30 Days of Pride – Day 8

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Day 8 – What do you think the closet or being closeted means to you?

The closet is sort of difficult to describe.  It is this place that all queer people are in, in varying ways, throughout our entire lives.  “Coming out” isn’t a one-time event, it’s a process that we have to go through with every new person who becomes a fixture in our lives.

I think some people make a conscious decision to enter it, but I think for some of us, the closet just sort of built itself around us.  A lot of us realize our “otherness” and decide to build this different identity around it, and try to blend in with the crowd.  My response to realizing that I was different was more “fuck you, I’ll go over here and do what I want to do.”

My experience of the closet now is that closets keep getting built around me, and I have to keep tearing them down.  Sometimes I let them stay that way, but anyone who spends any time around me has their illusions disabused pretty quickly.  I don’t really compartmentalize my life, and if someone isn’t in a position of power over me, I have very little concern for whether they approve of my life. They can take me as I am, or they can find the door.

I think for those who don’t have the level of independence that I do, the closet is a necessary evil.  For a lot of people, it just isn’t safe to be out.  But I also think that there are a lot of people who have plenty of power and privilege and choose to remain in the closet for reasons a lot less noble than self-preservation.  I have a lot less sympathy for those people than I probably should.

No matter how necessary the closet is for some people, it is always toxic.  We cannot form honest relationships with people when we are lying about who we are to them.  The effort of maintaining that lie slowly erodes our psyche.  And not being out deprives the world of necessary role models, and doesn’t let us see the full range of who we are and who we can be.

30 Days of Pride – Day 7

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Day 7 – How your parents took it or how you think they might take it

I already covered my Mother’s reaction, since she is the first person that I came out to.

My stepmother was generally OK.  She was also accepting, as accepting as one can ask from a parent with distinctly conservative political views.  She has met several of my past boyfriends, and one of my current partners.  She knows all of the various identities that require one to “come out.”  but it’s also a very surface level knowledge.  I tend not to go into a great deal of detail about most of them.

With my father it is still very much a “don’t ask don’t tell” sort of situation.  I have never actually spoken the words directly to him.  I still avoid discussing my relationships and things with him.  But I also do not compartmentalize things on facebook, and at this point, Matt and I have been together for 8 years, it should be pretty obvious the role that he plays in my life.  And I also openly write on facebook about the things that I’m doing with my other partners.

It has definitely had an impact on our relationship.  A person’s relationships and their spirituality play a big role in their life.  They color and shade all of the other things that you do, how you see the world.  When you aren’t able to talk openly about those things, it places pretty severe restrictions on conversations.  And when I already have a lot of other baggage that I haven’t dealt with from when I was growing up, there’s just not much there to build with.

And so we don’t have much of a relationship.  I try to live my life as out and openly as I can.  And when there are people that I can’t do that with, I’m forced to do a lot of code-switching and talking around things.  I’ve been out for nearly 20 years at this point, and this détente has been going the whole time.  It seems unlikely to change any time in the near future.

30 Days of Pride – Day 5

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Day 5 – Thoughts regarding inner turmoil about your sexuality; Did you have any? Did it escalate to self-injury or suicidal thoughts? 

I don’t remember having a lot of “turmoil” around my sexuality.  I mean even today an exact definition of my identity is hard to nail down, but it wasn’t really a “problem” for me.  Once I realized that there were new options, new data, I incorporated that information pretty readily.  I did have difficulty with isolation, because the internet was new back then, and while I finally learned that there were actual gay people out there, somewhere, I didn’t have them near me.  They were all so far away, and I didn’t have a social circle that I could talk about what I was discovering about myself.

I did have two suicide attempts.  One I remember very little about, other than that it wasn’t a serious attempt, it was pretty much acting out in anger.  The other I was very serious about, but I didn’t really know what I was doing, so it didn’t work.  I was in a lot of emotional pain, and I wanted it to stop.  While that attempt was not “about” my sexuality, the way my sexuality was affecting the rest of my life was definitely a factor.

It was the summer after my first year living at college.  It was a really rough summer for me.  I had spent the school year being actively involved in a lot of different activities, between the pagan group, being on the board of the LGBT organization, working with the other Alphas to form a chapter of my fraternity.  I spent that time surrounded by people who actually knew who I was, and who were like me.  I had friends.  Honest to god friends, who I could really be myself around, who didn’t think my interests were weird.  And then summer came, and the rug was pulled out from under me.  I went back home, to my small town, in a house with people that I was not yet out to.  My support system was gone, and I was all alone again.

Then I worked on a summerstock community theater production in my hometown.  I was still pretty isolated, but at least I was doing something I enjoyed.  I had asked a lot of my friends, including my fraternity brothers to come to see the show.  It was a decent drive from the city the college was into the town where the show was, but not that unreasonable.  No-one came to the show.  I realized my support system was not as supportive as I thought it was.  Then the show ended, and I got hit pretty hard with the depression that always hit me at the end of a show.

And then while I was dealing with that, something happened with work that I don’t remember the details of, only that it finally pushed me over the edge, and I drove home from work, parked the car in the garage, closed the garage door, left the car running, and tried to go to sleep and not wake up.  Of course it was a two and a half car garage, and there was no way it was going to fill up with enough exhaust in a reasonable amount of time to do any serious harm, so all I ended up with was a headache.

30 Days of Pride – Day 4

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Day 4 – The first person you came out to and that story

I’m pretty sure the first person that I came out to was my mom.  It’s not a particularly exciting story, I don’t honestly remember the details of what I said.  What I do remember is that it was online, over instant messenger, AIM or ICQ or something like that.  She was accepting of me from the very beginning.  I remember her telling me not to let what other people think of me or what they think I should do dictate who I was or how I lived my life

30 Days of Pride Day 3

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Day 3 – How old were you when you knew? What was that like for you? 

When I knew what?  I suppose the question is when I knew that I was queer.  I don’t know that there really was a day that I can point to and say “that’s when I knew.”  Hell, for me the only thing I can say that I truly “Know” is that I’m queer, but my exact place in that is still difficult to pin down. When I first really became conscious of myself as a sexual being was when I was 14, the summer before I started High School. That was when I “discovered” masturbation. I wasn’t actually interested in having sex with anyone other than myself at that point.  While I did have erotic fantasies involving other people back then, I wasn’t actually interested in having sex with another person until I was about 17.

I honestly don’t remember what the ratio of those fantasies were, as far as whether they featured male or female partners, but I do know that there were both, and there were more men.  I don’t know that I truly understood being “gay” as a real thing until I was 17, and went online.  That was when I was jumping around in different chat rooms online (remember those?) on a website called WBS.  I stumbled into a room called “Guy Chat.” I asked if it was a room of guys talking, or of girls talking about guys.  I got a Private Message from someone telling me that they were guys, but they definitely weren’t talking about girls.  And suddenly a whole new world opened up for me.

I dodged a few reckless decisions back then.  I made arrangements I think once or twice to meet someone from the chat room in person but flaked out.  Which was probably for the best considering I was underage, and I don’t even remember how old those particular guys were.  It wasn’t until a couple of days after my 18th birthday that I had any kind of sex with another person for the first time.  That amounted to getting a blowjob from a random stranger in the back room of an adult bookstore.  I always think it’s funny when people go on about how your first time should be special.  I honestly wanted to get it the hell over with.  But after that I definitely knew that I liked having sex with men.

As far as when I knew I was poly, I had sort of decided that I was poly within the first year or two of my going to the Between the Worlds gathering.  They have always had a pretty decent number of nonmonogamous people there, and once I realized that there was this other option than monogamy, I mostly thought that made so much more sense.  But I would say that the day I truly *knew* that I was poly was a few years later, after I had gotten together with Matt, and we were at BtW together.  He was totally infatuated with Luno that year, and I experienced compersion for the first time.  Once I felt that, I knew that I was definitely poly.

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30 Days of Pride – Day 2

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Day 2 – Did you have any experiences as a child that might have foreshadowed your sexuality?

This is a question better asked of my parents. My stepmother and my mother would probably say yes. Though I don’t really understand what the question is asking. Before I was sexually aware, what kind of “foreshadowing” could there possibly be besides noncomformity to gender roles, which really has nothing to do with sexuality. Did I display any stereotypically “gay” traits?

My aunts occasionally dressed me up as a girl when I was a baby. I don’t really think of that as foreshadowing. I did dress in drag for halloween once, but lots of the straight guys I went to school with did that at least one year. I would play barbies with my girlfriend when I was 6, and come home and play with Transformers and GI-Joe. I’ve seen photos of me from when I was young, and I look at the clothes I was wearing and the position I was standing in, and I think, HELLO? ISN’T IT OBVIOUS? But I also think that a lot of that is based on stereotypes and doesn’t really have anything to do with what it is to be queer. Especially since I am now out and open, and there is no way in hell I would wear some of those clothes again.

I do know at one point around probably 6th grade, I said that I felt like a girl in a boy’s body. I know that is similar to how trans people describe how they felt, but looking at it now, I realize it wasn’t really that I felt that I was a girl, that was the only language I had to describe what I was feeling. I didn’t really think I was a girl, and I didn’t really want to be a girl, It was just that I recognized that I didn’t really fit the gender role prescribed for me.

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30 Days of Pride Day 1

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Day 1 – Your sexual orientation or gender identity. Be creative in your definition.

My sexual orientation likes somewhere between “homoflexible” and “on the Gay side of Bisexual,” and “Masculine?-Oriented Pansexual.” Somewhere around a Kinsey 4.5. “Kinky” is also part of my sexual identity, since it’s another category for which people are marginalized, and for which we often need to come out.

As far as gender identity, I’m pretty decidedly male. Generally present as fairly masculine, though in my college days I often played with my presentation in a way that while not traditionally masculine, is now not uncommon in pop culture for some men to do. Things like what we now call Guy-Liner, occasional nail-polish, I would deliberately go for a more androgynous look when I went to places like fetish balls.

It doesn’t specifically ask this, but I think it’s important that I also include my relationship orientation of Polyamorous. I have three primary Partners, and someone who is more of a “festival friend” or as one of the co-hosts on Polyamory Weekly refers to it, a “Play-Pause” relationship, who I am at least still in online contact with throughout the year.

 

I feel…

For most of Sunday, I was able to keep myself pretty well distracted.  There was work, and there was the Art Show, and there was dinner and TV with my family.  But the evening wound down, and everyone went to bed, and there were no more distractions.  There was no way to avoid standing in the swirling torrent of emotions that the Orlando shootings cause, even though I also sort of feel like I don’t have any business having these feelings in the first place, as I sit, safe and sound, at home.

I am grieving, for such a large senseless loss of lives, of people targeted for something as innocent and joyful as who they love. And I feel somehow wrong for grieving, because I have distance from this loss.  It was not people I knew personally who were lost, but people that I never met, and likely never would have.

I am frustrated, that we still cannot pass sensible gun regulation.  This person should have not been able to legally own a gun.  He should not have been qualified to work for a security company. And because the loss of African-American lives has not been enough, and the loss of children’s lives has not been enough, and I know the loss of my community’s lives will not be enough either.

I am heartsick, that this may have been done by someone who belonged in our community.  By someone who had been so twisted and harmed by his family, and our culture, that he felt he had to lash out in this way, when he might have found a home with us.  And that he may not have found that home with us because of all of the division and wrongs we ourselves do to each other.

I am afraid, because my size and my strength cannot protect myself and my loved ones from a gun the way they can protect us in a physical confrontation.  And while I know that there are people out there stronger than me, who can attack and harm me even without weapons, I still felt like I could handle what might come.  I want that feeling back.

I am grateful, that those that I know and love are safe and sound, at least at the moment.  That I have the privilege of being able to keep those who support me near, and shut out of my life those who do not.  And I feel guilty that I am grateful to have these things, when so many others do not.  

I am saddened, that this newest generation has had their illusion of safety shattered even more violently than mine did.  That so many of them already had lost that illusion because of the thousand little ways we are all threatened every day.

I am sorry, that the the work so many of us have done to advance our rights has only been able to take us so far. That so many of us have let the victories we worked so hard for distract us from the fact that there is still so much more to do.  That we feel exhausted, and just want to live our day-to-day lives in peace, instead of continuing to fight against what sometimes seems like such an insurmountable obstacle.

I am proud, of those who stepped in and risked themselves to help the injured, and those who did what they could to help in the aftermath.  And of my friends who see how what has happened to us can be used to harm others, and have spoken out against it.

I am sickened, by the people who are actually celebrating this tragedy.  Who believe that those who died got what they deserved, for nothing more than who they loved.  And I am disgusted by the fact that I know some of those people are in my own family.

I am enraged, that the same elected leaders who have done everything they can to legislate away our rights and fight our equality, now offer hollow words of condolence, while simultaneously straightwashing what has happened.  That three presidential candidates stood on the same stage as a man who openly called for our deaths, and faced no repercussions.  That those same leaders call this an act of Islamic Extremism while supporting and being supported by “Christians” who call our execution good, and just, and right..

I am tired, of so many things.  Of fighting to be recognized as a human being.  Of speaking out for other oppressed groups, and then watching members of those same groups oppress mine.  Of seeing so many members of my own community throwing others under the bus and using them as a stepladder for their own gain.  Of so much us vs. them.  Of looking over my shoulder, of having to always be ready to defend myself, of having to be ready to defend others.

I am ashamed, of the members of my family and my community who use this event to fuel their racism and religious hatred.  Of those who would use our loss to justify further oppressing others.  Of the members of my own community whose racism, femphobia, transphobia, body-shaming, slut-shaming, and all the other sorts of active oppression we engage in makes us unworthy of claiming our own equality.

But…

I am hopeful, that no matter how hard they fight us, or how long it takes, the journey to equality is inexorable, both for my community, and for so many others who are kept down. That the more violently they lash out, the more we will know we are winning.  That we will find a way to help those of us trapped in toxic environments to escape and stop living in self-loathing and fear.  That my community will overcome it’s own prejudices and learn to support others who face similar oppression.  I’m not naive enough to think that it will happen in my lifetime, but sometimes holding onto that hope is all we have to get ourselves through times like these.

Changing up my workout program

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I decided to bite the bullet and change my workout program even though I haven’t technically hit all of my goals yet.  I’ve managed to reach my goals for both the Deadlift and the Squat, but I’m still lagging on my Bench Press and the Standing Military Press.  I’ve been right on the edge with the Bench Press for a couple of months now without ever making it over the barrier.  I’ve sort of hit a plateau, and it’s time for change.  So here are the reasons why I’ve decided to change my workout program.

1) I’ve been having trouble working getting my workouts in for the last two months consistently. There are a couple reasons for this.  Ever since I moved up to Michigan, instead of working out a gym I have been lifing in my boyfriend’s basement.  While I was living there, working out was a simple matter of walking downstairs.  But now that my partner and I are living in our own place again, working out means I have to go over to their place.

And trying not to be disruptive to them is making my workout schedule very erratic.  I would ideally like to lift first thing in the morning, but I often end up not lifting until I get off of work.  My work schedule is also really erratic, which means I’ve occasionally had to lift in the evening.  This is sort of a problem for me, because when I work out late it ends up messing with my sleep.  So a lot of times if I don’t get out of work by a certain time (around 3) I have not lifted.

Of course all of this is a bit of an excuse, because of reason 2.

2) I’m bored.  For the past 4 months, I’ve been lifting (with more or less consistency) 3 days a week.  Every day is the exact same workout.  Squats, Bench Press, Deadlift, and Standing Press.  Doing the same thing every workout has started to wear thin.  I’m mentally bored with the exercises, but my body at this point is pretty adapted to them, and my progress is slowed down.  Also because I’m doing all big lifts every workout day, I’m not really giving my muscles the rest that they should be getting between workouts.

I think that switching my workout program will help alleviate the boredom and get me excited about lifting again.  So these are the changes that I’m making:

I’m joining a Gym.  Yesterday I checked out two local gyms, and I signed up for a 10-day trial at one of them.  I think that it is pretty likely that I will end up joining when my trial is complete, for a few reasons.  The cost is reasonable.  It’s only $22 per month when I buy 4-month blocks.  It’s a serious weight-lifting gym, not a fitness center overrun with cardio equipment.  It’s also the gym that my boyfriend joined at the beginning of the summer, and he enjoys it.  While he and I are on different schedules, at least there is the possibility of occasionally working out together.

I am switching to a split routine.  While I haven’t settled on a final exercise set just yet, I’ve moved from doing my entire body every day to focusing on a few body parts each workout.  I’m going with the push/pull split, so one day will be legs and shoulders, one will be chest and triceps, and the third will be back and biceps.  I haven’t settled on an order yet, but for this week I did leg day yesterday, will be doing Chest tomorrow, and back on friday.

I will be changing up my sets/reps combination.  For the past few months I’ve been doing five sets of five reps for each exercise (not counting warmup sets).  Since I will be doing a larger number of exercises for each muscle group, I am dropping down to three sets for each exercise.  I haven’t decided yet what I’m going do set as my rep range yet. Yesterday I kept it to five reps for each exercise other than the Calf raise, which I did as 15 reps.  I haven’t entirely decided on what my goal is for this phase of lifting, so I have to decide on whether I want to focus on continuing to build strength, building muscle mass, or triming down.  I’m leaning toward trimming down, which will end up involving higher repetitions at lighter weight, plus adding in cardio.

I will have to start working on adjusting my eating, especially if I’m going to try and focus on trimming down, but that’s going to come later, once I’ve settled on a specific workout program.  This part is going to be one of the more difficult for me, because my eating has sort of gone all over the place.  There was a period of about 3 months about a year ago that I was eating really well, but it’s been a mess ever since I moved up here to Michigan.  I’ve started some of the initial work to try and shift my eating, but that’s a post for another day.

But for now, I’m taking a new step in reforging my body.