it broke my heart too. I think that everyone expects you to be strong all the time. "There's good old Deputy Foxworthy, he got shoulders big enough to carry the world."...."He's got the courage to say what other people often fear to." But anyone seeing the pain in your eyes on that day would have known different. With so much pain and defeat in your voice you asked me,"why am I doing any of this if no one cares?"

I knew that much of this had stemmed from a beginning  A friend you had completely opened up to only to discover that everything you knew about them was untrue. This hurt hasn't healed and left you questioning everyone who reaches out to you for help and wondering if they are for real...or just another internet con looking to yank someones chain. I know...because that person hurt me too...and because I have been there before, heart on the line, crying my eyes out on video...only to find out the whole thing had been a lie. I hated myself for letting my heart show and I felt like a dummy. But I think for you it was harder, not only because you were closer and had gone to such lengths to help this person...but also because you are someone who has really good instincts about people and those instincts have served you well over the years. But this time, no alarm bells went off to save you and so you rushed in heart first and ended up getting hurt. That hurt alone would be enough to anyone to be scared to risk again...but questioning the instincts that you have learned to protect yourself with over the years makes it hurt that much more.

As someone who loves you and knows you...I could see all that pain piled up and pouring out through your eyes. And as you asked me why you should keep helping others who don't seem to care and only take advantage of you...I could see all these things underneath. Under the words you spoke was also the question of, "how do I open my heart and not get hurt?"

The funny thing is I had just come back from getting my 40 year old physical and being seen by a doctor who had herself just been out sick with the flue. As I sat there, going over my laundry list of health questions I had about you, the kids, and doc seemed like she was doing her best to take it all in and be as  compassionate as possible. I began to wonder if she ever got tired of being compassionate. I mean, here she was back to work after being sicker than a dog and having to see guys like me come in and out the door all day...people who were probably on a schedule, tired of waiting in that tiny room, and who all had a ton of worries for her to solve. Did she ever just get tired of it? Do we become just another job to her? Where did her compassion have it's limits? We have all been to doctors for whom this is the case...their demeanors are as cold as the stethoscope on your bare skin. If compassion had ever lived in them it had been beaten out a long time ago under the weight of so much human need. Everything about them says, "Take two aspirin and don't call me in the morning." Fortunately my Doc was not one of those and I went home that day completely physically healthy only to find you on emotional life support. And through it all were two questions that screamed to be answered:....With the risk of pain, rejection, and burnout..does love and compassion have limits beyond which we need to step back and take care of ourselves? And...when you have opened up your heart to others and been do you keep loving and not close down?

I think people who take care of others...who truly care about others...have to find a way to answer this question for themselves.  It seems like the work is never done and there will always be another person in the next waiting room that needs to be patched up...physically and emotionally...and no one else to do it. In the face of need, they act. It's not just a job to be done, but something that comes out of the heart. And so they reach into their hearts and give that person the very best of whats inside it an ear for a person who just needs to feel not so alone, or advice to heal the hurts that life dishes out. To give that compassion, which is a type of love, your heart has to be open...and there's that pesky risk again.

On the one hand, I do not believe that love or compassion themselves have limits....but we fallible human beings do. We can have the broadest shoulders in the world but our strength is not inexhaustable. Even Doctors have to take a sick day and recharge their physical and emotional batteries from time to time so they can again face that endless line of people looking for their compassion as well as their expertise. And while I know this is not the same as what you are feeling, I'm only trying to say that no ones compassion is endless and that sometimes you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Sometimes you need someone to take care of you too.

I remember the video I made for Danny Cacciamani. Someone sent me an email over YouTube about his brother Danny, who was supposed to have died of cancer. He wrote me a heartbreaking letter about Danny's and his last moments together that broke my heart into a million little pieces. Me being the softy that I am went on YouTube and read the letter choking up with my own tears. was pointed out to us later by a viewer that there was a high probability that this story was completely...and utterly....fake. I can not describe to you how stupid I felt. I felt like someone had seen my coming and was having a great laugh at my expense. I had put my heart out there in sadness for this young man and his brother only to learn that the only tragedy to be had was that people exist in this world who will take advantage of you in this way. I felt so exposed...not only as a soppy emotional mess...but a fool to boot. I learned fast to take the stories that people tell you on the internet with a grain of salt and to crosscheck everything. But it hurt and I was so embarrassed I didn't want to trust anyone else for a very long time.

After a lot of self reflection I had to ask myself just what I had done wrong. I blamed myself for having taken someone at face value and opening my heart to their story...false though it was. Even though I learned to check these stories out a little more carefully all I had really done was let my heart out to care for someone else and what was wrong with that?.....nothing. I had been betrayed by their dishonesty but so what? What had I lost?...nothing. All I had done was love and that was nothing to be ashamed of. And so...little by little...I got over feeling stupid, embarrassed  and completely defenseless to those who would take advantage of my compassion. Because, I reasoned, I had not done anything wrong...and if I stopped trusting because one person lied, what happens to the others who aren't. Even though I felt hurt, I was actually ok, and it was time to open the doors and let people in again. That's how I handled broken trust...and maybe you will find a similar way...but I think you need to find the answer that works best for you. Not everyone does find the courage to let the doors of their heart open again. But I think you are stronger than that.

I guess thats the difference between love/compassion and our ability as human beings to express it. Love keeps being what it is and doing what it does best....loving. It acknowledges no hurt or loss..and forgives with time. I think it's because this is the nature of love that we heal at all because we human beings are not so limitless. When someone tears us up on the internet over an opinion and be called the names you were called, to want to throw it all away and never look back. I know I sometimes feel that way too.

the problem is, that's not who you are and you know it. There is a reason why you became a Deputy, a reason why you always wanted to be a dad, and a reason why you felt compelled to speak up through YouTube. Not because you are an activist at heart or because you can't keep you opinions to yourself(regardless of how I tease you). It's because you have a kind and loving heart that can't sit back. Because you love strong...just as you have loved me and the kids all these years. It is because of what I know to be in your heart that, even though you are feeling unappreciated and hurt by people you trusted, I believe you will grow past it. But you have to give yourself some compassion too and don't judge yourself for  needing it. My only wish is that people could see that the people that take care of them...the ones that seem the strongest...sometimes need a shoulder to cry on too. That not everyone can be strong all the matter how big their heart is. As angry as you may feel or as taken advantage of by some and lied to by others...since that day I saw you looking so defeated...I have continued to see you be there for others who needed a shoulder to cry on for awhile. Even though you are asking me why you should keep on giving, already your heart is doing what it does best....and that's a part of why we love you.

So, while love and compassion themselves may be limitless, we are not. We need the time to take care ourselves, to set good boundries, to remember that we have families that love us...and to remember why we do what we do.Pulling up the drawbridge to our hearts and hiding behind it's high walls may protect us from being hurt...but it also leaves us alone, and that is something you will never be.

I love you handsome,

And so I open it up to my reading audience. When is enough, enough for you? I had to piece together into a whole narrative, thoughts that before existed separately and never been put together. As a result, I think I rambled a little and repeated myself, and got a little preachy. I'm I said, this was really personal and I wrote it this way because I was asked to put my thoughts on paper(so to speak). That said, when you are feeling like what you give to the world is taken for granted...or you have been hurt by someone you trusted, how have you found the ability to open up again and continue to let the best parts of yourself shine through?....have you? Now it's up to you....

Until next time dear readers.....


  1. I think it is about which perspective you look at. There will always be some who will have negative things to say, especially on Internet. No one has only fans. Some people take pleasure in blamelessly criticizing and dissing people in this virtual space since they are not constrained by having to face you or getting their personalities judged by others directly.

    That being said, there will always be other groups of people who genuinely care about you and appreciate what you do. Of course, bad stuff will affect you much more and stay in your head longer because as we human beings do not like bad and want to find a way to get rid of them. Once you realize that there are people out there who love what you are doing, you would want to continue your work solely for them.

    It is a sad reality that not everyone is respectful of each other and I think it comes down to a matter of filtering out those negative comments for the sole purpose of hurting you as opposed to trying to care about you. Some comments should be ignored if they do not contain any respect as a human being to another.

  2. The well of compassion which Jay constantly dips into in order to help GLBT youth and others needs to be replenished. And that is where I feel compelled by your letter to lend Jay some of my compassion and tell him how highly I value his contribution to the community and to me as a gay person. It's a paradox that the more compassion you are able to give others when they are hurting does not necessarily mean that you yourself are immune to hurt. Jay is such a natural giver that it may be hard for him to occasionally have to depend on others and be a "grateful recipient". But I hope he can quiet his heart long enough for him listen to the many, many voices who are saying "thanks, Jay" and let their chorus drown out those who choose celebrity rather than serenity as their polestar in life.

  3. First, to answer Jay's question, I think it is a celebrity's responsibility to fight against discrimination and for equality because they are role models and that's something that needs to be taught to the younger generations. Especially when it comes to LGBT youth, they look for people to mentor them and help guide them and what better than the ones in the media. these kids take their lives and think they're alone, but these celebrities have the opportunity to change that. Why sit back and let this happen when you know you can make a change. and that goes for anyone. Yes. we all have our processes of coming out, bit thats why we need to come out and fight against this so that we can have more people coming out, experiencing this freedom, and joining in the fight. the best place to take part in this fight is in the public eye. People like Anderson Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, Wanda Sykes, and that blonde lady from glee(can't remember her name, but I think her name was sue in glee) need to stand out and fight and Jodie foster is no exception. Staying quiet and letting this discrimination pass and other people fight our battles will only lengthen these fights and our journey towards COMPLETE equality, and all the people can do is blame themselves.

    To answer Bryan's question in my own experience, I don't ever deny someone compassion or a shoulder to cry on. No matter how many times I have bee. hurt or been denied that shoulder, I would never deny that to someone else. I know well enough how that feels, to have no one to talk to about something, feeling like your only going to bug others with your thoughts or feeling drowned in your own thoughts; I know what It's like and I wouldn't put that on anyone. Plus, the next person did nothing to deserve that denial. They shouldn't be given the cold shoulder just because of someone else's lies; they had nothing to do with it! I find it hard to stay mad or upset with someone or anything because what's happened has happened and there's nothing I can do to change the fact that it did. But I can change what will happen after that. If someone had broke my trust and hurt me, I move on. We may remain friends, we may not. But they have definetly lost my trust. But I remember not to punish everyone for that one person's mess up.

    I hope Jaybird is ok :) I know it hurts now, but there will be a light at the end of this tunnel of darkness and cloud of sadness. Your love will not go unnoticed or unappreciated. For all those that may take advantage of you and hurt you, think of all the lives you've helped, saved, brung light to, and brought love into. Don't sweat the other stuff bud ;) just keep you're head up, a smile on your face, and a smile in your heart. Love is always an answer. And it will always lead you through another door of love and adventure. I hope I helped a little, or at least put a smile on your face Jaybird :) You're surrounded by love :) And I hope I answered your guys' questions, if I didn't, blame my 16 year old reading comprehension :P

    Take it easy and Be breezy!

  4. Bryan, thanks for sharing this personal thoughts of yours with us.

    I think Jay is very opinionated (I came to that conclusion after watching your videos, correct me if I'm wrong :p) and I think that's perfectly ok. Freedom of speech anyone? Does it mean that we have to agree on all his views? No. Does it mean that he has to agree to ours? No. I just hope that Jay does not take all these negative comments too much to heart because I don't think these people have personal vendetta against him.

    I don't want to comment on Jodie Foster's coming out as that would be inappropriate at the moment. But Jay, remember, you don't have to save the world all at once, that's too much of a task to ask yourself. You can only do so much, let the others help with the struggle. Remember all the people you've helped throughout the years, that what makes you continue on the fight.

    No one would expect to wear their hearts on their sleeve and get a good pat on the back every single day. The negativity is just part of the package. So please continue on for as long as you can. Whatever you decide to do, I know a lot of us here support you and APPRECIATE all your efforts. And there may be some of us who don't show our support as openly as others might have for whatever reasons, but we always cheer you on and draw strength from you. Thank you Jay.

    Fabs - forever grateful of Leffews family

    1. Bryan, I don't know how Jay's friend has hurt him, or somehow deceived him and I'm not sure what happened to you on that sad letter you read in 2009-- I looked back through things and didn't see an explanation. I do know that no matter what transpired, your good acts, love and caring are not erased and that you empowered others to follow your path. I also know about the many people whose lives both of you have touched and the many young LGBT people whose lives you've impacted positively, by virtue of your sharing the good news which heartens all of us. The rewards of your humanity and the work that you and Jay do for LGBT Community must come from that and the inner sense of having done the right thing you both carry with you. It seems that the backlash Jay has received for his strong opinion has really affected him. I can only believe that in time he'll be able to see the string of accomplishments and accolades that most of our comments comment on and reflect. I agree with the previous 4 comments on your blog. Just keep embracing the positive feedback. There are so many of us that wish we could be you. Thanks, as always.

  5. The irony of compassion is that betrayal is sometimes given in return. Being able to keep this compassion takes courage that no man can break. But the beauty of compassion is that the rewards far outweigh the consequences. Take pride in your compassion because it's a trait that few truly possess, and even fewer understand. Compassion is hard to teach, and is usually only learned through experience. I believe it's a gift you share, it's a power to heal, and sometimes yes, even a burden. But know that you are needed, not because of others expectations, but because they never expected it. Take care.

  6. I'm getting really tired of people saying because Jodie Foster holds the status of "celebrity" and is gay, she owes the gay community. What a load of horse****. She owes no one anything. She owes herself and her child. That's it. There's no contract you sign when you're 3 yrs old that says if you go into the entertainment industry and make it, and happen to end up being gay, you must share your sexuality with the world.

    Hide it. Show it. It's not anybody's business. We have no right to make people disclose thier sexuality. Celebrity or not. Phew! What's wrong with you people?

    I said previously that I found Jay annoying and I did. But I have nothing but respect for him. I applaud the efforts and sacrifice your family has made. I also think that if you can survive the downfalls there is much reward. I think everyone has felt foolish or been hurt. Personally, to the point that I'm somewhat numb to it now.

    It happens. It's life. Pick yourself up and get back on the horse. It's all you can do. Nobody is perfect, and why should they be?

    I love the letter. I thank you for sharing it. It was very kind of you to write it. My husband and I support each other in much the same way. It's nice to hear there are great examples of couples who deeply love each other, like we do.

    I hope by now, Jay is doing better. Jay, I wish you the best. You're response to my critism was really positive and both my husband I thought after reading it, "Oh my god, such a positive response!" I had to say, "I think I really like Jay now". So ya'know, There. You made me like you. Now I'll say I think I misunderstood you and I took you the wrong way. My mistake. Now I'll defend the hell out of you. (Except on the Jodie Foster thing. Sorry, I'm not bending.)

    1. Didn't let me put my name. Don Duncan/averagecuppajoe

      I moved to England after Prop 8 passed. We had a wedding on a yacht, sailing under the Golden Gate, planned. My husband is British so I moved to the UK after 5 years of him commuting. However, my children from an ex-wife, live thru the school year with their mother.

      So I get sacrifice. My husband or my children? The solution is that I constantly travel. They're being raised by their mother whom I don't care for. But it is what it is. There is no win-win without the laws changing. You do what you have to do.

      I'd love to meet up with you guys someday. Tell Jay in person that I like him now. Tell you guys how amazing you are. Let my kids chat with yours. Maybe someday. This is the first year in my life (2013) that I won't be in Northern California. So don't worry, I won't be showing up on your doorstep anytime soon.

  7. I'm sorry Jay felt that way, but my opinion on whether or not people should come out to support the cause actually comes from a place of compassion. It's kind of strange, actually. Two people can have totally opposing views about a subject, yet both of them have their hearts in the right place.

    In any case, I have nothing but respect for you guys. I believe you to be very compassionate, and I look up to both of you. I hope that Jay feels better. *huggles

  8. Don't let those lifeless people bother you, there are people who loves u truly just because of your honesty and love that you give people like me who take you guys like role models and not for granted. And i DO KNOW how you feel when you said that people who are the strongest and big heart are the people who needs other people support and loves back. *big hugs*

  9. “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people”.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    (“Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963).

  10. Jay and Bryan,

    Don't let the turkeys get you down. You are well loved and this site is helping so many people.

    Keep up all the good work.

  11. I just love Jay's determination..his desire to make this world a better place for all of us and for your children. He is giving Daniel and Selena a childhood that he never had and reaching out to LGBT people who are lost and lonely. So many people just sit back and do nothing in silence. We should all be thankful that there are Jays AND Bryans in this world. You ARE making it a better place whether you realize it or not...

  12. To jay and you all, many hugs from this corner of the interwebs. Because they say more than any words I know.
    I can do some pretty awesome stuff in certain terms but I know no spell or magic shileleigh than can force a person to not hurt others. I do know that being genuine oneself in compassion for others can never bring shame to that person. I read recently a line about no man having ever accomplished anything without being willing to be a fool( I will post the direct quote soon). Its a ubiquitous truth that we far too often overlook for appearance.
    I say, regularly cluddle with your kids and cuddle with your husband and walk barefoot in your garden it will ground you and keep you sane.

  13. I have problems of my own, am not well and write from a hospital , and using my own computer on hospital wifi for the very first time, but no longer can resist commenting.

    That original hurt Bryan spoke of. Good for you for keeping vague on details and the identity of the original perpetrator. I am a direct witness of that original hurt and dece ption because I happened to call Jay and Bryan’s house either during or immediately following the week they first discovered that original deception. I heard how badly hurt Jay was back then. I spoke to both of them in the same phone conversation. Jay seemed very unlike himself, could bear only to speak to me for a minute or two and I found his quietness then quite frightening, and understand why.

    I have always understood Jay as being highly focused but, when I heard how the kindless and generosity of this beautiful soul had been so badlly abused back then, as soon as I recognized the earlier incident vaguely described, I became completely unglued and had tears I had trouble controlling. My heart just breaks for him. My tears for him are not only for what I know of what originally happened but how it apparently still hurts him terribly. You who also are gay, seek Jay’s help and abuse the kindness and generosity of this beautiful soul had better not ever do it in my presence.

    I have been very busy and admit I haven’t yet read the Bryan letter carefully and in full yet and, in part, it’s from being overwhelmed and remembering the imagery of the prior incident and it’s been hard to focus on the rest of it just yet but I’ll try.

    1. I read the rest just now and find the whole thing just devastating. I cried all the way through it. I had no idea the Dan story was probably fake. You know how Jay feels because you've experienced something similar. Jay is so very lucky to have a husband like you because your gentleness is exactly what he needs now.

      No, I have never experienced anything like this

    2. In my main comment above, I meant that this was my very first and only phone conversation with Jay and Bryan. They know of me, have read my comments before, many which tend to be funny, have seen some pictures of me, but have never met me in person.

      Talking to them for the first time by phone is why I found Jay's phone behavior at the time quite frightening because he was so hurt even way back when.

    3. I was badly shaken in the hospital reading Bryan’s letter and it caused lots of tears, and that’s living hundreds or thousands of miles away never having met them in person. Now imagine that your own husband ever wrote you a love letter this profound, if you don’t find it an utterly shattering experience and if DOESN’T make you cry a hot tub, there’s REALLY something wrong with you! If I were married and my husband ever did this for me, that’s how it would affect me.

    4. Thank you Dave for the kind words...I do have some scars that I am trying to recover from and it may take me a couple years to do so...It just seems every time we do something nice for someone it comes back and bites us in the ass. I cna give 6 or 7 examples of people using us in a way that I could never do to another. I guess its part of the journey we are on and we need to learn how to balance out personal lives with that of our activism.


  14. dave its good to see you responding. know, my friend, that you are not alone. i wish i could fly there now(damn that broom of mine, it has lost its spell again) and be what you need...for now, at least, i can only act in other ways. you are blessed.

  15. First and foremost - what a beautiful letter. About Jodie Foster, I don't think that she, as a (gay) celebrity, has any responsibility to become a LGBTQ-activist. However, I do believe that everyone who can come out should come out. Everyone who doesn't risk being physically hurt or being thrown out of their home should come out. Not for anyone else, but themself.

    I have been in the same position, everyone thinking that I can take exactly everything that is being thrown at me. It is absolutely horrible that we, as human beings, have to literally break down into tears for others to understand that what they're doing is not okay. Like I said, we're humans, not robots. It should be self-explanatory that we have feelings. But some people just don't get it.

    Bottomline, don't feel bad for pouring your heart out in that video, reading that letter. Don't feel bad for helping other people, even if they turned out to be someone else than you expected. In the end you did what was right, and it really was the right thing to do. That is all that matters.

    Sure, when you are a nice person, people are (sadly) going to take advantage of you. But I've learned that it doesn't matter. Because it's better to do the right thing and get burned, than to change your whole personality just because some ignorant people decided to take advantage of you.

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  17. 6 to 7 examples? That's just heartbreaking. I know it's years before I got to know you. But reading this really hurts. That people would do that. Seeing how you both are as a person.

    Although maybe we shouldn't be surprised, if you look at the crap in comments. But that's different isn't it. That's not that close. This is.

    What you, Bryan, clearly figured out, is that it doesn't reflect on you. Only on that person who did it. But that's to easy to achieve without the pain. Time and energy, thoughts and tears went in to someone's lies. Your time, your energy, your thoughts, your tears. It's almost like being emotionally raped. So no, there is no fault, no blame for you, but it is hurtful.

    I know you can handle it together. But I'm really sorry that people did that.

    And Jay, some people will just not see how much love is within you. Most people are trained (not their fault) to only listen and not to observe. Only hear in black and white, not the wide spectrum of gray. Only remember or react to what bothers them, instead what makes them feel good. But some people do see what you are about.

    A big hug to you both, and an extra big hug to you Jay.

    Edwin Maarleveld