Shorts with Chaps

This guy went on a motorcycle ride that I was part of last week. He showed up wearing boots, a Harley t-shirt, and a pair of ugly plaid shorts with chaps over them.

I admire his courage. And, as usual, nobody said a thing. His legs were protected, and he had boots on… so as long as he didn’t take off those chaps, I guess he was alright. But man, if you’re going to wear shorts under chaps, find a pair of plain-colored shorts. Those plaid things have got to go! LOL!

Life is short: wear leather and boots when riding — no shorts (alone!)

Can Straight Men Wear Cowboy Boots?

Okay, another internet search landed a visitor to my website. The question was, “Can straight men wear cowboy boots?”

That’s a different take on what searches usually direct to my website. Usually, the question is whether gay men “can” wear cowboy boots.

Okay, inquirer from Iowa, USA, I am here once again to disabuse the notion that there is any relationship at all between one’s sexual orientation and what he chooses to wear on his feet.

Yep, straight men “can” wear cowboy boots. Go ask a rodeo cowboy or working cowboy if he is gay or straight, then determine whether or not he “can” wear cowboy boots.

I keep putting the word “can” in quotes, because it really is not a matter of whether it is possible for a man (gay or straight) to wear cowboy boots, but whether in the opinion of some people overly-influenced by the internet and garbage they hear or read due to stereotyping that a guy should, could, or would wear cowboy boots.

Get over it. Guys wear boots — especially in Iowa! Come on! Whatcha smokin’?

Life is short: wear boots.

Living a Less Connected Life

I almost titled this, “I live a less-wired life,” but then I realized that at home, my computers are all connected wirelessly through a super-secure internal network. Regardless, I realize that I am among a dying breed: those who deliberately choose to “turn off and tune out” often.

Here are examples of the less-connected life I lead:

1. While I do have a cell phone, and it came with a feature allowing connectivity to the Internet, I have blocked that feature. I really don’t need it, don’t use it, and don’t want to pay for it. (I know how it works because at one point in my life, I had a Blackberry that was web-enabled. The slight convenience that I had with it wasn’t worth paying US$45/month [including taxes] for the data package that supported that feature.)

2. I do not receive text messages nor send text messages. Texting is, to me, something like an Instant Messaging system. There are expectations that if someone sends a text message to me that I should reply quickly. I have other things to do.

3. I do not have an i-phone or i-pad, a Droid, or a whatever-the-latest-gadget is. I don’t need or want one. While as a kid, I always loved a new toy, I find as a middle-aged man, I am not that interested. Sure, those things can do a lot of things, but I manage to do what can be done electronically using other resources.

4. I use a computer almost all day for my job. My desire to use more computer resources outside of work isn’t there. Last thing I want to do is spend more time on a computer. (Let me make it clear, I only use my work computer for work-related things, and don’t fiddle around surfing the ‘net, playing with Facebook, etc., while I’m on the clock. My work ethic won’t let me do that.)

I did not say that I am completely disconnected. Far from it. I’m just “less connected.” I have a traditional desktop computer and a laptop that I travel with. My partner has a desktop computer, too. When we do things on the Internet, we use one of these computers. I update my website, write this blog, check and respond to email, and so forth from home. But I strictly limit my hours on the home computer — about 1.5 hours/day, at most. Often, less than that.

If someone sends me an email after my dinner hour, I will see it the next morning and reply then. I choose to sign off and shut down the computer before dinner, then prepare our home-cooked meal. After that, I either go to a meeting in the community or stay home and sit with my partner to do what he wants to do (watch TV, read together, play the piano, or relax in our back yard.)

And you know what? The sun rises the next day and the world begins anew. Life goes on, even if one isn’t connected to the internet 24/7. It’s refreshing, relaxing, and better for the mind.

Life is short: turn off, tune out, and relax.

Being Out At Work

A study titled, “The Power of ‘Out’,” published by the Center for Work-Life Policy indicates in no uncertain terms that those who are out at work flourish, while those who remain in the closet languish or leave.

It’s not 100% one-or-the-other, but the study shows that LGBT people who hide their sexual orientation from co-workers — an estimated 52% of them — feel stalled in their careers. A whopping 75% feel isolated at work, and even moreso if they are men.

I’m not criticizing other gay people for making a decision to withhold their sexual orientation from co-workers and their employer, in general. I know from my own experience while employed somewhere else where I was supervised by several retired Army colonels that I felt that I would be chastised, discriminated against, and otherwise held back because of what I assumed to be the perceptions of retired military about gay people.

My problem was that I was making a lot of assumptions. I never gave my bosses a chance. I just hid that part of my life. I focused on my job, and tried to develop relationships with co-workers, but I remember how badly I felt about hiding the truth. It hurt. It wasn’t right. I had these ongoing feelings of being hypocritical and feeling like I was a liar.

Granted, no one asked me directly if I were gay, and I did everything I could to hide my sexual orientation. I never talked about my partner or our home life. My partner and I would go on some marvelous trips to various places around the world, but I never would show photos of those trips to co-workers because I didn’t want them to see me smiling with my arm around a man’s shoulder (in many, many photos.)

Many colleagues assumed that I was straight because I rode a motorcycle to work, wore the boots and gear of a biker, and behaved in a masculine manner. While those characteristics are fundamentally, “me,” (being a masculine guy and a biker), there were other “guy things” that I hid really well. Like I always had a good excuse to avoid playing on the company softball league. I avoided acknowledging remarks some men made about women. I found ways to avoid talking about “the game” (whatever game-of-the-previous-night it was) by timing myself well. For example, they always talked about Sunday’s football games for a few minutes before the start of every Monday staff meeting. I would intentionally arrive three minutes late, huffing and puffing out-of-breath, sighing, “I’m sorry I’m late; I had to get off the phone with (some fictitious but important person).”

I realized years after I left that job that most of my colleagues had figured me out, but were being respectful and didn’t say anything. Those to whom I have fully come out now — after I left — are even better friends than they were co-workers.

I am out where I work now. But as I have said before, I do not run around and wave the rainbow flag, or brag about “my partner and I did … this-n-that” or talk about gay-related things. I keep focused on my job, am pleasant to colleagues and co-workers, but don’t socialize with them (except perhaps for an occasional lunch.) They know that I am in a relationship with another man, and when appropriate, it comes up that I talk about him.

I feel more relaxed and much more productive at work, because I don’t have to find ways to hide who I am and what composes my character. I have always believed a great deal in personal integrity, so by being out at work, I can maintain a higher level of personal integrity, which does two things for me: 1) it earns me more respect from co-workers and management; and 2) I don’t have to waste a lot of time creating stories or finding ways to avoid certain situations. I can apply the time I spent activity closeting my behavior on doing the job I was hired to do. Thus, I am perceived to be more highly productive than almost anyone else. It even resulted in a bonus last week.

Life is short: be who you are, and be honest with yourself.

Gay Firefighter?

Because this blog is visited regularly by people who search for such phrases as “masculine gay man,” “gay cop” or “gay firefighter,” I am aware that many people have questions as to whether a guy can have what is considered a traditionally masculine job and also be gay.

For me, I work in an office doing work related to my profession. There are some gay men where I work — most men are straight. I figure the proportion of gay and straight co-workers is about the same as it is in the general population, though the predominant sex of those I work with is male — what I do has been traditionally a male profession. (Granted, there are excellent females who I work with, too. My profession is open to all, but in general, there are more males than females who choose this line of work.)

There are some professions, though, where the persona, bravado, and behavior of males who occupy positions in the profession do not align with perceived traits or behaviors of gay men. The perceptions that straight people have comes from stereotypes, where they anticipate feminine behavior and physical weakness.

As I was catching up on email related to the wide span of interests that I serve in my profession, I found an article written by a firefighter who came out to those he works with that he is gay. His story was on the internet (but in April 2016, it was gone). It was a good read. It affirms that gay men can have and be successful in jobs that require physical strength and are considered “traditionally male.” It also demonstrates that it is easier to be “out” at work, and not hide in the closet.

I was also made aware by the email that I received of a website titled, “Coming Out From Behind the Badge.” This is an excellent resource that provides information about and for people who work in the fire, EMS, and law enforcement communities about what it’s like to be gay and work in those professions. It also gives guidance to LGBT people on how to come out and continue to do a good job in his/her chosen field and profession.

I really wish that all that stereotyping about gay people would stop, but that ain’t gonna happen any time soon considering the political environment of the United States, and the influence that organized religion plays on people’s thoughts, decision-making, and perceptions.

Life is short: be who you are, and be honest. That’s what coming out is all about.

Who "Gets" To Wear Tall Boots?

Here’s an interesting question entered into a search engine that landed a visitor to my website: “Why do women get to wear tall boots and men can’t?”

There are a lot of interesting conversations all over the web on this topic, but I’ll share my own perspective.

Yes, women wear tall boots. It’s kinda funny that women took over “ownership” of tall boot-wearing back in the 1960s. In the days of the Civil War and all across the globe in the 1700s, 1800s, and through the mid 1950s, it was very common to see men wearing tall boots. Then when women began to wear boots as fashion statements in the 60s, men began to perceive that they couldn’t wear tall boots any more because, to them (especially in conservative areas), wearing tall boots was considered a sign of femininity. A man doing anything that was considered feminine became linked to being gay, due to the very inaccurate but pervasive social stereotyping that “feminine” = “gay.”

I am a man — a masculine man — and I could give a rat’s ass about other people’s perceptions. Those who know me as the man I am wouldn’t say that I behave femininely. Yes, I am gay, but I’m a guy. Period. Done. End-of-story. (I guess you can say that I’ve grown up to be a man, not a coward.)

There are many styles of tall boots made for men. Who “gets” to wear them is a choice made by the person wearing them. Contrary to social stigmas on the topic, men “can” and DO wear tall boots. Go tell a motorcycle police officer that only women can wear tall boots. Ha!

But besides positions where tall boots are worn regularly by men — not only motorcops, but also loggers, linesmen, working cowboys, and the like — there are a lot of us bikers who wear tall boots often.

Speaking for myself, I have long gotten over being worried about what other people may say or think about me or the boots or clothing I wear in public. It is not feminine to wear tall boots, especially if the boots are decidedly rugged: buckaroo cowboy boots, or a biker’s tall engineer or harness boots.

If you think for one moment that permission is granted by some Social Lord who “allows” only a certain gender to wear tall boots, then you’re mistaken. If you are reluctant to do so, ask yourself why you feel that way. If you are concerned about what other people may say or think, then you have two options:

1. Get over it. Pull on a pair of tall boots, stand tall, and proudly. If someone says something about the boots, learn how to say, “thanks. I think they’re cool. I like how they look and feel.” Period. Demonstrate your masculine independence.

If you can’t do that, then there’s always Option Two:

2. Put on sneakers, sandals, flip-flops or crocs, and crawl back into the cowering position of having society dictate what you wear, where you will wear it, and how often.

I know that sounds harsh, but honestly: nobody cares except you.

Life is short: wear tall boots.

Darwin Award Points

Regretfully, this image was on the front page of the electronic section of the local newspaper. What’s wrong with this picture?

  • Full face helmet (good), visor open (bad)
  • Shorts, not long pants
  • Flip flops? Oh, come on!
  • Riding to a bar that serves alcohol? Like a designated driver is going to take you home after you’ve been drinking? Really?

This is what I meant yesterday about the idiots who are gathering points for a Darwin Award while simultaneously giving the rest of us bikers a bad name. Shame, shame, shame.

Life is short: real bikers wear long pants and boots. Always. No exceptions. And they don’t drink and drive, either.

Things I Mumble in Traffic

Admit it… we all do it… we see someone pull an idiotic stunt while driving, and we make, uhhh, certain “utterances.”  In my case, most of what I say is in Italian, and most of the time, it’s under my breath.  That is, no one else can hear me, or if they can hear me, they cannot understand what I say. I am not one of those kinds of people who yells and screams in traffic. I usually give the other guy the right-of-way, even if he’s being a jerk or she is driving aggressively. I am not nearly as important as many of the other drivers here in snoburbia. I’ll get there eventually.

So here are (in English) the most common phrases I mutter when I see a driver doing something stupid:

  • Hang up and drive!
  • The speed camera will trigger a ticket for people going 12 mph over the speed limit — not 12mph under! Speed up at least to the posted speed limit, dumb-dumb!
  • Stop checking your email and drive!
  • No, idiot in the little black sports car, just because I am on a motorcycle doesn’t give you the right to blow past me in my lane! Go back to driving school.
  • appenda e guidi!
  • oh yeah, that’s right. Turn signals were invented for the other guy to use. Silly me, wanting to know your intentions.
  • Stop texting and drive!
  • Luxury minivan driver from the western part of our county, you really don’t need two mini DVD players, do you? Really?
  • Hang up and drive!
  • Oh goody, thanks for cutting me off so I can test my Harley’s stoopid-driver-avoidance skills once again.
  • Nope, your email is still not that important. Put down your toy and drive!
  • Which lane do you want? My lane, your lane, or both? Oh, both? Why didn’t you say so!
  • appenda e guidi!
  • It’s right turn on red after stop, idiot — not “right turn after slowing down to 30mph.” Silly me, I forgot how important you are.
  • Stop texting — drive!
  • Oh yeah, that’s right, Mr. “my expensive luxury car is better than your dirty old truck” — I sure hope some dirt from my truck didn’t sully your car’s expensive fresh-washed finish!
  • Hang up and drive!
  • Umm… umm… the light is green. Oh yeah, right, your email is much more important than actually driving. Excuse me for not understanding.
  • I just love what you’ve done with the fingernail on the third finger of your left hand! Show me again, puhleeze?
  • Stop texting and drive!
  • There’s yet another idiot riding a motorcycle wearing a full-face helmet but also shorts and tennis shoes (insert alternatives–sneakers, flip-flops, sandals): way to go to earn points for your Darwin Award while simultaneously giving the rest of us bikers a bad name. Bikers wear long pants and boots!
  • Juggling both a Blackberry and a cell phone? Really?
  • Your left turn in front of my Harley is always more important that my legal right-of-way riding on this road. Forgive my indiscretion, and look for my family’s wrongful death lawsuit when you kill me.
  • No, ducking won’t avoid getting a ticket when you blow past a red light with a camera (you won’t believe how many people I see speed through the lights and duck while doing it! LOL!)

These are some of the things I say… I’m sure there are more. Have you had any of these situations happen? Life is lovely here in snoburbia — home of the most gadget-obsessed and thoughtless drivers around.

Life is short: drive responsibly, and watch for us motorcyclists!

Post 1200 and other news

More quickly than I thought, I have reached the 1,200th post on this blog — pretty good since I’ve only been writing and posting on this blog since January, 2008. I have followed other blogs and am disappointed when they stop, as many of them have. I give kudos to fellow blogger Roland who started a blog a few months after I did, and keeps at it. Way to go, Roland! WescoBear blogs often, too, but I have stopped visiting his blog because I won’t sit through advertising to read it.

I understand why bloggers stop blogging — it takes a concerted effort to think of new content and to write new material — and for me, to write and post every day. I have welcomed the occasional guest blog post, and remain open to more guest posts that have to do with boots, leather, biker gear, motorcycle riding, and being a normal, sensible, rational, monogamously partnered gay man among the mixed and unwashed masses (giggle.)

Speaking of the partner … a news update. He and I saw his neurosurgeon. Yes, he has a brain tumor. No, it’s not malignant. Yes, he will require surgery. No, not now. I will be administering some treatments as his doctor showed me to reduce the acoustic neuroma behind his left ear, and then the doc will take it out in September. Wish partner well. Having brain surgery is a scary thought, though it could have been worse.

Life is short: keep blogging and care for those you love by showing them how you care by doing something for them.

Longest Day of the Year

Today is the summer solstice up here in North America — it gives us the longest amount of daylight that we will enjoy in 2011. For us at 38° 53′ North and 77° 02′ West, that means that local sunrise will be at 05:43 and sunset will be at 20:37 with 14 hours and 53 minutes of daylight.

I will enjoy a long early morning walk in twilight (and not in the dark, as usual) then riding my Harley to work after the sun has risen, and then lingering with my partner in the evening, holding hands and watching the sun set. That’s our tradition on the eve of the summer solstice.

Nothing special, really, on this longest day of the year. Just enjoying it!

It’s not a problem, either, to go to bed before it is dark outside. Usually, I’m in bed before dark during the month of June and half of July. No biggie — fortunately, light doesn’t prevent me from getting to sleep.

Life is short: love it!