Archive for November, 2008

The Visit

The trip to St. Louis went a lot better than I expected. Although at times I was in a rather strange mood given the fact that I have less than two weeks to find a job to avoid being laid off. The weather was a good reminder of one of the reasons I wanted to leave the area. It was cold, windy and humid most of the weekend.

Friday night K met me at the Four Seasons after work. We had dinner with my brother and sister in law at Chez Leon in the Central West End. We had a great time catching up. My brother gave me a few pointers on how to handle my parents the next day and which topics of conversation to avoid.

Saturday morning K and I had breakfast at the casino next door to the hotel and then picked up my parents. Not much has changed at my parent’s house. Other than new living room furniture everything else was the same. I almost gagged when I entered to house. Both my parents are smokers and their house has forced air heat. It was worse than being in a bar. My parents were warm and inviting to Keith. We talked for about a half-hour and then took a drive to Pere Marquette State Park near Grafton, IL to have lunch. Getting my parents out of the house was one of my brother’s ideas. Get everyone on neutral territory so that my parents will be on their best behavior. We had a good day. My parents seemed to like K. After the drive we returned to my parent’s house and visited for a few hours. I could not wait to get out of their smoke filled house. I felt like I had spent a night in a smoky bar. Neither one of my parents smoked while we were there but the house is infused with cigarette and pipe smoke. It’s so gross. The once white refrigerator is now harvest gold because of their smoking.

That evening K and I had a quiet dinner in Laclede’s landing and talked about our future and what to do about my employment situation. He is being very supportive but I wish he were home with me. K wanted to gamble so we went to the casino next to the hotel. After about fifteen minutes I had to leave. The cigarette smoke was driving me crazy. I had to get out of there. I returned to the room and took a long hot shower trying the clear my lungs. I then took a nice hot bath. K returned to room and joined me in the bath after showering.

On Sunday K and I picked up my parents and met by brother, sister in law and nephew at Macaroni Grill near Creve Coeur for lunch. It was a nice lunch. After lunch we went to my brother’s house in Ballwin and relaxed and talked. The conversation went well except when my father used the “N” word. I panicked. K looked at me. I looked at my brother. Everyone froze except my parents. I chose to not say anything about use of the “N” word and changed the topic of conversation. My brother had advised me not to admonish my father about his use of that word in order to keep the peace. My father claims he is not a racist but uses that word freely. I completely disagree with my father on this point. I felt conflicted about the situation. I really wanted to correct him but I was a pussy and just let it go. Perhaps if this were not K’s first weekend with my parent’s I would have said something. I wanted to get through this weekend without a huge argument. K later told me how shocked he was when my father used the “N” word. I warned him in advance but it is still shocking to hear that word used in conversation.

I expected the worst possible outcome and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. My parents still argue and take the opposite side on most issues. A disagreement would start between my parents and I quickly changed the conversation so that the situation would not escalate. I’m glad the trip is over. I’m happy that my parents have met the man I have been sharing my life with for the last sixteen years. My mother told me she liked K. My father said nothing about K. My brother is now pressuring me to visit more often. I realize that eight years between visits is really too long to wait.

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I finally got a chance to talk to Lynn. As I suspected there has been a lot of drama in her life. Both of her adult sons have moved back into her house due to financial problems and pending bankruptcies. Her mother had a stroke and may not be able to live on her own. She went from having an empty nest to a full house in a matter of weeks.

Lynn told me about her new employer. It’s a small telecom company based in Oklahoma. She is their first black employee. She is their first employee of any color other than white. Everyone is a republican. She spent last week in Oklahoma at the home office. The lunchroom had a life size cardboard cutout of John McCain. Lynn was horrified. All of her peers were talking about how great it will be when McCain is our new president. Nobody asked Lynn whom she was supporting and she did not even attempt to bring up her volunteer work for Obama. She felt like she was in the enemy’s camp. The election results were not discussed on November 5th. It was as if it never occurred. Lynn’s going to stay with this firm for a little while since she’s picking up a lot skills and knowledge that will enhance her resume. She spends most of her time at job sites on military bases and travels home to Denver every two weeks. Lynn doesn’t mind having her sons at home since she’s usually away. However, her mother’s health may force Lynn to find a new job that will allow her to spend more time at home.

I’m hoping to get together with Lynn some time after Thanksgiving. I always have a great time with her. I remember one time Lynn and I were talking to my friend Ross. Ross made a remark about a nearby woman having a nappy kitchen. Lynn just about died laughing. She didn’t think white people know the term nappy kitchen. Pretty soon we were all laughing about dirty kitchens (another way to describe a nappy kitchen). It was a hoot. Lynn is so much fun. I really miss being around her every day.

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I Will Beat A Bitch’s Ass

I listened to the voice mail message and heard a woman’s voice say, “I will beat a bitch’s ass”. I instantly knew it was my friend Lynn. I hadn’t heard from her in months. I immediately called her and got her voice mail.

I think it was back in 2005 when Vanity Fair did a profile on model turned mogul Kimora Lee Simmons. In the article Kimora was quoted several times saying “I will beat a bitch’s ass” in reference to what she would do to women making a play for her husband, Russell Simmons. Lynn wanted to read the article so I gave her my copy of Vanity Fair. She thought Kimora came off as “boojwah”. We gad a good laugh about the article. We soon adopted the quote as our own. We would leave on each other’s voice mail. It always made us laugh.

I miss Lynn. I loved working with her. I was saddened when she chose to leave the company and pursue work with a smaller family owned firm. She’s always in a great mood even though her personal life can be filled with family drama at times. If she doesn’t call me back I’ll guess I’ll have to drive over to her house and beat a bitch’s ass.

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A few days ago I read Moby’s post about his recent trip to visit family in East Texas. I don’t have fond memories of East Texas, in particular, Nacogdoches. My late partner, Dale, was from Nacogdoches. One year he dragged me back there for Christmas to visit with his Southern Baptist family. We stayed at his mother’s house. It was one of the most uncomfortable trips in my life. Everyone was tense all weekend. A few months later Dale’s mother sent him a box containing several different versions of the bible for his birthday. Each one had highlighted passages condemning homosexuality. He was crushed and disappointed. He could understand why his mother could not accept him as he was. She became cold and distant when he was diagnosed with HIV. She would not allow him to visit her in Nacogdoches and she would not come to Dallas.

The next and final trip to Nacogdoches was for Dale’s funeral in August of 1989. Even though Dale wanted to be cremated, his mother made the decision on a Baptist funeral since she was next of kin. I had no say in the matter. Five of us drove to Nacogdoches for the funeral. My good friends Tom, Beth, Nancy and Lauren. We knew we were not going to be welcomed so we dressed to the nines. I can remember wearing an Armani suit. Tom was impeccably dressed and was sporting a bow tie. Beth, Nancy and Lauren each wore killer black dresses with shoulder pads and four-inch heels. Lauren was also wearing a black hat with a brim so big even Alexis Carrington would have been jealous. Beth, Nancy and Lauren were “the trinity” of my social circle (“the trinity” was a term used to describe supermodels Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington in the late 80’s). We were a sight to behold. It was apparent that we were not locals. We sat on the left side of the church. Everyone else was on the right side. Nobody would speak to us. They stared at us with hate in their eyes. We were the deviates from Dallas. The preacher talked on and on about Dale. It was clear from his remarks that he never met Dale. Several times I shook my head in disbelief. The preacher ended the service when Tom, who was a former Lutheran priest, attempted to address the congregation. We drove to the cemetery for the burial. It was late morning and the temperature was nearing 100. The funeral director would not let us stand under the tent to get out of the hot Texas sun even though there was plenty of room. He told us it was reserved for family. The local sheriff approached us and told us we were not welcome and had to leave. Lauren got in his face and told him we were Dale’s family from Dallas and we were not leaving. Beth and Nancy were standing behind Lauren for moral support. Lauren and the sheriff argued back and forth. I could not believe what was happening. It felt like a bad dream. I was terrified. I had never been treated this way in my life. I was standing there shaking in fear as Tom held me in his arms. I was expecting Lauren to get arrested because she really argued with the sheriff and got in his face. Surprisingly, the sheriff backed off and let us stay. Perhaps it was three tall beautiful well-dressed women in heels towering over the sheriff that made him change his mind. After the graveside service ended the sheriff kept us away from Dale’s family and once again told us to leave. The sheriff told us we were forbidden from attending the post burial get together at Dale’s mother’s house. The thought of venturing into that den of vipers was not even up for consideration. We were hot, tired and hungry. We piled into Tom’s car and left. The sheriff and two deputies followed us to the town limits. We drove to Lufkin and had lunch with margaritas at a Tex-Mex restaurant. We toasted Dale. Soon we were laughing and having a good time. I felt so good to laugh after the torturous treatment by his family, the funeral director and sheriff. I don’t remember much about the drive home. I fell asleep with my head resting on Beth’s shoulder and her arm around me. When I woke up she looked at me, smiled and said, “We’re home!”

A few weeks later I received a letter from Dale’s mother. The letter contained the funeral bill and short note instructing me to pay the bill. I could not believe this woman’s gall. I was furious! She expected me to pay for funeral that Dale never wanted. I had no say in the matter but I was expected to pay the funeral bill. After a few phone calls that always ended with me cussing and screaming before handing up on his mother, I turned the situation over to my lawyer. I could not have a civil conversation with that woman. I was not proud of my behavior. I was hurt and sad. I missed the man I loved. I was lonely. The lawyer took care of everything. I did not pay the funeral bill. Six months later I started working in Denver. I have never heard from Dale’s family again.

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Our friend Peter has invited us to stay in his Dupont Circle penthouse condo for the Inaugural. It should be a lot of fun.  We went shopping for tuxedos last night.

Roundtrip airfare Denver – D.C.    $650.00

New Hugo Boss tuxedo    $800.00

New tux shirt    $125.00

Cole Haan formal shoes    $350.00

Witnessing a milestone in United States history    Priceless!

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My Father

My father was born in 1928. His mother and father were forced to marry because his mother was pregnant. His parent’s lost everything in the depression. His father was an alcoholic who drank himself to death when I was a small child. When my father was around eight years old he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother. His four-year-old brother stayed with his parents. No explanation has ever been given as to why my father was sent away while his younger brother stayed with his parents. My father lived with his grandmother until he turned eighteen. He then joined the Army. After eight years in the Army he returned to St. Louis. His parents owned either a bar or a liquor store at this time. My father worked for his parents for a short time and then got a job with the Post Office. My father met my mother at a wedding. His cousin was marrying my mother’s twin brother. They started dating and married a short time later in 1953. Both my parents were twenty-seven years old. I don’t think my father dated any other women before marring my mother. My sister was born in born in 1955, I was born in 1597 and my brother was born in 1961. My parents moved to the suburbs in 1958.

My father has never had a checking account or a credit card because he does not trust banks. However, he does have saving accounts. The mortgage on my childhood home was the only loan he has ever had. He pays the utility bills at the local grocery store and buys money orders for any other bills. He operates on a cash only basis.

My siblings and I were sent to Catholic schools. When it came time for college my sister and I were given a rude awakening. It was always assumed that my parents would pay for our college education. However, my father informed us that we were responsible for college. This was never discussed prior to my sister’s senior year in high school. My father refused to fill out financial aid forms. He also refused to help with scholarship applications. He did not want his children accepting hand outs even though he refused to pay for college. The high school guidance counselors and administrators pleaded with my father to change his mind. My sister and I were a year apart in school and were both honor roll students. We were ideal candidates for scholarships and financial aid. It didn’t mater. When my father said no he meant no. My mother couldn’t help because she didn’t know anything about the household finances. All of the bank accounts were in my father’s name. My mother didn’t even know where the tax returns were kept. My father controlled all the money and gave my mother a monthly stipend for incidentals.

I got my driver’s license when I was sixteen but was never allowed to drive the car. I was not allowed to buy my own car until I graduated from high school. Allowances were forbidden so my sister, brother and I always worked for our spending money (financing drug deals in high school turned into a lucrative business but that’s a topic for another post). My father permitted us to live at home after high school as long as we were either attending college or had a full time job.

During most of my early childhood my father was away at work for two or more days at a time. He worked on a train sorting mail for the post office. We were marooned in the suburbs away from other local relatives with a mother who did not drive. Later, when the mail was sent by trunks and planes he had a different position but due to his seniority he was forced to work the night shift. He was sleeping when we got up in the morning for school and he was at work when we got home. We only saw him on the weekends. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that my father quit working the night shift. He may have continued to work the night shift to avoid sleeping with my mother.

For as long as I can remember my parents argued. It was never physical but the yelling, cussing and screaming often got out of control. I have never seen my parents hug or hold hands. There was almost no physical affection shown in our household. As a young child I can remember my father giving my mother a quick peck on the lips when he left for work. That’s about it. They never divorced because they are catholic.

My father is a bitter angry man. I think his childhood may be partly to blame for this. He has never sought professional help because he doesn’t believe in therapy. He keeps all of his emotions bottled up inside. I have hated him in the past but now I just feel sorry for him. He must be an extremely unhappy man.

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Remember Amendment 2?

I was on an emotional high when Obama was declared the winner of the presidential race. Today, I’m sinking into sadness with news of the passing of Proposition 8 in California, along with the ballot initiatives in Arkansas, Florida and Arizona. Perhaps the uncounted ballots in California will somehow change the outcome. I’m trying to be optimistic. I have hope for this country as a whole but my dreams of equal rights seem to be going down in flames. A call to action is needed. Just as a call to action was needed when Amendment 2 was passed in Colorado.

On November 3, 1992 Colorado voters approved Amendment 2 that prevented any city, town or county in the state from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect homosexual citizens from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. Legal challenges were initiated and on January 15th, 1993 a temporary injunction was granted. The state appealed the injunction to the Colorado Supreme Court. On July19, 1993, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the original injunction. The case was returned to the District Court for trial. On December 14, 1993 Amendment 2 was declared unconstitutional. Colorado then appealed to the State Supreme Court. The State Supreme Court agreed with the District Court. Colorado then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On May 20th, 1996 the U.S. Supreme court ruled that Amendment 2 was unconstitutional.

We fought hard. We had protests and rallies. We raised money for the legal fight. It took almost four years but we won. We lost the initial battle but we won the war! We must do the same in California, Arkansas, Florida and Arizona. Fight for your rights!

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