The Ridiculousness of the Righteous, with Translations

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Last Sunday, the Smart Man, Sister Stacey and me went to our first Parasol Patrol event. For those who aren't familiar, here is their mission:
The "Parasol Patrol" was formed out of a need to protect our children's senses from the onslaught of hateful speech from protesters. We provide hearing protection to muffle the vitriolic taunts and use our umbrellas to shield them from the vulgar signs and angry faces. Without rising to the bait of these misguided protesters, we walk between them and the kids/guests, buffering the children from those who would do them harm. Parasol Patrol is comprised of community volunteers and are not a security force or vocal anti-protesters. We do what we can in the spirit of peace and love so that the youngest can have a safe places in which to share their talents and creativity.
The event we attended was "Dragutante," at the Bluebird Theater. The purpose of the event is to allow young people the opportunity to participate in a drag event in a safe space, with the encouragement of their families and the guidance and mentorship of adult drag queens who volunteer their time to this non-profit.

So it brings out the crazies, because of course it does. Nothing stirs up the self-righteous bigots like things they don't understand.

Enter the Parasol Patrol.

This was taken prior to the arrival of the crazies. The lovely couple to my left is Ruthie and Lowell, who have been friends of my birth family for many, many years.


One of the founders of the group, a lovely man named Eli, told us that the protesters had announced they were "coming out in force" for this event. Apparently "in force" means about seven people. The Parasol Patrol volunteers numbered about 70.

We stood on the private property owned by the Bluebird. Bluebird's security occupied the neutral zone between us and sidewalk where the protesters chose to display their signs and use their bull-horns.

When I first volunteered for this event, I was really concerned about my ability to keep my temper and not get emotionally hooked by the rhetoric of the protesters. But you know what? I need not have worried. These people were just so utterly ridiculous, it was hard to take them seriously.

The first item of note is that about half the crazies chose to wear masks. I guess because nothing says "I'm a righteous paragon of virtue crusading against moral turpitude" like refusing to show your face. Bonus dumbassery: They stupidly chose to wear Guy Fawkes masks from V for Vendetta. Yeah. I've seen that movie, and its point is exactly the opposite of controlling people and their choices because you don't agree with them. The ignorance is strong in this one.

Then there were their so-called "messages," which basically consisted of ancient tropes and personal attacks that have nothing to do with the modern world and the current state of sociological and psychological science concerning the LGBTQ community in general and non-gender conforming people specifically.

And because we like to perform public service here at Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men, I am going to helpfully provide translations of their signs and chants. You're welcome!

PROTESTER: The LGBTQ community is just like NAMBLA!
TRANSLATION: The gayz are icky.

PROTESTER: All the men who support this are gay!*
TRANSLATION: I cannot accept that human sexuality is a spectrum, and not a binary categorization. I can't accept this because the idea of a spectrum makes me uncomfortable with my own sexuality, and I'm a manly, man's man, and I can't have that.

PROTESTER: This is sexual exploitation!
TRANSLATION: This sort of self expression makes me very uncomfortable. You can tell that's how I feel because I never show up for beauty contests for little, little kids, just this.

PROTESTER: This is child abuse!
TRANSLATION: It never occurs to me that teaching my own kids to hate others for no reason is far more abusive than allowing free self-expression.

PROTESTER: You're not welcome here!
TRANSLATION: You're ignoring my CIS, male, white privilege and doing what you want rather than doing what I want you to do. Simultaneously, I am ignoring that I am outnumbered at this event ten to one.

PROTESTER: You're infringing on my rights!
TRANSLATION: Those would be my rights to force people into the roles and places I find acceptable. Everyone knows freedom and the First Amendment are only for CIS, white, males.

PROTESTER: You're only here because seeing boys dressed as women is how you get your rocks off!
TRANSLATION: I'm very uncomfortable with modern sexuality, so I don't understand how normal sexual expression and actual criminal behavior are different. Also, I probably have a tiny penis.

PROTESTER: Perverts!
TRANSLATION: My definition of "normal" is very narrow and only includes my own, provincial experience.

There was only one protester there (who arrived late) who I considered to be anything other than the last, pathetic gasp of toxic masculinity. This guy just SHOUTED white nationalist/white supremacist/Neo-nazi, and made sure his demeanor was as threatening as possible. The Smart Man noticed the Denver Police (who had two officers there to ensure things didn't get out of control) were watching him pretty closely. I noticed that the loudest of the protestors knew Nazi-boy personally, and kept telling him how very glad he was to see him. I suspect the overlap between white supremacists and anti-LGBTQ protesters is non-trivial, but I have no data to back that up, so take it for what it's worth - a private opinion I pulled out of my ass.

Our next event is Drag for All Ages at Mile High Comics. This one's a recurring event, and longtime members of the Parasol Patrol told us Sunday that the vitriol, nastiness, and vulgarity at this event is even worse. So of course we'll be there.

I guess nothing says I'm a righteous man like spouting hateful language at minor children. So, so ridiculous. History will not judge them kindly, and neither will I.
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*The Smart Man noted later that this particular taunt really hurt his feelings. So, so much. 🙄 How insecure in their own identities are these knuckleheads that they think calling someone "gay" is a deadly insult? RIDICULOUS.

Why my Library is Better than Your Library

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Remember how I left my brief foray into local politics as the President of our Library Board because Douglas County Commissioners are duplicitous, lying pieces of shit and so are the ignorant shills they chose to put on the Board? Yeah, I may still be a bit bitter about that. That's what happens when work of the heart is ruined by political ambitions and self-aggrandizing personalities who don't really care about the work at hand, but only about their own power base and ego.

But I digress.

Recently, however, I realized that the fact that I haven't checked out any material in the last year or so was just stupid. I still love the library. Moe loved the library. The library staff still provides a valuable, life-changing service to my community, regardless of local political shenanigans. So why wasn't I using it? Because I let me emotions get the better of me, that's why. Stupid emotions.

So back to the website I went, looking for audio books in the series I'm working on, and discovered a new feature! My library has deployed Prospector, which is a large database of many other public libraries that allows you to order inter-library loans without manual interventions by librarians, and without you having to put in ISBN information. Works like a treat, and I'm currently in possession of three audio books lent to me by the Denver Public Library, the Pitkin County Library, and the Aurora Pubic Library, all titles my local facilities don't own.

I vaguely remember this service from the last budget meeting I attended, but I'm happy to see it deployed and in use.

Go, libraries, and go, librarians!

In Case of Emergency...

Monday, August 19, 2019

I was in Baltimore last week for a conference. This is not unusual - I travel on business once or twice a month. What was unusual was that I chose to fly back on the last day of the conference, rather than spending another night and flying home the following day. I did this for a couple of reasons having to do with my fiduciary responsibility to my company and a desire to get home a day early. But now I remember why flying home the next day is my custom.

By the time my plane landed I was exhausted. And by the time I got to my car to drive home I realized I had lost my phone somewhere between the plane and the car.

Well, that sucks balls, I thought. I'm sure I'll never see it again, and tomorrow will now include a visit to the Verizon store to replace it with $1,000 that is NOT in the budget for this month.

But then a strange thing happened.

While I was driving home, someone at the airport found my phone, used the emergency contact function of the iPhone to get Terry's number, and texted him to let him know they had found my phone and then brought it to security. They even sent a photograph of the location of the office for our reference. The next morning, the lost and found staff contacted my emergency contacts again, letting them know the airport had my phone. We picked the phone up on Friday, no harm, no foul.

The woman at the lost and found mentioned to us, however, that in her role, she has to try and find the owners of lost phones every day, and that people who put emergency contacts in their devices have a much higher rate of return than those who don't. Seems obvious, yes? I only put in emergency contacts because of my medication allergies, but enjoyed the unexpected consequence of not having to buy a new phone.

Once I got my phone back I texted the person who turned it in and thanked them for their kindness and effort.

Achievement unlocked: Faith in humanity, restored. At least for a while.


And so it begins

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

It's official. I'm old.

I went to my GP today because I've been experiencing a limited range of motion in my left hip, plus it hurts when I stand for a long time, or am too active.

Yeah. I have osteoarthritis in my hip.

So far it's not that bad. It only hurts when I sit cross-legged, when I overdo the physical activity, or when I have to stand for hours on end (hello, trade shows!). Sister Amy suggested that I get it looked at the last time I was in San Diego, so that I could start Physical Therapy, which was wise of her. She had one of her own hips replaced at a very young age, so she knows whereof she speaks.

So I'll be doing PT, as well as taking some anti-inflammatory medications to keep things under control.

But the real issue is, when the hell did I get old enough to develop arthritis in my damn hip? I already need bifocals and a hearing aid, for Christ's sake. What's next? Incontinence? Glaucoma? Cataracts? Osteoporosis? It feels like just yesterday that my body was strong, pain-free, and basically did whatever I asked of it without a lot of fuss. Fucking aging, man. Shit.

On the Anniversary of Your Death

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Today is the anniversary of your death. You would have been 28 this year, had you lived. Sometimes I wonder what your life would have been like at this age, if you would have started a career, found a partner, continued your education. But that way lies madness, since you'll never do any of those things, and there's nothing I can do about it.

Poppa, Aunt Stacey, Uncle J.R. and me joined the AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk again this year. Last year our team - named after you - were the 3rd highest fundraising team in the Denver event, and this year it looks like we're on pace to do it again. A testament to your lost light, and to those who grieved with us and for us when you left this world. I don't think I'll ever be emotionally capable of directly helping the AFSP in their work, but I'll continue to walk in your honor for as long as I'm able. It still breaks my heart to think of your silent suffering, and I'd really like to spare other young people and their families from this tragedy.

This year I attended my first Denver Pridefest with a group called "Free Mom Hugs." Aunt Stacey and I stood on a street corner offering hugs to anyone who wanted them, and it seemed like everyone wanted them. I cried a little inside every time I gave a hug, wishing I was there with you.

I'm also volunteering this year with the "Parasol Patrol." This group provides escort and shielding services to LGBTQ+ youth who are attending events in their community. In my mind's eye, I can just see you beside me, in your tutu, holding up your umbrella so the kids won't have to see the hateful protesters who think it's their job to tell other people how to live. The social justice warrior in you would not have let that pass, and so I'm trying to emulate your dedication and sense of righteous indignation.

I don't volunteer at the library anymore. The stupidity and douchiness of local politics finally got to me, and I resigned from both Boards. Poppa and I still maintain the naming rights for your memorial garden at the Parker Library, though. As long as we're able, we'll keep that garden in memory of you.

I guess this year I decided that I needed to change the work that I do to honor your life. I'm leaning more toward activities that directly support and defend your community, in a way that I would have defended your life, had I been given the chance. I don't think I was capable, until now. I won't lie and act like it doesn't hurt me to do these things, because it does. But you're worth it, so, so worth it, and I comfort myself with the idea that you would approve of the things I do in your memory. You were always, always a defender of those who could not defend themselves, and I like to think I've taken up a small portion of that burden on your behalf.

I still miss you terribly, so terribly. It's not like the first year, where every hour brought a new torment of grief and pain. But I think of you with love and loss each and every day, wishing beyond hope that you were still here with me, making fun of political hypocrites and geeking out about Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel.

So I'll continue to stand up in your memory, no matter what. You deserve no less. And neither do I.

Treat Your Children Well

Monday, June 17, 2019

Denver had their Pridefest celebration this last weekend. As usual, there were a TON of people there, enjoying the (marginally) good weather and the welcoming culture of the event.

And this year, Sister Stacey and I decided to join the local chapter of a non-profit called "Free Mom Hugs" who work the event. The idea is to provide some level of affirmation and caring to those who need it during this celebration of gender and sexual diversity.

So Stacey and I donned our "Free Mom Hugs" t-shirts, walked to the Civic Center, and found a street corner to stand on.


We stood on that corner for two hours with our hands in the air calling out "Free Mom Hugs! High fives, fist bumps! Get a hug from a Mom!"

I was not really emotionally prepared for the this experience, which was equal parts heartbreaking and affirming, and filled my heart in so many ways.

We gave out hundreds of hugs. Many of the young adults (and it was 90% young adults) just wanted a hug, someone to celebrate their festival with them. Others wanted to thank us for being there, and told us how much it meant to them that their community was supported in this way. Still others literally ran into our arms, caught up in the spirit of the event. A small group said their own moms had passed on, and they just wanted a Mom Hug, one more time. One man literally lifted us off our feet. Many wanted pictures with us, and one couple called us "adorable."

For most of these young people, I made an effort to look each one of them in the eye and tell them how very happy I was to see them. Not just see them, but to really see them, for who they are and all that that entails. Some of my huggees looked a little bewildered, and then either teared up or smiled broadly and said thank you. Others didn't need that level of interaction, and trotted off after their hug, as happy as they were before.

And then there were the others.

One of my first hugs was a young man who came up to to me and said, "I want a Mom Hug because my mom doesn't like me much." A young woman of color who couldn't look Stacey or me in the eye was wiping tears from her eyes as she moved on. We got glitter and makeup all over our shirts, and couldn't have cared less.

But the most profound interaction of my day was a young couple who came in for hugs. The first clearly identified as a woman, and her partner's gender was indeterminate, so I'll use the they/their pronouns.

I hugged both of them, and told them both how happy I was to see them, and then moved to the next person in line (yes, there was a line). But when I turned my head, I noticed the girl hugging her partner, who was crying on her shoulder. On impulse, I put my arms around them both, and I heard the girl say, "See? She's come back for more!" I hugged them both, and then the girl moved away, so I hugged them tight until they moved away. I then looked them in the eye and said, "I don't know what is causing you this pain, but I am so sorry you're going through this." They wiped their eyes and said, "It's okay" in the way people do when they're far from okay. And I responded with "It's really, really not. You matter, and there are people in this world who care about you." That started another round of tears, with me joining in this time, until they felt comfortable going back to their girlfriend.



I have feelings about this.

On the one hand, I was so happy and grateful to have been there at the right place at the right time to provide some level of comfort for this child. They clearly needed some affirmation of their value, and I think my choices in this interaction were the right ones.

And then I got angry. Really, really angry. How starved for parental affection did they have to be that a hug and a few kind words from a total stranger brought them to tears? How alone, how desperate, how bereft? Don't their parents know how incredibly lucky they are, to have the opportunity to lift up this child and support them while they struggle to be themselves in a world that often doesn't understand? My heart broke for this child, and then broke again, knowing that they are at risk, real risk, of suicide, just because of who they are and who they got stuck with for a birth family.

And then I grieved anew, because my Moe-Moe did have supportive parents, parents that would have done anything for her, anything to save her, and we lost her anyway.

Giving out Free Mom Hugs at Pridefest was hard for me. Really hard. But I'll go back next year, and the year after that, and every year until I'm no longer able to do so or until our LGBTQ+ young people aren't at such a high risk of suicide. These kids deserve more, so much more, than their birth families are willing to give. If my presence can give them even the slightest comfort, then I'm willing to pay the emotional price, over and over and over.

You matter. There are people in this world who care about you. Please stay.

ETA: The Colorado Chapter of Free Mom Hugs has no money left in our budget for future activities - the cost of the booth at Denver Pridefest tapped us out. If you wish to contribute to our Chapter, you can send money via PayPal to freemomhugscolorado at gmail dot com. Funds are used to support our presence at LGBTQ+ events and educational materials. Thank you!

Link Me Up, Scotty - Hate and Fear Edition

Monday, April 15, 2019

Is empathy eroding in the United States? This journalist sure thinks so, and I am hard pressed to gainsay researchers' conclusions. I see this not only on-line, but in people I know and care about. Hell, I saw it in me for a while, when I was routinely "discussing" politics on Facebook and found myself liking myself less and less. Which is why I (typically) don't discuss anything more important than why the Night's Watch in Game of Thrones don't wear hats when it's snowing. It actually pains me to see people I feel like I used to know disregard the pain and suffering of others. But I'll be damned if I know how to fix it.
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Morehouse College is America's only all male traditionally black college, and they have decided to change their policies to admit transgender men. This story makes my heart happy, as this type of inclusiveness goes a long way toward changing attitudes about transgender folk in communities where they've long been looked upon with suspicion.  Nicely done, Morehouse Trustees. Nicely done, indeed.
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My favorite Christian Pastor has something to say about MAGA Christians and their God. As an Atheist, I typically leave criticism of specific groups of the faithful to other persons of faith, since the entire social construct of religion is a complete fucking mystery to me. Luckily there are people in the world whose basic religious teaching boils down to kindness and compassion (two of my own core values), and who are courageous enough to call out those who don't comply with their own professed belief system.
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It's Peep season! And each year, Peep art becomes more and more elaborate. I myself am particularly fond of RGPeep.
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Tiger's back! I have to say I'm happy for him, coming back after so many years of physical and emotional struggle. Please note I am in no way excusing his personal shortcomings as they relate to his poor choices. But I can't help admiring his grit.
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There's a lot I don't like about Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But I'll give credit where credit is due, and give her props for being an extremely adept political operator. Especially when dealing with 45, she comports herself in a way that makes it obvious that she's the one in the room who is adulting, and refuses to let him drag her down to her level.
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Anti-Vaxxers make me apoplectic with rage. Their Dunning-Kruger attitude and disregard for public health spits in the eye of the greatest medical achievement in the history of the world, and they seem not to care about the consequences of their stupidity. APOPLECTIC WITH RAGE, Y'ALL.
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The link between cancer and obesity. I've been struggling with my weight since I hit 40, and these types of analyses motivate me to try and keep it in the healthy range. Yikes.
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Video of the Week: This gave me a terrible ear-worm, so of course I'm sharing. A charming version of the Beatles' Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by young  Gabriela Bee.