Posts Tagged convictions

Special Forces

My time in San Francisco ended. I was thrilled I finally got to meet the online friend I’d shared so much of my life with over the past two years. We grew much closer in the little time I spent with him. I was already looking forward to the next time I would get to see him.

Early Saturday morning, I made my way to the airport. I was off to Chicago to finish out my week-long work trip. I’ve actually begun to look forward to these plane trips. It’s one of the few times I can sit and concentrate on writing blog entries without any distractions.

As I boarded the plane, I made my way past first class to my standard seat. I was happy to see it was a newer plane with slightly extended leg room. Being 6’2″, flying has become quite uncomfortable these days. I look forward to the day I get an upgrade, but those days seem to happen about once a year, even with status.

I was also thrilled to find I was sitting next to a very good-looking man with a great body. I could tell this guy was no weekend warrior. He spent a lot of time taking care of himself. I was enamored by his square jaw line and cute dimples. He started chatting me up when they announced the upgrade of six passengers to first class. Since we are both larger gentlemen, we jealously talked about their comfort levels with a certain level of “good for them.” I asked him what he does and learned he was a green beret in the Army Special Forces. I scolded him for not making that known. “If you were in uniform, you’d be first in line to get one of those seats!” He was such a nice guy. “It’s cool. I’m fine here,” he replied nonchalantly. It was such a nice change of pace not having to sit next to someone fat who stole half my seat or who smelled and ruined my entire flight.

Apparently, I wasn’t going to get through very much writing on the plane. So much for no distractions. I asked him if he was headed for business or pleasure. He told me he was flying to Brussels for an internship in defense analysis for the next three months. He told me all about what he does and how much he loves doing it. He also took the time to ask me what I do. I was proud to be sitting next to this man. To me, he was bigger than sitting next to a celebrity. I’ve always had a major soft spot for the military service men and women. Not necessarily in a sexual way. Being in the Navy was my grandfather’s proudest accomplishment. I regularly donate to the USO in his memory partly because I know how much it meant to him, but more so because I know what they have to give up to serve our country. I have friends in the service, so I’ve seen first hand what they sacrifice to keep us safe.

Through chatting with him more, I also learned his girlfriend is also in the Air Force. They were both stationed in California while he was finishing up at the Naval Postgraduate School and got to see each other on the weekends. They had it rough. They got to see each other so rarely, my heart really went out to him. We talked a great deal about his relationship and how they make it work. He realized it wasn’t ideal, but they make it work. I admired his convictions. I asked if she’d be coming to visit him while he was abroad in Belgium, but they have yet to determine if it would be worthwhile since he doesn’t know what his leave will be yet.

The more I talked to him, the more I realized how polite, cute, smart and sexy he is. I wanted to be friends with this guy. I wanted to hit up the bar and buy him a beer. It was completely in a non-sexual way too. Since I was young, I’ve craved to have “the guys.” I’ve never had a group of guys I’ve hung out with regularly. And, I’m not talking about a gaggle of gay men either. I’m talking about a group of men, gay or straight, who hung out all the time and were just real. We could rely on each other to have our backs, no matter what. He seemed like a guy who would fit that mold. He was a genuine good guy. I always try to surround myself with individuals like him, but it’s not easy.

When the flight attendant was coming by handing out drinks and asking for food/snack orders, I wanted to buy him one of my favorite United Tapas snack boxes. Had she not asked him before she asked me, I probably would have done it, however, looking back I’m not disappointed it didn’t work out. It may have made him feel awkward or uncomfortable. I just wanted to show my appreciation first-hand for what he does, however, I didn’t want to do it at the expense of his comfort. He probably had no idea I was gay, but some people are uncomfortable taking handouts. I also loved watching him flirt with the flight attendants. He was quite a smooth operator without being overt or corny.

When the plane landed, he proved once again his gentleman status. He was “Mr. Chivalrous” helping all the women with their bags. I glanced over at his boarding pass for his connecting flight to Brussels and caught a glimpse of his rank, Major and his name. He turned to me just before stepping into the aisle and wished me luck on my pitch.

As we exited the plane, I snapped a picture as he walked away (trying not to be creepy!).

When I got to my hotel, I hopped online to see if I could look him up. I wasn’t going to stalk him. I was just curious to know more about him. I found him on LinkedIn and learned more about his educational/occupational background. It is vastly impressive. I resisted the urge to add him as a connection on there and went about my day.

While I was in Chicago, I planned to visit my friend who moved there a few months prior. I hit him up when I landed because I was going to try to meet him for dinner/drinks that evening instead of dining with my coworkers. He replied telling me he had a fever and wouldn’t be able to make it out while I was in town, and we’d connect at a later date.

This was going to truly be a work trip, so I dove in full force to make sure I delivered.

In only somewhat related news…

A photo I came across in my Facebook feed over the past week makes me smile every time I see it. I dove into researching all about it. I am fascinated by it and love the media attention it is receiving. This shouldn’t be getting media attention. It should simply stand on its own as an amazing display of love and affection. But, until homosexuals are treated as equals, I welcome the attention. I hope it inspires you to be more courageous in your life, as it has inspired me.

If you’d like to read the full story of what is happening in these images, click here.

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Let’s Talk About… God?

Christmas Eve, my family and I always go to mass. We wake Christmas morning and open presents, so we go the night before.

Every year when we get home, it’s a tradition for my family to take a picture in front of the tree. I am always the obligatory photographer, which for some reason I strongly resent. Everyone in my family has a point and shoot and knows how to set up a tripod and click a button. I’m not exactly sure why it is my duty just because I’ve taken photography classes. I digress…

We take the family portrait and make our ways to our separate rooms to take off the Christmas outfits and get comfortable for the rest of the night.

My father and my sister wanted to watch a football game, and my mother and I had no interest. I can’t for the life of me remember what we decided to watch, but we were in the family room while the other two were in the living room watching the game.

Somehow my mother and I got back on the topic of church and the changes to the mass. For those non-Catholics out there, the Vatican altered the verbiage used in the mass this year. Apparently when they originally translated the mass, they messed up. All of a sudden they felt the need to “fix” it to be truer to the original text. I was arguing the changes weren’t necessary. The changed things like the following: The priest says, “Peace be with you.” In the past the congregation responded, “And also with you.” Now, the response is, “And with your spirit.” To me, those changes are semantics.

My mother heavily disagreed. She felt the changes were necessary and good. She felt it helped her pay closer attention to the mass. To me, it was a distraction. I was now paying more attention to a piece of paper I had to read than I was to the mass. My mother asked me if my priest had been explaining the changes, and somewhere I slipped up. It became apparent I hadn’t been going to church every week.

My mother got heated about that issue. “You haven’t been going to church every week, have you? But you had no problem receiving communion tonight!”

My sister and I had discussed religion and my status as a gay man on numerous occasions. I told her there was going to come a point where I told my parents I don’t want to go to church anymore more. She asked that I hold off on that for a while. I told her I wasn’t going to bring it up anytime soon. I wasn’t going to bring this topic up, but when my mother brought up this topic, I was gonna go with it.

“Really, Mom? Really? That’s going to be the reason I don’t go up to receive communion?” I quipped. “What do you mean? she said. “I mean, not going to church is going to be the reason I don’t get communion, not me being gay?” I responded.

My mother voiced her opinion that being gay is not a sin. Not attending church is a sin. I pointed out to her that both are sins in the eyes of The Church. She tried to convince me The Church’s stance on homosexuality is based on decisions made by men, and not attending church goes against a God-given law in the commandments. I pointed out to her the commandment to honor thy wife. (I know my argument is flawed here because the commandment refers to adultery). She sighed a bit because I did have a point in her mind.

“Well then everyone who’s ever had premarital sex shouldn’t be receiving communion either,” she added. “Exactly! That’s exactly what the Catholic Church believes,” I told her.

“Well then I shouldn’t be receiving communion because I’ve used birth control,” she noted. “Exactly. If you don’t believe birth control is a sin, then you’re not truly Catholic. You’re Catholic lite,” I exclaimed. “I have never been a true Catholic. I’ve always been a ‘cafeteria Catholic.’ I pick and choose what I want to believe. That is what religion is. It’s personal. I don’t always need to go to a specific building with a specific man to have a relationship with God.”

“You’re not going to church because you’re lazy, not because it’s against something you believe,” my mother accused. “I don’t want to be a part of an organization that doesn’t want me to be a part of it. It’s insulting. I am a man of convictions,” I defended.

“Then why go at all?” she asked. “I go because sometimes I want to go. Sometimes I want to be in church and among other people. And, sometimes I can’t get over it, and I decide not to go. But, that’s my choice. Religion is personal. So maybe I’m not a Catholic, but I am still a Christian. And, I still believe in God.” I declared.

My mother wasn’t happy with this. She was raised staunchly Catholic, and it’s been a part of her entire life. She didn’t see my side of the argument at all, but it was clear it was upsetting her. She had been crying during the conversation, and she’d had enough. She said, “I need to go to bed,” and turned to leave the room.

I walked into the other room with my father and sister. My dad asked, “Did you chase your mother to bed?” I told him, “She wanted to talk about God and gays. You can see how well that went. I wasn’t going to bring it up, but when she did, I wasn’t going to avoid it.” With that, the subject was closed.

I felt bad she got upset, but I was honest about my feelings. It’s how I felt. I really wish it wasn’t how we spent our Christmas Eve, but it had to happen sometime. It wasn’t a positive conversation, but at least the subject was broached, and at least we were having an open dialogue.

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