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June 2017

Best of the Month

Best of the Month: June 2017

June has been a crazy, chaotic month around here, and it absolutely flew by. Our puppies each gained about 20 lbs, I’ve been ramping up my freelance writing, one of my best friends is about to get married, and, last but not least, it’s Pride! Time to break down the best parts of the first month of summer.

Best Thing I Read

The Handmaid’s Tale

As part of The Book Fairies organization, Emma Watson passed out copies of Margaret Atwood’s revered speculative fiction novel around Paris this month. The Handmaid’s Tale has resurfaced in a big way recently not just because of the Hulu adaptation, but because of the terrifying relevance regarding the subject matter. The suffocation of the patriarchy is touched on in a way that presents a dystopian America that could be possible if our country veered in a specific direction. Scarily enough, we don’t seem to be that far off these days. Take a look at this excerpt:

“I guess that’s how they were able to do it, in the way that they did, all at once, without anyone knowing beforehand. If there had still been portable money, it would have been more difficult. It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time (…) Newspapers were censored and some were closed down, for security reasons they said.”

Chilling, no?

Best Thing I Watched

Milk

To celebrate Pride this month, my wife and I spent some time reading, listening, and watching any and everything LGBTQ related. I had never seen Milk, as I have a problem with avoiding biopics when I know the ending is devastating, so she convinced me to give it a watch. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person to be elected into public office in California. He served on the city’s Board of Supervisors for a short period of time before being shot in cold blood in his office by his colleague Dan White, who grew angry and bitter as Harvey’s agenda of acceptance gained momentum while White’s conservative Christian politics lost a bit of steam in San Francisco.

One of Harvey Milk’s biggest platforms was the encouragement of gay people to come out of the closet, because it’s more difficult to oppress a community when you know someone you love is part of it. When Milk began received push back in the form of death threats, he famously said, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

Best Thing I Did

Attended Pittsburgh Pride

I couldn’t overcome my crowd anxiety quite enough to attend the parade, but my wife and I, along with one of our best friends, ventured downtown for the post-parade Pride festivities. This was the first time I had ever been part of an LGBTQ community even (aside from a vigil for the victims of the Pulse massacre), and I’ve never seen such love and positivity just radiate from a group of people. It’s magical, and I recommend everyone to put yourself in the presence of Pride every year. In the current climate in our country where all marginalized groups have begun to fear for the redaction of the rights that so many fought for, it’s a breath of fresh air to witness how many allies we really do have in this world. Shout out to McDonald’s for their rainbow fries!

Best Thing I Ate

Image via Trip Advisor

Blackened Chicken Pasta at Demo’s Restaurant

I’m still recovering and rehydrating after a long weekend celebrating the upcoming nuptials of one of my best friends, Kristen, in Nashville. This was my first time in the country music capital, but the city’s reputation for incredible food was hyped to a fever pitch before we left. On our second night we dine at the Italian restaurant Demo’s, and my food fantasies haven’t been the same since. The bachelorette advised me to order the blackened chicken pasta, so of course I complied, I don’t know what they put in the sauce for this dish, but I’m fairly certain it’s some sort of creamy, chicken crack. Go to Nashville and order it right now. You can thank me later.

So what about you? What were the best things you did, ate, saw, watched, heard, read this month? It can be anything! Let me know in the comments 🙂

 

Personal

Celebrating Pride: 10 Things You Didn’t Want to Know About Being Bisexual

This month, Skittles goes black and white, McDonalds tastes the rainbow, and the signature flag adds two new colors all in celebration of Pride. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t until two years ago), June is the month we celebrate the LGBTQ community because it’s the anniversary of when the Stonewall riots took place back in 1969.

Ashamedly, I never took much time to comprehend the magnitude and importance of Pride Month for the community until I was suddenly part of it. So in celebration this year, I wanted to share some personal things about my identity and experience since becoming part of the “B” in LGBTQ.

  1. No, I didn’t always “know I was gay”. To be completely blunt, I realize I wasn’t straight once I fell in love with a person who doesn’t have a penis. She’s the most remarkable human being I’ve ever met, so why would I pass that up?
  2. I’ve never loved labels, but I choose to identify as bisexual because I realized my capacity to love wasn’t limited by body parts. I shied away from labeling myself until I understood the importance of being proud of standing under the LGBTQ umbrella.
  3. I grew up Christian, but have always struggled with the faith’s tendency to follow self interpreted rules and regulations for what’s right or wrong.
  4. Since I came out, I’ve slowly embarked on a deeper exploration into every aspect of who I am, both spiritually and sexually. To be honest, right now I don’t know what my religion is, but here are the things I do know: I believe in love. I believe in tolerance. I believe that there is more than what exists right now in this life on this earth. I believe animals have beautiful souls. I believe nature heals. I believe in a god that doesn’t have requirements, only the capacity of goodness, creation, and empathy. I believe Jesus taught people how to love more deeply and openly.
  5. To all of my female friends I’ve seen naked, kissed, lived with, or all of the above, the answer is no. No, just because I am bisexual doesn’t mean I was attracted to you all of those years.
  6. I’ve never been dishonest to anyone about my sexuality. Who I know myself as at every point in my life is exactly who I have presented myself to be.
  7. Those of you who have loved ones who have always known they were gay or transgender were not being dishonest to you before they came out either. It’s called “coming out” for a reason. The process is complicated and difficult and requires and comfort level with oneself and one’s body that can take years to reach.
  8. It’s 2017, and in many ways our society has come along way. However, don’t assume that because you or so many around you are tolerance that other aren’t still hateful to the LGBTQ community. It’s 2017, and I get looks from bystanders when I hold my wife’s hand in public spaces. But guess what? It only makes me hold onto her harder.
  9. If you’re an ally, speak up. Don’t presume that your loved ones assume that you’re proud of them, or love them for who they are if you haven’t told them since they came out. I have made those assumptions and discovered later that I was wrong, and that’s way more devastating than finding out up front. So I no longer make those assumptions. If you’re not outspoken in your support of the LGBTQ community, of my relationship, of my marriage, then I’m forced to wonder. It hurts to badly to assume you’re on my side and then be blindsided to realize you’re not.
  10. The importance of having close relationships with other members of the LGBTQ community cannot be overstated. Neither can the importance of having LGBTQ representation in music, movies, and television. As a bisexual, I now feel lost when I turn on the television and see storylines I can no longer relate to. Sure, I’ve dated men, but I’m married to a woman. I want to see women who are like me. I never realized how annoying it would become to cross out the word “groom” and write the word “bride” for my partner’s name every time I filled out paperwork for my wedding. If you’re frustrated by seeing things change to become “PC” and inclusive, chances are you’re not nearly as frustrated as those who never feel included.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you’re wondering if I’ve changed, or skeptical about whether or not you ever really knew me, the response is both yes and no. I have changed, but only in the ways that have made me a better, more loving, open human being. Now I flinch when someone asks a woman they don’t know who her husband is after she says she’s married. What if she’s married to another woman?

So if becoming more conscious of the conclusions I jump to when speaking to or about others means I’ve changed, then I’m proud of those changes. I didn’t just start listening obsessively to Tegan and Sara and binge watching The L Word because that’s what all the lesbians do. I listen to them the lyrics and the stories resonate, and isn’t that why they’re made?

The self recognition of being bisexual has made me a better person, not a different one, and that’s why I all of a sudden plaster my Facebook page with rainbows. I’m proud to me. So whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian bisexual, queer, questioning, transgender, gender fluid, asexual, or anything else along the spectrum, be proud of it. Celebrate it. Celebrate yourself and celebrate those you love who are unafraid to be who they are. Be an ally. Celebrate Pride.

 

Entertainment

Wonder Woman: The (Wo)man Who Can

I’m hopeful that by now all of you have seen DC’s first major female led superhero feature film at least once. Even if you’re not a comic movie fan, Wonder Woman deserves every dollar and every second of your spare time. Patty Jenkins’s directorial masterpiece and Gal Gadot’s lasso of serous feminist truth is the most inspiring thing you’ll see on any screen this year. Hell, it’s the most inspiring thing I might have ever seen. I wept. I laughed. I walked out of the theater energized over this unhinged, unbridled celebration of the female sex.

The first 30 minutes of Wonder Woman introduces us to the powerful, perfect Amazons of Themyscira, a place where the landscape is only have as stunning as the strong creatures who inhabit it. Women in Themyscira do not need men. Women in Themyscira live together in all colors, shapes, sizes, and ages, blissfully unaware that there is a standard of beauty placed upon women by society and men where mankind lives.

The fiercest warrior in Themyscira just happens to be a woman who is proud of her age, what she’s seen, and doesn’t once try to hide the lines that time and battle has beautifully carved into the corners of her eyes. Antiope (the enchanting Robin Wright), is a fearless general, a mentor, and a loving aunt. These women train and fight and prepare one another not in competition, but to encourage each other and better themselves to provide protection and solace as a unit against outside threats to their peaceful oasis.

And as these women fight and die for one another, to keep their community safe, one woman, Diana Prince, decides to leave to save a world of humans who don’t believe in her or one another. Diana Prince has hope for a culture who is hopeless, and has belief in a people who don’t believe a word she says. In a time on this planet where we are becoming the destruction of our own race, where we wake up each day and tear one another down behind the safe haven of a screen, and where we refuse to believe who someone says they are just because it might not match up with what we’re accustomed to, we need Wonder Woman more than ever.

As Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor accurately stated while he and Wonder Woman sailed across the sea straight into the destruction of humankind: no man is capable of stopping this Great War. But behind every man there is usually a women who is actually the man who can. She is the man who can decide what she does with her own body. She is the man who deserves an equal pay. She is also the man who should be able to determine whether or not she is, in fact, a man or a woman.

Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, and the rest of the Wonder Women show us what it means to take ownership of ourselves as the heroes we really are. We don’t have to sit down and shut up when a man thinks that if we try to fight, we will lose. We have the strength to stand up for ourselves and to protect those we love without asking permission. We also don’t possess these soft curves and sinewy muscles simply to serve up a salacious sight for the male gaze.

When Wonder Woman lands her first superhero leap of the film, her taut, fiercely powerful thighs jiggle slightly, and it’s absolutely glorious. Do you know how many times I’ve changed out of shorts before leaving my house in the dead heat of summer because I didn’t want people to see my thighs jiggle as I walked down the street? Or how paranoid I get to put on a bikini during seasons when those same thighs touch one another, slightly chafing as I walk? Those aren’t instincts, they’re insecurities learned from decades of photo shop and edits that scalp every interpreted imperfection for the benefit of a man’s ideal sexual fantasy.

Well not anymore, because strength isn’t defined by a thigh gap or a size zero waistline. Sexiness isn’t all perky breasts, high heels, and fish net stockings. Power doesn’t come from speaking little and staying still.

Sexy lies in the confidence of those tiny crows feet in the corner of eyes that have seen the pain in the world and tried to heal it. Strength is when your thighs jiggle because you’re using them to lift someone up instead of kicking them when you’re down. Power is when you persist even when you’re told something is impossible.

We are all Wonder Woman, and we are the men who can.

 

Best of the Month

Best of the Month: May 2017

Where the hell did the month of May go? I’m sitting here jotting down my June goals in between trips to the front yard with the pups (we’re getting so close to 100% potty trained), and I am utterly dumbfounded by the disappearance of one of my favorite months. Wedding recovery, honeymoon, and jet lag induced honeymoon recovery consumed most of May, and the political nightmare we wake up to every day makes them all kind of blur together. Anyway, here are my favorite things from the month of May.

Best Thing I Watched

American Gods: “Git Gone”
     Wild, weird television is flourishing right now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Mos people are familiar with Neil Gaiman, whether it’s his fantastical fiction or children’s stories, and American Gods is sort of his swan song. As one of those snobs who often refuses to watch something until I’ve read the book first, I promptly ordered the paperback upon reading the synopsis for this Starz show. However, when my copy arrived in the mail, the sheer massive size of the novel was daunting. So I broke my rule, shelved the book, and started watching.
     “Git Gone” is episode four of the season, and it’s the first episode in which the show gives the primary focuses to the back story of a single character. American Gods revels in its enigmatic storytelling props, revealing only half as many answer as new questions, but in this episode we learn all about the motivations behind someone who we didn’t even know was going to be present the first three episodes. I won’t go into any more detail than that to avoid spoilers, but go watch this show right this very now.

Best Thing I Ate

Image via Lonely Planet

Lisbon’s Custard Tart
     Shortly after arriving in Lisbon, Portugal, where we spent the first half of our honeymoon, Jen and I discovered that this casual, culturally robust city is known specifically for a simple, delightful pastry. Actually, we hadn’t even made it to our hotel before someone encouraged us to hit the nearest cafe and order a custard tart, otherwise known as a pastel de nata. The tart is well known for the egg based custard in the center and the crisp, flaky tart that encases it. By the time we made it to our last day in Lisbon I felt like a real local, each morning ordering a pastel de nata and shot of espresso. Cue the caffeine headaches and constant sugar crashes one we arrive back in the U.S.
Note: Portugal makes, hands down, the best food I’ve ever tasted. I’ll expand on the other fantastic eats that titillated my taste buds when I blog about my honeymoon 🙂

Best Thing I Heard

Image via Politico

“Pod Save America Takes Los Angeles”
     Kamala Harris, a United States Senator from Californa, made a guest appearance for an interview on the podcast “Pod Save America”. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Pod, it came to fruition after the 2016 election when the hosts of the podcast “Keepin’ It 1600” decided that they wanted to create a space where everyday people could learn about politics and how anyone can take part in the activism needed to make a difference during a Trump presidency.
     After listening to this interview with Senator Harris, I realized one thing: our first female president is going to be a woman of color. You know why? Because they get shit done. Kamala Harris speaks, and we all listen. She talk with the people listening not at them (unless they need it), and she’s not afraid to defy an instruction when she knows it’s not the right thing to do. On top of that, she dropped an F bomb, so what’s not to love? Take a listen to the Pod, any episode really, but also get to know Senator Harris, because she’s the real deal.

Best Thing I Read

 

     I don’t have much to say about this PBS piece that’s not contain within the body of the article, so please just read it yourself. This article delves into the political climate in the down I lived in from 10-18 years old, so it essentially helped build me as a human being. Buckhannon, West Virginia voted for Donald Trump by over a 75% margin, and those are trying to protest his fascist administration are being harassed in disgusting ways in this tiny town. Since I moved north to Pittsburgh a few years ago, I’ve been spoiled to be surrounded by progressive people who care and think about the world outside of a small town bubble.
     I’ve grown to think further than the immediate instinct to become angry that coal mining jobs are gone, instead educating myself about the alternate, more environmentally friendly ways other places create sustainable energy. To see people living in poverty who don’t understand that under this administration, Medicaid and affordable healthcare are being gutted, and public education is crumbling, is humbling indeed. At the Women’s March in Pittsburgh earlier this year, I took for granted the sheer masses of people who marched alongside me, rarely stopping to think about the spaces where it’s not as safe to make this kind of stand, where they’re in a vast minority. I’m incredibly proud of these women who are trying to spark change in Buckhannon, because the town still holds a special place, if not a slightly bruised one, in my heart.
What are the best things you experienced this month? Let me know in the comments!

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