Category Archives: Society

Exploring mixed feelings

While checking out The Wild Hunt today, I ran across Jason’s post where he talks about an attempt to get a fortune telling law overturned in Casper, Wyoming.

Let me first state that I wish Ms. Forest the best of luck. I am a strong believer that such laws should be removed. Having had readings from a handful of professional tarot readers, I believe that they offer an excellent service. And while I might understand the city’s desire to prevent potential con artists from defrauding people through tarot readings and other psychic readings, I do not think that such a blanket prohibitiion is the way to go about it. (Truth be told, it’s my experience that the psychic community does a fairly good job of policing itself.) I also think that such a blanket prohibition singles out Pagans and is unethical until governments also look to address the practice of prophecies and words of knowledge that goes on in many charismatic and Pentecostal churches, churches which often turn around and ask for donations. (I even attended one such church that brought in a “professional prophet” for one service and took a special offering that went to said prophet for her ministry.)

That being said, I do find myself bothered by one part of Ms. Forest’s argument. I’m not at all comfortable with the following statement:

It keeps her from charging for tarot card readings, a key aspect of Wiccan religion, she said.

While I certainly think that tarot readings are a handy tool for Witches and Pagans alike, I am not at all comfortable the suggestion that it qualifies as a “key aspect” of our practice. And I certainly would not consider the kind of readings professional readers offer client for monetary compensation specifically essential. (After all, there is a difference between what is essential or key and even that which is highly beneficial.) To present these readings as so key suggests to me that Ms. Forest and I practice rather different religions. (Of course, this is not entirely surprising, as I don’t consider myself Wiccan.)

Of course, it is entirely possible that Ms. Forest is making this claim simply for the sake of political expediency. And I can certainly see the appeal in such an approach. After all, a claim of religious freedom is probably the best argument against this law. But again, I’m not sure that claiming it as a key practice is entirely necessary to make that argument.

Of course, ultimately, I don’t know whether Ms. Forest made her claim out of sincere belief or in the name of political expediency. I cannot and will not judge her motives. But in either case, the idea just leaves me somewhat uncomfortable, despite the fact that I agree with her goal to get this law removed.

Now I’ll have to see the movie

Matt Hill posted the following clip from Loggerheads on his blog. I had to share it here.

The horror!

Of course, what I think is particularly funny is how the husband makes the comment about another neighbor only being “half mad” since only one of the new neighbors is Mexican. It demonstrates how we can easily make fun of another person’s prejudice while being completely oblivious to our own.

I’m not sure I like iPods.

Last night, I ate with the Cheap Dinner Group again. To be honest, I think I’ve gone every week for about a month now. I think it’ll be difficult to drop down to only attending every other Monday night once my father starts staying at my place on Monday nights regularly again. It’s just nice to get out and chat with people that night.

At the end of dinner, just before we left, I got a massive cramp in my left thigh. I wasn’t ready to go yet, so I had fun trying to manage to get the muscles to relax while still sitting there. At one point, I had to stand up briefly. I’m not sure what brought the whole incident on, but I managed to survive it without too much difficulty.

After the dinner, I went for my walk. I walked West on Park Avenue until I reached Alexandar, which I then took to East. From there, I headed back to Berkeley, crossed back to Park from there, and continued back along Park until I got back to my car. The whole trip took me just under 45 minutes, which made it a pretty good walk. It was actually quite pleasant, though I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t get hit on this time. Oh sure, last week was just a fluke and I shouldn’t realistically expect it to happen all the time anyway. But it still would’ve been nice to get another little ego boost out of the whole thing.

During my walk, I came to my conclusion about iPods. One of the things I noticed is that the vast majority of the other people walking, running, or riding bike along my route had an iPod in them. So as a result, they were lost in their own world of music and endorphins. And while I can certainly see how that might make the process of exercising more enjoyable in some ways (and certainly helps with focus), it also has a negative impact on my other reason for walking.

At the risk of showing just how old fashioned I am, I tend to still see going for a walk through town as a social act. The whole idea brings up rustic images of Main Street in a small town right around sunset. People are all walking along, greeting each other as they pass.

“Hello there, Joe!”

“Hey Sam! How are the kids?”

“Pretty good. Eugene called the other night. Susan had the baby two nights ago. A little girl.”

I’ll be the first to admit that a small city like Rochester probably isn’t going to support that kind of neighborly intimacy. Like I said, I’ll be the first to admit I’m old fashioned (and something of a country bumpkin in some ways). However, you’d think there’d still be room for simple pleasantries.

Wearing an iPod enables a person to isolate themselves from that kind of interaction. “Being off in their own world” becomes pretty literal after a while. And I find that a shame.

Of course, it wouldn’t be so bad if this isolation was just limited to wearing an iPod while exercising. We seem to be pretty insular on many levels and in many areas of our lives. So to me, the problem wasn’t so much that everyone wears iPods while out getting their exercise as that this fact is representative of what seems to me to be a greater problem.

Pre-Acceptance Issues

Since I first began to check out Misty Irons this weekend, I’ve spent a certain amount of time looking over her site and blog. I find her search for truth refreshing and inspiring. Also, I admire her honest desire to create and facilitate dialogue. So when I ran across her three part series on how queers and conservative Christians “talk past each other, I was more than a little fascinated. For this entry, I’m going to focus on the contents of Part 1, where she talks about her initial difficulty in understanding gay pride.

In all reality, both my personal experiences and my observations have led me to conclude that gay pride is a difficult concept for most queers to understand when they’re first coming to terms with their sexual orientation. I remember the first year or two of my own journey where the whole idea made no sense. I remember telling my friends, “I may be able to accept that I’m gay, but I see no point in being proud about it.” I also argued that it made no more sense to be proud of being gay than it did to be proud that I had blue eyes.

Just as Misty had to get a clearer picture of the coming out process and the difficulty and self-hatred that is usually involved in the early stages of the coming out process to understand the subsequent pride, I had to go through that process before I could truly appreciate and even experience that pride for myself. And I’ve noticed the same lack of understanding in the handful of other gay people (mostly men) I’ve known while they’re going through that stage of their life again. So it only makes sense that non-queers would only be able to understand the idea of gay pride only after becoming familiar with the processing leading up to it.

This is where Misty notes that not everyone who is gay talks about this early period of self-hatred. In fact, she goes so far as to suggest that its discussion is practically forbidden in the gay community:

It was a strange thing, then, for me to learn that when someone who is gay makes such an honest admission, they are practically shouted down by fellow gays for ?self-hatred.? The very admission that helped to open up my mind and heart, just enough to encourage me to keep on digging, is considered a heresy in the gay community.

Again, based on my own experiences and observations, I am inclined to agree with her assessment. And like her, I find this state of affairs troubling — both for the reasons she mentioned and my own. To that extent, I think it’s important to consider what motivates this push for silence.

First, I think that we must face the simple truth that we as humans prefer to avoid that which causes us pain — or even makes us uncomfortable — whenever possible. The early stages in the journey to self-acceptance are often extremely painful. Even among those who were raised in “gay-friendly” family environments, there’s often still a certain amount of discomfort in the coming out process. For those of us who were raised in environments that took a much more negative outlook on homosexuality, the process can be downright hellish. I don’t think it’s any that wonder we might be a little hesitant to drudge that back up or put it on display for others.

Of course, this explains why an individual might not want to expose their own past pains. It does not explain why an individual would actively discourage another person from doing so. It does not explain why we are so quick to silence those going through the process and haven’t fully escaped that self-loathing or sense of resignation to move into actual self-acceptance and self-affirmation.

My personal theory on that one is that we silence them because seeing their pain reminds us of our own. Allowing those who are still on the journey to speak too strongly of these things reminds us of that past we’d like to move beyond and forget about. Unfortunately, attempting to silence them robs us of something the experience offers us: an opportunity for deeper, more complete healing of our own pains.

I also believe that in some ways, it’s a well-intentioned attempt at protecting the person who is hasn’t reached the point of self-acceptance. To put as fine a point as possible on it, admitting that one wishes one wasn’t gay is a pretty good invitation to the proponents of ex-gay therapy to offer you their alternative. That’s an alternative that many of us have tried and failed at, sometimes at great personal cost. So the thought of seeing someone else open themselves up to going down that road themselves can cause some pretty strong reactions. And it is not surprising, however unfortunate it may be, that sometimes, the reaction results in strongly discouraging someone from making such statements.

Ultimately, I think this kind of reaction is more harmful than good. Not only does it prevent would-be supporters from fully understanding us, but it also has negative effects on us. Not being able to be open about our experiences and feelings only inhibits us from finding healing and wholeness. Hopefully, this truth is something that we as individuals and a community will come to understand and seek to change the way we handle these issues in the future.

People in glass houses?

Jason Pitzl-Waters made his readers aware the Maine Christian Civics League’s attempts to shame Kennebec County Democrat Chair Rita Moran for being Pagan. Indeed they seem to be quite outraged by the idea that a Pagan hold’s such a position, and go through a great deal of effort to make it sound like a horrific thing.

Of course, from my perspective, I don’t see how anyone can find it all that horrific. Indeed, my reading of the CCL’s diatribe struck me as an attempt to make something out of nothing. They even go so far as to try to make it sound like Ms. Moran has something to hide by referring to her involvement in “underground” pagan worship circles. Indeed, one wonders at the use of the word “underground” to describe Immanent Grove, which is well advertised.

Stranger still is the fact that they report that Moran supports the “Pagan Preserves Project,” a fundraising program designed to finance a long-term goal of purchasing property in Maine for Pagan religious use. Why this is more scary than Christians raising money for a new church building escapes me.

The CCL goes on to reveal their most disturbing bit of news about Moran, and that’s “the involvement of Moran’s Apple Valley Books store in promoting her pagan-worshipping beliefs to Maine’s children.” This kicker is no doubt intended to conjure images of Moran handing out copies of Satanic literature to impressionable young minds directly. However, CCL’s own clarification ruins that image. Instead we are dealing with a bookstore that is listed on the Pagans’n’Parenting website. The CCL describes this website as “a pagan resource for parents to involve their children in pagan worship.” So instead of an unethical figure who targets children behind their parents’ backs, the CCL is criticizing a woman who simply offers resources to parents already interested in teaching their children about Paganism. I find it hard to imagine how any rational person — even one who disagrees with Pagan theology — can find that particularly alarming, let alone sinister.

Originally, I intended to limit this posting to a mockery of the CCL’s “alarming” revelation. To be honest, I still find it entirely laughable and the sign of truly paranoid people who will try to create alarm out of nothing. Unfortunately, an update to Jason’s original post includes and email from Ms. Moran that has given me pause to reconsider. It would appear that as laughable as I find the CCL’s post, it has become a source of actual concern to Ms. Moran and those who would support her. According to her, even worse and potentially more damaging rumors have begun to circulate about her as a result of this “revelation.”

What I find particular sad are the allegations that the organizers of the Maine CCL have been “investigating” some people who have left comments on their site in support of Ms. Moran in order to post additional information about them. If this is true, the only conceivable reason to do so is to encourage their supporters to harass these people in addition to Ms. Moran herself. Quite frankly, this strikes me as entirely unethical behavior, and certainly not behavior that those who are calling other people’s character into question should be doing.

But in the end, one must wonder. Do those involved with the CCL truly have so little faith in their own religion and the victories it promises that they have to resort to such tactics? Is such behavior the best that the CCL has to offer the world? If so, then the CCL and those associated with it are truly empty and devoid of any real spiritual value.

In which case, one must wonder if their criticisms of Ms. Moran is anything more than simple projection.

UPDATE: My friend Lauren left a comment on the CCL site. They decimated the original post and added the links to her MySpace and StumbleUpon pages. They also included her email address in the comment text. (She provided the email address when filling out the comment form as it is required, but did not expect it to be published.)

The full text of Lauren’s unedited comment (with the exception of the last part, which she had to retype from memory due to last minute editing) is as follows:

I’m sorry, what?

As a conservative Christian, I am offended at the picture you attempt to paint of this woman– quite the fanfare for something hardly scandalous.

It is to my knowledge that her supposed “underground” pagan worship circles are actually well advertised.

It is hardly a crime to have a book store where proceeds go to something you support; that is the beauty of our country, and it is her business what she supports, especially when it is concerning what is done on PRIVATE land.

I applaud her for offering literature to Pagan parents. But that’s not the real issue here; since when do Democrats actually allow parents to raise their own children in whichever way they would like? (I digress!!)

I understand what you are trying to do here, and I understand that you wish to allow Christians safe alternatives through education. I also understand you wish to foster Christian values in all areas of life. I understand because I am a firm believer in Christ and I wish to know what I am partaking in, where my money is going, and what I am supporting, in hopes of honouring God. However, it saddens me that this woman is shown as a monster for doing nothing illegal, and nothing but using her own earned money, private property, and supporting parents who have already chosen to raise their children in Pagan ways. These are things she is doing on her own private time.

I presume you know your organisation wields power. The potential for rumours and character destroying information being passed along is very high and that fact is frightening. Perhaps it would have been more effective to show awareness through her organisation or her bookstore rather than through her personal name, that is if I am right, and it is educating you seek to do.

[There is a passage in Galatians where Paul refers to freedom in Christ (chapter 5), which is the freedom to do what is good, what is right, and what is honourable. It is contrasted to the “old man”– a slavery to sin and to the law (chapter 3). It strikes me as fruitless to fight against slavery when one can instead fight for freedom.]

In Christ,


As you can see, they did a significant amount of editing.

Discovering Misty Sayoko Irons

As regular readers of my blog may know, I’m a huge fan of Seething Mom. So when she wrote a glowing review of the writings of Misty Sayoko Irons, I had to check it out for myself.

Particularly, I was curious to discover what caused Misty to start a site about homosexuality and the Bible. I suppose one might wonder why I’d look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth like that. After all, we queers can use all the pro-gay supporters we can find. However, I have to admit that I’m a naturally curious person when it comes to people’s backstories. Understanding how one’s past affect’s one’s present day choices is always someting that fascinates me. So I began looking for Ms. Irons’s story. I had just about given up and was getting ready to find a polite and friendly way to email her an inquiry when I finally noticed what I was looking for two thirds of the way down the navigation bar on her site. So I clicked on the link and read about her experiences with two neighbors, Gregg and Joel.

Let me just say that it is well worth the search, as her experiences with these two men and the painful self-realizations that those experiences caused her were touching. Indeed, I’d encourage anyone who reads the story (and I highly encourage everyone to do so) to make sure they have some tissues on hand.

What truly touches me about Ms. Irons’s story is the raw honesty of it. She unabashedly admits how little she knew about gay issues at the time, as well as how badly she misjudged the lives and personal choices of Gregg and Joel at the time. She doesn’t even try to rationalize these things or makes excuses for them. Indeed, by the end of the tale, I felt as though she was entirely being too hard on herself.

However, more important, this story and the rest of the site also tells of the kind of woman the author really is. This is a woman who is not only willing to admit when she’s been wrong, but she’s willing to do something about it. This is a woman who not only acknowledges her preconceived notions, but actively makes an effort to correct them when necessary. And for that, I applaud her. And for that, I’m thankful that I can consider her a supporter.

Of course, I also find myself admitting that she makes an excellent role model as well as a supporter. After all, evangelical Christians and straight people aren’t the only ones who have their preconceived notions. After all, I know more than one gay person (and I’ve been guilty of it myself) or supporter who has come to prejudge all evangelical Christians. When we meet one, we tend to expect certain reactions out of them and even mentally prepare ourselves for our own “stock responses” to them even before they actually happen. I even remember some of my evangelical friends from my past — people I had known for years — rightfully calling me on making assumptions about how they would treat me. And these weren’t people who I just met. These are true friends, people I should’ve known better than to make such assumptions about.

Now certainly, I can make excuses for myself as well as the rest of us. Certainly, I can argue that we’ve had plenty of bad experiences with evangelical Christians. I can rationalize that because of this, it’s perfectly natural for us to assume much the same treatment in similar situations. And there’s a certain logic to that which is undeniable. But that doesn’t make it any more right. So to Ms. Irons, I say thank you for setting the example. You made no excuses, and I will endeavor to follow in your footsteps.

Ms. Irons also has a blog, which I will be sure to add to both my blogroll and my news aggregator.

LGBT Community Forum

Last night, I attended the LGBT Community Forum that was held at the Downtown United Presbyterian Church. This event was organized by the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, AIDS Rochester, and several other organizations to give the community a chance to learn the full details about the June 1 gay bashing and subsequent police misconduct that occurred in Rochester, as well as to give members of the community a chance to speak up and share their own reactions to the incident and others like it.

After city council member Bill Pritchard spoke, Alexandra Cobus gave a brief history of the June 1 incident based on the investigation so far. Without giving a level of detail that might compromise the investigation, Ms. Cobus walked the community throught he events of the bashing. Rather than attempt to repeat that account exactly, I will merely offer some of the details that stood out to me. There were eight people in total attacked that night, with two separate incidents. The eight victims, all friends, were leaving the Avenue Pub between two and three that morning, heading in the direction of Park Avenue. They were travelling in two groups, with the second group lagging behind the first by approximately five minutes. The perpetrators attacked both groups with a metal pipe in turn while expressing anti-gay slurs.

An unidentified witness called the police at the time of the first attack, and a number of officers (witness accounts place the number between twelve and fifteen) arrived shortly after the second assault. When some of the victims approached the officers on the scene, they were told to go home. They requested to file a police report, only to be denied. In the process, three of the people who were attacked were arrested.

According to Ms. Cobus, there are currently two separate police investigations going on. The first is a criminal investigation against those who attacked both groups. The second investigation is to address the matter of police misconduct in regards to the matter. Ms. Cobus also indicated that according to the chief of police, the misconduct investigation is considered a higher priority.

One of the other issues that Ms. Cobus addressed were the rumors surrounding FBI involvement in the investigation. She wished to make it clear that the FBI was only investigating the allegations of police misconduct. At this time, the FBI simply does not have the jurisdiction to investigate a hate crime based on sexual orientation. As an aside, this is why the current legislation that would add sexual orientation to the federal hate crimes law is so important. If this legislation passes, the FBI would have jurisdiction in future incidents of this nature.

Afterwards, members of the community were given their chance to speak and express their feelings. Most notably, those with similar experiences were encouraged to share them. I didn’t count them (or record their stories), but I’d estimate that seven or eight people spoke up to share similar experiences of being harassed, stalked, or assaulted, only to have poor police response. Needless to say, there was a great deal of anger and tension in the room. It’s no surprised that the organizers asked a member of the LGBT who is a psychologist to mediate this portion of the night’s agenda.

The night concluded with a half hour brainstorming session where everyone in attendance was invited to bring up their suggestions on how to prevent such future incidents — or at least improve how they’re handled. Ideas were wildly varied and included everything from improved training for police officers in handling these kinds of crimes to protests and demonstrations. There were a number of excellent suggestions, and I hope that we as a community find a way to implement many of them in the coming months.

Of no consequence? Really?

According to Danny Hakim over at City Room, New York State Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno announced that the Senate will not be voting on gay marriages. His reasoning is that they have too many other matters to vote on to “spend hours debating an issues that, you know, is not going to be of consequence.”

I find myself wondering what color the sky is in Mr. Bruno’s world. Because if he honestly thinks that gay marriage is not going to be of consequence, it’s quite clear that he doesn’t live in the same world I do. One merely needs to look at the states who have rushed to create constitutional amendments to ban same sex marriages over the past few years to realize that Mr. Bruno is quite possibly the only person in the entire country that considers the matter so inconsequential.

Also, bear in mind that in New York, there are currently over 170 same sex couples who are seen as legally married. A court ruled that those New York couples who got married in Massachusetts prior to the July 2006 court ruling that determined that there was no constititional right to same sex marriage in New York had valid marriages. This fact alone makes same sex marriage something of a legal problem in this state. Suddenly, legal decisions on how to handle just those 170 marriages — and how to verify that said marriage took place before the July 2006 deadline — now have to be considered. In effect, same-sex marriage is going to have to be addressed by the legislature anyway, so Bruno is merely putting off the inevitible.

Of course, according to, Bruno is strongly opposed to gay marriages, which is the real reason he’s intent on keeping this matter from a vote. Of course, this merely demonstrates that in the end, Bruno and those like him are concerned that the legislation could pass. So their only way of preventing it is to stop the vote from happening at all. This is a strange and hypocritcal move on the part of those belonging to a party who has be decrying that this matter should be decided by the legislature rather than “activist judges.” Apparently, the legislature should only decide if the legislature happens to decide in Mr. Bruno’s favor.

Hopefully, Mr. Bruno will discover just how “inconsequential” this issue is when he comes up for re-election.

It’s all about how you use it

I have to admit that I have a strange relationship with money. I’m not going to sit here and try to tell anyone — or even myself — that I don’t like having money. If my boss was to stop by my desk tomorrow and ask me if I’d like a raise, I’m not going to say no. After all, I like being able to spend money on various things.

However, I don’t feel like a slave to money, either. I do understand that ultimately, the only money I really need is the money to buy the necessities for staying alive. Anything after that is gravy. And I love my gravy.

However, I’ve also realized that how I spend my excess money is extremely important to me. I’m not the kind to become obsessed with buying the latest gadget or must have thing. Nor am I obssessed with keeping up with the latest fashion (not that men’s fashions change nearly as drastically as women’s fashions, anyway). That’s not my style at all.

Granted, I like to shop for quality when I do buy things. So when I go out shopping for new work clothes, I’m as liable to hit something a bit more expensive than Wal-Mart or even Target. (Besids, those stores often stop carrying clothes at one size below what I need, or only carry clothes my size that are horribly tacky.) And when I bought a laptop a couple months ago, I spent the extra money to get one I’d really like.

But at the same time, I don’t care to buy a lot of “stuff” just to have “stuff.” For example, a couple of years ago, I began to re-evaluate my attitude towards computer games. At the time, I was buying a new computer game every other week. I’d play each game I bought for about two weeks (often never mastering them or beating them if they had a quest mode of play), then get bored with it and never touched it again. As I noticed this pattern, I really asked if the time I spent playing each game was really worth the $40 a title I was paying. I decided that it wasn’t, so I’ve changed my game buying habits. I still buy the occasional computer game (and still often play them for a couple of weeks), but it’s something I only do every couple months or so. I found it hasn’t detracted from my life at all, and I’ve certainly found more enjoyable uses for the money I’m saving.

On the other hand, I think one of the best spenditures of money I’ve ever made was back when my niece, Alyssa, was two years old. Disney had re-released “The Little Mermaid” just before Christmas, so there was a merchandizing craze going on at the time. During my Christmas shopping, I had found a four foot long stuffed Flounder (the character from the movie, not a real flounder). I decided to buy it for Alyssa for Christmas.

Christmas Eve, my sister and her family had dinner with my parents and I at my parents’ home (I was living at home at the time). My sister decided to let Alyssa open one gift that evening after dinner. Because of an incident that had happened when my sister and her family were heading up from New Jersey, we all agreed she should unwrap Flounder.

I cannot begin to do justice to the experience of watching Alyssa open her gift. When she finally got the wrapping paper off and looked into the eyes of a Flounder almost as big as she was, she let out a shrill screech. The next five minutes, all this little girl could do was hug her new friend tight and screech, “He’s so cute!” It was a beautiful sight, and I can’t think of a time where I got so much joy out of $40 I had spent.

In many ways, money is more about making my life comfortable. It’s about creating moments like that, where I get to add to and share in other people’s pleasure. Whether I’m buying presents for my nieces and nephews, treating my friends to a meal, or giving an overworked and underpaid server an outrageously generous tip, I enjoy seeing the smiles it can bring to people’s faces.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly be used to create situations that encourage happiness.

Living in a Straight World

One of the great paradoxes involved in getting out more is that becoming more active gives me a great deal more things to blog about while at the same time severely decreasing the amount of time I find to actually do the blogging part. For example, I still have something from Friday night’s comedy show that I want to blog about. And yet, here it is almost a week later, and I still haven’t found or made the time to write it down. And I haven’t mentioned the stroll my father and I took through Genesee Valley Park Monday evening, which is also worth noting. But for this post, I think I will stick to the subject of Friday night.

At one point during her show, Vickie Shaw asked any straight people in the audience to indicate their presence by applauding. Becky, who had agreed to accompany me that night, was one of three or four people who applauded. Of course, Vickie took this time to have a bit of fun assuring them that gay people actually like straight people, “We just don’t want you teaching our children.” She also made some comment about understanding that straight people just couldn’t help that they were straight. The whole thing was funny simply because of the reversal of the more common situation involved. Needless to say, Becky was thoroughly embarassed by the whole thing.

As we were driving out of the hotel’s parking garage, Becky commented on the incident, and asked if it bothered me to be in the reverse situation (often being the only gay person in a sea of heterosexuals) and made me as uncomfortable as that point in the show made her. I laughed and told her that no, I’ve been there enough that I’ve made my peace with such a situation.

At first, Becky didn’t understand this. She pointed out that she had been in similar situations before, and yet she found herself slightly uncomfortable every time. I nodded, but pointed out that there was still a difference. Even if she had such an experience once a month — or even once a week — it still wouldn’t quite compare to living that experience almost every minute of almost every day.

To the best of my knowledge, the most reproducible statistics say that gay and bisexual people make up between two and three percent of the population. Those are pretty low statistics, and it means that the probability of me being the only gay person in any given situation is pretty high. And even in cases where I’m not, it’s likely that there’s just one or two other kindred souls in the situation. That’s life, and you learn to get used to it or you drive yourself batty.

Of course, it helps when you join groups specifically for gay and bisexual people. One of the things I like about attending game nights and ImageOut events is that it does put my in places full of kindred souls. There’s a great deal of comfort in that.

But ultimately, the time comes — at least for those of us who don’t want to move to places like San Francisco — when life requires us to return to the wider world. And learning to deal with that is a matter of survival and mental health. Indeed, it’s best to learn to not only survive, but thrive in that situation. It’s a matter of rising to the occasion and building up a strength that can carry you through — and onward and upward.