Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Puerto Rico- The Crisis Continues & 2 Girls, 1 Boy AND Owning It: Parts 4 AND 5 Of My Coming Out Story

Puerto Rico- The Crisis Continues

Satellite Image Of Puerto Rico At Night Before and After Maria

I had the opportunity to speak with Loida Velasquez again about the progress being made in Puerto Rico and unfortunately the situation remains dire. She told me that she has been able to communicate with her younger brother with greater frequency, but that he has to travel some distance to charge his phone. He can get service where he is which is a big step forward, but still doesn't have electricity.

She said the last time she spoke with him, he asked for one thing, food. Think about that for one minute. Of all the things people need for survival, food and water are the barest of essentials and they don't have that. She said the grocery stores are all still closed because there's no electricity. She sent him 2 boxes of food and is sending him another. Puerto Ricans need food.

She also said that due to lack of electricity that the hospitals are failing. Here is a great article written by The Atlantic about the failing health care system in Puerto Rico. She also mentioned that the other thing they need in greater abundance are batteries (D batteries especially) and battery-operated devices such as lamps, fans and radios. To keep up with the relief effort, check out the group East Tennessee For Puerto Rico on Facebook.

One last thought about Puerto Rico... for now. The difficulties being faced by the people of Puerto Rico were predictable and it is for that reason that MORE leadership was needed there from Washington than in other hurricane stricken areas. The fact that they received less is a travesty and we should demand more of our elected leaders. Mr. President, if you think leadership is lacking in Puerto Rico, try providing some of your own because that's what REAL leaders do!

Part 4- 2 Girls, 1 Boy

If you haven't read the first, second and third installments of my coming out story, I encourage you to start from the beginning before continuing.  If you have read them, first of all thank you!  And secondly please proceed!

Prior to and after my decision to accept my own homosexuality, i spent time with a couple of different girls. Both of whom i worked with at different companies and one of whom i'm still close with to this day.

The first was a girl i'm certain my family would have approved of.  She was a sweet young lady with a big smile and more than a touch of sass.  She had dropped hints of interest in me prior to us going out and i eventually succumbed to her overtures.  I had to give it one last go at being straight.

She and i went out on a couple of dates and we kissed at one point. I felt nothing.  On our 2nd date, she told me that she had dated another guy during college who she thought was the one.  He turned out to be gay (go figure!) and she was heartbroken.  Needless to say, i didn't want to be her second heartbreak based on the same reason, but didn't ever tell her that.

That same night, we went back to her place and were watching "Final Destination" while she attempted to get a rise out of me. It wasn't working. What happened next seems even more unbelievable now than it did then.

Unbeknownst to me, she had turned on the water in her bathtub to begin drawing a bath. I'm not sure if she thought i'd be interested in taking a bath with her or what, but for whatever reason, she completely forgot that she had left the water running. We had just cleared the first 3 or 4 scenes in the movie just as she was turning up the heat on her ill-fated advances when she pulled away abruptly, lept to her feet and rushed into the bathroom. "Oh my God" she said completely exasperated. 'What happened?' i asked confused. "I left the water on in the bathtub and now my bathroom is flooded!"

I stood up and saw for myself and sure enough it was a hot mess. The water had come out into the hallway and soaked her carpet. She was visibly upset as she tried to find the number to emergency maintenance at her apartment complex. I had no idea what to do. I helped her clean up a bit and then made myself scarce. I found out later that she had flooded the apartment below hers as well and it ended up being an expensive repair. I don't think we saw each other again after that incident.

The second girl came along AFTER i had chosen to self-acknowledge my homosexuality. She was (and still is) cute as a button, sharp-witted and extremely caring. I connected with her in a way i had never been able to with other women. She "got me" and loved me unconditionally and i loved her too. Under the right circumstances, i could have been happy with her because i genuinely was, but i knew deep down inside i wasn't attracted to her... at least not physically. At one point i questioned whether or not that mattered, but in the end, it did and so the romantic relationship wouldn't and couldn't last.

While i was "seeing" the second girl, there was another boy i was spending time with and getting to know. I'll call him Ty. Ty and i also worked together, but in different departments. But for whatever reason, we gravitated towards one another. Ty had brown hair and eyes, an adorkable smile, and a magnetic personality. We hung out often after work and on the weekends usually with a group of friends. We'd smoke hookah at his apartment. We ate wings on the patio at Urban Bar and we'd tailgate at UT games on Saturdays. He was on my JDRF Walk team one year. I was completely infatuated with him and thought there was a possibility he might be with me as well. But like so many times before, it all fell apart and this time in the most spectacular way possible.

Part 5- Owning It

Ty and i were hanging out alone in his flat one day after work sipping beers and bulls!ttin' about what we were going to do that upcoming weekend. He said something about a particular girl being cute and i responded 'i think you're cute.' "What?!"  For whatever reason i was feeling particularly brave in that moment. I told him i was totally into him and that i thought we could make each other happy. He was everything i was looking for in a guy i said and we should ya know, hook up and see where things go.

To his credit, he was very polite in his rejection, but i was devastated nonetheless. Yet another in a long line of straight guys who would never be interested in me the way i was in them. But unlike those previous episodes of "Oz Breaks His Own Heart", this time would change my life forever...

I decided to send him a message on Facebook that evening telling him that i was upset that he wasn't interested in me, but that i completely understood and i would try not to let it affect our friendship (it did, but that's another story for another day!). I wished him the best and said i'd see him around. I hit "Post" and went on my merry way thinking that was the end of it. It wasn't.

Ty calls me that night. "Hey, did you mean to post that message to my wall on Facebook?" 'Yeah, was that not okay?' i said completely perplexed. "You know other people can see that, right?" I froze in silence. (I was fairly new to Facebook at that point and thought that posting on someone's wall was something only they could see. Wrong again!)  "Yeah man, i took it down, but i don't know how many people saw it before i did. I know at least a few people saw it though," he said like a doctor giving someone a terminal prognosis. ("Ya might want to get a second opinion, but i'm pretty sure you only have 6 months to live.")

I hung up the phone not quite knowing how to feel. I was of course angry with myself, but also fearful of what would come next. Would my friends abandon me? Would i be the laughing stock at my job? Would people talk about me behind my back or whisper to each other as i walked by? I was manic, an an emotional wreck!

I tried to get some sleep that night, but that wasn't happening. My mind was racing and i couldn't shut down. I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed the next morning either so i called in saying i wasn't feeling well which was the God's honest truth. I laid in bed wide awake for a couple of hours that morning trying to decide how i would continue on knowing my secret, the secret i had kept for nearly 30 years, was now public knowledge. I NEVER wanted to come out and here i was being forced out by my own doing in the most embarrassing way possible. How poetic, i thought to myself, classic Oz move!

Once my tear ducts where empty and i was feeling uncomfortably numb, what i did next, shocks me even to this day. 'I've got to own this' i thought to myself. 'I can either lay here in bed for the rest of my life feeling sorry for myself OR find a way to carry on. The only way i do that is for the first time in my life admit to the world that i am a homosexual.' i declared to myself in the most confident inner-monologue i could muster. All of the sudden, i sprung to my feet and with a burst of energy went straight to my computer to type a post on this blog.

I won't rehash exactly what i said, but it was pretty defiant... even for me! Don't ask me why i said half the things i said because i'm not 100% sure, but most likely it was due to the mental state i was in at the time i wrote it. In addition to posting it here on my blog, i posted the same message on my Facebook wall. I then proceeded to get showered, dressed and off to work feeling ready to face the world again. I felt real pride in myself for the first time in my life. That same pride courses through my veins to this day and gave me the strength i needed to continue living then and now to tell this story to all of you.


I can say with the utmost certainty that coming out was the best thing that could have happened to me. Even though i don't necessarily agree with the idea that "coming out" is the best thing for everyone, it certainly took a weight off of me i didn't realize was even there. Coming out allowed me to be the me i could have never been if i were still closeted.

That said, i do think the day is coming when coming out will be passe and unnecessary. One day humanity will get to a point where individuals can be who they are and love who they love without having to make a public spectacle of it. That day hasn't yet arrived unfortunately but may yet in our lifetime.

As for my fears about losing friends, that didn't really happen.  Most of my friends rallied to my side and still support me vigorously to this day.  I won't say i didn't lose any friends though.  I lost one in particular that still stings a bit, but that's okay.  Otherwise my life really hasn't changed that much except for the better!

Of The Week


The Flaming Lips are one of those artists i never can quite get. Most of their music seems inaccessible to your average music listener and to those above average (like yours truly! ;-), it doesn't really seem all too inviting either. Maybe it's the songwriting or the overtly eccentric frontman Wayne Coyne that makes them not one of my go-to artists. But i'll be gosh darned if they didn't release one of my favorite albums of all times, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots!

How they get the musical formula just right on this album is a mystery. They don't get anywhere close to the formula on any of their other albums. Confounding! I'm not sure how that happens, but it definitely happens to other artists as well (Citizen Cope, i'm looking at you!). Regardless, i accept Yoshimi for what it is, a beautiful work of art from an artist that deserves at least one. Plus Flaming Lips live shows are always entertaining!


I remember when MGMT first hit the scene. They were all the rage for a while there and for good reason. Their first album was AMAZING. Every track on that album was brilliant (much like Yoshimi!), well-written and well-produced. And then they were gone. MGMT came out with other albums, but none caught the same fire as Oracular Spectacular and they were relegated to the trash heap of musical history. A notso unfamiliar tale.

But then, out of nowhere, they drop the best track i've heard all year. Little Dark Age is an intoxicating little groove, with an futuristic industrial vibe to it. Hard to describe, but easy to listen to. Check it out for yourself and you'll see what i mean. I just hope this means a full-length album is in the offing because if this track is any indication, it will be spectacular!

Head to Head

Some of you might not know this but i LOVE ice cream. In fact, i try and have a scoop everyday, but only if i've "earned" it. How do i earn it? Well it's not as hard as you might think. As long as i eat "reasonably" well for the day, i'll usually make room. I like easily attainable goals when it comes to my diet. :-))

My ice cream brand of choice most recently has been Breyers and more specifically the Breyers Blast "Snickers: Caramel Swirl Chunk" edition. I freakin' love Snickers and when combined with ice cream, well then you just have yourself an example of dessert nirvana! Buuuutttt, the other day i was at the Fellini Kroger and saw the Mayfields ice cream on sale for $2.50 for a 1.5 quart container. The Breyers conversely was $4.19 for the same size. Since i'm always looking for ways to save a buck, i decided to give the Mayfields Moose Tracks a go.

BIG mistake! The Mayfields doesn't hold a candle to the Breyers (warning: you should NOT hold candles close to ice cream!). The Breyers is softer, creamier and more delicious than the Mayfields. The Mayfields on the other hand is just plain vanilla (pun most definitely intended!). On a scale of 1-10, Breyers: 9, Mayfields 5.5. I'm still gonna eat the Mayfields mind you because you don't let ice cream go to waste.  I just won't enjoy it... as much! :-))


So, it's probably obvious by now that i am kind of a dessert lover although if forced to choose, i'd probably choose savory over sweet. Regardless, there's one thing i can't stand and that's when food goes to waste. I was at an event a week or so ago and observed a member of the catering staff throw a perfectly nice tray of cookies straight into a garbage can with NO hesitation. I was livid!

I called her out on it and she made up a bunch of excuses why a perfectly good tray of cookies that were fine for human consumption only a second prior was trash heap worthy a second later. It was inexcusable especially given the setting. The event was at UT and i know for a fact that there are thousands of hungry students on that campus who would have gladly consumed the lot of those cookies before you could finish saying the words "Free Cook...". I was half-tempted to remove those cookies from the receptacle myself, but thought the better of it. What an unfortunate and unnecessary waste!

So please folks, for the love of God and all things holy, please don't waste cookies, or ice cream or any other food if you can help it. So many of us are blessed in this country and around the world to not have to worry about where our next meal is coming from, but not everyone is so fortunate. Given the natural disasters that have befallen so many of our fellow citizens, we would all be wise to pause just a moment before trashing those leftovers or that container of milk that's a day pass expiration. Sure, that doesn't directly help anyone, but if nothing else, it indicates that you have a respect and appreciation for the blessings bestowed upon you and awareness of the plight of your fellow humans who aren't so blessed.

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

A great pleasure in life is doing what others say you can't.

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