Category Archives: Gay

Porn and my 88-year-old Grandmother

I’ve been going through a tough time since the break-up.  But, I’m getting better.  Frankly, I just haven’t felt like writing or being creative.  I’ve been drinking too much and watching too much TV, not to mention watching too much porn.  I’ve been very lazy.  Over the last several weeks, however, I feel like I finally have turned the corner and am on a new and much improved street.

But let’s get back to what I’m sure caught your attention in the first paragraph.  Porn.  Now, I realize that I have a rather diverse, yet small, group of readers.  And I’m sure that all of you have strong feelings about this topic.  Some of you may be “disgusted” by it.  Some of you may be “confused” by it.  Some of you may have numerous online subscriptions to various porn websites.  Whatever.  There is room in this world for all of you.  And I’m not here to discuss the benefits or detriments of porn.  So please don’t turn my blog’s comment section into a porn discussion board.  Different strokes for different folks.  eh hm.

Anyway, in the interest of full disclosure, here’s my perspective.  After all, it is my blog.  I like porn, I like nudity, I like sex.  I always have.  And I treat it like I try to treat anything else in my life:  Moderation in all things.

Here’s a little history of me and porn.  It all started in 1985 when I was in 5th grade.  A friend of mine named Bret invited me to his house to show off his stash.  Evidently he had been slowly stealing Hustler magazines from his dad’s collection.  As I entered his bedroom that special day, I had no idea what awaited me.  But, I was lucky, Bret was already a porn “pro” and was able to explain to me what all the parts were and what they did.  Honestly, 24 years later, I still haven’t thanked Bret for what would be my initial lesson in sex education.  My parents were not what I would call communicative. We did not discuss problems or even really have any kind of discussions at all. Especially when it came to sex.  So I was clearly on my own.  Until Bret stepped up to the plate.  Thanks, Bret, I owe you one.

Without getting too graphic, let’s just say I learned on that very special afternoon a lot about human anatomy.  Honestly, I don’t remember much about the woman in the picture.  But I can still describe to you in full detail the man (including his feathered, bleach blond hair and 80s porn ‘stache).  It was enough to fully pique my interest.  And from that moment on, I was incredibly curious about men’s anatomy.  My imagination went wild.  Which is why I loved my new best friend…the JC Penney Catalog.  You see, the JC Penny catalog had like a 5 or 6 page spread of men in their underwear.  It was like the holy grail of soft porn.  And when my Grandma would receive her quarterly catalog, I was in underwear heaven.  It was like being allowed to visit a guy’s locker room–without the teasing and shame and threats of swirlies.

I think this model (on left) is actually Ashton Kutcher's dad...

Well, my history with porn strangely came full circle this past summer when I was home visiting my grandma.  While sitting next to my grandmother showing her pictures that I had taken at the Iowa State Fair, I inadvertently entered into a very special and very private section of pictures in iPhoto.  Shit.  Yes, that’s right.  I accidentally showed my 88-year-old grandmother gay porn. Full on, hard penis, legs spread, gay porn.  And this was G-ma’s response to seeing some random dude in all his glory: “Ohhhhhhh.”  Immediately my fingers fumbled across the keyboard, in an effort to close iPhoto, only to forward through several more naked photos. Finally, flustered and unable to stop the peep show, I just slammed the laptop shut. I took a deep breath, feeling my face burning red, and slowly slid away from G-ma.  After several minutes of painful and complete silence I simply said, “I’m kind of tired, Grandma, I think I’ll go to bed.” And that was that.

My family has mastered the art of not talking about things, at least directly.  So I called my sister the next day and told her.  It’s just how we communicate.  I’m fairly confident Grandma and I will never talk about it.  Just like we never talked about why the men’s underwear section of her JC Penney’s Catalog was always missing or left tattered.

A semi-final word…

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an announcement to make. I am in a relationship. It’s something really special. No, we didn’t make a mad rush to the courthouse to get married before election day. But despite the devastating outcome of California’s Prop. 8 (same-sex marriage ban), my relationship is still valid. I guarantee it is real. I’m not just pretending. Jeff is a real, live person. He and I have been together for over three years. He is a man and I am a man. We are a couple. No amendment to the state constitution can change that.

I first came out about 10 years ago. I came out to friends and family about 8 years ago. Yet, after all this time, I am amazed at how many people still don’t take it seriously. Folks, I’m gay. Sure, I went to Bible College and even “dated” a few girls, but, let me be clear: I am gay.

In reflecting over the last 16 years since I went to college, I felt like many of my friends from that time deserved to know what happened with me. After all, I spent a lot of time in college lying to myself and to them. We all deserved some honesty. Why did I leave the Church? How could I be gay? Over the last several years, I have spent a lot of time explaining myself to my friends from Bible College. For the few that actually read this blog, let me say: I’m moving on. No more apologies for past lies. No more sugar-coating things to make you more comfortable. With the passing of Prop. 8, I’m officially done. I tried to do the right thing and apologize for any hurt I may have caused. I’ve realized that you cannot always trust people to do the right thing. Now, hopefully we can trust the court system to protect us.

I realize that very few of my college friends actually live in California and couldn’t even vote on the proposition. But, many have made their feelings clear anyway. They don’t want equality. They don’t even want to validate gay relationships. They do this every time they call Jeff my “friend,” every time they suggest that I “date Jesus.” Whenever someone whispers “gay” as if it’s an inappropriate or dirty word only to say it loud and clear when they are using it to mean “stupid” or “dumb,” that is offensive.

Please understand that we will eventually have the right to marry. One day it will be considered completely normal for some people to be gay and society will not force that same part of the population to make unrealistic and devastating decisions about their sexuality at such a young age. I hope that when it happens and you feel for the 1,000th time that this country is falling apart; I hope that you remember you contributed to those struggles. I hope that you look up and see your weapon of choice, the Bible, aimed aggressively at me. Maybe then you’ll realize that you can’t make everyone see the world as you do.

Actually, I’m not asking for your acceptance or support. You don’t even need to agree with my beliefs. I’m just asking for you to cease fire. Stop attacking in the name of God, country, and, family. I can’t think of anything that would be more productive to your cause.

I should mention that some of the most supportive and loving people that I know are friends from Bible College. I am so thankful for those few. You right the wrongs with your love and kindness toward the gay community. Thank you.

Please take 6 and 1/2 minutes and watch Keith Olbermann’s eloquent, passionate, and powerful commentary on the passing of Prop. 8.

The Final Days of RENT

I originally wrote this post at the end of May. The amazing and legendary Broadway musical RENT was scheduled to close June 1 and, due to good ticket sales, was thrown a life line until this weekend. It’s now time for RENT to close after 5,123 performances on Broadway since it opened on April 29, 1996. That makes it the 7th longest running show in Broadway history.

RENT is closing on Broadway on September 7, 2008. This may not seem that big of a deal to many of you, hardly even “blog-worthy.” But for me it is the end of one of the best musicals to ever perform on Broadway. You see, RENT was my first Broadway show. I saw it in November of 1997 and it’s the reason for my love of musical theater. My friend Cathy and I went and saw it at the Majestic Theater in Dallas, Texas. I was working several weekends a month at a church in Texas. I would drive an hour and a half to Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Joplin, Missouri, and then fly to Dallas for the weekend to work at a church where I was the worship leader. I’m not sure why a church would pay to have a college student come so far, but they did. The escape from Bible college and the sense of being a jet-setter were amazing. The church was hoping I would come there full-time after graduation. In reality, the whole experience not only introduced me to my current employer, but it also gave me the flying bug.

Anyway, my point is that this was a transitional time for me. I was finishing up my six years at Ozark Christian College and dealing with all of the gay issues I’ve previously written about. At this point in my journey, I hadn’t come out of the closet. Going to see RENT was like giving me a peek into a world that I didn’t even know existed. A beautiful world of drag queens and queers (I mean that in a good way), a world where it was not only OK to be gay, but fabulously OK. It was a world in which people broke into song and dance for no apparent reason. This was my world. Stunned and, frankly, a little giddy, I sat on the edge of my seat for most of the performance.

I don’t know if Cathy ever knew that I loved it this much because as soon as we left the Majestic I had to get back into “Christian Music Pastor” mode. But, the seed had been planted. And that’s why this musical has been so important to me. It provided me with something I had been longing for–gay life–in all of it’s vibrant color and spectacular diversity. For several years RENT was the only ingredient in my musical theater diet. It was the appetizer, the main course, and the dessert.

I remember the following months in the Bible college dorm as other music students began to discover this musical. You could hear “Seasons of Love” floating out of their rooms. You could also hear the abrupt change in volume when the phrase “mucho masturbation” was supposed to be shouting from “La Vie Boheme.” Some songs really could never be played–at least through speakers. I suppose there is a very strange irony in a bunch of Bible college students drooling over a musical not just filled with sex, but sex with the same sex. And, don’t forget all of the colorful language and the topic of HIV/AIDS that permeates RENT.

But we couldn’t help ourselves. This was an amazing piece of work. I wanted to be Mark, one of the lead roles. And in some ways, I developed his sort of quirky, bohemian sense of style. All in all, I’ve seen RENT three times on stage. That hardly makes me a “RENT-head,” but I don’t think it diminishes my love for the show. When the movie came out, I paid to see it three times. When I bought the DVD and watched the accompanying Jonthan Larson documentary, I cried so hard that I thought I was going to hyperventilate. My love runs deep. So I’ll always hold a very special place in my heart for this musical that means so much to me. We have history.

goodbye, love, goodbye…

RENT links:

Original New York Times review of the show

A Photographer’s journal of RENT from the New York Times

RENT’s website siteforrent.com

Wikipedia’s RENT page

The original cast recording on Amazon.com

A Sentimental Day

My, My how times have changed over the last decade. I’ve been feeling extremely sentimental lately. It’s been 10 years since my mother passed, 10 years since I graduated from college, 10 years since I left the midwest, 10 years since my life took the dramatic turn that has led me to where I am today.

Frankly, in retrospect, I find it amazing that I am where I am. A secular gay man working in the airline industry and living in San Francisco. I still suffer from culture shock on occasion. Ten years ago I was just leaving the midwest after 6 years of Bible College. I was just starting an exciting job with an up-and-coming mega-church in Arizona. The job didn’t last long, and the next thing I knew I was working for my first airline. Then I started coming to terms with a life outside the Church. I realize that is a horrible summary of an extremely turbulent 1998. But, I don’t think I’m ready to broadcast all of that on my blog…nothing personal. Really, it’s me, not you.

The point of this post is not to elaborate on my journey from point A to point B. I’m just amazed at my starting point. I think that I’m mostly amazed that people change. More specifically, I changed. I mean, shit, I voted for Bob Dole in 1996. Ouch! Wow, that hurt to type those words. I. Voted. For. Bob. Dole. The only thing I have say in my defense is that I did not vote George W. Bush in 2000 or 2004. I remember sitting in my dormitory lobby gathered around the TV and feeling the immense dread of another 4 years with Bill Clinton. And now, I think that Bill Clinton was a great president! And that’s actually my point…I started thinking for myself.

I totally get why so many of my Bible College friends have a hard time understanding me these days. I’m not the same Tyler that they knew in college. There are parts of me that haven’t changed. I still love music, even some gospel music. I’m still just a little odd, a little geeky.

To be fair, it also freaks Jeff out a little bit to envision the Tyler from 1998. When I’m feeling a little bit ornery, I’ll whip into a rousing rendition of How Great Thou Art or Shout to the Lord. My friend Jaclyn likes to hear one my special prayers. You know the type that involves lots of thee’s and thou’s, blessing’s and tribulation’s. Oh yeah, I can preach, too. I reserve that for when I’m feeling just downright mean. And every time I pull from my personal experience in Bible College, I also have a moment of gratitude. I’m happy to be where I am now.

For old time’s sake, here’s a picture of me from my Bible-thumpin’ days. This was taken at my senior piano recital. I had no idea that my whole world was about to change…

Gays on Parade

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning was titled: Gawking Tourists Not Welcome in the Castro. I laughed out loud. I guess the days of priding ourselves on our differences are gone.

I do know exactly what the article was talking about, however. For months now, double-decker tourist buses have been driving through the heart of the Castro. And recently, they are actually letting the tourists out. There goes the neighborhood. I will admit it always makes me giggle a little when I’m dragging my laundry to the laundry mat or walking to the store and the bus roles by at about 10 miles an hour. I’m curious just how many pictures I’m in. I’d love to read the caption in their scrapbook. It might possibly read:

Here’s Henry and me… amongst the homosexuals.

-or-

Here’s a picture of one dragging his laundry along like a homeless person.

-or-

…and the homosexuals go grocery shopping, too!

I can almost picture Margaret and Henry sitting in a doily-filled living room showing off their scrapbook to friends.

According to the article, the real problem is that the tour bus companies have recently changed their route to allow for a 20-minute stop in the Castro. People are getting off the bus and moving about the Castro in groups of 30 or so intensely-afraid tourists. I have seen them. But, I think it’s great. If we want people to view the GLBT community as humans, real people, they need to see that we are just like everyone else. Right? Of course, not all communities have men dressed up as flamboyant nuns or hunky men dressed up as Jesus on Easter.

I’m just surprised that there is an uproar at all. After all, tourism is–ok, I’m sorry… side note here. As I was typing this at my café, a double-decker tour bus just rolled by full of gray-haired folks–anyway, tourism is San Francisco’s life blood. It has kept many of our businesses afloat.

I guess these days gays are trying so hard to be considered normal that they don’t want people to see their differences. With the vote on the same-sex marriage ban looming, many are afraid that if people think all we do is just run around in the nude having sex behind bushes, they won’t want to support our relationships. But, I think that if we have to sacrifice our culture, which is sexual, but actually much more, what have we gained? So, in that vein–gays on parade–I decided to share some of the footage I shot from this year’s San Francisco GLBT Pride Parade:

Oh, Granny!

Wow. So, I have a new experience to tuck into my belt. Yesterday I was pimped out by a grandma. Not my G-ma, as you may have read about, but from an elderly passenger on the plane. It was all so subtle that I almost didn’t catch on at first.

My loyal readers know by now that I love me some old people. Kids are cute, but I’d rather have an 85 year old any day. I can’t help it. And, I usually have them huggin’ on me by the end of the flight. In fact–side story here–there once was an elderly lady who poked my ass in that “sir, I need something” sort of way. I turned and asked her if she needed anything and she replied, “Oh no, I was just checkin’.” Oh, Granny! I kept my eye on that one for sure.

But, back to the granny at hand. We had the standard exchanges. She asked me several questions about myself. We shared the normal granny hand pats and kisses on the cheeks, and then she asked, “Do you ever get out to the east coast?”

“Sure.”

“I’m from Greensboro, North Carolina, and my family is there too.”

“Is that close to Raleigh-Durham?”

“Yes. And I would like to give you this…”

This is the point at which she discreetly handed me the name and number of her grandson on a little piece of paper. Now, from previous conversations over several hours I understood that she had a “special” grandson. Of course, I speak “granny” so I know that “special” means “homosexual.” And since I also speak “Christianese,” I know that “homosexual” means “gay.” It can also be translated as “nelly queen” or “queer-o.” It just depends on the usage. Some days it really helps to be multi-lingual.

Maybe times are a-changin’. I never thought I’d see the day when a granny would try to set me up with her grandson. That final conversation happened just as she was getting off the airplane. I didn’t get the opportunity to tell her that I’m very happy with Jeff. I guess it doesn’t really matter. It was just nice to see a granny who loves her grandson so much. Maybe I’ll call my granny today.

Modeling with Pain

By now you probably know that I am completely obsessed with America’s Next Top Model, starring one Miss Tyra Banks. Love it. Seriously. And, if somehow you’ve missed this sensation that has swept across the nation, please do the world a favor and click on the link in my first sentence to visit the website. Or, watch just one episode. They constantly replay them on MTV. You’ll be a better person for it. And I promise that you won’t be let down.

I think people sometimes don’t get my sarcasm. You really should know that I enjoy ANTM mostly for its comedic value. In general, that’s why I love most of reality TV so much. The funniest stuff is the stuff that you just can’t make up. Like when a reality “star” says something that is beyond outrageous and impossible to take out of context.

For instance, not too long ago, Kimberly from The Real World: Hollywood used the words “blackville” and “ghetto” in the same sentence to describe another cast member she didn’t like. It was all very typical, spoiled, white, Texan girl behavior. I saw the clip on one of those reality recap shows on E. I haven’t actually watched “The Real World” for about the last 10 seasons. I remember watching it when the title wasn’t ironic. At least in this season the cast members are honest about their intentions–they’re all trying to “make it” in various parts of the show biz industry. Maybe it’s gone back to gettin’ real. I may just add it to my DVR list for next season. 😉

I love it when I read in a reality show cast member’s bio that they’ve “moved to LA and are trying to make it in the industry.” Really? What part of getting drunk and allowing cameras tape you while you pee in a corner qualifies you to be an actor? But, then again, “actors” are even taking the “reality” show plunge these days. So, who am I to try and define what it means to be an actor?

Oh, fiddlesticks. I got off topic again. Crap. I hate when that happens. I was supposed to be talking about Tyra Banks and ANTM. This is what happens when I drink too much coffee and just let my fingers do the talking while I am actually people watching. Some days I get a little unfocused. At least, I’m not at home trying to do this while the TV is on–that’s always a disaster. Ok, soTyra.

Part-way through this past season, Tyra had the “models” do a little exercise with her. She taught the girls how to come up with poses when they couldn’t think of what to do. Evidently, this happens a lot in the modeling world. She starts out by walking the catwalk with them, showing off her fancy moves. Then she fakes a sprained ankle and segues into what she calls “Modeling with Pain.” Oh, Tyra! Now, there’s a real actress. She had all those models fooled, and we all know how difficult that is. I would love to post the clip of this, but, I think you should look it up for yourself. You’ve got to see the wealth of ANTM clips that are on YouTube. Search: “modeling with pain” or just “ANTM.” You’ll be amazed by what appears.

I was watching the show with Jeff, and we both just knew that we had to do this. It was too rich to pass up. We started calling out different types of pain for the other to pose. It was a pose-off. Jeff took it a step further and decided that we should have a few of our friends over and make a “game night” out of it. I’m proud to present the condensed version of the video we created from that night. This is what happens when you combine 5 gay men, a modeling “game”, a video camera, and several cosmos. We had so much fun doing this. I admit that I got a little bit bossy with my “modeling directions.” I blame it on the drinks…