A Coming Out Nudge

I received an email from my friend Kevin in response to yesterday’s blog post titled, “Why Are Gay Men Insecure?”. His words express a lot of thoughtful insights about “coming out” (revealing his sexual orientation) to others. I had no idea that my writings would inspire him in this way. I’m truly touched.

I [was] thinking how blessed I have been by a close friendship over the years and decided that I was doing that friendship a disservice. There would always be this part of myself that I would keep hidden. It wasn’t the fear that we would no longer be close friends, I don’t believe there’s anything that would change that. But it was fear that [coming out to her] would forever alter her perception of me.

My greatest regret is that I didn’t have the courage or wisdom to share this with my mother while she was alive. When I realized that it was the very same fear that kept me from telling my mother, I knew things had to change. I had to face this insecurity, move past it, and deal with life honestly and courageously.

So, better than any critique I could give about the points you so very eloquently made in your post, I simply say your words have touched my heart and moved me off the fence and into action. I thank you for that. I’m choosing not to delude myself any longer. If you truly care for family and friends, keeping this simple fact from those you care about harms the relationship you have with them. You never give them the opportunity to love you and not the false representation you’ve given them.

Life is short: be yourself, and have confidence that true friends will not forsake you if you come out to them. Family, if they love you as they proclaim, won’t either. (I know; been there, done that… and while there is no t-shirt for it, the immense sense of relief that you feel when you confide your sexual orientation to those who love you is tremendous, and immeasurable.)

Why Are Gay Men Insecure?

Another question entered into a Google search and landed here on this blog. Good question, but bad presumption.

I’m here to say that not all gay men are insecure. The question could have been phrased better. Nonetheless, among the straight community, there is an assumption that all gay men are the same. They all act and behave the same. They like the same things, and hang out with the same type of people.

… none of those assumptions are correct. I can attest, being one….

There are as many different behavior traits among gay men as there are in the whole population. Some gay men are indeed insecure. They worry about what other people think of them. They worry about how they appear to others by what they say and what they choose to wear, among other factors.

Think about it: scientific studies affirm that being gay is not a choice, but most boys are raised with the expectation by their parents and society that they are heterosexual. But as boys mature and some of them are interested in others of the same sex, they worry about why they are “different.” Social stereotyping plays a big role in that. Boys are expected to act and to behave in masculine ways, so they adopt (or try to adopt) masculine mannerisms that are expected of them — and also to hide behind the mask of being a guy. (This is sometimes confused with “living in the closet” which is not the same thing, but related. A gay man who lives in the closet is not disclosing publicly his sexual orientation.) A gay man who puts on a facade of “acting straight” is doing that mostly because he believes that is the way he should behave and appear to others.

So back to the point: what makes some gay men insecure? In my opinion, mostly it is fear. Fear of “being outted.” Fear of reprisal from those they hold most dear — parents, family, and respected others in their lives (teachers, clergy, bosses at work, etc.)

What gets a gay man over his insecurities is to become comfortable with who he is. Like I have said about myself before, I’m a guy. I am also gay. I behave in a masculine manner because I’m a masculine man. I don’t like all things that society expects masculine men to like — such as sports. I don’t like sports because I was ridiculed by my early-year gym teachers because I’m a klutz and seriously deficient in athletic skills. Okay, so be it. Does that make me insecure?

I admit, it once did. I was afraid what other people would do or say about me.

Then I grew up. I realized that most educated people don’t give a flying frig about my sexual orientation. They were more concerned about me in ways that other people are evaluated: what I did for a living, how I carry myself among others, if I lived a decent life (measured in various ways from being financially responsible to being good to others.)

I don’t go around waving the rainbow flag and pushing the fact that I’m gay in other people’s faces. I know that most people aren’t gay and some are uncomfortable with even the thought of a same-sex relationship. Okay, fine. Their problem to resolve. I help them figure it out by being “me” and doing what I do in my work, my community, and my life, then they find out that I’m gay. By then, it’s a moot point. They have already figured out that I’m a normal guy living a decent life, who happens to live with another guy in a stable, monogamous relationship. So what?

The point that I am trying to make is that yes, indeed, some gay men are insecure, because society has taught them to fear acts and words from others who are not gay. Once they realize that the world won’t end and their life will continue as it always has, then they can feel more self-confident and therefore, more secure.

Life is short: be who you are, and be secure with that.

Come Stay At My Vacation Home

Sorry, fellas, this isn’t an invitation for you to come to a vacation home that I own. I don’t own one. This was an invitation that I received from a good friend.

“Come chill. Do nothing. Sit and watch the water, read, relax.”

… sounds inviting.

However, when she extended the invitation to me, I was caught off-guard. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take a weekend and just go “veg” … “chill out” or whatever you want to call it.

Well, who wouldn’t is me. I admit. I thanked my friend for her offer, but declined.

Why? Well… first of all, I’m really too much of a “Type A” guy to sit and chill for any length of time. I always seem to be up and doing something from home repairs to caring for my aunt and elderly friends to preparing chef’s creations in our kitchen to … writing blog posts. I dunno, I’m the type of guy who can’t sit still for very long.

I’m afraid that if I were to go to my friend’s place, I’d be fretting about the stuff I could have been doing had I been at home. Isn’t that sad, in a way? Oh well, it’s just how I am.

Further, I wouldn’t go off somewhere without my partner, and my partner is so antisocial that he wouldn’t want to “chill” with other people around. So I have a conundrum of knowing that taking a day completely “off” and relaxing would be good for me, but not something I would enjoy.

So be it, I am very much of a “home-body” these days. I choose to relax by helping other people (that really is something I enjoy), riding my Harley, cooking in my chef’s kitchen, and sharing company with my partner. Even if we don’t go anywhere. He has my heart, and you know what they say, “home is where the heart is.”

Life is short: enjoy it your own way in your own space.

Christmas Shopping Done

I’m late this year… I usually have all of my Christmas shopping done by July. I was delayed because I have been spending so much time with my aunt who has required a lot of attention. But she’s better now, and stable. I have arranged 24/7 care for her, so I can attend to other matters.

The last “thing” on my list was birthday and anniversary cards for the families and loved-ones of five special seniors. (I’ve been doing this for a number of years). I buy cards for each of these seniors’ special people, then address the envelopes, put on a “forever” stamp, and insert them in a month-by-month card organizer. It’s a great gift for a senior who can’t really get out to buy cards any more, but who wants to send a card for a loved-ones birthday or anniversary.

For the past two weeks, I bought 186 cards — “birthday, male child; birthday, female child; birthday, adult male; birthday, adult female; anniversary of child’s wedding; daughter-in-law or son-in-law birthday; or a “you’re special” birthday card for a non-relative, but loved person. I sorted, labeled, stamped, and organized all of these cards into card organizer holders for these very special seniors in MY life. With that, my Christmas shopping is DONE!

Note: I didn’t mention my partner. Of course I got him some gifts, but I did that back in April. All done… no stores, no crowds, no “bah-humbug.” Just smiles and cheers of “woo-hoo” ’cause I don’t have to have any Christmas shopping hassles. Yea!

BTW: I guess it’s a “guy thing” that I celebrate not having to do any Christmas shopping. I know it’s not a “gay thing” but as I’ve said before, “I didn’t get those genes.” (LOL!)

Life is short: plan ahead!

Isn’t This Sad?

One of my banking institutions included this image in a recent email that they sent out to market for new business. The message was about “back to school” and spending money at participating merchants that provide a small bonus to their banking customers (and probably more to the bank for advertising and promotion fees.)

Anyway, isn’t this image sad? Two kids probably about 10 years old, each with their own expensive gizmo-gadgets, smiling away as they spend their parent’s money on monthly fees to support those things? Truly, I find that quite sad.

Back in the day, a dime to call home if we were going to be late was all we needed. Mom and Dad knew where we were all the time, or there would be hell to pay. Today, parents give their kids all these techie toys that cost a lot of money each month in service fees.

Frankly, I was just as happy with two cans and a string.

Life is short: just ask… I am on a first-name basis with dinosaurs, Julius Caesar, and Plato (or is that Pliny the Elder?)

The Trials of a Having a Large Boot Collection

Unlike some guys, I actually wear (or try to wear) all of the boots that I own. I admit, I own a few pairs of boots that I can’t wear any more. I keep some of them for nostalgic purposes. Like the boots I wore atop the Great Wall of China, or the boots I wore while in Romania during the immediate aftermath of the post-Ceau┼čescu era, or the boots that the Pope blessed (well, he blessed me, but the Fryes I had on got blessed along with me.)

I also have a few pairs of boots that I talk a lot about selling or finding a home for, such as my old Redwood Wesco boots that don’t fit me any more, and a couple odds-n-ends that don’t fit as well. I just cannot possess myself to discard a pair of boots, even if they are damaged or completely worn out.

Well, anyway, the other day I was rummaging around in the closet of our guest room and I saw something on the floor. Turned out to be a pair of jungle-type tall canvas/leather motorcycle boots. I had forgotten that I had them, and how those boots ended up in that closet, I’ll never know.

I got them out, put them on, and was pleasantly surprised about how comfortable they were. I wonder why I stopped wearing them. (Well, I know why: I forgot!)

That’s the peril of having a large boot collection. No matter how well one is organized with a website devoted to cataloging the collection and storage built expressly for the purposes of displaying the boots and keeping them in order (and off the bedroom floor, which begat the whole website thing in the first place) — sometimes one may forget that he has a certain pair of boots. Sometimes the boots wander off to get squirreled away in places that one doesn’t ordinarily look.

I do intend to reduce the boot collection to those that I wear regularly. (Note to self: keep writing that and perhaps you will follow through with this self-promise!) But I do wear a lot of my boots. I may change boots three to five times each day, depending on what I am doing, where I am going, and what I need on my feet for the conditions: rain, snow, or whilst motorcycling, for example.

At least no one can accuse me of not knowing what I have any more (giggle.) Just check out the website and my questions are resolved.

Life is short: wear boots!

The Blank Page

I found the most interesting and useful internet page — it is called, simply, “Blank Web Page.” (See it by clicking here. I promise, it won’t hurt your computer nor introduce bad things like a trojan or a virus.)

I build in re-directs from some of my website’s pages to this page from time to time. A “re-direct” simply means that if you think you are visiting a page on my website, it ends up somewhere else and entirely off the domain of my website.

Unfortunately, some people who participate in various on-line forums include a link to my website. They make comments about what appears on the website page to which they are linking. Most of the time, I can’t see what they’re saying, but I can guess. Since they linked to me without permission and I have no idea what they’re saying, I redirect them elsewhere. I don’t want them on my site.

Forums for CHP officers, Finnish motorbikers, die-hard Harley bikers, and even some brain-dead chick’s blog have linked to some pages on my website and then have been re-directed to “Blank Web Page.”

Whoever invented “Blank Web Page”: thank you for creating it. I had no idea something like this would be so useful.

Fortunately, the people who link to my site and get re-directed to a blank page quickly loose interest and stop visiting. Then I can rest my website back to usual.

Life is short: outsmart dimwits.

90-lbs of Sister in 180-lbs of Cowhide

Question: why would my little sister put on my new, tough, thick cowhide biker chaps?

Answer: because she wanted to ride on my Harley, yet her pants were so thin that the heat from the bike was hurting her legs.

Here’s the story. My little sister asked me to pick her up on my Harley at the Metro station, then go visit our aunt, then go to another sister’s house for the regular Friday night family dinner.

When I arrived at the Metro station, I saw that sis had on a pair of dress slacks that were thin. I was a little concerned, but she hopped on the back of the bike, donned a helmet, and said, “let’s go!” Off we went.

The visit with our aunt was great, but as we were leaving her home, sis explained that her legs were feeling really hot from the heat of the bike’s exhaust.

I offered to take her to my local K-Mart to get some jeans. When we arrived in the store’s parking lot, she was changing her mind and suggested we go back to my house and get the truck and use that to go to our other sister’s for dinner. But as this sister is known to do, she changed her mind again and said, “I’m having too much fun. I want to ride on your Harley!”

That’s when I said, “well, I have a pair of chaps in the saddle bag. You want to see if they will protect your legs while we ride?”

Well, there she is, all wrapped in custom-made chaps in my size. She is half my size and half my weight soaking wet. (That’s why I call her my “little” sister, even though she’s four years older). She and I both laughed our heads off. But it worked…she was safe and enjoyed the ride to Outer Slobbovia to sister’s house for dinner. The family saw our arrival and roared.

We are all still laughing. What one does for family.

Life is short: protect those you love and show them you love them!

900th Blog Post

Blogger makes it too easy to count the number of posts on a blog. So here’s 900 (well, actually #903 since the “straight guy” series and my brother’s post occupied important, sequential positions).

I’m thinkin’ of reducing the every-day posting activity to less often. Some times I have a lot to say, and other times I don’t. Some times people have time to read, and other times, they don’t. I think I’ll try to strike a balance in the middle somewhere. What do you think?

Meanwhile, keep reading, and I’ll keep writing.

Life is short: blog on!

Out Riding

I led a ride yesterday. In order to lead a ride, I had to take more than several “test-runs” earlier in the week, one of them with my brother. The trials were not all that successful, but even though I didn’t complete the route during the test-run, I learned what would work and what would not work; what roads to take and what roads we could not navigate, or were closed due to repairs and a detour was required. I also learned not to rely on the GPS completely. Great as a guide, but not the final authority.

If you want to know how a typical group motorcycle ride works, read this previous blog post.

All 14 of us had a great time riding the Maryland back roads and byways on a bright, sunny, delightful day. Not too hot, not cool … just right for Harleys and the smiles of the riders who enjoyed the ride that I led.

Life is short: get out, ride, and enjoy it!