I'm gay so I'm contractually obligated to talk about Love, Simon
 I like seeing movies by myself. I know some people probably see me at the theater and think I'm weird or sad, but I really do enjoy going to the movies alone. The other day, in the small, conservative town of Concord, NC, I was sitting by myself behind a row full of 12-year-old girls who gasped and whispered and giggled in delight every time anything gay happened in Love, Simon. I listened as a fairly full theater of people sighed when the boy kissed the other boy, and I felt silly.  I felt silly that every time I get out of my car, I put my wallet and phone away into pockets or my fanny pack because they have rainbow flags on them and I don't want anyone to see that. I felt silly that I refer to my girlfriend as "my significant other" when I'm talking to customers at work, I felt silly for all the times I just answered "no" when people ask me if I have a boyfriend, I felt silly for all the times I haven't kissed my girlfriend in public or held her hand. I like seeing movies by myself, but I wish my girlfriend had been next to me at Love, Simon so I could say, "Look! We're just like those people on screen!"  I wasn't expecting to like Love, Simon. The trailer made it seem like it was just going to be attractive white gay guys, and I've grown tired of media  only  focusing on the White Gay Guy portion of the LGBT community. But then I read the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and it was a whole lot more diverse than I was expecting. The author obviously worked hard to make her characters diverse and to include their diversity as part of the story, which made me enjoy this book way more than I usually enjoy YA books. (Oh and just as an aside - the book is better than the movie by far. Simon's friends don't shun and abandon him after he comes out, which was the absolute least realistic part of the movie.)   When I left the movie theater on Friday, I felt like showing off. I wanted to tell complete strangers that I'm gay and show them pictures of me and my girlfriend. I wanted to tell those young girls that my life looks like Simon's, that I hope they would cheer for me the way they cheered for him. 

I like seeing movies by myself. I know some people probably see me at the theater and think I'm weird or sad, but I really do enjoy going to the movies alone. The other day, in the small, conservative town of Concord, NC, I was sitting by myself behind a row full of 12-year-old girls who gasped and whispered and giggled in delight every time anything gay happened in Love, Simon. I listened as a fairly full theater of people sighed when the boy kissed the other boy, and I felt silly.

I felt silly that every time I get out of my car, I put my wallet and phone away into pockets or my fanny pack because they have rainbow flags on them and I don't want anyone to see that. I felt silly that I refer to my girlfriend as "my significant other" when I'm talking to customers at work, I felt silly for all the times I just answered "no" when people ask me if I have a boyfriend, I felt silly for all the times I haven't kissed my girlfriend in public or held her hand. I like seeing movies by myself, but I wish my girlfriend had been next to me at Love, Simon so I could say, "Look! We're just like those people on screen!"

I wasn't expecting to like Love, Simon. The trailer made it seem like it was just going to be attractive white gay guys, and I've grown tired of media only focusing on the White Gay Guy portion of the LGBT community. But then I read the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and it was a whole lot more diverse than I was expecting. The author obviously worked hard to make her characters diverse and to include their diversity as part of the story, which made me enjoy this book way more than I usually enjoy YA books. (Oh and just as an aside - the book is better than the movie by far. Simon's friends don't shun and abandon him after he comes out, which was the absolute least realistic part of the movie.) 

When I left the movie theater on Friday, I felt like showing off. I wanted to tell complete strangers that I'm gay and show them pictures of me and my girlfriend. I wanted to tell those young girls that my life looks like Simon's, that I hope they would cheer for me the way they cheered for him. 

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A classmate told me this week that it's annoying how often I talk about being gay and that it "just gets really old." Now, to get one thing straight - I'm an annoying person regardless of my being gay. But that being said, it hurt to be told that my comments about my sexuality annoy others. School is one of my "safe" places, where I know I can talk about being gay and I'm not going to, say, lose a tip over it. What my classmate sees as annoying, I see as my overcompensating. So often in my life I have to adjust what I say and how I act in order to accommodate others and make sure I don't make them uncomfortable. 

 

After this incident in class, I talked to the dean of the school because she's also a lesbian. She's 56 years old, and she told me that she recently introduced her wife to someone as "my friend" because she thought they might be uncomfortable. That was incredibly disheartening for me. I had hoped that at some point in my life I won't have to censor myself in certain situations, but it turns out we are all doing it. Even white, older gays who move in progressive circles are still struggling with being out and proud. We are all forced to adjust the way we talk and the way we act to avoid being told that we're annoying or inappropriate. And I've got it easy - there are gays that adjust the way they talk for fear of being kicked out of their homes, being fired, being harmed or even killed. 

It may sound silly, but hearing everybody cheer at the big gay kiss at the end of Love, Simon makes me want to hold my gay head up just a little bit higher.

Look at this cat
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I haven't posted anything

in a while, so here's a picture of my new kitten to make up for it. She really enjoys hanging out in my bathroom.

When I was looking for an apartment over the summer, I made sure to read a lot of reviews since I didn't do that for my previous apartment and therefore didn't know I'd be sharing my living space with about 200 cockroaches. The only negative reviews for my current place of residence said that there are a lot of stray cats in this neighborhood. Tons of stray cats. Not a day goes by without seeing at least a handful of stray cats. 

I love cats. When I was about 7 years old, I actually rescued a stray cat by sitting next to the storm drain where she lived for literal hours every day until she accepted me as her own. I named her Macy, since we already had two other cats named Lacy and Tracy. 

At the age of 16, however, I discovered the awful truth that I had become allergic to cats. It had been a few years since Lacy, Tracy and Macy passed away so I hadn't spent any time around cats in a while. But a couple of my friends had cats, so the allergic reactions I'd get when I went to their houses clued me in. I'm pretty sure God made me allergic to cats to prevent me from owning, like, 20 cats. 

That being said, I have a cat anyway. I was coming home late from work one night, and there she was meowing at me on the stairs up to my apartment. She was so small, and I knew she was a stray because almost all of the strays in this neighborhood are black cats. She let me pet her and pick her up, and I kept telling myself I was going to put her down once I got to my front door. I assumed she would run away, but when I set her down she didn't move. She waited for me to open the door to my apartment, and she walked right inside. So, finder's keepers I guess. 

Her name is Jake after Detective Jake Peralta from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He's described on the show as being "scrappy and lovable," so I thought the name fit perfectly. Also, gender doesn't matter when you're a cat. 

Charlotte Pride

This past weekend at Pride, I passed out business cards for my Etsy store by shouting, "If you like my shirt, take a card." Making my own shirt specifically for this event was the best idea I've had this year. I probably passed out about 100 cards, but I should've brought more with me. People love grabbing stuff at Pride.

I also brought my bisexual pride flag with me and gave it away. I bought it at Salt Lake City Pride two years ago, and it's been hanging in my room since that time. Recently, though, I've come to the realization that I don't actually think I'm bisexual. I think, though, that I'm going to write in a different post about that particular life revelation...

Pride is wonderful for a lot of different reasons, but I think my favorite thing about it is how unapologetically gay everyone is. There's no fear, no judgment, no need to hide or feel reserved.

This past week, my roommate was fired from her job for being transgender. I tweeted and facebooked the hell out of her employer's accounts, and she's in the process of putting together a lawsuit now.

My fieldwork placement for school was actually a rehab center that I've been to before in order to do my observation hours to apply to school. When I was there, I briefly mentioned that I was gay and the reaction was unfavorable. They were uncomfortable, I was uncomfortable, it wasn't great. Then one of the physical therapists tried to get in political debates with me and was using the Bible to support his claims. I had to have the most awkward conversation ever with my fieldwork teacher in order to get placed in a new location. I never planned on coming out to my teachers at all, and I definitely didn't plan on coming out to them during the first week of class.

Last week was tough. Last week, it wasn't fun to be gay. 

So if you're straight and you're jealous because there's no straight pride parade, I hope this gives you some perspective. On Sunday, I could celebrate my identity. On Sunday, I could forget all the problems I faced last week on account of being gay. On Sunday, it was fun to be gay.

Living my best life
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Sometimes at my new job there are nights where we aren't very busy, so I don't make very much money. Going home with cash in my pocket every night is cool, but it's not so cool when that cash is significantly less than the work put into it. 

So last Wednesday night I came home with $45 in my pocket and I was bummed about that, but then I walked into my apartment and had a really weird realization. There are plants in my apartment. I made my curtains, built my coffee table, end table, put together all the decorations in my living room. I eat vegetables every day. I really, thoroughly enjoy my job, and I've been on two amazing dates with a person I really like. It hit me last week that I'm one dog away from living the life I've dreamed of living for a long time now. 

I know some of this seems trivial, but even something like owning a bunch of plants requires responsibility, conducive environment, the space to place them. For years I've wanted to be a person that owns plants, but I've never been able until now. For years I've wanted to be a person that's built/made most of the furniture and decor in their house, and I'm moving toward that now. For years I've been eating rice and beans every day because I didn't think I had the time, cooking ability, or money to eat vegetables. (I also didn't even know I liked vegetables because I was a very picky eater as a kid, but it turns out I'm not so picky as an adult. I've hated lettuce all my life, and suddenly I find myself putting spinach on my sandwiches. When I told my family about this, their reaction was bigger and more dramatic than when I came out to them.) 

At work the other night, my middle school principal (hey, Deb!) came in with her son and I got to serve them. She told me that I seemed really happy, which I don't think anyone has ever told me at any job I've ever worked. I had assumed for a long time that I would despise waiting tables, but it turns out I love it so much that I'm worried I'll want to keep waiting tables even after I graduate from OTA school in two years. I have always loved working, I make everything into a job (hence why I have an Etsy store instead of just crocheting leisurely like normal grandmas), so having a job that I really like makes a huge impact on my own personal well being. 

For the first time in a long time, I feel really grounded and content. Because of that, I feel as if I've been selfish lately - not in a bad way, but just focusing on myself in order to get all my shit worked out. But now that I don't feel that need anymore to figure out what I'm doing with my life, I want to do more for other people. Especially with all that's going on in the world (specifically the U.S.) right now, I want to figure out what I can do to help others. I have some ideas in the works, talking to some good people about it, so hopefully very soon I'll have some news on that front. Stay tuned!

Starting a conversation

During high school and college, I believed that the only purpose in life was to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. I believed I could heal the world by converting others to Christianity. 

I stopped being (that) religious gradually over time, so it's hard to say when I stopped believing that I had a divine mission to preach the gospel. The past few years, I've learned a lot about the pain and suffering in the world, and what the many marginalized people groups face particularly in the United States. 

You'd think that would've started when I came out as bisexual, but not really. It really started when I posted a stupid, racist opinion on the Internet and received more grace than I deserved from black people trying to educate me. I had felt so much white guilt up until that point, I was trying to justify it, and I learned that there are more important things than me trying to explain away my own racism. 

As I learned more about the oppression that black people face, I also learned that I was facing micro-aggressions and oppression myself as a member of the LGBT community. I really started to think that wait a second, this isn't fair. It's not fair for a lot of people. But when I tried talking about it, I was angry. Combative. I never made any progress with anyone. Weirdly enough, it wasn't nearly as easy as trying to talk to people about Jesus.  

I'm still angry, I still pick too many battles that I usually lose. But I've now reached a point where I feel like I did when I had a "divine mission." I feel like there is something I'm meant to be doing, but it's hard to pinpoint exactly what. Fifty years from now, I don't want the next generation to ask me, "Where were you, what were you doing when Nazis took over?" (I of course hope it doesn't actually come to that, but the fear I've felt for others over the past few days is crippling.) 

Yesterday, I was sitting in the third pew at church crocheting when my pastor walked in wearing his Black Lives Matter t-shirt, and I called him over and asked him to sit down. I asked him what it is I can be doing, what I should be doing. The first, simplest answer he gave me was to do what he thinks I'm best at: write. 

So I'm going to write. I don't know if I'll create an entirely different website, but for now I'll be posting here. I will try not to be combative, to demonstrate a gentleness that I am still learning and working on every damn day. 

If you would like to contribute to the conversation, or if you have something you'd like to share anonymously, questions, comments you'd like posted here, you can email me at maddmadeshop@gmail.com. 

Welcome to Texas Roadhouse

What up, I got a new job.

So I'm going back to school in a couple of weeks, which means I can't really work a normal Monday-Friday 40-hours-a-week job anymore BUT I still have to pay all of my bills. I didn't necessarily want to leave my job at Martial Arts University, but it became increasingly more obvious to me that I wouldn't be able to maintain my schedule and make enough money to, you know, live. 

My sister, who's worked in the restaurant industry for the majority of her life, has been encouraging me to get a job in a restaurant for, like, a year now. When I moved to Concord, she suggested I apply to Texas Roadhouse.

The weird thing is that when I got this job as a server and started telling people about it, the most common reaction I got was laughter. Which really, uh, doesn't feel very good. Working in a restaurant is one of the only jobs you can easily do to support yourself through school, but apparently people think it's "beneath" me or something? I'm the type of person that does whatever job needs to be done for whatever point I'm at in my life, so if working as a server gets me from point A to point B over the next couple of years, then I'm going to work as a server. 

I'm also the type of person that doesn't really know how to...half-ass things. I don't really care if someone thinks my job is trivial or that my college degree means I shouldn't have to wear an apron; I'm going to do the best I can no matter what it is I'm doing. 

I love working. I've gotten to a point in my life where I recognize that I love working no matter what the job actually is. When I got that compliment on the receipt pictured above, it was my last day of training at TRH. Those customers made my day. I'm excited for this next phase of life, and I hope if you're reading this and you live in Charlotte then you'll come visit me at the Texas Roadhouse at Concord Mills!!!