I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.
Earlier this month I saw the coming-of-age and coming-out movie Love, Simon. It was touching, heart-warming, and made me wonder when we stopped sharing our own coming out stories.
I came out 18 years ago in Austin at the age of 21. It seemed that whenever I met another gay guy, we’d inevitably share when and how we came out. I think the last time I shared the story was when I met Daniel 5.5 years ago, and before that I don’t even remember. Nor have I heard coming out stories from others in recent history either.
When did we stop sharing our stories? Why don’t we tell them anymore? Was it just too long ago? Is it because I live in a very accepting part of the country now so the stories have less impact? Are they just too painful and we’d prefer not to remember?
Should we dust off our stories and retell them? Much like the heartbreaking stories of the AIDS crisis that so heavily influenced what it meant to be gay in America in the 80s — stories that we’ve stopped telling and are slowly disappearing — are we losing part of gay culture by not telling our coming out stories?
I think we are. I think we’re doing a disservice thinking that people coming out today, young and old, don’t struggle and don’t need to hear that they are not alone in that struggle.
To quote the King of Pop, let’s start with the man in the mirror…
I finally admitted I was gay in 2000 right after college while living in Austin. I’d known it for years but “praying away the gay” had been a miserable failure and I was desperate to stop living a lie.
The very first person I came out to, tearfully, was my good friend Megan who accepted me with open, loving arms. I remember her telling me that me being gay didn’t change anything about our relationship, and it hasn’t. I can’t tell you how relieving it was to finally tell someone and to be loved regardless. I can say without exaggeration that her response to me coming out saved my life.
One of the first people at work I came out to was my friend Jonobie — a woman who has since become my very best friend. Only minutes after coming out to her, she almost punched a guy making homophobic comments. A few months later I came out to my teammate Jenny and she went from utter disbelief to trying to set me up within seconds.
But other interactions weren’t so rosy.
Like Simon in the movie, I came out to my parents at Christmas. Unlike Simon, my parents are conservative evangelicals. There were tears, words of “why are you making this choice?”, “you just haven’t found the right girl yet”, “but you’ll never have kids”, “what did I do wrong?”, “you should see a counselor”, etc. Lets just say that it didn’t go well and has been a very rocky path since. I envy loving, accepting, affirming parents like Simon’s.
I came out to another close college friend sometime in 2001. We use to attend church together in college. I honestly don’t remember the details of coming out to him, but he didn’t accept me with open arms. We remained friends, albeit of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” variety. When I got engaged to Benjamin he wasn’t able to tell me he was happy for me because he believed being gay was a sin. But the story takes a turn for the better when in 2009 he messaged me and said that his sister, whom he is very close to, came out to him and he was able to lovingly accept her. In his letter he apologized for hurting me when I came out to him and thanked me for giving him a chance to wrestle with some of the issues before his sister came out to him. Helping this man be able to accept his sister may be the thing I am proudest of in my life, because I know how much I wanted that for myself.
And it doesn’t end there. Society assumes that everyone is straight unless proven otherwise, so every interaction with a new person may turn into a coming out story. At some point it almost becomes second nature for those of us living in liberal, accepting areas of the country. (I’m sure I came out to some random clerk at the grocery store just last week trying to find something for Daniel.) For others in more rural or conservative areas, life exists in the closet because coming out is a risky ordeal, only undergone for specific people.
Stories help reveal our humanity, our realness to others. Within our stories we find common ground and commonalities. Coming out stories are no different.
If you’re LGBTQ+, what’s your coming out story?
If you’re not LGBTQ+, what’s a story of when someone came out to you?
This recipe isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s the easy, protein-rich way that I break my fast every workday. I make 5 burritos on Sunday and warm them up in the microwave before I go to work in the mornings. Reheated eggs aren’t for everyone though, so your mileage may vary.
Egg and spinach breakfast burritos
- 5x 8″ flour tortillas
- 8 large eggs
- 1/3c chopped spinach, frozen
- 4x vegan breakfast sausages (I use Apple Maple Field Roast)
- storage container that will hold 5 burritos
Prep: Cut vegan breakfast sausages lengthwise into quarters, and then slice into small chunks. In a small bowl, defrost the frozen spinach in a microwave for 1 minute and drain off any liquid. Chop the spinach up into smaller pieces. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork.
Cook: Warm up a large sauté over medium heat and brown the sausage chunks with some safflower oil. Add spinach and cook a bit. After sausage is lightly browned, add the eggs and cook the mixture as you would scrambled eggs.
Assemble: After the eggs are fully cooked, take off the heat and put onto a large dinner plate. Place the 5 flour tortillas on another dinner plate and warm up in the microwave for 30 seconds, flip the tortillas, and microwave for another 30 seconds. They should be easily malleable but cool enough to touch. Using a large spoon, divide the eggs into 5 sections (this is by far the hardest part of the recipe I swear). Take one of the 5 sections and place it onto one of the tortillas, wrap into a burrito, and place into the storage container. Repeat for the other 4 tortillas. Place storage container into fridge.
To re-warm: Place burrito on a plate and cook in the microwave for 50 seconds. Let set for 30 seconds and then devour.
Estimated nutrition value
- 284 calories
- 26g carbs
- 11g fats
- 17g protein
Earlier today while Daniel was mowing the lawn and I was washing dishes I recalled a close friend’s parent asking them “who was the girl” in my relationship. The question surfaces up one of the things I think is most awesome about same-sex relationships: there are no “expected” gender roles so we get to do whatever works for us expectation-free.
Daniel and I split up some of the classic gender roles in a variety of ways, usually playing to our strengths (he loves the outdoors and nature) and personalities (I’m an OCD clean-freak).
- He usually cooks and I do the dishes. When I bake he does dishes.
- We both wash and fold laundry.
- He mows the lawn. He gardens.
- He deals with the compost. I take the trash and recycling out.
- I vacuum the house. He cleans the toilets.
- We both do the grocery shopping.
- He takes care of the pets (and by pets I mean house plants).
- I wash the car. He takes pictures of me washing the car.
- He handles the house plumbing. I take care of the electrical work.
- We both work; I make more than he does (tech vs government sectors).
- Daniel does more of the emotional labor in the relationship (this is something I acknowledge and am working on).
- I pester him about calling his mother and reminding him of friends’ birthdays.
- I throw pottery. He blows glass. We both sew.
- He does woodworking. I write code.
- I lift weights and run. He rides a bike and played rugby.
- I’m vain about my hair (and never notice when he gets his cut).
- We both have some body-image issues.
Of course, most of the time when someone asks that question they’re really talking about sex. And to that I just have to laugh because it does nothing but highlight just how limited some people’s ideas of sex actually are. If you have to ask the question, you’re probably doing sex wrong.1
Last week Daniel and I attended Critical Northwest, the annual Seattle-region Burning Man. This was our second time to go, the first was in 2015, and one of the things that we felt was lacking in 2015 was a sense of gay community.
This year we put a concerted effort into building and fostering queer community before the event. In the spirit of radical inclusion we decided to focus on a larger queer1 community rather than just a gay community. We created a Facebook sub-group for Critical Northwest Queers to create ideas, we contacted theme camps and encouraged them to host queer-centric events, and we collated and displayed all queer events as part of the Queer Agenda with Camp Waystation during the week.
And overall I think our efforts were successful! I heard from numerous people how they felt that the event this year was explicitly, not just implicitly, queer-friendly and welcoming. The spirit of queer-inclusion seemed to bleed over into other camps flying various Pride flags which was fantastic.
But a queer community does not necessarily imply a gay community. Over the course of the week out of ~1200 participants Daniel and I only found 10 other male-identified people that seemed a part of the gay community — that seemed like our people — and very few of those attended the queer events. So while it felt really great knowing that others were finding their community this year, it was frustrating to feel that we still weren’t finding ours after putting a concerted effort into it.
There are a plethora of possibilities as to why so few gay men went to Critical. Perhaps there were well more than 10 other gay men out there that we never met. Perhaps gay men who were there didn’t identify as queer or weren’t looking for a community. Perhaps gay men are less likely to attend a regional burn (I don’t know what percentage of Burning Man participants are gay men). Perhaps this was an off year. Perhaps my expectations and hopes were just too high.
Regardless of the reason we don’t feel like we found our community at Critical.
1 Yes, I used the word queer although I still cringe internally every time. LGBTQ+ is utterly unpronounceable.
Today is my 2-year anniversary at Spaceflight Industries.
Coincidentally today I am operating as an Engineering Lead for our 4th mission rehearsal in preparation for commanding Global-1 when it launches in a few months. In the last 18 months my team has built Gemini, a ground & control system, from the ground up (pun intended) to task a 20+ earth-imaging satellite constellation from our groundstations around the world. The system provides satellite operators with real-time telemetry on the state of the spacecraft during a contact pass.
It’s amazing to think about what we’ve accomplished since I’ve been here and I’m excited what the next several months have in store!
Some books are so powerful and moving that you can’t help but cry on the bus, laugh so hard that you embarrass yourself at work, or throw the book across the room. Here are three memorable books that moved me in very different ways
by Terry Pratchett
The Shepherd’s Crown is Terry Pratchett’s last book and forever the last book of his Discworld. It is one of the Tiffany Aching series, good for young readers, which is also heavily linked to the witches series. Mr. Pratchett, knowing it was going to be his last book, took the opportunity to tie off some loose ends in beautiful and yet heart-breaking ways. Not just at the end of the book, but at the beginning which sets the stage for the remainder of it. As such I was totally caught off-guard reading this book on a bus a few weeks ago and found myself crying in sadness, both for the characters, Discworld, Mr. Pratchett, and all the readers who loved his books. And that was all before Chapter 3.
To really appreciate this book, I recommend reading the other witches books and Tiffany Aching books before reading this one.
by Jenny Lawson
I have a crazy affinity for Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess. She, too, lived in a small town in West Texas, in the Texas hill country, and has a healthy fear of chupacabras. I love her writing style, her humor, and how she relates to her husband. I’ve read this book at least 4 times.
It’s so funny that after the 3rd time of embarrassing myself in public laughing my ass off, I vowed to only read it in the privacy of my own home where laughing so hard that I can’t breath with tears running down my cheeks would only disturb my partner and the children walking down the sidewalk wondering where the distressed cat sounds were coming from. My vow lasted for about 12 hours when I left for work the next day, which led to more laughing my ass off in the office cafe over lunch. Shockingly, despite knowing exactly what happens, the book gets funnier every time I read it.
If you, gentle reader, are not from a small town in West Texas you may, alas, only find this book very funny instead of guffaw-inducing hysterical, but I recommend it all the same.
by Ellen Kushner
Fall of the Kings is the 3rd book in Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint series. Daniel recommended the series to me when we first started dating. At the time he was in Minnesota finishing grad school and I was here in Seattle. We would read books together and talk about them over Skype or recommend favorites of ours for the other to read and discuss.
The thing I love about the series are the moving and engaging relationships of the characters. Specifically the gay characters who have depth to them beyond their interest in each other. I was particularly taken with the relationship of two characters in Fall of the Kings, to the point that when unexpected tragedy struck I was so utterly gobsmacked and furious that I threw the book across the room and fumed for 15 minutes before picking it back up and seeing what happened next.
I believe this is the only book that I have ever thrown across the room. I still assert that it had it coming and yet deserves to be read all the same. Herein lies adventure, passion, legends, and tears.