Category Archives: Politics

Searching for the light of the New Year

As the final few hours of 2016 go by, I am sitting here trying to review this past year and make plans for the next year.  This was a tough year. Not specifically for me, but for many around me, and most definitely for anyone living and working for progressive causes and values. I know many who have experienced loss this year—loss of a loved one, loss of an idol who might have helped them through tough times through their music or art, loss of a relationship or job.

For me, personally, as I say goodbye to 2016, I know I’m exhausted. I have been an activist for LGBT equality and progressive causes for several years and seen so many amazing successes in the past eight years. Through this, I have worked on local issues in Portland, Salem, and all of Oregon, and national issues in Washington, DC.  I have long pleaded with those around me to get involved, to call their representatives in Congress, to show up to Town Halls, to even travel to DC to meet with their members of Congress or their staff.  I know that this is the way to get things done, this is the way to move forward. This is how we resist. This is how we get things done.

OK, let me get back to the reason for this post, to look back at 2016 for me and prepare for 2017.

2016 began so wonderfully and peacefully for me. I was in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, ringing in the New Year with the man I love. James and I had brought our dogs with us for a weekend at the beach. As an Oregonian, where I have celebrated many holidays on the beach, walking along a quiet beach on New Year’s day was very enjoyable and peaceful.

2016 was the first time I have lived through a blizzard. For someone who loves the snow and loves storms, this was a great adventure, watching the snow pile up for over 24 hours from my apartment window and then going out in the deep snow once the storm had passed was so enjoyable.

In 2016, I began to explore photography through the lenses of old, vintage cameras. I very much have enjoyed walking around wherever I may be, with one or two of my old cameras and looking for images that might translate well through that lens. I know that exploring new places with different cameras has helped a lot to keep my mind off the negativity around me this year.

I was able to travel a little this year, though not as much as I would have liked. We made a couple of trips to New York City, primarily for theatre adventures and I did make one trip to Oregon in the Spring.  In New York, we saw Hamilton—every bit as amazing as the hype behind the show. I also had front row seats to see John Slattery, John Goodman, Nathan Lane, and many other fine actors in Front Page. Broadway and Lincoln Center in New York; Kennedy Center and Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC. So much fine theatre and so happy to have a partner who enjoys good theatre as much as I.

For the first time in many years, I have ended the year working the same job I started the year with, and no thought of needing to renew a contract or search for new employment because my current employment was ending. I am finally able to plan once again for my future, to plan for an eventual retirement in several years. I have been able to begin investing in an IRA and also once again starting a 401K through my employer. Additionally, I have begun some initial investing in a few funds, hoping the market continues to grow in the future, despite the incoming government.

Overall, this year has been a good year for me. I have a good job, a beautiful partner whom I love, and I live in a great city.  As I prepare for this new year, with a new President moving in a few miles from me, and so many unknows, I know it is important to keep these things in perspective, even when I know it might not be as good for everyone else.  I will always turn to photography to help me frame the world around me.

I may be tired, but I know that I cannot stop. I cannot rest. It is the responsibility of every concerned citizen to be engaged, to speak out, and to listen, but question, our leaders in government. Together, we can get through anything that is put in our way. Together, we will make it through another year stronger.

Orlando

So many thoughts and emotions remain.

I think about myself, as a much younger man, trying not to be gay, but venturing into the darkness of a gay club for the first time. Nervous, scared, but also a growing sense of safety. Safety, even when, in the early 90’s, the clubs in Portland would thoroughly pat everyone down because of a real threat of people bringing in weapons.

I think about 2004, when Alex would call me up whenever he needed a safe escort to Latino Night at Embers. The energy and emotion of the young latinx gays and lesbians dancing to the beat of the music. The sense of safety I saw as they would celebrate life with their chosen families.

I think about now, with my African American boyfriend, still having to navigate every situation to be aware of who is around us when we hold hands in public or when we have (almost) kissed in public.

Knowing where to find safe spaces as a gay man is important.

I see and hear the political leaders who have long spoken against LGBTQ people, now trying to backpedal or ignore or deny that Pulse was a gay nightclub. With all the recent anti-immigrant and anti-gay rhetoric, isn’t this convenient?

Latinx men and women, LGBTQ people mostly, shot down by a Muslim man.

Ignore the specific details (racial and sexual orientation/identity) of who was killed and injured.

Ignore the fact that he obtained a high powered weapon legally, so easily, when, from his background, there should have been at least a few more hurdles for him (I won’t begin to discuss the inappropriate nature of the specific weapon used, which has no purpose except to kill a lot of people quickly).

No, ignore all of that because it is too convenient to focus on the fear of Muslim people.  Focus on that fear and hatred, so as not do deal with your own failures or shortsightedness. After all, the politics of the presidency are much more important than the humanity of who was affected. More important than the politics of community responsiblity.

I am angry. I am sad. I am numb.

I read the pain of close friends who knew some of the people killed. The stories of each of the 49 people matter.

These are all part of the thoughts and stories that surround me.

Celebrate Freedom, Celebrate As A True American

For some of us who identify as LGBT, we can fully celebrate freedom as a full citizen in the United States, with the US Supreme Court once again acknowledging that we are equally able to marry the person we love as any other American. But for some, there might still be a sense that we are second class citizens. I’m thinking here about our transgender brothers and sisters and our non-white brothers and sisters.

Today, I won’t write about any of the statistics or tell any stories about these groups and others who still do not feel that they are fully American citizens. No, today I look at the promise that was given to all Americans when the Declaration of Independence was signed, and ask everyone to remember that each of us was created equal.

I think about the day when I can walk hand in hand with my future boyfriend (husband?), who is a beautiful black man, walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, by the White House or anywhere else in Washington, DC. Two men, hand in hand, biracial, walking proud in the nation’s Capital, showing that we are just like every other couple (assuming that we will also be in love at that time).

The promise of freedom for all Americans is in reach and it is now time to celebrate that. This is what is called patriotism. It will still be a fight and challenge for many years to come, but on this Independence Day, I want to celebrate the possibility, especially since we have just been reminded of our full humanity.

Happy Independence Day!

Discrimination has no place in Oregon

Religious freedom to me is a personal thing. Religious freedom is to have the freedom to love and worship God without persecution. Religious freedom is the freedom to love my neighbor unconditionally.

When I read about the different business owners who have turned away some sex couples in the name of Jesus, it greatly disturbs me.

“Everything I do, I want everyone to see Jesus through me, ” I have heard being said.

The problem there is that Jesus would not turn anyone away.

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/opinion/2014/04/06/discrimination-has-no-place-here-in-oregon/7357183/

It was a day on, not a day off.

I am so overwhelmed with emotions from today. After several months of planning, we started early this morning to sort and divide the overflowing amount of donated clothing and personal items for the LGBT homeless youth served by SMYRC in Portland and Triple Point in Vancouver. We ended up filling about 220 bags of personal items and many boxes and bags of clothing for them. These bags and other items will hopefully be distributed to the homeless youth for the next 12 months.
We had volunteers front all over, from St Michael’s Episcopal Church, from the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union, the wife of Senator Jeff Merkley, and many others.

Everything came together so well.

This reminds me why I devote so much of my life to the organizations of my choice. I see where the work directly affects those who are often neglected. All in the spirit and memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

That is what this day is all about.

Emerging from…

I’ve often heard it said that you cannot really achieve success without first experiencing failure and while I somewhat understood that, it is really quite different when I have actually been to the depths of perceived failure multiple times to accept the fact that some things work out well in life and some things don’t. The key is to just keep moving forward. I will keep putting myself out further and further, knowing that sometimes I will see amazing results and there will be other times where I will be held back from reaching my goals. When I’m held back, I  try to learn how to get past the hurdles next time, usually. But as I get older, sometimes I just want to walk away. If I can no longer make a difference or no longer error feel like my voice is important, I will go elsewhere to continue trying to make a difference somewhere else. Hopefully somewhere that my leadership and contributions are more valued.

One door has closed on me, after nearly five years of standing at the threshold. I am turning to another door and knocking on that opportunity. Let’s see if this tenant is more welcoming and accepting of someone with a different perspective and a different voice.

My debut

The other day, I was interviewed for a local cable access program here in Salem, Oregon, called ‘The Valley View’

This is the first time I have ever done anything like that. Let me know what you think.