Back To Nebraska – Our First Real Visit In… Ever

“You can’t go home again.”

Nebraska was never my home. It was a sentence handed down. And while I wouldn’t call it home, I am going back… for a week!

In a few days we’ll be headed to Nebraska again. We try to go once a year, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. But this visit is different because it will be for just over a week when usually we go for a few days, like a long weekend – max. It will be fun, and quite possibly awful. Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about it.

First off, I HATE Nebraska. The strength of my sentiments warrant all caps. I’m always torn when I visit. On the one hand there is never enough time to spend as much time as we’d like with the people we visit, eat at the places we want to eat at and so on. On the other we can get in and get out before the echoes of my past and reminders of just how fucked Nebraska is become too heavy to bear. We’ve always done the “get in, get out” method, and never the “stick it out” one.

But I’m tired of always feeling like we left someone out or didn’t spend enough time with so and so. I don’t like how we have to choose where we eat, leaving a favorite out (we only have five places, but we’re usually there less than 48 hours) – some visits are better than others but it never feels like we did everything we were supposed to. Rather than feeling 100% satisfied when we leave we’re always like, “Well, there’s always next time.”

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One Month Later… Grief, Anger, Defiance, Tolerance vs. Acceptance, Resolve

One month ago today something horrible happened. I’m sure you know what it is because everyone knows it by name. And if it takes you a minute, I’ve only written about it three times (this is the fourth) in the last month, so if I have any followers that read each post they are probably like “Enough already! Move on.” And that’s what I’m trying to do, I think. Move on. But it’s not that simple. To be as clear as I possibly can be – it’s just fucking hard.

Orlando still hits a raw nerve, and I think that nerve is going to remain raw. I think perhaps it should.

The day of Orlando – June 12, I wrote and grieved and just sat in my chair – stunned. I could not cry. I couldn’t understand so much. The hatred. The senseless death. People cheering on the killer because gays are akin to perverted deviants. Another example of American culture – the part that values guns and greed over innocent lives. I couldn’t understand any of it. And really, I still can’t.

I wrote an essay that day, which weaved my own experiences with homophobia and misogyny with gun violence facts and gun sense. The Huffington Post picked it up and the response was not what I was expecting at all. People reached out to me on various social media platforms. Many said they cried while reading it and I kept thinking, “Was it because I wanted to cry when I wrote it?”

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How Rejecting Gender Made Me Happier, Healthier — Complete

On Tuesday I had a dentist appointment first thing in the morning. I say this because I expected my day to go as, “I’m tired but really need to get some stuff done, but after the dentist will just want to crawl in bed and…” No, I was not expecting cavities (and I don’t have any, thankfully) but who likes going to the dentist? I’d rather break another finger!

But when I got home from the dentist, prepared to watch some HGTV and wrestle with this “block” I’ve been dealing with I found a nice surprise waiting for me. The Huffington Post published an essay I wrote about gender roles and not conforming to them. It’s about self-love and acceptance, searching for who you are just to find out you know who you are, and it doesn’t matter whether there is a word for it or not!

It’s such a personal piece that I considered not sending it to anyone. Like really. But thanks to some love and pushing from two friends I did. It came out as a Featured (top of the darn page, my husband texted me at work like a total fanboy and I was just shocked haha) story on two different news pages. It is still a Featured and trending article. Other pubs have shared it on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and authors I look up to have given me plenty of swoon moments by sharing it and saying such kind things. This isn’t a piece that will make you feel bad. It’s about the courage to just be you. Because you are beautiful and whole and don’t need definition. It’s a happy piece (which is probably a rarity for me). So I’m happy and wanted to share this piece here instead of writing something new because I’m really excited. I feel like it’s an important conversation. I go on and on about love, but honestly the most important kind of love is loving yourself.

Please read my article here (it’s short) and “like” it, leave a comment and share to your heart’s content.

“Pride and beauty can come from something involuntary – it’s called acceptance,” from “How Rejecting Gender Made Me Happier, Healthier – Complete”.

-DMW

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Still Here: Not Dead, Just Busy

For the past two weeks I’ve kind of let my two blogs (remember I have a blog for reviews too) go. Nothing is wrong. I’m not dead, just busy.

I’ve really tried to focus on writing for online sites, pitching articles etc. Still most posts I write in advance. Except for timely things like holidays or trips or family visits, most posts are actually written six weeks in advance. This gives me a nice reserve in case I get busy or things get crazy or whatever. And I still have that reserve actually (currently I have six posts in reserve, but two I’m holding because I’m pitching similar article ideas on a few sites, the other four are still good-to-go though) but I’ve just been too busy to even bother posting them. Which you have to admit is pretty busy.

I already blogged about taking a step back but I didn’t actually intend to take off for two weeks – I figured a step back was one post per week. It’s just… nuts. That’s what this month has been. Absolute chaos meets manic sixteen-hour days of amazing productivity meets a little emotional turmoil where nothing gets done.

Here has been my month so far:

June 1-8: Family came out to visit, lots of activities including mountain getaways, thrill-parks and swim meets were had.

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Working, Writing Through Grief: Orlando and The Huffington Post

Last week I woke up, sat at my laptop, and immediately saw my Facebook feed full of sorrow and grief and shock and outrage. I learned what happened in Orlando. And I was shocked, devastated and maybe a little numb.

It’s hard to explain just how it feels – being gay and grieving Orlando. No one owns grief, but the LGBT people feel this deeper than anyone else. Deeper than mothers whose children are alive and well, deeper than other Florida residents, even deeper than our allies who are valued and appreciated and necessary. What’s harder is that this is what being gay is for most people – every day. I flashed back to the Aurora, Colorado shooting in 2012. The theater is twenty minutes from our house. I woke up that morning to anxious texts from a cousin wanting to know if we were safe.

I had a lot to sort out. About living as a gay person and dealing with homophobia and hate every single day. About gun violence in general. Where I was when learned about Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Charleston, San Bernardino. These are all moments tattooed to my psyche. All the loss. It moved in a montage and that montage started to play against the montage of homophobia I have experienced. Every time I was attacked, beaten, harassed, every name I was called, every comment received, and then it moved on to incidents I have witnessed – friends and later words said to my husband.

Every day this is our reality. Some people want to ignore it. It’s unpleasant. Sad. Maybe some people internalize guilt they shouldn’t feel because they’re Christian or straight or otherwise privileged. But ignoring it makes those people complicit in it. Hate is something you have to choose or refuse. There is no middle ground. You love and stand up, or you hate or allow others to hate those you love without doing or saying anything about it. It’s a choice.

I wrote an essay that weaves my personal experiences with homophobia, hate and misogyny with gun violence, mass shootings and gun sense/reform. I wrote it Sunday. I received encouragement from many writers, and a few editors of national publications. And on Thursday night (technically Friday morning) I was informed it had found a home. The Huffington Post picked up my essay, which is really an essay/article hybrid as it includes statistics, history and sources with my own personal experiences. I didn’t write it from a place of anger; I was still too shocked and devastated when I wrote it to be angry.

The first time I felt angry was on Tuesday. Now I go back and forth between anger and sadness. With this grief, I will never reach acceptance. I’m still grieving. And next week I’ll still be grieving. And next month and so on. Because this happened in our version of a church if you will. It wasn’t religious, but it was a sanctuary – our safe space to be who we are and love openly. And now it’s not. We lost an entire generation of LGBT Latino/people of color that night. Knowing that, I’m not sure my heart will ever be fully mended.

It’s funny; this essay/article is my first piece to be featured on a site of this magnitude. But I can’t celebrate it. It doesn’t feel right. But I wrote it because I felt it was important to go out in the world. Some things you write for you or for fun or just because. Some things are entertaining, some social commentaries but they aren’t important. THIS is important. I couldn’t shake it or focus on anything else. And now that it’s found a home I still feel that way.

I invite you to read my article. Please share widely. Like it on the website, leave a comment.

Because I still feel like it’s important and it’s out there but it still is something I feel the need to share. Like it has to be seen. Maybe it is one way I work through the grief. Or maybe it’s because this piece is me reaching out for a hand, for understanding, for compassion, and for action.

My heart is still with (breaking) for Orlando. It feels like a part of it always will be.

The link is: www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-whelan/post_12236_b_10527910.html

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