[Ancient Repost] Gay Like Me

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High school, the place, was absolute hell for me. Because of a rumor my brother started when I was in fifth grade, a rumor that kids don’t forget ever, and because kids are the meanest little creatures on the planet, I was the lowest of the low in the pecking order. It was so bad that, when I was in junior high, I moved to Wisconsin to live with my father so that I could get away from it. And oddly, it had nothing to do with me being gay.

No, I’m not going to tell you what it is. I don’t need more of that trauma in my life by letting the world know or by reminding those with whom I went to school.

When I was in Wisconsin, I had my first sexual experience with the boy next door. It was amazing, it felt right and I finally had the word to put with the feelings I’d been having since I was about, oh, six or so. I also found out that most of society thought it was wrong and that, because of what the Bible said about it, I was going to Hell for it. I didn’t care. I started questioning the Bible and my faith, at the tender age of 12. TWELVE YEARS OLD and I was already a very independent thinker.

After junior high, I chose to move back to Wyoming to go to high school. I was in school for all of three days when people resurrected The Rumor. There were several days in September of my freshman year that I was “sick” due more to stress than anything medical. Sure, I was throwing up several times a day, but again, stress-related, not illness. I finally just started to push through and ignore the bullshit as much as I could and keep my head down and not get involved with anyone or anything that would draw attention to myself.

It was a long four years of band, drama, journalism, Academic Decathlon and keeping to myself. I had a few good friends (Carolyn, Sheila, Stephen, Casey, to name a few). I had more people who were more intimidating than hostile (Mike Green, Brandon Elliot, most of the football team — I use their names because I might forgive but I never forget). The one and only time I got anywhere near being in a fight (from which I ran away) was in my freshman year at the end of lunch. Sean Brandt (again, might forgive, never forget) came up to me on my walk back to school and said, “I heard what you said about my ass,” and swung at me. I moved fast enough to only take a little bit of it on my chin, and then ran my ass back to school. I was already late, but damn, I could have won track meets with that speed. While I was in my locker getting my books for the class for which I was already late (Biology with Mrs. Pollet), he walked behind me and shoved me into my locker and kept going. The halls were empty, so nobody saw it, and I didn’t report it. Keep my head down and get through it. He never brought it up again.

By my senior year, I was a fuckin’ wreck. There was The Rumor, and there was the growing fear that someone would find out about the crushes I had on various people in my school, crushes on guys. Because, really? DAMN, I went to high school with some fine guys (and let’s keep in mind, shall we, that at the time I was age-appropriate. I’m not a pedophile; most of those scum are straight). P.E. classes were my own special hell. Thankfully, I had a lot of self-control and very few opportunities. There was rarely a week when thoughts of suicide weren’t part of my world.

Then I had a friend spend the night (let’s call him Dex). Dex and I had sex that night, and quite a few other times throughout my senior year, all under the noses of my friends at school and my parents. I wasn’t keeping secrets from anyone that most people wouldn’t keep secret anyway. How many high school kids tell their parents or friends that they’re having sex? Dex moved away before I graduated, so I was solo again.

I went to college in Powell. I chose Powell, because I had a scholarship for anywhere in Wyoming, and Powell was the farthest away from Wheatland as I could get and still stay in the state. Somehow The Rumor followed me up to Powell, and it could have only done that through a very few people. I’m pretty sure I know who it was, but I can’t prove it and it doesn’t matter anymore anyway. It died pretty quickly because, well, I don’t think anyone gave a shit.

I met my first real boyfriend, Dwayne, while I was in Powell. He was the husband of a good friend of mine, who introduced us, knowing full well that he was bisexual and I was questioning. We were together for about six months during my sophomore year. When we broke up, I told my friends Sandy and Heather about it and what I went through for high school and up until then with my sexuality.

I moved out of Wyoming and to Wisconsin where I came out at the age of 21. Four years later, in 1998, a young man named Matthew Shepard was killed in Laramie, 70 miles from my hometown of Wheatland, because he was gay and some small-minded bigots decided that they didn’t need any fuckin’ homo faggots in their precious little backwoods.

It could have been me for all of those years. I don’t know which deity was smiling on me, nor do I know why, but I am thankful for His or Her intervention.

*****

Wow, re-reading that was kind of rough. I’d like to add that a great deal has changed in my world since then. I’m out, I’m in a good place, I’m in a great relationship, and I’ve been approached by quite a few of the people I knew in high school. The overwhelmingly vast majority of those interactions have been extremely positive, and I’m glad that all of us have grown up and learned that high school wasn’t the end-all-be-all, and that the high school pecking order, while extending somewhat into the real world, doesn’t really matter to the good people. I’ve learned of or talked to several other people from my home town who have come out since high school, and it’s good to see that they’ve gotten comfortable in themselves and

I’m gay. I’m out. I’m proud of the man I’ve become. My family loves me and, just as importantly, loves Leon. I’ve seen a lot of changes come to the gay side of the world, and there are a great many more to go, but I’m confident that the anti-gay contingent will go away. Not necessarily in my lifetime, because that kind of thing takes generations to disappear, but the big changes will come soon, and the haters will die off.

To those who have stood by me forever, thank you. To those who are back in my life, welcome back. To everyone who reads this, I’m glad you’re here.


Fiber Art vs. Other Types of Art

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Dear everyone who is unaware:

Fiber art is just as valid an art form as sculpture or painting or photography. Just because you don’t think so, that doesn’t make it so. It’s not just picking up any old yarn and one or two sticks and going at it. You have to know color theory, you have to know how to pick the right pattern for the job, you have to be able to differentiate between fibers to find the right one, you have to have the skills to do it. Sure, it can be learned in an hour or two, but it does take a good long time to master the different techniques.

I’ve been knitting for almost nine years. It took about an hour to learn and get comfortable with the feel of the yarn and the feel of the needles. Over the last almost-nine years, I’ve learned how to make cables, how to make glorious lace, what makes people “ooOOOoooo…” over a project, how to tell the difference between silk, bamboo, wool, and cotton by look and by feel, what a colorway is and how to pick the right one for a specific pattern, how to tink what I’ve just made without having to frog the entire thing, how to read my knitting, how to do three or four cast-ons and a couple of bind-offs, how to read a chart, how to speak in knitting code. There are still a zillion other techniques that I’d love to learn that still scare the glitter out of me: intarsia, fair isle, entrelac, just to name a few.

Perhaps you didn’t know that this much went into knitting. That’s part of why I’m saying something. Saying that knitting and crocheting are the same thing is like saying that Lichtenstein just made comics, or that a Van Gogh and a Kinkade are equal, or that Jackson Pollack just flung paint at a canvas. Yarn sold at Joann or Michael’s or Walmart are not the same thing as yarn sold at a yarn shop. You can get modeling clay and watercolors at those places, too, but you wouldn’t.

You’re going to sell a painting that took you 20 hours to paint for $1000? Good for you. You’re going to sell a photo you took and developed and printed in about three hours for $250? Congrats. Why do you think my knitted garments shouldn’t sell for what they’re worth? Let’s take a pair of socks, shall we? Just plain socks in a colorway you love, no fanciness to them at all, just plain stockinette stitch. A good yarn for socks will cost anywhere from $12 to $25. Then it takes a knitter anywhere from 12 to 16 hours to knit them. And you want to say that paying me $10 is fair because “you can go to Walmart and get socks for $8”? That doesn’t even cover the cost of the yarn, let alone my labor and my skill. This is the reason why, when people say, “You should sell your knitting!”, I say no. There is a scarf that I make that I pay $40 for the yarn and it takes me about 12 hours to knit. And it’s an easy knit, a boring knit. But there is exactly zero way that I will sell it to someone unknown for less than $90. Because my time and skills are worth that much. Banana Republic has scarves that sell for $110 that are machine knit and identical to every other scarf that they sell. And people eat that shit up.

When you put down my creativity because it’s something that only old ladies do, you’re insulting the hell out of me and millions of other people. Sure, we have older women in our ranks. We also have women of all ages. And men of all ages, for that matter. Doctors, lawyers, administrative assistants, musicians, fashion designers, housewives, football players, ballet dancers, dog enthusiasts, cat enthusiasts, we’re all kinds of people.

Telling us that we’re “less than” because it’s something anyone can do? That’s a bunch of bullshit.

Sincerely,
The Fiber Artists


Adrift. Again.

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Forgive me. It’s been four weeks since my last post.

Not a lot has changed since last I wrote, O Great Internet. I’m maintaining my weight (still ~250 pounds); I’m not losing, but I’m also not gaining. I’ve tried making better food choices, and that seems to be going well. I’ve been snacking on healthier things (oranges and strawberries lately, with some popcorn if I crave salty snacks). Hell, I even had a salad with dinner tonight. I haven’t been to the gym in two months, and I probably won’t go this week, since the Resolutioners are there, and I hate the thought of being seen as one of them.

I’ve been doing a lot of sitting on the couch and watching Netflix. I went through the entire run of White Collar and Hot in Cleveland. We’ve also watched the full first season of Game of Thrones and all of Star Trek: Enterprise. Fun shows, for very different reasons. I need to get the first part of this season of White Collar so I can catch up very soon, and I need to get the second season of Game of Thrones in a format I can watch on my large TV from my very comfortable couch instead of on my good-sized computer monitor from a mostly comfortable computer chair. I’m working my way through Burn Notice right now; I’m not completely sold on it yet. Though, honestly, I do love the glitter out of Ms. Sharon Gless. She makes me happy; I’d listen to the woman read the phone book. (And, dammit, I can get Cagney & Lacey on Netflix DVD but not streaming. WHY DO YOU HATE ME, NETFLIX??)

I haven’t just been sitting there, though; I’ve been knitting like a crazy man. I finished a double-sized (meaning ten repeats instead of the five in the pattern) Citron in a gorgeous pewter and amethyst for The Sister, and I’m just a bind-off away from finishing Anna for the same Sister. The Citron was mindless and made for a great traveling project, but by the final increase section, I was over 900 stitches, and knitting or purling that many stitches makes you want to stab your eyes out with the needles. Anna, on the other hand, takes a little more paying attention, and it’s paying off. It’s gorgeous, it’s in a 70/30 merino/silk blend, and it’s a fantastic deep blue-green colorway called Kenai. I’ll admit that part of the reason I picked that colorway was the name. Kenai was the name of the main character in Brother Bear, so it’s appropriate that it’s going to my sister. (And yes, I know it’s also a city in Alaska; there’s no emotional attachment there. Yet. One never knows, I may end up on a trip there at some point.)

There hasn’t been a lot of movement in the last month on my video game alter-egos. I haven’t been in the mood to play much, sadly, but I’ve got a ton of screenshots from before the end of City of Heroes (though, warning, that link makes COHers very sad), and I’ll turn them into blog posts at some point, I hope. I’m also still doing some hellacious rep grinding on World of Warcraft. It takes FOR.EV.ER. but I’ll get what I want. OH YES I WILL. Guild Wars 2 is fun, as well. My little Asuran Engineer hit level 40 a while back, and my Sylvari Elementalist (named Shadow Glitter) is also a hell of a lot of fun to play.

Not much to report on the job front. I’ve had a few interviews, but nothing’s come of them. I’ve got one on Monday, and I hope that it goes well. It could be a very large turning point for us if I get it. I’ll ask for more job mojo and leave it at that. I also think I need a new interview outfit, but we’ll see what happens with that.

Aside from that, O Great Internet, there’s not much to report. Same goals from last year stand: eat better, exercise more, lose weight, read more, pray more, blog more, be most smartest (though, if you need to click that link, how are we even friends?), be more authentic to myself. I realize that there are a lot of people out there who really couldn’t care less about me because they’ve made up their minds about me without, y’know, really getting to know me or caring if I’ve even changed who they think I am, and that’s their own issue, one that I refuse to make mine. There will be no shoving me into their molds; if someone doesn’t like who I am, well, they can waltz themselves right out of my life.

Here’s to a massive ass-kicking to 2012. You deserve it for sucking so badly. 2013, you’ve got a pretty low bar to get over. Perhaps you should get to it.

Much love. Blessed be.