Category Archives: Family

Moving On.

Last month I went home to Iowa to visit my family. It was a great trip, especially since I hadn’t been home in 3 1/2 years. I spent most of the time simply catching up with everyone. Oh yeah, and scanning photos. My sister and I decided to start scanning old pictures so that we could have them in a digital format. We didn’t realize just how time consuming it would be. The nice side of this is that I now have a ton of pictures from my childhood on my computer. Pictures that I would have never had otherwise. I’ve decided to share one of my favorites with you. I believe you’ve heard me talk about my stint in sports. Now I have the photos to prove it. This picture is from 4th grade (1983).

Notice the nice glasses and the determined look on my face. I’m ready to go to the ball field, sit in the outfield, and pick dandelions. Anyway, we had a great time looking at the pictures, having a nice stroll down memory lane.

For some reason I’ve had a very serious case of writer’s block this past month. In fact, the first and second paragraphs of this post were typed about one month apart. I apologize for the gap in my posting. I’ve decided to push through and just post something without worrying if it’s just the way I want it.

Since I love to over-analyze things, you’ll be pleased to know that I have figured out my writer’s block. My trip home to Iowa was extremely cathartic for me. I hadn’t been home for so long because of my need to distance myself from my family. I needed them to see me as who I am now, not who I used to be. I needed some space and I took it–about 3 1/2 years worth. I think it was one of the best things I’ve ever done, taking space. However, going home was truly wonderful. My family and I have both changed immensely. At this point, I think we all agreed that it is simply time to move forward and allow each other to be who we are.

Moving on…so much of the reason I began to blog in the first place was purely psychological. I wanted to express in writing a lot of what I was feeling regarding my past, with a sprinkle of current “Tyler” events. After going home, I don’t feel the need to work through so much of the past anymore. I just want to move forward. So, I was stumped. No material.

Where do I go from here? Good question. I’m just going to write as it comes. I think occasionally you will see me write about my college days or childhood; but, for the most part I think this will become more current.

So, here’s to blogging again.

Oh yeah, and before I go, I wanted to share one more picture from my childhood.

I’d like to introduce you to the Wild Rose Cloggers of Marion County, Iowa, 1982. I’m the tow head in the front row. Nice bolo tie, huh?

My Girlfriend Janine

Several weeks ago Jeff and I went to Montana to visit his family. I know, I know…that is so Brokeback Mountain of us. Actually, while I can assure you that neither of us were herding any sheep, it wasn’t exactly like going on a gay cruise either.

Montana really is a beautiful state. It boasts some of the most open spaces in the country. I guess that’s why they call it “Big Sky” country. This is the second trip I have made to the “Treasure State.” The first was during the summer of 2006. It was during that first trip that I met Janine. And, I can’t talk about Janine without first saying how much I adore her. In fact, that’s how I always start out any story about Jeff’s sister, “So, I got to talk to Janine on the phone…God, I adore her…anyway…”

When Jeff and I walked off the plane in Great Falls in 2006, Janine literally vibrated. I’ve never experienced such a welcome in my life. She was so excited to see Jeff and to meet me that she stood there and giggled…and shook. Of course, I immediately fell in love. How could I not? Anyone who shakes with excitement when they see me has to be on my list of favorite people.

Part of why I love her so much is that she has cerebral palsy. I have always had a soft spot for people with disabilities. Even as a kid, some of my friends at school had special needs, and my mom started her career at the local elementary school working with children who had special needs. The other reason I adore Janine so much is because of her non-complicated view of the world. At times, she does get frustrated by her limitations and does have the occasional temper-tantrum, she also says what’s on her mind.

Here is one particular conversation we had during this last trip…

“I like your coat.”

“Thanks, Janine.”

“I like your socks.”

“Thanks, they’re just brown socks.”

“I like your jeans.”

“Thank you, Janine.”

“I like you.”

“I like you, too.”

(Be sure to envision lots of shaking and giggling throughout the conversation.)

At this point, she proceeds to tell whomever is close by that she likes me. Janine is so good for my ego.

The Long Road to Where I Am–Part 3

I tell you what: I can hold a grudge. And, not just the kind of grudge where you dislike someone, but can still be “friends.” I’m talkin’ ’bout the kind of grudge where it is impossible to even look at the person, much less, talk to them. For example, when I was in high school, I didn’t talk to my “best friend” Danny for over a year because of a fight we had over a piece of gum and a girl. Not my most mature moment, but come on, I was a teenager.

Forgiveness has not really ever been something that came naturally for me. I can hold a grudge for so long that I forget the most important part of a grudge–the why. I just know that I am mad at you, and that’s that. So there it is, just put on your big girl panties and deal with it. I will forget this, but I sure as hell won’t forgive it.

But, as difficult as it is for me to do, I just have to do it. Because as long as you don’t forgive, you hold onto all of that shit. And, my mind is crowded enough as is, so, I can’t afford to be a pack rat. I believe that a good mental spring cleaning begins with forgiveness.

For me, this process starts by not allowing silly situations to escalate to the point where they need forgiveness. My mantra these days really has become: be kind, be generous, be honest…be kind, be generous, be honest… And, I have been using it often. I tend to need a lot of reminders. So, when someone is acting like a real jackass I start chanting the mantra (…to myself, of course. I don’t want to come across as the head case I really am…) And, it really works! Instead of my usual gut reaction of holding a grudge and not talking, I press through and communicate. Nine times out of ten I discover that they are not a real jackass at all. They were just giving their gut reaction to the situation. One out of ten people really are jackasses, which is fine. I just don’t have room for them in my life.

I also have been working on cleaning out the dusty corners of my mental attic. This requires forgiving people that didn’t even know I was holding a grudge–including myself. Doing all of this has freed me up to simply live in the now. It makes it easier to revisit the past when I don’t have all of these pent up negative emotions still attached to everything. I can start to enjoy the humor in it all.

So, this is the last in this series of serious posts. They may not have been the most exciting articles to read, but, I had to write them. If you’re gonna read my blog, you’re gonna get the good, the bad, and the ugly… 😉

The Long Road to Where I Am–Part 2

It’s been over a week since my last post. I have been working way too much. I am finding that these posts in my “The Long Road to Where I Am” series are both difficult and important for me to create. Meaning, they take a lot out of me, but I need to say these things. These “things” have been brewing for a long time and need to be expressed. I appreciate the response that I have received following my first post…keep those comments coming.

I want to clarify a few things, however. The last post dealt a lot with my journey through college. I would like to clarify where I am…now. First, I am no longer trying to de-gayify myself. It’s not possible. And, more importantly–even if it were possible–I have no desire to do that. I would even take it as far as saying that I was wrong for even trying to do that to myself in college. However, I do still believe the whole process of going through that made me stronger and more sure of myself. So, maybe I did need to go through it. Who knows…

Although I still consider my college days a struggle, I no longer consider being gay a sin. In fact, I no longer even think of my actions in those terms–sin vs. not a sin. My morality is not based on the Bible or any particular religious group. It is based on proven human experience. For example, murder is wrong because it has consistently been proven harmful to society (not to mention the individual being murdered). This is just one example. To avoid getting too philosophical, which may be too late at this point, I am going to move on. Which is where I am right now. The whole purpose of writing about my experiences is about moving on. I am mostly choosing to view that time of my life through humor. Because in life you have several choices: you can laugh, you can cry, or you can kick someone. And, right now, I am choosing to laugh.

My mantra has become “be honest, be honest, be honest.” And so, when I reflect on certain things in college, I have to say that I was a flaming queen. Very effeminate. At least that is what I was told my freshman year. And, when I watch the videos, I think I have to agree. You see, I was part of a touring music group called Impact Brass & Singers. We performed multi-media programs that consisted of a mixture of songs, skits, and slides (set to the music). Kind of like “Up With People.” It was during a rehearsal my first year, that one of the directors pulled me aside and said, “Brother, you are doing a good job, but can you tone it down a little. You are being a little too effeminate.” Whaaaaaat? (for the appropriate effect read that with a rising screech, a hand to your chest, a hand on your hip…get the picture??)

I worked really hard from that moment until the moment I began to come out at being masculine. (i.e.-lowering my voice, watching my hand gestures, trying not to purse my lips…) I am happy to say that I no longer edit myself like that. It does make for a much happier me. But, anyway, while we’re on the topic, I would like to discuss this a little further. It is interesting to me that although I hate the f-word, (no…not “fuck”… you dirty birdies. ;-)) there is a reason I was called the f-word a lot in high school. To those misguided homophobes, I was a fag. The interesting part is the denial of this on both sides of the fence. First, there was the my self-denial. Me trying not to be gay, “I can’t be gay,” etc. etc. And, then, there was the denial from my friends and family. Oh, Tyler….he’s just a special, sensitive, creative type…he couldn’t be a homosexual. Oh, but he could…and he is

This all supports my theory that people will believe what they want to believe. Despite all evidence to the contrary. And, you can’t really change that. They have to change it. Just like I had to change my beliefs about being gay. The perfect example of this is my family. When I came out to them, I told myself that it took me 24 years to come to terms with being gay; so, I would have to give them some time as well. And after almost ten years, they are in a much better place with it. I think most importantly, they actually believe it is true, finally.

Although, I am sensitive and creative, that’s not the only reason that I enjoy to watch Lifetime, television for women (and gay men), and I have a special affinity for musical theater…

The Long Road to Where I Am–Part 1

I have purposefully avoided blogging too much about my days at bible college. Or, about the process of my coming out. I know that a lot of people I went to school with read my blog. So, I’ve tried to avoid those subjects in order to make most everyone happy. But, I have to be honest, my college days not only were rife with personal strife; but also, they were rife with some seriously funny shit. Well, at least, it’s funny nowto me…anyway. And, I will get to that funny shit in future posts. I’m sorry to offend anyone. But, I’m writing these blogs more for myself than anyone else. 😉 I’m happy if you enjoy them, but this is therapeutic for me. And, I’ve got to tell ya that I love therapy. Sometimes…anyway.

Therapy for me is all about growth and self-improvement. And, I’ve always been a bit obsessed about self-improvement. I love the “idea” of becoming a “better me.” Despite all of my best intentions, though, I haven’t always been that good at actually seeing certain things through. For example, my bookshelves are full of self-help books. I especially love the “…for Dummies” series. I have “Nutrition for Dummies;” “Bartending for Dummies;” “MySpace for Dummies,” etc. etc. Most of them, as you might suspect, have been only partially read. I have ordered “life-changing” products from numerous infomercials. All of which, either have been thrown away, or are still in a corner waiting for that special day, when I will finally discover with great confidence that they do not solve my issues with working out. I haven’t truly succeeded in most of these attempts at improving myself–except for one. And, I feel like it’s the one that matters the most to me. I, with great effort, have come to terms with myself. Meaning…I love me for who I am.

It was several trips to a therapist during my fourth year of college that changed everything for me. I decided to go to a local pastor who was also a licensed therapist. You see, this was when I still believed that a person could change their sexual orientation. Let me clarify–I never have believed that being gay is a choice. Even while I was trying to change it, I didn’t believe that I chose it. Put the “nature vs. nurture” argument aside. Either way, I did not choose my sexual orientation. But, I used to believe that with enough prayer and counseling, it could be changed. Which is why I went to this particular therapist. I can’t say that I regret going; because, my few sessions with him really were a turning point for me. Obviously, this is not what he intended to do.

I don’t need to rehash my short stint in homosexual recovery. It should suffice to say that I have never felt worse about myself or about those around me than while I was with that therapist. Although, it did take me a little longer to officially come out, that was the last straw. It was after my second session with this pastor that I realized I wanted and needed to love myself. And, in order to do that, I had to be true to all of myself–which included being gay.

It’s also taken me a long time to admit it, but, I don’t regret going to bible college. I did for a long time, though. I’ve always thought that I would have been so much better off at a regular school–not having to “go through” all of that personal turmoil. I now believe that the experience of being a closeted gay man in that environment, although being tumultuous and painful, eventually made me stronger and more sure of myself. And, I should thank Ozark Christian College for that.