Every Day is White Pride / Straight Pride / Men’s Day in America

I originally wrote this blog on 17 September 2015 in response to two different Facebook posts.  I was hesitant to share it, but since the mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando, with the shooter allegedly in conflict with his sexual orientation emerging as one of the possible motives of the shooting, I feel it actually is more important and more relevant than ever.  In addition to members of the LGBT community facing higher rates of suicide and homelessness, I need to add we also face a higher risk of violence towards us.

Yesterday (16 September 2015), I saw two different posts on Facebook that inspired this blog.

One was a post by a friend of mine, who is African American, in which she was invited to a friend’s house for a gathering, and ended up talking to another attendee who was Caucasian. Well, I’m not sure I should say “talking to” as it seems, from what she posted, she was being “talked at”.

This man “ranted” at her for a while and ended this rant with: “…And where does this leave the white man?”

Um, what?

Read Every Day is White Pride / Straight Pride / Men’s Day in America

A Facebook Post about Pulse Orlando

So I’m usually one of the first people to say something about a tragedy like the one at Pulse in Orlando, but it has left me shocked, and upset, and flabbergasted. There’s a fatigue that’s overwhelming me. America, we keep having this conversation, but there’s never a proper conclusion to it. How many more deaths do there need to be until the lawmakers finally do something? The worst mass shooting in America, in the LGBTI community nonetheless, but will something finally be done to curb or, dare I hope, stop these insane mass shootings from continuing? When will a “live-and-let-live”, tolerant attitude prevail over this “them-versus-us”, eye-for-an-eye, backward-thinking, blind hatred? I pray a solution, and common sense, prevail. I pray for peace and tolerance. I pray for Orlando and America. And I pray for all those injured and killed, and their families and loved ones. Life is short; be happy and love! ‪#‎PrayforOrlando‬

Our Roller Coaster Ride of a Week

This week started on a high: Noel’s business partner Don and Noel won a lifetime achievement award from their peers at the New Zealand Beauty Industry Awards.

This week has ended on a low: our beautiful cat Phoebe is most likely terminally ill.

Read “Our Roller Coaster Ride of a Week”

2 Years Ago Today, Our Lives Were Turned Upside Down… Again

Unit 8, Amuri Park, Christchurch, 13 June 2011I woke up in the middle of the night.  It was one of those half-awake, half-asleep moments, where you seem to be somewhere between dreaming and waking.  After the 22 February 2011 quake and subsequent aftershocks, I hadn’t been sleeping very well at night, so waking up several times a night was more normal than not waking up at all.

But at about 2 AM on 13 June 2011, waking up was something different.

Read 2 Years Ago Today, Our Lives Were Turned Upside Down… Again

Sex Education, Lutheran Style

Warning: This post talks about sex education and mentions a sexual act by name.  It doesn’t actually talk about what happens during that act, but it mentions the word several times anyway.  If you don’t think you can handle it, don’t read it.  If it piques your interest and you can’t help but read it, go ahead.  Proceed at your own risk.

Sex Education

When we were in fifth grade at St Paul Lutheran School, the teachers gathered all the boys from 5th through 8th grade in the upstairs 8th grade classroom in the school’s addition and all the girls from the same grades in the 5th grade classroom in the school’s (old) main building for our one and only lesson in sex education.

Now, the reason I’m relaying this story is because James and Jacqui’s daughter Charlotte is getting “the talk” soon at her school, although this seems to be a little older than when we got that same talk.  Mind you, I don’t think we had as many boys in the classes ahead of us, so it might’ve been easier for the teachers to just chuck us all together to give us the talk all at once.  “Never mind the boys in 5th grade are 10 and 11, they need to know this stuff.  Let’s get it done and over with in one fell swoop.”

I remember being very nervous because it wasn’t something we probably talked about or were terribly too much aware of at that age.  Mr. Matthias (one of the junior high teachers) said a few words about different things, and I think I was so in shock that I honestly don’t remember much of the day to this day, other than a film the teachers put on to explain sex, Lutheran style.

Of course, I’m sure there was a bit of snickering by using anatomical names for the bits that make boys boys and girls girls.  But I get the distinct feeling that the male teachers, unsure on how best to approach the subject, decided they were in deeper water than they dare tread, so, like many teachers before them paddling in an ocean they weren’t accustomed to swimming in, they resorted to the best teaching aide they could: the film projector.

The movie went through the normal things: as you get older, your voice drops, you grow hair everywhere, blah, blah, blah.  That wasn’t too much of a shock because some of the boys in our class (and definitely in the classes ahead of us) were going through this already.  I’m not sure about everyone else, but I noticed it and thought, “Oh well, you have to become an adult somehow.”

The funny thing about that movie is that, other than the changes to our body we might expect, I don’t think it actually taught us anything we needed to know in a straight-forward and scientific manner.  It was full of, pardon the word choice, innuendo.

The story I tell everyone, because this is what I remember the most, is when the film approached the subject of masturbation.  The protagonist of the story — let’s call him Johnny — was in a library, looking around at different books and things.  He picked up a book, looked around sheepishly, and then went to the bathroom with it.  The next shot showed stalls side-on; all you could see of Johnny was his feet and lower legs entering a stall (as if you were at the end of 3 stalls and peering underneath, and he’s in the furthest stall from you).  He opened the book and put it on the floor, then he hiked himself up on the toilet, with his pants around his ankles.

The announcer stated something like, “Masturbation is bad.”

Now, to my 11 year old, slightly over-analytical and quite literal mind, masturbation was a word I had never heard before, so obviously, the definition of masturbation in my head was “reading on the toilet”.  That’s what’s shown on the screen, so that must be what the announcer was talking about.

I was in shock.  Dad took a book or magazine to the toilet to read.  Quite a few people I knew took a book or magazine into the toilet to read.  It even seemed to be a Fack family trait.  I didn’t know this was a sin!  Did they know?  Should I tell them?  Would God punish me for taking a book into the bathroom?  And why?  What was so wrong about that?

Would God be angry with me for taking books or comics or anything into the toilet with me before I knew it was bad?  He seemed like a very angry and vengeful God in the Old Testament; maybe He would hold my sins against me before I even knew that bringing reading material into the bathroom was a sin!

I’m not quite sure when or how I discovered that the word the announcer was talking about in the film and the act it referred to were not the same thing.  I’m sure it was during some conversation that I highly embarrassed myself by showing my naivety.  My mind wasn’t developed enough to capture the implication or context between the two things.  And while the film makers (as adults) obviously knew what masturbation was, and they decided not to go any further other than to say it was bad, they didn’t take into consideration they were putting adult values on what was meant to educate children and young adults about subjects they didn’t know about: puberty and sex.  They wanted to imply the sexual act but assumed that children and young adults would pick this up somehow.

I think I went about 6 months or so where I was terrified to take anything into the toilet with me when I had to go to the bathroom.  Probably my friend Tommy or one of the other boys in my class told me what masturbation was or I didn’t think God would be so petty as to punish a child for taking reading material in the toilet, so, sometime later, I ventured into the toilet with a Transformers comic or something like that.  God didn’t strike me dead, so that was a good thing.

In short… if you have kids, and it’s time to have “that talk”, as uncomfortable as it may seem… Have that talk.  And don’t be embarrassed about it!

I Don’t Want to Get Civil-Unionised; I Want to Get Married!

Gay marriage cake decorationsIn New Zealand, like in Illinois, gay and lesbian couples can have their relationships legally recognised in civil unions.  In both jurisdictions, civil unions only offer some (not all) of the legal protections and rights a marriage would bring.

I refuse to get a civil union.

To me, the rights a civil union bestows on Noel and my relationship makes it a second-tier, second-class relationship.  It’s as if the Government is saying, “We’ll try to placate you with most of the rights, but not all of the rights, of a straight, married couple.”

Sorry.  I won’t put up with it.

If either Noel or I had any more spare energy (you know, after trying to rebuild the school after the quakes and [still] fighting Government bureaucracy), we would help the fight for marriage equality in New Zealand.  In another way, I feel we did our bit by helping with immigration reform for gay and lesbian couples in New Zealand.

As I type this, both the New Zealand Parliament and Illinois lawmakers are considering legalising gay marriage, which is a huge step in the right direction.

There will be those who argue against gay marriage, trying to tie it to their religious beliefs, but what it comes down to is that the Government (which is not linked to any specific religion) is there to protect the rights of all its citizens and ensure they are treated fairly in the eyes of the law, not in the eyes of the Christian God, or the Hindu Gods, or whatever Gods you may or may not believe in.

And while we’re at the argument of religion, no one religion owns marriage.  They do not get to claim a monopoly on it.  Marriage pre-dates some religions, which shows it has always been more of an act of civilisation no matter what the dominant religion in the region than a religious act alone.

The cartoon above speaks about the “sanctity of marriage”.  If it’s so holy, why do those spouting off that it is a religious rite alone allow people like Kim Kardashian and Brittany Spears to make a mockery of it?

As humans understand more and more about themselves, we have come to accept scientifically that LGBT people are naturally that way, just like the rest of the animal kingdom has LGBT animals in it.  If two male ducks can mate for life, and none of their fellow ducks seem to have a problem with it, why can’t two human men in love with one another and have that relationship recognised legally by human society?

This struggle for gay marriage is about giving Noel and me the same legal protections, reassurances, and opportunities for my life and my future as those my straight brothers and his straight brother and straight sister have.  We pay our fair share of taxes; we should have our fair share of rights.

Several state and federal governments around the world are starting to realise this and are now starting to afford our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters around the world the right to marry.

I urge New Zealand and Illinois to join those ranks next.