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Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Road to Home

Welcome to my personal blog. I know there are a few that have seen this before, but there a few new visitors from facebook and the link shared on the video above.

For those few that have been so kind to read, share, and interact on this blog, I haven't blogged as much lately due to the journey I have been on over the past 2 years.

Life has presented me with many amazing experiences and even more challenges. Life has also given me love. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have met a man like Endhi. I feel even more lucky to have him love me back. Those close to me in my personal life know more of this journey and why I have been so absent in my regular activities. The video above summarizes part of those reasons.

I have learned so much about what the true definition of home is over the past 6 years. Home isn't 4 walls and a roof. It isn't a place decoarted with fancy things. In fact, home isn't a thing at all.  It isn't contained in some brick and mortar.  Home is truly where your heart is. 

After coming out I lost the home I thought I had. That home was really more an itemized list of things I was told I was supposed to have. A life, a marriage, a religion, a belief system, a family that was required to return to some "home" after death. While there was love in that red-brick house, it wasn't what home should feel like. It wasn't a place of true harmony. Yes, a few notes matched up here and there, but there was no song.

Through the struggles of post-divorce life, that pile of red bricks was sold (my "Place of Refuge" post). I moved to another 4 poles and a roof. It was far smaller with fewer things and less privacy, but my sons and our love made it a home. I had resigned to the fact that life may only consist of my sons and I. It was enough. They brought me joy, happiness, pride, and humility. If they were all I ever had, life would be good. 

Being a single dad has its challenges. It also has many amazing moments where life feels it couldn't be much sweeter. However, I did retain a little hope that there might be a man somewhere that could love me, and I him. Another heart to share the challenges and sweet moments in life with. As post-divorce, single-dad life goes, there are far too many moments that I don't see my sons; far too many moments when my heart and home are gone from me, and my house. There was a hope that there might be a place in someone else's heart to share those moments with too. A heart to spend the rest of life with; someone where home could reside more than just every-other weekend and random nights in between. 

Despite my growing cynicism on the subject of love (yes, I believed in love, but for others, not for myself), I put a wedge in the closing door to my heart and tried again. Often disappointed, sometimes giddy, but mostly still skeptical. And then there was that night at work. That profile on the "Scruff" app that drew me in. He was gorgeous and way out of my league, but he was 10,000 miles so rejection wouldn't be so hard when he ignored me. Nervously I said hello and moved on to chatting with a few others. There would be no reason this handsome man would give my profile more than even just a quick glance.

My self-doubt was proved wrong. He did reply! Shocked, I double checked my profile to ensure that there was, in fact, a photograph of myself posted. I had to make sure he actually saw who he was talking too. There was a picture of myself posted. Surely he must be blind then.

And so we talked a little bit. I was still in shock he was even interested in chatting. I didn't want to bore him, so I would chat with him a little, and then stop. I would let a week or two pass before I would chat with him again. Then only for a little bit, then stop, and repeat the cycle. I knew he had to have many others interested in him. I was sure if we talked at length right away he would be bored with me. This continued for months.

I then made plans to finally leave the borders of the US and visit someplace in the world. After making friends with someone in Malaysia, I chose Kuala Lumpur as the first place I would go to see the world. I had no plans to meet Endhi in Indonesia. I still wasn't totally convinced that he was real. There was still doubts that this profile I chatted with contained real pictures of him. I still doubted that there existed such a handsome man that was also nice to talk to....and willing to talk to a guy like me.

I looked into flights to meet him. He was only 250 miles from me. I was inexplicably drawn to him. Flights looked too expensive, so I apologized to him and said I wanted to meet but it was out of my budget. He was disappointed, but understood. (Even as I type this, my heart stops and is paigned a bit as I think I may have actually passed up this chance). I told him the cost and he suggested there was a cheaper way.

I looked at the route he suggested. It fit my budget. I requested he send me a candid photo. Somewhere in public or something. I was still skeptical that he was really who he claimed to be. He sent it. More than satisfied I booked the flight and took the chance. Best. Decision. Ever.

After a train ride, bus ride, plane flight, subway, taxi, and ferry boat I was finally on his island. I really hoped he was real. I went through immigration and then through the doors....there he was. Pinch me! He was cute!

This was Indonesia and a customarily religious town of working class people. There was no hug. I think we shook hands. We could not show any outward sign of who we were or why we might be meeting. However, motorcycles are the method of transportation there and it gave me an excuse to hold on to him. And I didn't pass that chance up. My hands fit on the sides of his stomach perfectly.

Yes, as two single adults attracted to each other do, there were moments of fun had. It wasn't that part that grabbed my attention. No, it was the sense of peace I felt by just being near him. Being in the same room with him holding his hand cracked open a space in my heart I had long buried. I must have locked that part of my heart away as a child when I realized I was different than other guys and would never, no should never, have what I desired in love. Endhi's gentle eyes and peace held the key long thought destroyed.

This wasn't twitterpation. I had felt twitterpated before. I had felt giddy when other cute boys had given me momentary attention when dating. This was not that feeling. Yes, there was physical attraction, but Endhi is inexplicably more. As the dreamer I am, I had pictures in my head of what a wedding day may look like. I am standing across from whoever the man might be. Both is tuxes, setting unknown. Interestingly, as I had placed other potential partners, dates, suitors in that dream, they hadn't quite fit. I never paid too much attention to it. It was only a dream. As I pictured Endhi there, he was it. He was the face that I saw. The eyes I would gaze into as we publicly committed to a life filled with love, courage, and happiness.

He was the one who felt like home. 

As I write this in Tijuana, Mexico today, half of my heart, half of home, resides with my sons back in Utah. The other half sleeps this hour in Indonesia. 

I'll save other details for another post sometime. Since that trip we have been on a journey. One filled with challenges, pain, disappointment, courage, peace, sacrifice, and love. It has been the hardest thing I have ever done. We have had to dig deeper for courage and commitment then either of us have ever had to.

After finally being allowed federal equality, we have filed our petition for a fiance visa and it has gone through the one of the longest steps. We now await the embassy receiving our approved petition and awaiting the final interview and approval.

We are close to finalizing the chapter in our lives and look forward to the other side of the page filled with new challenges and more love.

However, we need to pass through this interview in Jakarta in order for him to finally enter the US so we can marry and turn the page to the next chapter. We are hoping he can interview early December. We might be able to all be together for Christmas!

The success of this interview will be exponentially improved if I, the US citizen requesting it, am able to attend with him. This post is different from others.

I am asking readers for help. The journey has been drained our finances. There simply isn't enough left for me to buy a plane ticket to attend the interview and then for us to get back to Utah to my sons.

If you are able to help, please follow the link at the top and add a donation. I have no gimmick or trinket to offer in return for your donation. I only have my sincerest gratitude on behalf of my family for your willingness to support our love. Please also take a moment to share our story. While the world can be cynical, I do believe there are enough out there who hope for happy endings and can help us get closer to bringing my heart home. At the very least, maybe our story will make the world a little less skeptical of love.

The road to home isn't a physical place for me anymore. It isn't a bunch of things or 4 walls. It is wherever my heart is. It is time for family to be safely together at last.

Thank you.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Checklist

Recently I received another well-intentioned friend sharing his opinion on the amount of sacrifice this journey to be with who I love has cost. I have heard it from many friends, well-intentioned or not. While I would not allow it to alter the course of following my heart, I was hurt and a little angry. I took a few minutes silently by this friend offering his opinion and jotted out a note on my phone. It appears below (with minor changes for clarification, grammatics, and spelling, though it still may not be perfect) Years ago you may have asked me what I wanted in a significant other and I may have given you a list. My list today is far simpler than it was before. I hope I have learned far more about valuing love as love and not as a checklist. The text from that day follows:
"I never asked for a knight in shining armor, never to marry rich, never for a model. All I asked was for a chance at love. Not "like," not content, not worthwhile, but love. 
 Love isn't about a fancy wedding or an amazing honeymoon. It isn't just about flowers or notes, or kisses at the end of the night.
It's also about shoulders, and tissues; all life throws at you. It is about risks.....and rewards. And sometimes, to others, the rewards may not look worth the risk.
On my journey to be with the man I love I have been ever so surprised at how cynical we are. Sure, everyone loves a fairytale ending but only in the movies. In real life you pick up the slipper and throw it in the trash or mock the girl for not paying attention, you look at the dragon guarding the castle and think, nah, not for this girl. If that damn girl can't bother waking up to praise me while I slay the dragon, its not worth it. What if this spell doesn't make her perfect? What if she needs to take long naps daily? Nope, not for me. Too much time, too much effort.
Nah, in real life we like watching movies about struggles, we devour books about hopeless love in vampire fantasies. But, should our friends or loved ones find someone imperfect or a situation requiring sacrifice, we pounce. We call it stupid, or blinded, or impossible. Maybe its deep seeded jealousy, or pain, or laziness. Who knows? But we love to see love fail in real life. We love to say I told you so. We love to not believe in love that isn't simple or easy. I used to be that cynic. Today I choose love. I love to believe in love. I love the look, the laughter, and the struggle of love.
I am not the man I was 18 months ago. I've learned that love should be celebrated and encouraged. I've learned that love is already hard enough between two people. It doesn't need more obstacles. It isn't a diamond in the rough needing pressure to make it look more beautiful.
I've learned that shiny armor is merely sign that they aren't ready to go to battle. They aren't ready to fight for love. Keep your shining armor away, I'll take the man battle-worn. I'll take the man beaten and bruised and willing for more. I'll take the man imperfect who understands the beauty in that."

Sunday, November 3, 2013


I prefer the sunshine over falling leaves, but November sticks out from the other cold months as a time filled with good memories. A year ago I was somewhere in the air over the Pacific hoping to find some way to close the geographic gap that ocean put between us. I quickly found that it was not geography but ideology and my own "free" country that created the gap. It truly has been the most trying year of my life so far. The safety nets have been sacrificed and many times there seemed nothing between myself and the ground. I have watched many friends become fair-weather. Watched as family and trusted ones take advantage or seized the opportunity to ridicule my mistakes. I have been lucky to have a few old and some new become safe places of encouragement. I have heard most who hear our story tell me I'm nuts, but we push forward. Sometimes the pressure has seemed too much and we've had our moments where we thought of calling it quits, but I've come to realize that peace doesn't come from following the road others pick for you. I've challenged myself to not let outside influences and opinions cast shadows where none truly exist. There would be no peace if I simply gave up on myself, gave up on us. Though there have been and continue to be rough roads, I have learned so much about myself. While there have been many tears, loads of stress, sleepless nights, and heartbreak, I have also learned more about who I am and found strength I didn't believe existed. I have learned what value life has and what little value "things" have. November is amongst my favorite months. When I was younger I looked forward to having the family gather on a simple holiday. One filled with gratitude and nothing else to detract from it. Food and family made for a great day. It has been 6 years since that day was celebrated with the family I was given. I do miss the days when I thought I was accepted. Unfortunate that who I love would get in the way of continuing to be loved by them. I have no idea what that day holds for me this year, but I am truly looking forward to celebrating this day next year with 1 man and two little men who mean the world to me. I imagine that day may be my favorite so far.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

To The Mother-in-law I May Never Meet

A little background:

First, the video above is the song I danced with my mother to on my wedding day to my ex-wife. The memory is just that, it is what I once hoped my mom felt, but her actions (or lack thereof) since I have come out are speaking louder that the feelings in this song. I hope to show my sons that the sentiments of this song ring true to them from me.

2nd, as the day gets closer that Endhi and I will hopefully finally under the same roof, I think more and more about the sacrifice we are making. There will be 800+ miles between my sons and I and there will be 8000+ miles between he and his family. He is a little camera shy and that carries over to him taking pictures of his family. Traveling back and forth to Indonesia won't be simple until we get some immigration things handled. I've talked to him about the importance of having pictures of his family and what it will mean to him when he is far away from them. In the hopes that we get the chance to be dads together, I know it will also mean a lot to our kids.

His family knows nothing of his sexual orientation or about me. I wish that were different, but until the world changes further there will still be many like us that will face having hidden families and loved ones.

We joke about him saying "hi" to his mom for me. Maybe one day I will do that in person, but maybe not. 

So here is what I wish I could tell her:

To The Mother Of The Man I Love:

You don't know me and probably have not even heard about me, at least not the complete "me." Oceans separate us, but sadly culture and society keep us further apart. I am a bigger part of your life than you may ever know. You may never want to know either. I am your son's friend, partner, confidant, and beau. I am the person he sneaks out to the porch to Skype with, the one he is texting, the one he loves. That last one is still sometimes unbelievable to me "he loves me." I am truly a lucky man.

Your son and I aren't so different in many ways. We may have grown up calling "God" by a different name. We may have worn different clothes styles, liked different food, played different sports, and had different dreams. There may be a whole list of differences. Despite those differences, we share a common bond. You see we have both lived most of our lives hiding; fearing those we loved would not love us back if they only knew...if they only knew that deep, dark secret we've tried to cover up with so many layers. While each of us had a god by a different name, the same unfortunate beliefs were taught to us starting at the youngest of ages. We were taught we were somehow unclean, marked by the devil, mentally perverted, soul-less, and so much more. No, we weren't told this every day, but just enough that we believed and soon began telling this to ourselves every day, every minute. We would tell ourselves until we were convinced the dream of loving who we wanted would never be real.

There is a hope that you don't hold such a belief. There is a hope that you see your son as I do. I see a man that has come through so much adversity. More adversity than you will know. I see a man that has sacrificed his time, energy, health and even his very life to care for and protect his family; to provide food, shelter, and more to those he loves. When he and I finally met in his hometown a year ago (something you undoubtedly knew nothing about) we talked of living together, of starting our life together. There was one condition, one obligation, one gift he felt he must give before being together would be an option. That one condition wasn't to have a nice car, go to a good college, wear expensive watches or jewelry. The condition he gave had nothing to do with him, but had everything to do with the good man he is. He would not leave his hometown until he had provided his parents with a home of their very own. I felt depths of emotions on that trip I never knew existed. Seeing the kindness, devotion, and concern as he told me this condition only made me love him more. Your son truly cares for you, your husband, and your family. I hope you realize that. I have assured him that together we would work hard to ensure that he can keep that promise to himself. We will make sure the house you call home stays that way.

I told my family I was gay 5 1/2 years ago. It was scary. I was right to be afraid. 5 1/2 years later they are only family in name, they have otherwise distanced themselves from me. For my protection and emotional health I have let that distance grow. There is a few texts a year from my own mother saying she loves me. Other than my birthday, I know I am merely on a text list with the rest of my family seeing the same message. It is hard to accept it as real love when it is only in the form of a text. I dreamed one day that I would find a man that loved me. I also hoped I might be lucky enough to find a man who's family would accept us and celebrate our love with us. Unfortunately that second wish may never be a reality, regardless I love him and want to spend the rest of my days with him.

I say "may never be a reality" because we don't really know. Your son isn't exactly sure how you would react. He isn't sure that he would be accepted for who he is. He isn't sure whether your love for him would stronger than the religion you have taught him. For him it isn't clear if he would still be invited to family parties. It isn't known whether he would be allowed to have the conversations with his dad that he loves or help at the restaurant. He isn't sure his uncles would let him hang out with them anymore. He adores his father and you.

He tells you about some job opportunity in the US or Mexico because he fears telling you the truth about the happiness and love he has found. I wish I could say he was living in too much fear and that he should tell you. After seeing what my family has done in unexpectedly in disappearing from my life, I can't assure him that he would experience anything differently. I do see the amazing man you raised. I could only hope that he represents who you are. I could only hope that you would embrace your son and who he is despite your cultural beliefs. I wish I could meet the people that have been an integral part of his life since his birth. I wish I could thank you in person for bringing this beautiful soul into this world. I would cherish the chance to laugh, cry, and celebrate life with your family.

The day may never come that you know my name or my gender. You will most likely hear pieces of your son's life after he leaves his hometown, but you may never see the whole picture. You may never read this letter. I hope you will someday.

Your son brightens my every day. The calm strength I feel from him brings me a peace I can't explain. His smile makes even the toughest day better. The way his eyes light up when he laughs make my heart melt. Tears form when I see him run his finger over the screen of his phone as we Skype just hoping he could touch me. I look forward to the day I can hold him.

I hope one day you will be able to hear about your sons life in its entirety. I wish you will be able to join us in celebrating our life together. Whether your son and I raise my sons together or we are fortunate to add more to our family I would love to share that life with you.

His decision to start a life with me hasn't been simple. We have been through a lot trying to close the gap of 8000 miles between us. We are both sacrificing to be together. He didn't make this choice without thought. As much as he cares for and loves you, he deserves happiness too. I believe you desire happiness for him too. I hope you will see that this brings him happiness.

I know I may be asking much to have you look past what your culture has told you about gay men and relationships. I ask that you will.

I promise to care for your son. I promise to love him, even in tough times. I promise to fight to keep our love strong. I will be there on days he smiles without cares. I will be there on days of pain or ill health. I promise to treat him as my equal partner. I promise to listen to him. I will cherish the love we have. We will celebrate life together and all it has to offer. I have found a great man and will care for him throughout our days in this life. I am not perfect and there will be times I will need his patience, understanding, and forgiveness. I will work hard to keep those days rare.

I truly feel like the luckiest man. Thank you for caring for him for these last 32 years. I take the chance to care for him for the next 32+ years seriously. I want to make him smile every day. I love your son.

If the day comes that I can meet you I will be grateful for the chance to look you in the eyes and thank you for the man I will grow old with.

I wish you happiness and peace.

With gratitude,

Your Son's Partner

Friday, March 29, 2013

More Than A Day With Cake

This post was spurred by a facebook post from the wife of my oldest nephew. It has been a week where marriage equality has crossed the lips of so many Americans despite which side of the debate their words were on. Her post as follows:

Click Link AT Right For Link To Video

I agree with Erin, the news conference was kindly worded. At least more so than the LDS church had done before. I recall being handed church material as a young man that stated it would have been better I not been born than be a gay man or that it was OK to hit someone of the same gender if they flirted or showed interest in you. I recall being afraid to come out because the gay community was just a bunch or predatory, sex-occupied, soul-less creatures that were miserable minions of Satan. So, yes, it doesn't take much to be more kindly worded than that.

A common sentiment shared by the above post is that there is still somehow a belief of being respectful even while subjecting the "respected" group to live a subordinate or second-class life. "Your love isn't equal to my disrespect" just doesn't hold water.

There isn't anger in my next words. Truly it is bewilderment and even some pain. I am a little surprised to read my niece-in-laws views and "compassionate" opinions regarding who I am and who I love. Not so long ago my niece and nephew felt similar "compassionate" opinions on their love. My nephew married her outside of a temple sealing after returning home early for a mission. For those not LDS, a Mormon mission and Temple Marriage are the ultimate show of worthiness and proper living in "God's kingdom." As a man who didn't serve a mission I knew what he was going through. I knew the sting of words of "compassionate disappointment" the community can relay to men like him and I. Young men who didn't quite make the grade. While I don't know why he returned early, nor do I care, I know the assumptions so many LDS people make on your worth as a good Latter-Day Saint after not going or returning early. I recall their wedding and wedding planning. My family has an amazing knack, as do so many LDS families I know, for conveying disappointment, disapproval, and even holy anger while smiling and talking softly when someone doesn't appear to be making the righteous decisions drilled into our minds. Their marriage and early marital life was a disappointment to many in my family, regardless of the smiles they forced to show. I was not one of them.

Sure, I had concerns for them marrying so young as I had my own personal reservations for my marriage at such a naive time in my life. Feelings in my family were similar when I skipped a mission and proceeded to marry. Liz and I were fully aware of what they faced and we tried our best to not get wrapped up in the family drama and just support them. They even rented from us for a period of time. 

So, as they have felt the eye of disapproval in their own marriage, I am surprised at their only luke-warm compassion for who I am and there simple disregard to the legal rights of my future marriage to the man I love. It seems ignorantly hypocritical. I get the same feeling from so many of my family members. When you  have so many skeletons as they do in the closet I guess I can see where they would rather pretend I not exist. My skeleton came out and that surely scares them a little that I can be happy being who I am and living honestly. After all, we were taught such deviance from our LDS faith would surely bring us misery....I've never been more content with life and who I am.

The hope after a week like this is that people would see gays differently. One hope is that in my own life family would see my partner and I as family too. Another hope is people would see us as people.

It has been a rough road trying to get my partner here. Long distance relationships aren't simple. It would be one thing if he were finishing school, serving in the military, or otherwise temporarily unavailable to live with me. That would have a foreseeable end. It is an entirely different thing to live in the unknown. There is no end date or guaranteed time we will be together. His love buoys me up on rough days. It keeps me going, but our love has been relegated to a "respectable" dark corner as to not be seen or heard of in society.

Miriam-Webster Definitions:

Definition of COMPASSION

: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it


 noun \ri-ˈspekt\

Definition of RESPECT

: a relation or reference to a particular thing or situationrespect
 to an earlier plan>
: an act of giving particular attention : consideration
a : high or special regard : esteem
b : the quality or state of being esteemed
c plural : expressions of high or special regard or deferencerespect
My niece-in-law uses these two words in her explanation of how she feels about gay people. I would like to address each one.

Using the definition above it is impossible for her or her church to use compassion in their vocabulary yet still deny that same-sex couples should have the right to marry. The only way to truly have compassion is to alleviate the distress and support my right to legally marry the man I love. No, I am not saying they have to recognize my marriage religiously. They don't have to grant me permission to marry in their churches or temples. They have a fundamental right to religiously abstain from any doctrinal recognition of my marriage. That right ends at rites however. It isn't compassion to push their religious teachings into my home and into my love. Compassion is a nice word and sounds pc, but it is truly hollow if there is no true definitional feeling behind it.

I may be making the incorrect assumption on how she uses the word respect. Their are 3 definitions after all. However, I do feel confident that she isn't referring to either of the first 2. So, if she is referring to the third definition in any form the rest of her comments don't add up. Unless she is saying that the love between my partner and I is too perfect and amazing for marriage, she surely can't be respecting me while denying me "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Denying my family basic civil rights and protections is in no way giving special or high regard to our love.

There have been so many attempts to justify this discrimination in marriage law. There has been so many attempts to discredit homosexual relationships. Opponents of equality have cited everything from the bible to the safety of children. They've claimed it will diminish the value of marriage. They have even proclaimed that the very fabric of society will be torn to shreds if two men or two women are allowed share in marriage. As I misquote and forget who said it "why would gay people ever hurt fabric?"

The reality is that there is no basis to these claims. If there were, you would have heard those things brought up in the cases before the Supreme Court. They were absent. In lower court rulings experts against gay marriage have been discredited or admitted that there was no rational basis to deny marriage equality. 5 of 6 "experts" refused to show up to court after marriage equality attorneys took their depositions. They had nothing they could legally claim. If you listen this week in the court hearings you won't hear charges that gays molest children. You won't here specific research saying gay people can't be good parents. You really only hear that we don't produce children through sexual intimacy with each other. Yeah, and?

The reality is that gay parent families exist. I am one form and example of that. We are real and tangible. A recent birth made a gay friend a dad for the first time. I can't give proper description in his struggle to become a father, but I have seen a few of the steps and heard others from him. The process took over two years and 10's of thousands of dollars. It involved heartache and stress as potential surrogates came and went and tests and procedures were done. He persevered and the pain was worth it by the smile I see on his face. There is no way that this father is less qualified and loving than some broken condom or mistaken pregnancy (even within the bonds heterosexual of matrimony). This child has two men that have struggled and fought for years for the chance to love and raise this child. There is no way this child is disadvantaged from love. Gay families aren't a new concept. They have been around for years. They go through the exact same terrible two's, tweens, teens, etc. There is no reason to deny these already existent families protections, safety, and equality under the law. No reason.

Compassion, equality, respect. All nice words, but not specific enough to describe what their ideals mean to me. Let me end by bringing it home. There is no compassion, respect or equality for me when I lay my head on my pillow and can't look into the eyes of the one I love. There is none when I come home from work to an empty house. There is none when he has to be 8,000 miles away and waking up when I'm going to bed. None when I clutch my phone hoping the next notification is him saying the US Embassy issued him a visa. None when that ring is a picture of the denial letter. None when I try to console the person I love over a text. None as a cry and wish I could hold him and apologize for sending him to my countries embassy to be evaluated by the worth of his bank account and not the content of his character. There is no compassion or respect when I try to explain to my sons why people are keeping he and I apart. How do you explain to a child that the one you love and want in your family is blocked joining birthday parties and Saturday pancake breakfasts by some archaic, ill-informed law? How do you teach your children the value of marriage, commitment, sacrifice, and love when your denied it?

Equal marriage isn't about another day of cake and parties. It isn't about tuxedos or two wedding dresses. It isn't about flowers, invitations, gifts or even the honeymoon. It is about love, about commitment, about sacrifice. It is about walks on the beach or just down the street. It is about working hard. It is about soccer Saturdays and swimming lessons. It is about homework and not drinking from the milk carton. And, it is about holding the old wrinkled hands of the one you love as they move on from this life. It isn't just a made up excuse to eat cake. The reality is that after all the costs of immigration just trying to be together we may  not even be able to afford cake. 

There are movies with an empty seat, grocery shopping, reaching that itch in the middle of your back, reading bedtime stories, singing songs, breaking up brotherly fights, social gatherings, cooking, doing homework etc that are done alone when the person I love wants to be there. How many times have I looked over in bed just wishing I could watch him breathe as he sleeps? They talk about protecting families, but how is my family protected when it is denied the chance for two loving parents to live in the home? Why should Skype be the only way they get to see each other? Why should my children have to try to understand politics that keep us apart?

In the eyes of the federal government my love and I are strangers with no relationship of value. Our commitment to grow old together means nothing to the embassy. Why must that be?

I am not asking you to change your religious beliefs or let me participate in your relationship with your god.

I ask you to re-think what compassion and respect truly mean. Your family and my family can exist in society. Emphasizing the value of marriage and family by protecting all those that wish for it will only strengthen the fabric of our country. It will only reinforce the importance of this basic structure of society.

My arms ache at night. Not from over doing it at the gym or any medical condition. They ache because I long to hold the man I love and kiss him goodnight. I long to look him in the eyes every morning and be grateful for one more day with him. They ache to walk down that aisle and place a ring on his finger. My arms ache in hopes to hold grand-babies together side-by-side. They ache for the chance to walk hand in hand into our senior years. They long to love and be loved

There is so much more I could say and so many more experiences I could share, but nothing changes if you refuse to open your eyes and try on the glasses of empathy. Are you willing to take a step back and really see who I am? Who we are? Brace yourself learning true compassion and respect will be more amazing than you could imagine.

A Week Of Love

It has been one of those amazing weeks to be alive. Despite my best efforts to do homework, or anything else for that matter, I have been glued to social media, news programs, and the hearings themselves.

March 26th and 27th represent the culmination of lifetimes of being a silenced community. 5 years earlier we had learned to use our voice. I was a newly out gay man the fall of 2008 when President Obama was elected and Prop 8 in California passed. As momentous as having our first black president elected and his much more progressive outlook on gays, it was overshadowed by voters in California siding with misinformation brought to them with the monetary backing of a church, and church members, that I used to belong to. It was one of the first times since coming out where I felt the pains of what being a minority felt like. I spent most of that post-election November day in shock. Only months earlier I had come out, and despite the issues of an ugly divorce, I was feeling truly alive and happy. I was seeing the world in technicolor for the first time. I had learned to accept and love myself. There were no more days spent self-loathing, self-hating, and straining under "eternal damnation" to be something I wasn't.

Facebook was in its infancy, but it was a new, powerful tool for getting the word out. A rally was planned. The anger towards a church and culture that told me I was worthless for 27 years was re-kindled. I would not be silent any longer. It was the dawn of a new day in our equal rights struggle. Too many had felt the sting of rejection from a culture that preached love but practiced fear and judgement. After watching gay Californians taste the sweetness of equality we saw them forced backed to the bitter cup of second class. Enough was enough. As I drove up to Temple Square and LDS church headquarters I heard KSL report that the gathering of Prop 8 protesters was merely just a few hundred. I nervously approached this brave, new, publicly "out" me moment. I learned quickly that the church-owned "news" radio was far from accurate.  It was estimated that there were 3-5000 of us who were silent no more. I had never felt anything like this before. A new chapter had begun in American history and I was lucky to be a part. I knew that losing on Prop 8 had sounded the alarm of a sleeping giant. The door of our closets had been ripped off and we would never go back in. The American people would have to see the faces of a previously hidden community. They would have to regurgitate their internal homophobia in front of real, tangible people and many would see the poison in their words. They would see the soul of people they once thought soul-less.

We gained momentum with every step. A few steps back but many more forward. Other states opened their arms and let equal love in. Don't Ask Don't Tell was tossed away as an archaic policy of a past misguided congress. Courts heard case after case and saw they misguided and hollow arguments of homophobia. They sided with us and kept siding with us. Finally these two days were ours. No more steps, we were at the top. Love again was at the Supreme Court. This time it was my love, our love on trial....finally.

I attended a vigil on the eve of our 1st day in court. It was great to see so many familiar and new faces gathered to celebrate love and put our energy into hope. Hope that an even brighter day finally lay ahead.

The facebook phenom began again. The Human Rights Campaign replaced their usual blue background and yellow equal sign with one of red on red to honor our fight for equal love under the law. Profile pictures began changing to this red equality sign. Soon my news feed was filled with red. It was simply beautiful. There was an energy felt spreading throughout the internet. Of course there were us familiars showing our support, but there were so many more new allies "coming out" in support of our love. By Tuesday night I was standing at the Utah State Capital with hundreds of other GLBTQ family members and our allies in red. We gathered to counter protest a group of people who believed they were celebrating marriage and honoring it by reaffirming that only one man and one woman were fit enough to love each other. Those for marriage equality surrounded this event and outnumbered the "traditional" folks 2-1 easily. It wasn't a night of fighting or anger, but a night of showing these people we have faces and families. We peacefully stood around them and heard some of the usual rhetoric, but I also noticed some speakers sounded more neutral than I would have expected. I can only hope that seeing our faces and humanity had some effect. It was a magical night and one filled with energy, and pride for the dignity and love within our gay community. Even the same LDS church-owned news system treated us with respect not normally afforded my community. Even here in Utah we have a chance for a brighter, more equal day sometime soon.

While it would be premature to say what decision these 9 judges will rule on these two cases, I do believe it is safe to say it matters little. If the rulings somehow are against us or so narrow they only help a few, it isn't over. We stand on the right side of history and every day more and more Americans stand with us. It would be a small setback, but only short lived. Momentum and love is on our side and there will be more and more states voting to recognize equal love.

Prop 8 was the darkest night before the brightest dawn. I am thrilled to be poised to watch this sunrise.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Call Me.....2012

Add me to the long list of 2012 reflection posts, but hey, I never promised a daily blog. I've reflected at life in 2012 and it is hard to believe it was only 1 year. "Wow" is truly the understatement but what my mind uttered as I look back. Financially and professionally 2012 wasn't an all star year; still in school trying to catch up on years lost not living. However, it was a magical year in my personal life and fulfilling in my volunteer endeavors.

I'll mention those later moments briefly. After a road of 5 years of coming out and trying to repay my all too homophobic past, Utah Gay Fathers officially organized, filed for non-profit status and held elections that resulted in me serving as Director of this great organization. With the help of so many good men we opened support chapters in Northern Utah and Utah Valley, our numbers continued to rise, men continued to find a safe place of love, support, empathy, sympathy, and re-birth. 2012 ended with my step-down as Director to handle other events mentioned later here. Stepping down feels more like letting go of the bike seat and cheering this group on as they find their balance; no longer dependent on one person steadying them. UGFA isn't the end of my endeavors in the community, only the beginning really.

 I usually like to post a song that supports the theme of my post. There are so many that come to mind as I thought about this, but I narrowed it to 2. Yes, call me cheesy, but "Call me Maybe" sums up the chance tried in 2011 that panned out. 2011 found me finally shedding the broken heart I carried too long and making my first cautious steps back into the world of dating, chatting, and taking more chances. Being intrigued by the Asian culture and its very cute men, I found use of the Scruff app and it's "search by city" feature. Suddenly Asia was at my fingertips. Tokyo, Beijing, Singapore, name it. I met so many new friends and truly good men. Unfortunately so many find themselves in a world 40 years behind ours in equal protections for gays. Heartbreaking.

And then there was Indonesia. He was beautiful. Even from 8000 miles away I was nervous saying "hi." Silly really, but my first thoughts were "I would be in heaven if I found a guy that handsome that also had a good heart"....consider heaven found.

I did say "hi" or "woof" actually (the app's version of "winking" or sending a "smile"). I was too nervous to even say hi, so a "woof" was safer and I could just chalk it up to just another cute guy with a nice picture easy on the eyes. It stuck in my mind. There was something about his face, his eyes that I couldn't forget. It was a pipe dream really, no one that good looking would go for a guy for me. Or at least, that is what I told myself. I was happily proven wrong. He did say "halo" back and I had a moment of panic. What do I do now?? "Don't say something stupid and ruin things" went through my head. I think I replied with a very safe "how are you?." Probably a safer choice than "wow, you're hot, want to plan on forever with me?"

As I've learned in the previous courses "Broken Hearts 101" in the School of Hard Knocks, looks are great, but don't make a package. He was so cute though. I kept the conversation short as to not bore him. So, every couple weeks I would say "hi" and talk a little more, but try to stop early enough to leave curiosity and not annoy him. This went on for many intimidated months. He seemed like a good guy, impossibly 8000 miles away and apparently unable to see my picture clearly (why else would he still talk to a guy like me?).

Meanwhile I had also been chatting with a young guy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was also cute, but just coming to terms with who he was. We had many long talks about what it meant to be gay; the beauty of self-acceptance, struggles with lack of social acceptance, and of course we talked about guys. I have talked with many men of all ages as they take those first steps out of the closet and feel excited, lost, scared, and happy all at once, but our conversations continued and we moved past "mentor and student" and became friends. Then the ridiculous notion was suggested that I come visit him in KL and he'd show me around. He was away at college and had room for me to stay. No family around so he wouldn't have to be worried about being unexpectedly "outed" or found out. "Yeah, right, like I could make a trip to Malaysia" ran through my head. Months later I was on a plane and headed out for the first great adventure of my life and the first time outside the borders of my own country.

Travel more would be in my "top ten lessons-in-life" to pass on to the human race. I was traveling not only to a foreign country, but a country of predominantly Muslims. Travel more, watch TV less. People are people regardless of religious tradition. We would have more peace in this world if people traveled more and saw how much alike same values of family, peace, etc we share with the world.

I could (and should) write entire posts about some of my experiences in Malaysia, but for now we'll focus on the what, not the where.

I had talked to many Asian men in Malaysia and surrounding. There was no way to meet them all and it wouldn't be very kind of me as a house guest to not spend time with my friend and host. I did spend time with a truly kind-hearted Malaysian gay guy. I still maintain contact. So many good hearts in that tiny country. Progress needs to be made desperately so these men can realize their dreams of a family of their own with a man they love.

Indonesia stuck in the back of my mind and I wished I could meet him in person. I still wasn't sure I believed that such a cute guy could really be real. He was a mere 250 miles away, but that was impossible to traverse on my shoe-string budget...I thought. I made contact and apologized that I didn't have the funds to meet him. He seemed a little disappointed, but said he understood. We still talked and I still wished to find a way to meet him. After explaining that I was looking at the expensive way to get to him, he showed me how a quick, cheap flight and boat ride would bring me to his island. Hotels were cheap as well.

I took the leap, but only after asking him for a random candid picture of himself just before booking. I was still not sure a man this good-looking could really exist, let alone be interested in me. He sent it and I booked my ticket, notified the embassy I was leaving to Indonesia, and packed a backpack. My host/friend was concerned that I would travel to such a wild and backward place as Indonesia. He prayed for me and reluctantly said good-bye as I left for a few days to this unknown country. It was spontaneous  scary, and I loved it. I was continuing to break out of the shell of fear all those years as a closet gay man created.

After a train, bus, plane, subway, taxi, and boat ride I arrived in Indonesia. With no cell coverage there I just hoped he would be there when I finished going through immigration. I stepped out of the ferry terminal, and there he was. I was not finished on this journey of nearly every method of transportation; there was still the motorcycle ride. My 2nd ever (1st only being days earlier with the above mentioned man in KL). I still can remember the shape of his abs allowed a perfect pocket on his side for me to hold as we rode to the hotel.

I felt like I had stepped back to a world from another lifetime. Beautiful scenery, but a place where poverty was the way of life. However, people were very kind.

We grabbed dinner that night and I smiled, but figured I would starve. I was never keen on the idea of fish, let alone the kind that stared at you. I had no idea how to eat the crab. I was constantly picking shell out of my teeth, but I was happy. This mysterious man was in front of me and I had 3 days with him.

3 days, such a short time. The reality is that neither of us figured those three days would be anything more that just a memory in the long book of life. We lived worlds away and  had not had much more than friendly conversations when I dared text him from time to time. Things seemed different than "just an adventure and a cute guy." I could tell we both felt it and I let it continue playing out. The view from the hotel was awesome. I was in paradise and with someone I could never have imagined meeting. There was a peace about him and a quiet strength. It wasn't twitterpation, it was something else I didn't quite grasp nor fought against.

We spent the day riding around town as I stood out like an Alien; being only white person in town. He was adorable. We went to a local swimming/amusement park that he had gone to as a kid. It was adorable to me that he would share this part of his life. It wasn't about sightseeing or adventure, it was about being together. Talking for hours. He later took me to dinner where I met his friends. I felt invited into see his soul that night. I could tell that the quality of friends and way they looked at him, he was a good man. I was falling. From 8000 miles away, I felt home.

We talked of going to a local island. He suggested it then seemed as if he wished he hadn't. After some prodding I found out that the island carried a curse. If you took someone you were dating there, you would break up upon returning home. It was awesome to hear those words. He had confirmed that he had felt the same way in our brief time together so far. Needless to say we avoided the island....

I was falling unexpectedly. Again, he was cute, sexy, and funny, but this was just my adventure out of the US and was never meant to be about finding love or anything like it. Friends? Yes. Love? Nah.

The last night together was spent sleeping hand in hand all night. Not in a awkward way that seems cute on TV but is unnatural in person. Sure, we had our fun. We were both single men with mutual attraction, but it wasn't that at all. There was just that peace I found being with him. The cares of the world drifted away in his presence.

The dreaded 3rd day came. On our way back to the the ferry terminal we stopped one last time for coffee. We talked about the future and both realized how impossible it might be. I wanted him to come visit Utah and we talked about that being possible. I could tell he felt they might just be words. He had met a Canadian before that was full of promises that never happened. We both had experienced what it was like to be lied to and we both wanted to be cautious. However, he had never met me and didn't know that I am a man who keeps promises. I was determined to give the feelings I had felt in a short 72 hours more time to play out.

He asked me not to talk to him while I returned to Malaysia and finished my trip. He didn't want to think of me being around other gay guys. I understood what he was saying, made me feel that much closer to him. I couldn't merely say I was different that "Canada" I would have to show him. One last ride to the ferry terminal. One last time to hold him on the motorcycle without anyone suspecting we were gay. Then a brief manly hug at the terminal. We couldn't chance him being found out to be gay. Our last real kiss and embrace was hours before at the hotel. I entered the terminal always looking back. I wasn't sure I would ever see him again. I boarded the ferry a changed man at the edge of tears. Kenny Chesney's "Anything But Mine" and Chantal Kreviazuk's version of "Leaving On A Jet Plane" played over and over on my phone as I made my 2 hour ride to Singapore and then on to KL.

My young friend and host in Malaysia could tell I was a different person as soon as he saw me, much to the dashed hopes that I was "the one" for him. He attributed such a quick change to "black magic" from witchcraft in Indonesia and he prayed for me, but I knew different.

Ignoring his request to not text, I did just that, at least every morning. I couldn't imagine not at least saying hi once a day to the man who had made my heart beat in a way I hadn't thought possible. I did look forward to seeing my sons and coming back for Pride, but I also had a pain in my heart as I traveled farther and farther away. I was able to spend some time in Taiwan on my way back with a great friend. What would have been a night looking for the local gay bars and enjoying the bachelor life turned into a lengthy conversation with Teddy about wild birds and finding cages where the wild birds would choose to stay and not feel trapped. I had hoped Indonesia had shown me such a cage.

We've talked everyday since.  We grew closer and closer each day and I finally brought out the "L" word. I told him he didn't need to say it back until he wanted to, but I refused to hide it anymore. Finally at 10:12PM August 5th, after a rough few days that we worked through some challenges, he said "i love u too." And that was that, no more questioning where his heart was or worrying I felt more strongly for him than he for I. I was more determined than ever to make this work.

Unfortunately immigration isn't simple nor equal for gay men. I count as nothing in the eyes of Federal law. My love carries no weight in deciding whether he can come visit or not. Late in September he finally met with the Embassy.

Apparently unless you're rich or willing to marry a woman, there is little chance of getting to the US. He was devastated and didn't want to talk on Skype for fear he would cry in public. I was crying already. It wasn't the end, but it was definitely a set back. I was angry as well. I felt like a 2nd class citizen in a country that promised "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

I won't sugar coat that the denial was easy on our relationship. It seemed more hopeless for him and facing the social restraints of my own "free" land was depressing. I don't give up that easily.

I unexpectedly found myself making a trip to Indonesia a month later. I was going to fight for my love and handle a few challenges he heart-breakingly had faced alone for a few months. It was 16 days not to forget. This was our first meeting in person since my first 3 day trip in May. There were adjustments and things to discuss, but it was amazing. We will have cultural differences to work around with living together, but the love exists and we are in this together. Celebrating the days together comes first and all the unimportant differences a very distant last. Coming home was harder this time as our next steps to be together will take sacrifice and time. Plane tickets and trips there are not anywhere in my near future unfortunately due to financial constraints.

He makes me smile everyday as he says good morning and good night. I never tire of hearing I love you. He has been in Bali with friends for the New Year. I miss him and think constantly of our trip to Bali. He has told me the same, that I am always on his mind. Love is more amazing than I ever thought possible.
I have loved and lost before, but it has always been one sided. To love and be loved is indescribable. The last laugh of 2012 is on him. He said yesterday that I must be using the black magic on him now since he thinks of me all day. Maybe its not black magic, but love is a nice spell to be under.

There is so much to 2012. It was a year I will hold dear the rest of my life. It truly was a year where the idea of "call me maybe" hit home and I am lucky for that call. I can only hope 2013 is full of as much life.

So bring it on! Truly my one and only resolution this year is to bridge the physical gap between us.

Saying good night to my sons from Bali