Newsletter: Home Again

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It’s trite in American politics — the idea of a “New Beginning” — and yet it is used by someone during every election cycle. Don’t stop reading! I’m not going to bore you with the tales of the election that has just past.

Instead, I believe I will regale you with a short story about finding a new beginning.

Shane Bitney Crone is a wonderful young man. He grew up with a strong family. He had American values. And he fell in love. All of those characteristics are a part of the American Dream. But what the world was not ready for us to find out was that Shane fell in love with a boy, Tom. They traveled the world together. They were living the American Dream. Until, one day, Tom tragically died.

Perhaps the greater tradgey is that Shane was never completely open about his sexual orientation while he was with Tom. Certainly they were open in public and didn’t lie about their love, but Shane did not see the point in fighting for equal rights or standing up to discrimination. That all changed when he was barred by Tom’s family from attending his funeral.

Since then, Shane has worked tirelessly, and openly, to tell their story which resulted in a documentary movie: BRIDEGROOM. I have yet to see it, but I encourage you to do so. It’s a story of love. Not gay love. Human love.

And what does any of this have to do with a new beginning?

Shane lost the love of his life.

Back in 2003, when I lost my campaign to become Mayor of Mason City, Iowa, I was gutted. Of course the campaign had been stressful and a victory would have changed the course of my life forever, but I was okay with that. When the numbers came in and I had indeed lost to Jean Marinos (now a friend), my sense of direction was lost. I no longer understood my place in the world and how I could have the same impact winning the election would have provided me and the campaign.

I grew to dislike the “game” of politics and I walked away.

Sometimes that has to happen. Sometimes you have to lose completely and publicly to be able to find your way home again. I can’t tell you what I’m working on right now, but I have been consulting with a number of people here in New York City on a new political venture and I can’t wait to tell you more. It took me ten years to find my way home again. To my own, New Beginning.

Elton John has a new song out called, Home Again, the lyrics of which seem appropriate: “If I’d never left, I’d never have known.” He is right. I had to leave to know.

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Standing Together for Leadership

On Monday night, two Democratic members of Congress voted with the GOP on their bill to avoid a government shutdown. They are the democratic congressman Sean Patrick Maloney from New York and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.

They both voted Aye on H.J. RES 59, which stated that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act would be postponed for one year, member’s of Congress would join the exchanges, and the rest of the budget would be passed through December 13, 2013.

The bill passed at 8:40 pm Eastern providing the Senate with over three  to take action. They nearly immediately said no. They wanted a clean bill and nothing less.

But here is the problem. These two democrats who had the “audacity” to join the “opposition” at a critical moment are being chastised by the press, the gay press, for abandoning all sense of judgement and loyalty.

Now, it must be said that both of those members identify with the LGBTQ community.

John Aravosis, who’s gay and editor of AMERICAblog, also had harsh words for the two lawmakers, who ran as out of the closet candidates and took donations from the LGBT community.

“I think it’s abominable. No Democrat, let alone a gay or bisexual one, should be working to undercut health care protections for Americans, let alone helping John Boehner do anything,” Aravosis said.

Renowned and respected columnist and commentator Michaelangelo Signorile tweeted:

“Gay ConservaDems took $$ from progressives, Sinema and Maloney, voted #shutdown. Make sure they meet fate of Christine Quinn” (source)

That is all the proof I needed that the entrenched gay liberal establishment will never support someone having an opinion outside of their closed club. They will never understand how I can call myself a gay conservative.

And don’t get me wrong. I believe that the way the House-leadership has handled this process has been wrong and ill-conceived. The former leader of the GOP has some words that Speaker Boehner should listen to today:

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.

The words of President Lincoln in his famous Cooper Union speech.

When I tweeted Aravosis about my disappointment in the LGBT presses response to these two congressional leaders, this is the response I got:

You help elect someone so they’ll follow YOUR beliefs. (source)

You are the only person in sane America who thinks voting with Boehner on the shutdown is honorable. (source)

Two comments back to Mr. Aravosis:

First, you elect someone because you believe in their beliefs and trust their judgement … not because they will follow your beliefs. These two leaders voted on what they believed to be right given the facts and it may very-well cost them their jobs, and that is honorable.

Secondly, I am not the only sane person who thinks making changes to the law are honorable. It is not how I would have gone about it, but that is beside the point.

Calling out these two votes is cynical and does nothing but fuel a city already drenched in kerosene and cloaked in hate and fear. The name calling, threats, and special-interest claims to votes must end now. Because now, who are the bullies?

A Change is Needed

I’m gay. This is not news.

I have a dear friend who is in need of a second bone-marrow transplant.

I have long known that as a gay man, in this country I am unable to donate blood because I have had sex since 1977. Note: I was born in 1984. To my surprise, this ban still exists and the United States is one of the few countries still holding on to old outdated science. Additionally, I am not allowed to donate bone marrow either.

A change is needed.

A Change is Needed - Gay Blood Ban

Steve Grand Says No To Fear

I like to consider myself an All American Boy. It’s tough to say that as a (nearly) 30-year-old, but it is still a great picture in my mind.

Steve Grand, a brand new face on the country music scene is an All American Boy. He is also gay. Not many people have made the transition from country music star to a gay country music star. But Steve seems to have understood he could not live as himself without actually being himself.

So, his major YouTube hit, All American Boy is all about being a gay All American Boy. It is his coming out.

Talk about abandoning fear. Sure, it is a risk. But life is not without risk. He just chose to take it on.

Screw fear. Bring on life.

FOCUS: Age is No Limit!

Selected Life Lesson
Anything is possible, no matter what the age.
-Mary B’s Life Lesson from the Beyond Rubies Conference

Richard’s Thoughts…
We are powerful beyond our measure … no matter how young or old we are. That was no more apparent to me than at an event I volunteered at two weeks ago on Pier 60 here in New York City. It was with The Trevor Project, an organization that is near and dear to my heart. “Trevor Live” is an annual event to celebrate all the advocates and pioneers in the area of LGBTQ inclusion and safety.

And while listening to the band fun. perform and Susan Sarandon speak, it was the Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award recipients that took my breath away. They were, and are just kids, and they are changing the world for the better.

It was an honor to be there that night and serve the greater good. And Mary’s lesson is poignant on this, the day after the American Independence Day. Anything really is possible. It is never too late to change your life and the lives of others. Let’s get moving.

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You Can Go Home Again

You know the saying, “It’s all just a little bit of history repeating“? For many – if not most of you – that is the feeling after spending more than a few days with your immediate family. We’ve all been there and as I stood in Midway Airport in Chicago writing the first part of this blog post, I know that statement to be true. But also very very false.

The last time I was on my way to the great state of Iowa, I was scared and nervous. (Okay, that’s not entire accurate as the last time I was there, I was saying goodbye and driving away.) But in October 2010, I had a different kind of farewell; and I made my peace with it. When I drove away from the only real home I have ever known, I was scared, unsure and energized.

Now, going back, it is about healing, rebuilding and creating dreams. I needed this time off. So, I went home again.

It’s amazing how much changes and yet how much stays the same from the places you always knew. I did a lot of great things while back in Iowa but in the end, it was about reclaiming my peace. And on one hand, I found it. One the other, there is a storm brewing. I can’t yet say what that is, but keep an eye out.

There is a long list of things I enjoyed while back. I spent a lot of time just driving the roads of the state; alone. Just me, the road and the radio (to steal a line from Kenny Chesney). It was peaceful and serene. I also had the great fortune to spend time with some of the best friends I will ever know. They have seen me in good times and bad and we all shared some much needed laughs.

My vacations are never without a little work though. Last fall before Thanksgiving I returned to my high school to spend an afternoon with their newly formed Gay-Straight Alliance. Eleven months ago, it was a small group. This time around, the room was full and two students even had to sit on the floor. Words can not accurately describe what it felt to not only be in front of an audience again, but to see how much these students cared about each other. It was an honor to have those two hours with them and show that a student from this high school can, in fact, be gay and successful in this world. And yes, it does get better.

The time with my family was also much needed. And you can go home again. I did. I survived. And I’m excited for the road ahead.

In his much famous Stanford Commencement speech back in 2005, Steve Jobs said:

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

It has taken a long time, but I am beginning to believe this particular line. Life is funny like that. Just when you think you have it all figured out, life happens. And it happens fast. And you can’t stop it. You can’t control it or predict it. And now, I just have to believe and trust in my gut, in destiny, in something, to get to the end result that makes me smile. This trip may have been the start of some amazing things … but only the Universe knows where these dots are going. Perhaps some day I will look back and laugh at the path they took.

Laugh, and smile.