Stick To Your Principles (And Never Apologize)


I have declined from writing posts about this presidential election. My main reason is that I live in an area full of residents who practically worship our newly elected president. It has been almost five years since I came out as a gay man. After that, I never wanted to imagine that an elected official would try to overturn the successful efforts to say that the government cannot restrict me from my ultimate desire to marry someone who I love.

The United States of America has elected a man who has promised that he will overturn the landmark decision which ruled the Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional and pass a “religious freedom protection” act. I am in no mood to read article after article confirming those are indeed his intentions. Numerous social media posts have attempted to dismiss that our newly elected commander in chief could successfully roll back LGBT protections nationwide. Some of which have the audacity to scoff at my LGBT friends and think that we are “worrying too much.”

(Maybe you won’t “scoff” at me. But, probably have the temptation to dismiss the real fears of LGBT Americans as a result of Tuesday’s election.)

I would hate to jump to conclusions about anyone. But, the above comments are bound to come from people who claim to say they are “supportive” of me genuinely. To reiterate from my older posts, they know that I do not desire to marry a woman in some big church wedding. They are in complete denial of the fact that our newly elected commander in chief has promised to appoint Republican supreme court justices who will assist him in his efforts. These justices believe my lack of desire for a woman and a big church wedding automatically make me spawn of the devil. They say that such a truth does not make me any less of a human being who deserves love and respect. 

I am now laughably brought back to my memories of George Bush’s 2004 reelection. I was in sixth grade. We had a mock election. You can guess who the winner was. My classmates cheered when our principal made the announcement. Their expressions of joy, parroted from their parents, continued the bus ride home. My classmates stomped their feet and clapped their hands to the beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” They kept singing “Kerry will be defeated.” I certainly take this election much more seriously than I did back in 2004. It may be true that nothing has happened yet. But, there is no saying that it won’t now that we have a man in power who strives to overturn the progress we have already made. 

Donald Trump and Mike Pence have both promised to stick to the above principles. I, however, am sticking to mine. My LGBT friends should strive to do the same. Do not apologize for it. I do not deny that it can be hard to separate oneself from people whom I have known for my entire life. My sexuality may not define everything about me. But, I now know they are not worth my time if they refuse to change their mind about this essential aspect of who I am as a person. 

Most importantly, be careful who you decide to invite into your life. It doesn’t matter if you are casually cruising on Grindr. It does not matter if you are searching for that beautiful woman or tall, handsome man to call sweetheart. I am not trying to say that you should be afraid of meeting new people. But, know that people can disguise themselves as LGBT friendly. They hide behind that title before turning around and causing real harm to some of our most vulnerable citizens. It is now critical to be aware of your surroundings and protect yourself if anyone tries to hurt you. 

The events of this week are not going to stop me from sticking to my principles of not allowing people to hinder my right to be who I am. That does not go without saying that our nation has increased the potential for some very dark times. The only thing we can do about that is to keep fighting. 

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My Letter to Steve Grand


I am sure we all know how it feels  when we finally get the chance to meet a person we idolize. Last night, I had the opportunity to meet Steve Grand at Pittsburgh Pridefest. Our meeting was short, but I was so glad I finally had the chance to give him a hug. I did not have the time to say the things I really wanted to say. So, I figured it would be best to say them in writing. Without further due, here are my words to Steve.

Steve,

You, your music and your talent have made an incredible impact on me. I wish I could personally thank you for everything you have done for me. It all started when I watched “Back to California.” It put me on an emotional rollercoaster and I could not figure out why.  It reminded me of my lonely and painful high school journey without that one friend whom I could rely on. I could not hold the tears back. Several minutes later, I finally gave myself a mental slap. It’s almost like God was telling me to get a hold of myself and think it through.

Like many gay youth, my high school journey wasn’t wonderful. I didn’t have friends. I was an awkward, closeted mess of a kid who had no idea how to interact with people. I was picked on and I allowed them to control me and I acted out in return. I was afraid to take risks and put myself out there.

Please understand that crushes, love and romance are very new feelings for me. Life with Asperger’s Syndrome has always made me a loner. The high school social scene considered me the loner who was a “loser.” I was an awkward, uncoördinated kid with zero confidence who walked around with a scowl on his face. My “phases” changed throughout that time. I refrained from talking to anyone for most of those 4 years, and then I became this kid who could not control himself and acted out just for the sake of acting out. I desperately needed a way to handle my pain and that was the only release I could find.

“In the midst of our lives, we must find the magic that makes our soul soar!” I immediately thought about you when I found this journal. I am at an unknown time in my life right now. My previous path did not turn out to be the one for me. Anxiety is overpowering me. I am debating whether college will truly help me discover myself or if I will have to form my path to success, happiness and love. I know that I cannot just sit here. That will not help me accomplish much of anything. So, I have no choice but to apply for a temporary “job.” I need interaction with people, even though it can be frustrating. There were days when it frustrated me to tears. I try my hardest not to let shallowness, judgmentalism, ignorance and hatred kill my confidence. I know that I cannot let it define who I am.

Speaking of which, I know that my differences cannot prevent me from loving a man with my heart and soul. I truly wish my handsome prince charming could be exactly like you. I’m sure this isn’t the first time a fan of yours has admitted to having a crush on you. Let’s face it, your talent, your looks and your incredibly hot body makes you the perfect package. I know eventually that “someday my prince will come.” (thank you, Walt Disney)

As I maneuver the world at large, there are several things I have to keep in mind. For my well being, I have to be very careful with the men I chose to date. Bitchy, brutally frank and shallow gay men are not my concern. I am concerned about those who really do come off as sweet and respectful. They seem to be able to handle homophobia and all the typical prejudices LGBT people are subjected to, so they think high functioning Autism (Asperger’s Syndrome) is no match for their confidence. He may claim to appreciate my quirkiness, honesty and articulateness. He could very well be that handsome prince I have dreamed about since I first discovered my love for men. However, he will not act shocked or offended when he discovers that my Autism will always be there. Although your struggles may be different, finding that right person who can love you for yourself and not the singer Steve Grand, I feel that you are with me in my journey of finding true love.

I keep trying to remind myself that I am destined for great and wonderful things in this world. Aside from publishing my first memoir, I want to spend an entire month in the state of California and drive the entire coast. I will be sure to think about you when I finally get the opportunity to do it. It’s funny how one song can cause a person to become so emotional. It reminded me of that time in my life when I felt like I would become a dismal failure. I try to stay positive, even though it is very hard at times. I try not to ask for too much from people I don’t know. However, I do ask this. Please do not forget me! Please keep up the fight and continue to write such amazing and touching songs. Finally, I hope that we will get to meet someday. Please keep and use this journal as a token of my gratitude for you. I know that magic is out there somewhere, but I know in my heart I will find it.

With all of my love, affection and support,

Derek

I truly hope you enjoyed reading this special post. Much love and happiness to all of you, too!

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