Thursday, March 24, 2011

Coming Out Story?

It seems almost a given, that on a gay blog the writer would at one point or another chronicle their coming out experience.  And I don't think that this is without reason!  It is an important ritual, in our community, to share the stories of how we first acknowledged the truth that lay within ourselves, and exposed ourselves to the world.  Unfortunately, my coming out story is a little anticlimactic compared with most people's.  However, I will do my best with mine, as I understand that traditions are important.

The thing is, I was in seventh grade when I came out.  So I was, what, 12?  13, at the most?  I was young.  And the first person I came out to?  My step-mother.  Why her, I can't really be sure.  Probably, I was more comfortable talking with her than any of my other family members.  My Mom and I disagreed on a lot of things when I was younger (we still do, but I'm better equipped to deal with it now, and we have a much better relationship for it) and my dad has always intimidated me.  And so my step-mom was the first member of my family to hear me say the words.  Her response?





Perhaps not exactly a "Duh," but that's a little bit the way it felt to me.  I had worked myself into a bit of a frenzy, thinking about how life-altering the revelation was going to be for me, and about how I might be forever outcast from my family for saying what I planned to say.  And so, when my step-mom explained that she had known since I was six, I was more than a little stunned.

Looking back on all of this (this is more of a story than I thought I was going to get from this!  Go me!) it appears that there was a rather large gap in my reasoning.  I was scared to death of coming out.  And yet it never occurred to me that I could avoid coming out.  It never occurred to me to simply not say anything yet.  To wait. But I suppose I probably felt like I needed to say it.  And perhaps I did!  Probably.  And so it was done, and my step-mom was unfazed.  So far so good for me!  She even explained that I had gay uncles, which I had never thought to question before.  (It never occurred to me that it was odd for two men to live together in their 30's and 40's.  It was just the way things were with my uncles!)

And so I moved forward.  I told my Dad later on, but I think only by a few weeks.  It's a bit fuzzy, I don't remember the conversation well.  I remember it being very uncomfortable, but Dad didn't go into a screaming rage over the revelation.  I suppose my step-mom must have been preparing him for it, but this never occurred to me.  And as for the discomfort that came with the conversation, well.  Any real conversation of any depth that I've ever had with my father has had a similar discomfort.  He's not much for serious discussion.  And so it wasn't much different, if a little disheartening for my earnest little heart that wanted only to be loved.

I told my mom while we were sitting in a automated car wash together.  I had schemed for weeks for a way to get her alone, away from step-dad and the little siblings.  Grocery shopping?  Too many people around to hear.  Ask to talk to her alone?  Never would have happened.  I had to wait for just the right moment.  And it presented itself in the car wash.  And so I bared my soul to my mother.  And she told me, "Jermanie, you are only 13.  You have plenty of time to figure out whether you are gay or not later on down the road.  Right now you are too young.  I don't think it's something you need to be worried about at your age."

And maybe she was right.  But I was pubescent, and my hormones were telling me to figure it out, and do it now.  And all my poor little heart had just wanted to hear her say, "That's okay, son.  I accept you no matter what."  And not hearing that made me feel like it wasn't true, whether or not that was actually the case.

Finally, we come to my step-father.  I probably would have gone the whole of my teenage years without telling him, at least until he made me really, truly angry, and I threw it in his face.  We never got along, but when he found out because he was snooping through my room and read about it in a note a friend and I had been writing to one another, it infuriated me.  And when he grew, to my eyes, colder and more distant, I assumed I had been right about him all along, and that he hated me because of my sexual orientation.

To this day, we don't really speak.  We've learned to be civil so that my mom and I can have a relationship.  And if that is all that ever happens between us, then oh well.

Do you know what?  I've lied to you all.  Not on purpose, mind you.  I've just realized that I came out to one other person before I started coming out to my family.  My seventh grade girlfriend, Jill.  We dated for all of two or three weeks, just long enough to kiss sloppily in the halls and giggle about it.  We broke up when we simultaneously came out to one another- I was gay, and she was most definitely a lesbian.  People have joked ever since that we turned one another gay.

Jill and I remained best friends for many years after our brief stint as boyfriend and girlfriend.  We are not as close now as we once were, but I still consider her one of the best friends I have ever had, and I hope that we never lose touch entirely.  After so many years of supporting one another through life, I find it hard to imagine what life would be like without her in it. 

My coming out story could probably go on and on forever.  I could list every family member that I've come out to, and the best ways I've found to do so (and also some of the worst ways, I was certainly not always tactful about it).  But the thing is, coming out is a daily occurrence.  It is a never-ending process, for with each person you meet, you are forced to come out again, and again, and again.  And each time, it comes with that instant of trepidation, that flash of panic when you realize that you have no idea how your coming out is going to change the perceptions of the person you are shaking hands with.  And some of the time, that moment of fear is immediately over-shadowed by acceptance and friendliness.  And other times, no matter how much we might wish it otherwise, that fear is confirmed by the instant rejection, dismissal, and judgment of someone who hardly knows us.

To any one out there coming out, I wish you the best of luck.  It is always hardest the first time, and it never becomes truly easy.  However, the amount of love and acceptance you may find upon leaving your dark closet may surprise you, and I hope that it is so.

And so, for now, I bid you all farewell.  See you next time!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lack of updates, sorry

For the three subscribers to this blog, I apologize for the prolonged absence of updates.  I guess I'm not very good at keeping up on this blog thing.  However, a few updates, in case anyone is seriously missing me.  (Or whatever.)

First and foremost, my best friend, Zane, has started a blog chronicling his life as a trans-man and his transition process.  I've been helping him to get the blog set up, as well as a couple of other internet things that he'll be using to chronicle his journey as time goes on.  His url is TranZcendingTradition.blogspot.com, and I encourage anyone who is interested in learning about transgendered individuals and the hoops they have to jump through to check out his blog.  It's going to be quite the adventure, and the whole internet should feel privileged to be able to share in it with him.  So go and read it, and show him your support!

Next on the list is my continued complaint that our higher education system is broken.  I am 22 years old, and my parents don't pay for me to go to college.  The policy our nation takes on education is that, "The federal government and the schools consider it primarily the family's responsibility to pay for school. They provide financial assistance only when the family is unable to pay."  This would be understandable, even forgivable, if this situation worked for everybody.  However, it seems that for a great many of us who want to go to school and whose parents don't want to help us, this policy leaves us hanging.


The thing that really bothers me is how we classify dependency.  I live on my own.  I barely speak to my father, and my mother lives in Mississippi.  I am dependent on nobody.  And my parents, my father especially, prefer it this way.  My dad would no more pay for me to go to college than he would willingly quit drinking.  And yet, though I am 22, a fully grown fucking adult, the federal government expects my family to put me through school.  I am responsible for myself-- can't I also be responsible for my own education?  


Before 1998, dependency was based on whether or not children were claimed on their parents taxes.  So long as you were claimed on taxes, then your parents were responsible for your education.  Now, we have so many more people going to four year colleges that the government has changed this.  Now, you have to be 24, or married, or have children, or be in the armed forces before you can be considered on your own.  And this has freed the federal government from paying for a lot of schooling, I am sure.  But we're entering an age when a high school education gets you as far as being a high school drop-out would have gotten your parents.  Not having at least an associates degree places you almost instantly behind the counter at McDonald's, or checking groceries at the local Safeway.  A bachelors degree is even a common thing now, and gets you hardly any recognition.  Hell, even having your Master's isn't a guarantee of a good career.  And yet, for people like me whose parents can't or won't help, we are left helpless because the Federal government doesn't want to acknowledge that we are on our own?


Bullshit.


This year, my issue is my father's irresponsibility with money.  He bought a 52" flat screen last month, and now he's putting off filing his taxes until April because he realized he'd have to actually pay this year, rather than receiving a refund.  I've had my taxes done since early February, hoping that I would get FAFSA done as well and receive a better financial aid package this year for having everything done early.  However, because my father doesn't understand the concept of being responsible with one's money, I've been fucked out of this, and will probably now be offered only loans.  Thanks Dad.


My Mom, who lives out of state, has agreed to give me her tax information this year so I can complete FAFSA this week.  I don't know if this is strictly allowed, as the government wants you to use the information of the last parent you lived with.  However, I contacted my school, and they could apparently care less which parent is providing information, so long as somebody does.  So I am getting things figured out.


The thing is, though, even though I am getting things figured out, why should I have to put up with all of this stress just because my father is an idiot?  I am on my own.  I am independent in every way except in this.  Why should I have to depend on him for this?


I dunno.  I'm going to go and write a letter to my Senator, or something.  It's time the system was changed for the better.  If kids want to go to college, they shouldn't have to depend on their parents to get them there.


Anyway, that's all the big news right now.  See you when I see you, I guess.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I did NOT make a CHOICE.

Just to be clear.  I did not make a CHOICE to be a homosexual.  I did not sit down one afternoon, think long and hard about my options, and decide that a life of persecution and hatred and prejudice sounded like the perfect life for me.  No.  I woke up one morning, and decided to be true to my self, and live my life with as much love and tolerance as I could find in the world.

This little outburst brought to you by the bitch in my Literature class on Monday morning.

We just read Barn Burning by William Faulkner.  In it, we follow a little boy and his family as they are uprooted from their latest home and forced to move, because the little boy's father has burned down (another) barn.  Apparently, this has happened a great number of times.  Anyway, the story goes on, and the father goes to burn down yet another barn.  The little boy does the right thing and runs to warn the barn's owner, and then runs away, escaping abusive father and hopeless circumstances.  At the end of the story, we are filled with hope that he went on to find a much better life.

Well, this girl in Lit class decided that the father, Abner, was being made out to look bad, and that the entire class had totally misunderstood his character.  She was convinced that he was a hard working man, trying to provide for his family, so run down by the man that he was FORCED to burn down barns, because... it was the logical thing to do?  Idk.

Anyway, we split into groups, and I was stuck with her and another young man.  She proceeded to give her views on the story, and how the end was just ridiculous.  She thought the little boy had no reason to run away, no reason to try and escape his circumstances.  Nobody should abandon their family for a reason so trivial as a pyromaniac father who hits his children.  And then she proceeded to give this example:

Kinda like, if you come from a fundamentalist Christian family, and you choose to be a homosexual, then you have no reason to leave your family.  You've made the choice to be gay, you should deal with it and stay with your family.  There's no reason you should abandon them.

So.  Let me just be clear about something.  And then I'll close my little rant-blog and you guys won't have to read any more of my internet-rage.

I did not choose to be gay.  Nobody chooses to be gay.  Just like nobody chooses to be straight.  Or chooses to be transgendered.  Who would choose to have to deal with that much stress and heartache and sorrow?  It is not an easy road.  And while I am very happy that I have the life that I have, and I would never change the way I am, I certainly didn't choose it.

Also.  If you are a young gay boy (lesbian girl, transgendered anything, bisexual anything, etc, anything) and your family is rejecting you, and telling you that you are evil (wrong, sick, demented, bad, etc, anything negative), you are not under an obligation to live with that pain.  You are not obligated to put up with that kind of abuse.  When you are old enough, or when you can do it legally, or before then if you are in danger, you can leave.  You should surround yourself with people who love you, and accept you for who you are.  To do anything less than that is to wrong yourself.

There ya go.  That's all I have to say.  G'night everybody!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Amazon and King Soopers both suck.

So Boyfriend and I do joint Christmases.  Which I feel is important, and which we both really enjoy.  And our families really enjoy it.  Well, for the most part.  Neither of them like sharing us.  But if that's my biggest holiday complaint, then I count myself pretty darn blessed.

Anyway.  This last Christmas, my Grandma bought Boyfriend a gift card to Amazon, and a couple other things on the list we gave her.  Boyfriend missed Christmas with my family because he was vomiting all morning, and so we unwrapped his present that night when I brought them home, as an attempt to cheer him up and make him feel better.  Afterward, we stayed with his parents, and then brought all of our gifts home a couple of days later.

Now, keep in mind, Grandma is not the most tech savvy person.  Grandma and Grandpa own a computer that I believe still runs Windows 95.  They have never been on the internet.  Their cell phone is basically for decorative purposes.  Eventually, I hope to get them hooked up to the internet, and connected to email.  Grandma says it'll happen in a year or two.  Keep your fingers crossed that one day Grandma can friend me on Facebook!  ;-)  Anywho, the point is, Grandma bought Boyfriend's gift card at King Soopers, from one of their little gift card centers.  Okay, moving on.

TWO WEEKS LATER:  We finally got around to cleaning up all of our Christmas stuff, when we realized that our six month inspection for our apartment was around the corner.  We took all of the gifts out of boxes and bags, and threw away all the trash, and somewhere along the way, I'm pretty sure I threw away Boyfriend's gift card.

Well, about a week ago, Boyfriend was looking for his gift card, and realized it was gone.  We searched high and low for it before he told me that he had never removed it from the fancy gift card box my Grandmother had given it to him in.  A gift card box that I very distinctly recalled throwing away.

Well, I called Grandma, and she mailed us the receipt, which arrived yesterday.  (Grandma keeps all of her Christmas receipts until February.  A better idea than I normally would have expected.)  And so I started calling to try and have the gift card in some way reissued. 

I started with Amazon, as the gift card was for Amazon.  I sat on hold for a long time, and eventually the woman I was speaking to came back on the line to tell me that Amazon took no responsibility for gift cards bought in grocery stores.  Which I sort of understand, I can see how they would have a hard time tracking that sort of thing.  They advised me to call the store it was purchased from.  And so I did.

I called the store, and went through customer service, an assistant manager, and a store manager.  Eventually they told me that I would need to call Amazon to have it sorted out.  This frustrated me a little, but I asked the woman on the phone for a corporate phone number for King Soopers, and left for classes, thinking I would pick up the phone again after I learned some stuff and got a little less agitated.

This afternoon, after classes, I picked up my phone and called 1-800-677-KING.  This is the number for Home Shop and Loyalty Card services, which is nothing close to King Soopers corporate number.  However, I thought it might be worth a shot, so I hit zero a couple of times and talked to the woman who came on the phone.  It wasn't worth my time at all.  So I got off the phone, and looked up the actual corporate number for King Soopers. 

To make a very looooong story short, I called five different King Soopers Hotlines before I got a woman that knew exactly what needed to be done, gave me the 16 digit gift card number, and told me to call Amazon and have them credit the card to my account.  Three different women told me that there was nothing could be done, that lost gift cards were treated like cash and could not be replaced, and that I was calling the wrong company.

It's seriously like nobody knew what was going on.  Boyfriend thinks it might be an anti-theft measure, because a thief wouldn't go to allll of that work.  I think that the people that work in call centers just have no idea what the eff they're doing.

Anyway, I spent between two and three hours on the phone with these people, and finally got Boyfriend's gift card reissued.  Life is good.  Considering calling them again tomorrow, to explain to them how wrong they all were.  Not sure if I care that much.

Anyway, morals of this story:

1. Buy gift cards directly from the stores they are for.  This would have cut out a lot of hassle for me today.  Not that I blame my grandma, of course.  But still.  It's a good idea.

2.  Never take "Nothing we can do about it" as a final answer.  Not true.

3.  If you buy gift cards from King Soopers, and lose them, and still have the receipt, call this phone number:  1-866-544-8062.

Anyway, that's all there is today, just my adventure on the phone with Idiocy personified.  See ya later, interwebs!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Just some randomness!

Rumor has it, there are people that read my blog!  I was a little in shock when I heard this.  So.  I am trying to come up with some more interesting things to talk about!  Bear with me while i flounder for a while in trying to come up with sufficient topics.

This is me.  Floundering.  *Flounder flounder.*  Oh man.  I've used that word so many times in the last minute and a half that it's starting to lose meaning.  It hurts my brain so much when that happens.  I've always wondered, is that just a temporary effect?  Or does doing that have some long lasting effect on a word's place in your vocabulary?  Wikipedia makes no mention of a long-lasting effect in this article.  So there we have it, I suppose.

First day of classes was today!  It was a loooooong day.  But I enjoyed my lit class, and my Anthropology class!  And Composition should be...  essay filled.  *Sigh*  However, my Math class is a freaking joke.  Not sure if I've mentioned this on the blog, but I took a placement exam last semester to see what class I should be taking.  And I placed into a low-level class.  Like, three class levels lower than Math for Liberal Arts Majors kind of low-level.  And so I sucked it up, blow to my self esteem that it was, and registered for the class.  Went to the first class today and we literally learned how to add, subtract, and find the perimeter of a shape.  Next time, we learn how to multiply and divide.  Oh, and maybe something having to do with factors.  I looked into the back of the book.  The most complex thing we learn in this class is how to find the volume of three-dimensional shapes.

I don't know if I'm making my point very well.  Let me clarify.

I am not in 8th grade.  I am in college.  I do not need to be in this stupid class.  So hopefully, I can re-take the placement exam and find a more suitable class for myself.  *Crosses fingers.*  Wish me luck or something!

Oh, here's something for the internet people out there waiting to hear more about my nerdy side-- I recently discovered (via Boyfriend and a friend of ours) the webcomic* MS Paint Adventures.  Specifically, Homestuck.  And I am freaking ENTHRALLED.  I read my way through all five point five acts or whatever.  I am now caught up with the comic, and I am AT THE EDGE OF MY SEAT.  It's intense.  I can't believe the emotional journey this comic has taken me on.  It's pretty darn incredible.

Anyway, what else is up with me?  Not a dang lot!  I feel like these blogs still don't have enough of a topic, or a structure.  If anybody has suggestions for topics or stories they'd like to hear, or anything, I welcome them!  I'm gonna go watch Hook with Boyfriend now, and refresh Homestuck every 30 minutes.  See you all around!  Or... something!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Outlining is harrrd...

So, okay.  You know how I'm a self-proclaimed writer?

*You nod here.*

Good.  Well, I hate outlining.  I think outlines are the devil.  Because they're hard.  And because I don't really think in bullet points, also.

The thing is, though, one of the things that my failed attempt at NaNoWriMo taught me is that I really am a writer in need of a plan.  If I don't have a plan, my writing sort of meanders slowly off in a random direction, until finally the path I'm following disappears and I'm lost in a forest of words with no idea which way is North.  And by North I mean Towards-The-End.  So an outline would be a valuable tool for me to have.

And perhaps my issue with an outline is that I never have enough things thought out for me to be able to actually make an outline.  And so I get pieces of an outline made, and realize that they don't all connect together, and then I get frustrated and just give up.

I really do feel like I would benefit from a more advanced creative writing course.  I've been through the community college creative writing, and it taught me almost nothing except that I can bullshit decent poetry.  Yaaay education.

Anyway.  All of this stems from this six-year-old story idea that I'm trying to over-haul and make viable.  And realizing how much I've changed, and the story with me, over the last six years is making this task a freaking nightmare.  The story is actually probably entirely unrecognizable at this point.  The tone is undergoing a pretty significant change, along with the writing style.  Almost all of the principal characters have altered at least a little bit, and most of them a lot more than just a little bit.

And still, after all this time, when I think about sitting down and plotting out the story arc, I just can't do it.  No matter how much I think I've finally got worked out, there is something preventing me from forming a solid story line to follow.

I hope I can look back at this moment in five years as a turning point.  Hopefully this moment provides me with some realization about what keeps getting in my way, and I can suddenly write what I've been trying to write for six freaking years.

Yeah, I let you know when my epiphany happens.  Stay tuned.

Also, I know that I'm not fulfilling the gay quota people might be looking for when they read my blog.  Gosh, I'm probably not even filling the funny quota that people are looking for when they get online to read stuff.  Sorry about that, internet people, I'll try and come up with something more entertaining than my stupid whiny rambles for next time.  For now, I give you this poorly drawn, useless ball of computer generated string to play with.  Enjoy!

New Years, etc.

Happy New Years, Internet people!  I hope that 2011 has started off well for everyone, and I wish you a fabulous year. 

2011 has started off a little slowly for me.  It caught me by surprise, the year starting anew, and I spent no time thinking about resolutions or anything.  So, belatedly, I bring you my thoughts on the turning of the wheel, and my hopes for what is to come.

As I've grown older (I know, I'm 21, I'm not old yet) I've already begun to note changes in my metabolism and in the way I digest things.  It's coming time for me to stop eating like a teenager, and start eating a little healthier.  Now, because Boyfriend and I can't afford the fancy healthy foods and all that jazz, I'm not saying that I'll stop with junk food and shitty pizza.  However, I'm at least trying to stop eating after a certain time, and I'm trying to cut down on my soda intake.  I'm already bored with water, but I've noticed how much better I feel on the days that I don't drink soda.  Other than the headaches, of course.

I've also resolved (for probably close to the tenth year running) to write much more often.  November taught me that I can write when I choose to.  Yes, I failed miserably at finishing the novel in November.  And yes, it was total crap.  But it showed me that actually putting the words onto paper isn't an issue.  I mean, I wrote, what, 25,000 words in 20 days or something?  The actual words thing isn't an issue.  So.  Hopefully there will be a significant increase in the number of blog updates I do in the coming months.  And hopefully a novel will appear over the horizon at some point.  One that isn't, ya know, total crap.

Beyond that, I don't really know what to resolve.  I'm pretty happy with most of the other aspects of my life.  Though,  a better job wouldn't be totally unwelcome.  But I'm not going to complain about mine too much, since I'm still getting a paycheck.

Anyway, I guess that's about all for now.  Look for more soon, hopefully!