Dear Straight Person:

Posted November 5, 2008 by Troy
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Would you please stop referring to me as your friend? I’ve been meaning to ask you not to do it for awhile. I put it off at first because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. I tried to make it clear by ignoring you and avoiding eye contact. Then I heard you tell someone that we’re friends, again, and I’m all, like, “What, your friend? Really?”

So, for the record, I’m not your friend. Don’t make it complicated. It’s very simple: if you don’t believe I should have the right to marry the adult of my choice, we simply don’t have the basis for a friendship. Period.

I’m sure you understand.

Oh, wait. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to interrupt. It’s just that I don’t need to hear all of the reasons your religion gives you or your non-peer reviewed research or the research you take out of context or the lies people made up that you bought into without bothering to think about whether or not they were true. I don’t need your sorry ass excuse for love either. Thanks, though.

It’s fine if it makes you feel better. I’m just not gonna listen to it. Why? Well, the main reason is because it’s horse shit.

No, I do listen to reason, like it quite a bit really, but it has to actually be reasonable for me to enjoy it.

Things probably won’t change that much between us. I’ll smile to be polite as I offer you a ride to the polls. I’ll help you out with neighborhood clean up days. I’ll work alongside you at church. I’ll register you to vote and convince others to help you if your rights are being violated. I mean, I have to work for the common good. Not doing that just because I don’t like you is stupid.

We’re clear then? We’re not friends? Great.

So before you open your mouth again for that conversation; you know, the one that starts, “I love my gay friends, but…,” and then you go on to talk about how we shouldn’t be allowed to marry someone we are attracted to or shouldn’t have access to the same rights, responsibilities, and benefits as every other married couple, or shouldn’t be parents and how our children should remain bastards all of their life– right, that one– before you start that conversation, remember our little talk, okay?

Just to be on the safe side, why don’t you practice it with me: “I don’t have gay friends. I don’t have gay friends. I don’t have gay friends.” See, that’s not so hard.

Not your friend,

Troy

This letter is in response to this bit of news we got today:

Los Angeles stops issuing marriage licenses to gay couples

The Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office stopped issuing same-sex marriage licenses after a majority of voters approved a ballot measure to eliminate the right of gay couples to marry, the agency said Wednesday.

Voters in California, Arizona and Florida weighed in on constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.

As of 11:30 p.m. ET, 52 percent of voters had approved California’s Proposition 8, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

The amendment to the state constitution overrides a state Supreme Court ruling in May that legalized same-sex marriage.

My First Day In A Blue State

Posted November 5, 2008 by Troy
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My brother-in-law, Paul was the first to call me this morning to give me the news that Indiana had gone for Obama. We went to bed after O’s bomb acceptance speech (cried like a baby) not knowing for sure. After I said goodbye to Paul I popped out of bed, put on the same Obama t-shirt I wore yesterday (I know, but I don’t care!) and marched myself right outside.

Now I’m having the most bizarre impulses. In the last hour I’ve had a strong urge to buy a bunch of iTunes, drink a triple Americano, and hug complete strangers. So far I’ve only given into the second one, which, given the randomness of this post, won’t likely come as a surprise to you.

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about what’s next. Last night after insulting large folks by using that tired “the fat lady sang” line, Tavis Smiley threw out a phrase that struck me as interesting: engagement dividends. He wondered how Obama would spend the surplus of energy an engaged electorate brings to the table.

It’s a really great question, but maybe not one that Obama has to answer by himself. Those engagement dividends belong to the common good. Though I fully expect him to provide some ways for average citizens to take part in his administration, I see no need to limit my involvement that way.

As for me, I’m watching my part of town very closely. Right now, it is still a swirling cloud of friendly energy working to pull itself into ball of successful hotness. There are eleventy million ways for anyone who lives on the East Side of Indianapolis to take part. And if there is one thing working on this campaign taught me, once you are involved at all, you will care in more ways than you ever thought possible. This is doubly true if you are working in the area of your gifts.

So, think about it. Do you get a sense that there are engagement dividends in your neck of the woods? Is there a way to grow them? Because if there was ever a time to turn the common good into uncommon good, it is now.

(Update: I hugged a complete stranger at The Goose Market this afternoon!)

Happy Election Day!

Posted November 4, 2008 by Troy
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Well, today’s the big day. I’ve hung the colors on the front porch and put the flags out. John and I voted a couple of weeks ago, so that’s done.

We’ve had a campaign volunteer named Tim from Chicago staying with us for the last few days. We put him back on the road this morning though. He has tickets to the Obama rally in Chicago. Jealous.

Now I’m getting cleaned up to go work election protection at the polls with my friend Carol. I wish I looked more intimidating.

My friend Dave is getting someone he knows an Election Day present. I’m not going to say who or what in case the person he’s shopping for is reading my blog even though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t.

So, here’s the question of the day, if you were going to give someone an election day present, who would it be and what would you get them?

Finally, thoughts and prayers are with Obama’s family for the loss of his grandmother. Makes me sad.

Squash the Funny Business at the Polls!

Posted November 3, 2008 by Troy
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The following is a video put out by the Obama campaign on how to avoid voter intimidation shenanigans. The video shows examples of the kind of wacky stuff that has been happening already, including an attempt to disenfranchise Joe the Plumber because of a clerical error on his registration. Democrats ended up protecting his vote for McCain.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, and you live in Indiana here’s my main message to you. Do NOT get out of the voting line no matter what anyone tells you, asks you or accuses you of. As long as you get in line BEFORE 6:00 p.m., just stay in there until you either vote or have had a chance to call this phone number:

1-877-MY-IN-OBAMA

Tomorrow I will spend my day hanging out at designated polls watching for signs of voter intimidation as I cross every finger and toe I have.

Absentee Ballot Commitment: In Memory of Jerry

Posted October 30, 2008 by Troy
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I sent this to Ben Smith over at Politico. He’s been asking for interesting voter stories. Then I thought I should share it with GrowingSense readers, too.

Hi Ben,

Wanted to share a powerful absentee voter story from Franklin, Indiana. A friend of mine from church, a beloved retired Methodist minister named Jerry Hyde died two weeks ago after a long bout with cancer. Two days before Jerry died he called the woman who would speak at his funeral to leave some final instructions and then added (on her voice mail): “don’t try to call me back because I’ll be on the phone all afternoon for Barack Obama.” Since he was homebound and recognized that he didn’t have long to live, he made sure he voted early.

Dear Anonymous: It’s Not About You

Posted October 28, 2008 by Troy
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Prop 8 is the proposed change to the California constitution to take away same-sex couples’ right to marry. Jennifer Morse is an official spokesperson for Prop 8. I was reading her blog the other day and ran across this response she had to a 19-year old gay kid. I posted a comment, too because frankly, I feel the same way the kid does. Nobody will probably read my comment over there, but since I spent some time on it I posted it here, you know, just in case there are any 19-year old gay Californians reading my blog. It could happen!

I am responding to an Anonymous comment

When I pass houses that proudly display the very misleading happy-go-lucky blue family and yellow-backdrop Yes on Prop 8 sign, I swell up with tears.

“I am 19 years old. I am gay.

What you, my fellow Californian and American, impose on me with the signs you display in front of your house is a feeling that I am not welcomed in your great society….In my perspective, I feel like I am walking past a bunch of “F*** YOU FAG!” signs… and although that is not what you intend, the unintentional goal was met – and quite forcefully.

Anonymous: We don’t hate you. We do welcome you. We think every legitimate objective of gay and lesbian citizens can be met without redefining marriage. We don’t think this campaign is primarily about you. We think it is about the meaning of marriage. 
I think it is tragic for you to go around thinking that millions of people hate you. They don’t agree with your views, but that’s life in a free society. We don’t hate you. 
Anonymous, you are young, and still forming your sense of yourself as a person. I truly hope your self-esteem does not depend on the voters of California!
I have an article on this, here. 
The facts are that gays and lesbians already had all the material benefits of marriage through the domestic partners laws. The gay lobby has chosen, for reasons best known to themselves, to make same sex marriage a great symbolic issue. But individual gays and lesbians can decide anything they want. You can look at those signs and see the largest single grass-roots campaign in the history of self-government. You can see families trying to protect their rights to raise their children in accordance with their values. 
Or you can look at those signs and take it personally, as if it is all about you. I feel quite confident in saying that it isn’t all about you. 
The supporters of Prop 8 are not trying to hurt you. Honest.

Dear Anonymous,

Don’t you feel better now that Dr. Morse has explained why you should accept this giant grass roots effort’s ceiling on equality? Take it from me, it will be much easier to get comfortable with their honest “not hate” of you if you do the following:

Step 1: Repeat to yourself at least 1,000 times, “it’s not about me, it’s not about me.”

Step 2: Repeat to yourself: Prop 8 supporters lovingly considered all of my “legitimate objectives.” Once is probably enough on that one.

Step 3: If you start to doubt that the statement you are repeating in Step 2 is true or begin to wonder why only Prop 8 supporters get to decide which of your objectives are legitimate, simply repeat Step 1.

Step 4: Forget about Prop 8 supporters ever agreeing with you. In fact, you should stop waiting for Prop 8 supporters to love you unconditionally or to even accept you for who you are. The former is a Christian ideal that Jesus managed to live out, but that the Church hasn’t quite been up to tackling yet. The latter isn’t possible either because biblically you are an abomination – sorry 😦

Step 5. Surround yourself with friends and family who love and accept you. You need lots of love. Lots. Even more than normal when you have to listen to all that you have to listen to during this election cycle. Be with people (gay or straight) who will help you nurture the long-term committed relationship you might choose. Choose to invest time in people (gay or straight) who will be positive role models for you as you learn to be a good spouse and potentially a parent. It is very important that you understand that you are precious, wonderful and amazing just as you are. It might also help to know that there are lots of loving people in your state who know you are not an abomination – yay! 🙂

Anyone and Everyone – Parents Reactions To Kids Coming Out

Posted October 26, 2008 by Troy
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From the Anyone and Everyone website:

This film is especially important since up to 26% of gay teens who come out to their parents or guardians are told they must leave home. Of the approximately 1.6 million homeless American youth, 20-40% identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Nearly 40% of LGBT (GLBT) students report being physically harassed. In a 2001 Department of Health study of youth in Massachusetts, about 40 percent of gay and lesbian students attempted suicide, compared to about 10 percent of their heterosexual peers.

Many people about to come out wonder whether or not their family will reject them. If you ever want to know how important your family is to you, imagine someday telling them something about yourself that resulted in them severing their relationship with you. Or imagine sharing some part of yourself that forever made you unacceptable to them. It was a terrifying thought for me even as a 31 year old. For a 17-year old, it can be paralyzing.

The other night John and I happened to be flipping through TV channels before bed. By accident we landed on a PBS show called Anyone and Everyone. It is a documentary of parents reacting to their children coming out to them.

John and I were blown away. Hearing about the coming out process from the parents’ points of view was pretty heart wrenching in some cases. We were in tears more than once and not always because we were sad. Some of these parents turn out to be amazing.

I’ve posted the trailer below. I almost didn’t because it really doesn’t come close to doing the film justice. Check your local Public Broadcasting Station to see if it showing in your area. You can also order the DVD at the website link above. I’ve ordered three copies myself if anyone wants to borrow one.