Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘family’

Happy 6th Anniversary Kilt Man!

IMG_0944Thanks for being a part of this journey for me. I have been writing this blog for 6 years now. In that time, I have written 253 blog posts. They have been seen all around the world, from the United Kingdom to France — all the way to Ecuador. In total, over 50 different countries have visited my blog. That is definitely something to celebrate.

The past year has been an interesting one for me. I have experienced incredible highs — like getting married to my partner. And experienced some lows too having lost my Mom this past year. Then add on all the craziness in the world with all the violence, poverty, and the era of a reality TV president. Life can be overwhelming sometimes. I hope my writing shows that I love life, and want to inspire people to live their lives openly and honestly.

So here are a few of the highlights from the last year. Hard to believe it is almost a year since the massacre in Orlando. The world seems crazier than ever at this point. LGBT rights are still under fire from people who would love to get rid of all of us, and take back marriage equality. So I am glad to see there is a #Resist March happening in early June across the country.

Real men still wear Speedos. I am happy to see a new company called Sluggers out of Australia making some waves in America. I had to ask the question “Are You a Speedo Guy?”. It is time that guys have some option other than boring board shorts.

I got to go to some fun concerts in the past year. I hope I was able to share that joy with my readers. Everything from the triumphant returns of the Dixie Chicks and Gwen Stefani to Boyz II Men and Keith Urban. Plus I even wondered what shows from the past I would have gone to also.

Family played a big part in the past year too. My Dad celebrated his 90th birthday and had a big party in his honor. We also paid tribute to my Mom who passed away after a long illness last fall. I think both of my parents for all their love and support through the years.

I asked the question “Can we be objective” when it comes to arts and entertainment? So much of what we like or don’t like is influenced by our past experiences. I have often said I liked something only because I liked a person’s previous movie, album, etc.

Those are just a few of the highlights for the past year. Thanks for reading. I look forward to many more years of the “Kilt Man” blog.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

My Dad’s 90th Birthday

100_6946What do you say for someone turning 90? My Dad is hitting that milestone this week, God willing I will be there some day too.

My Dad and I have had an interesting relationship over the course of my life. Truth is, we don’t have much in common. And I have joked with him about it.

But at the end of the day, he’s a good guy, who’s watched out for me all of my life. He has provided and cared for me, along with my Mom and siblings. I never went to bed hungry, never worried that I had a house to go home to.

When I moved out of the house, he was there to help me with it with his moving van. And showed me and my partner a thing or two about moving couches around corners.

I remember one time I was having an argument with a friend over the phone. After my Dad wrote me a hand-written note, saying that he loved me and was available if I wanted to talk about it. I still have that note to this day.

I remember him taking me places and doing things with me because he wanted to spend time with me: be it riding a roller coaster at Magic Mountain, or taking me to Knott’s Scary Farm for the Halloween Haunt.

So I may not have gone to a USC game with him, and I doubt that I ever will. But we have gone to see some action adventure movies like “Fast and the Furious” and “Indiana Jones” together. Plus we always make a point to celebrate the holidays, and birthdays together. And it is something I do gladly.

My Dad is not one to show emotions… and in that he is very much a product of his generation. Men were tough, and didn’t let others see them cry. So I was shocked when I saw him crying, when I had to put our dog to sleep. The man has a heart after all! That incident made him more human and relatable to me.

Thank you Dad for being in my life! For all of the love and friendship you have shown through the years. Ninety is a huge milestone. Happy Birthday, you have definitely earned your cake, and you can have as many pieces that you want! I tend to celebrate my birthday for about a month, but for you, I am giving you permission to celebrate all year!

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

What Constitutes a Family?

Recently I had a family reunion with some of my cousins. Yes, I am related to these people by blood. But in reality, I know very little about them. I am open to getting to know them more. Are they willing to do the same?Family Reunion

Now that I am 50 years old, I have a different perspective on things than I did growing up. On my Mom’s side, she had one brother, and he had 4 kids. On my Dad’s side, he had 4 sisters and 1 brother. They had a total of 30 kids between the siblings (not counting the 4 from my Mom and Dad). So you can see the dilemma, with trying to get to know everyone well.

I look at my own nieces and nephews and see that their experiences are so different from my own. They have had plenty of positive experiences with their grandparents, and they seem close to their cousins too. I know things are different today with how you can stay up to date with family matters via Facebook. I didn’t have that advantage.

So why am I not closer to these people that are my blood family? There are several factors at work. I was incredibly shy when I was younger. I kept to myself and didn’t talk much at all, other than when I was spoken to. Then add in the fact that I was hiding my true self too. I thought I was gay, and I was not ready to be open with that fact.

In between those teen years and now, there have been a couple of isolated family reunions, a number of weddings and several funerals. Reality is we are all getting older and people have moved all across the country if not the world. And it is easy to stay in the cocoon of your local neighborhood. Southern California is not the easiest place to get around in — with how far things are from each other, plus you have to add in the traffic too.

So back to the recent reunion. I was happy with the people that showed up. And I know I made an effort to talk to everyone. I came with my fiancé. Some of them probably had no idea that I was gay. Now they know! And I brought along one of my scrapbooks to let them in on my life and all the good times that I have had over the years.

Where do things go from here? Not sure really. I think that I am doing my part. It’s a bit sad to me, that I know my brother’s wife’s family better than I know my own cousins. So I put it out there that we should start planning something big for next year. I can start putting a team together. I am a good organizer, and can help with getting quotes on things. I even thought about how maybe we should do some crowd funding. I hope there are other family members that feel like I do — and want to nurture our relationships with each other. Only time will tell…

I definitely prefer it that the next time I see my extended family, it’s for a party. And not a funeral, because one of them has died. I also have to accept the fact that not everyone likes their families, and that they might not want to be involved.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Meet ‘The Fosters’

What constitutes family? Is it your biological family, is it the people you live with and love? A little show on ABC Family (“The Fosters”) is attempting to answer the question in their own way. And it is refreshing that the show is being met with very little fanfare or protests.The Fosters

The show was created by Peter Paige (Queer as Folk) and Brad Bredeweg, along with executive producer Jennifer Lopez. We get to meet Lena and Stefanie, an interracial lesbian couple raising, 3 kids: 1 biological, and 2 adopted. Plus they are fostering another 2 kids too — so that brings their brood to 5.

As Lopez sees it, “The Fosters” stands for what she’s learned “are the important things in life, which are family equals love. It’s a place where you go for unconditional love, to be accepted, to feel safe. And at the end of the day, that there’s no real ‘normal.’ That there’s no set thing of what a family is at this moment in time in our lives.”

The show premiered on June 3, 2013 and ran 10 episodes this past summer. The show is scheduled to return for the 2nd half of season 1 on January 13, 2014. The show was recently picked up for a second season too.

So, who are “The Fosters”? Read on for who’s who and what’s gone down on the show:

Stef Foster (Teri Polo): One half of the lesbian couple; she is a police officer who works with her ex-husband and biological father of her oldest son.

Lena Foster (Sherri Saum): The other half of the lesbian couple; she is a vice principal at the school that the kids attend.

Brandon Foster (David Lambert): The oldest child and the only biological child in the house. He loves music and is studying piano with a high-paid instructor.

Jesus Foster (Jake T. Austin): The male sibling of the twins that Lena and Stef adopted. They are of Hispanic descent.

Mariana Foster (Cierra Ramirez): The female sibling of the twins

Callie Jacob Foster (Maia Mitchell): The troubled foster child that is added to the family.

Jude Jacob Foster (Hayden Byerly): Callie’s biological brother

Mike Foster (Danny Nucci): Stef’s ex-husband and current partner at the police station. He also has a drinking problem.

The first half of Season 1 was filled with drama. A lot of it centered on Callie and how she fit into the family and the school. But the other siblings had their share of drama too: sexuality, drugs, violence, peer pressure and much more. The last episode aired showed the marriage of Stef and Lena at their home.  Stef’s father was not supportive and did not show up for it.

It is refreshing to see a show like this on the air. I hope that you check it out when it comes back on January 13th on ABC Family.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Conditional Love

Recently, I became aware of something when I was visiting my family. We were looking through various photo albums with my nephews (my parent’s grandsons) who were in town visiting from outside the country. So there are a couple of big books, plus about 6 so-called “brag” books that contain 15-20 photos each. Not to mention the display of photos on top of the entertainment cabinet in the living room.

I come from a family of 4 children. There’s my oldest brother, who had 3 girls, my 2nd older brother who has 2 sons and my sister who had 2 boys also. So the grandkids are all adults now… and there are 2 great grandchildren even. I am the lone gay person in the family. I have been in a relationship with my partner for almost 24 years.

So what did I realize on that visit? I realized that there were no pictures of me and my partner in my parent’s house! I felt sad and mad when I realized this. Sure I am in the photo albums, but it’s by myself, with my siblings or with my nieces. If you were looking at these, you would think that I was single! How could my parents deny that part of my life? How could they give me so-called “conditional love”? We love you, BUT… you’re gay, in an interracial relationship too… plus you like to do weird things with your hair or what you choose to wear. No, they didn’t say that but I have to wonder what the hell they are really thinking.

I know people have their own journeys as far as coming to terms with being gay or lesbians. Same for parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, etc… they have their own journey to come to acceptance of their loved ones. When I finally came out to my parents about 10 years ago, I told them about PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and gave them some brochures and phone numbers.  I don’t think they ever read them, and I know they never went to any meetings. They have one friend who had a gay kid who died of AIDS, but I doubt they ever talked to her about it.

So where do we go from here? I love my parents, but from my perspective they need to try harder than what they are doing. You would think I was guilty of a horrible crime, that I was a terrible human being, by how they are treating me here. I get it, I know I can’t compete with the grandkids… but my siblings have their spouses in those books. And other than my oldest brother… my partner and I have been together for more years than the other couples in the family. And it’s not like they don’t have pictures of us either, I know for certain that I have given them some over the years. Who knows where those ended up?

What happened to unconditional love? I know my parents voted Yes for Prop. 8, but I still love them. They have done so much for me and my siblings. I was honored that I could give a heartfelt speech at their 60th anniversary party earlier this year. They always invite my partner and I over for holidays and birthdays… and my Mom always give him a hug even.

I hope we can get past all of this… but as of now, I need to prepare myself for hearing things I may not want to hear.

Update: I confronted them about it, and they denied any wrong doing. I talked with some other parents with gay kids, and they suggested I give them a nice framed picture of me and my partner. I gave it to them for Christmas, and it was still there when I last saw them, so I have no right to complain anymore.

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Hiking in the Spirit and the Kilt Man line. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Bullying: A Personal Perspective

I have been bullied in my life. This was long before the internet and the recent rash of cyber bullying across the country. I am sure the feelings the person feels hasn’t changed much. You feel violated, alienated, used, stupid, and sometimes scared.

I remember a few instances from childhood. I remember being at the park, and running home because my friend and me were being harassed. Another time, I remember being in another park for their annual playdays carnival and some older kids came and took our money. These were isolated one-off deals. Not so with what happened in school.No to Bullying

In grammar school, I was picked on. I was shy and quiet, not good at sports. I was good in school, but that didn’t count much with my classmates. I was called gay and fag a lot. I would wonder why people were singling me out. I didn’t think I was those things.

In high school, the bullying got worse. There was a new group of people to pick on me. They called me names, and used to slap me on the back of my head. What was their problem? I didn’t do anything to them, yet they wouldn’t leave me alone. That first year of high school was one of my worst. I was very depressed and I did think about suicide, never seriously though. I had God on my side.

I can only imagine how amplified things are with the internet, and cell phones now. Bad enough they talk bad about you in person, now they are chatting on Facebook, in chat rooms and on cell phones, via voice or text. Being perceived as different sucks in school. You are dealing with hormones wrecking havoc on your body and emotions — you are growing up, getting hair on certain places on your body, finding yourself having sexual thoughts and feelings, becoming an adult. Where do I fit in with this big world? It is a lot to handle. It is definitely overwhelming at times.

The second year in high school, things calmed down, and the bullying was over by my 3rd year.

Something happened recently that brought back a lot of bad feelings. We moved to a new apartment in the Valley. We are an open interracial gay couple. We have a rainbow flag in our window. We have a large deck area for our unit. We started to get stuff thrown on our patio from somewhere: kids toys, yogurt cups, tennis balls. Often it would land on our glass table with a big thud. My head immediately went to someone being after us because we were gay and/or interracial. We complained to the management and got no response from them. So we upped our complaining and told them we thought it was a hate crime. I had a long conversation about it with the management. The last item that landed on our deck that really set me off was a naked Barbie doll.

I had encountered negative people before when we were doing the Prop. 8 stuff, but never in my home. I really felt violated. Why were they picking on us? I deserved to feel safe in my home.

Well, I was way off base…. Property management found out that it was a kid on the 3rd floor that was doing it. When the Mom of the girl, found out that we thought it was a hate crime, she started to cry and apologized. I really felt horrible about it. How could my mind think the worst of people? But given what we grew up with, it was not surprising. My lover thought it was a kid from the beginning… but I took it all the wrong way and was convinced someone was out to get us.

I don’t know what the answer is to the bullying that is still going on in schools. All I know is that we need to teach our kids to treat others with kindness and respect, even if they are different from you.

This is part 1 of a 2 part series. The second part will address the movie “Bully” and Mitt Romney also.

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including the Real Men Wear Kilts line. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

 

Thank You Mom and Dad

The following article was written for my parent’s 60th anniversary on 2/23/2012.

What my parents have achieved is almost unheard of today. They have showed the world around them that not only is this possible, but that when 2 people love and respect one another, they can overcome all the obstacles that reality throws at them.

My parents have raised 4 children, including myself, all very different, unique and talented individuals. I remember having a good childhood, a house filled with a lot of laughs and love. We were all encouraged to follow our dreams and be the best that we could be. We had memorable family vacations, as well as big holiday, birthday and neighborhood get-togethers.Mom and Dad

One of their greatest accomplishments was instilling the importance of faith, family, and friends in our lives. These things have helped them in their lives and their relationship is as strong today as it ever was because of them. These are not 2 people who are together ‘just because’ or two people who just tolerate each other. They are an inspiration to all that know them.

We were raised knowing that God was on our side. That he was our friend, and when times were tough he would always be there for us. We were raised to be thankful, grateful and kind to all. We make it a point to pray every time we break bread together.

I remember going to so many different family functions through the years at my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins homes. Celebrating everything from marriages to new life to celebrations of life. I remember visiting the cemetery, looking at old photos and videos and talking about family history and the people that were important to their lives.

My parents are very giving, and love opening their home to their friends. They have had friendships that have lasted as long as they have been together. Some they went to school with, some are neighbors, some are from the church they go to. They are more than friends to them, they are family.

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Christmas Traditions

Christmas is almost here. This time of year always flies by for me. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. One of the most exciting Christmases of my childhood was when I got my Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal. As an adult, the one that stands out was when my partner got 2 cockatiels for me for Christmas, Adam and Steve.Christmas 2010

Every family has their traditions. Here are some of mine:

  1. Christmas music. We always had a lot of Christmas music around our house growing up. My Mom had these compilations with a variety of stars on them like Andy Williams and Rosemary Clooney. Plus she had the Christmas albums from Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Nat King Cole and the Carpenters. I loved Barbra’s “Jingle Bells” especially — she does a very fun version of it. Now as an adult, I have quite a collection of Christmas CDs — everyone from NSync to Amy Grant to Donna Summer to Josh Groban. If someone in the last 30 years has put out a Christmas CD, I probably have it!
  2. Christmas caroling. This warrants its own listing. Besides listening to a lot of music, we sang a lot too. We sang at church and at home too. I went to Catholic grammar school and the kids of the school often sang at one mass on Sundays including at Christmas too. At home, we would sing Christmas carols at parties with family and neighbors. My mom made up these song sheets of Christmas carols, everything from “Rudolph” to “Silent Night.” We would even go to the neighbor’s houses and sing for them too. One my favorite parts of the celebration would be the singing of “12 Days of Christmas.” So everyone would pick out a random verse of the song out of a bowl, and then you would be responsible for that verse… Everyone always wanted “5 Golden Rings” as that is the biggest most dramatic verse to have. Now we have my nieces and their families in on the tradition too.
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What Family Means to Me

I have been blessed with a wonderful family. I am not just talking about my blood relatives. I am talking about my friends too. My blood relatives include my Mom, Dad, 2 brothers and a sister, plus their spouses and children too.Me and my siblings

I grew up in Monterey Park, CA. My parents are still living in the house I was raised in. I was the baby of the family, the 4th of 4 children. My Dad owned his own business with his brother, a moving company. He worked long hours so that we would have food on the table and be able to go to private schools. My mom was a stay-at-home Mom by the time that I came around.

Were my parents expecting a gay kid? Doubtful. They did the best they could. I am sorry that I took so long to come out to them. But they were very religious and I was afraid that I would lose them. I was quite late with telling them, only about 10 years ago. This was after I was living with my “roommate” Rasheed for 10 years.

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Hair’s the Deal

Like my hero Madonna, I have tried a lot of different looks with my hair over the years. I had bigger 80’s hair like a lot of people. I tried parting it in the middle and on the left side. I have colored it: blonde, brown, black and even red. In my 20’s I started to get my first gray hairs — what can I say it runs in the family. I love to tell people that I have only known my Mom with gray hair… I had to see photos of her to see that she used to have black hair. So now I am salt and pepper… brown on top, lots of gray on the sides and in my beard too.

I have had feathered cuts, step cuts, Caesar, flat-top, military, faux hawk, Mohawk and even bald. I like short hair on other guys and often wear my hair short. My partner and I invested in a hair trimmer and he often cuts my hair for me. A buzz with a 0-2 trimmer looks great.

I’m in my late 40’s now, but my family HATES the Mohawk. To them, I say too bad. I have had a Mohawk for the past 5 summers. It usually starts as more of a fauxhawk and then gets more extreme as the summer rolls on. My Mom is like “It’s not appropriate for work” (they don’t care Mom), “It’s strange or weird.” (not to me, it looks nice and sexy). Have you been the mall or a gym lately, I am far from being the only guy who has one. It is pretty mainstream now even. I see a lot of kids and babies with Mohawks and faux hawks now. What is the issue here? The haircut does not change ME… I am still the same person. I am an artist by trade, I am open to being seen as edgy or artsy. To me, my Mom doesn’t have a say in this issue at all.

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