Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finding the Right Guy

I received an email from a young man who described his desire to meet another guy like him -- a guy-guy.  I hate to say it, but a "gay guy" is often aligned or malaligned as being effeminate.  Not all gay men are that way, but a number of them are.

I've posted before about masculine men, overcoming gay male stereotypes, where to find a masculine gay man, and how I found my man.  But let me reiterate some points that are related from my own life experience.

Most gay men don't realize their interest in men until a bit later in life.  During high school, he usually "goes through the motions" of dating girls, going to the usual high school events like dances, etc., and playing a role that society (and parents) expect.  Think about it:  parents are the typical straight couple.  They expect their children to be heterosexual and tend to resist the thought that their sons may be gay.

When I was in high school, I jumped in with both boots.  I was very active in various clubs and groups, and excelled in my studies.  I became Salutatorian, which is a fancy way of saying that one other person beat me out scholastically to be the Valedictorian.  So be it.  High school was fun, but very focused.  My social life was in large circles; not with any one girl (or any one guy, for that matter.)

When I went to college, I was also busier than a beaver.  I thought I knew what I wanted to study, and worked hard at it.  But I had wide and varied interests.  What resulted was three undergraduate degrees in a relatively short five-and-a-half year timeframe, with a year of that spent studying in Europe.  On top of that, I became President of my college social fraternity, President of two other clubs, an officer in campus-wide student government, and maintained a 3.9 (out of a 4.0) gradepoint average on about 20 - 22 credits per semester.  I didn't have TIME for a social life!

After college, I began working full-time, and going to school for a Master's Degree.  Again, all work and no time for fun.  I would ride my motorcycle on those occasional off-times for fun, and would hang out with some friends on rare occasions.  But mostly, I remained focused on civic work (when I began my volunteering in the community), on completing my graduate studies, and working... working... working.  The work involved a huge amount of domestic travel.

By the time I reached my late 20s, I was feeling the sands of time dripping through that hourglass, and was wondering if I would ever "settle down."  The family jokes about the "perpetual student" saw me working on a doctorate through completion.  Then they all kinda said, "so when are you going to find 'the right woman' and settle down?"

I had figured myself out by then, and gently explained that I'm not interested in women.  About the same time, the HIV/AIDS crisis was at its peak of confusion and fright.  My Mom thought that even dating another guy would result in my contracting this disease, and dying a horrid death.  I "laid low" (that is, didn't have sex with anyone) because I was scared, too.

But human nature being what it is, I wanted to find "the right guy," settle down, and have a life together with a home and the proverbial picket fence, flower gardens, and a life.  I mean, a real life with someone who is your best half, your best friend; the guy who supports you through life's trials without question or criticism, and who is the bedrock of your life.

So by my mid-30s, I began looking around.  The Internet had not yet been widely deployed to the masses.  The only options I had were to go to bars... which I didn't like.  I could dress the part, but I turned into a pumpkin way too early (like by 9pm, even back then.)

I got the weekly gay paper and read the ads for guys looking for guys. I arranged some dates.  All duds.  I joined a skydiving club, which I truly enjoyed... but all the guys had girls and even though this was a very masculine activity, no gay masculine men were in that group.  I went hiking with some groups, and found a gay guy in one of those groups, but he was "involved" with someone else.

I kept looking.  I joined a "leather/levi MC" club (mistakenly thinking it was a motorcycle riding club) ... and that's when I met my man.  I knew from the moment we first met that "he was the one."  The day we met is the date we refer to it being our anniversary, because we've been together ever since.  Seventeen-plus years, with a lifetime to go making the bootprints of our journey.  

Had I not met my partner then, I would have kept looking.  Joining groups, hanging out in straight pubs and continuing involvement in civic work.  There are gay men in these places.  They just don't hang a sign around their neck saying, "I'm a single masculine gay man."

This young man is interested in meeting a man to build a life, not just for sex. Believe me, a relationship with a man takes work, and isn't all sex.

Anyway, what I advised this young man was to continue with his college career and focus on what's best for him academically.  If that brings him to grad school in another state, that's fine.  If getting a spot in grad school is local, then so be it.  But focus on his needs for his future career and interests first.  Get a job where you want to work and will rise each day saying, "oh goodie!  I get to go to work today!"  (Remember, if you're unhappy at work, you will be hard to be around, and few guys will want to hang around with a miserable person.  Make yourself happy, and you'll have more people interested in you.  No one wants to date a sadsack.)

Then once your studies and work are settled into a predictable and pleasant routine, begin looking around.  That is, provided you haven't met someone before then.  

It happens in the most unlikely circumstances, and when you're not looking.  Take your time, focus on your needs, and don't obsess about it.  Good things happen to those who wait.  (And I can relate a number of stories from gay men who didn't wait, and got into some fairly awful situations.)

Life is short:  take care of yourself, and make the priorities your life.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Leather Ties

Okay, I have ranted about not wanting to wear a noose (that is, a necktie) to work. My partner has "other plans."  The other day, he presented me a gift of two very well-made leather ties, one in blue and one in grey (not all leather must be black). He bought them from 665 Leather of West Hollywood, California, as a "you got a job, now wear a tie" gift.

Hmmm... I guess he knows me too well. I would like to wear leather to work, but of course I can't. However, in the right circumstances, a dress leather tie would look cool!

Of course, I had to put them on with some leather shirts in my gear closet. They have a nice appearance together. Some day soon I will try them on with a regular shirt, but until then, I'll just hang out in leather, even monochromatic leather. :-)

How thoughtful my best half is. Truly... he found a way for me to want to wear a tie! LOL!

Life is short: make accommodations and cherish the love.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gallery of Motorcops

I spent a good deal of time processing photos that I took on September 25, 2010, at the police rodeo that I attended and at which I served as a judge.  I posted the gallery on my website.  Come check it out!

Someone asked me if I, ahem, "got excited" while surrounded by all those booted bike cops.  You know, to tell you the truth, the answer is no.  I enjoyed the event; don't get me wrong.  But while I enjoy looking at the cops in uniform, including their boots, it doesn't make me feel a certain way (that gay guys may think about.)  

I work with cops on community activities where I live and have attended a number of these police rodeo events.  It's not a big deal.  Cops are people too, and most of them are very friendly and are happy to explain things to us "biker civilians" if asked.

The only feelings I had were: 1) admiration for fine public servants; 2) awe -- watching them gracefully handle their big bikes through challenging events; and 3) relief -- at the end of the day when I could sit down!  Standing for hours is painful!  LOL!

Meanwhile, you may be interested in the entire set of bike cop galleries on my website.

Life is short:  motor officers deserve appreciation!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Graceful Motorcops

I have always been impressed with how motorcycle police officers handle their bikes.  I call it graceful.  Observe in some of the images below how they look where they want the bike to be, rather than what is ahead.  A lesson I need to continue to learn by practice.  These are a few images that I took during the police motorcycle competition held Saturday, September 25.

Life is short: look where you want to be!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sun-filled, Cop-filled Day

I spent the day yesterday serving as a judge for a police motorcycle rodeo.  It was interesting, especially watching the motor officers ride through the courses.  Many ride with such grace, it makes me wonder how I can even start my own bike, much less move it down the road.  They're really amazing.

Below is a photo of me on the course serving as a judge.  (I'm the one in lime yellow, in case you were wondering.)

Life is short:  volunteer your services!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again

Woo-hoo, it's that time of year again.... and this year, I get to serve as a volunteer, and be up close to the action.  So many boots, so little time... (giggle)

Friday, September 24, 2010

It Gets Better

A friend of mine with whom I attended school since we were in first grade posted a message on Facebook the other day, indicating how miserable she felt in high school. She's lesbian -- and I didn't know it until later in life when we found each other again through Facebook.

She described how left out and unhappy she felt during high school. Funny, I didn't remember that. She was the star of our high school plays. I thought she was well-liked and admired.

I remember feeling kinda badly during school, too ... but not because I was gay; I didn't know I was gay then. I just didn't really know much about my sexual orientation. I do remember, though, being picked on by bullies and called "fag" and "queer" among other names. If I didn't have my taller twin defending me all the time, I probably would have been dead meat.

Overall, I had a miserable junior high experience (age 12 - 14), as my father died when I was 12 and I went through puberty late. I was a meek weakling ripe for school bullies to toy with. By high school, I had become more confident and secure, mostly due to teachers who treated me with respect, by becoming involved in activities in which I assumed leadership positions, and also by serving as my brother-the-jock's strongest cheering section.

Anyway, I'm here to say that as you get older, it does get better. It really does. You come to terms with yourself, and with others around you. Your family deals with it too, and most families, like mine, accept. I'm very happy that my family has long since moved beyond mere "acceptance" to having me feel embraced, always loved....

The following video shows two young men describing how bad the felt during high school and during their coming out process. It's interesting to watch. Please view it. It provides assurance that I can attest to as well: it does get better.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cowboy Boots for Work

While I really do prefer to stomp in the mud sometimes or wear leather regularly, I admit, muddy boots or full leather won't quite work in the office (giggle). Fortunately, I won't have to dress like this, either. A relaxed dress code doesn't require coat & tie for daily office wear where I'm going.

However, dress slacks and shirts with a collar are required. Fine, I can live with that as long as I don't have to wear a noose very often, or a restrictive, hot jacket. Face it, as I have said often on this blog, I'm a jeans-n-boots-n-leather kinda guy.

Anyway, as a present to myself, I looked for a pair of new dress cowboy boots to wear to work when I start. I have always liked Lucchese Classics, but their prices were beyond what I wanted to pay. I mean, $700 for a pair of cowboy boots that look identical to a pair that cost 1/3 as much?

I know there is a quality difference, but I just didn't want to pay that much for boots. However... as I surfed around, I found a pair of Lucchese Classic cowboy boots in dark grey that were on a close-out. I picked 'em up for a really great price. I ordered them on a Wednesday and they were delivered on Friday, with no charge for shipping.

The only thing was that these boots were one-half size larger than I usually wear. That's fine -- I bought a pair of Dr. Scholl's gel insoles and put them in the boots. The insoles take up the extra room and make the boots very comfortable for all-day wear.

So... I'm well-booted for work... can't wait to start....

Life is short: wear boots to work!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bama's Fault

This image is all Bamaboy's fault. All his fault. Oh my has he influenced me.

He is known for his stunning photographic and Photoshop skills, as shown here. I am among the few fortunate men to have met him and enjoy a wonderful friendship with a smart, witty, great guy.

But man oh man, has he influenced me. I ride by a stream or river, and the boots jump in the mud. As Bama says, "hahahahahaha!"

Life is short: share joy of great friendships.

[by the way, the boots clean up well when hosed off...]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What To Wear With Motorcycle Boots?

Google provides me great "blog fodder." That is, ideas for things to post on this blog. When people search questions like "what to wear with motorcycle boots" and it comes up high in the rankings and lands visitors on this blog, I see that... so I respond. (Be assured, I don't know who is asking; I only see the question.)

So, what do guys wear with motorcycle boots? The #1 choice, of course, is blue jeans. Usually Levis or Wranglers... just plain old jeans. Nothin' fancy. Blue jeans and biker boots go well together, and present confidence. Nothing looks better than tough boots on a secure man.

Guys also wear other clothes with motorcycle boots. After blue jeans, guys wear leather with biker boots. Leather jeans, or chaps over jeans. This is common attire in cool weather among confident, secure men. (Unfortunately, not that many men have the confidence to wear leather jeans in public. They fret too much about what others may say. Their loss...).

A third choice is breeches. Cloth motor breeches are worn by motorcycle cops, and other guys, too. These pants are made specifically to be worn while operating a motorcycle. They are comfortable, stretch in the right places, and provide protection as well as look good -- especially with tall patrol boots. Few non-cops choose to wear motor breeches, which is a shame. Guys look good in them.

Regular guys don't wear shorts with motorcycle boots, because they know that wearing shorts while operating a motorcycle is an open invitation to incurring serious injury.

Do gay guys who wear motorcycle boots choose different clothing to wear with them than straight guys? Nope. I speak from personal knowledge. After all, I'm a guy, a biker, and I like to wear motorcycle boots. And I'm gay. I dress like everyone else. There's no difference, and those who claim that there is a difference have much to learn.

Life is short: wear boots!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dozen Birthdays

Today, September 20, marks the end of a string of a dozen birthdays in my family that began on my twin and my birthday, August 16, and ends today on my little sister's birthday (as well as a niece's birthday, too.) After all, a dozen of us are Christmas presents and New Year's surprises.

It's been one party after another for the past five weeks, but enjoyable each time I get to see my wonderful, robust, raucous brethren. It is truly special to be part of a family of 15 kids, zillions of nieces, nephews, and "greats." Unlike so many drama drivel shows on TV, I can honestly say that we all love one another and care for each other. I am truly blessed that my family remains close, caring, and loving. I know there are families out there that are not, when some families make an issue of a sibling who is gay. I am glad I am not "the gay brother." I am "the brother who happens to be gay."

Pictured below is me with two of my sisters. See? Can't tell that we're related. The sister on the left had me convinced that my "real" father was the milkman.

Happy birthday, "little" sis! I love you, always.

Life is short: cherish your family.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Networking is an old term. Some call it "shmoozing" and others call it other things, but the old axiom is true: it's not what you know, it's who you know, that gets you a job (speaking of the profession in which I work).

I'm really not the social sort. If I had a choice of going to a reception at the end of a long day, I often would skip it and go home. I have attended hundreds of conferences, and again, at the end of a long day of conferencing, I'd go back to my hotel room and go to bed early rather than go out to a late dinner with other conference attendees and "network."

However, there is power in developing a large circle of people who not only know you're name, but also know your skills, abilities, and interests. Over many years, I would spend quality time with people in both professional settings (teaching, public speaking, collaborating on projects, etc.) and socially (off-times during conferences or training sessions, mostly.) They would get to know me and I would get to know them. We would keep in touch, though the frequency of contact varied.

Such was the case with me these past few months. I was laid off from my job on June 4. I saw it coming, and accepted it as a fait accompli. I felt that my calling had changed from working to earn an income at a job that simply was that -- a job -- to caring for my elderly aunt who needed a lot more help and attention and my "job" was to do everything in my power to enable her to live safely, comfortably, and well.

So throughout June, July, and August, I concentrated on helping my aunt get through a serious health crisis where she could have died. I spent many hours every day organizing a lot things required to enable her to live in her own home, yet have professional caregivers with her 24/7. Even though she has caregivers with her all the time now, it still requires lots of my time to keep her fridge and pantry stocked, meds updated, visiting and keeping her mind active, and to attend to minor but serious problems like skin infections and other things.

Throughout my layoff time, I would occasionally visit an on-line job board to see if there was something I was interested in doing. I applied for some jobs, but none of these positions would invoke my passions. If I were hired for one of these jobs, it would pay the bills, but I just would be going through the motions of doing what I had to do. Not much fun....

Well, anyway, I also kept up the networking through the summer. Posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites, as well as direct email, telephone conversations, and so forth kept the word out that I wanted to return to my profession and do what I am recognized for on the national stage.

It was one of those people who led me to learning about a position that is perfect for me. A Facebook friend sent me a link to a description of my perfect job -- on my birthday no less (great timing, huh?). The job description was posted on another social network, LinkedIn.

I submitted my resume, and got a call within an hour to set up an interview. The first interview led to a second. The second interview led to a real-time test of how I applied my skills during an exercise.

I had stiff competition for this position. I put out a call to my network for references, and was overwhelmed to receive over 70 thoughtful, thorough replies. I had four professional references from top-notch people written for me on request, as well. My references (also developed through years of networking) really pulled for me and helped convince them to make me an offer for what will be my dream job: in my field, and something about which I am exceptionally passionate about.

I begin my new job on Oct. 4 November 22 (changed, thanks to how slow bureaucracy is), and will be working with people who I have known professionally for years. Great thing about it is that it's an absolutely perfect match for my skills and passions. It's also right in my home town, so the commute will be simple.

So I am here to say that I was wrong -- just a year ago I was writing here with a "bah-humbug" attitude about Facebook and social networking in general. But I acknowledge that without that contact, I probably wouldn't have known about this job and wouldn't have applied, been interviewed, or gotten such a generous offer.

Life is short: network! (including social networking, too!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Where to Wear Cowboy Boots?

Another amusing question entered into Google and directed to my website: "Where to wear cowboy boots?" The person was from Connecticut, in the northeastern United States, where cowboy boots are seldom seen.

So, where do you wear cowboy boots? Wherever you please. Cowboy boots look good with Wranglers, especially. But they also work with business clothes. Even suits. Yes, men wear boots with a variety of attire, from casual to dressy.

As shown, I wore a pair of dress cowboy boots to an interview for a job. Yes, the boots were noticed, but in a nice way. The boss complimented me on them. But he and the interview team were much more concerned with what I brought to the company and how I would be able to do the job. They didn't care what was on my feet. So if you have concerns what people would think about you wearing boots in the workplace: forget about it. It really doesn't matter. Those type of concerns are in your head. Get over it.

Lots of guys in places other than the traditional locations where cowboy boots are worn more regularly by men -- as in the U.S. Southwest -- wear cowboy boots. That is if they are confident, secure, and don't have hang-ups about other people's perceptions.

As I so often say, issues about where to wear cowboy boots are more in the head of the one asking that question than actually among those who the person sees on a day-to-day basis.

Life is short: have confidence to be secure enough to wear boots where you like, and with clothing suited what you're doing -- going to work, out to eat, visiting friends, shopping, or whatever.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Put Off to Tomorrow...

A biker buddy sent me the following quip at the end of an email:
Remember, put off to tomorrow what you should have done today and ride!
That's a nice thought... just go for a ride and say, for a day, "to heck with responsibilities."

...heh heh heh, ... I wish. It's just not within me to blow off caring for my aunt or getting other work done on a Saturday when my partner is available to help. Much as I would have enjoyed going for a ride instead of doing chores and caring for my aunt, as I so often do, I chose the latter instead of the former.

Life is short: do what you have to do, and dream:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My New Website Redesign

I have had a form of my website since late 2004, migrated it to its own server and domain in early 2006, and have been adding to it and maintaining it ever since. It's a great hobby, as it keeps me challenged with new things to learn.

As the site has been growing, changing, and advancing with technology, I decided that the old tables from the HTML from long ago had to go, as today's website technology uses cascading style sheets (CSS) and Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) rather than straight-old HTML with code that was built for the earliest versions of web browsers.

I also had some comments that my home page appeared very "busy" with so many image icons leading to interior pages. Some users complained that the icons wouldn't load, or would cause the site to bog down and stop when viewed.

I also have had other users tell me that they liked its simplicity, so they cautioned making it too fancy with lots of "bells and whistles." The good thing about CSS and PHP is that it keeps a lot of the messy code away from view, and makes pages load faster and look cleaner. PHP also allows for added security to ward off potential hackers, as well as blocking bozos (you know, the brainless dolts who link to my website from forums where they post inane comments.)

This website redesign process has been ongoing for months. I learned these skills on my own. I really should have taken a class, but I challenged myself to learn how to do it "the hard way." Sorta analogous learning how to do long division before using a calculator.

I hope you like it. Let me know what you think.

Life is short: refresh now-and-again!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What I Did on My Blog Vacation

I can talk about it now, ... now that the primary elections are over in my home state. Early last week, a candidate for whom I was volunteering went ballistically negative against his opponent by creating a website devoted to tearing his opponent down. I found out about it just about the time it hit the "blogwaves."

All throughout the campaign, I told the candidate that I detest negative campaigning, and that many of my neighbors feel the same way. His primary political consultant, who doesn't live in our area, is known for hitting hard, but (IMHO) is out of touch with the feelings of the residents of our area. My candidate's actions became incredibly mean-spirited and awful, and literally made me lose my lunch. I didn't sleep the night I found out about it. It hurt me that much... so I had to pull away from the 'net and reduce exposure to sh*t like that. I resigned from his campaign, and "checked out."

I put the paper recycling bin next to the mailbox, and instructed our friendly mail carrier to deposit *all* political mail in the box. I didn't even want to see it. I had already voted (since early voting is finally allowed in our state) so the volume of political mail sent to me after I voted was a waste of trees.

While away from the 'net, I spent joyful time caring for my beloved aunt. Some days, she just wanted to be held, so that's what I did... for hours. I also had a chance to play Bocce with the Bocce boys in the retirement community nearby, chattering away in Italian.

My partner had minor oral surgery last Friday, and I made home-made chicken soup which cured him of any residual pain. We spent most of the day last Saturday working on the yard. When you use compost as fertilizer, it takes longer than spreading chemicals from a bag.

I caught up on taxes, with those dreaded estimated taxes due on the 15th for myself, my small business, my aunt, and 14 other senior buds.

I cleaned house, killing more dust bunnies than we have actual bunnies in our forest. I fixed a broken garden wall that suffered the consequences of freeze-and-thaw. Lots of stuff... but I stayed away from politics, and the people who go with it.

Oh, and I accepted an offer for my dream job. Yep, my lay-off is over. I go back to full-time work doing what I love in a couple weeks. The job is conveniently located in my home town, so the commute will be easy. I am anxious to begin a new chapter in my life, doing what I love to do, and for which I have won international recognition.

...and I watched my candidate lose ... he shot himself in the foot and deserved what happened as a result. So sad, so very sad.

Great break: now back to blogging.

Life is short: remember the priorities, focus on the positive, and separate yourself from negativity.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blog Break II

Continuing with the blog break, but it won't be much longer. Thanks for your patience. Continue to feed me ideas.

Life is short: take a break!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Most people remember September 11 as a date in 2001. I remember it as a date in 1998, the day my Mom died. I've described it before, here and here. No need to repeat.

Part of my reason for taking a blog break is to remember a great woman who meant the world to me, who nurtured me, who loved me ... regardless ... and who let me make mistakes and learn from them. She taught me right from wrong, to be civil, caring, and loving. She led by example. She nourished my soul, and supported me as I grew up and became the man I am today.

At first she was bewildered about the fact that I am gay, but was determined to learn more about my sexual orientation and grew to understand... and continue her love. She never gave up on me, though I sure put her through some trials. She grew to love my partner, understanding that he would keep me safe, sane, and supported. That's all she really wanted for me: to have a good life and to share it with someone I love and who loves me unconditionally.

I sure miss her... lots... today and every day I think, "what would Mom say?" and then use her gentle guidance to lead me in what I do, and to care for those I love. What a treasure it was to have her for the 41 years that I did, and to continue to have her spirit lead me toward my future.

Rest in peace, Mom. I always love you.

By the way, please remember that the date is September 11, 2001, not "nine-eleven." That media shorthand term always bugs me. end-of-rant.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blog Break

Okay, the threatened blog break is now upon us. I described a week or two ago that I was preparing to take a break, and now it's here.

I'll get through our primary elections in my home state, and probably during that time, come up with some good bloggetory. Continue to send messages and I'll find ways to turn it into something interesting (smile.)

Check back next week for another exciting episode of As the Blog Rolls.

Life is short: take a break every now and then.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Boots Look Gay

Oh cripes, there goes Google again, directing visitors to this blog and my website when they enter phrases such as:
  • All motorcycle boots look gay
  • Is it gay to wear tall boots?
  • Dudes in boots look gay
All this indicates, to me, is that some guys have a lot to learn and have some serious "issues." I mean, they are obsessed with perceptions. They do not want to be perceived as having anything to do with gay culture, and for some silly reason, they have connected boots with being gay.

Come on, guys, get a life. I know that a colloquial saying, "that's gay" is a euphemism for a number of things, mostly negative. Straight people don't want to be associated with "gay" things. But come on! Boots of all things? Sheesh...

There was a discussion on the "Boots on Line" board recently about that issue -- how men in tall boots historically were perceived as powerful, commanding authority figures. Then it seemed to change in the '60s as tall boots were made for women as fashion items. Fewer men wore tall boots, and those who did began to wear shorter boots, like tactical boots. About the only men and authority figures these days who wear tall boots are motor patrol officers, riders of horses (police, polo players, etc.), and palace guards.

Sneakers took over as the choice of personal footwear in relaxed settings, such as at home. The number of brands and varieties of sneakers boomed in the 80s and continues in huge production today. Many guys who wear sneakers like them because they are comfortable. As we age, any form of comfort is appreciated.

But back to the topic... as tall boots became a fashion statement for women, then tall boots became associated with feminine attire. Thus ... the common misconception, especially among poorly educated men, that tall boots are "gay." They associate anything feminine with "gay."

Oh cripes, guys. There are masculine gay men and there are less masculine gay men. Some gay men wear boots, some do not. But associating the two -- boots and being gay -- does not make sense. It indicates fear of an association. Revisit your thinking: what do boots have to do with being gay? ... nothing. If you believe that wearing boots, especially tall boots, would cause others to believe that you are gay, then really look at how you act and how you behave. It's more mannerisms and behavior that others make judgments about; not what you have on your feet.

Life is short: wear tall boots (if you're man enough!)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Don't Over-Boot It

Regular readers of this blog know that I only wear boots as my choice of footwear, and I am a stickler for "the right boot for the job" -- that is, when I ride my Harley, I insist on good quality, well-fitting, comfortable motorcycle boots, preferably with a big lug sole for best traction.

Yesterday was Labor Day in the United States, a holiday denoting recognizing the contributions of the American worker to society. The day also serves as the unofficial end of summer, as in our area, many outdoor swimming pools close for the season.

I led a motorcycle ride on an absolutely stunning day with spectacular scenery through Maryland's mountains on designated scenic byways. What a blast! And ... I only made one wrong turn, requiring the group turn around ... but all were good sports about it.

The day began cool, so I wore a long-sleeved shirt over a t-shirt, blue jeans, and my biker vest. I debated about wearing more leather, such as a pair of chaps, but as I was preparing to leave, it was warming up nicely. It was 72°F (22°C) when I left home, so more leather wasn't needed. It was 85°F (29°C) by mid-day, so the long-sleeved shirt came off, too.

I debated with myself about what boots to wear on this ride. I first got out my tall, leather-lined Wesco boots, and was pulling them on when I thought, "hmmm, these might get hot." My partner rolled over in bed, looked at me in the boots and said, "don't 'overboot it'." That's his expression for what he thinks my biker friends might think about tall Wesco boots worn with jeans tucked in.

I don't care much about what others think, as I make my safety and comfort top priority. If the day would get as warm as predicted, those Wesco boots would become uncomfortable as the day progressed. So I grabbed my Chippewa Firefighter Boots off the shelf and put them on.

I have raved often that I think Chippewa Firefighter boots are by far the best all-around comfortable boots for motorcycling. Indeed, they proved me correct once again throughout the long, sunny, delightful ride through twisty roads and hills with panoramic vistas.

I wish I could ride and take photos at the same time. Alas, I'm not quite skilled enough to do that. You'll have to take my word for it that it looked like this: (courtesy of the National Park Service)

Life is short: make the best of each day!

Monday, September 6, 2010

You Are Who You Hang With

A friend posted a guest blog series about being a straight guy and enjoying leather. In that series, one thing he said is, "you are who you hang with." This is an American expression, but is descriptive of the idea that the company one keeps strongly influences who he is and how he perceives himself.

I looked around and asked myself, "who do I 'hang' with?" Well, generally speaking, I do not socialize much. My life these days is spent with my partner as we go about our daily life, with my 95-year-old aunt for whom I care, with a group of elderly friends who I help out by taking them grocery shopping and doing home repairs for them, with people in my community where I am engaged in various public service activities, and for fun... with my motorcycle riding club. Occasionally, but not very often, I'll go visit a friend who I grew up with, or befriended in college or from one of my previous jobs.

As I looked around, I got to thinking: who I 'hang with' are my life-long friends from school, as well as neighbors who I work with in civic activities. (I have rarely socialized with people with whom I have worked on my day-job.) A few of my friends are gay, but most aren't. I have very few gay friends. Not by design, but by the choices I have made about what I do and where I go. I do not purposefully choose to seek out other gay men to socialize. I avoid venues where gay guys may gather, like bars. I have no problems with gay bars -- I just don't have any reason to frequent a bar. I don't drink alcohol, and I have always had problems remaining awake past 9pm.

Am I perceived as resisting being gay? Perhaps by some gay guys who don't understand that, to me, one chooses his friends based on shared interests. I am genuinely interested in helping others, so the majority of the 'hanging' I do is nailing up a picture hook (giggle.)

Shared interests is not the same thing as shared sexual orientation. So I'm gay. So what? It means that I have chosen a man as my mate. But it doesn't mean that I will change who I choose to serve, to care for, and with whom to enjoy activities like motorcycle riding.

I fail to understand why some gay guys only 'hang' with other gay guys. There is much more to life than one's sexual orientation.

Life is short: hang up the hang-ups!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Reunion

Gosh, it's hard to believe that I graduated high school 35 years ago. In some sense, it seems like yesterday, and in another sense, it seems like forever ago.

I credit three classmates for holding us together, and planning reunions every five years. I credit my classmates for keeping in touch and attending. We had over 200 classmates come to a reunion gathering on Friday night. That's pretty good attendance for a rather odd-year event (unlike 10, 20, 50...).

All the old "who talked to who" stuff is long since over. I had great conversations with the "jocks" as well as the "nerds" and everyone in between. "Who is who" on high school pecking orders is long since over.

At the ten-year reunion, the talk was about degrees earned, work endeavors (better than others), marriages, and children. At the 25-year reunion, most people had relaxed somewhat, but there were still those who made sure the rest of us knew of their status symbols: the huge mansion with the fleet of BMWs and Lexuses. By the 35th, none of that stuff is important any more. We all are who we are, and the talk with everyone from all groups, levels, etc., was about who we are today and what we're doing, interested in, etc. Fun stuff, not status stuff.

Unfortunately, the gathering was in a yuppie bar that was loud. I got hoarse from making myself heard. And I stayed up waaaay too late -- past 10pm. When I got home I was exhausted. My partner didn't come with me as he hates social events, but he was happy that I was happy.

My high school friends know that I am in a committed, monogamous same-sex relationship. They don't care about that. They remain concerned about me as a person, and were interested in the things I'm doing in the community.

What did I wear? My side-laced leather jeans, a short-sleeved (regular) shirt, and my Chippewa hi-shine boots with lug soles. Why those boots? Well, I rode my Harley to the event, of course!

Had a great time, but I really dragged ass all day Saturday. I just can't handle staying up after my usual 8:30pm bedtime. Oh well, I made up for it by going to bed really early on Saturday night.

Life is short: enjoy the memories!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Booted Best

I was interviewed this week for a job. Really, a career, as this new job is well within my scope of my life's work. I think I nailed it, and was pleased they took 2-1/2 hours to ask many questions. This was the final interview, since I went through two other preliminary interviews by phone and was included on the "short list" presented to the employer.

I was dressed in my best clothes -- new jacket, tie, dress shirt, and dress slacks that my partner got for me. He always dresses me well, as ordinarily I'm a t-shirt-n-jeans kinda guy (in hot weather; otherwise, leather is my preference.)

I really debated about what boots to wear to this interview. (Remember, I do not own nor would I ever wear dress shoes. YUCK!) Would I ride my Harley to the location, and thus require motorcycle boots? Or would I drive my truck, and choose dress cowboy boots instead?

I let the weather decide. If it is hotter than 90°F (32°C), then I won't ride my Harley, because I sweat so much that my clothes would be stinkin' wet when I arrived. That's really not much of a problem if I'm just out riding, but it sure would not be a good thing to have happen for an important job interview. You don't want to show up with dark wet stains across your shirt and crotch, caused by sweat due to the physical heat of the sun and the heat of the Harley's engine.

In this case, it was 95°F (35°C) at the time of the interview. That's way too hot to ride a Harley in dress clothes without potentially sweating them to death. Plus, my best-looking motorcycle boots are Dehner Patrol Boots. They fit well, but do not allow much breathing room on my legs, so I would even sweat more in the hot sun.

I put on my Lucchese lizard wingtip cowboy boots, which looked great with that outfit. I even turned the AC on in my truck, which is a rarity, so I arrived looking fine, without any sweat stains. The only problem if there were one with the cowboy boots that I chose to wear is that they have a steel shank. That set off the alarm at the magnetometer at the entrance to the building where the interview took place. Just like at an airport, I had to take my boots off and run them through the metal detector. The guard, though, admired the boots and asked me where he could get a pair.

After the interview, I was invited to go with the head guy to a coffee shop across the street so he could give me some more information. I went along, but was aghast that this overly-yuppified place didn't have anything I could drink, since I don't drink coffee or tea. I swear, a zillion forms of coffee, but nothing else. I finally got them to give me a cup of tap water. (They thought I was nuts.)

I glanced around at all the yuppies sitting there with their laptops and other wireless devices, and did the best to hide a cringe on my face from the guy who will become my new boss. I just don't like places like that. Yuck. I really have to examine in a separate blog post sometime just what it is about yuppie gathering spots that make me feel uncomfortable. I mean, I was already out of my comfort zone having to wear a monkey suit.

Oh well, I'll know soon enough about the job. Meanwhile, I'm back in to beat-up old engineer boots, jeans, and t-shirts again. Enjoying them for daily wear while I can.

Life is short: wear your booted best!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Overcoming Gay Male Stereotypes

One of the most viewed posts on this blog is my post titled, "Where Do You Find Masculine Gay Guys?". It was posted on July 10, 2009, and search engines direct about 20 visitors to it each week.

Someone recently posted a comment to that post anonymously. While he didn't include his name, I kept the comment because what he said was interesting to me and contributed to the content of what the post was about. He said:
I like what you wrote and I'm glad you found someone. I'm still looking, but I can never tell when to ask a guy if he is gay or not. I'm not into gay acting guys. They're cool and everything, but I kind of want someone that I am more of buddies with but having a relationship as well. It's so hard to find. I live in an area where there is nothing around so there aren't many places to go. You're right though. When I look online or in gay bars, there are very feminine guys there and I'm afraid that I will have to fake being straight in order to be happy. The stereotypical gay relationship scares me. Its not that I'm in denial, I just don't want to be with someone that likes Madonna and wants to go shopping all the time. I guess I wouldn't mind if it was just the music, but if I want a guy that acts girly then I'll date a girl. Good site though. Thanks.
I wish to comment about some things he said.
  • I can never tell when to ask a guy if he is gay or not

    I could probably make some quip starting with, "if you have to ask..." but that wouldn't be nice. Generally, I have found in my experience, if you hang out with a guy and get along very well, then enjoy the company and the things you do together. Okay, you want to have a relationship beyond being buddies that includes intimacy. There are ways to figure that out.

    How does he look at you? How does he respond to touch? I'm not saying groping his crotch, but does he touch you like placing an arm around your shoulder, or accept that in return? Does his hand linger when you shake hands? What about his physical proximity to you? That is, does he sit close, or side-by-side? Is he comfortable with physical closeness such as being seated on a sofa with legs touching?

    In my opinion, the more a guy accepts being physically close, the more likely he is to accept an interest on a more intimate level. I agree, though, sometimes you have to be more direct about it. Rather than blurt out, "are you gay?" -- I suggest you talk about yourself. At the right time in the right setting, tell him that you like guys, or more boldly, come out of the closet and explain that you're gay. If he is gay, he'll admit it. If he is not, but is your friend, he will say something like, "I'm not" and as long as you don't get aggressive in your behavior, he will remain your friend.
  • I'm not into gay-acting guys.

    Oh goodness, here we go again. I'll say this once more: not all gay men act the same way. "Gay Acting" is a social stereotype, and nothing more. Get over it. What you don't like is a gay man who displays effeminate behavior. Okay, I understand that. I don't either. So don't go for what you don't like.
  • I live in an area where there is nothing around so there aren't many places to go

    Having lived in a very rural area of Oklahoma for a while, I understand this point, too. As I said in my original blog post: you won't find that many masculine gay men in profiles on the internet. Why is that? In my opinion, masculine gay men are secure in themselves and don't advertise for mates -- though some do on some gay dating or fetish websites like Gearfetish, Recon's family of websites, and a few others. You won't find that many masculine gay men on the 'net, so that's why I recommended getting out and becoming involved in activities that masculine gay men enjoy: hiking, camping, sports, and so forth. You may have to drive a while to another town to find a regular softball or volleyball league, attend a rodeo, or to hike with a group.
  • When I look online or in gay bars, there are very feminine guys there.

    That is often true. That's why I recommend looking elsewhere. It's unfortunate, but there are not specific places that masculine gay men hang out. I wish it were that easy. Even at leather-oriented gay bars, there is quite a mix. I recommended in my original post to go to pubs, restaurants, or bars frequented by general society. Yeah: "straight bars." Masculine gay men do not feel a need to hang out only with gay men, contrasted with more effeminate gay guys who tend to hang out with only gay people. Masculine guys are secure and self-confident. They enjoy friends regardless of sexual orientation. So if you choose to go to a bar, don't go to a gay bar -- go to a straight bar. Believe me, there are gay men there, too.
  • I'm afraid that I will have to fake being straight in order to be happy.

    Fallacy: 'fake being straight' means what? Lying. Hiding. Not good for the soul and not good for the psyche. Don't fake anything. Be yourself. If you have masculine mannerisms, then you're not 'faking being straight.' You are being who you are. I assure you that many masculine gay men look and act 'straight' because their behavior is what society has taught us about how straight people behave. How one carries himself in front of others has nothing to do with his sexual orientation. Don't fall into the trap of thinking the two issues are the same. They're not.
  • The stereotypical gay relationship scares me. Its not that I'm in denial, I just don't want to be with someone that likes Madonna and wants to go shopping all the time.

    I could probably make an entire blog post out of that line... in my opinion, social stereotyping is clouding objectivity. Okay, I don't like Madonna either. My partner does. I don't like Lady Gaga. My partner and some of my masculine gay friends do. So what? We just have different tastes. And the part about going shopping all the time? Gimme a break. I hate shopping, too. My partner, however, is good at it. Does he go shopping all the time? Nope... but when shopping has to be done, we divide the duties and he does the shopping and I go renovate a house. (Well, not specifically...) but where I'm going with this is that different men have different interests and if I initially judged my masculine "better half" (my partner) on the fact that he likes certain pop music and shopping, then I never would have developed a life-changing relationship with him and never would have taken that first step on the Bootprints of Our Journey.

    As they say, "opposites attract." I'm not really saying that a gay frilly-froo-froo guy is the right choice for a guy looking for a masculine man, but I am saying that one should not make snap judgments based on stereotypes.
  • if I want a guy that acts girly then I'll date a girl.

    Me too. 'nuf said. If you want a masculine man, then go find one.
This was an interesting exercise to me. I'll sum up by saying one very important thing: finding the right guy takes time. They won't come flocking to your door or flood your email with proposals. You have to take the initiative to get out there and get involved in activities that other masculine gay men enjoy. Take your time. You'll know it's right when it happens. And it does... not fast, not overnight... but it does.

I also feel compelled to say that far too many gay men develop intimate relationships because they feel the need to do so. The bio-clock is ticking. The physical attributes change with age (weight, appearance, etc.) But just like in the straight world, you might get together with someone as a "settle for" and find out as time moves on that it's not right, so you split and suffer consequences of a broken heart, damaged ego, and hurt feelings. Like a very close friend has had to do recently, he broke off a relationship because he figured out that it wasn't right, and didn't want to waste the other guy's time or his own. He's still looking, but is patiently confident. The point that I am trying to make is that one should take his time to develop a solid relationship and really get to know the other guy before moving in together, getting married, etc.

Life is short, but invest the time in finding what works for you.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Coming Out

Guest Blog Post by 'The Cop'

I was invited by BHD to write a guest blog post about my experience as a police officer who happens to be gay, and the processes and trials in coming out.

I write it that way because I am a cop first. Being gay has nothing to do with it. I am a cop. I am gay. So be it.

It was very hard for me to be myself, although I have been a police officer for over 10 years. All of my fellow officers thought, naturally, that I was straight, interested in women, and such. In fact, for some social events, I would invite female friends to go with me as a date. No one thought the wiser ... so I thought.

Then a fellow officer came up to me one day and said, "you're gay, aren't you?" I was shocked. I thought I hid it very well. I never once looked at anyone else on the job, said anything, or posted anything anywhere on the internet.

I gave him my best "cop stare" and asked, "why did you say that?" His response was informative. He simply said, "well, you are a very private guy, but after a few years, you just figure things out. That's okay. I won't 'out' you."

My head was spinning. I was afraid about what other people would say. I had a reputation to uphold. I was in line for a promotion, and I didn't want to jeopardize that.

I went home that night and began searching the internet for information. That's how I stumbled upon BHD's blog. He is respectful to cops and others. I sent him an email, and in that first message, I just asked if he knew any gay cops.

He replied, and said that he doesn't give out other people's information, names, or email addresses. BHD told me later that some people have asked him to connect them with gay cops for liaisons. I wasn't interested in that. I wanted to know others like me who I could talk to.

He referred me to Blue Pride, which is an organization of law enforcement officers who are gay. I joined, and learned a lot. They helped me figure out how to maintain my integrity, and they helped me come to terms with being honest in the workplace. I mean, after all, we enforce the law every day. We demand honesty and integrity in what we do. I felt so torn that by keeping the fact that I was gay to myself (being in the closet) that I was lying to my fellow officers. I thought that what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. But then I learned that by hiding my sexual orientation, that a form of distrust was building among fellow officers. More of them had talked about me than I thought.

I communicated with BHD on-and-off for over a year about this. I am still reticent to communicate with others. BUT...

I approached the officer who first asked me about whether I was gay, and asked if we could have coffee after work. We sat down and I told him what was on my mind.

All he said was, "finally, you're being honest with me and with yourself. Don't you feel better?"

I was expecting something else. I don't really know what I was expecting. But I wasn't expecting such a casual response. Like, "no big deal."

I then screwed up my courage and told my boss. Again, her response was pretty much, "so what?" All she was concerned about was that I was doing my job well and working effectively with my fellow officers, the chain of command, and the community.

I realized that much of my concern was self-developed. To the point of keeping me awake many nights, fearing the unknown.

Thanks, BHD, for being such a supportive guy. I appreciate your friendship, your candor, your honesty, and advice. What I appreciate most is that I can say whatever is on my mind, and you don't beat me up for it.

I got that promotion by the way. But have things changed for me at work? Yes-and-no. Some people are more formal, or distant. Maybe I am over sensitive. But most people treat me the same. The expect me to do my job, and after knowing me all these years, they know that they can rely on me to help out and stay focused on our duties.

Now, off to fight the battles of law-and-order, honestly, with integrity.

Note from BHD: this blog post was long in coming. When my friend Kevin wrote me an email where he described coming out to close friends and gave me the okay to post a part of his message, that is what caused the officer whose words are above to send me an email with this guest piece in it. I never really know how my blog posts are received or thought about by others.

I wish my friend well as he continues to serve the public, and be himself. He has asked me not to give out his email address, but if you wish to write, you can write to me and I will forward it to him.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Autumn

I believe in thinking positively -- that this hot-as-blazes summer here in Maryland USA will eventually end. So today is the first day of Meteorological Autumn. Think Autumn -- cool off! Happy Autumn! (Okay, we're still eight weeks away from having fall colours like this, but it's the thought that counts.)

And to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere: Happy Spring! Woo-hoo!

Life is short: celebrate seasonally!