I’m Gay.

Sorry for the misleading title but something tells me you clicked on the link because of it. Actually, I’m not gay. I’m not married. I don’t have children. And yet I’m just as frustrated and angry for my friends and for my beloved country during this same-sex marriage debate as though I was a gay man.

I can’t believe I live in an advanced society where a vast sector of our population treats our gay brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends, esteemed community leaders and education members (as well as those in every single other profession and hobby, including the good ol’ Catholic church) and their right to marry as though they were convicted felons and whether they had the right to vote or as though they were inbreeding zombies who eat their first born.

Give me a break.

I used to think the opponents to gay marriage all had bibles stapled to their foreheads and thus could only see the biblical passages directly in front of their eyes as the basis of their guidance (anti-gay marriage).  That’s not the case. The basis for the belief that gay marriage should not be legalized rests in the rearing of children.  What the opponent will point to is even more far fetched than a giant whale or a burning bush that speaks, it’s that studies show that raising a child in a two sex (M/F) home leads to higher quality societal development, confident in their solidity of their family.[1] When compared to a home with a single mother and absent father does anyone disagree?  But do you see multiple disconnects in these arguments! ?? Look again.

1) Raising children  2) absent dad do not negate the value in couples of the same sex and their right to marry.

Raising Children:

Before I attack your stance against marriage, let me look at your raising children in same sex home stance. If you’re going to tell me that a child with a loving home of mom/dad is a better home than mom/mom or dad/dad, than you’re living on a big ol’ ark with a bunch of male/female animals. Any chance any of those animals were gay? Probably not, huh? That would just destroy the whole story (sarcasm is dripping off the page).  Your argument that children need a “father’s” presence in the home, with the appropriate involvement in his children’s lives ignores the fact of what makes a man a father.  Or a father a man.  Can a woman not be a father? Nope, biblically or otherwise she cannot, but she certainly can do all the things a dad does.

In our narrow-minded society some people color gay men and gay women as stereotypically “feminine” and “butch”, respectively. But they don’t know the gays I do.  I’m wiling to bet dollars to communion wafers that most opponents don’t even know a single gay person.  And that’s not to say that these personality labels don’t apply to some gay men and women.  But not every straight dad chews tobacco and drinks Budweiser. Just like not every hetero-mom wears an apron, watches soap operas and drives a mini van.  Times have changed folks.  A long time ago.

They certainly don’t know my parents neighbors.  My mother, who travels days and sometimes weeks at a time, leaves my step-dad during her working getaways.  To keep him occupied and knowing that he won’t do much without their convincing, Marsha and Suzanne (same-sex couple; next door neighbors) will invite and convincingly insist that Garry (step dad) come over to watch the ball game (SF Giants), drink beer (only microbrew), do home construction and sometimes home decorating projects.  Butch right? Yep, maybe, but also all of the same things that a regular ol’ dad can do.   If Marsha and Suzanne decide to have children, in whatever way they utilize, do you think playing catch in the backyard, or going on a camping trip or showing junior how to change the oil (something neither my step or biological dad every taught me) will be a problem? Me neither.  A woman can be a dad.  She can also be a mom.  The parts down-below do not define this.

They don’t know my friends Josh and Brent who after kicking the ass of 10 other teams in a race around the world went for 1MM (including yours truly) went back to their farm in upstate New York where they milk goats, pitch hay, slaughter pigs and generally do the things that a big, strong, tough guy like me doesn’t have the kiwis to do.  And when they’re done and they kick off their knee-high, shit-kicking boots and Carhartt jackets, they go into the kitchen and whip up the best three-cheese mac and cheese and gruyere popover sandwich with fried eggs and spinach you’ve ever had. Sometimes they take pictures of these meals, sometimes they photograph the juniper or rhododendron in their immaculately kept garden. Do you think junior is getting an inferior child rearing experience by being raised in this sometimes very masculine and sometimes very feminine home? Me neither.

The list goes on and on. From gay neighbors to gay celebrities, our society succeeds when the home is loving, filled with laughter, emotion, communication, and structure.  The antiquated structure need not be “mom” and “dad”.

The issues as it pertains to children should always be considered and in this case the result is that two parents of any sex can raise a child just as the same as any heterosexual couple.  Marriage provides permanence and security for children, and those are extremely important for children’s well-being.

And yet none of this has to do with marriage.

The two-sex (M/F) home argument is the red herring for the anti gay marriage movement and it’s time to push it all off the top of the Mount Sinai. Are we such a great society with our 50% divorce rate (raising hand) that we should opine as to our great control over the institution and who should be allowed in?  I ask people that express opposition to gay-marriage this one question; HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOU? How is your life impacted? It’s not the smoking marijuana issue (although that’s a sweeping change), or even the seatbelt issue (where the state has a right to protect its citizens ). Who are we protecting and from what?  It’s most definitely not the role of our government to make this decision. But that’s a blog post for another day.

 

In the great words of a famed American actor, “You’re not homophobic – phobia is a fear – you’re not afraid, you’re an asshole.” – Morgan Freeman, Twitter.

 

 



[1] From a CNN.com 2009 story, Dale O’Leary, author of the book “One Man, One Woman: A Catholic’s Guide to Defending Marriage,”

 

Training for the Amazing Race

Getting to take part in the nine-time Emmy award winning show (for reality television) the Amazing Race was one of the highlights of my life last year.  The entire process took the better part of a year broken down by application, interview/audition, training, filming, and airing.  My recollection of 2012 will always be Amazing Race centered.

 

The fitness component of racing in such an abstract medium was also extremely challenging and rewarding.  Prior to the “Race” I was a dedicated gym-goer with an intermediate level of expertise in physical fitness.  In other words, I went to the gym between four and six days a week and did a weight-based workout that varied slightly every six to eight weeks.   My cardio conditioning came from nightly training of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and my diet was always “pretty good.”  Pretty good meant I didn’t drink soda and eat potato chips but I did have a major addiction to sweets and red meat.   Through high school, college and law school I maintained a similar diet and workout regimen.  My body weight fluctuated between 180lbs and 190lbs but more telling, my body fat percentage ranged from 13%-15%.  Not great but not terrible.  Using the ‘eye-candy’ test, I’d say I was fit but not “ripped”, lean but muscular and all-around healthy looking.  Unfortunately my legs always suffered to keep up with my upper body (more genetics than lack of training, I swear!) and by far the hardest area for me to develop and make toned was my mid-section.  Over my lifetime I swear I have done over one million sit-ups, crunches, v-leg-open-reach-stretch sit ups and every other flash in the pan exercise in order to get defined abs, and it had never happened.  Until that fateful day last March when Abbie (my race partner and girlfriend) and I were told we had been one of the eleven teams selected for Amazing Race 21.

 

Our very first order of business that day was buying our backpacks and a handful of traveling gear.  We were ecstatic and began building out an excel spreadsheet to capture all of our training methodologies for the next six weeks.  We mapped out our intellectual/mental training (e.g, Sudoku, geography, foreign languages), physical (yoga, Pilates, cross training, at-home-stretching and calisthenics) and task specific to-dos (stick shift practice, changing a flat tire, etc).

 

The physical training element was by far the most rewarding as each of us drastically altered our workouts and saw the results almost immediately.  We enlisted yoga 1-2x per week, advanced Pilates classes 2-3x per week (using the reformer machine), weight lifting and body weight (pushups/pull-ups/dips, etc) 4x per week and ‘active physical fitness’ tasks (hiking, stair climbing, beach runs, swimming, kayaking, stand up paddle board, etc.) 4x per week.   Every night at home we made sure to treat our bodies to a foam-roller session to improve blood circulation, lengthening of tight muscles, tendons and ligaments and generally active release.  We also found ourselves doing a nightly regiment of core exercises.

A common misconception is that ‘core workouts’ are just sit-ups, or anything revolving around the strengthening of the abdominals.   I was surprised when I learned that a good core workout involves working the muscles in the lower back, your pelvis and your hips.  It even includes your diaphragm.   I was even more surprised when Abbie explained to me that we could strengthen our core by spending less than fifteen minutes a night on this group of muscles.  Having taught competitive dance for over ten years, Abbie engages core training multiple times a week with her students.  The value in us strengthening our core was that it would be our most prized muscle group on our upcoming adventure since it would ensure ideal posture and mobility while racing with twenty-five pound packs, and reduce or protect against injuries while performing whatever abstract endeavors the Race had planned for us (later we realized this included such tasks as a 140 foot free rappel, one mile sprint through mud in Dhaka, Bangladesh and spending almost two hours learning, practicing and performing a synchronized swim routine with the Russian Olympic Synchronized swim team).

 

Most every night Abbie led us in a series of plank exercises, bender ball movements, glute push-ups, twisting Supermans and a series of hanging movements (knee raises, straight legs, toes to bar).

 

A few days before we left on our trip of a lifetime we each took pictures in the dressing room of a local Lululemon.  I was shocked that for the first time in my life I could see abdominal and oblique definition.  My body weight had gone from just over 191lbs to 174lbs.  My body fat percentage had dropped drastically from 13.4% to 7.6%.  I was the fittest, strongest, healthiest and leanest I had ever been. I attribute these results to the vast array of daily physical activity (muscle confusion!), improved diet (no processed foods, greens at every meal, no red meat, no non-natural sugars) and absolutely our at-home-core-workouts.

 

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