Friday, June 17, 2016

Huffington Post debut: "The fight for our national character"

I am tremendously excited that my writing career has just been taken to the next level. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned in this blog having pitched an article to a major international news outlet. I am happy to announce that yesterday I was officially invited to write for The Huffington Post. My debut article, "The fight for our national character", is a critical examination of the response of social media to President Obama's Memorial Day weekend trip to Hiroshima, looking at it as a microcosm of the larger war of ideals being waged in America.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Guest Post: An open letter to Bernie Sanders

Dear Bernie,

I know, man. It sucks. I get it, believe me. I was really holding out hope that you would somehow just slay all the polls yesterday. But I guess this country just isn't ready for you yet, like it arguably wasn't ready for a woman yet, eight years ago.* Progress is slow. Still, you did a fantastic job at getting people motivated and getting some more folks thinking about what is wrong with this country. That being said, there is a larger threat now, and we need to unite against it.
At best, Trump would make us the laughingstock of the civilized world (he already kind of has, but we can still be redeemed, at this point), and at worst, and perhaps most likely, he will destroy us as a country. It's like he forgot that the word "United" is even in the name of this place. But you haven't.
We need to unite now, Bernie. Our country depends on it.
You ran an amazing campaign, and you went from being virtually unknown to becoming as much of a household name as the other two candidates left in this race. But there's no way to win it now, Bernie. Others were saying this prematurely, but now I think most of us will agree on this point. I'm sorry.
I understand wanting to take it to the convention, believe me. I'm one of those people who always has to have the last word in an argument, too. And I'm stubborn as hell, especially when I know that I'm right. So I'm asking you, as one passionate, hard-headed person to another, please think about the greater good, now. (And, if that's not enough, consider the looming evil.)



* While I personally think Obama was the better candidate (in 2008), I am sure there were people who just didn't want to vote for a woman.

Editor’s note: Heather Hewitt Chowdhury is an actor, singer, freelance editor, and works professionally promoting the safety and well-being of vulnerable persons. This open letter to Bernie Sanders was originally posted on her Facebook page. My sincere thanks for her gracious permission to publish it here. The decision to publish this letter here should not be taken as an indictment of the "Bernie or Bust" movement, nor should it be understood as inviting criticism of those who continue to support Bernie's candidacy. Rather, I felt it presented a thoughtful and well-stated alternative point of view.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Celebrating LGBT Pride Month

Ah, June – also known as LGBT Pride Month.  It's the time of year when that most iconic LGBT sigil – the rainbow flag – becomes the central motif of our summer celebrations. It decorates our homes, our businesses, our cars, our bodies, hell, even our pets!
A friend of mine once remarked of me that for a “relatively straight-acting gay man” (don't even get me started on that blatantly oxymoronic turn-of-phrase) I had more rainbow-clad gear than anyone he knew.
I've never understood how displaying pride gear engenders the expectation of other stereotypical behavior, but, whatever.
For my part, I think it's just about wanting to make the world around me as colorful as the one inside my head.
I have never been too much the flamboyant type. ...Okay, that's a lie – a giant, blatant, big, buggering falsehood! In truth, when I first came out of the closet back in 1997, I came crashing out!  I must have embraced every stereotype out there: the effeminate behavior, the "swish", the catty attitude, the fashion sense, hell, I even did drag – and I was pretty damn good at it, too, I don't mind telling you!
As I got older and became a somewhat more spiritually-focused person, I grew out of most that.  ...Oh I still fit into the gay stereotype in a lot of ways, they're just less obvious now.  Having said that, even still, it is freakin' hilarious to me when someone, such as a co-worker or outside observer, is surprised to learn about my orientation.

Some thoughts about self-hating gays

A few years ago, during my now infamous and mercifully brief foray into restaurant management, a co-worker – indeed a very lesbian co-worker – told me the rainbow button I wore on my hat “bothered” her.  “It’s hard enough for gay people to get ahead in this world,” she told me. “It’s even worse in small town, rural upstate New York.  I think it is unprofessional be so ‘out there’ with our sexuality in the work place.  It places us at a disadvantage because of people’s unspoken prejudices.”
Never mind that this little nugget of wisdom, fully soaked in her own self-righteousness, comes from the mind of a woman who openly admits contempt for the LGBT community, which, in my humble opinion makes her the worst kind of gay person: a self-hating one! ...But, I digress.
Listen, I don't agree with everything that goes on in the LGBT community – especially among gay men. And I, too, have wrestled with what seems to be the inevitable self-loathing that comes from getting older in this community. But sometimes you've got to look at the larger picture. Motivational Speaker and Life Coach Joel Readence wrote a wonderful piece on this in The Huffington Post. He writes, "This community’s fight for equality and real acceptance is far from over. But we don’t stand a chance of reaching our goal if we destroy ourselves from the inside out."

Silence is deadly, unity is hope

Personally, I believe silence does us a greater disservice – even now, when LGBT people know more acceptance than ever before, and the rights of LGBT people are at the forefront of our national conversation. We have seen – especially recently – what happens when we become complacent and fall silent: eventually the bigots find a champion, and the march of progress comes screeching to a halt.
Nothing to me is more sickening than using the preservation of one person's rights as an argument for taking away the rights of someone else.
So bring on the rainbow flags!  Show your colors, gay America!  We are, after all, in the month set aside for that.  LGBT Pride isn’t just about celebrating ourselves individually, but the strength of who we are together.
...Wait what?  ...A united LGBT community?  Hell, that is worth celebrating!