Category Archives: Uncategorized

The 2016 Election

November 08, 2016-

After a furious eighteen months of devout election following, my nerves were on edge. In anticipation of the upcoming results, I decided to invite a few friends over for wine and board games. I knew that if it were to be just Aaron and myself, I would be obsessively going from various election result websites while sitting in the dark. Not exactly the best way to celebrate a historic night. The Democratic and Republican Primaries were an incredibly stressful time for me, which seems futile but I couldn’t help but take it very personally. I championed a candidate that I truly believed could offer the kind of hope and reform that I thought this country desperately needed. The Republicans were in disarray, and a con-man was having his way with them. I rejoiced in this aspect, and I couldn’t help but think that Bernie Sanders had an honest shot at non only taking the Democratic Nomination, but also the Presidency. The choice was always clear for me. Hillary Clinton, represented the establishment. The very source of my political angst. It was in these months of the Democratic Primary that I declared “Bernie or Bust”, and never doubted his momentum. After all, everyone around me seemed to be championing the same thing. My Facebook was filled with like-minded friends who fueled my support. Sanders path to victory seemed possible. Would we actually be able to nominate a reform candidate to a major political party? A man who called out the flaws of our government, and laid out the plan for a world of inclusion and possibility? We hoped.

My support for him showed in my wallet, as I began to contribute small amounts on pay-day. I was in it to win it. On the eve of the Utah Democratic Primary he held a large rally in Salt Lake City. It was beyond encouraging to see so many people out supporting a man who I believed to be the best political candidate of our generation. Primary day in Utah came, and Bernie won in a land-slide. The momentum was on our side, and I couldn’t fathom a Hillary Clinton win. Soon after the Utah Primary, it became clear that Hillary Clinton was still on chart to capture the nomination. The day CNN announced that she had secured the nomination, was a gut wrenching moment. How? How did others not look past her incredible flaws? How could they stand by the establishment, when it was so clear that corruption was running deep? Yes, we were sick of the e-mails, but the fact that we even had to discuss it was proof enough to do away with her as a potential candidate. She didn’t represent me, and it seemed as if she didn’t represent the party as a whole. I was baffled, concerned, and disheartened. How could I ever support Hillary Clinton? The next couple of months were a challenging time for Bernie supporters. We watched as Donald Trump secured his party nomination (another moment of “how?”) and we watched a contentious Democratic Party nominate Hillary Clinton at their convention. We watched an emotional Bernie Sanders go all in for the candidate he had battled with for so long. There was however light within this tunnel. The Democratic Party put forth one of the most progressive party platforms ever. Bernie Sanders influence on the party was evident. Still, the battle to support Hillary Clinton raged in my head. While my political ideologies lined up with the Democratic Party, I didn’t trust the nominee. Her mountain of scandal and uncertainty put up red flags at every corner. She refused to release her Goldman Sachs speeches, she was under federal investigation for her private e-mail server, she refused to take a stand on TPP, and she was seemingly failing to bring her party together. How could she win if she couldn’t win over her own party? My support at this time crossed over to the Green Party. Living in Utah it was clear that despite the problems of the Republican Party, that Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination. A morality vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party seemed like the appropriate path. Jill for me was the solution to my apprehension of the current Democratic Party. I could vote for Jill Stein, Utah would go Trump, and Clinton would win the General Election. That was the path. Then something happened, and it had been happening for a while, but it erupted this time.

Donald Trump had become the Republican Nominee and everyone scoffed. His rhetoric and demeanor were unthinkable for a candidate for President. Yet, his support was growing. His rallies became increasingly larger, and more energetic. I couldn’t believe that people were actually supporting him. A man who continued to spew hateful and harming rhetoric, and allowing the bigotry of our country to seep out, was polling closer and closer to Hillary Clinton. With every flaw that Clinton had, I could point out ten flaws of Donald Trump. It was clear that he could not, and should not become President. This man represented everything America should not stand for. This is the moment I understood why Bernie had gone full in for Hillary Clinton. Why did I ever question him? I realized that he was supporting the progressive party platform that he and millions of other Americans had fought for. Still, I lived in a State that seemed to be polling towards Trump. My vote for Hillary Clinton was still not going to make much of a difference. Then it happened, Utah started polling closer. Evan McMullin had jumped in the race, and things looked tight. My morality vote option faded for me, because I knew that it was of up most importance to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. Despite my burning questions for the honest and truthful story behind Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump could not become President. Period. He couldn’t. With his continued rhetoric and his support of archaic immigration and foreign policy issues (to name only a few), he became dangerous.

The butt of late night jokes had the potential to become our President. If that happened, he would bring to the stage a Republican platform that would undo the important changes that Barack Obama had worked so hard to accomplish. Most importantly for me (and the most personal )was the thought of equality in this country regressing. I couldn’t allow that to happen. I didn’t want to be a part of that happening. My morality vote for Jill Stein at this point became less important to me. I applaud those who voted Third Party, because it was what our country is about. I however didn’t want to make that morality vote, and have Utah be decided by a few hundred votes. After eighteen months, and with reservations still in my mind, I voted for Hillary Clinton. She was the logical choice. The better person to do the job. While I remained furious at the revealed leaks of the DNC collaboration to win the nomination, and the pro-Wall Street Goldman Sachs letters, I still saw some hope with her candidacy. Under a Clinton administration, we would continue the status quo. A third term of Obama in its essence. We would remain on a steady course, with a fairly predictable outcome. Within this time, it would have allowed our country to search out a proper reform candidate. While we wouldn’t make much progress, we wouldn’t regress. I saw opportunity and hope at the end of the line. I voted for Hillary Clinton, because I thought it gave America the best chance. It gave America the best chance to reach full equality for all, and to soon reform our government in a way that would work for all that call America home.

Trump was running as the only reform candidate left in the race. A system of reform that in some ways looked like the reform championed by Bernie Sanders. It however wasn’t even close to being the same. His reform comes with lesser rights for minorities, and at the cost of bringing bigotry and racism back into the mainstream. While his ideas for handling international business and bringing jobs back to America are not the worst ideas in the world, it comes at a cost. America has always been the beacon for freedom and inclusion, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretch refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  The Statue of Liberty, the icon of America has this engraved on her for a reason. Despite all the troubles in the world, America is supposed to remain open and inclusive. That is the principle on which our country was founded. Trumps America is not the America we know and love. Under a Trump Presidency we will see the chance to bring true reform and change to America die a very early death. He will stop and pause any social progression, and ultimately make America only safe for the ultra-rich and non-minority.

On the night of the election our little home was filled with close friends, who wanted to watch the election results come in. This group included; strong women, gay men, teachers, artists, millennials, office workers, students, activists, etc., etc. , and most importantly Americans who have at one time in their life witnessed inequality first hand. I was so excited to have a night of wine drinking, and board games. It was going to be a time to champion a Clinton victory, and root for a strong democratic showing for the senate. The polls and experts had the race pretty much called. Then it happened. Another gut wrenching moment. Clinton started to show weak results in Florida. Soon North Carolina was going downhill. It was still going to be okay. It was going to be close, we already knew that. Then Michigan started to go, along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Soon the Republicans secured the House and Senate. What was happening? I couldn’t control my emotions as I watched the impossible happening. In a matter of an hour, I watched a room of cheerful strong individuals begin to fear. This is America in the year 2016, and a man who would regress social progress by up to twenty years was leading the race. I cried. I couldn’t help it. I saw my future rights slipping away. My rights as a human being, were being stepped on. Americans around this country were making a choice that would limit the freedoms of their neighbors. I was angry. In an instant, a room of individuals with rights at stake had the rug ripped out from underneath them. He couldn’t win. He couldn’t.

On November 8, 2016 America made a mistake and elected Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. I am thankful I live in a country that I have the right to speak these words. Trump represents so many un-American ideals, that it is sometimes hard to fathom. His candidacy and now Presidency is a joke, and has been from the very beginning. Perhaps his economic plans will work, but if they come at the result in the loss of human rights it is the biggest mistake America has ever made. I do not think that those who voted for Donald Trump are bad people, I simply believe they were conned by the greatest sales man of all time. A man who preyed on their fears, and used them to fulfill personal gain. I simply cannot and will not support a President who has insulted my friends, family, neighbors, and fellow Americans. Donald J. Trump may be the 45th President, but in my heart he will not be my President. You should be able to look up to your leaders, and I can’t help but feel ashamed of Donald Trump. To sit down and support him goes against everything our country stands for.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”-Albus Dumbledore

 

Proud

                Equality

I never quit understand the phrase, “Proud to be an American.” I can remember singing the song, and often claiming as a child that I was “Proud to be an American”, but I never had any sense of why I was saying it. As I got older, I became less and and less enchanted by our country. For me there was something missing, there wasn’t a sense of pride. I often found myself questioning of why many Americans felt the need to shout from their rooftops their love of the United States. There is one simple reason for that…they had the undeniable right of Freedom in Equality. There were no limitations to their lives in the eyes of their state, government, or neighbors. I had never felt this sense of pride, because I simply didn’t have the right to it. The more I realized that I was gay, and was going to start living as the person I truly was, the more I realized that I was often thought of as lesser than. There is a unique injustice in not allowing members of one community the right to marry based on sexual preference. It deeply humiliates and belittles millions of people, and because of that humiliation I had many reservations on why I should be proud of my country. This morning, I awoke to the news that I was to be allowed the same benefits and privileges that all other Americans are allowed….the Freedom to Marry. I sat at my desk shocked at the news I was hearing. The Supreme Court of the United States had decided not to take up the cases presented before them. In one decision, my future was changed. Thirty states plus the District of Columbia will now be the homes of Marriage Equality. That is monumental, despite your personal beliefs, history was made today.  I took my lunch break this afternoon, and felt the need to walk up to the Utah State Capital. I was interested to see if I would run into supporters of same sex marriage, or in turn, supporters of “Traditional Marriage.” The truth was….there wasn’t anything going on. A few runners on the capital paths, a TV crew loading out their equipment….but it was silent. That’s when it truly hit me. Equality had reached Utah. It was a sense of peace and an wave of humility washed over me. I had done little in the fight against the Same Sex Marriage Ban. I made it a point to share news that pertained to the debate on social media. I was honest with those who questioned my beliefs, and shared my story of why I believed in equality. It was simple, but I feel proud of that work and for the first time as I sat in front of the Capital Building I was proud of my Country and of my State. It was the first time that I realized that being proud of your country didn’t mean that you were proud of all of the policies of your government, but you were simply proud of the people of this country. Today I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America and of the State of Utah.

10716151_10203788688469199_1322166898_n

There is still much work to be done in terms of Equality for the LGBT community. Thirty states now have the privilege of Marriage Equality, but twenty do not. Numerous inequalities in the work place, schools, and the like are still to be resolved. Our country also has a long way to go in order to obtain equality for all, but today’s Supreme Court Decision has paved way for the future. A very bright and equality friendly future.

We Suffer…We Suffer…We Suffer in Silence. Right?

We complain. We complain a hell of a lot. I complain. You complain. We all complain. What do I complain about? Mostly trivial things; not enough sleep, no coffee, over ate and now my stomach hurts, and it goes on and on. All of these things to complain about, complaints. that get filed directly into a giant pit of “First World Problems.” The shit we complain about is so minuscule when it comes to the problems humanity is facing on a daily basis. As I sit and complain about the wireless internet not loading my episodes of “Family Guy” fast enough, there is another person in the world cowering in fear in front of some sort of danger. Circumstance changes everything. I know that everyone has problems, and all problems are valid. We all walk this earth from our own point of view, and because of that we are the center of our own little universe. We often forget what is happening outside our lives. If we experience joy, there are others experiencing sorrow. While we experience sorrow, others are experiencing joy. As the college student walks on stage to grab his diploma, another human has never learned to read or write. We have the right to complain, because we are alive. All humans have the right to complain. We all have privileges and disadvantages. It is simply how our existence on earth functions. There however is something particularly appealing about those who realize that there is something outside of their own little worlds. They stop and take a moment to realize the plights of others, and sometimes even reach out to help. Looking at those kind of people, we can always have hope to move forward as a better human. It is comfortable to complain and to wish for better things, and I do it all the time. At the same time, it’s nice to think that one day I can hopefully be one of those people to look up to.

Stereotyping the Stereotypical

Stereotypes are everywhere. It is almost impossible to avoid them. We all carry them around with us, or have them pushed at us daily. I sometimes feel as if I get a healthy dose of stereotypes thrown at me more than the average american would. Being gay automatically brings up a plethora of stereotypes…that for the most part…honestly don’t reflect my reality of being gay.

Contradictory to most Gay Stereotypes:

I don’t love Ru-Paul’s Drag Race.
I don’t have the best fashion sense.
I don’t have the vocabulary of an African-American woman.
I don’t enjoy skimpy outfits.
I don’t behave like any of the gay characters on “Family Guy”
I don’t know the words to every Beyonce song.
I don’t dance well.

But what makes me “me”, as a gay man, are the things that I love. Reading, philosophical conversations, backpacking, hiking, movies, and I could go on and on. The things that represent me, are not the stereotypes of gay culture. I am simply me. The gayest thing about me is that I am in fact gay. Nothing less. Nothing more.

Utah: The Good outnumbers the Bad

Living in Utah as a non-LDS citizen is somewhat like being in a foreign country for a number of years, but still being surprised on rare occasions by the culture differences. There are times when I stand with my mouth hanging wide open thinking, “What is this place?”. From State controlled liquor stores, to a truly biased state government,  Utah seems like a place of oddities to outsiders. Those that live in the State, however know that there are many escapes from the church based culture. Stepping into Salt Lake City or Park City is an obvious shift from the norm. Park City should be considered a sovereign state-within-the-state. Liberal minded, nightlife abundant, and economically stout. Park City is a far cry from it’s closest neighbors and offers a wonderful  escape. Salt Lake City is now demographically a non conservative city, and over time, has become a major city center. Salt Lake is now a major hub for most touring concerts and shows, and there isn’t a night where you can’t find some sort of an event to attend. Recently the City hosted one of it’s most successful Pride Parades, showing off the cities increasing diversity.

Nightlife can be found, and is actually pretty fantastic. Venues of all shapes and sizes make up a strong grouping of night clubs and bars. With a majority of these venues offering live music, and dancing. Utah isn’t as prude as you think it is. There are still those living here that want to have fun on their Friday and Saturday nights, so it doesn’t take long to find a night scene that works for you.

Utah  also offers some of the most amazing wilderness in the country. Multiple National and State Parks and a seemingly endless supply of BLM Land (Business of Land Management) strewn across the state, there is enough to take a lifetime to explore. One of the greatest escapes from “Utah”, is literally to go to “UTAH”.  Red rock deserts, pined mountain tops, vast salt flats, and terrain that mimics a melting pot of the world, Utah is the place to be outside. Even within Salt Lake City limits, you are on average 15-30 minutes from large swatches of wilderness areas.

 

Utah, although intermittently culturally backwards, and religiously overbearing at times. Is overwhelmingly outweighed by what it does have to offer for non-LDS folks and LDS folks alike.

How Public Transportation made me Hate Humanity.

It’s 6:50AM, and with my cup of coffee and messenger bag in tow, I’m ready to go. A quick 12 minute walk gets me to the nearest  Trax station. I’ve arrived a couple of minutes before the Blu-Line train is to depart, enough time to purchase a ticket and find a space to wait. Most mornings it’s a quiet crowd of early morning commuters heading into the city. Occasionally there is one or two homeless individuals waiting for a handout, or talking to themselves. With ear-buds in, and music playing I sit on a metal bench and await my trains arrival. It’s early and so the weather isn’t too hot, but I know that I’m in for a stuffy ride once I board. The Blue-Line arrives and people begin to make their way to the loading zones. The train is packed, you can see the sardine like conditions through the tinted windows. A small moment of dread and fear comes over me…here we go. I step inside the doorway and up the couple of stairs, I don’t bother even looking for any empty seat, I doubt there is one. Instead I grab the nearest handrail, the one that is farthest from everyone else. I crank up my music and try to avoid eye contact with other passengers. I try to focus on my music and the sites out the window, but become distracted by the movement and commotion around me. Across from me standing at another hand rail is an obvious college student, backpack on and ear-buds in as well. To the right of me sits the business men, usually knee-deep in their ipads or blackberry’s. To the left a “punk-kid” is sprawled out on a bench seat, taking up more than his fair share of seating. His music blares loudly, it is an uncomfortable selection of rap that is neither decent or recognizable. Up front those with bicycles have crammed themselves in, and stand uncomfortably trying to keep their balance. There is a man, of middle-eastern decent, talking as loud as he can in his native language, unaware of his intrusion into others daily commute. This whole time, I shift my eyes from individual to individual, and catch myself wondering about their life stories. Who are these people? What has brought them to this train? Where are they going? Then I realize, that I honestly don’t care, and just want off the sardine can of a train. The car rumbles from station to station, it’s morning, so the car begins to fill instead of emptying. Space is becoming a precious commodity. Everyone is fighting for the seat next to the elderly woman knitting, and trying to avoid sitting next to the tweaker who is continually muttering to himself. The train starts to enter the downtown area, and finally we see the train start to empty out. The City Center exit sees a large number pour out, and I breath a sigh of relief. I have some of my personal space back again. The train continues on and makes its way to the Temple Square station, this is my stop. I can’t believe I’ve actually made it. I congratulate myself on doing the impossible, and step off the train. The fresh city air, a contradiction I know, hits my face and all is well.

 

That is, until the evening commute home.

Accutane: I hate to love it

I have been on Accutane (pharmaceutical name; isotretinoin) for four months now. For many years I suffered from fairly severe nodular acne on my face, shoulders, and back. As I’ve gotten older the acne has obviously reduced, especially around the time I turned nineteen. However, I still would occasionally have severe breakouts on my face and was constantly plagued by painful and deep acne on my shoulders and back. My acne is often an indicator of my mood and stress level, as I see certain amounts of breakouts coinciding with these factors. When I am eating extremely healthy and excessing, I also see a difference. My skin is sensitive, and a simple touch to the face could result in a pimple the next day. After trying every known acne solution/treatment known to man, I finally made the decision to go on Isotrentinoin. A decision that I had deliberated  on in the past, but always veered away from it. Tyrone had taken Isotrentinoin as a teenager, and because of his treatment with it, he had developed many side effects in regards to his stomach and esophagus. Isotrentinoin is known to have many major side effects and many people experience severe stomach problems during usage and after. Among other side effects, Isotrentinoin can cause(Source): 

  • depressed mood, trouble concentrating, sleep problems, crying spells, aggression or agitation, changes in behavior, hallucinations, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;
  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;
  • blurred vision, sudden and severe headache or pain behind your eyes, sometimes with vomiting;
  • hearing problems, hearing loss, or ringing in your ears;
  • seizure (convulsions);
  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;
  • loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • severe diarrhea, rectal bleeding, black, bloody, or tarry stools;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, purple spots under your skin, easy bruising or bleeding;
  • severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash; or
  • joint stiffness, bone pain or fracture.

Obviously I had to truly want to get rid of my acne to go on this, and I DID. I really did. 

 

So four months ago I began my isotrentinoin treatment…and honestly it hasn’t been as bad as I was expecting. The first month did see a dip in my mood, but that could have actually been the results of my breakup and not the drug at all. The biggest side effect that I have experienced is the constant chapped lips. I have to carry a bottle of aquaphor around with me constantly. I wake up in the morning feeling like a dried up prune, but it seems to be paying off. My skin is begging to show signs of massive change. I have no facial acne or black heads to speak of….they are just gone….and the pores on my face have almost disappeared. My shoulders are starting to heal up now as well(Shoulders and Back take longer in the treatment). I have two more months of Isotrentinoin, and so far it has been a great decision and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Below are some pictures showing my skin at various stages of my life and during my treatment. 

 

 

20140521-152818-55698040.jpg

20140521-152818-55698350.jpg

20140521-152818-55698193.jpg

20140521-152818-55698519.jpg

20140521-152911-55751890.jpg

20140521-152911-55751716.jpg

<a href="https://