Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘love’

My Mom

My mother, Marjorie LaVenture, died last week. How do you put words onto paper for someone you loved? Everyone here had a different relationship with her… this is my story.100_3551

I am a Momma’s boy — pure and simple. What used to be used as a way to put someone down has empowered me. This woman forever changed my life. And I will always love her and remember her for it.

I am the baby of the family, the last of the four children born to Marge and Don. She took care of me, loved me, supported me and encouraged me throughout my life.

She was the one who took me to amusement parks, movies and concerts. She had a passion for life, and was happy to share her interests with her loved ones.

She always emphasized the importance of relationships… be it with your family, or your spouse. Not to mention having a great relationship with God.

My Mom was easy to talk to. She was more than a Mom, she was my friend. She was one of the kindest and most positive person’s you would ever meet.

I am thankful she brought me into this world. For loving me, even when I didn’t love myself. For being patient and giving. For listening to me and advising me. For setting a good example of what a loving relationship should be in her relationship with my Dad.

I am grateful for her allowing me to grow and learn to become the man I am today. For instilling in me her love of music and movies, and for the time we got to spend together: Be it cooking, decorating for the holidays or just hanging out. I thank her for every birthday card, postcard and note she sent just because. For loving stuffed animals and giving some to me that I still cherish to this day.

This year has been one of great highs and devastating lows. My Dad’s birthday and my wedding were some of the highlights. I know that my Mom would have come to my wedding if she was able to.

Mom, I will miss hearing you voice. I will miss seeing you smile. I will miss you on every birthday, holiday and every day of my life. I will miss the Christmas sing-alongs and joy you brought to my life and so many.

I am a Momma’s boy and I am proud of it. I know she is in heaven having a feast (of everything she couldn’t eat for the last few years) with some friends and 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.

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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.

When are Men Going to be Honest about Bisexuality?

It is amazing all the inroads that gay rights and marriage equality have had in the last few years. We are seeing that gay and lesbian people are everywhere. But where are the bisexuals, specifically the men?Bisexuality_300

For years, women have been very open about having had sexual experiences/attractions to other women. Everything from Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” to Anna Paquin’s confession that she is a bisexual. Singer Frank Ocean didn’t come out as gay, but admitted he fell in love with a man cause he didn’t want to be defined as gay. Clive Davis is another guy who came out as bisexual… good for him. And this past week, director Bryan Singer has come out as bisexual, after being defined as gay for many years.

With more openness in society, I believe there are going to be a lot less hang-ups about being gay or having same-sex attractions. I can see more people exploring their sexuality, as opposed to being defined by one thing.

There are several reasons why we are not yet seeing more openly bi-males. Men are supposed to be strong, and masculine. They are supposed to be dominant. Being gay may be seen as a weakness… like you are less of a man because you are. That some how you are more feminine because of it. If you talk to most gay men, they enjoy being men, and don’t want to be women. Society is still hung up on the old ideals of the 50’s guy…

Society in general is afraid of male sexuality is another reason. When a woman admits to having had same-sex attractions or interactions, she is seen as exciting, exotic… maybe a bit dangerous. Straight guys would be intrigued by her. Where as if a guy admitted it, he would be seen as damaged goods by a number of people. That’s why I said it was a big deal when a guy admitted he had had sex with a man on “The Real World” in Season 28. I had never seen someone be so forthcoming with it.

Hollywood has been selling the idea of bisexual females for years… on nighttime dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The OC”. I already mentioned Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and then add in bits like the Madonna-Britney smooch from a few years prior and you get the idea: Bisexual females can be hot. Where are the bi-male equivalents? Is it because Hollywood is still very much a man’s town, and a bisexual/lesbian female is a hot fantasy for a lot of straight guys?

As for me, I know that I am gay. But hey, I have watched and enjoyed straight porn. Does that make me bi? I don’t think so. But one day, I hope people can talk about their weekend, and not be judged by who they went on a date with — guy or girl.

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.

Blast from the Past

What moments of your life would you like to relive again? I have had this topic for a while. But I finally feel like I can take it on. Maybe relive is not the right word here…. Imagine a personal DVR where you could replay moments from your past — to see yourself as well as the people, places and things that made those moments special (or at least something you wanted to revisit).Blast from the Past

So in no particular order, here are the top moments of my life I would like to revisit…

Old Friends
I wish I could be back seeing Damon and friends at a Friday night rap group. This was when I was first coming out, and I was attending the Friday night rap groups at the LA Gay Center. The meeting would be from 8 to 10, and then we would go out to eat or a nightclub afterwards. Damon was my best friend, who has since died of AIDS. We had a lot of fun times, and serious talks.

Another person I would love to revisit is Kevin. He was part of the rap group too, but I knew Kevin better than most since we dated. He was different when he was in a group and when he was just with me. I remember one day we spent at his apartment, hanging out playing games and eating. It was a great day. Kevin died of AIDS also.

Trying times
Believe it or not, I would love to see or replay some of the difficult times in my life too. If you look at some of entries in my journal, I was going through some terrible stuff emotionally. When I read it now though, I sort of feel disconnected with it. It seems so far away… and hard to imagine I felt so badly.

I remember being in some sort of group therapy of sorts in grammar school. It was run by the husband of one of the teachers and he was a psychologist. I was a very shy person and didn’t have many friends. And I was sensitive too. This was a year or 2 after they thought I had an ulcer. I remember I got upset and threw a pen down and it broke. I don’t’ remember going back after that. I have no idea what was said now.

I would love to see again some of the bullying I endured in high school. Yes, it was hell to go through these times… the name calling and slaps on the back of my head. I was suicidal and prayed that I would change. Was it as bad as I remember, or would I look at it differently now that I know how I turned out?

Love
And finally, I would love to relive some of the moments I shared with my partner. We are still going strong after 24 years…

I would love to see that connection we had on our first date. We went out to the movies, shared a dessert and made out behind one of the buildings in the complex.

We had a wonderful trip to Hawaii over 10 years ago… we had so much fun, seeing the sites, and taking it all in. We took a lot of photos… but it is not the same as being there.

So what moments of your life would you revisit if you could? I would love to hear from you.

The Exes

A lot of people only know me with my current partner, Rasheed. The reality is that I had a few boyfriends before him. It was long time ago now, considering that we have been together for almost 25 years.  So let me fill you in on who these men were:TheExes

Kevin
Kevin was a handsome, African American man. He was the first guy I ever dated. He was the life of the party — everyone knew him and loved him. He was just a fun person to be around. He was definitely an original. Very confident, a little fem. I was a little surprised that he would be interested in me. Here I was the shy, quiet guy who had only come out recently. And here was Kevin — totally out. He had an apartment with some roommates. He had even done some modeling for Benetton.

I remember talking to my therapist at the time about him. I told him that Kevin was not the type of guy I would usually go for. I had dreamed about an all-American surfer boy type. Kevin was anything but. I am glad I gave him a chance. He definitely opened my eyes to the beauty of a black man.

I was glad that I got to know the private Kevin. The guy who was more complex and vulnerable than he came across at the rap groups. I remember going to a concert with him to see Adam Ant. We had a great time. Kevin had made a sign requesting one song, and sure enough Adam played it for us. I remember spending the night with him at my parents house in my bed, when they were on vacation. Another time, I remember spending all day with him and some friends playing games and having snacks at his place. I pissed my parents off because I didn’t make it to church that day.

We only went out about 6 months. I was still living at home at the time. I can’t say I ever loved him as a  lover (but only as a friend). The gay life was so new to me, he was ready for more. I don’t think that I was. We lost touch, and I didn’t see him anymore. Soon enough, we heard it through the grapevine that he had died of AIDS. He was definitely gone too soon.

Al
Al (Kimo to some of his friends) was a cute, Asian/Pacific Islander from Hawaii. We met at Rage nightclub in West Hollywood. We danced some, and he got my number. He called me later that week, I went to see him and we slept together that night. We sort of rolled into a relationship from that point on. I consider him my first real boyfriend. I fell hard for him. I loved him (or at least I thought I did at the time).

He was a free-spirited individual. He loved music and dancing. Plus drinking and smoking too. (So compared to me, he was a bit of a wild child.) He worked for an aquarium place in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

I remember working with him some at his aquarium job. We did a job at a hotel in Pismo Beach, setting up an aquarium there in their lobby. Plus we got to stay overnight in the hotel. But Al was never one to be satisfied. He ended up quitting that job because he was convinced his boss wanted him. Also, he was an artist too, and felt that he wasn’t living up to his potential in his career. He ended up getting a job at a carpet place next — so much for making money at art.

Al could be sweet, carefree and cuddly… but as time went on I also found him to be manipulative, cold and demanding. After our first anniversary, there was even talk of us moving in together. I remember going to see a few apartments with him and some of his other friends who were going to be roommates.

The warning signs kept popping up for me. He had friends who did drugs. I remember visiting one friend of his, and they were doing cocaine in the living room. He had trouble keeping a steady job, or a steady living situation. He was arrested for a DUI. At one point he was basically homeless and rooming with some prostitutes.

I actually read about him in my journal recently and got very depressed (why? For stuff that happened 28 years ago!). I can’t believe I let myself be used like that. He had me being his ride, meal ticket and cash machine too. We finally broke up about 1.5 years after we first started going out — outside of the Bally’s Holiday Spa in Hollywood. I told him it was over and had been for some time. I cared about him. But didn’t feel that he cared or even loved me. I remember some guy even hit on me that day after the breakup.

I ran into him a few times after the breakup. Once about six months after, and we talked in the park. And then again on Halloween in West Hollywood. Other than that, I haven’t seen or talked to him since. I don’t know if he is even alive. I still have one of his precious painting in my home now. I kept it for collateral — if he ever paid me back what I lent him, he could have it back.

I am thankful these guys prepared me for the relationship I am in now. I had to go through some very trying times, but I came out of it OK. I am a survivor. God had something better in store for me soon — and his name was Rasheed.

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  Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Love is Love

With the recent Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8, we again have gay marriage in California. I still get teary eyed when I see all the happy couples getting married. This looks and feels so right to me. I am looking forward to marrying my long-term partner in the next year.1005282_471905292902196_356035129_n Kilted gay couple

What I still don’t get is the opposition. They are trying their damnest to stop the marriages from continuing. Exactly how are you being harmed again? I would love to hear the details. C’mon now, be specific. I want to hear how you were traumatized by seeing 2 guys kissing on TV, and now you have to go to weekly therapy sessions to get over the traumatic event. How it made you so depressed, you didn’t feel like going to work in the morning, or even getting out of bed. How you are avoiding the gym because there might be some gays looking at you.

When I see the gay and lesbian couples getting married, I see families being recognized and strengthened. I see joy, commitment, honesty, sharing, beauty, heart, compassion and above all, I see love. Lots and lots of love. You see — straight people don’t have a monopoly on love, yet the conservatives seem to think they do. Who are you to deny me my happiness, when my relationship is just as valid as yours?

If these people were true Christians, they would be praying for us, not trying to stand in our way and deny us our right to get married. I can get them being upset, but the dam has busted and gay marriage is inevitable in the entire USA. It will happen in a number of years. Public opinion, the courts and increasingly the voting public are on the side of gay marriage.

There are plenty of things that get me upset in this world, but I choose to not dwell on them — but I pray about them too. There are so many more important issues in this world: hunger, poverty, healthcare, living wage, education, abuse, murder, gangs, sexism, racism, guns, global warming — I can go on and on. Aren’t these all more important than trying to stop gays from marrying? To those hate filled conservatives still whining about gay marriage, I say “Get Your Priorities Straight!”

Love is never wrong. The love between a mother and child, the love between a husband and wife, the love between siblings, between friends — the love between 2 committed lesbians or 2 gay men. Love is love.

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  Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Why We Deserve To Be Married

It seems fitting that I publish this post this week, given what is happening with the Supreme Court. It was originally written for the Courage Campaign, in response to why we deserve marriage equality.

My partner and I am have been together for 24 years. It hasn’t always been easy, but we love each other and are committed to our relationship.  We still make each other laugh, and we enjoy each other’s company. We are each other’s best friend.Dan & Rasheed

We came together in the age of AIDS and watched as friends died off. We have seen societal changes in gay acceptance… from people being afraid of gays and wishing they could change — to today, when it is seen as just something that is and not something that needs to be fixed or cured. Not everyone is straight and that is OK.

We shop together, go to the movies, go on hikes, do all the normal stuff that all couples do. We recently had a scary episode where my partner passed out at a friend’s place… we ended up in the emergency room that night. I was able to sit by his bedside as they tried to find out what was wrong. I was glad that I could be there for him and not out waiting in the lobby.

This incident just confirmed what I already know. I love this man, he is my life partner. I don’t want to live my life without him.

Our relationship is special and I would love to marry my partner. We missed our chance to get married when it was legal in 2008… I never thought it would be taken away so easily. I long for the day when we can make it legal in the state of California. And to celebrate that special day with family and friends.

Sincerely,

Daniel LaVenture

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

My History with the Center

I came to the Center back in 1984 as a scared college student. I was 20 years old. I was going to Cal State LA at the time and was trying to come to grips with being gay. I went to see a therapist on campus, she referred me to the Gay and Lesbian Center in Hollywood on Highland Avenue. I started to see a therapist there, his name was Bob. I saw him for a few months, and started to feel better about myself. He then suggested that I check out of the rap groups happening at the Center.Dan and Rasheed-Gary Pride 2012

At that time, there was a Young Gay Men’s Rap Group meeting on Friday nights at 7 PM. I got up the courage to go and was I glad I did. Sure there were cliques like most groups, but there were also some nice people there that I enjoyed getting to know. After the rap groups, we even met up afterwards at Yukon Mining Co. and Wendy’s. When I was old enough, we even went out to some dance clubs and bars.

Suddenly I was seeing things differently, I was not alone. Here was a group of vibrant individuals dealing with a lot of the same issues that I was. I started to get invited to some parties, I even met my first boyfriend there. His name was Kevin… a fun, and sensitive guy who was a bit popular even. We didn’t date that long, but he opened my eyes to the beauty of a black man, something I hadn’t considered before.

Other important friends I made during this time were Damon, Dominique, Alfred,  and this guy named Rasheed, who later became my life partner.

After a few years, and another boyfriend for me, Damon suggested that Rasheed and I go out. He was never that close of a friend, more on the periphery than anything. Someone I was familiar with, but didn’t really know that well. He called me up, we went out and the rest is history so to speak. We started going out in January 1989.

Damon and Kevin both succumbed to AIDS… it was a terrible loss for me. Kevin I had lost touch with and heard the news from an acquaintance. Damon I watched decline in health over several months. This was back in the days when AIDS was pretty much a death sentence. Rasheed and I were dating at the time, even living together, so we weren’t as close of friend’s as we used to be. But it was still very devasting to us.

In 1990, we started going to a new group at the Center called Black and White Men Together. Needless to say we fit in. Again, we made some great friends and had some interesting discussions. I even served as the Social Co-Chair for the organization for one year.

The group didn’t survive the move to the new location. But the friendships did survive, some were even from the youth group too!

When CA finally OK’d Domestic Partnerships for gays and lesbians we were one of the first to sign up. We waited in line a couple of hours at the Village to fill out the paperwork and get it notarized.

The Gay and Lesbian Center has been life changing for us. It was there when I needed help with coming out, when I was first finding my way in the gay world, and when I wanted to become domestic partners with my lover. Not to mention the life long friends I made in the youth group and BWMT. Thanks for all that you do. You made a difference in our lives and the lives of all gay and lesbian people in the LA area.

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. The eBook, A View from the Cheap Seats, can be downloaded from LuluAmazon and the iBookstore. It can be read on any computer, smartphone, or tablet.

 

Friends v. F*** Buddies

I have had this title for awhile… So here goes. I don’t have any friends with benefits or a f*** buddy. I never have. Yet for other people, this is nothing. It has happened for them, and will happen again. Is it more prevalent in the gay community or does it exist in the straight community too? (It does if you believe recent romantic comedies).

As a gay man, I long for friendships with other men. Someone I can talk to, hang out with, and share some fun times. Sex has gotten in the way a couple of times — one or the other wanted something more, but the other person didn’t and the friendship fizzled out.

Or we did have sex, and then you think you will be friends with the person at the very least… but that doesn’t happen either. You end up running into that person someplace else, and you both have the feeling “Haven’t I met you before?” Yeah, we had a drunken hook-up at so-and-so’s party…

I am sure straight guys run into the same issues with having female friends. Can a straight guy have a female friend he hasn’t slept with? I’d love to hear from people on this.

I’ve wondered if me being in a relationship has scared off potential friends. Because I am not available, and they want a boyfriend. Maybe there is even mutual attraction, but we know that we can’t act on it, or if we did it wouldn’t be anything more than a temporary fling? I have my life partner.

Also, I know it is sometimes hard being friendly to my partner’s ex’s. Yeah, I know they had sex, and it was in the past, but I wonder if they still want him. And are they being friendly to me just to please him, or do they genuinely like me too.

Recently I have tried to reach out to some past partners… I had fun with them, and I like them as persons. Do they like me too outside of the bedroom? Can my partner handle the friendship, or will he be worried that we will hook up again? What if I want to hook-up again?

Relationships are not easy.. for anyone, gay or straight. They are work… but ultimately they are worth it.

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. The eBook, A View from the Cheap Seats, can be downloaded from LuluAmazon and the iBookstore. It can be read on any computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Loving Me for Me

Do you look in the mirror and love what you see? This weeks column is about self esteem and body image.

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be buffer and not have acne. I was always slim, I can thank genetics for that. I was one of those people who could pretty much eat what they wanted and get away with it. I can’t do that now in my 40’s. Not so much concerned about weight issues, just about having energy and not feeling depressed cause I ate too much sugar. I remember having a Cinnabun about 6 years ago and getting horribly depressed afterwards. I will never eat one again in my life.

OK, so I can build muscle, but it is still an uphill struggle. I go to the gym and lift weights 2 times a week. Plus I do hikes on the regular too. I look fit though not a gym rat. I can take my shirt off and feel comfortable.

I have had issues with self esteem and my looks: I felt I was a nerd, too much acne, too skinny, glasses, not sexy enough, plain, average looking. Even if I was OK with my looks, I had issues with ME: I wasn’t funny enough, I was shy, I was boring, nobody wanted to talk to me, I was a wallflower, I was afraid I would stumble over words., I wasn’t one of the cool kids.

(more…)

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