Mother’s Day today has me thinking about my own mom, how our relationship has changed over the years, and how lucky I feel to be where we are today together. Our story is one of deep struggle and even deeper joy, all held together by an unbreakable bond which was no doubt formed lifetimes ago.
My mother has always been a strong woman. Growing up in the same oppressive church that I did, she was held down for many years by traditional religious ideals and company which didn’t allow her to identify with this power, but those of us who have known and loved her all this time know that she is a beautiful, powerful force of nature, and she always has been.
Her loving sweetness, her well-read brain, her deep, complex inner life, her quick wit, her fierce loyalty, her earnest desire to be good; to know and accept the truth, and to be forgiving when others fall short, all make up her character and feed into a bright light about her. She brings this light with her when she enters a room, and all who find themselves in her presence are illuminated by it. I have watched this happen in dark corners of buildings, as well as in the darkest corners of my heart, for my entire life.
I learned how to cry from my mother; how to get in touch with my raw feelings and let them out when the world is too mean to keep them in. These skills have been life-saving at different points in my being here. My experience of growing up gay in the Midwest, even sometimes from those closest to me, was that there was no room in the rural Christian landscape for a sissy like me. My mother never once made me feel this way. She took me to dance class when I wanted to go, and she sat proudly at my recitals. She bought me Barbie dolls when I wanted them, and while I’m sure it must have scared her, she always seemed to celebrate my being different.
When I was older and troubled from the battle scars of my youth, my mother once again loved me through her fear. She marched bravely toward death as Read the rest of this entry »
Recently I have witnessed a great deal of conflict within Portland’s local queer community online, in the press, and in real life. Much of this seems to come about as a result of heated debates around social issues, sex, politics, art, and the complicated inner-workings of the LGBT community in PDX (and everywhere). I believe there is much to be learned from conflict, but the way some of this has been playing out lately in the public sphere has felt mean spirited and has been difficult to watch at times.
It is my belief that we were all born inherently kind and connected to one another. Each of us was handed our own set of circumstances at birth, which are sometimes pre-destined long before birth, but most babies are not born angry. As kind queer babies are growing up, we sometimes find ourselves mistreated, abandoned, and ridiculed for being different. We are held down by layer upon layer of systemic oppression buried centuries deep in a culture that has its head shoved so far up its own ass it cannot see the part it plays in the cycle of abuse. This is painful and infuriating.
So what do we do with the fury we carry from having this history? How do we reconcile these justified feelings of outrage? Many of us might not feel powerful enough to take on our families, bosses or governments at the root of our feeling oppressed, so we aim lower and end up putting our pain on one another. Instead of queer people banding together to fight external oppression, we end up oppressing ourselves through infighting. It’s a tale as old as time, but all that cutting our friends amounts to in the end is a divided community, and a divided community is not a strong one.
We are still in the midst of a culture war, friends. While many changes have been made in our favor, we cannot forget that we still live in a country that treats queer people like second-class citizens, and in a state that actively perpetuates this discrimination. I fear sometimes Read the rest of this entry »
(Originally Published in the November 2012 Issue of Just Out Magazine)
“In the Trenches: The Closet Trip”
My partner and I took a trip to South Dakota this past summer to celebrate my grandfather’s 100th birthday. Before the trip began, we talked about how my extended family on my mother’s side had always been very accepting of me (and my gayness) in theory, but that I had never taken a man “home” and been around all of them while in relationship to test it out. Somewhere in me I knew that everything would be fine with all of them, just as it has been with my immediate family for years, so I didn’t think much more of it.
Almost immediately upon our plane landing in Rapid City, it was clear that we were not in Portland anymore. The woman at the rental car place made some snide comment about how only I could drive the car unless we were “married or domestic partners” which then made her laugh out loud. Imagine – two men married to each other? Ha!
By the time we arrived at the hotel we were exhausted and it was late. We chatted with my parents for a bit and then went to sleep. The next morning we woke up early and traveled to the Badlands, where we spent most of the day. The land was magical and our interaction with people was sparse. We hung out, took photos, and tried not to touch the very cute prairie dogs (which carry plague, come to find out).
We spent the weekend hanging out with all the people who have ever loved me in the world. It was really great for me to get to share them with the man I love, and him with them. My family all celebrated our relationship and welcomed him into the fold without batting an eyelash. It was extraordinary.
Family aside, I could tell some of the hotel staff and patrons were either afraid of my floral bike cap or the anal sex it implied, but Read the rest of this entry »
On the heels of performing at the Chanel spring/summer 2013 fashion show in Paris and the Fashion Moments 2012 party in Shanghai, and with yet another tour in Europe, the Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris, the Harvest Festival in Australia, Art Basel in Miami and a few other upcoming dates in South America, indie-electronic darlings (and Portland, Oregon hometown heroes) Chromatics are smack dab in the midst of an international meteoric rise.
With their latest release, Kill for Love, Chromatics frontwoman, Ruth Radelet, has once again hypnotized fans, critics and even Karl Lagerfeld with her voice, stage presence and stunning beauty. I had a chance to catch up with my dear, talented friend Ruth this past week. Our conversation is below.
Watch Chromatics “Kill for Love” Video:
Ruth, thanks for chatting with me today. For some of our readers who are just hearing your band Chromatics now, how would you describe your sound?
This is always a tough question for me, since our songs range from almost fully electronic numbers to guitar-oriented post punk and 10-minute long cinematic experimentations. If I had to sum it up in a phrase I might say something like “melancholy electronic pop.”
It’s been an eventful last couple of years for you guys. Was there a specific moment where you realized something really big was happening?
We all really believed in Kill for Love, but, of course, you never know for sure how the public will receive something. We had some great feedback from the press but none of that seems real until you Read the rest of this entry »