Friday, March 30, 2007

Letter to Nick

I sent this to Nick. I'm sad to see him go:


I want to thank you for your support during this very difficult year for me, without which I probably still wouldn't have acknowledged my sexuality to myself, let alone have told Karen and Sean. I plan to confirm it to Marcia tonight. I will tell Marie the next time I am back home, and perhaps my sister as well. Without your support and encouragement this would be impossible.

At the risk of getting too cliche, I am reminded somewhat of the song For Good from Wicked. I hope you'll listen to it, because it does summarize nicely my sentiments towards you.

Once again, I will support you in any way you need. Just ask.

Thank you,
Pink Elephant

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Democrats' Own Stained Blue Dress

Admittedly, I am behind the times here, but I can't just ignore the Department of Justice investigations (witch hunt?) on a blog like this. I promise one day also to write about the detainees (hostages?) in Iran.

My first reaction upon hearing that 8 U.S. Attorneys had been fired was, "must be a slow news day." Then as the story gained momentum and investigations began and subpoenas started flying all over Washington, my eyes started rolling and haven't stopped. My distaste for this whole affair boils down to this: With all there is to criticize this administration about, why are we wasting so much time, energy and money pursuing a "scandal" which is mild at most and fabricated at worst? I certainly understand that Democrats have an impulse to undermine Bush at every possible turn (the same impulse the GOP had with the first, and I hope only, President Clinton). Giving in to such impulses has at least two negative consequences for the Democrats:

1) It's become a big distraction that ultimately will have little political consequence; and
2) It really makes them look petty.

We Republicans know this from experience. Back in Monica-gate, we GOPers got all in a tizzy that Clinton would have an inappropriate relationship with an intern. Then we got even more indignant when Clinton lied about it. So followed a political spectacle that I only hope we are ashamed of now. What were the results? Clinton, already a lame duck, was acquitted. Newt Gingrich lost all credibility with the public. In the next election, Republicans lost 2 seats in both the House and Senate, and Bush won the presidency on a technicality. Like we Republicans (should have) learned, manufactured scandals are not politically useful.

Of course, you can argue that activities within the DOJ have a bit more weight than do activities within Monica Lewinsky. But by and large, a lame duck president's alleged cronyism isn't going to make much difference--especially when an incoming Clinton fired ALL the then sitting U.S. Attorneys (many thanks to theobromophile for finding this link). And let's not forget that lying to a grand jury is no small thing either.

Besides, mightn't we all take a cue from the the film The American President? After a manufactured scandal, President Shepherd (played superbly by my favorite disgustingly liberal actor, Michael Douglas) was able to rise above the dirty politics and get support for his frighteningly broad gun control bill. We wouldn't want something like that to happen, would we?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Problem revisited

I have decided that I am going to accelerate coming out at school rather staying in the closet

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Karen and Sean's reaction notwithstanding, something has recently occurred that makes me reconsider my decision to be entirely out.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

More Veritas

I am writing to fill in some details about last Wednesday night. I wanted my initial post to be positive, because it was predominantly a positive evening. The situation was, however, not all sunshine and roses. Before I get into that, I want to reiterate I'm extremely glad it happened. But this whole adventure is about being honest, and that's what I am going to do.

So we were playing Wii Bowling, and drinking wine and having a good time. Then Karen asks me how good of a mood I'm in. I say a pretty good one. Sean scowls at her, knowing that they had previously decided they wouldn't be the one's who brought it up first.

Then she tells me: we found your blog.

I'm immediately uncomfortable, and go into withdraw mode. To my credit, I do not deny it, my first thought. That may be more from a sense of futility than of courage (I had talked about Tom Palmer's gun victory the night before), but at the very least I do not deny that the blog was mine.

Karen is doing her best to remind me that I have both their support, and it doesn't change what they think of me at all. She is very reassuring, and I thank her for that. Sean is doing his best to make me more comfortable by saying "It's in the open, it's over. Nothing's changed, so let's just get back to the game." I must emphasize that Sean isn't trying to avoid the issue (indeed we talked about it at length over lunch on Friday), but that he knows I am not comfortable in very emotional situations in general, and that I probably don't want to talk about it.

Whose approach is better? I can't tell you. On the one hand, I needed Karen's constant affirmation. On the other, I knew that the topic would come up again, and at that moment my sexuality was the last thing I wanted to talk about. So I really appreciated Sean's sensitivity of that and respect for my wishes.

I cried that evening, which I hate. Almost a quarter century of emotional repression made me much prefer stoicism. I always feel like an idiot when I cannot "keep it together." The whole thing was less stressful than I imagined, but not by much.

Thursday morning, I saw Karen at school, and she was worried that I was still very uncomfortable. Although it was less than twelve hours later, I had already realized I was happy and relieved that I had gone through Wednesday night with them. Now I assure her that I am happy she brought it up. Thursday was probably the best day since I came out to myself. I'm still riding that high.

Mourning Milton

Just a few quotes from my ideological hero, Milton Friedman, who passed away last November.
"The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom."

"I'm in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal."

“I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible.”

And perhaps my favorite
"Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless. "
That's why I have a picture of an economist hanging in my living room.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I do love when it starts getting warm out. Not least of all because of lean college boys playing frisbee or other sports without shirts on. Just thought I'd share.

So what if this is a shameless attempt to attract traffic? :-)

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Although I do not plan to vote for Obama, I do like this ad.

In Vino Veritas

I came out to my two best law school friends--although a bit earlier than I anticipated. Two nights ago I was as their house, let's call them Karen and Sean, enjoying several glasses of wine. I was using Karen's computer to search craigslist for summer housing. At one point I started feeling bold/reckless, doubtless as a result of my shiraz. I quickly checked my blog to see if I had any new comments (I didn't), and then got back to craigslist.

Yesterday, Karen found the link for my blog in her history and looked at it out of curiosity. Despite my attempts to be somewhat anonymous on this blog, some of my opinions and idiosyncratic turns of phrase betrayed my identity to Karen. I don't mean that she thought "wow, I wonder if this who I think it is," instead it was a "wow, this is his blog." When she showed it to Sean, he came to the same conclusion.

Then yesterday evening I was again at Karen and Sean's enjoying wine (you see, Sean has a Nintendo Wii). Karen and Sean had decided between them not to mention the blog until I bring it up. However, after several glasses of wine (and let's be honest, shots), Karen wanted to let me know that I have her support. So it came up.

Uncomfortable though it was, I'm glad she let me know. Both Karen and Sean are very close to me, and I'm glad we can be even closer now. I trust them not to bring it up with third parties, and I wholly appreciate their support.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Last night I had an IM conversation with the writer of Micifus. Of course it's always nice to make new friends, but this is exciting to me for a couple of reasons. 1) It means I'm starting to get traffic on my blog (yay!); and 2) I have someone else to talk to who went through what I am.

Nick's support is invaluable to me, but he came out almost 10 years ago. I have to wonder if over that long period of time, he may have forgotten exactly how scary it was. As observed by that great philosopher, Mrs. Doubtfire, over time, the bad seems to fade away as the good adheres itself to our memory. I really do appreciate the advice and encouragement I get from others who are coming out or recently out. What's more, I find reading the blogs of those coming out to be very useful. It's comforting, at least to some degree, to know that others felt (almost exactly!) the kinds of things I feel now. Although Micifus Phil has stopped writing, I am glad that he took the time to blog his experiences so I can read them now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

gay republicans

Recently a friend asked me a question that I think is a ripe topic for this blog: do I find myself becoming less republican as I become more gay.

My answer at the time was to say I find myself becoming less conservative and more libertarian. I then went on to reassure him that I do not approve of the current dominance of the Theocrats in the GOP. Both points are certainly still true, but I thought I would elaborate a little more on the topic.

I will NOT be an apologist for the Republican Party in its current form. I have a lot to criticize both on social and economic issues. However, as I have alluded to before, for most of my political life I have focused almost exclusively on economic issues. I am a free marketer almost to the point of fanaticism. I occasionally described my political orientation as "capitalist" to imply that I was indifferent to social issues. I joined the Republicans for their focuses on low taxes, limited spending, deregulation and free trade (I miss that Republican Party; where did it go?). I accepted the social conservatism of the party as basically the transaction cost of my economic agenda. My focus on economic issues, I admit, was at least in part due to my repression of my sexuality.

As I started the process of coming out, I realized that I could no longer ignore social issues. In fact I was ashamed that I had ignored them for so long. Being gay, although it certainly informs my positions on social issues, does not change my economic positions. I am still the same anti-tax, low-spending, deregulatory free trader I always was. For the first time, I started seeking alternatives to the statist-theocrat dichotomy. I found my solution among libertarians.
Libertarians were once a sizable subsection of Republicans, but as the Theocrats got louder they pushed the libertarians out of the GOP. By the time I had come to the libertarians very few of them would self-identify as Republicans. I had to decide whether to join the libertarian tide and leave the Republican party, or to stay and try to fight the theocratic homogeneity (I bet they hate that word simply because of the first two syllables).

I decided to stay and fight. We are in a two party political system and moving to third party almost assures you of being politically irrelevant and unhappy with all outcomes. But more importantly, if we (gays and/or libertarians) leave the GOP because of the obnoxious Theocrats, then the Theocrats become even more dominant in the party. The Republican Party is not going to change from the outside, and it DOES need to change from somewhere.

I am certainly a young, probably naive, idealist, reformer-type. Even if chances of success are very slim it's worth it trying. We can succeed without trying, and the current state of affairs won't do at all. Who knows, maybe (hopefully) in a generation being gay will have no more political meaning to the Republicans than being a woman does.

A response to a comment

Rather than let one conversation get lost in the comments section, I thought I'd create a new post to give it attention.

A reader (I like the idea of having readers!) asked me the following in a comment to this post, which I think is something of a response to this post:

I have a question ... and this is not meant to attack you in any way ... but on the matter of gun control, how do we define "arms" and determine who may possess them and in what ways they may be used? A nuclear bomb is a type of "arm." I definitely believe people should be able to bear arms, but where do we draw the line? Thanks for your response; I'm simply curious.

My response is probably unsatisfactory, but I will be honest (as I am shielded by the anonymity of the internet): the line drawing is tough. Certainly, when drafting the bill of rights, the writers did not conceive of the myriad of tools we humans would eventually devise in order to kill one another. Did the right to bear arms really only mean personal firearms such as rifle and pistols, or did it originally include the right to own a cannon? I'd be interested to know, but in the end I do not place much emphasis on original intent or textualism. Hopefully, as my link to the Becker-Posner blog might suggest, I am more of a legal pragmatist. With that in mind, let's see where it takes us.

As I hope is clear, I certainly support, indeed encourage, carrying a handgun for personal protection as well as protecting the home with a handgun, rifle, or shotgun. I don't see much of a distinction between a revolver and a 9mm semi-automatic. Nor is there much practical distinction between protecting your home or person with a handgun, a rifle or a shotgun. These weapons clearly fall along under "definite yes" column about the right to possess. Blah, blah, blah

On the other hand, should I have the right to possess a nuclear bomb? I don't want to say yes, but I don't want to say no either. I don't want to say yes because nuclear bombs are a weapon that has A LOT of collateral damage. If I set off a nuke to stop someone from beating me up, I have not only stopped the aggressor, but also killed hundreds or thousands of people. Silly example, but you get the idea. Certainly nukes are not in the weapon for personal protection category. But making "weapon for personal protection" the standard does not provide much more guidance.

I don't want to say no because of that bane of every law student, the slippery slope argument. How long would it take to move into the arena of the "definite yes" column from automatic weapons, and to automatic weapons from the type of heavy collateral risk weapons like a bomb? Further, I do not accept any national security/terrorism/24 argument for banning such weapons. The well funded and determined baddies are going to get their hands on what they want regardless of any possession laws.

Bottom line: I'm glad the line drawing is not my job.

Monday, March 19, 2007

It means "need glasses"

In an effort from keeping this blog from getting too rabidly political or too morosely forlorn at the prospect of coming out, here's a bit of levity. A friend sent this to me and I about cracked up in the middle of a class. I now betray my juvenile sense of humor.

It's a German commercial for Optometry.

Gen. Pace Reaction Update

Update: In response to criticism for their wishy-washiness, both Hills and Obama have made public statements that they do not believe homosexuality to be immoral.

However, Dems aren't the only ones. GOP Senator John Warner "respectfully but strongly disagreed with [Gen. Pace's] view that homosexuality is immoral." I wish that some of the GOPers running for president would have that courage.

Of Gays and Guns

While perusing the Independent Gay Forum, I found a reference to this Washington Post article. What specifically caught my eye was that one of the plaintiffs is Tom G. Palmer, whose blog I have listed in thing of interest to me right now. I have met Tom Palmer several times at policy-type conferences and found him to be one of the most articulate and intelligent men I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. The Washington Post article makes me admire him even more.

The article discusses the motivation behind the plaintiffs in a case to overturn DC's complete ban on guns (an article on the court ruling itself can be found here). The article on motivation states in pertinent part:

[Tom] Palmer, 50, said that his gun rescued him 25 years ago when he was approached by a group of men in San Jose. Palmer, who is gay, said he believed the men were targeting him because of his sexual orientation. He said he and a friend started to run away, but then he took action.

"I turned around and showed them the business side of my gun and told them if they took another step, I'd shoot," he said, adding that that ended the confrontation.

Palmer moved to the District in 1975 and lives in the U Street NW corridor, where police have struggled lately to curb assaults and other crimes. He said he considers it a fairly safe neighborhood, although his home was broken into once. He works as director of educational programs for the Cato Institute and travels to war-torn countries including Iraq.

He keeps a shotgun and several pistols stored in Colorado and Virginia. Guns have been used in his family for generations. "My mother always had two, and she kept one under her bed," Palmer said.

This got me to thinking. As Nick's mom pointed out (here), although homosexuality is more accepted today than ever before, homophobia has not been eradicated. Certainly, Tom Palmer's experience occurred 25 years ago, and it has been almost 10 years since Matthew Shepard's brutal murder; however, there are some areas in which being an openly gay man can be dangerous. Nick's mom didn't mention the Bible belt simply as a jab at the Theocrats. Both Nick and I are from the South, where being a proud member of a minority, especially a sexual minority, is at best a risky endeavor. It would seem that the collective experience of gays might make us wary to voluntarily give up, indeed support candidates who would require us to give up, the personal protection of a handgun. In fact, any member of a vulnerable minority living in a potentially hostile environment should be among the most fervent defenders of the right to carry handguns.

Apart even from the danger of violent homophobia, which I am confident will wane over time even in the Bible belt, I'd want to carry a gun. Assaults generally, not just those motivated by intolerance, are a danger and unpredictable. I could be a target for looking like my wallet has cash in it, for being in a store during a hold-up, or simply for being the first person a meth addict sees one day. If these dangers are enough to make me want to carry a handgun, the danger of violent homophobia would increase my need for protection, even if only marginally.

Of course less informed gun control advocates will argue if no one had guns, assaults wouldn't be a problem. My answer is assaults do not have to be with guns. Someone could threaten me with a baseball bat, a knife, or even a group of unarmed but physically imposing individuals. A gun is going to win those confrontation every time. When confronted with another gun, producing a weapon of my own creates a sort of mutually assured destruction that most of the time will make my would-be assailant prefer to back down and find an unarmed target. I know it's trite, but I earnestly believe that if guns are outlawed, outlaws will still have guns. ("gosh, I'd like to commit an armed robbery to support my crack habit, but dammit, I'm not allowed to carry a gun").

The slightly more informed gun control advocates will then point out that countries such as the UK and Japan have strict gun control laws and almost no violent crime. As for the UK, I would point to this (albeit dated) BBC article noting that in the two years following the ban on handgun, gun crimes rose by almost 40% (!). The article notes that smuggling guns into the UK is a problem, one we deal with in this country in regard to illegal narcotics. To be fair, the report did have an axe to grind: it was commissioned by the Countryside Alliance's Campaign for Shooting. However, such studies cannot be discounted simply because they favor the positions of those who commission them. The numbers are apparently there, or else the Campaign wouldn't have released the study. And releasing a fraudulent study would be more damaging to their goals than releasing one that contradicted their positions.

Similarly, although Japan's gun control has been more successful, it has been at the cost of civil liberties that I think few in this country would find palatable, let alone appropriate. This article (also dated--it's hard to find current public domain studies to link to) notes in Part III that in order to enforce the gun possession laws, the Japanese Police are given broad search and seizure powers. According to the article:
In practice, the special law for weapons searches is not necessary, since the police routinely search at will. They ask suspicious characters to show them what is in their purse or sack. In the rare cases where a policeman's search (for a gun or any other contraband) is ruled illegal, it hardly matters; the Japanese courts permit the use of illegally seized evidence. [citations omitted].
Implementing a similar policy in the US would immediately raise very strong Fourth Amendment objections (let alone the Second Amendment).

Then, of course, there are the "concerned citizens" who note that an absence of gun would reduce accidental gun injuries and death. I agree that the concerned citizens have a valid argument, though I do not agree with their solution. I grew up in a house with guns, and my folks instilled in me from a very early age the seriousness of the tool. When I got old enough, my parents enrolled me into a gun safety class; one that stressed not only the necessity of having personal protection, but also the extreme danger of being careless with your gun. I think education rather than elimination is the better solution to accidental gun injury.

Do I practice what I preach? Sadly not. I do not carry or even own my own handgun. I spend most of my day in a school building, and it is therefore illegal for me to carry a gun. Leaving a gun in the car is an almost foolproof way to have your gun stolen, and leaving it at home offers as much protection as not having one at all. Finally, guns aren't cheap and I have not been able to afford one of my own yet. On the other hand, I do go to the shooting range on a semi-regular basis, and fully intend to buy a gun once I can afford it and it become a more useful tool than it is while I am in school. Remember, Tom Palmer was only 25 when his gun saved his life. I only hope that I can wait at least another year before I need my own.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Bit of Frivolity

I do like this movie! I've been a fan of Bond since I was in elementary school, but in college I read Ian Fleming's original novels and instantly preferred the tougher, more human literary Bond to his almost unbelievable cinematic counterpart. So imagine my delight when the movie franchise decides to re-start with a bond movie that actually remains faithful to its original source material!

The movie works too. The screenwriters were deftly able to update the story from the Cold War Era to the War on Terror Era while retaining the integrity of the story. We see a Bond that is vulnerable. After being tortured by Le Chiffre, we see Bond in a wheelchair during a recuperative session of a type that occasionally appeared in the books but was absent from the movies. The evil plot was not an outlandish Dr. Evil style super plot, and did not require the suspension of disbelief that had become so common in the franchise.

Let us not forget the obvious, however: Daniel Craig. I'll admit I had been pulling for Clive Owen, and when the announcement came out I was gave the same "huh?" that everyone else did. I am pleased with the choice now. Craig ably balanced the look (despite being blond!), the toughness, the coldness, the vulnerability, the arrogance. Plus, any scene where Craig is shirtless and you can see those sculpted shoulders is pretty hot.

I hope the franchise can keep this new direction for the next few movies. Much of the plot from Fleming's You Only Live Twice was discarded by the film bearing the same title. I'd like to see that one done well. Even if the next Bond movies have entirely original plots, so long as they retain the feel of Casino Royale, I will be at the theaters on opening day.

Just so we're clear

Inspired by another blog, I'm going to list my positions on various issues. Most of my political positions are economically based with a healthy dose of libertarian individual rights. In fact, apart from national defense, I would be more comfortable among libertarians than among conservatives.

Taxes: Keep 'em low--I'm better at spending my money than the government

Government spending: Keep that low too. One of my favorite scenes from the movie Dave, is when Dave is trying to find 3oo million for a homeless shelter and does so by making holders of government contracts slightly more accountable. Perhaps the scene was an exaggeration, but I doubt it. On the other hand, I do support a strong defense.

Social Security: Why in the world should I not be allowed to opt out? If I did opt out and frittered away my money, it's my own damn fault.

The War on Drugs: One of the biggest wastes of resources of time, money, and man-power. I'd legalize many drugs if only to eliminate the black market profits that make drugs so lucrative for criminals that they kill to ensure their business.

Immigration: This one is a little tougher. On the one hand we have people risking their lives to have a chance (and a slim one at that) at the American dream. That makes me proud, both that America is still so attractive as a place to live, and of these brave men and women who embody the risk taking spirit that does make this the Land of Opportunity. On the other hand, I do not wish to reward illegal behavior, and I understand the security concerns of a post-9/11 world. My gut tends to favor the immigrants. Perhaps we can make it easier to become a documented resident alien so long as the alien is not simply trying to benefit from our generous welfare state (see below). Reducing the INS red tape would increase our tax base and allow America to continue attracting the world's risk takers.

Death Penalty: I support it, but mildly. I'd be willing to eliminate the death penalty so long as we also eliminated parole. I'd probably put this one at the bottom of my political priorities.

Physician-assisted suicide: I'm in favor. What purpose does it serve to postpone a person's imminent death when they are in great pain? Why waste resources keeping someone alive against their own wishes when there are so many others who need the hospital bed, nurse care, etc? Furthermore, I cannot conceive of why we punish a doctor for a decision made by his or her patient.

Abortion: I'm a pro-lifer (I know to some that seems odd, given that I am not opposed to the death penalty or euthanasia). With all the all the couples that would love to adopt a child, it seems unnecessary to terminate a fetus. I know that no contraception is 100% effective, but I don't like the idea of ending a life (or potential life, if you prefer) simply because someone didn't feel like getting a condom or taking a pill. In the rare instance that contraception fails, why not give a gay couple a child?

Gay marriage: First, I believe that marriage is a religious word, but if a Church is willing to perform the ceremony, the government has NO right to stop them. Moreover, there is absolutely no principled reason to deny committed gay couples the same civil benefits to marriage that straight couples enjoy. I just don't know how extending these benefits to gay couples will "ruin" an institution that has a 50% success rate anyway.

Don't Ask Don't Tell: Nothing justifies this policy; it must go.

Gun control: Prohibition didn't work on alcohol and doesn't work on drugs, so why do people think it would work on guns? I don't necessarily have a problem with registration, but criminals are likely going to use stolen or unregistered guns anyway, so I am not sure what the purpose is. Plus, shootin' is fun.

The Iraq War: I supported it in the beginning, but now believe that we went after the wrong foe (Iran is now and was then more dangerous to the United States than Iraq). However, I'm happy there is one fewer dictator in the world, and I don't think Iraq is ready to provide for its own security.

Welfare Reform: I basically follow Milton Friedman on this. The current system is horrendously bloated and creates the wrong kinds of incentives, but I would not do away with it entirely. Many people may need assistance at certain times, but I do not have much sympathy for the lazy or a system that rewards them.

Affirmative Action: Anything based on race is racist and wrong, no matter whom it benefits. Besides, it only sows resentment.

Environmental conservation: If conserving an area is important to you, why not put together a fund of like-minded private investors to purchase the land and keep it as you see fit? Do not ask me to contribute my tax dollars when I would find a different use far more productive.

So there you have it, quick and easy, over-simplified soundbites that give you an idea of where I fall on many very complicated issues.

Nick's Mom's Advice

Sadly, I did not get to meet personally with Nick's mom, but she did collect her thoughts and sent them to me in an email. This is what she wrote:

Dear Pink Elephant.

From the moment that Nick asked me to talk to you about coming out to your parents, I’ve been thinking about what clever, profound, instructive thing I might say. Unfortunately, great wisdom continues to evade me, so I will just tell you what it is like to be a parent and what it was like for me to learn that my son is gay. The great news is that homosexuality is more accepted now than it has ever been and over the past several years, great strides have been made. If you live somewhere other than the Bible belt, it may not be a problem at all. The bad news is that homophobia has not been eradicated and we still have to live with it. Hopefully, these ramblings will help you understand your parents’ reactions, good or bad, to your news.

Becoming a parent is a life-altering event. The innate sense of love and protectiveness is critical for the survival of any species, and we humans have these instincts in spades! As a parent, you gradually realize that your wishes and needs no longer take priority and, for the most part, you don’t mind. The primary mission of your life becomes caring for this child, yet you scarcely have any idea of how to proceed. The sense of responsibility is overwhelming and the commitment to be a “good parent” morphs into an obsessive-compulsive disorder! You make so many mistakes along the way that you cherish the idea of being a grandparent, because by that time, through trial and error, you finally know how to get it right!

… Meanwhile, no sacrifice is too great and nothing is more important than your child’s safety and happiness. Ah, and pride, did I mention that? Nothing is a greater source of pride than your child, and you want the world to love your child and treat him well. Any pain or sorrow that your child suffers is felt and magnified in you. You want, so desperately, to “fix” it.

Is this obsessive behavior good for the child? Yes and no. Is the parent’s ego tied up in the whole process? Absolutely. Is the child and his/her success in life a reflection of the parent? Oh Yeah! Are parents, after all, only human and capable of egos, anger, mistakes and misbehavior? We already know the answer!

So, what happens when this child, that you thought you knew inside and out, that you love more than you could ever express, tells you that he has a situation that irrevocably puts him in danger of ridicule, disrespect, discrimination, rejection, hatred, harm, and HIV/AIDS?

For some of us, the response is complete heart break and terror. The years of total dedication to and protection of this person’s health and happiness are wiped away and he is at the mercy of a hostile and hateful world. The sense of anxiety is paralyzing. There is fear that he will be hurt and rejected or even killed. The ruminations can be endless:

“What will happen to my son?” “Will someone hurt him?” “Will people hate him?”
Some of the most painful and terrifying thoughts are, “What does God think about this?” “What if God really does reject him?” and, “What if he has AIDS and suffers a horrible death?”

Not to be morose, but in some ways there is a death of the son you THOUGHT you knew. There is this new person, with a life you did not know about and whom, after all, you don’t really know. For me, there was a process of grieving for the loss of the son I thought he was and for the family as I knew it.

Grief has many phases and we all respond differently.
There is denial that this simply is not happening.
There is bargaining that this is just confusion, misdirection, and he will discover that he is not really gay. “Perhaps we can fix it…”
There is guilt and torment of wondering what “caused” this to happen. “What did I do wrong and how could I not have known?”
There is a sense of anger and betrayal…”How could you do this to me?” “How could you do this to our family?” “How could you have lied to me all these years?” “Who is this person?” “How could the son I thought I knew…?”
There is grief for the grandchildren that you may not have.
And, because we are social beings and rely on others in our communities for support and approval, there is the question, “What will people think?”

As in any form of grief, we all experience it differently and I certainly cannot say how your parents will respond. Ideally, we work through all of the fear, anger, anxiety, grief and come to acceptance over an undetermined period of days, months or years. The hope is that as we discover our “real” son, that the relationship will be even better, because now there is truth. Unfortunately for some, it takes years and, sadly, for some, it never happens.

What can you do to help your family?

In the best-case scenario, they already know or strongly suspect and will welcome the honesty and embrace you for who you are. In that case you can shred this letter, heave a sigh of relief, and move on. In other situations, one or both of your parents may have great difficulty with the news. In either case, I recommend the following:

Let them know that this is not something you have “decided” to be, and that you have struggled with it for years. Reassure them that your love for them and fear of hurting them has kept you from sharing this with them. Keep reassuring them that you love them. Let them know that you are happy in your life. Let them know what your plans are for the future. Let them know how you deal with hostility or hatefulness and how you have managed challenges, discrimination, and hardship. They need to feel confident that you can handle this. Be open to talk to them. Do not answer questions that are too personal but be willing to be honest and to answer questions when they need answers. Remember, that they may be trying to get to know the “real” you, while letting go of the person they thought you were. There are horrible stereotypes of the gay man and that, most likely, is what they have been taught. They need to know that there are healthy, moral, respectful, loving relationships and that the stereotypes do not represent you.

Their religious teachings may cause them despair and may be the most difficult issue of all. Please try to understand and respect their views, even if you do not agree. If you have a relationship with God, let them know that. Be yourself and be loving and patient. Let them know that you are sorry if they are hurt, angry, or confused and that you understand that it will take them time. Give them the space they need and never stop letting them know that you love them. Be prepared for anger or withdrawal. It may take several years before they can talk about it openly with you. They may take as many years as it took you to “come out” to family and friends, or they may never be public about it. Please respect that, even if it is hard for you to understand. Sometimes, for parents, the thought that people would reject their son or criticize him is simply too hard to manage. Please be prepared for any number of reactions and recognize that it may take years for the relationship to readjust or they may already know and be relieved to have it in the open. Meanwhile, keep letting them know that you love them.

Finally, there is the issue of who else to tell. There are so many people who love you, especially grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Deciding what and when, (or if), to tell them is not easy. Every family is different and I would not presume to guess how your family will respond. The interesting thing is that you may be surprised at who takes it well and who doesn’t.

It has been almost 10 years since we discovered, quite painfully, that Nick had been involved with men. I cried a great deal and went through all of the stages of grief. Because I had several good friends who had died of AIDS, I was sick with the thought that this could happen to Nick. Fortunately, Nick left for college so we had some time to adjust and let the dust settle while we came to grips with some of these issues. When Nick was home, we had many long, honest discussions. He was very open, patient and loving with me, and I attempted to be the same with him. As for my “coming out” as a parent, I was unable to talk to anyone about it for over a year. For this reason, I highly recommend counseling for any parent or for any individual who is coming out for the first time.

Eventually, I told a number of close friends who love Nick and accept his sexuality. For the most part, I am comfortable being out with close friends and family, but it is not an issue that I bring up in conversation with the general public, mainly because I respect his privacy and I don’t think it is anyone’s business. Also, that fierce parental protective instinct lives on, regardless of a child’s age or position in life. There are people, especially colleagues at work, that I would never tell because, if they said something disparaging about Nick, I would be enraged and nothing good would come of it.

At this point, Nick has talked to all of the family and each of us has gone through his or her adjustment. Now, it simply is no longer an issue. If anything, our trials and tribulations have made us closer and stronger. I would say that we are happier and healthier as a family than we have ever been. Nick is loved and embraced for the wonderful person that he is and we could not possibly be more proud of him. He continues to fascinate and amaze me with his tenacity and strength. I love, respect, and adore my wonderful son and consider him a blessing in my life.

So, I hope that this gives you a modicum of useful insight and I wish you and your family all the best as you begin the process of really coming to know each other.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Meeting with Nick's Mom

Unfortunately a friend of Nick's family passed away at the end of last week, so Nick's mom won't be coming to town after all. I suppose we'll reschedule. Apparently she is eager to talk to me about this.

What's going on?

I thought we as a society were making improvements in our attitude toward gays. Of course, Ann Coulter's comment can be dismissed as a a poorly conceived joke from a nut. Indeed, no one except the most extreme take her very seriously (at least I can sleep at night by believing that). Then out of nowhere came General Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He recently said in an interview that homosexuality is immoral, and that it why he opposes allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. He even compared homosexuality to adultery (still scratching my head on that logic).

General Pace doesn't like gays. Fine, he's allowed his opinion; he's probably a conservative evangelical Christian like everyone I grew up with. Sen. Brownback also supports this view (which is why I hope to God he doesn't get the nomination and force me to throw my vote away on a third party candidate again). What worries me is that this is a prime example of the theocratic politics and policy that makes more sense in Iran than the United States.

In reaction to Pace's comments, neither Hills or Obama will directly answer the question of whether homosexuality is immoral. I am inclined to agree with the analysis of Towleroad, that they are dodging the issue to deprive conservatives (hopefully they mean theocrats, not us fiscal folk) of ammunition. I am therefore annoyed that I can't point this out to other GLBT individuals as evidence that the Democrats are not necessarily our friends--no Republican candidate would shoot his campaign in the foot by saying that homosexuality is not immoral.

So what we have is a world in which Theocrats dominate one party strongly enough to pull strings in the opposing party. I'm beginning to think that the 2006 elections won't be enough. Most commentators suggest that 2006 was mostly a message about Iraq and not the fact that the Republican Party has lost its way on MANY issues. It may take a Democratic president to send that message home. I just hope and pray it isn't Hills.

Aside: Since Ann Coulter's nonsense, the HRC has launched a campaign to have her column pulled from newspapers. In a "I disagree with what she says but will defend to the death her right to say it" style letter to the HRC, liberal cartoonist Ted Rall invoked first amendment concerns about the HRC's campaign. The thing is, there is NO first amendment issue here. Constitutional Law may not have been my favorite or best class, but I do know this--The bill of rights ONLY applies to state action.

Since the Bill of Rights also guarantees the freedom of the press from government ownership or control, newspapers choosing to drop Ann Coulter is not a state action. We have no freedom of speech violations here. What we have instead are consumers (The HRC) of a product (newspapers) expressing displeasure at a defect (Ann Coulter's column) and telling manufacturers (publishers) to either fix the problem or lose customers. This is the market, baby. To paraphrase Dame Margaret Thatcher, the laws of supply and demand will trump the laws of government every time.

Monday, March 5, 2007


I have been talking to Nick for a while about coming out (of the gay closet), and although I find the idea terrifying, I am moving forward, albeit slowly. I have decided to do so gradually. I came up with this timetable:

(1) I have told my therapist. It still feels very weird, and I am still very uncomfortable talking about it with her. But it is done, and probably (I hope) for the best.

(2) I am going to be out this summer. I will be working in a completely new city, and I think it will just be easier to be open from the beginning. This will allow me to test the waters, so to speak. I have already contacted some of the gay attorneys at my firm to get their perspectives on what it's like to be out at my firm. So far I have heard that it is basically treated as a non-issue. I find that very encouraging.

(4) If all goes well this summer, I plan to come out here at law school. I imagine that most of my friends here will be supportive, which will allow me to grow comfortable with being an out gay man.

(5) Then I come to my first point of no return, telling my closest college friends. Somehow, telling my law school friends seems less permanent, largely because I haven't known them as long. Also I was much deeper in my closet in college, whereas I think most people here already suspect.

(6) Then comes the big one, telling my parents. Honestly, this will be the greatest challenge of the whole process. I truly hate to disappoint them, and I know they will be very disappointed, especially initially. I know that eventually they will come to accept it, but it won't be easy for them or for me. I talked to Nick about when he came out to his parents and he said that things were rocky for about a year. Although now, his parents have come to accept him. In fact, I have set up a meeting with Nick's mom when she comes to town next week. We are going to discuss her emotions when Nick came out, what sorts of things to suspect, and basically get advice for this very critical moment in my life and the life of my parents. This step may take a year or two to reach, if I ever reach it.

That's my plan. I hope I can find the strength to execute it.

New Item

I just added a list of links on the right hand side of the page, just below the "About Me" section. It's really just links to sites I currently find interesting. The sites I list are updated frequently and I check often. However, my interests do tend to swing so I may change the list semi-regularly.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


This morning I went to church for the first time in quite a while, and I really enjoyed it. I mentioned before that I went to a Christian school, and grew up fairly religious. You may think that my, well, delinquency in church attendance may be related to my sexual identity, but not so. It's more a product of my late Saturday nights and busy Sundays. Besides, I am a member of one of the more gay friendly denominations.

I spent my high school days going between school and church. I was in the choir, an acolyte, an usher, and just about anything else I could do. I really do miss it. Part of me misses being busy--I am happiest when I have lots of different things to do. But an even bigger part of me misses the warmth and comfort I felt in church.

For me, the best part of the service is the music. One of things I particularly enjoy is the use of traditional music. The combination of gorgeous sounds and a message of God's love and grace just touches my soul. I tend to be a very left-brain person, but music somehow stirs me in a way that a theological discourse never could.

I simply adore sacred choral music. I lover performing it, and enjoyed immensely the time I spent in church and school choirs. But sitting with my eyes closed just focusing on the performance of others can be such a spiritual experience. One of the most inspiring moments in my life was listening to several international choirs perform several works of J.S. Bach in Leipzig's Thomaskirche, the Church that employed Bach. Should I get to Heaven, that is what I expect it to be like.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ann Coulter, attention whore

Sorry I haven't been writing lately, I have a big project deadline that has been hanging over me lately. But then Ann Coulter did something that made the perfect topic for my blog.

Ann Coulter's latest stunt of making a joke suggesting that John Edwards is a "faggot" has got some people up in arms. Here's the thing:

1) Only those who agree with her will listen to what she has to say to begin with.

2) In order to get attention from the others, she says what she has to say outrageously.

3) It works. The Left will tear her apart with the slightest provocation; this for an example.

4) The Right sees this, and give her even more attention

5) See "2)"

Michael Moore, Al Franken, Rush Limbaugh, John Stewart, Bill O'Reilly all do the same thing for their respective audiences.

"But, Pink Elephant" you say aghast, "Are you defending her for what she said?"

No, rather I am doing a bit of eye rolling at everyone involved in this. Ann Coulter is shamelessly trying to get attention, and the Left is more than happy to give it to her.

Another thing that I roll my eyes at are people who think regulating "hate speech" will somehow change the prejudices of those who use it. I'll bet my right arm that forcing a bigot to moderate his (or her) speech only creates a resentment that fuels the prejudice to begin with. Besides aren't there more pressing issues (like marriage) than the words people use?

In other news: Looking back on some of my old posts, I get a sort of "woe-is-me" vibe that I do not intend. I'm not all that melancholy, I swear. I guess I usually only get motivated to blog when I am unhappy about something. From now on, I am going to try to blog about the good stuff too.

I had a really good day today. I got all the work done I had planned to do. The weather was beautiful so I ran 2 miles. I watched several episodes of Arrested Development. And now I am enjoying a quiet Saturday night at home after a crazy Friday night out (from which I somehow escaped a hangover!).