December 01, 2008

I've Been This Way Before...

I really detest cold weather.  It, like the cast of The Hills, does nothing for me except put me in the foulest of moods.

On one particular nasty day outside, I was forced to forgo my usual habit and skip my daily walk in the park.  Now I realize that most of you probably think I use walk in the park as some sort of dirty euphemism, but I assure you, I don’t.  The only thing that’s cruising these days is my slightly less but still fat ass up, down, and through the park’s walking trails in my continuing journey of hope that when the end of days is near I won’t be so large I’ll have to be buried in a piano case.  Your version is probably more exciting.

Out of sheer desperation to keep to my routine, I ended up dragging my miserable self over to my parent’s house to use their treadmill, which, between you and me, is not my ideal scenario.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my parents.  It’s just that one of the things I enjoy most about my walking trips is the time to myself.  For at least one hour out of the day, I don’t need to worry about anyone else but myself.  It puts me in my happy place.  I can use this time to think, or, sometimes, I can just shut everything off and enjoy the silence.  This is easy to do in the woods, not so much at parent’s house, particularly with my Mother present, who, and God love her, has never a met a silence that she didn’t know how to fill.

But I digress.  

So there I am on my parent’s treadmill, which ironically is stationed in their kitchen (don’t ask). There my parents are sitting at the table opposite the treadmill, my Dad lost in the latest car race blaring on the television, Mother talking a mile a minute to who I’m still not sure, and their various animals (one dog, three cats) alternately glaring between us and each other with looks on their little faces that seemed to be saying, “The round one with the funny hair looks pissed off.  Do you think the one staring at the box with the moving pictures is aware of this?  And seriously, who the hell is the female talking to?  Anyone?” 

It was all a bit much for me and I was definitely not in my happy place. 

What’s a poor soul to do?  That, dear readers, leads me to my holiday message to all of you.

Walking on that treadmill, staring out the large window facing it, and tuning out my family in the background with the aid of my trusty iPod and the music of the always dependable Sarah Brightman (you really should run down to your local music store and get her new holiday inspired CD, Winter Symphony, once you’re finished reading this, of course!), I began to realize that life doesn’t always happen in a perfect atmosphere.  There will always be roadblocks and obstacles on your way to your happy place.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  It’s how you persevere that counts.  We all have things that could potentially derail us.  For you it may be an unhealthy relationship or a stressful work environment.  For me it’s an overwhelming family and an unseemly habit of reaching for a fork every time I get stressed out.  But whatever the case or cause, nothing life throws at you, big or small, is insurmountable.  You can accomplish anything  if you set your mind to it.  Just ask the fella who was just elected to clean up the last eight years of governmental affairs. He knows a thing or two about having a strong will in the face of daunting circumstances.

With that, I wish you all a very happy and safe holiday season and something to remember in the New Year ahead: life is what you make it.  No matter how rough and tumbley your path might be at times, make yours the best you can.

Perhaps I should tape that mantra to the control panel of this treadmill.


Essential Download: "I've Been This Way Before"
Sarah Brightman
Available On:
Winter Symphony

Originally published in the
December 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

November 01, 2008


“I wouldn’t know. My ex used to beg me to do it to him, but I was like hell no! My tongue is not going any where near there, no way Jose”.

This was the declaration made by the guy I was quasi-interested in spending more time with during our first date, a simple coffee outing.

All I said was that I thought my coffee tasted like ass. Crude yes, but certainly not meant in any way to be a segue way into a sordid conversation.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. I work in an adult video store for Pete’s sake, so I’m quite used to the steamier side of life. In fact, I can safely say that there is very little that makes me blush. Okay, that’s not entirely true. There was this Falcon film a few years back starring a basket of Granny Smith Apples that scared the bejesus out of me, but I digress.

There are quite a few things that make me see red when it comes to the world of dating, however.

One of them, as you have probably gathered by reading thus far, is that if you have asked me out, could we possibly curtail the conversations about you and your ex, especially if they have anything to do with either of yours body parts being on or up each other? For the price of an evening out, I feel this is not asking for too much.

It would also be extremely helpful if all of us in the dating pool could all try a little harder to be a little bit more upfront about our intentions. If all you’re looking for is a quick hook up, then just say so. It would spare a poor soul such as myself the aggravation of prepping for an elaborate evening (Are my roots done? Where’s my good underwear?) when all you really want is to see my hair plastered to the side of my head and my underwear strung from your ceiling fan. Trust me. I’m fine with either. Just give me a heads up.

Also, and I’m not entirely sure why this happens, but have you ever gone out with someone and, apropos of nothing, you’ve gone from being their date to being their therapist? The last time I was asked out to dinner by a gentleman caller, I barely got the words light ranch dressing on the side out before I was inundated with his tale of horror about his youth, a crooked priest, and some strange connection to a goat. Twice. All this before I even found out his middle name or drinks were served. Of course I couldn’t just sit their aghast, mouth agape and glaring at him for his lack of filter, so I found myself saying things like, “How did that make you feel?” and “See how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown?” My therapist would have been tickled pink, as would the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Now I realize that it may sound hypocritical of me to criticize people for being sometimes slightly inappropriate and for more than over sharing considering I do it every month in this space, but, and God bless ya’ll, you’re not taking me out to dinner and a movie, dear readers. Though you could. And none of this is to say that I don’t have my own faults when it comes to dating, or in life in general, but that’s an entirely different column. Quite frankly, I don’t think my editor would ever approve the twelve-page insert it would take just to scratch the surface on my peculiar habits (like why I feel compelled to write about EVERYTHING that happens to me).

Essential Download: "Spiderwebs"
Artisit: No Doubt
Available On: Tragic Kingdom

Originally published in the November 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

October 01, 2008

The Little Things You Do Together...

“Hey! You wanna go hang out and grab some coffee later?” I asked a friend recently.

“Hmmm. I don’t know. I need to check and see what (insert name of friend’s significant other here) is doing first,” they answered.

“Oh, okay,” I respond, while secretly thinking to myself, “Christ almighty is he your warden or something? Are you allowed to take a shit without full disclosure or do you need to check in with him first for that also?”

Ah, yes. The timeless dilemma of trying to be social among a group of friends who are all strapped down and whipped by relationships and commitment.

“Now Robby, that’s not a fair assessment,” my friend James chastised me recently when I shared my thoughts with him. “It has nothing to do with getting your partner’s permission. It’s about showing courtesy to the person you’re sharing your life with. It’s not just about your wants and needs anymore. You have someone else’s feelings to consider. You’ll understand when you meet someone and settle down.”

Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot that I don’t understand ANYTHING because I’m not suction cupped to the hip of another individual. Please forgive me.

If you want to talk about considering someone’s feelings, let’s consider mine for a moment.

Now I realize that for most people, growing up can include finding the man (or woman, or perhaps even a non gender identifying individual) of your dreams and settling down and building a life together. Eating for two, drinking for two, breathing for two, blah, blah, and blah. I’m not there yet. Carry on. I’ll watch from the couch.

But without sounding like I’ve completely gone off the deep end (too late), I share the following sentiment to my coupled friends: I wasn’t quite prepared to have my chair at your table ripped out from underneath my big ass and given to your spousal equivalent with out a warning.

Empty cartons of take out are treated with more dignity when cast aside than friends are.

I have a bone stiffer than Cindy McCain’s plastic smile to pick with that.

To all of the domestically coupled folks spanning the globe I say cut your single friends some slack, will you? I realize that as just a friend, we’re not the center of your universe and that in reality; we take up a very small percentage of your thoughts. We can handle that. But try to understand and remember that when we entered each other lives, there weren’t all these other obligations, responsibilities, and people to think about. Once upon a time, it was your friendships that got you through.

I’ve accepted that many of my friends have brought someone else into the picture and that their lives are changing and evolving, but just because it has, doesn’t mean our friendship has to.

I change my hair every twelve seconds. Does that disrupt your daily grind? I think not.

So, to all the happy couples of the world, the next time someone call you and asks if you want to do something, do us all a favor, pretend for a moment that life is like it used to be, and answer accordingly. “Sure” or “I’m gonna hafta pass” or “let me get back to you” will suffice. We promise the minute we hang up you can call or text your honey and collaborate on an official answer.

And perhaps, one day, we will learn to be more considerate too when we call, and ask instead, “Hey, do you and (insert name here) want to hang out?” And just maybe we won’t be complete sarcastic bitches about it either.

Okay, whom am I fooling? I’ll always be a complete sarcastic bitch…but maybe less so.

Essential Download: "The Little Things You Do Together"
Artisit: Company
Available On: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Originally published in the October 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

September 01, 2008

Anything Goes...

Are you sure you want to do this?” Jesse asked nervously, hovering behind me. “I know how you are about these things and I haven’t got a whole lot of experience, yet.”

“I’m feeling pretty brave at the moment,” I answered. “So just do me a favor and do it as fast as you can.”

“Okay,” he muttered back. “Breathe.”

A mere twelve seconds later it was over with.

Jesse, twitching, put his hand on my shoulder and asked if I was okay.

“Wow,” was all I could manage to say.

“Um, do you want to see it?” he asked sheepishly.

I nodded yes.

Jesse spun me around and held out his hand. There he was clutching all eight inches of it.

“Jesus, I didn’t realize there was so much of it,” I blurted out.

“I tried to tell you it was longer than you realized, but you never listen,” he replied anxiously. “So, do you want to hold on to it or what?”

“Oh please. Just get rid of it,” I answered dismissively.

He then walked over to the trash receptacle and disposed of it.

That was the fate of what was once my luxuriously long ponytail.

Groan. You got us all worked up over a haircut, Robby?

What the hell did you people think I was talking about? This isn’t Serial Blonde After Dark, you perverts. And though it’s not nearly as titillating, I can assure you that getting nearly a foot of your hair lopped off on a whim is almost as traumatic as finding yourself impaled on something that large.

But I digress.

Sometimes you need to really shake things up to improve your mood and demeanor.

Like so many people in my demographic (no longer a kid, not quite ready for Shady Pines, either), I had found myself feeling anxious, moody, and restless. I desperately needed something to get my mind off the things that were troubling me (making ends meet, trying to lose more weight, the rise and fall of Britney Spears). And none of my previous coping mechanisms were doing the trick.

Food wasn’t the answer (though I was craving some artery clogging Taco Bell, I haven’t been busting my ass on Weight Watchers for the last seven months to throw it away on something that would surely wreak havoc on my diminishing waist line, not to mention my colon). Sex wouldn’t do it (though I was craving the hot drive through cashier at said Taco Bell, I wouldn’t be able to decide which big burrito I wanted: his or his employer’s). Even my old standby of escaping into a good book wasn’t strong enough to distract me (Edward or Jacob? The vampire or the werewolf? Who was the better choice for Bella Swan?)

Just when I needed it, like a guardian angel (albeit one who lost his wings a long time ago, along with most of his clothing most likely), my sweet friend Jesse, half way through his cosmetology training, called me with a tale of despair of his own.

“I can’t do this anymore,” he complained.

“Oh, Jesse, you can and you will,” I answered. “You’re just nervous. It’ll be different when you work on real people.”

“I burned half the hair off my mannequin head last week with a fucking curling iron. They’re never going to let me near a live person.”

Been there. Done that.

“Accidents happen,” I reasoned.

And then an interesting thought occurred to me.

“You know what,” I began. “I think we could both use a good dose of spontaneity. Get your ass over here. You’re cutting my hair.”

After much cajoling and swearing on a stack of Madonna CDs that I would not regret this decision (which in turn, he feared, would result in much bodily harm being inflicted upon his person), he obviously, but begrudgingly gave in to my demand.

That afternoon with Jesse did us both good. After the initial shock wore off, he got his confidence back and I felt like a brand new person, too.

So to all of you out there feeling down trodden or overwhelmed, I highly recommend doing something to jump start your motors. It might not necessarily involve scissors or a bottle of peroxide (of course I bleached the hell out of my hair afterwards, too), but there are many things one can do to reinvigorate their life. Go for a long, peaceful walk. Update your resume. Reorganize your closets. Call a friend, have a good old fashion bitching session, and then go out and do something fun! Hell, sit down and write your own column about the things you could be doing instead of sitting there feeling shitty about your life.

On second thought, maybe you should just cut and color your hair.

Leave the writing to me.

Essential Download: "Anything Goes"
Artisit: Harpers Bizzare
Available On: Feelin' Groovy: The Best of Harpers Bizzare

Originally published in the September 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

August 01, 2008

Hymn For My Soul...

I really have to learn that I don’t always have to answer my freaking’ cell phone just because the damn thing chirps.

“Isn’t it fabulous?” my friend Gregory shrieked on the other end.

“Justin Timberlake’s really a big ole’ bottom?” I guessed, fussing with my iPod and trying to keep cool in my non air-conditioned piece of crap car as I sat waiting to get through a tollbooth.

“Don’t be ridiculous! If he were queer he would totally be a top. But that’s not it. Ellen and her girlfriend are getting married!”

“Well, good for them,” I replied absently, becoming more and more irritated as the minutes passed with the traffic at a complete standstill, and I, a fella of ample proportions, began basting in my own juices.

“I thought you’d be excited?” Gregory asked, sounding a tad bit disappointed and defeated.

“Honey, I’m thrilled, it’s just I’m trying to get home, no one is moving, it’s a hundred fucking degrees in this deathtrap I’m driving and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to surgically remove my balls from the driver’s seat because I’m a sweaty, hot mess in here. Ellen who?”

“Ellen Degeneres, silly! Ellen and her girlfriend Portia DeRossi are getting married! Gay married in California! I can’t believe you hadn’t heard!”

“Oh that,” I replied dismissively. “I heard.”


“Gregory, I don’t really care,” I answered.

“That is so unpatriotic!” he shrieked into my earpiece.

“Excuse me?” I asked. “What the hell does two celesbiens getting hitched have to do with patriotism?”

“Its gay patriotism, you ass. Anytime anyone stands up and does something for our rights and promotes equality, we need to be excited. It’s the least we can do for these people who are…um…you know, are, what’s it called?” he asked.

“Blazing trails?” I offered

“Yes! Exactly!” Gregory agreed.

“Honey, right now the only thing that’s blazing is the skin between my giant thighs, so I have to go. Love you. Call you when I get home.”

It’s a good thing cars started moving, because I was moments away from leaping out of mine and pitching the world’s biggest tantrum in the middle of the New York State Thruway. I was hot (I believe we have established that at length already), delayed, and was in no mood to be lectured at by a twenty two year old twinkie on how I’m setting the gay movement back by being glib about a gay celebrity wedding. I was here and queer and screaming at people to get used to it when he was still playing with G.I. Joes and Barbies. Seriously, WTF?

Several miles and twenty minutes into listening to a Gay Pimpin’ with Jonny McGovern podcast later, I was reasonably calmer, collected, and in jollier spirits (Jonny and his co-hosts Linda James and Martin Beauchamp can soothe even the most manic homosexual). I shut off my iPod and started to do some serious thinking about my conversation with Gregory.

Maybe he had a point. Maybe it is our job as members of the gay community to celebrate and support the people and things that make it just a little bit easier to be who we are. And though I might protest the relevance a celebrity’s actions has with my life as an average Joe, perhaps it’s the point that when someone who is extremely visible and gay is putting a face to issues that have or will effect me at some point on my journey, that’s what I should really care about. After all, it’s the Ellens and the George Takeis of the world that are using their public platforms to show people that gay couples are worthy of the same equality and treatment as straight couples, not me.

Perhaps my ambivalence about such matters stems from my number one problem with being a rainbow flag waving, staunch supporter of all things queer or queer related. We’ve got youth groups, marriage initiatives, support for our brothers and sisters in the T community; you name it, we’re on it. But I ask you, who rallies specifically for causes that represent me? Who stands up for the common man or woman who doesn’t identify with any of the things his or her community is championing?

I know. Bad Robby. I’m being selfish. It’s not supposed to be all about me. I need to broaden my horizons, open my heart, and focus on the bigger picture, which is what our community should be about. It takes a village, poor defeated Hillary would say. I suppose if I support mine, they will eventually get around to supporting me.

So maybe the next time someone calls me with a big gay celebrity’s big gay news, I will do the right thing and respond like I give a shit. And maybe I’ll even mean it.

If, that is, I bother to answer my cell phone.

Essential Download: "Hymn 4 My Soul"
Artisit: Joe Cocker
Available On: Hymn For My Soul

Originally published in the August 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

July 01, 2008

In These Shoes...

I’m a bit of an anomaly among younger queer men. I’m not killing myself in the gym to have pectorals as hard as Pam Anderson’s implants and I’m really not interested in starving myself to be able to squeeze myself into a pair of tiny William Rast jeans (though God bless little Justin Timberlake for creating the line and for having the twelve inch waist and tiny ass to pull that kind of gear off). Fashion incidentally, in general, is the one area this particular gay man could care less about.

It’s become a bone of contention for me lately as friends, descending like vultures, have been pecking me to death about my lack of style, because they, reveling in the success of my ongoing weight loss (as of this writing, I have shed sixty five pounds in six months through the wonder and awe that is Weight Watchers), are extremely eager to take me under their wings and make me over. I would just as soon square dance with Maggie Brooks than step foot into a clothing boutique with one of these well meaning, but hopelessly frustrating friends.

But because I’m completely whipped when it comes to actually making these proclamations out loud, with the urging of my friend DJ and his bestie Anton practically dragging my big ass through the door, I found myself standing where fat boy’s dreams go to die, Abercrombie and Fitch.

“This is ridiculous,” I bellowed entering the store.

“Girl, you need to lighten up a little,” Anton chimed in throwing his arm around my shoulders.

“This is supposed to be fun.”

“We need to get you out of those tents,” DJ began, “and put you in something more fitted like this,” he continued holding up a sherbet orange colored Polo.

“What’s wrong with the shirt I’m wearing,” I questioned.

“Oh, no, honey. You ain’t wearin’ a shirt. That’s a muumuu,” Anton responded.

“A nice shirt should shape and define the upper body,” DJ continued. “What you wear does neither. Its way too big and its way too long. You’ve left the house wearing a nightgown.”

I’m in hell.

Next the boys modeled the latest and allegedly greatest in jean wear. Truth be told I have never understood spending eighty dollars on something that looks like it’s had the crap beaten out of it (“Distressed is all the rage, honey,” Anton tried to explain) and in most cases, barely cover or contain your nether regions. If you’re going to purposely let your ass hang out, why even bother wearing pants? It would be cheaper if you just wore a towel. Now this could be years of big boy resentment for not ever being able to fit into these so-called fashionable jeans coming through, but I’d like to think my theory is more economically sound as well. For that much money, I want excellent construction work, full coverage, and fabric that doesn’t look like my neighbor’s dog just ejaculated all over it.

“But everybody wears them like this,” DJ reasoned, showing off the pair he tried on for me.

“Well, thank God I’m not everybody, because I would kill myself.”

Just as The Great Jean Debate 2008 was kicking into high gear, my greatest fear about participating in this fashion odyssey was about to come true. Just beyond the sight of DJ and Anton’s arm swinging and whining that I was being a sore sport about our Show Robby Fashion Day, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a figure sweeping by a display and knew that I was about to be confronted by the worst of all of my adversaries, he with the perfect hair, teeth, and body: Abercrombie Sales Boy.

“Oh, Jesus Christ,” I grumbled.

“Hey!!! Do you guys need any help finding anything?” the boy asked, supposedly to three of us, but it was hard to tell as his gaze was fixed upon Anton’s rather prominent and inviting ass cleavage.

“Yeah, do you guys have anything in here that would fit someone who weighs more than ten pounds and is older than twelve?” I asked him, reaching over and yanking up the back of Anton’s pants.

“Well, there’s a Casual Male across the street,” he answered before sashaying back to his counter.


“Don’t let that little bitch get under your skin. Boys like him are so yesterday,” Anton replied as we made our way out of the store.

“Please. Boys like him will never be yesterday,” I replied. “He’s the standard that most homos hold themselves up to. Someone will always want to be him.”

“Or be in him, “ DJ added playfully.

“Well, not this big queen, thank you very much, “ I continued. “I don’t need clone clothes to make me feel good about myself. I’ve never been trendy as a fat person, and I have no plans on being one of those trendy little bitches down the line. I’m just going to keep on doing my own thing, and keep being my own person”

“Even if you’re look is busted?” Anton asked.

“Even if my look is busted,” I answered, though I had no idea what the hell he meant by that.

“Hey, let’s go check out the Gap!” DJ suggested.

Seriously, I’m in hell.

Essential Download: "In These Shoes"
Artisit: Bette Midler
Available On: Bette!

Originally published in the July 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

June 01, 2008

Dude, Looks Like a Lady?

It started out as the perfect evening. My friend DJ invited me out to dinner and suggested that afterwards we could go back to his place and break out the whip cream, if you know what I’m saying. Of course I accepted his invitation with glee.

I should have known right then that this was all too good to be true. Something was bound to come along and sour my evening.

And it did.

It happened after we took our seats at the restaurant. After the waiter asked my dining companion for his drink order, he turned to me and asked, “And what will you be having, Miss?”

In that instant, my perfect evening crapped the bed like Paris Hilton’s recording career. I looked at DJ (who recognized the warning signs that I was about to make a scene and quickly scanned the room for places to duck and cover), swung around, channeled my inner bitch and replied, “Well, I have a dick, thank you very much, but I’d love a Diet Pepsi”.

Needless to say, that kind of beginning promptly signaled the end of my perfect evening. Dinner and drink could not remove the bitter taste from my mouth, and neither could DJ, though God bless his big heart and even bigger bulge for trying. I spent the rest of the evening gesticulating as little as possible, speaking in a voice low enough to give Bea Arthur a run for her money, and secretly pondering whether a steak knife would be sharp enough to hack through my considerable amount of color treated hair.

The next day at lunch, I recounted the whole “Miss” incident to my friends. Their reactions ranged from, “You may be a big queen, honey, but nothing about you screams woman, especially with that five o’clock shadow going on”, which made me laugh, to “Oh, it was a simple mistake. It’s not like he accused you of terrorism”, which made me feel rather silly. But were my feelings about this really that ridiculous? When, whether malicious intent or not, the world at large rattles your identity, wouldn’t you get defensive?

I confess my reaction to this incident was pretty extreme (you think?) and that poor waiter, who I’m sure is a nice enough fella, will probably spend the rest of his life on Prozac and fearing the public because of it. But his “simple mistake” as my friend put it, represents a much bigger problem in this fickle world of ours: the constant need we have to define and label people.

Yes, I have long hair. Yes, I’ve got a rack that most teenage girls (and some grown women, to be perfectly honest) would kill for. And I’m very well aware that I’m about as butch as a poodle wearing a hot pink tutu. But in spite of the gender roles and stereotypes we’ve had drilled into our brains adnauseam, having or expressing a feminine side doesn’t mean I am or want to be a girl. And likewise, being a big, Nellie queen does not make me less of a man. Until called into question, I hadn’t spent a lot of time looking at myself as exclusively one thing or another. I’ve always been just Robby, deifier of many categories. Unfortunately, this planet hasn’t caught up to speed with me yet.

I know I’m not alone in facing society’s idiocy. Quite a few people in the queer community deal with it everyday as well. Too may people believe drag queens really want to be women and that lesbians must really want to be men. I have yet to see any case where this is true, and I watch cable. I can’t even begin to imagine what someone who is or actually has transitioned has to put up with.

The whole concept of having to adhere to specific gender roles and stereotypes because that’s what people are used to and are comfortable with is just so yesterday. Until the day comes that the world starts seeing things with a different set of eyes, I guess I’ll be forced to continue my public finger wagging at these antiquated perceptions and remind people as loudly as I can: storage boxes are for labeling, not people.

And if you’re going to call me something please, for the love of God, at least be accurate.

Essential Download: "Dude (Looks Like Lady)"
Artisit: Aerosmith
Available On: Permanent Vacation

Originally published in the June 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

May 01, 2008

I've Still Got My Health...

Well hell, if I could do that, I would never leave my bedroom.”

There are some things you just shouldn’t say to complete strangers in a public setting no matter how appropriate you think the timing is.

I’m a master of this act because I don’t have a very good relationship with that little voice in my head that usually begs and pleads with me to not embarrass him or make a scene. No, he’s typically off somewhere sitting in a corner eating Cheetos and watching Oprah. I begrudgingly accept this arrangement because at this stage of the game I’m in favor of anyone who can actually eat Cheetos (or who can actually get through an episode of her royal O-ness without falling into a catatonic state, for that matter), because for the last four months I sure as hell haven’t been able even go near them.

Let me give you a little back-story.

Serial Blonde has once again jumped on the dieting bandwagon. I actually started shortly into this New Year. There have been great days, just okay days, and days when all I want to do is to take up permanent residence in a McDonald’s drive through or camp out in a tree and throw pooh at thin people, but alas, no one has been pelted, I’m Big Mac free and after the longest sixteen weeks of my life, I’m pretty committed to seeing this plan through.

This whole experience I’m learning (or so I would like to think) isn’t just about eating (or not eating more accurately); it’s an emotional and spiritual journey as well. It’s about managing the voice in your head that tells you yes, do it, or no way in hell, you better stop. But as I mentioned before, when you’re not communicating with that voice, mayhem is sure to ensue, which is exactly what happened when yours truly, feeling pumped up and good about himself (which right there should have been a red flag) decided to take his new consciousness about health and well being and enroll into a yoga class.

I know. A yoga class? I’m pissing myself laughing too just looking back on it. Me, of considerable width and girth, doing yoga? Moi, who’s naturally about as relaxed as Joan Crawford scrubbing the bathroom floor, taking a class about meditation and being peaceful amongst the things? Surely I jest. No, I’m serious, but cut me some slack. Like I said, that voice in my head that would normally tell me that this particular idea was a little (okay, a lot) out of my league was way too busy browsing the snack isle at Target than to slap me upside my big head, so I was left to my own devices and thought it sounded interesting.

As I entered the class, held at an extremely reputable health center in the suburbs, I was like a kid at a candy store, full of excitement and wonder, albeit this candy store would be calorie, fat, and sugar free. I was delighted to see there were only a dozen or so people in attendance (I like intimate groups) but a little discouraged to see none of them looked to have eaten anything in the last decade. The instructor, a handsome man probably in his early to mid-thirties with curly highlighted hair and abs of death (screw chocolate, I wanted to eat him!) entered, brightly greeted the participants and took a few moments to size up the crowd. His gaze stayed on me a little longer than I would have preferred. I know I exude fabulousness, but you need not stare! Have I mentioned that the absence of that critical voice of reason I’ve been bemoaning is often replaced by delusions of grandeur? But I digress. The class practiced their breathing, relaxed their minds, and began a series of stretches and poses that would make Madonna blush with envy.

Within fifteen minutes of starting, it became painfully obvious yoga and I might not be such a perfect match after all. Not painful for me really, but for everyone else. While they were downward dogging, hokey pokey-ing, and whatever the hell else they were doing, I simply reached for the stars, touched my toes (like my P.E. teacher in school would holler: if you can’t do this, for God’s sake, do something) and made my usual witty asides. Apparently, my comments were a little bit too much for this particular gathering because when the dude next to me swung both of his legs behind his head, poised to take a big bite out of his Oscar Meyer, I turned out to the entire group and made that darling exclamation that began this column, which pretty much devastated everyone in its wake.

As Rizzo from Grease said, “Some people can be so touchy!”

Needless to say, that was the beginning and end of my stint as a yoga aficionado. I decided that a room full of people who don’t move their faces or open their mouths is not a place for me. Okay, they actually made this decision for me by going on at length about other classes at other locations that may be more my style. But I’m not too broken up about it though. If I’m going to live on water, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and run around like a fucking squirrel for the time being as I continue to get my food and fitness issues under control, I need lots of humor and conversation. Preferably with someone more agreeable and supportive than that voice in my head, who as we speak is sitting on the porch eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

Essential Download: "I've Still Got My Health"
Artisit: Bette Midler
Available On: Beaches

Originally published in the May 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

April 01, 2008

As Tears Go By...

I have recently been smacked upside the head by two of life’s most popular clichés: the grass is not always greener on the other side and you never really appreciate what you have until its gone.

A few weeks back I was in what those close to me would refer to as one of my “states”, or as those of you who don’t know me would observe, a period of completely losing my shit on and about everything. I was tired, coming down with what turned out to be a nasty cold, didn’t feel like being at work, didn’t want to deal with people, hated my hair, hated this God forsaken city (“Would someone please tell that that Brooks woman to shut the hell up?”) hated the God forsaken weather here, and I was busting my own balls because I only lost one pound at my Weight Watchers meeting that week (apparently it was not enough that I had lost a total of 40 in the last eight). I just wanted to throw myself down on the ground, flail around kicking and screaming for a while, then curl up into the fetal position and cry myself to sleep. I wanted to be three, instead of thirty. Boo-hoo, poor me.

Whoa, dude.

Yeah, it was quite a sight I assure you. Aren’t some of you sad you missed it?

Then the world threw a bucket of cold water on me.

I think it's inevitable though just as you have settled into the zone that you think your life is crap, your location bites and you just plain suck, you find yourself rather embarrassed and feeling pretty petty when you compare your baggage to the true ills of the world.

I think my heart stopped for a second when I heard about that teenage boy in California that was fatally shot by a classmate in his eighth grade classroom. He was murdered because he was gay.

What was I doing that particular day? Freaking out about what I was going to wear that evening, having invited a really cute guy out for coffee and a movie.

Yeah, my problems are so huge.

It's an easy trap to fall into. Sometimes (okay, often) I forget how fortunate I am to be who I am, how I got here, and where I am today.

As many of you may already know, I came swinging out of the closet at the young age of sixteen. This was before alliances and youth groups were commonplace in high schools. I can't say there was much for me in the way of having a gay lifestyle in those days (sex with jocks, though exhilarating, does not make a lifestyle), so I embraced the culture and learned as much as I could through books (Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and Ethan Mordden's How Long Has This Been Going On? were like bibles to me), films (I wore out my copies of Torch Song Trilogy and Doing Time On Maple Drive), and by listening to prominent gay commentators/comics (like Kate Clinton, who to this day I continue to look up to as a mentor and trailblazer). I was also fortunate enough to feel somewhat secure and supported by my family, close friends, and the people at school. They were not always comfortable with my burgeoning life, but they made immense efforts to be accepting and open their hearts and minds to the things they didn’t know or understand.

As I got older, I became more aware of the local gay community that spoke directly to my life. An annual LGBT film festival? Sweet! Two local businesses aimed towards the LGTB demographic? Hell yeah! At one point or another, I got to work for both. And there were all these different alliances and organizations ran by and for my people! Woo-hoo! I’m coming to you now through the dedication and efforts of one of these groups. And though bars and clubs tend to come and go in any city, there has and always will be a handful that are a part of our community's nightlife history. I still remember vividly sneaking into a very well known establishment back in the day (sadly no longer here) and catching my first glimpse of the glitz and glamour that is Ambrosia, Aggie, Darienne, and Pandora. They too opened my eyes to the beauty that is diversity. (I’m quite envious that as I have gotten older and crankier, these particular divas have only gotten younger and all the more fabulous!). There was and is always so much to learn and see.

So what’s the purpose behind my trip down memory lane? The reason I’m extolling the virtues of my particular queer life is because all the while it was happening I never really appreciated it for what it really was: events, opportunities and a life far too many people never get the chance to experience but would be thrilled to. In hearing the stories of members of our extended LGTBQI family across the land, stories of dread, fear, isolation, and hopelessness, it makes me look at my life, then and now, and realize just how damn well I had and have it. It may not have seemed like much when I was a teenager and I may occasionally bitch and moan about my current place at the ancient age of thirty, but all I have to do is think of fifteen year old Lawrence King and the countless other young men and women whose lives are snatched away from them so violently, all because they are different, and it silences me. I think of how they will never grow up and experience the art, culture, people and places and the so much more that makes up our community. They will never get the chance to live the lives they were destined for. It really pisses me off. And it breaks my heart.

The next time life and all the things in it have got you down, take a step back, take a deep breath, and remind yourself the precious moment you just had is one so many others never will. It’s so easy to take things for granted until you realize that not everyone is as blessed as you are. I’m trying to remember this myself.

Essential Download: "As Tears Go By"
Artisit: Marianne Faithfull
Available On: Perfect Stranger: The Island Anthology

Originally published in the April 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

March 01, 2008

Dancing In My Dreams

You know what they say about people who make assumptions. Take for example the following exchange that occurred at a brunch an acquaintance of mine organized.

"Of course we must vote for Hillary," our host declared when the topic of the democratic primary came up. The other heads at the table all seemed to nod in agreement. In fact, a majority of our dearly beloved LGTB community is rooting for her victory.

"I actually haven't decided yet," I offered at the time.

With that I managed to bring the entire table to a standstill. You could have heard a freakin’ pin drop.

Mouth agape and fork midair, our host, nearly choking on his Bloody Mary, asked incredulously, "What do you mean you haven't decided?"

"I meant exactly what I said," I answered, becoming quite perturbed. "What? You don't think I'm going to vote for somebody just because every other homo is?"

Well, dear readers, apparently the answer to that question is yes.

Now before you all get into a snit and blow the foam off your lattes, I assure you, this is not going to turn into some tirade about why I like or dislike the former First Lady, current Madame Senator, and possible future Presidential Candidate. I'll leave the campaigning to her. Nor is this about extolling the virtues (or lack thereof, some would say) of her opponents.

What I am going to rant and rave about is how upsetting and uncomfortable it is to be a free thinker among a group of people when the expectation is that I be a good boy and follow and obey the laws of the pack. The herd mentality, if you will. Now granted I'm a big boy, but the last time I checked, I'm not cattle.

You can stop snickering now.

When it comes to having an active voice and participating in life, though I’m a proud member of our LGTB community, I’m not prepared to swallow the status quo. One of the things that I’ve always prided myself on is that I have never been a follower just for the sake of following. Peer pressure just ain’t my thing. If I stand behind something (or in front of, or on top of, or underneath it for that matter) you can be damn well sure that it’s because I believe in it with every ounce of my being. And not to put too fine a point on it, that’s a lot of ounces.

For instance, I believe that marriage, regardless of gender or orientation, is something that the heart should decide, not the government. This is a popular consensus. But I also think that though monogamy is a brilliant concept, its not the only way and its absence doesn’t necessarily promote or equate promiscuity. This is a not so mainstream train of thought. I think too many of us are obsessed with the more trivial aspects of our lives like wealth, youth and beauty, while we’ve become a bit too complacent when it comes to more important issues like AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, and violence. I believe that there is room in our community for not only the L’s and G’s, but the B’s and T’s, and furthermore the Q’s, the I’s, while a lot of people don’t want to take the time to embrace anything outside of what the know and have experienced. And sadly, I often feel we live in a world that devours and corrupts our young, while we blatantly disregard our elderly. We say a whole lot and put on big airs, but how many of us actually get in the thick of things to be part of finding a solution? Instead we put all of our faith in someone else or an organization to fix everything for us.

What does all this mean? Simply that my beliefs are my beliefs. Others may support them, many may disagree with them, but ultimately everyone should accept the right that everyone is entitled to have the ability to be unique and have their own point of view, majority acceptance or not. I think if more people opened their eyes and really examined their beliefs and feelings, they wouldn’t necessarily jump on board any concept because it’s the popular thing to do, but because in their hearts they know it’s the right thing to do. Perhaps if more people would consider this, we wouldn’t have had to accept the conditions our country has endured the last eight years.

And by the way, in case you were wondering, I did in fact vote for Mrs. Clinton, obviously not to score any brownie points among my beloved people, but because we do share a common opinion about her. I happen to think that with her background, beliefs, experience, and her proposed plans for our country, that she is quite simply the best man…er, woman for the job.

Essential Download: "Dancing In My Dreams"
Artisit: Tina Turner
Available On: Wildest Dreams

Originally published in the March 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

February 01, 2008

Where Does the Good Go?

This is always a tricky time of year. Cupid’s afoot with his trusty bow and arrow, and I, usually sour on the prospect of Valentine’s Day, am armed and ready with my pepper spray poised to knock the wind out of the little fucker.

I get especially antsy because I have made the choice to forgo an intimate relationship with a member of my sex until I feel I’m better equipped to align someone else’s baggage along side my own, which lets be honest, could take hundreds of years because you know I’ve got my baggage (designer it may be, but its still baggage, ya’ll). I’ve sat back and watched nearly all of my friends one by one become part of these cutesy twosomes complete with personality transplants that make me want to poke my eyes out with a sharp stick. The older I become the worse it gets, especially now that my demographic is onward and upward and everyone I know is now living together with his or her significant others in their quaint little love dens, whilst I am still living in solitude in my bachelor pad that looks like it was decorated by Liberace’s ghost. I am forced to go to these love dens and breathe in these toxic couple fumes if I ever want to see any of my friends again. While there, I find myself so preoccupied with the reality I’m a singleton sitting amongst all these couples, I sort of go into my own little world and though I’m smiling and nodding on the outside, on the inside I’m imagining all sorts of horrible and scandalous ways in which their relationships will fail and burnout. This helps the smile become just a wee bit wider I’m ashamed to confess.

All of this begs the question; why in the hell do I even like these people anymore? Wouldn’t it be easier and quicker to just stand in the middle of 490 if I really wanted to torture myself? Probably, but I digress. The more important question is how can someone come to feel so deranged and dejected when it comes to matters of the heart?

Through my travels in life (and more than few episodes of Joyce Meyer’s Enjoying Everyday Life) I have come to one conclusion that explains why someone who is an otherwise very loving, social and engaging individual could be such a Grinch when it comes to love and happiness for those around him or her: it is simply impossible to wish others well and celebrate their love when you don’t love yourself.

I am guilty as charged.

There are so many things about myself I have a less than stellar attitude about. Sometimes I can be downright negative. For all of my strengths (I think I’m witty, I know I’m loyal, and in the appropriate circumstances the needs of others take precedence over my own), I, like a lot of folks, have just as many flaws. I use humor to deflect what I’m really thinking and feeling. The funnier and more ostentatious I present myself, the more fragile I’m feeling on the inside, which is where the real troubles brew. When you feel out of sorts about the way you look or feel, when you sometimes feel like you have nothing to show for the things you have supposedly accomplished in life, when you’re constantly looking at others and thinking, “Why do they have it so freakin’ easy?”, it’s very easy to become bitter, jaded, jealous, and ill tempered. Of course when you start down that road of thinking, it’s only a matter of time before these feelings start wreaking havoc with your expectations in life. I hold myself and those around me to very high standards. Unfortunately, these standards usually leave me more often than not disenchanted, disappointed, and extremely judgmental when it becomes blatantly obvious my alleged superior way of thinking can sometimes be completely ridiculous and unrealistic for anyone to live up to. That said, with so much negativity and resentment, there is simply no room in your heart for genuine love for anyone.

After spending so much of my life with these unpleasant feelings, I’m so ready to move on from these time wasting energies.

The truth is, sometimes you just have to get over yourself and your way of thinking. It’s not about what’s right or wrong, or about what he or she has you don’t, or even about the idea that love somehow makes everything better. It’s about treating yourself better. It’s about recognizing and pointing out more regularly what you are and what you have, not what you’re not or what you don’t. If you learn to embrace you and everything else that is distinctly you (good, bad, and indifferent) you’ll have a helluva lot easier time wishing those around you well and share in the love that’s in the air. If you start to believe one truly does reap what they sow, by accepting and loving yourself, your heart will be more open to accept and love others, even when some of them make you want to roll your eyes and fall over.

This year I’m going to send a Valentine to myself, if only to remind myself that big personality, big hair, and big ass me is loved and filled with love. I may even call a truce with Cupid.

I wonder if he’s single, too?

Essential Download: "Where Does the Good Go?"
Artisit: Tegan & Sara
Available On: So Jealous

Originally published in the February 2008 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.