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Sydney Roller Derby League

 I really recommend a fun night watching Roller Derby if you can find it!

coolbeans56: Retirement

 It is time to retire this blog. It doesn't mean that I will not be writing anymore, just not here most likely. Coolbeans56, this blog here, has defined my life for the last seven years. I started this LJ three weeks before heading to DC, over the years I have come in and out of writing. 

I have recorded so much of my life here, and to think that having documented nearly a 1/4 of your life in a single spot.... I wonder what will become of this space. 

I have wonderful moments. I have painful moments, and it comes and goes. 

As I get ready for 30, a new place to leave, and a new adventures... I look back at these entries and get a smile on my face. 

So, this is a goodbye of sorts. I will always be around... I may post from time to time... but for all intents and purposes... this is the wrap up post. 

Please help!

I am in a contest with olympus, and I really would like a chance to win! What I need you to do is the follow

1) Click on the You Tube Link
2) Go to the you tube site. 
3) Log into You Tube (or start an account)
4) Click the "Like" button  to vote. 
5) Send this to as many friends as possible. 

I really hope to do well with this contest... the top 20 vote getters go to a juding where the top 6 get a new camera and 5,000 dollars!

Thank you for your help!

-Aaron

Some photos




This is just a smattering. I am going to the parade today and it will be CRAZY!!!!

Evacuate the Dancefloor

So, in a bid to post a little more here on the old Livejournal. Let me let you in in a couple things.

Previously, on "Aaron's life"

Aaron moved to DC after college, he gained some weight. He met many people, sometimes he is outgoing and gregarious, sometimes he is emo and depressed. He has sometimes been dating someone, but mostly single. He has a habit of traveling, mostly for work and sometimes for pleasure. Then Aaron lost some weight, now he is about to go on a crazy amazing trip.


(is it weird that I just summed up almost 7 years of my life in 5 sentences... it is like how Lost will sum up a whole season in 20 seconds.)

I am not known for my party ways. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Seeing me out is usually met with surprised looks, and people eyeing my drink to see how much I have drank. (usually I drink fast)

Well, for the next 19 days, I will doing something quite a bit different. Something that is out of character.

I am going on my first Bear Run in 3.5 years, and then, the largest gay party on the planet.

I am not a big fan of Bear Runs in general... why?

Anatomy of a US Bear RunCollapse )
 
I have pretty much covered 98% of Bear Runs in the US, regardless of location and size.

My last three Bear Runs (including my upcoming one) have taken place outside the US. I usually do a lot of things outside the Bear Run, and not make it ONLY about the Bear Run. This makes my opinion of the bear run much better.

I will admit though... I will be going out A LOT on this trip... maybe it will spur me going out more once I return, who knows. I know I need to, but a vacation is a good way to get my dance groove on.

Anyhow... this is what I am planning for my Vacation in Australia... please keep up.

Australia

Furball - an Event usually only in NYC and Amsterdam, going to be in Sydney for the first time.
Underbear- the "Event" of the bear run. The name leaves nothing to the imagination (nor will the clothes)
The "Har-Bear Cruise" where I will be on a boat (I'm ON A BOAT MOTHERFUCKERS!) around Sydney Harbor, taking awesome photos.
The Mardi Gras Party where 20,000 GLBT people will dance their asses off all night long. David Guetta will be spinning all night (OMG!)
The Bridge Walk where I will climb to the top of the Bridge spanning the Sydney Harbor.
Bondi Beach
Manly Beach
The Harbor area
The Sydney Zoo (I hope to hold a Koala!)
Melbourne
Kangaroo Island (where I will see Penguins... yeah I know... lol) 

And much more unplanned exploring and visiting. It will be a BLAST!

and THEN... New Zealand, which.. honestly will be a day by day event for me. Which is different for me, but good.

I simply cannot wait.

Sigh. I will be finally getting out of my shell from the last 15 months. It is about time. This is needed.



 



Yesterday, my Grandfather died. It was sudden, and while he was in poor health, he seemed to be doing alright. It is weird that when I heard the news, I did not feel loss.

I always say that I was born in Minnesota and grew up in Illinois. This is true. For the first 4.5 years of my life, I lived in Minnesota, and after that, my Mother and I moved to Illinois, where... she married my step dad. From then on, I (and later my younger sister) were removed from my mother's side of the family. My step dad was also not very close to his family (outside of his father, who died in 1990) so outside the core group of four, we were removed from extended family.

This is a blessing and a curse.

I love my mothers side of the family. I am close with my Grandmother (for she often watched me when I was growing up in Minnesota) and I do remember fondly my older cousins and my Aunts and Uncles. However, after 1985, I was removed from their lives, and they mine. I have seen them a handful of times since, and again, I am not complaining, it is just a statement of fact. I did miss my cousins growing up, and I wonder how they see me, the ones who are never seen.

On the other hand, we have always stood apart from the typical family squables that tend to happen when families live too close to one another. My mother, sister and I have been able to play Switzerland against the ever shifting storylines of my family. Being an outsider always meant that people were always excited to see us, and we could cross boundaries without worry.

My grandtather is a different story.

My Grandparents divorced long before I was born, and my mother and my grandfather had a strained relationship. He was an alcoholic, and she and he (with stories and issues that I don't know about) were estranged. This lead to me only meeting him twice in my living memory. I honestly do not know what he looks like. Within the last two years, he became sober, and he and my mother began to reconsile, something I was very happy that my mother was able to do.

So when the news broke. My mother, tearfully telling me, I did not feel any sadness.

And I feel bad for that.

My Biological Father's side of the family is a void for me. I do not know of any of them, and while I have studiously have tracked down siblings who have no knowledge of my existence, I know of nothing from them... which sucks.

So, I kinda look at my situation (not THAT situation people!) I notice how limited my sense of family truely is. The death of my Grandfather is sad, and I will aid and comfort those who knew him much more than I did. I just reflect and understand why I don;t have those same feelings as they do.

Checking in

I have not posted in here recently, but I am going to try and post more often here... especially given that I have a more unlimited character limit here.

So how are you doing? Anything new? exciting?

“They will not force us,
They will stop degrading us,
They will not control us,
We will be victorious.”

- Muse, from the song “Uprising”
 
“There is no such thing as part freedom.”

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
- Nelson Mandela
 
These statements sum up my thoughts on Prop 8. What has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.                      
Each day, I read the live blogging of the Prop 8 trial (www.prop8trialtracker.com). For those who may  not be as versed in the drama that is unfolding in San Francisco… lets recap.

****
In June 2008, Gay Marriage in the state of California was legalized. This was a result of a California Supreme Court decision saying that California could NOT deny Gays the right to marry under the equal protection amendment in their constitution.
 Anti-Gay marriage groups were upset, and they forced a referendum on the subject. The referendum wanted to amend the state constitution to prohibit Gay Marriage.  This is called “Proposition 8”

In November 2008, Proposition 8 passed 52%-48%

The Pro Gay Marriage groups launched several legal attacks on the newly minted Proposition 8. One lawsuit was dismissed, a second affirmed Proposition 8’s legality via the state side courts. It prevented further marriages from taking place… BUT kept the current marriages already performed to be legal. Most people knew this wouldn’t be the end. It just made things messier.
The third, and currently in the news is Perry vs. Schwarzenegger which is a direct challenge to the legality of Proposition 8 through the Federal courts.

All caught up? Good.
****


The Pro Gay Marriage side, got Theodore Olsen and David Boies. If these names don’t ring a bell, they should. They were the two lawyers fighting each other during the infamous Bush v. Gore  in 2000 that ended the Florida Recount and ended the election in Bush’s favor. These are super weights in the field… One Conservative, one Liberal. They are good friends outside the courtroom. This is a concerted effort to show that this is not a partisan issue, this is an issue beyond that. In a sense, people who should be enemies are coming together.

Regardless of the result here with Perry, this case should be seen by the Supreme Court next session (2010-2011) They know that this will go before the supreme court, especially if Pro Gay marriage wins this round.

The argument Olen and Boies is that the GLBT community has the right to marry under the 14th Amendment.
(Quick Reference for friends who are drawing a blank, the 14th amendment is one of the “Civil War Amendments” that provides the following: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

In other words, No state can enforce a law that takes away privileges or rights of a citizen, Got it? Good, let’s move on.)


This is not a new argument. In 1996, a man named William N. Eskridge Jr. wrote a book called “The case for Gay Marriage” where he argued that the constitution already granted gay marriage upon the US, someone just needs to argue it correctly.

I had the “pleasure” of reading this book in college. It is a dreadful, and extremely dry book. Spoken in legalese and was high above my 19 year old mind. (this was before 9/11 after all) Professor Smolensky made our class (Political Philosophy: From Plato to Present) read it, and I remember the conversations. After a bit of translating from pure nerd/wonk into normal people speak, I was a voracious advocate of what Eskridge said. However… I said that it will take years, decades really even before this could be reality.


I read what is happening in a court in San Francisco, and I know this is a set piece, a rehearsal for the big event. Team Gay, and Team Prop 8 are setting up their arguments, not for today, not even for this case, but for the Supremes (the DC variety). The video taping, the broadcasting, the minutiae of this event will be forgotten when the two sides get their 30 minutes in front of the full court. 


I often recall history. The patience, the strategy, and the perseverance others went through until equality was extended upon them. Women’s suffrage wasn’t won in a day, or a year, or a decade. It took over 70 years from Seneca Falls to Tennessee ratifying the 19th Amendment for women to achieve their goal. It took the African American community even longer to achieve full, free, un-tampered equality. The gay equality march has started (in earnest) in 1969, we are talking 41 years right now. We are on track, but it takes patience… weathering setbacks, and advancing on every level, Local, State, and Federal.


In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down an anti-sodomy law in Texas aimed at gay men. The verdict was 6-3. Today’s court, the score is likely 4-4-1. In 2003, Kennedy and O’Connor were the swings, now… only Kennedy remains as a swing, and has sided with the Conservatives more and more in recent sessions.


But there is hope.  Olsen and Boies are using very pragmatic, constitutionally sound arguments. Strict constitutionalist like Scalia and Thomas may hear this out. However, given their dissenting opinions on Lawerence, I doubt it will happen. Scalia warned that Lawerence would open the door to this style of attack, and unfortunately he seems to be already set on his opinion.

So, as I sit here in my suburban Virginia apartment, where Virginia is not for gay lovers… I ponder the events in a courtroom 3,000 miles away, A nation 15,000 miles away (Nepal is extending all rights, including Marriage, to GLBT people, the first in Asia) and conversations in a small town in Illinois 10 years ago.


It brings up back to the quotes at the beginning.


The “Muse” in me is defiant, combative. I know that time and history is on our side. They will not force us into the closet, or force us to keep quiet. They will stop degrading us with their faux morality, and their constantly spitting on the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other amendments. They will not control how we live our lives, even if they have convinced others that we are not worthy of equality, and in the end, we will be victorious; we will beat down their resistance.

But… the Nelson Mandela in me prevents me .


Nelson Mandela was a laywer who initially was a follower on Ghandi’s Non-violent resistance, He later co founded a militant wing of a resistance movement in South Africa. In 1962, when he was captured sent to prison for life. He went back to his non violent means, but kept the fire. There is no “half Freedom” indeed. How he was able to win over sworn enemies, is where his second quote comes in, and therein lies our path to victory.
Steps are taken every day, whether it is here, or around the world. The act of coming out is a step, it begins to open minds in a very personal way. People who know you, to people who work with you, they are exposed to something different, you defying the stereotype. It also allows you to be yourself, which… is physiologically huge.


It’s true, not everyone is going to agree, and some people may treat you differently, but being gay and out takes a special person. It takes someone strong enough to withstand the looks, shaking of heads, and outright bigotry in comments and attitudes. Being gay has the benefits/challenge of being able to hide. To be able to blend in, to be invisible… and that… that is the greatest detriment to the gay community, it allows us to hide, and right now, in our point in our history, hiding is detrimental.

Being out isn’t simply enough though. The power of being out is limited. It is not the political powerhouse it once was in the 1970’s and 1980’s. With 13 year old kids coming out, while great at a local level, it becoming increasingly common and routine in 2010.
 
Our goal that we need to actively engage with those who hate us. Like Nelson Mandela and the Apartheid Government. We need to sit in the same room and talk. And while the battle rages through the ballot box, the Courtroom, we need to engage, in a positive way, with those who are religious, and rely strongly on our religious friends and allies for support.

I walk the line of Agnosticism and Atheism. However, as Mandela has said:

 “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” 



Mandela meant it literally; the Afrikaans had their own language. He always spoke in their language, and not in English when they met. He did it jovially, and always with a smile on his face. They had disagreements, but he never was pushed to anger. 27 years in Prison can do that to you, you become patient. He played on their field, and unbeknownst to them, they had ceded control to him.


“The will not control us”


Our course is clear: Learn their language, talk to them using faith, love, and their holy books, and we will have the advantage. It won’t be easy, but, we can’t simply come out, and have pride week anymore.