Where the boys are

Ricky and I each have a son from previous relationships. The oldest will be 31 this summer and is in corporate operations. The youngest will be 27 and is an engineer with NASA.

We’re proud of our boys.

We’re also at the age where we’re starting to put off projects maybe just a little bit until ‘the boys’ come to visit. And since they’re both going to be here on Easter Sunday, I’ve got a little list prepared.

Since it’s going to be a beautiful day, it would only make sense for them to take the cover off the pool so the last of the ice can melt and it can be ready for Mr and Mrs Mallard Duck who for the last 5 years have spent about a week relaxing in our pool on their journey home in the spring.

And since I’ve finally joined a health club, it would only make sense if they’d get my bike suspended from the rafters in the garage, where it will hang until I get tired of it and give it away, or it comes loose and falls on sexy car and gets violently tossed in the trash.

The operations son and his family are well settled into their new home, and it’s only right that he and his family enjoy all the art projects, ribbons and awards, and various toys that Ricky stashed away over the years. This would be a good time to tuck those things into their van and send them home.

And engineer son is moving away soon to start his new job with NASA, so maybe he should pack up some memorabilia from his grandfather to take with him as he sets up his new household on the west coast.

We’ve had lots of changes in the year since last Easter, including the passing of the torch to Ricky and I, who are now the patriarchs of both his and my side of the family.

And ‘the boys’ are all grown up and charging forward on successful lives of their own. And part of the changes they experience will probably include checking off a to-do list of tasks when they come home for a visit.

One of the reasons I write this blog is so parents of a gay kid can see an example that their kid can live a nice life with someone of the same gender; a gay kid can see the same thing; and so everyone else can know that we’re pretty much just like every other family.

We just have cleaner cars and greener lawns.

Today’s Gay Agenda: Wishing you a Happy Easter with your friends and family; and all the beauty that springtime brings.



The Golden Rule

There’s kind a ‘rule’ at our house: none of my kids or grandkids goes out our front door without a hug from me and the words “I love you.”

Sometimes followed with “you’re such a good boy” or “I’m so proud of you” but without fail always “I love you.”

I Love You. And then I look them square in the eye and smile.

Things are a lot different now for gay kids than even 10 years ago, but I cannot help but wonder how many young men and women heard decidedly different words from their parents or grandparents as they left their homes, only to have those unkind words be the last words they ever heard from the people who loved and nurtured them their entire lives.

Until they found out they were gay.

Then they maybe didn’t love them any more, or didn’t know exactly what they felt for them. The only thing they knew for sure is they felt shame. And disappointment. And maybe wanted to love them, but didn’t know how or what it meant.

Nonetheless, the last words untold numbers of men and women heard from those who supposedly loved them unconditionally were something much different than “I love you.”

A couple of years ago, probably after one of my annoying heart attacks; I decided that the last words the kids I love would ever hear from me would be “I love you.”

I think that’s kind of a good legacy.

Today’s Gay Agenda: Never pass up an opportunity to tell someone you love them. And to those you really, really love; make it a habit to tell them each time you say good bye.

It may be the last words you will say to them.


Go West Young Man

There’s been some headlines the last few days about the impending passing of the Reverend Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Rev Fred Phelps on Deathbed

In case you aren’t familiar, this is the Kansas “church” that protests the funerals of fallen servicemen and women indicating their deaths are a result of God’s punishment of America for acceptance of homosexuality.

The above image is that of a member of the Phelps family.

Obviously, the Baptist Church has tried to distance themselves from Rev. Phelps for quite some time. And with good reason.

If you read the linked article above, you read that Phelps has been excommunicated from the church. One can only wonder what he may have done that would cause the church he founded to sever ties with him.

I speculate as he approached his ultimate passing, he may have reconsidered some of his points of view and how he chose to invest his time on earth. But that’s just my guess.

I have no doubt that if there is a funeral, it will not be publically announced for obvious reasons.

But let’s pretend that’s not the case. Let’s pretend the funeral location and time is announced in the national media.

What would be the appropriate public response?

After a few moments of imagining protesters and signs and people with their backs to the funeral procession; shouts to the family and pushy reporters looking for comment I do believe I have come up with the best possible public reaction the the passing of The Rev Phelps:

An empty church.

An empty church with the minister on duty nervously checking his watch, while what family mourners do attend whisper under their breath as to where everyone might be.

A police security line in a one block radius of the church, watching as people casually go about their daily business, oblivious to what the cops are doing there.

And a country moving forward with the only emotion being one of remiss as to how sad it must be to lie on one’s deathbed with the country breathing a sigh of relief that you’re finally almost dead.

Today’s Gay Agenda: Westboro Baptist Church, you were a buzzing fly and an annoying distraction to the gay community.  Gays didn’t care what you thought.

However, the pain and suffering you caused mothers and fathers; grandmas and grandpas, brothers and sisters mourning the senseless loss of young men and women in their family is about as close to unforgiveable as one could get.

Reverend Phelps, it’s my wish your next life brings all that you richly deserve.


Arizona bypass

This week I wrote letters to virtually every Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Home Builder’s Association in the state of Arizona.

I explained to them that even in spite of the Governor’s veto of SB 1062, they could rest assured Ricky and I would never set foot in the state of Arizona. Nor would we invest any retirement resources in a state that clearly would prefer we live somewhere else.

SB 1062 was a bill passed by both chambers that would protect those who because of their strongly held religious beliefs choose to deny goods and services to gay people.

I actually don’t disagree with this type of legislation, because I would like to know where NOT to spend my money.

The deal with Arizona is that there are no laws prohibiting discrimination against gay people.

It is perfectly legal for a bakery owner can stand in his doorway and say “I think you might be a homo, and I don’t like homos. I won’t sell you a cake.”

(If he were to say “I hate black homos” that would be against the law)

Rumor has it the tipping point in the Governor’s veto was the NFL hinting they may reconsider where to hold next year’s Super Bowl.

In my letter to the NFL, I encouraged them to reconsider their choice of states to host the Super Bowl, and perhaps select one that does not aggressively seek out opportunities to discriminate against her citizens.

It’s been my observation that morality often comes down to dollars and cents. Minnesota’s reconsideration of their ban on Sunday liquor sales is a current example.

Couples like Ricky and I will not be spending $200,000 on condos in Arizona, nor will we be spending 20-30 grand each winter we go south to escape this brutal cold.

We are in our mid 50’s. Do the math.

Today’s Gay Agenda: As all this was playing out, Ricky was making his way across the state of Arizona on his way back here, trying to avoid spending one more dollar or moment in a state that apparently can do just fine without us.


We’re not in Kansas any more

Or Arizona, either.

Both Kansas and Arizona are in the process of trying to pass legislation that will protect the religious freedom of business owners by allowing them to deny goods and services to gay people based on the owner’s religious beliefs.

And people are up in arms over this.


News reports indicate this is predominately to support the religious freedoms of those who provide goods and services related to weddings.

What could possibly make the buying decision of gays and lesbians easier than immediately knowing which businesses not to frequent? How about the socially moderate public who is simply looking to purchase the highest quality goods and services for themselves and their loved ones?

Can you imagine a department store, car dealer, hair salon, night club, restaurant,  jeweler or travel agent refusing to provide goods and services to gay people?

At the risk of being flip, I’d welcome a sign something like this to tell me where not to shop.

We are at a great point in history in regard to supporting equal protection of existing laws for gay people.

I think it’s high time those in Kansas and Arizona who wish to actively discriminate against gay people identify themselves and let market forces determine their fate.

Today’s Gay Agenda: For the record, the stereotype about gays being the best florists, bakers, chefs, event planners and designers is pretty much true. If you seek out businesses that displays a rainbow slash in a window, plan on watching your daughter walk down the aisle in a Jaclyn Smith poly-cotton blend wedding frock and then retiring to the local community center/learning anex where your guests will suffer through cheese whiz on cinnamon swirls,  a grape jello/cool whip salad, some ground up pickle relish on day old bread sticks, and then dance to “Burn baby burn, disco inferno” beneath spastically flashing Christmas lights and crepe paper pinatas from the party supply discount bin.


You can say that again

Every year about this time we go somewhere warm for a few days. I was having some fond memories of time in Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara Mexico and remembered this post from long ago.


Ricky speaks five languages. I just speak alot. Here’s some snippets of conversations this past week.

Riding in a cab, Ricky chit-chats with the driver in Spanish:

  • Driver: “You speak Spanish very well.”
  • Ricky: “Thank you, I’m more comfortable in Itailian, though”
  • Driver: “Does your friend speak Spanish, too?”
  • Ricky: “No, he’s American. The poor thing only speaks English.”
  • Brad, from the back seat, in English: “I CAN UNDERSTAND YOU, YOU KNOW!!”

As a major piece of beefcake strolls by on the beach:

  • “Holy crap, the only time my body will ever be that hard is after rigor mortis sets in.

While enjoying happy hour with a lively floor show, if you know what I mean:

  • Brad: “My gosh, those dancers are so nice.
  • Ricky: “Of COURSE they’re nice—they’re counting on you to be nice back to them . . . Idiot . . . Where’s your wallet?”

After going through a pat-down and a metal detector, we’re allowed into the toniest gay-bar in Guadalajara.

  • Brad to the server: “I’ll have a cosmo Martini, please.”
  • Server: “We’re not that kind of bar.”

While misbehaving at the local nightclubs:

  • “I’ve got to be nicer to my sister. I just know I’m going to need some of her liver one day.”

Admiring a sexy car on the street:

  • Brad: “What kind of car is P-u-o-g-e-t?”
  • Ricky: “It’s French.”
  • Brad: “French?!? The French can’t make a car, they make dinner. The Germans make a great car.”

While observing the late afternoon mist, softening the view of the mountains:

  • “Is that fog?”
  • “No, it evaporating hair product from all the homos on the beach.”

Observing a young man with a skinned beef carcass over his shoulders walking into a butcher stand:

  • “Didn’t Lady Gaga wear that to some awards show?”

Strolling down the beach with my insulated coffee mug:

  • “You don’t expect anyone to believe you’ve got coffee in that thing, do you?”

Today’s Gay Agenda: Try to cover up the disappointment that our vacation is moving waaaay too fast.


Public Displays of Affection on Valentines Day have turned into something exponentially larger the past few years.

When I was growing up, Valentine’s Day meant an art project of some type to receive Valentine’s from classmates and a party the last hour of school.

I am just young enough to be part of the generation where the teacher sent home a list naming each child in the class, with the expectation no one be left out. And then we had a Valentine’s party where each student was assigned to bring some type of treat.

The teacher kept track of which student was assigned to bring what, so things rotated out through the year for the Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s parties, ensuring no single student was assigned ‘sandwiches’ each time and missed out on ‘cookies’ or ‘kool-aid.’

My hometown was predominantly Lutheran.

Lutherans have very organized group feedings.

Dad brought home the biggest heart shaped box of candy available at the local drug store, gave it to mom and that was about it.

Things are now at a whole new level in terms of professing our love for another and how we tell others about our current relationship status.

We now have companies that advertise they will deliver flowers and candy to your workplace so your co-workers can see how much you are loved.

Nightclubs have two different Valentine Happy Hours: one for ‘lovers’ and one for ‘lookers.’

People go on social media professing it was so worth it to wait until later in life for prince charming to arrive; and then later on share the shock and horror of him being arrested for embezzlement.

Or my favorite, someone on social media publically thanking Jesus over and over for so-and so, and then going absolutely crazy and REALLY thanking Jesus when he replaces so-and-so with a new one that is so much better.

And lets not forget all the couples who are constantly professing their love for eachother to the entire world, which leaves you wondering just exactly whom they’re trying to convince of their love?

I’m not a realy big fan of public displays of affection, and most certainly not between Ricky and I. If appropriate, there may be some discreet hand holding, and in private circumstances there may be a quick kiss good-bye at the airport.

But today, in honor of our 12th Valentine’s Day together, I’m going to share the profession of love I give Ricky when I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the wonder of our love for eachother, and my gratitude that he has chosen to share his life with me:

“Happy Valentine’s Day Ricky. You know I love you more than my car.”

Today’s Gay Agenda: Here’s hoping each relationship in your life is exactly what you want it to be.


That’s Debatable

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a debate discussing legalizing same gender marriage. Former Fargo Mayor and retired economics professor Jon Lindgren discussed the topic with Ryan T Anderson, co-author of “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” and is with “The Heritage Foundation.”

For a number of years, the argument has been made that a marriage between a man and a woman is a good thing that should not be tampered with. Allowing couples of the same gender to marry may cause problems in the future.

I’ve never agreed with that statement, yet I have ALWAYS understood it. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “leave well enough alone” and other such time-worn phrases all support that if something is working as it is supposed to, let it continue to do so without change.

I really do get that.

Even if I do not agree that allowing came gender couples to marry would harm opposite gender marriages.

Ricky and I married nearly 8 years ago, and not one single opposite gender couple on our street has divorced because of it.

Anderson and his colleagues have a different take on this: marriage and families are broken, and only getting worse. As a way to slow this, we must not allow gay people to marry.

He’s partly right.

Statistically (I’m rounding numbers here) 50% of first, 60% of second and 75% of third marriages end in divorce. Today over 50% of children are born to single women.

When a child is born, 100% of the time the mother is in the room. What percentage of the time is the father there? (Anderson quote, very well stated)

I agree, same gender marriage seems to be in trouble. Studies have determined children fare better in two parent households rather than one. Studies of childen in same gender parent families are sketchy at best.

But making the prime tactic to shore up opposite gender marriages and families by denying marriage equality to all couples in committed relationships is like working to reduce the number of train derailments by decreasing the interstate highway speed limit.

It makes no sense.

It’s been 10 years since Massachusetts legalized same gender marriage. When I asked Mr Anderson what effect that has had on families in MA, he indicated it was too early to determine; that it would take a full generation to tell.

That may well be the case statistically, however I struggle to believe not one single person has been keeping an eye on MA to quickly sound the alarm at the harm gay marriage has caused. And that the reason there is no data is simply because there is not,  nor will there ever be any data.

A wise-crack I often make is: “If you want to protect marriage, make divorce illegal. There. Done.”

Today’s Gay Agenda: I’ve been asking the question for a decade, often offering a substantial financial reward, yet no one has ever been able to give me a single example of how my marriage has harmed theirs, their children or their family.

If you want to support opposite gender marriage and families, start working to support oposite gender couples and families, then work on affecting the real problems they face. I promise you, not one single couple struggling to stay together will say it’s Ricky and I that are causing their issues.


Hearts & Roses

The month of February and especially this next week seems to be all about couples in love, or wishing they were in love or had someone to love.

On Tuesday there will be a debate on Gay Marriage featuring Ryan T Anderson, speaking on behalf of the ND Family Alliance and former Fargo mayor and blog friend Jon Lindgren.

It’s been a while since I checked in on my friends at the various anti-marriage equality sites, but typically these organizations seem to think the best way to strengthen marriage is to deny equal protection of existing state and federal laws to same gender couples.

I’ve yet to hear even a remotely convincing argument as to how this would strengthen opposite gender marriage, but I have never been accused of being the brightest bulb on the tree. Maybe Mr Anderson will bring a new perspective as he outlines the damage Ricky and I have caused his family in our nearly 7 years of marriage.

In my opinion, working to prevent marriage equality is kind of like stepping up enforcement of jay walking as a way to reduce highway fatalities. I suppose there are a number of pedestrians who are struck and killed by motorists who were not expecting to encounter them in a certain place. Perhaps enforcing a $10,000 fine on jay walking would pretty much end the problem.

But wouldn’t it possibly be more effective to invest resources in making cars more safe in crashes or reducing the number impaired drivers?

Curbing jay walking would probably reduce traffic fatalities, but there are probably other tactics that may have a bigger impact.

I suppose making marriage a topic of conversation does cause people to reflect and share ideas on what’s important in their relationships. Certainly discussing the importance of lifelong commitment has benefits to the kids who hear those conversations.

However, it’s my understanding that the biggest challenges to opposite gender marriage is differing financial goals and priorities, poverty, unemployment, differing religious points of view and so forth.

I have never ever ever read anything about someone getting divorced because the guys down the street got married last week.

Today’s Gay Agenda: I don’t have the answer as to how to strengthen traditional marriage. However, it has been my experience that fixing some problem in my life generally starts with reflecting on what I could be doing differently rather than on what someone else should be doing differently.


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

This is from a few years ago, but still relevant.

Some signs your upcoming dinner party is for sure going to go bad:

  • Ricky decides to try cooking “Moroccan”. Not sure what Moroccan food is, but pretty sure the house will smell like a camel.
  • Ricky says “Cous-Cous” no less than 800 times in the days before the dinner. “Did you know cous-cous is a pasta? It is you know. I bet you thought cous-cous was a grain, but it’s not.  Cous-cous is a pasta. I bought fine cous-cous. Did you know cous-cous comes in different textures? It does you know. Some people like the medium textured cous-cous, but I think the fine is better. I should make cous-cous more often. Do you like cous-cous?” I’D LIKE IT IF YOU’D STOP SAYING COUS-COUS!
  • The inch thick dust on your scented candles catches fire when you light the candles.
  • You reposition the stemware on the always-set, ready-for-a-dinner-party-at-the-drop-of-a-hat dining room table and the dust rings left behind look like alien crop circles.
  • Decide it’s too much work to un-set the table and feather dust the black table cloth, leaving the settings in place.
  • Remove all the settings and shake out said black table cloth. Realize only a homo would have a black table cloth.
  • Sniffer does  a dog-thing and eats something untoward. Sniffer is now Barfy. Growls at everyone, won’t let you pick him up nor brush him.  Expect the ASPCA to knock at the door any moment to take the vomitting, growling, smelly, matted haired dog away.

Signs your dinner party might turn out okay after all:

  • The house smells really good, even though you mistakenly sprayed “Raid” before realizing it wasn’t “Febreeze.”
  • Sniffer’s new bi-polar condition renders him scared of people and he hides rather than bouncing and barfing all over them the first 30 minutes they’re here.
  • Your guest Sondra is truly amazed to learn that cous-cous is in fact a pasta, not a grain.
  • Your guests love the stemware, and are duly impressed that you used no less than TWENTY EIGHT plates to serve dinner. Okay if you’re having a dozen people over, a bit excessive when it’s only an other couple.
  • It’s 11:00 p.m., there’s 3 empty wine bottles on the table, and your guests are just now rising to leave, thanking you for a wonderful evening.

Today’s Gay Agenda: Remember straight people think any party a homo throws is fabulous. Try learn to lighten up.