Monday, June 27, 2011

No Sense Of Humor Allowed

I tweeted this:

DonaldFladjr Donald Flad Jr

Michelle Bachman is very stylish

I received this response within minutes

Michelle Walker-Cook

@DonaldFladjr Stylist in the style of Cruella Deville. Ugly insides will reveal themselves like Dorian Gray=I know the real Bachmann RECORD.

My response

Donald Flad Jr

@Shell96706 Calm Down - I am not a supporter I think she is a horror but she is very stylish and always looks well put together

This is what wrong with this our politics nobody has a sense of humor and apparently we are not allowed to say something nice about the people on the other side of the political fence.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Deepak Chopra Has Tweeted

Deepak Chopra tweeted tonight that “Evolution is divine genius”

What is he trying to tell us?

Is he telling the world that G-d is behind evolution and therefore conservative Christians have it all wrong?

Is he giving cover to Michele Bachman and the rest of the GOP who pretend not to believe in science in order to gain political power?

Is he trying to capture the interest of those who do not watch anything on PBS?

Is he trying to get a contract with Fox News?

Or, is he just another guy, like me, who has an opinion on everything?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Death Before Marriage

It appears I was the only person on the planet who was not over the moon about last night’s New York Senate vote to allow gay marriage. Not including the hideous people who oppose the concept of civil rights.

Let me be clear; I think what happened in New York last night was terrific and very important. It is one more step in the right direction. But, what happens in New York will stay in New York. My only hope is that a couple of militant lesbians will get married in New York and then return home to Ohio and will sue for equal rights. The case will go through the system and make it to the Supreme Court and the Justices will…….It’s hopeless.

I will be long dead before I will be able to get married.

Friday, June 24, 2011

One Nation Under... Or Are We?

Sitting here sort of watching Supernatural, surfing the net looking at interesting news stories with the occasional foray into the realm of smut and keeping a tab open to a live steam of the New York State Senate as they vote on whether my gay brothers and sisters can be treated equally in the marriage department. The marriage bill has passed.

All citizens in the Empire State will be allowed to get married and participate in all the benefits therein. Actually no they won’t. Federal law will not recognize these marriages.

I will be able to get married in New York in about 30 days which will mean absolutely nothing because I live in Pennsylvania.

Which begs the question: Are we a nation or are we a confederation? A confederation was rejected in 1789 and yet it is an issue that this country still struggles with.

The civil war was fought over what was more supreme; the individual states or the federal government. The federal government won, sort of.

Most of us thought the issue of nullification was resolved when Lee surrendered to Grant.

Then a black man was elected President and suddenly southern state governors were discussing the right to nullify federal law and one of them Perry of Texas mentioned the right to succeed from the union.

Should we not have one standard though out the nation?

A child in Virginia is taught a different version of our nation’s history than a child in Maine.

What passes for a healthy school lunch is different in Minnesota than it is in Florida.

Clean water rules are different in California than they are in West Virginia.

Worker safety protections are not the same in Georgia as they are in Maryland.

The price of gas is cheaper in New Jersey than here in Pennsylvania and we have to pump it ourselves.

We will not truly be a nation until the notion of state’s rights is dead and buried.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

We Did Not Talk

While sitting at a candidate’s night before the recent primary my friend Silagh asked me if I wanted to attend Tony Kushner’s new play, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide To Capitalism And Socialism With A Key To The Scriptures. She thought I would be a good resource for trying to understand some of the underlying themes and currents of this very multi-layered play. I am a gay man of a certain age who has survived the dark days of AIDS and had spent enough quality time in New York during the 80’s and 90’s to understand some of Mr. Kushner’s references. This play was so clear and its meanings so evident and its message are so universal I am pretty certain that Silagh did not need me there, but I am so happy and dare I say blessed that I had the opportunity to attend.

We had a great day beginning with a relatively easy bus ride into the city. The bus had free WIFI so we pulled out our mobile devices and off we went. On the bus I read some stories about Tony Kushner but I did not read any reviews of the play itself. Not that anyone else’s opinion matter but I did not want the New York Times or New York magazine in the back of mind as I was watching the play. We had intended to visit a museum before the play but decided a nice walk down 5th Avenue to have drinks and snacks at Mesa Grill. It gave us an opportunity to talk some more. This is something Silagh and I do a lot of.

I met Silagh more than a year ago via Twitter, we then met for lunch, I learned how to pronounce her name, we talked so much we barely ate our food and we have been talking ever since. On the way home, however, we did not discuss the play, I think we were both so drained, so overwhelmed, so moved by what we had just witnessed that our words would just seem small compared to Tony Kushner’s, I know mine were/are insufficient. During both intermissions I fled the theater to a) compose myself, b) to try to comprehend and c) to try to find the words to express my thoughts, emotions and the resulting feelings. I called home and said things like; “Oh My God”, “I am so drained”, “This is amazing”, “Stunning” etc. I could not find the words then and I am still struggling with the appropriate words to express my reactions. On the way home Silagh and I did not discuss the play, in fact we spoke very little. We just processed and learned.

Comment Deleted

I had to delete a comment from my last post. It was off topic, rude, inane and offensive. This was the first time I had to delete a comment but this did not pass my smell test. Believe me I am offended by very little but this one just did not need to be shared with you all.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's My Life - Coming out Pt 3

ü Self acceptance

ü Research

ü Spiritual teacher consulted

ü Old friend /political pal

ü Close friends

ü Co-workers

ü Confidence

I was now ready for the next step. Having THE discussion with the family. Rev. Steve was of two thoughts – I must not while I still lived at home and I must because he knows my parents better than I do. Bob Freeman was concerned also but more for my emotional state. Friends / co-workers offered me a place to live if things did not go well but they were pretty certain things would turn out just fine.

This next full disclosure conversations would take place in two rounds; sister and brother in law one week and parents the following Sunday, my brother who is 6 years my junior would wait until later.

I made an appointment with my sister and after a few stammers and false starts and a little small talk – I said “I have something to tell you” “I’m Gay”. After the usual questions of are you sure, are you OK and the like we decided on the plan of action for telling my parents. The conversation was calm and relaxed and not all that intense. Even my idiotic brother-in-law was shockingly supportive and cogent in his thoughts. My sister thankfully shed him many years ago and he was later replaced by a saint and one of the smartest people I will ever know. My sister would snatch up my brother after church and I would tell my parents as soon as we got home.

I notified all my friends and put both Rev. Steve and current pastor on noticed. Our pastor at the time was John Thomas a very thoughtful and liberal Yankee, we became good friends. John would later on assume the burden as President / General Minister of The United Church of Christ. A job only little less difficult than Sec. of State or Director of the CIA. Everyone was on standby for Sunday and they put their lives on hold to be ready for me and or my parents. Then my mother’s favorite uncle died. Uncle Tom was a wicked funny, naughty little leprechaun of a man and a beloved figure to us all. The big reveal was put on hold for one week.

The next ten days were nerve wracking but the extra time fortified me and gave me more time to rehearse. After church my sister swooped up Chris and I rode home with the folks. Before we all had a chance to change out of our Sunday best I asked my parents to sit down in the living room, I wanted to discuss something with them. The looked at each other and my dad bit his lower lip and my mom fiddled with something.

“Mom Dad I want to tell you that I am gay” “I am sure of it and I accept it and I hope you can find a way too as well”

Mom “So do you have a friend?”

Me “What do you mean?”

Mom “Well, you just came back from visiting Donn in DC and well we thought since you two have been inseparable since you were little we just figured he was your err um friend”

We had some more discussion; they never asked me if I was sure.

I then asked what she meant by “We just figured?” “Have you discussed this?”

Mom “Well, after the finding the books under your bed last year we just waited for you to tell us” “Why did you lie to me then?”

Me “I wasn’t ready”

Mom “OK”

I told them that Donn was not my um err friend.

Mom “Well when you get one make sure you bring him around”

My mother and I had done all the talking; Dad just sort of sat there trying not to look stricken or hurt. He said that the only thing that really bothered him was that I was afraid that they would reject me or no longer love me. “Of course we still love you, you are our child.” “Parents either love their children or they don’t, we do”

They told me that they were worried for my future and that a lot of people may reject me and things may not always be easy but they were not disappointed. Their only hurt was that I was not following their dreams for me but in the end only my dreams mattered. My sister had a child so the issue of grandchildren was not an issue.

The conversation ran its course and after an hour or so it ended. I told them that I had my friends on call so I was going to spend the rest of the day drinking on college hill, they chuckled.

I told them that I had the ministers sitting by the phone ready to discuss whatever concerns they may have or to just listen if need be. They assured me that was not necessary. I found out a short time later it was very much necessary but the many conversations my parents had with these two spiritual leaders and friends were always very positive and they were more concerned about me then they were themselves.

I went upstairs to change out of my church clothes; I called all active parties and went about my day.

I have brought um err friends home; one they were fond of and another they fell in love with.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's My Life - Coming Out Pt 2

When I got home the evening after the phone call nothing was said. In fact nothing was ever said again. Before this my mother would sometimes asked me if I thought certain men, celebrity or otherwise were handsome or good looking. I always gave a vague answer. After the phone call she never asked again.

I think I read about 10 books from various sources and various level of expertise but all were positive and affirming. Some discussed the hard ships I may have to endure and some were more hopeful. This was before Al Gore invented the internet so I to either had to buy them from Walden Books or take them out of the library. Two books were more helpful than the others.

“Loving Someone Gay” by Don Clark, Ph.D. It is and honest and thoughtful book that was helpful in understanding who I was, why I was, and how I could help others understand and accept me. Don’t forget this was 1981 all this gay stuff still had to be explained.

“The Best Little Boy in the World” by John Reid. This book saved my life. It is a memoir of a normal acting, politically aware, social active young man with a secret. John Reid was a pen name used by Wall Street giant Andrew Tobias who has also served as Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee.

The research was done. I had no idea what was going to happen next but I was better prepared to begin the long slog of coming out. Which it turns out is a never ending process, but more on that later.

The next step was to tell someone. I chose our churches former pastor and a close family friend. Steve Sterner had left the little congregation in Easton but was still very much a part of our lives. Steve and family were as much a part of our family as any of my uncles and aunts. I wrote Steve this brutally honest 12 page letter. A week or so later I received a letter in response. Steve addressed the letter to me with a note on the envelope that it was personal and meant for me alone. I am a junior so he wanted to make sure that my father did not read it. This little note caused a bit of drama that we all laughed over later. Steve’s letter was frank and helpful and he was clearly pained by the angst I was going through and he helped me find a local resource. Later in his career while trying to get his congregation to become open and affirming to gay congregants he told my/our story in a sermon. Needless to say I was honored and quite touched to be the subject of this great man’s sermon. To this day Steve Sterner is one of the best preachers I have ever heard.

Step 2 was to tell someone face to face. For that honor I chose soon to be elected State Representative Bob Freeman. I sat Bob down during the summer of 1982 while my parents were on vacation. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Bob was the perfect choice. At the end of this very supportive conversation he asked me to not be very open until after he was elected, he was afraid that it could hurt a campaign that we had spent years planning and running and we could smell victory. We both laughed to relieve the tension but I agreed. Even all these years later I am grateful and thankful to the very honorable Mr. Freeman. He included me in his wedding and if he gets off his ass and allows me to get married I will include him in mine.

Now it was time to tell other friends and co-workers. It took me a really long time to get though college because I kept taking time off to find myself and earn money. This was one of those off times. I told my closest friends at dinner one night and after a few questions and a few tears from a young woman who was forced to check me off her list, I was glad I did. They were there for me for the rest of the initial coming out process and a little beyond.

It's My Life - Coming Out Pt 1

I wonder if coming out is easier today than it was 30 years ago when I did?

I have joked in the past that I knew when I was in 4th grade and that was that. On some level that may have been true but the reality of the situation was a tad more complex.

I had finally accepted the fact that my “white picket fence” dream was going to have a twist. Like everything else if I was going to a good gay I had to do some research. The community college had a number of self help / how to self accept / how to live life as and honest person / how to tell your parents / what to expect from life. But, I was not nearly ready to discuss this fact with anyone else let alone my family.

I was working part time at a luggage store in the Palmer Park Mall with women who were not only my parents age but two were classmates of my parents. Late one afternoon the phone rings, it’s my mother. She never called at work unless it was an emergency.

“Hi mom what’s wrong?”

“I was in your room today to change your sheets.” (My mother had not made my bed or changed my sheets since I was 5 years old; we were responsible for our own cleaning).

“Why would you do that? You never walk up to my room.” (I took over the attic and turned it into my suite)

“I thought I would be nice”


“Well I found some books under your mattress” (The self help books)

“Oh..So why are you calling me at my job?” (Thank God I hid the Blueboy magazines in my sweater drawer)

Are you Gay?”

“The books are for a report I am doing for my Psych class”

“Really… Why are you hiding them under your mattress?”

“You’re really calling me at my job to have this discussion? Really?” “Have you discussed this with dad?”

“No, that’s why I am calling you now”

“Do you really think that calling me at work is appropriate for this type of conversation?”


“I hid the books because I did not want you to see them because I knew it would provoke this conversation.”

“You know we can discuss this.”

“Bev… I am not gay I am doing a paper on homosexuality for my Psych class”

“You know that we will try to understand and that we love you”

“I am at work and you are calling me to discuss something you found under my mattress. I guess you won’t be changing my sheets anytime soon will you?”

“OK then I’ll see you at dinner”

“Yeah right and thanks for doing this while I am working”


End part 1

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's My Life: A Concierge Story Pt 1

I was asked to host a dinner for corporate executives and the company’s senior field staff, about 25 people in total. I discovered a steak house in King of Prussia that I really liked but before I committed to it for this dinner I invited 3 coworkers to confirm the choice.

One member of our little party is one of the most dignified and proper women I will ever know and she has a last name almost as old as Philadelphia itself, she was also a vegetarian. My friend was assured that everything she wanted would be strictly vegetarian. Before she ordered the sautéed mushrooms she really challenged the waiter on whether they would be prepared in a way that she could eat them. He assured her everything would be in edible. Dinner arrived and the mushrooms were clearly not vegetarian friendly, they were the mushrooms used to adorn the steaks. She shot me a look that she had learned from years of attending white gloved functions. I called our waiter over and as I began to explain that the mushrooms were not acceptable my friend raised her bejeweled right hand to stop me and with her left hand she silently summoned the waiter to her side. “My darling young man what part of I am a vegetarian did you not understand?” “How does sautéing mushroom in beef stock make this dish, which smells terrific and looks quite tasty qualify it as vegetarian?” “You do understand that just because a steak is not residing next to them on my plate does not make it vegetarian acceptable?” “Now dear, what else can you suggest for me to eat?” My friend never raised her voice, never showed any distress she just very calmly and succinctly demanded perfection and she got it. The meal was terrific.

The manager knew the purpose of the meal and offered to tour my guests around to see if they agreed that the location would work for a large private dinner. We all agreed that it would and met with the company President and Chairman the next day to discuss. I gave them the wine list they made their choices and I went back to the restaurant to plan the menu. I based it on previous dining experiences with the two bosses. I chose 6 butlered appetizers, a salad course, a soup course and 4 options for dinner; seafood, beef; chicken; pasta/vegetarian.

We arrived at the restaurant and the bosses liked the space and were charmed by the greeting they received from the manager and we were escorted to our private area. The wine was poured and the appetizers started. I stood in the corner and thought that things were going well. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw the President and Chairman looking over the menu. They looked up, found me and briskly walked over. I was expecting to be complimented….I was not.

These two me detested each other and rarely spoke to each other without the Executive Senior VP of HR and Cleaning Up Messes being in the room as well. But on this one night and on this one topic they were in complete agreement. The President was about my size but the Chairman was about 5’5”. They backed me up against a wall, one grabbed me by the knot of my tie the other rested his fist firmly in the middle of my rib cage.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” “Are you kidding with this fucking menu” “How can we trust you again?” “Perhaps you are not as sophisticated as you think you are” “Did you really think this would satisfy anyone?” “For Christ sake Flad how can you have embarrassed us like this?”

I responded; “What part are you upset about?” “You do realize that this place does not do banquets but made special arrangements to do this dinner?” “You can’t be upset with the quality of my choices? Can you?”

They did not mind the choices but “Why did you think it was a good idea to limit the choices my people could make?”

Me; “You wanted a cocktail hour(s) and you surely can’t expect people to order their own appetizers and still have them served like a party.”

Them “No, you smartass moron but the 4 choices for dinner will limit people” “I want an open menu and more appetizers and don’t tell me you limited dessert”

Me “You don’t think you’re over reacting?” “This falls within the budget I was given”

Them “Who gave you a budget?”

Me “I will see what I can do”

Them “Just fucking do it, this is quite disappointing”

And off I went to hunt down the manager. After a few tense moments in front of the broiler I assured him that it would be financially beneficial to everyone involved. I waited as he spoke to the head chef, I heard a loud bang. The manager came back and said no problem.

We came back out to the bosses to discuss the changes and the wait staff placed full menus at each place setting. The manager asked if he could speak to me for a moment. I followed him to the end of the bar, the head bar tender came over and the manager said; “I want my usual “fuck it” set up and give Mr. Flad here anything he fucking wants throughout the evening and if he brings the blond (my boss) out she is to get whatever the fuck she wants as well.” I ordered my usual martini and the manager just glared at me and looked to the bartender said “shoot him too.” We did a shot of the most amazing bourbon I have ever had.

The rest of the evening went well and the restaurant was treated very well by the bosses because they had a tip “pissing match.”

The Executive SR VP of HR and Cleaning Up Messes contacted me the next day to express the apologies and gratitude of the bosses. I hinted that a few extra shares of stock would heal my bruises, he hung up.