And this.

And this.
Cain Stacy outside his door in the Billings, Montana area.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Vote. Seriously.

I have heard and read it all. By "it", I am mean all of the statements and arguments as to why people should not vote.

I get it.

Some think it doesn't matter who wins an election, that all candidates are the same. I suppose part of this could be true, yet I firmly believe that this statement is great for people who have the privilege of being heterosexual. Or for someone who believes the statement of equal opinions/actions from candidates doesn't include opinions around equality or any type of positive notion around gays and lesbians.

Believe me, there is a difference.

Vote.

From your local city council to the President, candidates have vastly different views on equal rights for gays and lesbians. I'm not asking candidates to carry a gay flag at a gay pride parade. I'm talking about candidates who don't even support civil unions. Or go out of their way to disparage or demonize gay people.

Yes, there are many other issues that I am concerned about, yet it begins with whether or not a candidate believes Mike and I should have equality on some level.

Vote.

Who represents you in your state house? In your state senate?

Who is your voice in the US House of Representatives?

What local issues are being decided on? How about your local Board of Education?

Check it out. There is a lot of information out there.

And remember us. Remember The Gay Vegans when you vote.

Early voting starts soon in many places. In some places you need to be registered 30 days before an election so that cutoff date is coming up. Check with your county clerk for more information.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I am in love with my husband



This seems like an intense statement. It's one I say almost every day, and as I posted on Facebook yesterday, my love for him is especially strong these days for whatever reason.

Mike and I met at our church about ten years ago. I had always thought he was handsome, and because he was partnered at the time I was very respectful of his relationship, only saying hi to them as a couple. Unfortunately, as in many relationships, gay and straight, Mike and his partner had become more like room mates than partners.

We had our first date, and our first kiss, on January 7th 2004.

The next month, as a gift to me for Valentine's Day, Mike became vegetarian while on a trip to New Mexico. That same trip, we found our dog Miguel on the side of the highway. I immediately stopped and went to try to catch him, and Mike was fully supportive. Through the mud and cold and snow I tried to catch Miguel. It took 45 minutes. He was only 8 weeks old. Mike was right there with me. I knew then that he was the one. (Miguel came home with us and is now 8 years old!)

A couple of months later, on his birthday, Mike went vegan. Not as a gift to me, but as a gift to himself and the animals.

In August I asked him to marry me. We went to a gay-friendly park (yes, it's unfortunate but true that we need to think about these things) and I got on a knee and proposed to him. I brought some vegan chocolate cake to sweeten the deal.

We got married on April 30, 2005. I call our wedding day the best day of my life. We were married in the same church where we met, surrounded by 160 friends and family. Since our marriage ceremony would not be legal, we called it a "loving act of civil disobedience". It was truly a beautiful ceremony, and the days surrounding our wedding were filled with the love and support of family and friends.

My beautiful husband.

Many times I tell folks that I have a charmed life. Indeed I do. And I try to act that way every day: grateful, loving, kind, happy. I have even had people tell me that there is no way I could be as happy as I seem. I think to myself, silly you, have you met my husband?

Our marriage is a real marriage. By that I mean that we don't always agree on everything and that every day is not always perfect. The really cool thing is that we know what to do when potentially negative things occur, and we both know to remember that we are incredibly in love with each other.

One day we, as a gay married couple, will have equal rights. Today we do not. Sure, we can have special paperwork and extra legal documents and extra agreements to ensure our relationship stands firm for always, yet none of that is equal to a heterosexual couple and their marriage benefits.

Marriage equality hurts no one. No one.

I know many of our readers are activists of some sort. I know most of you work to make this world a better place for all living beings. Please keep marriage equality in mind when you vote this November. Your vote could affect our marriage. Actually, it will affect our marriage regardless of who you vote for (or if you choose not to vote). It just depends on if it will support our marriage or work to attack our marriage.

Thank you so much for reading!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Big Brothers, Big Sisters

This month I celebrate one year with my little brother. We all know how times flies, yet in this case it seems unreal that we have been hanging out for a year now.

After Mike and I married we decided that we wanted to become foster parents. The whole experience was incredible, and we were able to add love and kindness to lives that hadn't known much of that. The foster experience allowed us to realize that we didn't want to have a child unless we could raise that child forever, and the adoption system seemed out of reach for us financially speaking.

So one day we talked about me becoming a big brother, and I started the process. It has been a perfect example of trying to make the world a better place for all living beings!

Big Brothers and Big Sisters has been around forever. Their work changes the lives of children and teens all over the country. I checked them out and decided that this was something that could work for me. I should add that, at least in Colorado, there were anti-gay practices happening and those are long since gone.

The process is simple: background check, fingerprinting, an interview with one of the staff, and a training. The time that BBBS asks is 2-3 three hangouts a month, agreed upon by you and your little (the child/teen you are connected with).

To maintain as much privacy as I can for my little, I won't use his real name. Joe is 8 years old and in the third grade at school. He was 7 when we met. He lives pretty close to us, which I think is important in creating a long-term relationship. BBBS's vision is that a big brother will remain so until the little graduates from high school, so living close to Joe makes visits a lot more convenient.

In the past year we have gone on hikes, had library visits, gone swimming (Joe loves the rock climbing wall at the Lakewood public pool!), spent hours on math problems, and volunteered at our local animal shelter (imagine that!).

The relationship is great for both of us. I get to be part of a wonderful young man's life and he gets a (hopefully) positive role model. He shares his home with his mom, older brother and younger sister. Me being his big brother doesn't take the place of him having a father, yet it gives him access  to another world, and growing experiences with an adult male.

I love it. And as tough as an 8 year old can be to read, Joe is digging it too. If you live in the Denver area and might be interested in becoming a big brother or big sister, check out their website: http://www.biglittlecolorado.org/ If you don't live in the Denver area a simple Google search will get you to your closest office.

Thanks so much for reading!

Monday, September 10, 2012

A political storm

Mike and I live in a swing state, Colorado. If you also live in a swing state, you most likely can relate to what we have to deal with regarding TV and radio commercials filled with attacks and in most cases untruths.

In Colorado, we also have an important election season around our state legislature. Equality for gays and lesbians in our state is very important, and we know that under house Republican leadership we will never see civil unions in Colorado. The Republicans have a one seat majority in our state house and we are hoping (and working towards) waking up on November 5th to a state house that has a Democratic majority.

In our county, we have 3A and 3b, both efforts to support our public schools by a very small property tax increase. This is a no brainer for us. We don't have children but we completely realize the importance of education and the importance of strong, successful public schools. We would give a lot more than what 3A and 3B will take from us if they pass.

Regardless of what is important to YOU, I urge you to get involved in this election process. There are huge differences between candidates, differences that mean something to many people.  Make sure your voter registration is up to date. If you have moved, make sure you are registered in your new home. Urge your friends and family to do the same. In Colorado, you can do this online. And remember that in most states, including Colorado, you must register to vote 30 days prior to an election.

I also invite all of you to do as Mike and I are doing and drop some cash to a candidate you support. Or have a fundraiser in your home for them.

There is a lot on the line this election. And yes, I have read all the opinions of others who believe there is no difference in the Presidential candidates, that the system is rigged and their a vote doesn't make a difference. I kindly disagree.

Many of our readers are, like us, activists. Whether animal rights, human rights, marriage equality, education, the environment or one of dozens of other causes. Make your voice heard. Get involved in the process.

Thank you so much for reading. My email address is vegandude@msn.com If you need help finding out about candidates in state and federal races in your area, click here: http://votesmart.org/


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mi primer blog escrito en español

 
En mi blog pasado, escribí sobre mi aventura a Santa Marta, Colombia hace 30 años. Ahora quiero tratar a escribir un blog en español para que pueda practicar el español y tal vez introducir mi blog a personas que todavía no lo conocen.

Para introducirles a nuestro blog si no lo conoce todavía, se llama The Gay Vegans, o Los Veganos Gay en español. El blog es una forma de escribir para mi, escribir sobre mi vida, mi vida con mi esposo, como es ser gay y vegano en un suburbio, la política, los derechos humanos y de los animales, y comida.    
 
Si Ud. habla español tal vez ya sabe que mi español está lejos de perfecto. Trato a practicar cada día pero siempre hay mas que aprender. Discúlpame y sepa que cada vez el español sería un poco mejor que la vez antes.

Ya tengo un año escribiendo este blog y me encanta el mundo de blogs. Cada dia tengo la oportunidad de escribir sobre tantas cosas que me importan, o solamente sobre una experiencia que he tenido. Mientras los cuentos de blog, los comentarios y también los correos de email que recibo, puedo aprender no solamente de una noticia o situación de que no sabia pero puedo aprender sobre una persona y su experiencia.

Les presento como una persona que cada dia quiero mejorar el mundo. Y quiero conocer a personas que quieren hacer lo mismo.

No se cuantas veces al mes podría escribir mis cuentos de blog en español pero por favor sepa que mi meta es hacerlo muchas veces al mes. 

Bienvenido a mi blog. Espero que lo disfrute.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A 30 year anniversary


When I was 15 my mom, younger brother and I left the suburbs of Detroit to head up north in Michigan a bit to Midland. My folks had gotten divorced and my mom wanted to be closer to her family in Essexville, MI.

So I started high school there and was miserable. High school for me sucked. It was definitely the most difficult part of my life. Yet at that point I wasn't aware of that, or of the huge opportunity that awaited me.

One day I was walking down the halls of school in between classes and listened to the announcements, one being about going to live abroad for a year through the Rotary Exchange Student Program. I of course made my way to the office and got information. About a year later, on August 30, 1982, after interviews and classes and meeting exchange students from all over the world, I landed in Santa Marta, Colombia to begin my year abroad.

I was 16 and had never flown nor ever been abroad. My flight from Miami had been delayed many hours and I was fascinated by the people watching in Miami International Airport. Before I knew it we were over Cuba, made a brief stop in Cartagena, and very late in the evening landed in Santa Marta.

I was greeted by my host parent, Pedro and Fanny Guido, and their 16 year old son Adolfo. He was especially excited as he was catching this plane in a few hours to head to the States to begin his one year abroad. I was tired but ecstatic as I saw my family patiently waiting as I went through customs.

I am 46 now and always look back to that year with fondness. Of course in 30 years so much has changed and regretfully missed my opportunity to go back to see Pedro and Fanny before they passed away. Between life's ups and downs and my fear of flying, I have never returned to beautiful Santa Marta. Last year I had the awesome chance to visit with one of my best friend's sisters from Colombia while Mike and I were in Florida and after spending a day with her it was definitely in me that I wanted to return.

My new passport came in the mail a couple of weeks ago and have been looking at flights ever since

I sidetracked. My time in Colombia totally changed the person I was. Engaging in another culture, learning another language, seeing a part of the world that I had no clue about and having tons of conversations about things I had never really discussed  taught me so much. Seeing crazy poverty, human rights issues, the most beautiful beaches in the world, a genuine friendliness not really known to me from the US at that point in my life and making friends some of whom I am still in touch with to this day. All of this was huge for a 16 year old white guy who came from privilege, even though I didn't understand it that way at the time.

I met the coolest people. People who took the time to teach me Spanish. I remember many a day when Pedro would drive me around pointing to things and saying them in Spanish. A busy eye surgeon with a family taking his precious free time to teach me. Semaforo rojo (red light) I heard so many times that it is something in Spanish that I will never forget!

I was 16. I typical, cocky teenager. I liked to do things my way. When my host sister Rossana suggested I turn off the US music and set down the book I was reading in English so that I could learn Spanish I was stunned, yet it was a great lesson. One of many I learned from her and many others, lessons that totally changed my life. I will be forever grateful for all of those who were so kind in so many ways.

Thiking of the kindness I have to smile about all of my host cousins. So loving in so many ways. They were a huge part of a wonderful time in Colombia.

It's been 30 years since I first arrived in Santa Marta and since I started to become the man I am today. My heart is filled with loving memories of all of the people I met, especially those part of my host family and those friends of mine who I smile about all of the time.

Thank you for reading!

NOTE: The photo is of El Rodadero, the beach/tourist area of Santa Marta just west and over a small mountain from the city.