Monday, October 13, 2014

Essay Post...Why Be Moral?

Hello dear readers...

Following up on the topic of the last post about identity, this week we were asked to discuss why we live life the way we essence, why be moral? Is morality something that is subjective to each person, or is there an objective morality that holds true for all? We were asked to talk about our own sense of morals and specifically, why we think they are important(or not important).

For inspiration, we were asked to read several works. One of which was Plato's "The Ring of Gyges", in which an everyday man finds a ring that can turn him invisible. The purpose of the work was to show that even good people can be tempted to do bad things when they think no one is watching. It further went on to give a lengthy philosophical discourse on how to know the difference between a just man and an unjust one by their reactions to being accused of injustice.

To me, all of this seemed like mental gymnastics for their own sake. Will people do shady things if they think no one is watching?....probably. But to focus on that fact and stop there seems to miss a big point. All of us make awful mistakes at some point in life, you simply can not be a human being and escape that fact.  Life is full of making mistakes, yet it's what we learn from them that matters. Also, it seemed to me that there was a danger in focusing on the philosophical and ignoring the fact that morals are simply choices we make in the small moments of every day.

This post was a much harder one for me to write than the last because who sits around thinking about why they hold the morals they do? We all have them in one form or other, but how often do we need to reflect on them really?

But before I start rewriting the essay here, perhaps I should just let you read it for yourself...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Essay Post...Who Am I?

Hello dear, the title does not mean we are playing a guessing game so you can stop panicking now.

I have not been around very much and I have to apologize for that. As many of you may already know, I have returned to college to polish my writing skills and to finish the degree I abandoned cold turkey in my twenties. Funny thing...turns out college is a lot of hard work! Who knew right? All kidding aside, even though I have not been writing here, I have been doing a ton of writing for class...some of which my husband thinks is suitable for mass consumption here. So, to make sure I stay out of the dog house with both you and my you go...

My professor has been giving us writing assignments meant to draw out our worldview. He is beginning with topics personal to us and is working outward to topics in which we may have less of a personal stake in, but in which we will have to form an opinion and craft an argument. This first essay was us, describing who we were in 800-1200 words(Doesn't this guy know I can't say anything in less than 10,000?!!). How do you boil down who you believe you are into such a small space?...Read on to find out...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guest Post...Cats By Selena

Today we have the honor of hosting a post by a major up and coming 9 year old daughter Selena...who unceremoniously announced this morning(while I was cleaning the bathroom) that she was writing a blog. I asked her if it was ok if I share it with all of you and she said long as I give equal credit to Domino, her cat as co-author. Done and without further ado..

By Selena Leffew and Domino the Cat
The word "cat" means than a pet. It means friend, because cats are fun. They sleep with you and they are not loud. Most cats don't do that, but mine does. If you want your cat to like you, act like a a friend.

Short but sweet and sage advice...Until next time dear readers...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Adoption, Compassion, and The Pitfalls of "Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs"

As many of the readers to this blog are also subscribers to our YouTube may already know that we are a same-sex family that built our family via adoption...and that adoption was done through a third party agency working with the state to match couples like my husband and me, with children that need a forever family. It is the best thing we have ever done in our lives and it is because of this that this weeks blog post hits all my angry buttons. Some people just seem to want to ensure that kids remain unadopted forever.

What do I mean?...

recent legislation written and introduced by Senator Mike Enzi(R) of Wyoming and Congressman Mike Kelly(R) of Pennsylvania have introduced a bill titled "The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014". This rather tongue-in-cheek title should rather be called the "child welfare exclusion act" because what it does is ensure that third party agencies that provide child welfare services can no longer be forced to provide those services in the instance that doing so would cause them to violate their "sincerely held religious beliefs". You know, like believing gay people are an abomination?...yeah, those kind.

To get an idea of what is happening here, take the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Ruling, Throw in all the compassion that the GOP has shown to children in the recent border crisis, put it in a cocktail shaker with a dose of complete ignorance...shake it up and Viola! have a chilled concoction of such toxic stupidity I wouldn't even give it to my dog.

In another example of religious zeal leading to shooting themselves square in the face, they have done it again...only this time, they are trying to drag families like mine down with them. And it's time to set the record straight.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Balance of Power

    No this will not be a post about politics  or any  current world events that would make any sane thinking person to the conclusion that the world has lost it's collective mind. No...the loss of sanity I would like to talk about today is much closer to home. Finding the balance of power within your that married, dating, domestically partnered, or any combination there of.....dividing up responsibilities such as who stays home, who pays the bills, who cleans what, who gets the kids to school can be more than a little crazy making....and a constant source of relationship negotiation.

Being both Gay and a stay at home dad, I think a lot of people may get a skewed idea that gay couples struggle both more and less than others do in this area. There are those who are still so hidebound in their notion of gender roles that anyone who stays home gets labeled as "the mom", with the working parent as "the dad"...and then, on the other end of the spectrum are the people who's only exposure to gay couples is on TV. To them we are all independently wealthy enough to afford nannies, have immaculate homes, and dress our whole family like an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog, all the while maintaining our perfect gym bodies. Yeah, tummy begs to differ.

Nope, we struggle the same as the next couple does with all the same issues as any other couple and being two men or two women does not alter the dynamics of coupledom much. Which is probably why one of the fights I am most likely to have with my husband is about "who" did "what" all day(or did not get done)....and what we think we are entitled to as a result. This can spark the flames of argument like nothing else.

 Sound like a recipe for disaster? Is it a sign of relationship problems?....pour yourself a cup'o joe and lets discuss...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Toward A More Perfect Union


It is a term many of us struggle to pronounce let alone wrap our minds around what it means. Indeed, when I came out in the 90's the term was already in flux from various forms of GLB to LGB. Not long after, I learned we had added the "T" and a whole bunch of people freaked out about that. However, in spite of all their histrionics about the addition of Transgendered to the label our community stuck, and has been the (mostly) accepted lingo we have used for most of my adult gay life. Most recently, we have added Intersex and Queer/Questioning to include a spectrum of experience that transcends both sexual orientation and sexual identity. It may be hard to say, but until we invent a single word to describe the is the best we have.

While it may be an awkward term to explain to those outside our community. We have to explain what each letter means and why it is used. More often than not, their expression reads as if I had tried to explain life on another planet. However, they are not the only ones...Some who fall under it's 
broadly inclusive banner also struggle to understand what links us all together. For example...

In a totally bewildering exchange that took place on Americablog. John Aravosis, a writer I have respected over the years has written an article titled The End Of Gay History . A piece initially meant to speculate on the future of gay activism and orgs in the face of the victories they have achieved. The actual question asked being, "Are we at the end of gay history?" However, what actually developed by the end of the story was less about the relevancy of gay activism in the gay community...and more a wild veering off into the perceived fractures between the letters of our movement. And I used the word "perceived" for a reason. The whole thing was one massive /facepalm moment.

That this post devolved into a fight  between "gay white men" and the Transgendered community, left me bewildered and scratching my head at just what the hell any of these people were thinking. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Among the issues that surfaced  were...Who are we as a community? What binds us together? And as we see progress on one front, how do we treat the others who aren't advancing as fast? least, that's the nice way of phrasing what they posed much less nicely. Pull up a chair and your favorite cup'o something and lets tackle this messy business head on...

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Great Truvada Debate

When we talk about gay rights...and how far we have come as a community, I think many people would think first of the tide of marriage equality that has been steadily advancing across the nation. This is what makes the news and has become a defining movement for the community. And indeed, we have come very far in the legal recognition of our lives and loves, thus beginning to stem a tide of injustice that was just an accepted and given part of gay life as I knew it when I came out. It is amazing to be writing this to you as an out, gay, and married man with a family as those things were so far beyond my dreams not too long ago.

But there are other issues and conversations that move us along as a community with equal momentum. Some of those conversations are quite heated and so emotionally laden that they are hard to approach. Today's blog is one of those for me. Living the life that I have, and coming to terms with my sexuality when I did....I understand the debate over Truvada affects me, as it does all of us....but another part of me feels so ill prepared to tackle it with the breadth and understanding I think this topic deserves. However, there are few topics today that can cause such heated division as Truvada...and PreP therapies in general. For something sold as an "advancement in HIV prevention, it has engendered such a divided response, with both sides digging in their heels in their positions...that it leaves anyone looking in from the outside confused as to why this drug that can save lives should get this much controversy.

Is there actually a meta-conversation going on underneath the outward discussion of facts and transmission rates? Are we still grappling with old fears and ingrained self prejudices that is keeping us from see this drug as anything other than another tool in the fight against HIV? As the debate swings from one heated comment to another...what are we saying to ourselves, about ourselves?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Milestones...Daniel Graduates Junior High

For some, graduating Junior High may not seem like a big deal. Heck, even the school itself doesn't call the act "Graduation" anymore. They call it "promotion"....a weird term at best, and begs the question of what they are promoting to, and does it come with a raise? But there I sat, in the rows of identical, red folding chairs, set up on the lawn in the warm spring sun, looking at a ring of chairs set up for the graduates and realized.....this is happening. Next year my son will be in high school. The little boy that I once knew, was being replaced by a young man. Another world was passing away and all of us, as a family are standing on the doorstep of a new one. It feels like just yesterday that Daniel was a third grader and a new student to our little charter school. As proud as I am to be here to celebrate this moment with Daniel, the time just seemed to have gone by too fast and I could not help but  look back to remember all that had brought us here...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Gay Rights..Where Are We Now?

Hello everyone....

It has been sometime since I last spoke to all of you. For reasons I will detail further on, writing had become a chore that I didn't understand why I was still doing. But I am happy to be back and I hope that this will mark a new beginning....not only for this blog...but in my life. In fact, the title of todays post offers a clue of what I want to share with you all. So without further ado...

This evening I watched the HBO adaptation of "The Normal Heart", written by HIV and gay rights activist Larry Kramer. For those unfamiliar...the subject of the drama was a retelling of the early years in which AIDS began killing young men in the new York gay community and the struggle to get an uncaring government to respond and a terrified gay community to galvanize in it's own defense. With no medical information on what was happening and why we were getting sick, half the battle was in combating fear and marching on in the face of uncertainty and the loss of friends and lovers that went on unabated. The film shows the foundation of one of the first gay organizations to respond to the AIDS crisis, Gay Mens Health Crisis, and is told from the perspective of one of it's founders Larry Kramer(renamed Ned Weeks in the film), who is often criticized for being too loud, too confrontational, too critical in his roll as an activist fighting against the tide of death all around him.

I watched this movie in tears for the most part(while developing a crush on Mark Ruffalo).....and then I lied awake most of the night thinking about it. Something in me had shifted. You see, I had stopped blogging after DOMA had been struck down because I did not see any need for what I was doing anymore. Prop 8 had launched us into the fight for gay rights, not limited to marriage equality, but when that goal seemed realized...I didn't know what I was doing anymore.

Until someone asked me an innocent question....