Thursday, January 31, 2013

Action of the week - reach out

I am still unemployed (today is day 21) and have been able to take "me" time during my job search. By the way, I did receive an offer letter yesterday and am hoping to take this job after looking into the benefits.

Yesterday I went to the Max Fund, a local shelter here that Mike and I support and where I have been volunteering for 12 years. We have fostered a bunch of dogs from here and last Saturday swung by to check about fostering Chico, a one-eyed Pekingese mix who is 8 years old and they believe would be better off right now in foster.

I had time yesterday after a lunch appointment to go visit with Chico again. He is pretty snappy and I wanted to see if he acted any differently on a slower day at the shelter. His only interest in my was to try to bite me, not in a way to harm me as he doesn't bite down, he just snaps.

While visiting with Chico a gentleman came into the shelter asking if he could pick up some food for his dogs. I am not sure of his situation except that he is experiencing difficult times and was asking for dog food as he could not afford it.

I wanted to tell him that I would buy all the dog food he needed until his times got better, but the Max Fund employee said to him that he would go check to see what they had. The employee came back in less than five minutes with a couple of bags of dog food. I was ecstatic.

If you are still thinking about Chico, more to come on him. I am going back today to bring him home as a foster. And you know that means a Chico blog post soon!

Do you know anyone like the gentleman who came in to Max Fund? Would you reach out to them with some dog food or treats, or a pound of coffee? Perhaps a care package with some treats? Mike and I are financially good right now but the gifts people have given since I lost my job did more than give us something nice, they filled us with love and gratitude. That's the perfect gift!

I have been unemployed for 21 days and have been blown away by the love and support I have received from friends, family, colleagues and people I don't even know. My hope is that all of us can do this, reaching out to those who might be in need. When the economy went downhill I clearly remember shelters I volunteer at getting more and more filled with dogs and cats from families who could no longer afford their care because of loss of a job or home. What can all of us to to support those who aren't quite there yet, but are struggling to care for their beloved companion animals?

Today when I go to the Max Fund going to donate dog and cat food for families struggling. I don't know what else to do but will ask them. I'm not sure how many animal shelters or homeless shelters have options to support those struggling, but I am sure there is something all of us can do.

Will you join us and reach out to those in need?

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Boy Scouts of America and equality

Being an openly gay man who believes in equality and fights every day for it, I have never really cared for or about the Boy Scouts. I have friends whose kids are involved in the Boy Scouts, and on that local level I think it can be great. The policies I have a problem with come from the top, the leadership of the BSA.

In some ways, I look at them as simply as an extension of the bigoted and discriminatory thought process of the Catholic and Mormon churches.

Their policy against gay men having anything to with the Boy Scouts has been hurtful to some, devastating to many more.

Before I continue please remember that I was raised Catholic and loved it. A lot of my family members and friends are Catholic, and I still believe that the work Catholic priests and nuns did in Central America in the '70s and '80s in regards to human rights was incredibly brave and part of what convinced me to be an activist. And what strengthened my faith. Social justice and human rights are still at the core for some in the Catholic church.

Back to the Boy Scouts. You might have heard that they are considering changing their policies around gay men. I haven't read all of the press reports yet but what I have read isn't that promising. This chapter over here could be safe for an openly gay man but this chapter over there, well no thank you. After years of telling chapters across the country who they can or cannot allow in, they suddenly feel that telling chapters who they can allow in is wrong. Seriously?

Yes, seriously.

On the other gender side of this you have the Girl Scouts. No policy against openly lesbian women participating on any level and they are thriving. By the way, I need to buy some Girl Scout cookies! Mike just told me that there are two vegan options this year. Those of you who know a girl scout, send them my way!

Bigotry is ugly. It harms more people than we know, and on more levels than we can even comprehend. And the biggest problem that I have with it is that is is absolutely unnecessary.

Bigotry is unnecessary.

We don't have to like everything about a person to honor their humanness. To respect them. To realize that they have the right to exist and to live in a world free of hatred or violence, whatever form that violence takes.

The Boy Scouts of America still don't get it.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I love Racquetball!

 Many years ago I used to play racquetball at the YMCA where I was a member back in Norfolk, VA. I loved the game. It was tough.

When I moved to Colorado 14 years ago I stopped playing. That was until a couple of months ago when a good friend of mine who also goes to my gym (the Wheat Ridge Rec Center) say yes to an invite to play. We have been playing every week since.

We typically can get three games in during our one hour court reserve time. This past Saturday he beat in me in all three games. The week before it was me beating him in all three games.

I love racquetball! It is a lot of fun and each time I place I feel like I get an intense workout. I can pretty much feel every part of my body because of all of the stretching I do during a game. I wouldn't say I'm a good player yet, but I sure do have a blast.

In other blog posts I have written about eating healthy, going to the gym and even about the time I tried a personal trainer. I as approach 47 years of age I am paying more and more attention to my health. Simply being vegan is not enough for me. The exercise part is crucial. That's where racquetball comes in.

Racquetball is part of my overall health plan, and it's a blast. At least for me. I wanted to share about my love for racquetball for two reasons:

I know many folks who try their best to eat well, as I do, and don't like to exercise. I wanted to offer a way to exercise that could be a lot of fun. And believe me, you will get your heart rate up!

The second reason is because (and remember that I am not a doctor or nutritionist or anything close to that) I think that eating well combined with exercising a few times of week is the best for me. I feel better not only physically but mentally. I have a great time with a good friend. And I am sure that it is good for my heart and other parts of my body.

Want to play with more than one person? No problem. You can play with two, three or four people!

So check it out! Not every gym has a racquetball court but it shouldn't be too time consuming to find one. Most gyms have a racquet and balls that you can borrow. Eye protection would be good too!

Let me know what you think if you try it!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Living in exile

I used to think that only gay people had to deal with this based on my personal experiences. Of course that has never been true.

The Christmas before I came out I was with some friends who were also gay and in the Navy and they were talking about going to Washington DC for the holiday. I thought it odd that they wouldn't go home and their response was that this is what it was like to live in exile. Back then, as now, some families did not want their openly gay children at family gatherings or special occasions. Yes, it's hard to imagine and I assure you this still happens.

More common these days is that the gay family member will be "invited" to the big family gathering or special occasion but the partner or spouse is not welcome. Yes, in 2013, this conversation is being had at many kitchen tables and in many living rooms.

When my cousin Jennifer got married she made it very clear that me and my partner were invited. This was back in 1997 and it almost seems like a lifetime ago. Jennifer and I had grown up together, I love her very much and it didn't even come close to a thought that my partner would not be invited to her wedding. (Not to mention that gay people stereotypically give great wedding gifts!)

In the 23 years that I have been out there have been many times I did not want to attend a family gathering because of who might be there or what might be said in front of my partner and now husband. I have always understood that there will be people everywhere, in and out of family, that are not comfortable with me dating or being married to a man. Knowing this helps me in making decisions on whether or not I want my beloved to be treated poorly. This is more like self-imposed exile, and it is no fun.

 Mike and I have family members who decide not to visit us because they are afraid they won't be able to eat meat while visiting us. The practice in our home is that there is no violence allowed, including that of eating animals. It's really not that big of a deal as our neighbors are not vegan and there are a ton of places to eat around us that serve meat.

And then there is religion. Friends who are of different faiths in their parents eyes are not included in certain gatherings because one of them is not of the family faith.

And race. The list could go on and on. Whether we choose to not be a part of something or that choice is made for us, living in exile is no fun. What we can do about it is to show up at gatherings with love and openness and to accept nothing more than love and recognition for who we are or who our partner or spouse is. We can also make sure that through word and action we never allow friends or family to live in exile, whether it is self-imposed or not.

We want our friends and family to always feel love and support from us, to always know that they have a safe, loving place in our home.

To anyone reading this is is living in exile: You are not alone. We love you.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Protecting our companion animals

In the recent past two companion dogs have been killed by police officers in the metro-Denver area. One of these killings happened last week.

Mike and I share our lives and our home with six companion animals: Rock, Miguel, Suga and Monty the dogs and Chin and Cheng the chinchillas. As all of you do for your companion animals, I love each of them with all of my heart and do everything I can to make sure they are safe, loved and happy.

Both dogs that were shot by the police had families that loved them.

I can't even imagine what those families are going through. In one case the dog got out of the house. In the other, the police entered the wrong house.

I love letting our dogs out front. For the most part they stay with me. For the most part. I have to keep an eye on them. Mike has tried so many times to get me to stop letting them out front, and I assure you I am as close as ever. Except for Miguel. He'll stay with me and not leave the yard, even if another dog comes by.

Our dogs are up to date on their shots. They are all licensed. They have a huge fenced-in backyard where they are safe to roam, play and sniff. We take them around the block and to a local open space for walks. And of course they are loved on all the time!

After the first dog was shot and killed I considered writing a letter to our Chief of Police asking him to create a policy or strengthen a current policy on interaction with people's companion animals. Now I am for sure going to write the letter, and perhaps contact my two city council members. Many times I have written about encouraging our readers to be the voice for the voiceless. This is an example of doing just that.

I ask you to make a connecting with your local police department and to ask the person(s) who represents you on city council to make sure that companion animals are protected from police in any situation unless death or injury is imminent. The more we talk about this and the mroe we communicate our thoughts to those in power, the likelihood of another dog being killed by police decreases.

Will you join us?

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A little respect

Before you get too excited, let me tell you that this post is not about one of my all-time favorite songs by Erasure. Sorry.

This post is about basic respect of each other, especially online

There are two words I don't need to read from a communication from someone. One is the "F" word as in "F___ you" and the other is the "F" word used to dehumanize, threaten or attack a gay male.

Don't get me wrong, I have been known to use the first one, especially like "What the ___". What I am writing about today is the use of offensive words, offensive to me, in communicating any type of message via the web. Especially if you have not personally met me.

Both of these words, when coming from someone I do not know, are violent.

Being an out, gay blog, I have gotten the latter of the words many times, usually in an email. I have gotten called that at protests and at hearings. It's a disgusting word, one that tells me right away what the person saying is like.

Yesterday I posted a tweet about liking what President Obama said in regards to gay people. As far as I know it was the first time this was done in an inauguration speech. I loved it. I am aware that many do not like President Obama, his person, his policies, his beliefs, and my tweet was about this one part of one speech.

Of the hundreds of comments, emails, and feedback items that I get, it's always the one or two negative ones that get to me. When someone responded telling me to get some "f___ dignity" I was honestly blown away.

Does everything I post have to sit well with you? We all know the answer to that, especially if you are reading this blog. My blog posts are all over the place and many times include topics that many disagree on.

Can we all simply respect each other online? Can we debate or discuss without throwing out offensive language?

And if we openly support a cause or a belief, what do actions like this do for our cause?

As you know I was recently laid off and I am in day 12 of my job search. I at first thought that the reaction I was having was due to being a little more sensitive these days. That lasted for a couple of seconds before I realized that I simply felt disrespected. From someone who does not know me. At all. A second person communicated with me a similar position about my tweet, and this person isn't even connected with me anywhere!

Respect. It can be so easy.

And please, unless you have read it on my blog or interact with me in my personal life, do not assume you know me. My husband has been with me for years and years and is still learning things about me.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Vegan New Mexico

After being laid off last week I jumped into the job search. Having never been unemployed, I wasn't really sure what to expect. After settling in over the first couple of days I decided I could do a job search from anywhere. So Miguel, one of our furries, and I headed down to Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit our dear friend Tammy.

I have been traveling to New Mexico ever since I moved to Colorado 14 years ago. I love New Mexico. One thing that makes a place/area able to make it to my "love" list is having plenty of good vegan food. New Mexico does not disappoint. I knew that before this trip but during this trip Tammy turned me on to whole new vegan food experiences that you must check out if ever in The Land of Enchantment.

Our first night we went to the gym before heading to dinner. As much as I like to eat, remaining active and working out during a visit anywhere where I am going to try new places is important. The first night we went to Thai Vegan. There are two in Albuquerque and we went to the one on Central Avenue. Beautiful place, amazingly friendly staff, and a loving greeting by the owner. They have fake meats and a bunch of desserts. And, as you might guess from the name, everything is vegan. We tried several things, Tammy got a crazy-big salad with tofu and I got a chicken/spinach peanut sauce dish. We got a couple of appetizers too, of course. I loved this place.

The next morning I got early and headed to the Flying Star Cafe. Great place to work on a job search as this place is filled with folks working on their laptops and conversing. I loved it. And endless coffee. From a vegan food perspective there isn't a lot, but the tofu scramble is delish. It's not on the menu but you can order it.  Free wireless too so perfect for an unemployed vegan guy who is hungry for food and a job. I know that there are at least two locations, this one is on Central Avenue.

While working on my job search I had no idea that my life was about to change in a huge way. Tammy was taking me to Mint Tulip, an all vegan cafe right across from the University of New Mexico. Vegan shakes. That's all I have to say. Well, I could stop there but there is so much more to tell. The place is super cute. Owner and staff totally friendly. I ordered a peanut butter chocolate milkshake, Tammy got strawberry. We started our eating with chips and queso. We both got the grilled cheese sandwich. Oh my.

The next day we went back and I got the sausage and cheese biscuit. Well, two of them, with a shake of course.

Mint Tulip is a MUST stop if ever in Albuquerque.

The blissful trip continued the next day when Tammy took me to Ten Thousand Waves. Just outside of downtown Santa Fe, about an hour from Albuquerque. Mike and I had been before and I love it. A Japanese spa with hot tubs and hot springs. You can partake in as much or as little as you wish, depending on how much money you want to spend. I am content with the hot pool and sauna, reading in between soaks and sweats.

After a couple of luxurious hours at Ten Thousand Waves Tammy just had to take me to a new vegan place in Santa Fe, Momo and Co. We decided to swing by there, get a couple of vegan cupcakes for the road, and then go quickly back to Albuquerque to grab another meal at Mint Tulip. It didn't quite work out that way as Momo and Co. is not just a bakery. They have a bunch of delish vegan meal options, including waffles! Note: Almost everything is vegan, but double check.  Tammy ordered a cupcake and I inquired about the waffle. Yes, they could prepare it to go. Would I like butter with that? Oh my.

This photo is not of the waffle I fell in love with but a great example of the vegan creations Momo makes!

Note: As I become a better blogger I realize that when including friends/family in a post, you don't want to write a tell all. Suffice to say that one of the many reasons I love Tammy is that she loves to eat like me!

Tammy patiently waited while they worked on my waffle. I had a chance to talk with Momo, the owner, whom I truly love. After a few minutes we were set, and as Tammy drove us back to Albuquerque and to another meal at Mint Tulip I totally enjoyed my vegan waffle with vegan butter and berries. As much as  I loved the waffle, definitely try a cupcake or two as well.

There is much more to Albuquerque and Santa Fe and this blog post only covers what I experienced during this three-day trip. I urge you to explore the vastness that is New Mexico, knowing that in these two cities you can eat well for sure.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fighting the cowards

There is a Mercy For Animals video that is out there about the dairy industry, asking folks not to consume dairy. I decided a long time ago not to add videos or photos of animals being mistreated just to give our readers a break from that. If you'd like to see the video I'm sure it's on the MFA website. And I should also add that Mike and I donate a lot of money to MFA because we absolutely believe in their work.

I felt compassion for the cows in the video. I wanted to take away their pain, suffering and fear. I wanted to stop the cowards who were inflicting these things on them.

My compassion extends to all living beings. I mean all. Not just dogs. Not just animals. All living beings. The video I watched this morning while enjoying my morning coffee surrounded by our furry companions brought the cruel reality that cowardly and weak people torture animals and feel good about it.

I wonder what happened to these people to make them so horrible that they have to beat or kick or instill fear into a living being just because they can.

And this is what the meat and dairy and egg industries are all about. This is what happens every day, every night, behind closed doors so everyone who eats the nicely packaged product has no clue how the it got there.

Well, these days they do. Every day that I see an undercover video I feel good that the story of cruelty and torture and fear is being told. The light shines on the cowards. In some cases, they are actually being charged with felony cruelty to animals.

I believe the best way to fight the way these folks treat animals is to not pay them. I mean don't financially support what they do by purchasing or consuming their product. Tell them that you abhor their actions by cutting them off.

Your employees brutalizes an animal; I support you no more. Your industry says it's OK to instill fear on animals and torture them before you kill them for meat; I say that I will not support your industry. You are a politician who takes money from and supports companies that treat animals this way; I say that I will not vote for you and I will fight against your support of cruelty.

Is this radical? No way. Radical is continually watching cowardly people kick, beat and torture animals without doing anything to stop them. Radical is saying "I know it's terrible how they treat those dairy cows" while chugging down a glass of milk.

Cruelty continues with permission. Let's take that away.

Thank you for reading. Please support those groups that are shining a light on animal cruelty and animal torture.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I have always used this blog to write about Mike and I, equality, compassion, being vegan, and our experiences of being a gay, vegan couple in the suburbs. I have shared the good and the bad in my life, and decided this morning to continue that tradition.

Yesterday I was laid off. In my professional life I am a fundraiser, a Director of Development. I had rocked it for almost two years at our local opera company. Loved my job. After a very tough year in fundraising my boss decided that cutting back would begin with me.

I wasn't surprised. Life had become dark at work in the past week. A lot of closed door meetings and no communication at all.

When my boss called me down to his office and I walked in to see him and our Human Resources guy, I was honestly relieved. He told me his story of why, my HR guy gave me some paperwork, and I headed back to my office. Tears were shed by some of my peers. I was grateful for their kindness and support, and for helping me move out of my office!

Although I never really quite fit in at this company, I did love it, and already miss a few of my co-workers. I will also miss many things around the opera performances, which kind of surprises me.

I had one job interview/chat yesterday afternoon and have another on Monday.

And so less than 24 hours after being laid off I am in my dining room surrounded by the furries doing job searches, trying to not be angry with being let go and thinking that I have a full day today to rock it.

A friend and professional peer is taking me to my favorite Mexican restaurant, Tarascos, for lunch. That's my only solid plan for the day.

I have never been unemployed, so this is new to me. I have been fortunate to always be the one who gets a call asking if I am interested in a job.  I feel like I was born to fundraise but who knows what my new adventure looks like.

I promise not to inundate you with blog posts, yet I will keep you posted. Meanwhile, if you hear of a fundraising job with an organization that you think is making the world a better place, let me know.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Action of the week: Write a letter

More specifically, write a letter to the editor at your local newspaper.

Almost every day you can find a story that is about something you care about. More importantly, it is about something or someone that could use your voice: an abused woman, a polluted river, a tortured dog or cat, a homeless person or a shot bull elk.

The shot bull elk example comes from a recent tragedy in which a Boulder police officer shot and killed a bull elk in a city neighborhood to the outrage of the community. Petitions have gone up, letters written and many are calling for the firing of the officer.

A letter to the editor is a fantastic way to support something or someone that you believe in. If there is an article in the newspaper about an animal that was tortured and you are outraged, write about it. Be a voice for the animal.

It seems that many people read the letters to the editor. It's a great forum to bring up issues that might be new to some readers and for people who are open to different thoughts and ideas.

And it's easy. Most newspapers are also online, and some have letter options online. One simply fills out the online form and adds the letter into the form. Other newspapers have it so you can just email a Microsoft word document to them.

I have had several letters to the editor published, from letters about gay marriage or anti-gay bigotry to letters about animals in labs or being vegan.

You never know if your letter might create a dialogue, and have someone think about something they have never thought of before.

Try it. And let me know what happens!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Election is over - Time to get involved

Several years ago Mike and I were renting a home for a year while we looked for our perfect place. We met a couple who was going to backpack the world for a year and it all worked out for us to live in their home. We loved it.

There was one problem: the neighbors.

They kept their dog chained outside. All the time.

We tried to be a voice for the dog, no luck. So I called our city councilwoman to see if there was a law being broken. The dog had shelter and access to food and water and that was all that the law required.

Eventually the neighbor took the dog off the chain. And the city councilwoman began a process of seeing if the city law was enough to care for dogs who are kept outside. 

Those of us who are voices for the voiceless, who fight for animal rights, human rights and equality, have an opportunity to be an even stronger voice. It's called politics.

This isn't the first time you have read about this on our blog. I firmly believe in being politically active. Not just voting, but communicating with and getting to know those who represent you on city council, in the state house, the state senate and even the US Congress. Better yet, I love getting to the point when an elected official knows me and what I stand for and what is important to me.

Don't know who represents you on these levels? I have you covered. Just go to this website and type in your zip code:

Most of the laws that affect us in our daily lives are state laws. The opportunity to help animals, the homeless, battered women or to support equality can all start at your state capitol. Love organic vegetables? Let your state representative know? Abhor animal cruelty? Email your state senator. Want more bike lanes or less access to assault weapons? Call them both!

It really can make a difference.

In Colorado our 2013 session begins next week. Our sessions run from January to May. This week I emailed my state representative reminding him how Mike and feel about certain issues that might be voted on this session, and additional reminders about other issues important to us just in case they are brought up.

The time is now to get involved.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Friendlier places for vegans to eat

Mike and I celebrated New Year's Eve last night at our favorite restaurant, Linger. The four course meal was one of the best I have ever had. Everything that we love about this restaurant was shining bright last night.

Linger is not a vegan restaurant. It's not a vegetarian restaurant. They happen to have the best (in our opinion) vegan food around, and they know how to treat customers. The service we get has always been extraordinary. Amazing vegan food and friendly, hospitable service. No wonder it's our favorite.

The owner, chefs and staff at Linger get it. They love food and know that they can be even more successful if they create delicious food that everyone wants to eat. Their menu is filled with items that are marked vegan, gluten free and nut free. Vegan without gluten and soy, no problem.

We are thrilled to have a restaurant like Linger where we live. There are more and more places to eat where good to great vegan food is found, and it's because of people who eat vegan going out in the world and asking for good vegan food (in some cases demanding it!). It's not difficult. And boy have times changed.

In the seventeen years that I have been vegan what I can choose from to order anywhere has completely changed.

Restaurant owners who hear from vegans about adding even one or two vegan items to their menu and listen to the request typically benefit from what they add to the menu. If they create delicious vegan dishes, word gets out. When one vegan wants to do a food gathering, such as a celebration, they can bring a bunch of people to a vegan-friendly restaurant that they love.

Just today we had lunch at a place we had stopped going to because of inconsistencies with vegan food. We had had very nice conversations with management and changes took place. The staff knows what is vegan and what is not vegan.

It starts with friendly conversation and a desire to be able to eat out and enjoy a nice vegan meal. It becomes big change, and at its' essence becomes a voice for the voiceless.

The first step is that restaurant owners need to know us. They need to know who we are and why we're vegan, and why we want their place of business to have more vegan items.

The restaurant business is not easy. Having friendly customers who want to make their business even better makes for a great day for the owner.

Try it. In the end you may just have more delish vegan choices the next time you go out to eat!