Thursday, November 20, 2014

LGBT Homeless Youth Crisis

See NPR for story on homeless LGBT youth.

Partly because young people are coming out at an earlier age than their predecessors, more are being kicked out of their homes or, if not kicked out, forced out through intimidation.

And most of these homeless kids are on the streets as a result of their parent's "religious beliefs" - beliefs that they choose over supporting their own children.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

From The File Cabinet - A Writing Exercise




The News Came on Valentine's Day

I.  Dennis

The news came on Valentine’s Day and it changed everything. That morning Hank hadn’t a clue that his idyllic life was about to take a turn onto a road he’d never imagined while mine might be ending within a matter of minutes. The news of my suicide attempt on Valentine’s Day 2014, decidedly changed everything – for Hank, for our kids, for the business we’d worked so hard for, for the people who depended on us, and even for complete strangers.

I’m sure Hank’s Valentine’s Day had started out pretty much as usual: being awakened by Diogi, our Weimaraner, at five-thirty and doing his “mom” duties. He was home with the kids all night while I was to be taking a late night flight back to Hartford from LA where I’d gone to meet with some wealthy mogul about a potential business buyout. Our small line of men’s accessories and other merchandise based on Hank’s designs had very suddenly become the rage when some Hollywood type had stumbled across our website or Facebook page, and Tweeted praises all over the Twitter-verse. We were swamped with orders and our website actually got jammed or slammed or frozen, whatever the technical word is, I’m not sure which, and I forgot to ask. I guess I really didn’t care.

We’d been doing a decent mail order business until then, and neither Hank nor myself were into self-promotion or in-your-face marketing. We were just doing what we enjoyed. And, we were beginning to think we’d been doing it too long when we were suddenly “discovered” and, in addition to sales, inquiries began coming in, mostly from the West Coast. There were offers to buy us out or franchise us, or market us – all kinds of offers which got us to thinking: maybe it was time. After all we both had other dreams and there is truth to the clichĂ© that neither of us were getting any younger. Selling crap was not all it was cracked up to be and well, maybe having some money in a lump sum and the freedom to travel and do things with the kids was the right way to go.

Before the news came, on the morning of Valentine’s Day, Hank would have already been up, getting the boys breakfast, making sure they had their homework and bundling them up against the unusual winter cold we were having in New England before sending them out to the school bus. He was probably too preoccupied to take note of the unofficial holiday, but he would do so soon enough – as soon as he opened his daily calendar and saw the big heart I’d somehow managed to copy and paste into the page for February fourteenth. His mind would quickly race through the day’s schedule to figure out how to pawn off the kids on my mother for dinner so he could make time for some semblance of a home-cooked gourmet meal with me, complete with tablecloth, candles and flowers. And he would definitely plan in, if we were lucky to have an uninterrupted hour after dinner, a no-calorie dessert in the bedroom.

Hank would have, in the time between checking his calendar and bringing up the business website correspondence, planned how to get Mom to take the kids, what the menu would be, and how to seduce a tired old spouse who’d spent a sleepless night on a plane and who would have been awake for over 24 hours by Valentine’s Day evening.

Yes, before the news of my suicide came on the morning of Valentine’s Day, Hank would be doing his “mom” duties and getting Jamie and Theo breakfast and off to school.

Jamie, our oldest at 14 is smart and energetic, maybe a bit ADHD though not enough to have a diagnosis or take medication or to cause him problems in school. Just my way of saying he is very active. He is a bundle of energy, but he can stay focused when he has something to focus on, so saying he is ADHD is wrong of me. He can focus on his younger brother, no problem.

Jamie is devoted to his younger brother Theo and revels in his role as Big Brother. He loves showing Theo how to use the old Nintendo or the computer, how to climb the big maple tree in the backyard and he’s clever enough to make a competitive game out of doing chores. Jamie will say, “Don’t tell Theo, but I got him to do some of my chores and he thought we were just having fun.” He is too honest to scold for getting his younger brother to do extra chores, but when he does this, he knows Theo will get a bigger share of allowance. I think that is part of his plan and part of the thrill for Jaime.

Theo, our twelve-year-old is still learning the routine of his new middle school and is definitely more challenged than his brother in that endeavor as well as in other childhood occupations from opening a box of cereal to tying his shoes. His birth mother had been an addict. I’m not sure what she used, booze, heroin, coke, crack, oxy, probably all of them and more. Somehow she retained custody of her baby, I guess because she had agreed to go into a treatment program for a while before he was born. I didn’t know they had programs especially for pregnant women on drugs. I guess they are a priority because of the epidemic of prenatal drug exposure. I was never privy to all the details, only to Theo’s medical history and some of his early home life – enough for us to be able to talk to Theo’s pediatrician and later to his teachers with some measure of intelligence and competence. Theo had somehow escaped the scrutiny of the child welfare system until his mother died of an overdose when he was two. He went to Child Services for almost a year, was diagnosed with a number of developmental problems and was labeled by some workers as “not adoptable” – a label that was obviously premature - because they hadn’t yet met Hank and me. Theo found his way into our home before he was two-and-a-half and was now hopefully finding his way around Hanover Middle School and actually remembering the combo to his locker without having to look at the tag he wore around his neck with the number and other vital information on it. If he forgot, Jamie was there to help. Hank and I felt secure in that knowledge.

When the news came that morning Hank would have been cleaning up the breakfast dishes or stuffing dirty clothes into the washer in the basement or having completed those chores already, sitting at the counter on his favorite stool, sipping his second cup of coffee surrounded by the quiet and tranquility of another school day morning. His MacBook Pro would have been propped open and his fingers would be clicking away the pages of the mornings’ news, the blogs, and the emails that never stopped coming in. The serious work of checking and filling orders, managing remote inventory and balancing the books would start after the last sip of that second cup of coffee. It was the way he disciplined himself to get to work in the home office and there could be no cheating by deliberately not finishing the coffee in order to read one last article on Huffington Post or to check the gay news on Edge New England, no matter how tempting. When the news arrived, perhaps Hank would have already been in work mode.

I am not sure just how these things are taken care of by the authorities or how long it takes. I imagine someone finds you unconscious, dials 911 and an ambulance shows up and you end up in the emergency room and they rifle through your wallet to find out who you are and where you live and then call someone who calls the authorities in your home state and they call the police in your home town and some nice twenty-five year old rookie cop pulls up in front of your house all important like and knocks on your front door even though there’s a doorbell and if all goes well, the officer gives the news to whoever answers. At least that’s how I imagine it happens.

I imagine Hank having answered the door after the cop decided to try the doorbell. Hank probably asked, “Can I help you?” Not “Can I help you, officer?” Hank doesn’t like cops. He can be disrespectful without appearing so. The officer would not be offended. Hank would feel superior. Perhaps it was the new guy, a rookie named Nesmeth who looked like he was seventeen. We ran into him at the town’s Harvest Week Festival last autumn. The town had scrapped up enough money to hire Nesmeth in anticipation of John Horton’s impending second retirement. Horton, a retired military man, had been the town’s one-man police force for the past fifteen years, unless you count Nellie, his ten-year-old Cock-a-Poo police dog.

“I’m Officer Nesmeth. Is this the residence of Dennis DaSilva?” the cop would have asked.

“Yes, Dennis lives here.” Hank would answer. “Is there something wrong? Is he OK?”

Nesmeth: “My I come in for a moment?”

Hank would have held the door open, hiding his attitude, while Nesmeth stepped inside. “And who are you? Are you related to Mr. DaSilva?” the cop would inquire before sharing any details.

“It’s DaSilva-Carlisle and I’m his husband.” Hank would reply, emphasizing the word husband to see if the cop flinched. Hank is thinking, “I’m his husband, asshole, get with the program, it’s 2014.” That’s Hank – but he doesn’t always say what he’s thinking.

“Oh, sorry.” There would be a short pause, then he’d continue, “I have to let you know that we received information from the LA police department. Your hus,” the rookie stumbles over the word husband. “Your, husband, was taken to the hospital in Los Angeles, somewhere near Hollywood. They’re calling it an apparent suicide.”

“My God. You mean he’s dead?”

“No, I don’t think so, to be precise, it was an apparent suicide attempt. He’s in the hospital in LA,” the cop clarified his earlier mis-speak.

The policeman’s choice of words, or rather the ineptness of his vocabulary strikes Hank as awkward and unprofessional. Such language faux pas always cause him to stop listening momentarily while his mind processes the intended meaning and passes judgment on the general state of education in the US and the sloppiness of the English speaking world. Officer Nesmeth would have been fumbling with some papers on a clipboard.

Hank, I’m certain was imagining the cop making up his own episode of Major Crimes with Hank as the number one suspect even though there was no crime and I am three thousand miles away.

Hank would have pulled it together enough to ask, “That can’t be. We spoke on the phone before he left for the airport. Where is he and who can I call?”

The young police officer hands Hank a piece of paper. “Here’s the number of Detective Hanson at LAPD. And the hospital contact person. Perhaps they will have more information.” Nesmeth seems relieved that his errand is done and he can go back to his small town job of investigating who threw the snowball that hit some high school teacher square in the eye one day last week.

Hank would be glad to see Nesmeth leave. He’d stare at the piece of paper for a moment and he’d feel his whole body convulse.


II. Hank

When the news came on the morning of Valentine’s Day I was having my second cup of coffee and reading Huffington Post’s list of disgusting anti-gay comments about Michael Sam, the Missouri football player and likely NFL draft pick who had just come out as gay. God, some people are assholes, but fortunately they are quickly put in their place by more enlightened minds.

I had been expecting Dennis to call from the airport, as his plane should have been on the ground by the time the kids left for school. But there had been so many delayed flights all winter I just figured his flight had been detained in Chicago or Denver or wherever his stopover was. Besides, I had work to do and Dennis had left his car in short-term parking. The roads were clear and dry for a change and he’d have no traffic to contend with this late in the morning. I was about to call him, when I sat down for my second cup, and allowed myself a few minutes reading the morning news and the comments about Michael Sam. And then I remembered it was Valentine’s Day.

I got into a panic about what to make for dinner and whether I’d have time to get to Trader Joe’s and if I should call Den’s mom and ask her to take care of the boys for a few hours. I’d have to be sure to get her a big box of chocolates and a bouquet of her favorite yellow tulips as payment. God, there’s never enough time. All this was going through my mind as I swilled down the last of my coffee.

I clicked out of the nasty comment section. Good thing too, because I noticed my blood was beginning to boil and I knew if I got in too deep I would inevitably want to give these assholes and homophobes a piece of my mind and then I’d obsess over each word and phrase as I composed several witty and cutting retorts. That could be time-consuming and time was what I didn’t have to spare that Valentine’s Day morning.

I had just opened the email app on the laptop when my cell phone hummed the generic ring I’d assigned to numbers that were not in my contact list.

“Is this the DaSilva-Carlisle residence at 57 Country Farm Road?” the voice on the other end asked.

“Yes, Dennis DaSilva-Carlisle lives here. I’m Hank Carlisle-DaSilva, Dennis’ spouse. Can I help you?”

Dennis and I went though various alternatives to surnames when we married, and we officially changed our last names, by taking each other’s as an add-on. It just seemed to have a nice feel to it. I know it’s complicated, but it works – most of the time. But it can get confusing, like when there’s a new teacher at school or when some stranger calls so I usually give that short introduction by way of clarification.

“This is Mary Cunningham, Emergency Services Liaison Officer for Lester Memorial Hospital in Mountain View, California. We have a Dennis DaSilva-Carlisle here who was brought in earlier this morning …”

I stopped listening for a few moments because the words weren’t making sense. Emergency services…Mountain View…brought in…this morning. Dennis was in Los Angeles, wasn’t he?

Copyright (c) 2014 Frank DeFrancesco

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Unexpected Praises From My Younger Brother!

I got this email from my brother.

When I read it, it blew me away.

I never expected such praises from him. Mainly because he is usually rather reticent about such things. Or at least not quite as profuse. And he put it in writing, and he wrote a review on Amazon as well!

To be honest I thought he might consider my book to be 'just ok" and probably say some kind, but neutral, words to me about it when I see him at Thanksgiving.

But he emailed me this unsolicited praise; and of course his opinion is completely objective and unbiased:

I LIKED IT A LOT!!!! I literally could not put it down. I read a little over half of it last night, went to bed at midnight, couldn't sleep, got up at 1AM and read the rest of it. I haven't read a book like that (in one day - actually 2 since it was before and after midnight) in ages. 

I also wrote what I thought was a good review in Amazon. I might have gone a little over the top comparing it to other famous literary works but what the heck, a little salesmanship can't hurt, besides I really was enraptured with it which is more than I can say about most other books I've read. 

I guess knowing you personally has a lot to do with my level of interest in what you had to say and the stories you told and it was pretty much impossible to try and read it from a detached point of view, but you really do have a way with words. Parts of it were humorous such as in one of the first chapters when you guys are playing cards and you are telling anecdotes and trying to be somewhat deep and serious and the other guys just keep busting your stones. 

Many parts are very serious and inspiring. I don't have much more to say other than I don't remember being at the Cape with you unless you kind of made that part up.

My NOTE: Memories are funny things. I was positive my brother was at the Cape that time when we were there with all our cousins at a cottage in Harwich. There was a fresh water pond in back and we all went to the Mashpee PowWow and to Ptown for whale watching.  If I had doubts I would have checked it with my brother before putting it in print, but I was trusting my memory.

It doesn't change things in any substantial way however, so I defer to his memory of not being there! And I'll call my flub poetic license

So, to see what he thinks is so good, buy the book! (click on the book pic on the sidebar or go to Amazon here.

Below: Original mock-up of front and back covers.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sign Of The Times - In A Good Way

When Leon and I married on October 25th, ( And here) we had our immediate families and closest friends at the ceremony and for dinner at Pagliacci's Restaurant. And while we knew our families were supportive, we couldn't be so sure about extended family members and others.

We decided that we would let family and friends know that we are now legally married. And that our status in the community had changed.

We sent formal announcements to many extended family members, straight friends and old neighbors. Others learned of our nuptials from those attending. 

Although we haven't heard from all of them, we did receive cards and even a few gifts from many. When the cards and hand written notes started arriving, some of them blew our socks off!

Really, I don't think we've often given people credit for how genuinely they have embraced Leon and I and our relationship over the years.

I'd like to share a few here:

From a former neighbor lady and her son, when we lived in New Britain 15 years ago. 
She used to make pierogis once a month for fundraising at a very conservative Polish Catholic parish and always brought us the "factory seconds". She is now in her nineties:

From my old boss, a straight guy in his 70's:

From two Catholic nuns who live with my sister:

From my cousin and her husband along with a gift saying that Leon has always been a part of the family:

From my brother's mother-in-law, a very Irish Catholic woman:

From a 68 year old woman who was an HIV client of mine back 8 years and more ago:


From my Ex who I wrote about in my memoir and who now lives in Florida (can you hear his Acadian-French  accent?):

From Leon's cousin in San Jose:

From my ninety year old Sicilian Aunt and my cousin:


Many of our gay friends were not as excited and congratulatory as many of our straight friends and relatives, including some very "Catholic" ones.

Perhaps they are the real "silent majority" and despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of the Fundies and TeaBaggers and Hate Groups, maybe these loving people do represent a growing new majority - at least here in the Northeast where same sex marriage has been legal for years without a major breakdown of straight marriages or signs of Armageddon.

Perhaps is is that our (in the collective sense) "coming out" makes more and more people realize that some of their friends, family members, co-workers are LGBT; that they really do know, love and respect someone who is gay.

Perhaps we are the "new normal" and our legal unions are, on the one hand no big deal, and on the other hand, something the straight world is eager to celebrate.

Go figure.

From my sister:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My letter to the Editor of the Bristol Observer which appeared in Friday's edition. Thanks to you bloggers and news feeds, I gleaned the details from the internet. This goes along with video posted below (last post).
FEEL FREE TO REPRINT, REPOST, MAIL IT TO YOUR EDITOR

To the Editor:
            I will not vote Republican. Period.
            I’m sure there are a few well-meaning Republican candidates out there, but well-meaning is not good enough. I cannot, in conscience, foresee casting my vote for any Republican. Here’s why:
             Any political candidate who calls her/himself a Republican (and I’ve noticed over the past twenty years or so that that label on their mailings is usually in very small print, if it is there at all) – must implicitly approve of GOP views against marriage equality, unbridled campaign financing by big corporations, legislation that would institutionalize discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender individuals under the guise of religious liberty, regressive immigration legislation, the primacy of fundamentalist christian doctrine in legislation and government, “reparative” therapy for LGBT individuals, the right to bear assault weapons, and a whole litany of idiotic, insensitive and misogynistic pronouncements by a host of Republican wing-nuts, among them:

             Glen Grothman, a Republican state senator: "I've interviewed over a dozen people who check out people who pay with food stamps, and all felt people on food stamps ate better — or at least more costly — than they did. [People] who work in food stores indicate that many people who use food stamps do not act as if they are genuinely poor." 
             Todd Kincannon, former executive director of the South Carolina GOP in a Tweet “I hope the dumb bitch who initiated physical violence with her NFL player fiancĂ© learned a good lesson when he justifiably beat her ass.”
            Stacey Campfield a Republican Tennessee state lawmaker, who introduced a “Don’t say gay” bill in 2009 who also said "Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community. It was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall." He also introduced a bill that would cut welfare benefits to parents whose children aren't doing well in school.
         Renee Ellmers, a two-term Congresswoman from North Carolina. “Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level…We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and with everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go.”
          Arizona state representative Adam Kwasman, mistaking a bus full of America children on their way to YMCA camp for undocumented immigrant children"I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces.... This is not compassion."
         Rick Perry of Texas GOP which in June adopted their new platform that supports “reparative therapy” for The Gays"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that. I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."
             Scott Esk, an aspiring candidate for the Oklahoma House of Representatives who when asked if he thinks the Gays should actually be put to death based on his religious beliefs, said: “I think we would totally be in the right to do it.”
             Pam Bondi as Attorney General of Florida said about not wanting to recognize same-sex marriage: because those marriages would "impose significant public harm."
             Representative Andy Gipson, a Republican legislator about the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act says the bill protects “Christians in the state from discrimination,” meaning people can use their religious beliefs to discriminate against anyone, most notably The Gays.
             Republicans Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, introduced a bill that would allow adoption or foster care providers to refuse service on the basis of their own personal religious objections. (While aimed at gay and lesbian couples, the bill could be used by non-christian agencies to deny adoption of children by Christian couples!)
             Arizona Republican Jim Brown said this on Facebook: “I want folks to think about something. I want folks to think about how slavery really works. Back in the day of slavery, slaves were kept in slavery by denying them education and opportunity while providing them with their basic needs.  Not by beating them and starving them. (Although there were isolated cases if course) Basically slave owners took pretty good care of their slaves and livestock and this kept business rolling along.”
            Additionally, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has named 19 members of Congress, 18 of whom are Republicans, who “go out of their way to oppose any step toward equal protection under the law or to protect LGBT Americans from violence, discrimination and harassment.  They proactively work to undermine existing legal protections and promote anti-LGBT discrimination.” These congresspersons sponsor or co-sponsor, in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Federal Marriage Amendment, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, the Military Religious Freedom Protection Act, and the State Marriage Defense Act; in the U.S. Senate, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, and the State Marriage Defense Act.
            The 19 are: Senate: Ted Cruz, R-TX, Michael Enzi (R-WY), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Sessions, (R-AL); House (14): Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Andy Harris (R-MD), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Walter Jones (R-NC), Mike Kelly (R- PA), Steve King (R-IA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Steve Pearce (R-NM), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Randy Weber (R-TX)
            The people I mention ( and there are so many more) are not just loose cannons; they speak for their party and they espouse Republican ideology. So, to the obstructionist Republican congresspersons, Republican candidates, national or local, I say: If you belong to the club, to the Republican party, I must assume that you are more or less sympathetic to the beliefs and principles that are antithetical to my own. You will not have my support, nor in the case of the local ballot, my vote.    

It Would Be Funny If It Weren't So True

No, it is really funny.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Signing Last Evening

I was one of four featured authors at a book signing event at Bristol Public Library last evening. My mentor, Dawn Leger, (Chimney Crest Writers' Group and Lefora Publishing) gave me a very flattering introduction. I am very grateful for her support and encouragement and nudging me forward in my writing "career" if I may call it that.

I was the first reader. I introduced my reading with the quote on my book jacket, "I'm not sure the world really needs another coming out story, But I feel deeply the need to tell it."

And as evidence for the need to tell my story - I read the article that appears in the link in yesterday's post below about the gay boy beat to death and tortured by his mother and her boyfriend.

Because he will never be able to write his memoir.

Because despite the gains we've made, there are people who still cannot see beyond their own prejudice, hate and misguided religious beliefs.

So, while the week for me has been full of celebrations - Leon's birthday, Leon's and my marriage, and my book debut, we remain cognizant of the fact that so many others have so little to celebrate.

And that we must do what we can to help move humanity forward.
So many people have asked how I chose the title for my book. I tell them "You'll have to read the book."

But last night I chose the reading that revealed where the title came from - partly because the excerpt revolved around a BYOB Halloween party that I had gone to years ago....

Those in the audience - well about 12 of them - learned the secret and still bought the book, so I am grateful to them.
Buy the book! Link to Amazon on the side bar.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Can These Things Still Happen?

This story via Wicked Gay Blog and Edge New England is so disturbing. The original story about this boy was in the news some time ago, but the perpetrators are now getting off with a life sentence. Hope prison is miserable and they live long.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Wedding Photos

Just want to share a few more photos from the wedding. OMG I'm such an old man getting married, it seems so odd. There were some tears shed here and there, but as you can see we all had fun too.

Andrea DeFrancesco singing "Make You Feel My Love

Having Fun with a Bridal Veil Baseball Cap
My turn


Reception at At Pagliacci's











Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Do, I Do, We Did – Finally, After Twenty-Six Years!


Frank Joseph DeFrancesco
and

Leon Jay O’Hart, Jr.


A Celebration of Marriage

Saturday, the Twenty- fifth of October

Two Thousand Fourteen


Frank and Leon, those of us gathered here today are honored to witness and celebrate your commitment to each other in marriage.
As our society still strives to overcome its fear and prejudice we here have grown to recognize the validity and beauty of your love and commitment to one another.
May your love continue to grow sure and strong and true in the days and years of your shared life together.

On Saturday, October 25th, 2014 in a simple civil ceremony at our home and in front of a small contingent of family and friends, Leon and I said “I do”  - taking one another as our life-long spouses, “to support, honor and cherish through all the circumstances we may face and to never stop celebrating our love.”

We exchanged rings “as a symbol of our love and commitment to one another and of the values we share together.”

Leon’s mom “gave Leon away” and my sister walked me down the aisle too. Four of our dearest friends who we’ve known for all twenty-six of our years together, Joyce and Robin and Ed and Jeff, were “Our Best Persons”.

Guests included Leon’s brother Marty and sister-in-law Debbie, his two sisters Brenda and Lisa, a nephew, Neil and his wife Mehgan and their daughter Ada. On my side was my sister MaryAnn, my brother Mike and his wife Claire, my niece Andrea and my cousin Rose. My nephew Joe had planned to be there but had to be in San Francisco on business.

The officiant was Justice of the Peace, Michelle, who is also a member of Chimney Crest Writers (the group that guided and encouraged me through writing my memoir). She performed a beautiful civil ceremony for us.

The ceremony included two songs by Jeff Krassner that I posted recently, “Strong for You” and I hear the Angels Sing”;  my niece Andrea sang and played guitar accompaniment to “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan (a song which she chose for the occasion).


"Make You Feel My Love"

When the rain is blowing in your face,
And the whole world is on your case,
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love.

When the evening shadows and the stars appear,
And there is no one there to dry your tears,
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love.

I know you haven't made your mind up yet,
But I will never do you wrong.
I've known it from the moment that we met,
No doubt in my mind where you belong.

I'd go hungry; I'd go black and blue,
And I'd go crawling down the avenue.
No, there's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love.

The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret.
The winds of change are blowing wild and free,
You ain't seen nothing like me yet. 
I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.
Nothing that I wouldn't do.

We ended with “Prince Charming” by Romanovsky and Phillips for a little levity, but at that point no one was listening - everyone was coming up with hugs, kisses and congratulations.


“Prince Charming” Romanovsky and Phillips
 I met you on a rainy day
But the sun’s been out since
And I knew from that moment that you were my prince
Funny how life is always a big surprise
I thought the man of my dreams would have blue eyes 
I thought you’d be taller
I thought you’d be rich
I didn’t think you’d be moody
And at times such a bitch
I thought you’d be brilliant
A real Einstein
But you’d rather watch TV than challenge my mind 
I thought you’d be happy
And never complain
But you’re so neurotic
You make me feel sane

I dreamt about you
Did you dream about me?
You wore shinning armor
And you rescued me
Funny how dreams are not always as they seem
My handsome prince turned out to be more of a queen 
You’re not as romantic
As I hoped you be
You never buy flowers
At least not for me 
I thought you’d be athletic
With muscles for days
‘cause it don’t matter
‘cause I love you the same
But don’t fear my darling
‘cause it’s you I adore
And I know you can’t be blamed
If at times you’re a bore….

After the ceremony and we had a celebratory toasting with appetizers provided by Joyce and Robin and my sister-in-law Claire who also brought the Asti Spumante.

Around three o'clock we all went to Pagliacci’s, a local Italian-American restaurant where we had made reservations for a party. The waitstaff, especially Allison, was super and the food was excellent. They were gracious enough to serve our wedding cake (a remarkably good generic cake from Costco) and no Italian wedding celebration would be complete without cookies to take home, so I made 12 dozen of Aunt Margaret’s festive Italian cookies (mine are not so fancy) and my sister and Claire also made delicious cookies. Claire provided favors for all the guests.

After the reception Leon and I were off to a local hotel for one night of relaxation - can't really call it a honeymoon, now can we? - a well needed night of peace and quiet.

All in all, the day went off without a hitch - no I guess that's not accurate as we got hitched - it went off just about perfectly. 

Now I have been hinting in past posts that a celebration was being planned, about ordering flowers, about it being a perfect occasion with all our immediate family being together in one place, about some “gay” love songs and about our love affair with the gold mokume gane rings. (Note: after much back and forth with jewelry stores, real and virtual, we purchased our Sterling Silver wedding bands at Ruby’s in Provincetown back in September – it just seemed fitting and serendipitous the day we rode our bikes into town and stopped in on a whim and saw rings we both liked at a fraction of the price of gold; we realized that our rings are symbolic, not a financial investment)

It seems that only Russ, over at Blue Truck, Red State had a clue, but I tried my best to throw him off.

Planning the event was fun. Choosing music, finding a nice reasonable restaurant, making invitations, programs and announcements, ordering a centerpiece and a corsage for Leon’s mom. The only thing that was work was house cleaning – like only Leon can do, and I try to do. We joked about registering at Neiman Marcus, and compared our plans to George Clooney’s recent extravaganza.

Now this was what I called a simple wedding, though it was slightly more than that.
In our attempt to keep it simple, we didn’t tell too many people, including relatives. You know at my age, anything can happen and I didn't want to jinx us - I could have had a myocardial infarction and ended up in the hospital and the wedding may have been canceled. Yet we had a few people who we spilled the beans to asking us if they could come. People were so excited for us. But we just couldn’t invite others beyond immediate family. For one thing we can’t afford it and for another, the house just isn’t that big.

So many people have been very excited when they find out: everyone we’ve told has reacted with loads of congrats and something like, “It’s about time.” or “We figured you’d do it sooner or later.”

We also kept talking about how weird it felt to be considering “marriage”. Neither of us had any wildest dreams, let alone dreams of getting married to a male partner. Same gender marriage was not even a concept when we were growing up. It was unthinkable when we were young adults. And it was unheard of back when we first met in 1988.

It still requires mostly unfamiliar mental calisthenics to wrap around the idea of marrying, even after 26 years.

But we see it as a way of protecting what we have built over those years. And I’m not talking about money, because we haven’t much of that. Having heard horror stories of partners being denied visitation or the right to make decisions or the right to even claim their partner’s dead body or make funeral arrangements, we both think marriage will offer some protection.

And there is for me, at least, the fact that it is a “political statement”.  The fact is that legally we can be married; the fact that there are so many still who hate us – hate us no matter what our “legal” status; the fact that I want to be “in their face” with it to some degree. I want to flaunt it. I want to be able to say to someone who refuses to discuss with me an issue about Leon’s health insurance or whatever, “I’m his spouse. I’m legally able to speak to you.”

And I want us to be counted in the up-coming census. I want us to be added to the growing numbers of same-gender couples who are courageously “out” and visible and being role models in one way or another, whose visibility has begun to make our relationships a matter-of-fact reality.

And I want all the Ma Beckoff’s in the world to get off Arnold’s back and to know that Leon’s and my relationship is every bit as real, every bit as authentic, every bit as loving, as hers or as any male/female married couple’s. And that same sex couples who lose a spouse feel loss as deeply, as profoundly and as heart-wrenchingly as they do.

Being pronounced spouses feels kind of like Pinocchio being transformed by the fairy - now we are real.

Photos and more to come.







Monday, October 20, 2014

Grow Old Along With Me

Leon gave me this sundial maybe twenty-three years ago, give or take.
It made me teary-eyed back then.

I'm well on my way to growing old along with him, although I have 14 years on him, so I growing a little older along with him than he is, if that makes any sense...you know what I mean.

And of course Mary Chapin Carpenter sang "Grow Old Along With Me" which also makes me teary-eyed. Too bad there isn't a gay version, one without the words "man and wife together" - I would like it  in my playlist if I could find such a version, sung by a male vocalist.

Two branches of one tree..."
Saw this tree today while walking the dog
I hoping the best is yet to be...though there's a good chance the best has already been...but we're going for it anyhow.

Ordered Some Flowers

We rarely buy flowers for ourselves unless they're the outdoor, garden variety. Sometimes I'll get an assorted bunch at the grocery store for a vase.

But some occasions call for a nice center piece and a little festive color.

So we put in an order for an arrangement with our favorites: Bird of Paradise (Leon) and Iris (Frank). Mike, the florist, said he'd fill in with mums and such. Should be nice. We'll pick it up on Friday.
 

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Very Nice Comment and a New Poster

I received some great comments on Facebook (!) from a woman I've known for many years. We both worked in public health during the 1980s, in the early days of HIV/AIDS, doing counseling and HIV testing and education.

Laura has been one of the most supportive allies of the LGBT community in Connecticut. Here is what she said about Did You Ever See A Horse Go By?

Laura Schlesinger Minor 
Just finished reading it. Thank you, Frank for sharing such intimate details of your life to help those of us who didn't have to hide who we are understand what it takes to do it. Having known you for close to a quarter century, I'm so glad to have this book to add depth to knowing what your earlier life was like. The epilogue in particular is very moving.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Lost Musician

Back in the 90s I purchased a CD, maybe it was at a Pride Festival or some such gathering, and I only listened to it superficially. The album, "Strong For You" is by a gay singer/musician named Jeff Krassner.


I recently listened to it again and found several songs on the album that I really like - deeply touching love songs celebrating loving gay relationships.

Searching the net for Jeff Krassner returns very little content. It seems that he had a very difficult time getting a label to promote his music, started his own record company to produce his albums but fell short on marketing or exposure or finding a large enough audience. He has virtually disappeared from the music scene and there are no YouTube videos of songs on this album.

(My search brought up an interesting web site however - Queer Music Heritage and there is a playlist with two of Jeff Krassner's songs. You can actually click on each playlist and hear the music.

The album is available on Amazon, and used CDs go for one cent plus $3.99 shipping.

Unfortunately blogger does not provide an easy way to embed audio files and even if I were to make a video file for the audio and upload it to YouTube, I would probably be in violation of some copyright regulation which I think is stupid because I would not be making any money, but actually be providing free advertising. Oh, well, I might do it anyway...

The two songs I would post if I could are the title song "Strong for You" and the very sentimental "I Hear the Angels Sing" which you can hear in very short clips HERE.

At the risk of being a criminal, I will post the lyrics for you. Tell me what you think:


“Strong For You”  Jeff Krassner
When the blues come cavin’ in
and you lost your way again
I will be strong for you
When the rain comes pouring down
and shelter’s no where to be found
I will be strong for you

Let my love provide a fortress for your soul
A haven in the chaos
That’s raging out of control
When the things that people say
Make you hide our love away
I will be strong for you

When the lies consume you whole
And you feel you just can’t go on
I will be strong for you

I cannot be shaken
No, no, I will not be moved
Though the winds of change are shifting
I’m steady win or lose
And when you’re feelin’ weary
I will hold you up
Just fall into my lovin’ arms
Close your eyes and trust
I will be strong for you…strong for you
I will be strong for you

Now I cannot be shaken
I will not be moved
Though the winds of change are shifting
I’m steady win or lose
And when you’re feeling weary
I will hold you up
Just fall into my lovin’ arms
Close your eyes and trust
I will be strong for you… I will be strong for you

No, I will not move
I’m with you, with you, win or lose
I will be strong for you




“I Hear the Angels Sing”   Jeff Krassner
I can’t believe they don’t understand
‘bout the love I feel for you
When you touch me baby
I feel the angels sing

They tell me it’s wrong
That the devil is loose
They think he’s draggin’ us under
But they don’t have a clue

‘cause when you touch me baby
I hear the angels sing
And when you give yourself to me
Honestly, I hear the angels sing

What makes them think I would turn you away
In this world filled with madness and sorrow
I won’t sell my soul
Or hide any longer
I won’t love you in darkness
Just to make them feel stronger
‘cause when you touch me baby
I hear the angels sing
And when you give yourself to me
Honestly, I hear the angels sing

And you remind me that life can be sweet
Though the world says we don’t belong
So let them preach some old ancient rules
But I know in my heart
It’s the judgment of fools

‘cause when you touch me baby
I hear the angels sing
And when you give yourself to me
Honestly, I hear the angels sing
Over and over I hear the angels
Over and over I hear the angels
Over and over I hear the angels sing

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