Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pink is the New Black

Pink is the New Black. This is just a polite way of saying something I overheard the other day: "Gay is the new Nigger". Now I never believed that I would ever write that word in anger, let alone say it, let alone apply it to myself. But yes I finally understand, really, what it's like to have 62.8% of my neighbors say: you and your people are not worthy of what I have.

Not only are you not worthy, I have judged you, restricted you, condemned you to the life of inequality. These laws are clear and unequivocal, you are not worthy of humanity. A black comedian(DL Hougley) on CNN called me "a lucky bastard" for not being able to get married. Maybe white people thought the same of his grandfather because he didn't have to worry about deciding his future.

I should just be happy we got Obama. That's what they tell me. Great, we have someone who is president of all citizens, both first and second class ones.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Is Marriage a De-fabulization of Gay life?

Lets face it: Being gay is fabulous! We work hard at creating environments that are unique. We live in cool neighborhoods with old houses, industrial lofts, and in remodeled factories. We drink cool drinks, wear nice clothes and faithfully go to the gym. We visit fabulous places: Palm Springs, South Beach, Bali, Provincetown, Malibu. And the parties, are just the best. Why would we want to trade in all that in for a Volvo wagon, two kids and a split-level ranch in the 'burbs?

So why? What is the sudden attraction to a ho-hum existence like everyone else? As someone who did trade in the jeep for the station wagon for 12 years, all I can say is that it is great to focus on my fabulousness again. However, after almost 13 years of being with my partner I still find that many people, straight and gay still don't see us as a couple. That somehow the years we've shared, the hard times, the heartbreak and joys don't add up to a "whole." That if you hurt one of us, that you won't be contending with both of us. Far too often we feel that we are not seen as spouses, but as something less, something approaching a marriage, but not quite there. Also internally you doubt whether what you have is on par with what "real" marriages have. In fact I've often encountered gay men who feel somehow that we don't need or deserve the same rights as others. I mentioned to friends that we were going to California to get married and they perplexed by my lack of enthusiasm. I should be "thrilled" said one, and another was really happy for me. Of course, feeling tension I played it down by joking that we would have the reception at Burger King. As if acknowledging this moment in my life would be anticlimactic and somehow as a gay man I am not worthy of that "special day".

So we're going to do it. My mom is coming down, our Son will be there and we'll do it in a simple but romantic way. I guess 13 years together is fabulous enough.

You're all invited.

Today's Hiaku
Something Borrowed
Something Blue, Something New
Gay California Marriage

Friday, June 13, 2008

Out of Character?

Last night I was scolded by an officious 25 year old, red headed lesbian. I was taken into a back room and told to "behave and do my work". I was told "not to be late again, and stop talking to the others in the room." When I got up, handed her the phone, and papers and told her I was leaving, I was told to "grow up". This whole interaction happened within a span of 10 minutes. This was my volunteer experience.

So I screamed "YOU ARE A BITCH" at the top of my lungs.

Yes, I lost it.

Today's Hiaku

Volunteer for cause

Gift of time, deeply caring

better things to do

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gay Swim Team

As part of this jouney into middle age I've committed myself to trying new things or perhaps trying out things that didn't work out the first time I tried. Being on a swim team was one of them. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy swimming. In fact I could probably live on, or in, water. However, I remember not enjoying being on a swim team. Why? Because of the bathing suits. Not about the way they look. I think they look great! Its just the way they made feel....down there. Yes, I quit the swim team because those Speedo's gave me a boner. Of course being surrounded with very cute guys in similar suits just added to my embarassment and arousal. Nope, a swim team was just not going to work out.

Flash forward 29 years. I was invited to Miami's local gay swim team; the Nadadores. Better known as the "nads" (as in gonads, as if I had to explain it to you). Anyway I decided to "take the plunge". I've recently lost weight so I felt confident in my ability to wear a pair of Speedos. Besides, being gay means you HAVE to wear them or you're not "officially gay." The "erectile disfunction" I suffered at age eleven has gone from one extreme to the other so now I can just relax and focus on my swimming and not worry about what happens...down there.

I get to the pool and jump in. Not completely familiar with the routine I ask a few questions. I am not familiar with an 800IM or a 300free or a 100fly. I just kind of follow the swimmers and hope I do as many laps as they do. Swimming was fun. I'm swimming right along and keeping up, more or less, with the other two guys I'm sharing the lane with. I was really getting into the sensory deprivation of swimming, limited sight and hearing but being totally aware of your body and its suspension in water. I was in some cases swimming faster than other people in the pool.

I would ask questions like "how many times across the pool is 300? Is it six?" "Is it three?" As I grew more exhausted from all these laps, my ability to multiply was rapidly diminishing. I also noticed that the other swimmers were getting tired of doing my multiplication for me. After about 50 minutes of continuous laps I lost my ability to do any type of multiplication whatsoever. Finally the guy next to me said the other swimmer in my lane:

"Bonito pero bruto." Which translates roughly to: "cute, but total, complete, moron."

You know, I really love Miami. Speaking Spanish and Portuguese and being bicultural allows me to fully experience this city in a way someone who is not bilingual can't. Not being bilingual in Miami is like missing a sense, or limb. In Miami I am the epitome of a white boy. People assume I don't speak Spanish. "Bonito pero bruto" reverberted in my head after every stroke.

As a gay man, its hard not feel ambivalent about a remark like that. I mean in gay culture, cute trumps smarts every time. Plus, I was really fucking tired from all the swimming. Of course my concentration was shot. There was no way I could multiply now. If I swam any more, "bruto"would far exceed any "bonito". I got out of the pool, convinced that my second attempt to join a swim team in 40 years was a disaster. I went to the locker room and changed. Two hot guys asked for my number.

The next practice is on Thursday. I better get some multiplication flash cards and a speedo.

Today's Hiaku:

Swim silly gay fish

hot freestyle in tight speedos

The water is so nice

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Amendment 2 and the Rotarian 4 way test

For years my Dad tried to get me to join the Rotary Club. Instead he recruited my husband, Alfredo. Alfredo asked me to write this for the Rotary Club of Coral Gables.

Does Florida’s Amendment 2 stand up to Rotary’s Four-Way Test?

In November of this year Floridians will be asked to vote to amend the state’s constitution to define the meaning of marriage. The ballot initiative, known as Amendment 2 on its face seems quite simple and reasonable:

This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.

So let’s see if this amendment stands up to the Rotary 4-Way test.

Is it the truth?
The truth is that in Florida marriage is already defined as between a man and a woman. It is the second part of this proposed amendment that has many concerned. It calls into question the protections offered non-married partners have acquired in the last decade. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, City of Gainesville, Miami Beach, and other municipalities offer limited protections for domestic partners such as visitation rights in hospitals and official recognition for employers which offer benefits to non-married partners.

Is it fair to all concerned?
Amendment 2 is unfair to the many couples in Florida who choose to live together but for a myriad of reasons can’t or don’t want to marry. Whether straight or gay, amendment 2 is about removing legal protections, denying health insurance from families and denying hospital visitation.

Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Amendment 2 is not about goodwill, it is about discrimination pure and simple. It seeks to remove protections from unmarried couples. In 27 states where similar amendments have passed, proponents quickly sued to take away health insurance, domestic partnerships and other benefits from unmarried couples. How can an amendment designed to prohibit one group of people from getting health insurance, visiting a loved one in a hospital, or getting some kind of limited legal recognition show the goodwill?

Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
This is an initiative to take away benefits: insurance, legal protections and societal recognition. Who benefits when people are denied health insurance? Who benefits when people cannot properly care for loved ones? How does Florida benefit when discrimination is enshrined in the state’s constitution.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Ask


The best thing to do when you’re unemployed is get involved, network, and meet as many people as possible. Being a professional community organizer/volunteer coordinator it was not too hard for me to do. I love to talk, gossip, and fight for a cause. Sadly, I find it difficult to say no to any worthy cause.

I invited myself to a gay leadership forum that would be addressing the passage of a domestic partner law for Miami-Dade County. All of the executives of the large gay service organizations were there.

During the meeting somebody joked about how busy we all were and that weren’t just sitting around eating bonbons. I glanced at my husband, who was attending with me and chuckled, knowing full-well that I wasn’t working and that, in-fact, I had eaten a bon-bon earlier that day. The Chair of the local gay-rights organization saw our little interaction and approached me after meeting.

"Kirk, I need you to help. Could you work on an event committee on my behalf?" Not really having much on my plate, I agreed.


“Well what could you offer if I decided to resign today?”

She was your typical HR functionary, doing her job and trying to analyze whether I would (a) resign, (b) sue or (c) go postal.

Her response: “Well, Mr. Arthur, considering your short employment here, the most we could offer is one month.”

Shit, I thought, a month’s pay is a lot of money; in fact it was a helluva lot more than I would get with unemployment. I knew deep down I wasn’t really worthy of making all that money. I knew within a week of being hired that making $75,000 was sooo not worth all the trouble. The job had been a nightmare from the first day and never improved. They weren’t even nice to me. Not that they were mean, they were just….indifferent. Screw it; let’s make this woman work for her pay.

“I’m sorry I don’t feel that resignation is an option. I feel that I’ve been unfairly treated by this institution”

“Well Mr. Arthur, I’m afraid we’re going to terminate your employment effective immediately.”

I drove home in a daze. I mean it wasn’t the first time I had been fired, if fact, I’ve been fired from more jobs than I cared to remember. Each time had been painful and traumatic.

This time had not been any different.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Dog Park Confessional

There should be rule that whatever is said at a dog park, stays at a dog park.

First, one must understand that proper names are never exchanged at the dog park. Eveyone is an alias: Scruffy's Dad, Beenie's Mom, Violet's Owner. It is understood that names will not be remembered and that dog park relationships rarely, if ever, go beyond the boundaries of that park.

The bond between man and dog is a uniquely intimate one. Perhaps more intimate than any other. On many occasions your dog is witness to things that you probably wouldn't do in front of another human being, at least not on purpose. For example; my dog insists on sitting on my lap when I'm on the toilet. Often in the throws of passion I have glanced to his doggie bed to see him staring with disgust at our nocturnal activities. In the movie Best In Show, Parker Posey's Wiemaraner had a breakdown witnessing just such an event. My dog even knows what websites I visit.

Given that so much intimacy is shared with our four legged friends its not hard to understand how a simple conversation about fleas can rapidly progress to squeezing anal glands. Next thing you know you're discussing your checking balance and medical history. It's amazing how someone can confess about sleeping with thier dog and ten minutes later you find out they're having an affair with thier boss, who, by the way, was also catergorized as a dog, so it may not seem quite a stretch.

Our culture's conditioned us to need shake and bake intimacy. We seem to a have post-Catholic need to confess to a stranger the wierdness about our lives. At least at the dog park the therapists all have referrals: four legged ones.

Todays Haiku:

Run Spot go catch boy
Bad Dog, Good Dog Come here now
Follow me room to room