Sunday, June 29, 2008

Gay Pride 2008

I remember as a child I felt different. I didn't like the feeling of being that way so I tried my best to fit in. But fitting in correctly felt so wrong.
I remember as a teenager I would go to sleep and so many times I would pray to God that I would wake up "normal".

The world around us separated us and we were placed in a category which was topped with shame, disgrace, ignorance. We were told we were all bound to burn in hell. We are living in a country where a human being could be targeted and beaten to death because of their sexual orientation and the act isn't considered a hate crime.

"Don't Let The Fear Of Rejection Keep You From Showing Up Everyday Of Your Life." was the words that changed my life forever.
These words were spoken at a eulogy for a brave young man from San Francisco that gave his life to stop terrorists on a hijacked plane on September 11, 2001. Doing so, hundreds if not thousands of lives were saved that day.This man was one of "us".

I saw how he was loved and missed by so many. I saw he was brave and happy. I saw he let nothing or no one stand in his way.
This is who I would begin to use for courage and inspiration every day of my life.
When I read about this man I suddenly knew what it was like to be a proud gay man.

I was ask recently if I could take a pill and wake up straight would I take it. As a teenager I wouldn't hesitate to say "yes" to that question. As an adult man I wouldn't hesitate to say "no".
This is who I am, right down to my soul. Unlike what so many closed minded people think, I was born this way. This is how God made me. This is how God wanted me to be.
I've met some of the most incredible people through my journey as a gay man. I had so many incredible experiences which have shaped me to who I am today.
Today I am proud of who I am.

The struggle for equality is far from over. As God is used as a mask for ignorance and hate we need to all stand together as one. The God I have faith in doesn't hate. He wouldn't punish something he created. I feel sorry for the people who worship a God of hate and vengeance.
So stand tall and proud and let no one every stand in your way from being you!

Happy Gay Pride 2008!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Things I've Learned From Sleeping In An Airport a.k.a Curse Of The Blond VooDoo Woman

One of my best friends, Gabby, who's also a co-worker and I went to a workshop in Albuquerque, NM last week. We were both pretty excited because this was the first time either one of us ever visited this fine city.

The day started out so well. We made it from New Haven, CT to LaGuardia Airport in NY in record time. We had time to kill at the airport. We sat and ate lunch. We talked and laughed a lot. We were first in line to get our seating arrangements on the plane.

The day was perfect. We though nothing could go wrong...until this blond chick comes out from the ticket booth and can't find our reservations. Now I admit I was a little scared for a second until she quickly found them. Now that wasn't a sign that things were going to go bad. She made a slight error was all. I was convinced of that.
As we walked away Gabby then realized that the same blond woman forgot to give us our licenses back. I quickly ran back to the booth and retrieved our licenses. I could tell that Gabby had her watchful eye on this blond "voodoo woman" who might be part of a bigger scheme to sabotage this perfect day.

We approached the security screening area and I removed all metal objects from my person. I make it a personal challenge to myself to beat this metal detector and pass through smoothly every time I fly. This time was no different. We both passed through with no problem. Our perfect day was back on track.

We both checked our flight. It was on time. We were to leave NY for a quick transfer in Denver, CO and then onto Albuquerque, NM. We settled into a couple of chairs near our planes boarding area. We were way early and happy. As time clicked closer and closer to our departing time we noticed something at the boarding booth. Behind the booth were three people. One tall balding man, a short brunette woman....and that blond voodoo lady from the check in booth. Then suddenly the three announce that a storm has delayed our flight.
"This can't be. The day is going to perfect." I thought to myself.
"I told you this chick was trouble." Gabby said to me in a stern voice.
We had plenty of time. We had a good hour and a half of safety net time before we were supposed to leave NY. We were going to be just fine I convinced myself.

FIVE HOURS LATER we boarded our plane for Denver. Now with any luck we could still catch a connecting plane to Albuquerque when we get there.
It was nearly 12:30 AM when we landed in Denver. The last plane to Albuquerque left at 9 PM. The airport was a ghost town. The next flight to Albuquerque was at 7 AM the next morning. We knew that the time we found a motel that it would be time to leave. Our only option... to sleep in the airport.

We were assured by an employee that we could stay there and not be kicked out by airport security. Not being "homeless" was always a plus as far as I saw it. I try to look on the bright side of things. I tried to think of this as an adventure (I tried REAL HARD!) So after spending the night in a deserted airport I realized I walked away a little more knowledgeable about sleeping at an airport, and below I listed my top 10 things.
By the way, we did finally arrive in Albuquerque and it was an awesome place to visit. I'll post some pictures later.

Things I've learned from sleeping in an airport:
1. The seats are hard as hell.
2. The floor is harder.
3. The buzzing sound of a floor waxer makes an excellent alarm clock.
4. Fill your back pack full of soft clothing and they'll make better pillows.
5. The McDonald's in the Denver airport stays open 24/7.
6. Denver gets cold at night and the airport doesn't offer you blankets.
7. Sleeping with one eye open isn't as hard as it might sound.
8. I realized that there is something worse then camping out in a tent.
9. It is possible to shower in a airport bathroom sink.
10. Dorothy was right... There's no place like home.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Bingham Cup 2008: Hero's Dream Lives On

I've posted here several times about a man named Mark Bingham. In previous post I told readers who he was and how he changed my life forever in an incredibly positive way. Even though Mark died over six years ago he's still making an impact on not just me but on the entire world.

In the next several days, Dublin Ireland will be hosting The Bingham Cup. The Bingham Cup is an international rugby competition named in remembrance of Mark Bingham.
Mark died at age 31 on September 11, 2001, on board United Airlines flight 93. He is believed to have been one of the four passengers who stormed the cockpit to prevent the hijackers from using the plane to kill hundreds or thousands of additional victims. In a phone call to his mother, Alice Hoagland, shortly before the plane went down, he told her, "some of us here are going to try to do something."

At 6ft 4in and 225 pounds, Mark loved playing the sport of rugby. After playing through high school and for the University of California Berkeley, Mark, along with several other friends, started a rugby team called The San Francisco Fog.
The Fog was a first of it's kind rugby team. Mark was an incredible rugby player who happened to be gay. He envisioned a team of players made up of total diversity. Unlike many teams of many sports in this country, it made no difference if you were gay, straight or bisexual. All were welcome without the fear of discrimination.
Mark Bingham lost his life soon after the San Francisco Fog was organized.

Mark didn't live to see the several new rugby teams following the Fog's lead such as the N.Y.'s Gotham Knights, The Boston Ironsides and the Washington Renegades. Soon there were several diverse rugby teams not only in the United States but all over the world.

In his honor, the International Gay Rugby Association started a biannual competition and named it The Bingham Cup and was first hosted by Mark's team, the San Francisco Fog, in 2002.
That year, eight teams traveled to California for the very first biannual Bingham Cup.
In 2004 The Bingham Cup, which was held in England, saw the teams grow from eight to twenty teams from four countries.
In 2006 the number of teams grew for the New York held event. Twenty-nine teams from six countries came together along with the very first women's league, also made up of diverse members.
I attended the games that year. I was awestruck by what I saw. I watched these people not only play to win but more importantly, they played to be heard. The message was loud in clear. It shouted, "We are all the same. We play as hard, as fast and with the same heart as anybody out there."

This week over thirty teams arrived in Dublin, Ireland to play for The Bingham Cup. I wasn't able to attend the games this time round but I received an e-mail from Mark's mother Alice in which she told me she would keep me up to date with the events in the following days. I told her that even though I'm not standing there with them, I'll be there in heart and soul.

On September 11, 2001 Mark stood up along with a make shift team of players, not on a rugby field but on a boeing 757, and they looked fear in the eyes and made a difference.
This weekend in his honor, over thirty teams of gay and bi-sexual men and women are standing up and facing fear in the form of ignorance and hate in the eye and are saying we are all the same, on and off the field and like Mark and his team on United Flight 93, they too will make a difference.

(Mark Bingham and his Mother Alice in 2001)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Keep Cool

We're in the middle of our first heat wave here in the north east. It hit 100 today which is very unusual for Connecticut in June. So to all those out there, try to be like my friend Gary's dog Sheffield and keep cool.
(I love this picture)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

United Flight 93 Metal Being Used To Build Navy Ship

After using steel from The World Trade Center to build the naval ship USS New York, the U.S Navy has once again stepped forward to honor the heroes of September 11th.

This time, scrap metal from a coal mining machine that sat on the grounds where United Flight 93 crashed will be used to help make the USS Somerset, named after the county where the 40 passengers and crew lost their lives battling terrorist on their hijacked plane on September 11, 2001.

Twenty-two tons of steel from a drag line crane were removed from the site and sent to Mississippi where it will be melted down and used to build the ship which is expected to be done by 2012.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Poor Ed McMahon...WHAT THE....

I'm sitting here watching the news and wondering if I've grown into a cold, heartless, bitter person. The reason I question this is because I have an over all feeling of disgust and nausea watching a news story about how Ed McMahon is on the brink of losing his 5 MILLION DOLLAR mansion to foreclosure.

All these people are saying "poor Ed". What about the thousands upon thousand of families who are losing there "average" homes?

I really do feel sorry that he's losing his home. I feel bad for anyone in this situation but this man just rebuilt his mansion after he had mold in it and after he won a 7 MILION DOLLAR lawsuit and now he's on Larry King crying "poor me". Maybe I just don't get it. He should have built a cheaper, smaller house. One that he could pay for. Not some status symbol. Families that would be happy to have a house the size of his garage are the ones in need of our prayers and help right now.

Show us a real family that's struggling to survive and feed their kids and are desperately trying to hang on to their little house. That's what teh news should be showing us. How about the people who are sick, lost their jobs and face foreclosure? What the news decides to show us is some man who's whining about blowing millions upon millions of dollars and now can't hang on to his mansion. Is there no shame?

O.K. I admit it..I'm growing cold, heartless and bitter.

Monday, June 02, 2008

My "Family"

I truly believe that family isn't who you are born with. It is who you let into your life and heart.

My best friend Joe is someone I call my brother. Many people live their entire life and never find a true best friend. I've been lucky enough to have actually found one. From the moment I met Joe I knew we would be friends. He has been at my side through some of the most horrible of times and right next to me at the most incredible moments of my life.
His wife Cynthia, son Colby (who is my Godson) and two daughters, Molly and Kelsey are as close to me as anyone could possibly be. I'm their Uncle Rick and their my heart.
I heard Colby come into this world. I held all three children right from their first days. We've decorated Christmas trees together, laughed at holidays and cried at tragedy. They hugged me as I lost my mother and they were the very first I was able to be "me" around without fear of being judged. But the hardest thing I've gone through with them was saying goodbye as they moved away to South Carolina.

I went to visit them this past week and the moment I saw them I felt so welcome that it was like coming home after a long time away. Even though we talk several times a week on the phone it's just not the same as being there. although I saw them just 6 months ago it was like only a day had passed the minute we laid eyes on each other. Life didn't skip a beat.
There's nothing like feeling all the hugs from the kids. I could never get tired of hearing the laughter, playing games and just seeing the magic in their eyes as only little kids could have.
I realized that I missed Cynthia's humor and warmth and fun. And what I missed the most is my best friend. The way we get each other's humor. The way he sees life. The way he actually listens and hears what I am saying and actually cares. It's a trait that not many have. He's unique in the best of ways and someone I'm honored to be "brothers" with.
These wonderful people I call my family show me the love that I think I've craved from a family all my life and for that I could never thank them or love them enough.

As the week ended and we all hugged at the airport and said goodbye I could feel the tears filling up in my eyes. I didn't look back as I walked away because if I did I think I would have lost it and I didn't want them to see me cry. It was a long and lonely flight home.

I'm sitting here typing this and it's unlike when I first saw them last week. Even though I've been gone for a day, it feels like months. I miss and love you all. Thanks for being my family.