Monday, October 17, 2016

Remembering a different life...

The following is a updated repost of  one of the first blog entries I ever wrote, back in  October, 2006.   

I was bouncing around the web a couple of weeks back and stumbled on It is a site than helps you locate addresses of people. So out of curiosity I typed in the name of my best friend from High School. Sure enough a result for his name came up. Not sure if it was the right person rather than call, I sent a note with my business card attached saying, if this was who I thought it was, to please write back.

A couple of weeks went by... and I forgot about it. I honestly didn't expect to hear anything back. Then the other day I got an email and it was indeed from him. It is an interesting experience in a way. I really have not heard from him since I attended his wedding. At the time I really envied him. He was marrying a wonderful gal and starting to build a life. They now have a five year old son with a daughter on the way due in December. He said it was amazing to hear from me couldn't wait to hear all about what I have been doing over the past few years.

I will confess, I have mixed feelings about that.

For the most part, I have not kept in touch with anyone from my High School days. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed High School, had great friends and good memories. Yet it really was a whole different life. Like many LGBT kids in the mid to late 80's I was closeted and terrified of coming out. On some level every day had some undercurrent of fear of my "secret" being discovered. The ultimate put-down was to say something was "gay" or to be called a "fag". You saw the kids who were even slightly effeminate or "different" getting tormented on a daily basis.

So you kept your mouth shut and your eyes closed. When you watched those 80's brat-pack movies, while your friends oggled Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, you didnt admit to anyone, not even to yourself that you thought Rob Lowe and Emilo Estavez were really hot.

Add to that, the media was full of stories of this new "gay disease" called AIDS, and the Reagan and first Bush Administrations were not interested in getting any information about it out to the public. So like a lot of gay kids I didn't know what to think. Could I get AIDS by coming out? By even holding hands or kissing a guy? Was it really God's way of getting rid of homosexuals? The fear you felt was this huge cloud that hung over you every day. You really did wonder if you were destined to be miserable and alone for your entire life.

And of course at time I thought I was the ONLY gay kid on earth. Now I know that there were in fact more than a few. Even at my own school. But at the time, the sense of isolation was overwhelming. But then, time moved on. I left and in many ways never looked back.

I moved to Europe, studied there, came back to WI and went to college, after graduation worked, traveled back to Europe, then even moved to Asia. Eventually, I came back to the US and settled in Chicago, and then I came out.

Like many people, for me coming out was a frightening and painful process of self-discovery and acceptance. I think back on the fear I felt in those days and it seems like I am watching a movie of someone else's life. A life that I would not ever want to revisit. Yet in truth it was MY issue, not my friends. They had no way of knowing what I felt. The whole traditional High School experience of the first date, first dance , first kiss, first umm... "whatever", while a given for everyone else, was just not possible for a lesbian or Gay kid in South Central Wisconsin in the 1980's. Or at least not for me.

Many Gays and Lesbians who should be my age never lived to see today. The statistics on suicide for LGBT youth in the 1980's and 90's will give you nightmares. I am so amazingly fortunate to have the family that I do. My parents are the two most incredible, supportive and amazing people in the whole world. Coming out to them while scary as hell, was truly the end of an old life and the beginning of a new much brighter and happier one.

( Just in case I haven't told you - Thanks Mom & Dad.)

I marvel at many of today's LGBT kids with "Gay Straight Alliances" and alternative proms. When I read about kids taking their same sex partner to a high school dance, I can only smile and be amazed at how, at least in some places how far we have come. Though certainly for thousands of LGBT youth in America the reality has not changed from the one I knew .

Over the years I didn't stay in touch with people back from "back home". One wedding, an occasional Christmas Card was pretty much the limit of my contact , and even that soon stopped. Someone recently asked me why I didn't keep in touch with people from those days, and honestly I didn't really have a good answer. Hence my card to my friend.

I know what you are wondering. Will I tell my old friend (s) that I am gay? Will I open up my life now to those people from my life "then"? Does it even matter?

Honestly? I don't know. I'll keep you posted...
FLASH FORWARD  Ten years...  October 11, 2016

It is worth noting,  the friend I wrote about  in  2006 , like so many other  amazing friends from my life  have shown me  in words and deeds  what I have always suspected,  my friends are in general, a lot wiser than I am.   As  I mark today's  National Coming Out Day there are straight allies in my life who  I still cannot thank enough,  

From the friend who answered that  letter in 2006,  and reminded me  why were friends in the first place, and  still today  reminds me to laugh at life  more than  30 years on.  Then there is  the Lawyer in Dallas who challenged my own  stereotypes of how I thought friends  would react to my coming out,  and instead ended up teaching me invaluable lessons about  acceptance and true friendship, traveling half way around the world to surprise me at my wedding.

There is the couple in Georgia whose friendship has literally spanned two oceans and three decades, who always knew, didn't care, and have always loved me for who I am.  The Career Air Force officer and his wife in Germany, who I had the honour of being a Groomsmen at their wedding, and years later are still sharing their adventures with me. To the School Teacher from Boston, who lived a remarkable  life of  always seeking the best in people, taught me to do the same  and  whose passing has left me  missing him every day.   All these amazing people, along with so many others I am blessed to call my friends.

And as always, my incredible family who just by being themselves  encouraged me,  and gave me strength  to just .... be myself.

And yes,  to those who,  for reasons political,  social,  and religious  felt they could not  continue our friendship,  I thank you as well.  Not because  I don't miss you,  for believe, me,  I  do miss you , every day. Yet  I owe you my thanks for  showing me that the choice to live authentically does not come without cost, and therefore must not, ever be taken for granted.  

Lastly,  to my amazing husband  Eric.   Who without even trying,  provides me with  living proof every day  that taking those steps to come out of the closet were by far, the best ones I have ever made.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

We just saw the Launch of Pence 2020

Last night Indiana Governor Mike Pence did exactly what he needed to do   He showed conservative Republicans that not only was he one them,  but moreover,  he showed them that he was not, Donald Trump.

You see, even before Donald Trump came along, many conservatives inside and outside the Republican Party loved Mike Pence, and they really wanted him to run for President. They saw him as one of the few GOP  Governors who hasn't completely destroyed his own state. A clear social conservative, a strong opponent of women's rights , and   against "the gays",

Not only that, he has a college degree and great Presidential candidate hair!

The far right swooned over Mike Pence  back in 2015 when he,  and his fellow Republicans thought they had found a way to strike back at the advance of LGBT rights, under the banner of "Religious Liberty." It is the claim that If you don't let people discriminate against certain groups  (Gays)  in public accommodation, it is a violation of freedom of religion. Because their religion says those certain groups (Gays),  are icky, and going to hell.

Despite bad press, the move rallied  social conservatives who, were feeling  rather bruised and battered in the wake of recent advances in LGBT rights.  It  made Mike Pence an even bigger  hero in many of their minds and hearts.    Rumblings of a "Draft Mike Pence" movement for  2016 started to be heard in places far outside of Indiana.  

Yet when  the resulting backlash and business boycotts  cost Indiana hundreds of  millions of dollars in lost tourist, convention and business investment revenue,  Pence's  Presidential aspirations fell faster than hotel bookings in Indianapolis.  Many pundits at the time said that Pence's  moment had clearly come and gone.

Then Donald Trump picked him as his running mate.  Which for the past few months seemed to make Pence's  chances even worse,  As  the Trump campaign seemed  to be running some sort of bizarre experiment to see  if they could make each week in the campaign a bigger disaster than the previous one. So heading into Last night's Vice Presidential candidate debate,  Pence, had an impossible task. Defending his running mate, and the unhinged, reality free, racist, sexist, borderline fascist episodes of political Turrets Syndrome,  that have defined his candidacy.

Pence knew that Donald Trump was indefensible, so he did the only thing he could.   He didn't even try.

Faced with facts,  Pence didn't even attempt to spin them, instead he went to the "Conservative Happy Place". That magical land that exists only  in the right wing mind, where negative polling numbers are "rigged", outrageous statements, even when caught on video, simply didn't happen, and "far right" is always right. So any inconvenient facts, no matter how easily proven,  can be denied.

Mike Pence's  debate performance was the political equivalent of  the Shaggy song "It Wasn't Me." Only in this case it was  "It Wasn't Him" (Trump)

Last night's debate was a textbook study of the American political dialogue for the last 8 plus years.   Democrats point out the reality of what is said, proposed and believed by Republicans.  Then in response, Republicans  flat out deny  everything they have said, proposed and done. What is left, is two people having two completely separate conversations, where one side is obsessed with detailing the facts, and the other is equally obsessed with pretending they don't exist. So any chance of finding solutions or common ground becomes pretty much impossible.

It is worth noting that prior to Pence's election as Governor of Indiana he was a conservative talk radio host. Coming from the world of the Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks and Sean Hanitys, blissfully bulldozing past facts is pretty much their bread and butter. Any information that doesn't support the established talking points is quickly brushed aside as "liberal bias".

The result? Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate, Governor Tim Kaine looked like a man trying to herd cats. It simply didn't matter what the truth was, Pence was't going to budge an inch. His personal reality was going to remain intact no matter what,    It may not have helped pull Trump out of the electoral hole he is currently in,  but  Pence also didn't  do any damage to his Party or  their ticket.

As a result, Conservatives watching totally ate it up. Mike Pence has once again become their smooth silver haired telegenic champion against all those liberally biased "Facts".   Pence even went out of his way to channel the spirit of the great Conservative patron saint,  Ronald Reagan.

“There they go again,” Pence replied  at one point, in response to Tim Kaine's barrage of facts.  A clear  reference to conservative hero Ronald Reagan’s famous line — “There you go again” — during the 1980 presidential debate against Jimmy Carter. He later went on to quote  Reagan on the subject of  nuclear war.

The Washington Post summed Pence's performance pretty well....

"If Tuesday night’s vice-presidential debate was about Mike Pence helping Donald Trump right the ship in the 2016 presidential race, it was an abject failure. But if it was about making Mike Pence look good — possibly for a future presidential run? — it was a success. By largely parrying Tim Kaine’s many attacks on Trump and avoiding direct, in-depth defenses of Trump’s most controversial policies and provocative statements, Pence did plenty of good for himself, if not his running mate."

So weeks still to go before the 2016 votes are cast, let alone counted, let the posturing for 2020 begin....

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hey Trump Supporters, If this is really what you want... Go for it.

Ok... When I sat down to write this blog post, I was all set to give example after example of how the modern day GOP/Trumpian/Nativist/Fill-in-the blank/ Pseudo-conservative moment, has completely lost its mind and gone totally insane.

What prompted that original intention? Well earlier today, I tuned in to the local talk radio station here in London and the topic was … The Donald, and his chances of actually winning the Presidency. Citing the Brexit referendum result as a potential harbinger of things to come in the US. The show was being broadcast from New York City.

There was a whole line of callers who praised Trump’s “Plain spoken manner” while completely excusing his racism, sexism, negativism, vast catalog of lies,insults, bankruptcies, welched business deals, massive scams like his fake Trump University and his overall emotional and mental instability, and unsuitability for the Presidency. 

So I called in, got on the air, and calmly explained how the electoral college works, and that comparing the US Presidential election to the UK EU Referendum was a wildly inaccurate analogy. After a very rational conversation with LBC’s excellent host, Maajid Nawaz, the next caller was a total bucket of right wing nut-job talking points of how evil, dishonest, and crazy Hillary Clinton is.

So I was all set to log on here and cite example upon example of how Trump is the greatest scam ever perpetrated on the Republican Party. I had scores of sound bytes, video clips, and quote after quote showing as clear as clear can be, just how hateful, stupid, anti family, anti American and just plain mentally deranged, Trump and his supporters really are.

But.. you know what? I don't care.
For over a decade now I have blogged about the lies, the hypocrisy the bigotry and greed on the American Right. Frankly, I'm tired. I'm tired of the same people who are on their third and fourth marriages, serial adulterers who while cheating on their spouses, boast of how they pray the loudest on Sundays,   but then get caught hiring sex workers on Saturday night, who sexually harass their subordinates, and feel they have the right to use the power of their elected, or corporate executive offices to hide all of it; Telling me that I'm the sinner, and therefore discrimination against me must be allowed as a protected religious freedom,

I am tired of being told by draft dodgers, that war profiteers are somehow more patriotic and "support the troops" more than people who actually served our nation in war. I'm tired of being told that Ronald Reagan, the American President who tripled our national debt, more than doubled the size of the Government and had a family life so dysfunctional, you could have roped them off, and charged admission to view them ; somehow is the model for fiscal conservatism, smaller government and "family values".

So this is what America has come to; Republicans who only serve the wealthiest of the wealthy, Trumpian TeaBaggers who wave the Constitution like a banner, but understand none of it.  American Talibangelicals, who scream hysterically about the threat of "Sharia Law", but want to impose their own fundamentalist extremist beliefs on the rest of us.    
All while a Cartoonish Reality TV nutjob leads them all ranting about birth certificates, walling off the US Southern border  and some undefinable mysterious yet DEFINITEY coming Muslim /Mexican /Fill-in-the Minority  invasion of the United States..
Add to this sad cast of misfit toys, Mike Pence,  a running mate  who, upon finding himself  un-re-electable  as a Governor, thanks to the damage his policies inflicted on his state's economy;  Promptly abandoned all his personal integrity to hitch his fortunes to the Trump sewage plume. All part of a campaign managed by  one of the leading gargoyles of  America’s  white supremacist movement.  The editor and chief of the  “Alt-Right”     

So I say go ahead America, vote them in. Destroy the U.S. Government. Refuse to raise the debt ceiling. Let the good faith and credit of the United States collapse. Destroy what is left of the middle class. To hell with the long-term unemployed. Eliminate Social Security and Medicare. Repeal the Affordable Care Act and bring back a health care system of economic Darwinism. (Survival of the Richest).

Drag the United States of America into a new gilded age of the super rich, and the super poor and nothing else. Make us into a country doesn't build, doesn't invent, doesn't achieve. Turn the United States into a country that says sacrifice is for suckers, and greed is God. 

The rest of the World may, for a little while, lament our demise. But soon, they will move on, quite content without us. 

China, Russia, (definitely Russia), India, and many others will smile and applaud, as a Trump Presidency completely destroys what is left of the American Manufacturing sector.   Mexico, Japan and South Korea will quietly cheer when the talking heads on FOX News gleefully announce the idea of a living wage in the United States is dead and gone.   

While at the same time, taking heads over on the FOX Business Channel will be insisting that bank executives who, when they crash the economy again, and need to be bailed out by taxpayers, must still receive multi-million dollar bonuses, as those are necessary to "keep America moving forward".

In November go ahead and elect Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Shout hallelujah as Pence  leads the charge to legalize discrimination against anyone who isn't a white, (supposedly ) heterosexual, evangelical Christian.   Chant “drill baby drill!” as the National Parks are handed over to Oil Companies, Timber Companies and Mining Corporations. You won’t need to worry about helping your kids with their homework as the GOP finally will finally be able to eliminate science from public schools. 
Go ahead, teach American kids, that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, and the human race began with two fully formed people, who rode around a garden on dinosaurs, chatting it up with talking snakes. All those students in India, Japan, South Korea and China  thank you in advance for freeing up all that space at Universities. As American students won’t be able to fill out the applications let alone get in. But hey, all that “book-learnin’ “ is just a liberal plot right?
In short, go for it. Turn the United States of America into DonaldTrumpistan. Then when Mexico and Canada put troops on their borders to stop the influx of illegal immigrants from the U.S., you can beat your chest proudly and talk of "American Exceptional-ism'. All while waiting in the breadline at your local soup kitchen, trying not to wonder out loud why all that promised wealth hasn’t trickled down to you. Or why the rapture hasn't beamed you up yet.

There is no point in trying to reason with Donald Trump’s supporters. Reason involves facts and reality. Two things they have learned to be quite comfortable living without. So I say to my Republican and Libertarian friends, good luck. The rest of the world thanks you, for all you are doing ... to eliminate their competition.

Well done indeed... I'm sure the mythical Ronald Reagan you worship were he ever to have actually existed, would be very proud.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Donald Trump is the Champion of White Supremacists

Donald Trump  the KKKandidate of choice of  racist sociopaths...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

He's Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaccckk!

One of  the great silver linings  in the dark cloud of absurdity, bigotry and outright stupidity  that is the Republican Party of 2016, is  what  has, as a result of those clouds  made a glorious comeback...

The first of course is Berkley Breathed beloved , iconic  and legendary comic strip Bloom County.


Donald Trump's inflammatory rhetoric might have awakened satirical comic strip Bloom County, its characters and creator up from a 25-year-nap.

Now Opus the Penguin, Milo and other wacky denizens of Berkeley Breathed's Pulitzer Prize-winning strip are headed for a comeback, more than a quarter-century after the strip went dark.

According to the new strip Breathed posted on Facebook on Monday, Opus awakens after what he discovers from Milo is a 25-year nap.

But that apparently was just the tip of the Trump inspired Iceberg. That's right... Keith is back!

Former MSNBC and ESPN host Keith Olbermann is getting another show, but this one isn't on TV.  Olbermann will host a bi-weekly series for GQ magazine called "The Closer with Keith Olbermann." The news was first reported in POLITICO's Morning Media newsletter.

Keith Olbermann will "be providing commentary on the election, with the flexibility to delve into other timely issues when relevant,” a GQ spokesperson told POLITICO's Joe Pompeo. Olbermann will also be joining GQ as a "special correspondent."

The move to GQ not only brings Olbermann in front of the camera for the first time in more than a year, it also marks a return to politics for the veteran host, whose commentary on MSNBC made him a household name. Olbermann left MSNBC for Current TV, and subsequently re-joined his original TV home ESPN, which he left last summer.

Welcome back Keith,  we have sorely missed you .   Your return comes at the time we need it most.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering a September Morning

(The following is an updated repost  of an entry from Sept. 11th, 2011)

Today the media, and the blogposphere will undoubtedly be full of all sorts of remembrances and commentary around what is the 15th  anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.

To be honest I really don't like to dwell on the topic. Not out of any sense of personal pain, but more out of respect, for those people I know who were far closer to the events of that day than I was. My experience that day was a somewhat surreal one.

I had gotten up very early and caught a flight from Chicago Midway to Houston. I was heading there for work. It was about 20 minutes into the flight, the seat belt sign had just turned off, and people where shifting about, getting comfortable. I had just pulled out my laptop to work on the presentation I was going to be giving later that day. Suddenly the seat belt sign came back on, and the crew announced that everyone was to return to their seats and prepare for landing, the flight would be returning to Chicago.

The Pilot then came on the speaker system to say that there was nothing wrong with the plane, and we were returning to Chicago because the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) had ordered the flight to return to "clear air traffic". He said that was all the information they had, and he apologized for the inconvenience.

Everyone on the plane thought the same thing. (Not terrorism.) Chicago Midway had upgraded to a new Air Traffic Control System earlier in the Summer and a few weeks prior, there had been a series of glitches that had delayed several flights.  Everyone groaned, made comments about "Government Efficiency" assuming it was yet another problem with Midway's system that was going to mess up  our day.

This  assumption that was bolstered when the captain came back on the loudspeaker  and announced  that we were not returning to Midway but rather we were diverted to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

The woman sitting next to me was happy about this thinking at least it might be easier to get on the next flight out to Houston. I nodded, and said "I hope so", thinking of how I might salvage the rest of my schedule that day and make my afternoon meetings on time.

It took us about 30 minutes of circling over O'Hare before we could land. Sitting in a window seat I watched as the line of planes waiting to land stretched to the far horizon and oddly enough, no planes were taking off. I commented on this to the woman next to me, and she said "wow Midway's systems must be really screwed up!" I laughed and said that what we get for Ronald Reagan having fired all the good Air Traffic Controllers. She laughed and said she had forgotten about that.

We landed and had to wait an additional 20 minutes to get a gate. but finally pulled up to a jetway , and we all lumbered off the plane into the gate area I was getting annoyed because people were not clearing the area in front of the door but were all standing around the televisions that were tuned to the CNN Airport Network. I was about to say a loud "excuse me!" when I happened to look up at the TV and saw CNN  replay footage from ABC of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center.

CNN then cut to live shot of a column of smoke and ash where the World Trade Center Towers were supposed to be, but weren't. I called my office and my boss told me not to come in, The area in downtown Chicago around the Sears Tower was being evacuated. I called my parents and let them know I was not in Houston, got on the CTA Blue Line and went home.   The rest of that day I did what most Americans did, watched the news, and when the images became overwhelming, I put on my roller blades and went blading along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

It was brilliant sunny day. One of those late Summer, early Fall days that you get in Chicago that make you appreciate what a beautiful city it is. As I stopped at Oak Street Beach and admired the downtown Chicago skyline, I didn't think that somehow the "world had changed". But rather I found myself thinking how the United States had  sadly, finally  joined the rest of the world.

Before that that morning, Terrorism was something that happened in other places, Israel, Lebanon London, Belfast , places far away. Even the first World Trade Center bombing for many people, didn't seem like international terrorism. After all, the people responsible were caught when they tried to get the deposit back on the rental van they had used. (How sinister could people that dumb be?)    That is what changed I think, it was the moment America lost the illusion that somehow our two oceans would keep us safe from global terrorism.

For friends of mine who lived in New York on that day,  I understand  that  today  is a much different  experience for them.   A good friend of mine is  a New York City Police Officer  who  lost an arm in the attack that day.   Another friend of mine worked  for an investment bank housed in the  North Tower,  she had a doctors appointment so she didn't go into work  that morning.   For her, today  is a reminder of  the  friends and co-workers  she lost  that day.

For the numerous friends of mine who have served, and currently serve in both Afghanistan and Iraq with the American and British Armed Forces, they deal with the effects September 11, 2001 on a far different level than most people ever will.

So this evening, as many Londoners and ex-pats attend the 9-11 memorial service at Westminster Abbey , people all over the world will remember the events of that day, pray for those who were lost, and show solidarity and support for friends and family for whom this anniversary is far more personal than political.

God Bless America, God bless us all.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Donald Trump on Immigration - We have seen this before...

MSNBC's  Rachael Maddow  gives  what may well be the best , and most accurate analysis of how we got to this place.  Where an emotionally unstable,  racist sociopath  is the Republican Presidential nominee.