Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Target supporting bigots. Again.

I never stopped shopping at Target. Calls for a boycott after news became public about their financial support for anti-gay bigots resonated with me but I kept shopping. Then I thought I heard that they had started giving to gay organizations and would stop supporting bigots.

Just to be clear, I think people can do whatever they want with their money. If a big company (or small business) chooses to support political bigots, so be it. I can then make the choice to not buy their product or shop with them.

As Mike and I packed for vacation I began getting information that Target, through their foundation, had donated to yet another anti-gay bigot, Ken Cuccinelli, who is running for governor in Virginia (which I consider my home state).

Ken Cuccinelli doesn't like gay people. He calls us "soulless". That is pretty harsh. He has said a bunch of other things about us, including that he wants to bring anti-sodomy laws back. He believes there is only one allowable way to have sex, and that way only includes one man and one woman. I digress from my original topic, but he also says he has never had or given or received oral sex. Red flags for sure.

Mr. Cuccinelli received $3 million dollars from a right-wing PAC called the Republican Governor's Association. Target donated $50,000 to the PAC. That is a lot of money. Imagine the bigotry that can be spread with that much money.

If Target did not want to support candidates that are anti-gay, they could say so when giving the donation.

My relationship with Target is on shaky grounds. Supporting a candidate that believes so many of their customers are soulless is disgusting.

Gay people shop at Target. Lots of us shop there.

I think we should stop. And I think anyone who believes in equality or even simple kindness should stop shopping at Target.

You see, when we shop at Target we end up supporting anti-gay bigots.

Ken Cuccinelli is a bigot, and Target loves him.

I would love your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

Monday, July 29, 2013


I have recently been writing some pretty personal blog posts and while in this frame of mind figure that now is a good time to write about family.

As a gay man who came out in the 80's, long before any dream of legal marriage, openness in serving in the military and even general, public acceptance, my thought around family became much broader than my blood relatives. I think this is pretty common with other gay folks who came out and had much more support from friends than family. Those same friends end up becoming family.

Homophobia and heterosexism are tough to deal with. Even tougher when negative feelings come from your own blood. Hence, a new family begins.

For the most part, Mike and I are fortunate with our families. There are a couple who we will just never be in relationship, but for the most part we are supported and loved by our blood families. The occasional homophobic comments or non-intended jabs become opportunities for conversation.

Recently one of our dearest friends had to say good bye to her dog, a senior who passed away. We, like many of you, know that pain. It's times like this where we are reminded of how important family is to us, and in this situation, reminded that our friend is indeed family to us.

No blood relative. Yet definitely family. The love we expressed to her and the support we tried to pass along all are examples of what family is and what family does in times of hardship.

Sometimes I hear about gatherings of my blood family and yearn to be part of that. We are always invited to such gatherings, yet as I look at photos and smile at family members that I love, I have to honestly admit that being there would not be good for me.

And that's not an easy thing to admit.

Mike and I do our best to bring  love, kindness, compassion and support to our relationships, whether that is a dear friend who we consider family or an actual blood family member. We are extremely fortunate (and grateful) to have so much love and kindness returned that we do not want to put ourselves in situations where we might have to deal with the opposite of that. Unfortunately in my family that is always a possibility.

Having been vegan for 17 ears I have also seen families have challenges when one of them becomes vegan. Judgement and jokes can make for difficult gatherings. To all of this I say that the same kindness and compassion can be expressed, and when negative actions continue, knowing when enough is enough. Unacceptable behavior is unacceptable, no matter who it is coming from.

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Awesome actions for this week

One thing I love writing about is that we all have the power to take action in making the world a better place.

Every year Mike and I take a two week vacation. Usually it is planned around visiting one of our parents (two if we're lucky). The past couple of summers we have been able to spend awesome time with all of our parents, and this year we decided to prioritize us and our marriage and are headed to southern California for food and beach.

As we count down the days before we leave, I wanted to share some ideas of how we can all be a voice for the voiceless this week. Some of these ideas are repeats and others are fresh from that turning wheel in my head!

Meatless Monday! Celebrate it! Tell friends who are not vegan or veg all about it and offer them ways (or meal invites!) to enjoy the day.

Walk a dog at a shelter. Yep, no matter what their tomorrow looks like, you can brighten their today with a nice walk and maybe some cuddling.

Play time with a cat in a shelter. Same idea as with the dog minus the walk.

Send a note to your favorite charity with a $25 donation. Tell them why you love them and why you are donating. This will have a huge ripple affect with those who work there. I promise it.

Have a quiet date night with your beloved. Or your best friend. As voices for the voiceless, we have to take care of ourselves.

Write an email to a politician who represents you on any level or your local police chief. Tell them what you think about animal cruelty or anything else important to you. I add the police chief because in Colorado several family dogs have been shot by police and I want our chief to know that we would like his employees to have better training and high expectations.

These are just a start and I hope you have time to do at least one.

With all of us doing actions like these we can rock the world!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Your favorite message t-shirt

My dear friend Josh wearing Herbivore's t-shirt, and one of my faves.
After being really good at keeping my t-shirt collection to one drawer and donating lots of them to non-profits, I am in the market for a new t-shirt. To be clear, it could be a used t-shirt, just thinking that if you have a favorite t-shirt you won't want to give it to me.

I would like to wear this new t-shirt on vacation which is starting this week. That's not going to happen, so it will be added to the shirts I wear all of the time during the summer and at the gym.

I like message shirts. My current favorite t-shirts include:

Mercy For Animals

Think Green. Go Veg. (PETA)

Marriage is so gay.

Love conquers hate.


Only Kale can save us.

Bullies suck.

You get the idea. I would love examples from all of you of what your favorite message shirt is. Sure, I can go online and search for days. Or I can go to our blog family and ask you, hence this post. A photo of the t-shirt would be awesome, as would a photo of you wearing the t-shirt. If that's not possible, just what the t-shirt says and where I can purchase one would be great.

Also, if you have a favorite t-shirt (or ladies, if your boyfriend or closest male friend does) and it's a size large and no longer fits or you want a new one, send it to me!

Thanks everyone. I can't wait to see your faves!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Don't be a dick

NOTE: My apologies if this word offends you. Not my intent. It's the word I use to refer to poor behavior on my part.

I have never shied away from writing truly personal blog posts and this one goes along that line.

Many days I say to myself that no matter what goes on today, don't be a dick.

I always try my best to be as loving and compassionate as possible. It might look easy. It's not.

Whether I am driving somewhere, sitting in a meeting, watching someone treat someone else disrespectfully... the list could go on and on.

This has become my main goal every day (well one of two actually): to not be a dick. I guess I could use the word "jerk" instead, but that really isn't as powerful of a word. I suppose super-jerk would be more fitting. In case you're curious, my second main goal is to be as much of service as possible to the world I live in.

Recently I was in a meeting talking about a future plan of action. I was happy, feeling centered. All was well in my world. Another person at the meeting started talking about something (I don't even remember what) and just doesn't stop. I become inpatient, and before you know it everyone around me can tell. My sweet, loving self has started going down the path of becoming a dick. Fortunately I didn't say anything.

To be clear, being a dick and being a voice for the voiceless are two very separate things. I would not hesitate to get in someones face who was being abusive to an animal, using anti-gay words or being violent to someone. What I am talking about is totally different.

Some people jokingly call it their dark side. For me, when I start being a dick, it usually means that something is going on inside of me. Someone says something I disagree with and I get all pissed off.

I am getting better. I have tools and ideas to consider when I start feeling negative or angry. The biggest thing I can do is to remind myself that I do not want to treat others in a way that I do not like to be treated. And that I want to treat everyone I encounter with love, compassion and kindness.

I also remember simple things my mother taught me growing up: take a deep breathe, count to 10, stick and stones.

I would LOVE to hear your experiences around this. Can anyone relate?

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back to the gym

Mike and I ran our first half marathon back on May 19th. I have run a couple of times since, no long distances just enough to get my heart rate up and get a good sweat.

I haven't worked out in the gym in a long time. Life gets busy. Work gets crazy. I'd rather come home after a long day and just relax, maybe watch a couple episodes of a past season of Dexter.

I don't get any healthier or any more fit if I don't exercise. At 47, I'm not really interested in the perfect body. Don't get me wrong, I want to look good, I just don't want to be in the gym every day for a couple of hours. A good physical week for me is three times in the gym for an hour or so.

The biggest reason I like working out is because of health. I feel better and I know that I am investing in my lifelong health savings account. Being vegan is a huge start. Not smoking and not drinking certainly helps. Continuous exercise is what wraps it all up and gives me a better chance of being as healthy as I can be.

Yesterday I went back to my gym after being absent for a  few weeks. The excuses mount: terrible allergy season that has not only affected my sinuses but also my lungs and breathing capacity; twisted my foot a week ago and it is still a little painful; and I'd much rather take a nap or lay on the couch and work on my blog.

I am SO glad I didn't. What an amazing workout! I felt awesome! Strong and ready to rock it. I am so glad I went and am ready to get back to a regular schedule.

I have gotten a lot better with what I eat and having a regular workout schedule is going to be a great addition to that.

It is all a process. My veganism only takes me so far. I realize when I am in a solid pattern of working out that I feel better physically and my body is only going to thank me in the future.

Off to drink my kale - spinach - blueberry - protein smoothie! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ending animal cruelty in our own lives

One of my favorite vegan dishes: Spinach enchiladas at Tarascos.

The main reason I became vegan is because I made a decision that I did not want to be part of the horrible, innate cruelty that happens to animals so they can become a meal. I wanted to do as least harm as possible to other living beings, and it seemed that not eating them was a good start.

Sure, I enjoyed meat and cheese and loved ice cream. The latter became the hardest item to give up. My last non-vegan hold out was Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream.

After deciding to not consume any animal or any animal by product so I wouldn't be part of the animal cruelty that comes with those things, the transition to a plant-based life was rather easy. And uneventful. The most exciting and dramatic events would be around new vegan products coming along or me learning how to cook an incredibly delicious vegan dish.

In 17 years of being vegan, I have never been bored with food. Veganism catapulted me into a world that I had no idea existed. Flavors and textures and colors, all seemingly very exotic and different, now part of my regular eating habits.

If you are thinking this you are correct: I give up eating animals because I do not want to be part of animal cruelty on any level and I am the one who gets a huge benefit in how I live. Not just by all of the amazing food, but also by becoming healthier because of what I don't put into my body!

It all started with wanting to do the least harm and it has become a strong desire to not only think of that but also to be as compassionate as possible.

I have written about folks who think they could never be vegan and I experience folks who think becoming vegan is overwhelming. I can tell you that it is fun and simple, but I get it. It might not seem that way.

Just because veganism or living compassionately or considering a plant-based way of living might seem overwhelming doesn't mean you can't get started.

Start with one meal or one day. Meatless Mondays is a great way to start. There are also some who have been getting into this vegan before 6pm idea. Sure. A good start. There are so many opportunities for every meal. I know I have said there already, but it really is quite simple.

The internet can be a huge resource. We have links to many helpful sites on the main page of our blog. You can also find a local meetup of people who meet regularly to enjoy a vegan meal, whether at a restaurant or a potluck.

Every meal can become an act of compassion towards animals.

Thank you for reading and keep us posted on your adventure!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Restaurant review - Appaloosa Grill

Many years ago I worked in downtown Denver. I remember finding this place that had a hummus plate and also a black bean burger, so every once in a while I would swing by there. Nothing spectacular, but decent, vegan food.

This past February I started a new job and am once again in downtown Denver. A donor I work with invited me to lunch  and suggested Appaloosa Grill and I said sure.

Times have changed.

The first thing I noticed is that they have steamed kale on the menu as a side dish! Hello! They also offer steamed broccoli! That's just the start!

I digress! Kale always does that to me.

I have been to Appaloosa Grill about five times in the last two months, all at lunch. I have always been greeted by a friendly hostess. Love that. As a reminder, my reviews are based on incredible vegan food and incredible service.

I have fallen in love with the Tofu Philly. If you are vegan, order it without the cheese. A couple of times the Philly has come out with cheese even though I ordered it without, but such is life. I have ordered the Philly four times, with a side of kale, and been utterly delighted each time. The other options include the black bean burger, which one of my lunch companions tried and devoured, as well as tofu being substituted for any meat in the lunch dishes.

There are a lot of options. And even though there are dozens of options for a vegan lunch in downtown Denver, this would be on the top of my list.

On the service side, it's lunch, so I am a little more forgiving when the server is not the friendliest or most attentive, as has been the case. I get that lunch crowds are in and out, so get them fed and get them fed fast. One of the things I love seeing at Appaloosa is the manager walking around and checking in with guests. That's always a good sign. I also hope that friendliness and being more welcome become more ingrained in their servers.

Definitely check out Appaloosa Grill. It is a bar/restaurant so you can go for lunch, for happy our, or for dinner. They also have live music many nights.

Appaloosa Grill is located at the corner of 16th Street Mall and Welton Street, on the east end of downtown Denver.

535 16th Street

Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading! Eat well!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Run a half marathon - Check!

If you know me personally, you know that I am not a runner. Never really have been. Although I am trying my best to become healthier every day, I never imagined running would be part of that.

So imagine my surprise when I was talking with my new co-workers about using the upcoming Colfax Marathon as an opportunity to raise money for the agency we work for, Urban Peak, and I say that I would be willing to do the half marathon portion! Urban Peak serves youth experiencing homelessness, and there isn't much I wouldn't do to support our mission.

But running? And a half marathon?

I went home after work that day and talked with Mike about it. He immediately said he would do it with me.

Holy cow!

Looking back, the entire experience was amazing.

Most importantly, together we raised $2,500 for Urban Peak in support of youth experiencing homelessness.

And there were so many other awesome parts of doing a half marathon. Mike and I got healthier. We are on a continual path of getting healthier and this really helped. I actually began to enjoy running. Just east of us is a city park called Sloan's Lake, and that is where I trained. Once around the like is about 2.5 miles. I would plug in my Latino hits list on Pandora and just run. It certainly wasn't easy at first, and there were training runs through the three months I trained where I thought I just couldn't do it.

And I kept at it. I checked in with other vegan runners around the country and I reached out to friends here who are runners. I learned not to over do it, and not to give up.

The day of the half marathon Mike and I arrived around 6:00am. We were both nervous, which is something we hadn't really felt until the day before the run. As the time came for the half marathon to begin we gathered with a few thousand others and waited our turn to start. One of the things we both loved were the continual references to "athletes", referring to us! We kept laughing about that.

Mike is a faster runner than I am so we knew before we started that we wouldn't run together. As we began I blew him a kiss, turned up Pandora, said a little prayer (basically asking that I not die during this attempt) and took off.

At first I thought of how far I had come. Then I started to think about how the money we raised would help others, folks who are challenged every day just to find shelter, food, acceptance and many days hope.

The last two miles were tough for me. At mile 12 a bunch of the firefighters from the Colorado Firefighters Calendar were lined up, shirtless, cheering us on. That helped.

I crossed the finished line and had tears in my eyes. Oh yes, I'm that kind of guy.

It was an incredible experience. I am pretty sure we will do it again next time. Sending a HUGE thanks to all of you who donated to our fundraising efforts and who gave us love and support!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Two years of The Gay Vegans

My how time flies.

In June of 2011 Mike and I were headed to Florida to go visit his mom. I had posted a little something about that on my fundraising blog. Then I decided that I didn't want to get personal on that blog so maybe I should create a blog where I could be totally personal. The Gay Vegans blog was born.

In the past two years this blog has become a huge part of my life. I have been able to share the ups and downs of my personal life, my activism, my politics, my goal to be a voice for the voiceless and my struggles.

Since June of 2011 there have been just over 77,000 visits to The Gay Vegans. That number blows me away. I know that there are sites and probably blogs that get that many reads in a day or a week, and for me it's huge to think that that many people take a minute or ten out of their lives to connect and read my latest post.

Here is a brief synopsis of the last two years:

We are a gay, married (not legally, yet) couple in Lakewood, Colorado. That's a west suburb of Denver. And we vote.

Being a voice for the voiceless can include many things: getting to know your state representative; writing to a letter to someone in power over a situation you support or don't support; boycotting an organization; making a donation; practicing a random act of kindness; going to a protest; speaking out.

We love to eat. We have our favorite places to eat and we engage restaurant owners in creating amazing vegan dishes.

We encourage building bridges amongst communities that may disagree on things.

We constantly speak out against hate, against religious extremism and against violence, even amongst those in our gay, vegan and animal rights communities.

We try to promote engagement, civil discourse and just basic conversation under the premise that we all have more in common than not.

Did I say we love to eat! We also love getting to know restaurant owners and supporting them in adding delicious vegan options.

Lastly, we use the blog to promote those rocking it in our world, products we love, people we love and restaurants we love.

It's been an amazing two years. We are grateful to all of you who have supported us and our calls to action!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Will you take 10 seconds for homeless youth?

My day job is as Director of Development and Public Affairs of Urban Peak, a 26-year old non-profit organization in Denver whose mission is to support youth experiencing homelessness on every level.

Urban Peak rocks.

Will you help us? I swear it only takes 10 seconds!

Urban Peak employee (and Americorps volunteer) Alex Vaassen won the Community MVP for the Colorado Rapids! This is an annual award and a huge deal for us at Urban Peak.

The next step is national voting. Each of the 19 MLS teams have a Community MVP. Now everyone can vote to see which MVP wins the national Community MVP.


Imagine what it will look like for Urban Peak, for our mission and for youth experiencing homelessness around the country if Alex wins. A win for Alex would put the conversation of youth experiencing homelessness on a national stage. For the MLS All Star game, where the national winner will receive her or his recognition, over a million people will be watching! This can be a huge opportunity to not only support Urban Peak, but all organizations that serve a mission like ours.

Voting started this morning at 9am. It will go through July 12th and then a winner will be announced on July 15th.

Please vote. Please vote often. Please send the below link to everyone you know. Please ask them to do the same. People can vote as many times as they like.

Imagine Alex on mid-field at the All Star game on July 31st in Kansas City!

We can win this. We have the most amazing staff around. We have committed donors, volunteers, supporters and board. We can spread the word throughout the country to get the most votes.

Here’s where you can vote, right now:

Votes can also be made on the MLS Facebook page:!/MLS/app_398709353508343

THANK YOU so much for your support with this. Please forward this to all of your friends. Voting literally takes 10 seconds!

P.S. You can vote as many times as you wish!