Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Family Dinner


Shabbat dinner
Our favorite meal of the week.
Two kids ready for Shabbat dinner last Friday. The candles are kindled. The blessings have been said over the challah or braided bread and the kiddush has been recited over wine. Time to eat!

Indian summer

Catching the last rays of light

In the last couple weeks we have had some wonderful fall weather here in Northern California. The trees around campus turned bright red, yellow and orange. We had a brief rain shower that knocked all the leaves down. I caught a student last week trying to catch the last rays of Indian summer as the long shadows of fall sneak around him.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Here and out: The Color Purple

Last week we attended the touring production of the musical “The Color Purple”. This is the second time we have seen the show. The first was a year and a half ago in New York City during one of our theatre marathons. Based on reviews, we were not expecting much from the production. Neither one of us has read the book. Only E has seen the 1985 movie many years ago. We were blown away by the production. We ended up talking and discussing the production, script and ideas presented in the play for days afterwards.

On the surface it is a very simple, almost cliché story. It is a family saga about an abused and uneducated black woman's struggle for empowerment. But if you look a little deeper, there are several very interesting stories and points of view.

The musical subtitles itself as “the musical about love.” But it is much more than that; it is also about wisdom, hope and forgiveness. It has a very interesting and progressive take on religious doctrine and theology. First, it is a very spiritual musical. It is filled gospel anthems and hymns as well as blues and soulful songs. But instead of the traditional Christian theology that redemption and salvation is only possible through Christ, every character in the story finds healing through the internal search for God. Forgiveness begins with yourself and taking responsibility for your actions.

Another interesting aspect about this story is that although it is a classic “chick flick” type of story of strong, independent women, the men, even the most reprehensible ones, are also three dimensional characters that are capable of redeeming themselves.

Finally, it is wonderful tale of a person learning and accepting their sexuality late in life. The main character, Celie, has several songs about her coming out experience. The most touching is after she comes out and experiences her first long term same sex relationship that ends in a betrayal. She sings the song “I’m Here”.

In the YouTube video, Fantasia performs "I'm Here" at the 61st Annual Tony Awards. Jeannette Bayardelle is dong the touring production with Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child, Latoya London from American Idol, and Tony nominee Felicia P. Fields.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIbgFc9TLaY

My favorite lyrics to the second half of “I’m Here”.

I'm gonna take a deep breath.
Gonna hold my head up.
Gonna put my shoulders back,
And look you straight in the eye.
I'm gonna flirt with somebody
When they walk by.
I'm gonna sing out . . .
Sing out.
I believe I have inside of me
Everything that I need to live a bountiful life.
With all the love alive in me
I’ll stand as tall as the tallest tree.
And I’m thankful for everyday that I’m given,
Both the easy and hard ones I’m livin'.
But most of all
I’m thankful for
Loving who I really am.
I'm beautiful.
Yes, I’m beautiful,
And I’m here.

If you have a chance, see the show while it is on tour or in NYC.
(Final note: Yes, I love the show but I do have one criticism of the production. The dream ballet that opens the second act needs to be reconceived. The choreography comes across as if it was cut from “The Lion King”. )

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Closet Minesweeper

Mindsweeper: I'm here because I'm bored.My oldest daughter sent me the link to this fake movie trailer, “Minesweeper The Movie”. She remembers me playing it a lot. I spent/wasted hours on it. And I was GOOD at it. Interestingly, I have not played it since I’ve came out over five years ago. I suppose I could come up with some connection or explanation that ties the two observations together. Nevertheless, there are a number of different behaviors and pursuits that have changed in the last five years. One example: although I still run 4 times a week, I no longer run long distances (more than 6 miles) or do marathon training. In many ways, the computer games and distance running were ways to avoid dealing with the drama I was creating at home just prior to the separation.


Link: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1770138

Thursday, October 11, 2007

12 Things: Coming Out Late

National Coming Out Day: 12 Things: Coming Out LateThere are a lot of stories about the trials and tribulations of young people coming out in their teens, 20’s and even 30’s. What is less talked about is coming out later in life, when one is in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and older. We all have a unique timetable to deal with sexuality, self-acceptance and coming out issues. It is not uncommon to come out later in life but there are also many distinct and complex variables facing someone who does. For those of you thinking about coming out late in life or have recently done so, here are 12 suggestions:

First, take care of your legal business (divorce, support, dividing assets) with an experienced lawyer. Seriously, get an attorney. Don't put it off. Talk to a lawyer and know what your rights and responsibilities are, especially if you are married, have kids and/or significant assets. Don’t promise or sign anything without running it by your attorney. Don’t let guilt or shame cloud your actions. Money is going to be flying out the door for a multitude of reasons as well as possible spousal and child support. You have to be responsible.

Second
, give yourself plenty of time. Divorce/breaking up is a long and painful process. It demands time both emotionally and logistically. Plan on the process taking at least a year and a half. Give yourself time to grieve and take in the changes in your life. Don't forget to honor the life that was yours. In addition, give yourself time to acclimate to being gay. You will probably go through several stages. Some common ones are the slut stage, desperate for a relationship stage, moving in together after the first date stage, re-calming your inner teenager angst, working through internalized homophobia stage and many others.

Third, some family members (parents, children, siblings, etc.) are going to feel that your coming out is forcing them to come out as well. By that, I mean, you are going to hear how painful, hurtful, inconvenient, embarrassing, and shameful your coming out affects them and their life. They are going to have to process and reeducate what they thought a gay person is. It may be a struggle for them to want to do this. It is going to take time for them to come around. You will find that disclosure is a process that happens over time. Usually you can’t tell ahead of time who is going to have an issue with it. There will be surprises all around and some happy endings.

Fourth, get out and meet as many type of gay people as you can: young/old, fit/fat, bear/twink, HIV positive/negative, coupled/single, straight-acting/fem, drag queens, all type of lesbians, transgender, etc. Don’t limit your pool of friends. You will quickly discover that you are not the only one that came out late. Thousands of men and women come out late in life or after being married to the opposite sex. Some did it decades ago when it wasn’t as accepting as it is now. Some will do it in upcoming months and ask you for advice.

Fifth, make a commitment to learn about gay history, culture, arts, politics, and personalities. Read books by gay authors; subscribe to magazines like Advocate, Instinct, and Out; visit internet sites that cover GLBT topics (see my Commentary and News links on the right side) and not just porn sites. Watch DVDs about these subjects. (Netflix has hundreds of gay themed, non-porn DVDs.) Take a class or listen to speakers.

Sixth, get involved. Find and join various gay organizations that interest you. There are an amazing number and variety out there. There are groups that appeal to the intellect, the athletic, the social and the adventuresome. For example there are gay book groups, gay hiking and running clubs, gay dance (line dancing, square dancing, etc.) classes, gay choruses, and gay swimming, skiing clubs, gay bridge groups, adventure travel/camping/cruising clubs, etc.

Seventh, give back to the community. While you were closeted and trying to be straight-acting, you lived a privileged and safe life. You are now obligated to help those that did not have that opportunity. You have a chance to make the world a better place. Volunteer at a LGBT community center, AIDS organization, Marriage Equality group or other non-profit LGBT or gay-friendly organizations. Be an active member of the clubs and groups you join. Help organize or serve on event or board committees. Become a donor. Be a mentor.

Eighth, if religion is important to you, check out the many gay and gay-friendly churches, synagogues, prayer and social groups. There are a lot of positive and supportive literature and resources on how to live a gay spiritual life. There is no reason to stay closeted for God.

Ninth, go to a pride parade/festival in a small town and in a big city. They are two very different experiences. Support and patronize gay businesses. Visit a small town gay bar and a big city gay dance club. Visit a gayborhood like the Castro in San Francisco, Chelsea in New York City, or Boystown in Chicago. Vacation at a gay resort like Fort Lauderdale, Palm Springs, Provincetown, etc. Go on a gay cruise. When we travel, we make it a point to stay at gay owned bed and breakfast inns and guesthouses.

Tenth, act your age. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out to bars, clubs or cruise guys or do other fun stuff. Instead, it means you should act with confidence and assurance and a belief in the wisdom you’ve learned over the years. No one wants to see a guy in his late forties trying to mimic the worst traits of an immature twenty year old. However, there is something hot about a confident older man that draws the attention and admiration of younger guys.

Eleventh, share your story. Straight friends and family are going to have questions. This is a great opportunity to educate and have a positive influence. Develop and work on your story on what you went through to get to the “new” you. One recommendation, keep the story “G” or “PG” rated. Save the graphic details for your gay friends.

Twelfth, don’t whine about all you missed by not coming out earlier. Nobody wants to hear it. Save it for your blog if you feel compelled to share it. You have finished one closeted chapter in your life and now you are starting a new one. You are now living an out and authentic life. Enjoy it.

Bonus suggestion: This may not apply to everyone because some guys (straight, gay, bi, and all things in between) take very good care of themselves. But for those of you that have let things slide over the years consider this an opportunity to reevaluate your health and appearance: Lose that extra 10 or 20 pounds. Start an exercise program. Learn to cook and prepare healthy foods. Try a new haircut. Update your wardrobe. Doing something to improve the new changes in your life will not only make you feel better about yourself but will also make you more desirable.

UPDATE: Kids of Queers has some excellent points for a gay parent coming out to his children. Her blog has some very practical and sage advice. She knows from experience. She is the adult daughter of a gay man.
If you are a young, gay person looking to come out, ChadzBoyz GayZone has some excellent advice and support.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Six degrees of separation

It was a weekend of connections, both old and new, for us. We had another one of our getaway weekends in San Francisco. Friday night we checked into a hotel at Van Ness and Geary. We had dinner at an Arabic fusion, small plate restaurant called Saha on Sutter Street. We have eaten there a half dozen times and love it. We had another excellent meal before heading down Sutter Street to see a play.
Six Degrees of Separation performed by San Francisco PlayhouseOne of our favorite small theatre companies in the City is San Francisco Playhouse. It is only four years old and plays in a 100 seat space. Although it has small budgets and casts both professional and community actors, the productions are compelling and strong. Their current production is John Guare’s 1990 play, “Six Degrees of Separation”. The play is based on a real event that happened in the 1980s. A young African-American man gained access to the homes of upper-class New Yorkers by posing as the son of actor Sidney Poitier. The show is a witty, biting commentary on what drives people: the desire for money, fame, social standing, and, for a few, a desire for meaningful human connection.
I was just about to sit down in my seat in the theatre, when the person in the row behind me tapped me on the shoulder. It was my old college roommate and his wife. I have not seen them for probably 15 years. It was good to reconnect.
Saturday afternoon we took BART to Berkeley for lunch and a show. Our favorite place to eat before a matinee is Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse. Love the grilled chicken sandwich with a beer. We then saw a fantastic production of another ensemble piece at Berkeley Rep, George Bernard Shaw’sHeartbreak House”. It is a masterfully comic condemnation about smart, sophisticated but apathetic generation that is hopelessly adrift in a nation at war. Hmmm. Even though the play was written in 1919, it is timelier today. I always forget how wonderful a playwright Shaw was. He is not produced enough by local theatre companies.

A toast to the Horizons Foundation's Annual GalaSaturday evening we were back in San Francisco for the annual Horizons Foundation’s Gala. We dressed up in our tuxes, danced to the swinging sounds of Montclair Women's Big Band, listened (and chatted) to jazz vocalist Paula West, and bid and won a piece of art work at the silent auction. Horizons Foundation serves the LGBT community by making grants, strengthening organizations and leadership, and increasing philanthropic giving in the San Francisco Bay Area.

80,000 thousands friends at the Castro Street FairSunday we spent walking around the Castro Street Fair with 80,000 other fiends. This was the first time we’ve been to it. We bought a print from a local artist, Fernando Reyes. We watched and heard the Blue Angles fly overhead. But the biggest thrill of the day was when we were stopped on the street by a guy that said “you’re GuyDads!” This was the first time we have been recognized from our blog. A shout out to [Huntington]. I have read and enjoyed his blog for years. It is simple [no fancy graphics or layout] but sincere and honest peek at living in the City.

TIP: Half-price tickets for many select performances are often available on Goldstar Events. Areas include San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago.

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