19 January 2009

What About Unmarried Heteros?

I've been thinking about this whole Common Ground Initiative in Utah. I want to show support for gay couples to have the opportunity for hospital visitation, employment protection, etc.

Yet as I read the web sites organizing online campaigns, I'm left feeling hesitant, particularly regarding some of the benefits they claim gay couples are denied, particularly when it comes to the question: are they denied rights other unmarried mixed-gender/heterosexual couples are granted?

Maybe I shouldn't hesitate so much over this question, particularly where gay people can't marry even if they want to, so they either need to be allowed civil unions or some of the rights married people are allowed. Maybe I should be gung ho and vocal in my support for these campaigns...but I'm not sure I fully support everything they're after, and not knowing which parts I fully support, or whether I fully trust their motives, gives me pause, and it's uncomfortable. I'm not sure how much of the "common ground" initiative really is common ground, as I expressed in a previous post.

Forgive my apparently schizophrenic thoughts, here, ranting against discriminatory, closed-minded politics in one post then questioning the very measures opposed by the discrimination-mongers in the next.

But...what are the criteria for gay couples to be allowed these rights? Will unmarried heterosexual couples receive the same opportunities? If not, are these bills inherently discriminatory? Can we afford to open up these rights to unmarried couples of all mixes and orientations? Is it acceptable to counter discriminatory law with more discriminatory law?

There are at least two measures I know I support: nobody should be fired simply for dating or wanting to date a member of the same gender (unless that fact impedes their ability to fulfill their job, however that might be), and nobody should be denied the permission, when granted by their partner, to visit them in the hospital or make medical decisions where necessary. I support similar measures that deal with basic partnership and companionship privileges and rights.

But call me crazy, I want equality to be equality. If we set up rights for gay couples, the same rights should be available to heterosexual couples. Of course, I still think the clearest answer is to get government's grubby mits out of marriage altogether, let government take care of civil unions and accompanying rights, and grant civil unions to committed couples based on criteria available to all people...shoot, I'm not sure I can argue clearly against plural marriage if that's the case. Maybe I don't care to, deep down. When done "right", who is it hurting? I mean, it would have to be allowed to go both ways, though. One woman, ten men. 3 men, 4 women, whatever.

Man, this marriage and rights thing is messy. Does anyone have any good sources for information outlining some of these rights gay couples are supposedly denied and whether those same rights are available to unmarried heterosexual couples?

The Lord Says...They Shouldn't Have Rights

"I don't believe they should have any rights at all," said [a] South Jordan resident. "The Lord says the man is made for the woman and the woman is made for the man."

Politics. I can't ignore them in good conscience. It's important stuff, determining who is regarded as a rightful citizen and who is allowed to visit their loved ones or support them financially.

I'm afraid people who base their political decisions solely on religious beliefs or traditional norms feel so justified, so affirmed, so united with others as righteously convinced that they don't feel a need to take the time to see how their political views truly affect others or what it entails in the present, practical world. After all, in the grand scheme of things, in the eternal perspective, it will matter little to our eternal selves whether we had the right to marry a same-sex partner for this blip of existence, especially once we've all been taught the truth and understand that same-sex partnerships defy and destroy the very plan of happiness and measure of our creation and spoil our opportunities for procreative or otherwise potentially eternal pairings from which to form numberless posterity, worlds without end. Therefore, we simply must stand firm in our convictions by protecting society from the evil forces which would destroy the family and ruin children's chances of being raised in eternal family units, and though we understand it may hurt some people's feelings, and it may cause much strife for the church for at least a time, it's a necessary sacrifice to make for the spiritual preservation of countless children who will ultimately thank us for helping prevent their upbringing in homes whose very foundation conflicts with the plan of salvation.


I think it's for that reason that 85% of LDS Utahns polled oppose any constitutional amendment opening up the possibility of civil unions to same-sex couples. 85%. I seriously doubt 85% of LDS Utahns surveyed are active. I wonder what the percentage is among regular church-goers. Higher? The same? That's a side-thought.

Nevermind the very fact that this is, for most people, moral legislation. When Tom Hanks commented that support of California's Prop 8 is unamerican, Bill McKeever retorted, "Hanks said he doesn’t 'like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper.' Considering that just about every law discriminates in some form or another, makes this comment ridiculous." Pardon me (or don't), but I'm so sick and tired of hearing people say "all legislation is discrimination" as if that's some sort of argument-ending statement that majority rules, minority be damned. It makes me ill. Legislation should preserve rights. It should preserve freedom. It should preserve public health and safety and the security of the nation. It should accomplish those ends with as little stifling of choice as possible.

Yeah, that's ideal. Reality requires tougher decisions than clear-cut rights-preservation. But if you're going to make an argument for taking away rights or refusing to give rights to any particular group, you'd better damned well have a justification based on the preservation of the rights, freedoms, and safety of greater society and the most individuals. That's why the pro-prop-8 leaders figured their best bet was to make Prop 8 an "us or them" scenario. But to hear people saying, "My beliefs are right, and if enough people agree they're right, then we have every right to enforce those beliefs on the rest of society, justified by discriminatory precedent, for whatever reason." Bullcrap. That is unamerican in my estimation.

But this is all a side note: the thing that actually stood out to me in this article about Utahns polled regarding the Common Ground Initiative and other potential legislation was the fact that 40% of those polled opposed all rights for same-sex partnerships, including hospital visitation and employment rights. Really? 40%? 26% of non-LDS, 48% of LDS. Half of my church's membership in this state apparently doesn't believe gay people should have employment protections to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. They probably don't believe "lifestyle choices" should be protected like "racial" groups are. Half of my church's membership in this state seems to believe men or women should not have visitation or decision-making rights when their beloved partner of 20 years is a member of the same sex.

Granted, the wording of the questions may have some bearing, and perhaps some of those polled would have changed their answers if they could see past the stigma of gays just greedily trying to amass rights to stick it to the man and flip off "traditional families". Maybe they're so sure that it's just "tough love" to help homosexuals by not promoting their wayward lives in any way. But to think that so many people are possibly so coldly entrenched in "us or them" moral warfare that they aren't seeing the people they're affecting or what they're really denying others, down to employment protection and hospital visitation rights...I feel like I either want to weep for my people and their coldness, harden my heart for my own protection, or gain the vision they seem to so clearly see that I fail to grasp.

Well, for my sanity, I guess I'll just chalk it up to another wacky poll, trust everything will work out for the best in the long run, and make my own decisions the best I know how, fully acknowledging I may be missing the mark or lacking some vision one way or another. I can live with that.

11 January 2009

Leaving Digits For a Server

The other night, I ate dinner at a popular local chain restaurant I swore I'd never go back to unless I had no say in the matter: Mimi's. I've never had anything there I'd intentionally order again. Having no say, I met a group of friends there. Our server was great. She kept the strawberry lemonade refills replenished just ahead of time, made good suggestions, and was super friendly and helpful. She also happened to be quite attractive, and one of the three guys in our group joked about leaving his phone number for her. I encouraged him. They had, after all, exchanged playful/flirtatious expressions. I voyeuristically wanted to see what might happen. Would she call?

But he wouldn't do it. Chickened out. Something about having a girlfriend already and not knowing what he'd say if she actually called. The two girls joked that all three of us guys should leave our numbers. I thought, "Ha, right. Because I'm all about picking up girls randomly like that." Then I paused and thought, "Um...she's really, really cute and seems like a really nice and cool girl. You're not about to date any boys. What the @#$% do you have to lose?" So I laughed and said maybe I would. As long as it's fun and not machista and creepy. I wrote out my tip and total, and underneath the signature line, I wrote with a slightly nervous hand:

"The playful guy in the yellow and brown shirt's phone number: (###)###-####
The hot single dad's number: (###)###-####
And mine: (###)###-####
I'm gay, but I said I'd give it a shot for you."

I really hope she enjoyed that and shared with her friends. No response yet to any of us, though. Maybe we should've tipped better...

This Isn't A Freakin' Peepshow!

It happened. I guess I figured something like it would eventually. I suppose if you spend enough time in the gym, it's bound to occur sooner or later. Oh, the violation of it all. But let me begin with the key drop.

I was showering in a stall at your friendly neighborhood gym, and I turned off my water and stepped to the door of my stall to whip my towel off the hook. In the process, my locker keys were flung off of the hook as well and clinked onto the floor slightly into the next stall over, which was fortunately vacant. As I reached a few inches under the dividing wall to retrieve my fallen keyring, feet entered the stall and paused slightly before stepping in. I hung my keys back up and started toweling off.

In the stall next to me, I heard the shower start. But as I was drying my undercarriage, I caught something in the corner of my eye. As I glanced over to see what was up, the upside-down top of my neighbor's head, from the tops of the eyes up, pulls away from underneath the divider. And not all that quickly, either, like he wanted to be caught. Really? Are you serious? Dude, were you just bent over peeking underneath the wall at me? You've gotta be kidding. I looked up at the door of my shower stall with a bewildered, "what the @#$% was that?" expression.

I finished toweling off and quickly went back to my locker to dowse myself in rubbing alcohol. Or just get dressed really fast. There was only one person in the showers besides me, so when he came out, I knew exactly who the voyeur was. As he emerged, I already had my pants on (thankfully) and shot him a glance to say, "Dude, not cool." But I couldn't figure out whether to vomit or laugh at the absurdity. This shifty-looking but otherwise conservative, normal-looking man had just peeped at me in the shower in such an obvious and childish way.

We were near each other's lockers, and instead of facing his locker, or facing directly away, or facing sideways, he faced diagonally directly towards me as he dried off. I made a point not to even glance in his direction to avoid giving him his jollies. The SPORTS show on the TV was vastly more enticing than that creepiness so blatantly flaunted in front of me.

OK, so besides venting, what's my point in posting this? I asked myself: would it have been a different experience if he'd been a hot, young guy? I mean, yeah it would've been weird, but I paused when a friend asked, "Would you have been flattered if he had been a young, hot guy?" I had to wonder. Might I have been tempted to flirt back or return the attention? Might I have been more tempted to look when he was flaunting himself? But I think I can honestly say no, it still would've been decidedly non-flattering. Weird is weird, cheap is cheap, and creepy is creepy. Ew.

Confession time: there've been times when I felt urges to do stuff like peek under shower stall dividers. When you know the person next to you is a hottie, and the full view is right there, two feet away from you, blocked only by a thin wall, it would be so easy... I mean, I could pawn it off on dropping my soap, or my keys, or...oh no. Is that what he thought? Whatever the temptations I've felt, I'm so glad I never did peek like that. It's creepy enough to have thought it, but to actually have done it is a whole other thing.

I'm going to hold on tighter to my keys in the future 'cause apparently dropping them in the next stall over is some kind of invitation. Fetch.

09 January 2009

Standing Spoon

I must take a moment to proclaim my affinity for a particular position of physical contact: the standing spoon. This is fairly self-descriptive, assuming you're familiar with spooning to begin with. Think of someone coming up behind you and giving you a hug from behind, and just lingering there. I thought I'd take a moment to expound on the nuances of the standing spoon.

Arm Placement

Of course, there are finer subtleties to the standing spoon which make it more enjoyable. Reaching at least one arm under the person in front is a more intimate feeling. Following are some variations of arm placement:
  • If I come up behind you and give you a bear hug from behind, that's definitely affectionate, but it's not "intimate".
  • If one arm goes under, you're probably kinda special to me, whether or not it's in a romantic sense. The under-the-arm standing spoon is a sign that I feel somewhat knit with you, and it may be a sign of me needing a little TLC.
  • If both arms are low around the waste or belly, I'm probably feeling quite snuggly.
  • If both arms are under yours, and I reach up and grab your pecs vigorously, I'm probably kinda horny: just gonna be honest. But that doesn't mean I want to do anything about it with you. No. I just really enjoy a good pec squeeze. I imagine I'd enjoy a good breast squeeze, too, but I can't say from experience whether it's as fulfilling. In any case, I generally don't squeeze pecs indiscriminately, so if I've groped your bosoms, you and I probably have a connection of some sort, whether friendly or more about "chemistry".
  • Then there's a supportive standing spoon, which is a rarer but nice and somewhat distinct form in and of itself. This involves both arms going under yours, with the hands coming up to grab the shoulders. It implies both support and leaning, indicating a mutually constructive kind of relationship.
  • The most affectionate arm positioning is definitely when one arm is wrapped around the torso and the other is wrapped up across the chest and holding onto the opposite shoulder just by the neck. This one is always accompanied by a nuzzle. This, my friends, is the "I really like you" or "you're kinda precious to me" standing spoon.
  • The spoonee also has hand placement options, of course, such as reaching up and holding or hugging the spooner's arms, patting their face, hips, or whatever, or reaching up and over their head for a backwards hug.
  • *** "Passionate" arm positioning censored to prevent blog from being blocked by web filters or otherwise triggering the author--I mean the readers ***

Head Placement

There's so much more that goes into a standing spoon than arms, such as head placement. Of course, the very logistics of a standing spoon encourage side-by-side head placement. But there are also variations to this that can make the most of a good standing spoon:
  • Your basic friendly standing spoon involves having heads near each other but not touching. It says, "Hey there, how you doin'?"
  • To express a little more affection, the spooner may tilt his or her head slightly to touch the top of the noggin to the recipient's. This leaning touch expresses a sort of "aw" factor in the standing spoon and adds a touch of tenderness to it.
  • The chin rest is another that's a step above friendly and implies something of casual reliance. You know you're tight when you can naturally rest your chin on someone's shoulder. This is in no way sexual. It's more a sign of trust that says "I can lean on you".
  • One of my favorites is the cheek-to-cheek. Obviously, there are sometimes height restrictions that make this one difficult, but when a standing spoon can include some cheek-to-cheek time, it's all that much better. Cheek contact is, of course, reserved for more affectionate standing spoons to say, "Yeah, I like you. You're OK."
  • On the receiving end of things, when someone spoons me from behind, I often lean my head back as if to say, "Thanks, I needed that." Lean your head back a certain way, and you're practically begging for the next kind of contact:
  • The more intimate variety of head contact which can take on either friendly or more passionate sub-variations is the neck nuzzle. Have I mentioned I'm a neck man? I love necks. The best is when there's both neck and cheek contact. On a friendly level, it says, "I trust you and enjoy being close with you." But do it right, and it positively screams, "Turn around and take me now."
  • *** The standing spoon kiss has been omitted due to author's lack of experience trying it out. This needs to change. ***

Leg Positioning

Even in a standing spoon, legs can play a role. Do you stay separate? Full leg contact? Legs make a difference. For added fun, a little playful leg wrapping never hurt anyone.

Torso Contact

Now, the arms and head are are important components of a good standing spoon, but one of the oft-overlooked subtleties is torso contact. You'll know if I'm feeling really affectionate (or I think you are in need of some affection) when I gently press my whole torso against your back and feel you breathing. The best is when we breathe together. It's tender. It's bonding. It's occasionally even kinda hot, which would likely be manifested by an increased heartrate, quicker breathing, and very probably a nibble on the neck or a toothy tug on your earlobe.

Practice Makes Perfect

All of this exploration of standing spoonage is for naught without some healthy practice. Go forth, friends, and standing-spoon each other. Try it out. Sneak up on buddies at a party and bear-hug-spoon them. Thank someone for washing the dishes with a good chest-grab neck-nuzzle spoon and a splash of dishsoap bubbles. Button or unbutton the spoonee's shirt (married couples only *cough*). Feel free to add your favorite standing spoonisms. After all this talk, I'm in the mood for some good standing spoonage. If you and I are hanging out soon, watch your back!

01 January 2009

Viagra Made Me Do It

Maybe if I were on Viagra, I'd be able to blame my actions on my sex drive or being curious or caught up in a moment like everyone else seems to.

I've maintained fairly strict boundaries with people I was attracted to, even when they pushed for more, so it really confuses the hell out of me how all of these boys with supposedly "strong testimonies" that homosexual relationships are not right do things I've wanted to do but haven't, even when I was questioning or doubting the "wrongness" of it.

Am I just jealous? Yeah, probably. I've watched people I really care about, some of whom I wanted to be both emotionally and physically more intimate with, go and get some action with other people and claim it was "just once (or twice or three times)" or they "got caught up in the moment". Nice. I suppose that's what I get for allowing myself to fall for a guy, right? Had I fallen for a girl, people would maybe sympathize. But when you've fallen for a guy, you're just getting what you deserve for having loved in an unacceptable way, one contrary to the eternal plan. But no, I'm angry, and I'm not going to apologize for it.

It makes me question the value of "holding back" or respecting other people's boundaries (physically and/or sexually) when it seems everyone else is in it for himself or to get a little satisfaction wherever he can. Hell, maybe I'll just push for more next time, and when we go "too far", I'll shrug and say, "Hey, it takes two to tango, and someone else would've done it if I didn't, so it's not my fault if they went farther than they originally intended."

But it's MY boundaries that keep me from doing more. I'm the prude. So I keep things tame and yearn for intimacy but try to keep it in check, and those I'm feeling affection for go and have their fun with someone else more willing, less reserved, more attractive. And I'm left feeling utterly foolish and naive for thinking what we had was "special" in the way I wanted it to be special, and I feel like I'm left in the emotional ditch. Especially when a mutual attraction and emotional intimacy has been expressed but I've been careful not to cross "boundaries" we've both admitted we're tempted to cross, then the other person goes and crosses them with someone else, which indicates my feelings were not entirely reciprocated. Twisting vice in the gut. How could I be so stupid?

Sometimes they're sorry for any pain they unintentionally caused. Sometimes they're not. I'm not sure it matters right now. I'm disgusted. I'm hurt. I'm pissed. I want to stop caring, but I can't seem to. Part of me wants to be looser and less concerned about long term effects of "acting out" by being physically intimate beyond cuddling, so I could just do the things I've wanted and "repent later", but I won't. It sometimes seems my only options for self-protection are to either never allow myself to fall for another guy (AKA avoid anyone who is attractive to me) or to let go of my conservative/romanticized perceptions of sexuality to adopt a more "free love" attitude, and the first option makes me want to cry, and the second seems highly unlikely and mostly undesirable.

Don't get me wrong, I regard sexuality as a beautiful thing. I think sex would be an amazing way of connecting with another person. I also think it would be fun and exciting. I want it. I want it a lot. But I've only ever felt the desire for physical intimacy of a romantic or sexual kind with one person at a time. How do people feel the desire to have that kind of intimacy with more than one person at a time? Have I just managed to avoid putting myself in situations where that might happen to me, or am I just that dedicated and loyal, or am I secretly codependent? Why am I such a clinical monogamist? Is it only a matter of time before I'm liberated into the same polyamory I see in the gay world all around me? Am I awaiting some enlightenment that will make it clear to me that sex is sex and romance is romance, and they're all separate and needn't be balled up into one jealous, conglomerate relationship?

In the past, when I've been this confused, this troubled, this hurt by what I see around me, I've most often later found that I was missing something. Or maybe I hadn't experienced something. Some would now probably counsel me to go out and have sex and get it over with. Then I'd understand how easy it is and would be more forgiving. But despite opportunity, I've NOT done it, so righteous indignation takes over. Perhaps that's my own weakness. I'm being judgmental because I haven't experienced it. But I won't go out and have sex to experience it. I could. But I won't, for various personal reasons.

So here I am, the naive guy who has barely any experience in intimate, romantic relationships or in physical expression of romantic affection, while everyone else around me runs off into the exciting and bonding world of expressed sexuality as the "normal" and "adult" thing to do, often coming back to the safety of the one they're "safe" with (e.g. me), and I'm about ready to tell them all to piss off and find other more experienced friends. Leave me in the company of sexually repressed friends where I don't feel like an idiot and a delicate boy to be patronized, and I'm fairly certain nobody's going to be screwing around.

So yeah, if you wanna help me out, start slipping me Viagra so I can be more "normal" and stop keeping it in my pants. Then I'll join the ranks of the sexually experienced and casually dismiss any questions with the conscience-numbing, responsibility-defusing phrase: "Viagra made me do it."