My Intergenerational, Interracial Relationship

by Robert Graham

 

People always want to have discussions about the subtleties of interracial relationships or intergenerational relationships.  No one ever discusses the dynamics of intergenerational and interracial relationships.  This is my experience being in an intergenerational interracial relationship.  Every relationship is different; this is my personal experience.

The one problem I’ve had to deal with in the past were older white men who felt as though they had to provide and protect me.  I’m not sure if they had some guilt trying to make up for racial oppression, if they just saw me as a child who couldn’t take care of himself, or they could have a control complex.  Remember, there are some racist white men who love being with black men, and vice versa.

If the two involved in the relationship are of two different cultures and generations, there tends to be an extra layer to consider.  Someone of a different generation will have different life experiences and possible life goals.  Even simple everyday items, such as tastes in music, movies, television shows, political/social involvement, travel interest, and slang, can create friction.  On the other hand, being with someone of a different generation can give you a different viewpoint.

I’ve been with my husband for 13 years, married for two years.  There is a 22 year difference between us.  I will be honest, the age difference has not caused any issues in our relationship.  The bottom line is that any relationship can work if you share some common interest, as well as relationship and life goals.

 

 Wilmington Manor Tells Story of an Interracial Same-Sex Relationship during the Civil War Era By Tim Wilson First-time novelist Dr. James E. Laws, Jr., (pictured right) of Washington, DC has written an incredibly engaging and moving story of “historical fiction” — with fictional characters set within the backdrop of actual events in history before, during and after the Civil War. He will be in Denver, CO, Feb. 22-25, 2018 to promote his new book, Wilmington Manor. James and his partner Brad Green, a 30-year member of Black and White Men Together, presented an in-depth workshop at the 2017 NABWMT Convention in Ft. Lauderdale, where I bought a copy of Wilmington Manor. The many fully developed characters, who seem so real and alive as to jump off the pages, and their interwoven stories were so personally compelling to me that I read the entire book in just two sittings. That workshop, and even more so reading the book itself, inspired me to organize some events here in Denver where I live, in order to create new audiences for this wonderful book and its author. I encourage other members and/or chapters of BMWT/MACT to do the same, to support two of our own! I would be happy to talk about how to do this with anyone interested (tkwdco@icloud.com). From the book’s back cover: “Secrets, like bindweed ready to choke verbena, lie coiled beneath the surface of Wilmington Manor, threatening all who call the place home. Wilmington Manor dares to expose one of history’s untold love stories. When Andrew, Wilmington’s heir, is forced to return home to take over the family business [plantation] after graduating from Virginia Military Institute, he purchases Edward, a slave. The two begin a journey into the truly forbidden, developing a relationship that could result in arrest and death. In the face of this danger, they must also confront entanglements with Andrew’s social climbing mother, vindictive sister, senile father, the Civil War, and Edward’s desire for freedom. They cling to threads of hope offered by voodoo spells cast by an enslaved priestess, understanding offered from the madame of a high-end bordello, and the dim promise of escape on the Underground Railroad. The price of freedom is high and may ultimately result in isolation.” A native of Covington, VA, James has more than 30 years of experience in education, working at the local, state and federal levels. He has worked in administration and leadership, taught at colleges and universities, and served on the Richmond, VA School Board. He taught Sociology of Racism at Virginia Commonwealth University for 10 years and has also taught at Mary Washington, George Mason and Virginia State Universities. Self-published in May 2017, Wilmington Manor explores the same-sex interracial relationship between a young white plantation owner and a black male slave in the Confederate state of Virginia during the Civil War. James took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions for members of NABWMT: Tim Wilson: When did you first have the idea for Wilmington Manor, and what was the inspiration for it? James E. Laws: I first had the idea to tell this type of love story around the time that DNA testing confirmed the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and slave Sally Hemmings. Those of us in the African-American community know very well that those relationships happened between the white male plantation owners and black female slaves, so I thought it was important to tell the story about interracial same-sex relationships that also took place at that time. TW: How long did you spend researching the historical background of the story, and how long did it take you to actually write the book? JEL: I spent a lot of time at the Library of Congress. The Virginia Historical Society, museums in Richmond and the Archives Department at Virginia Military Institute were also a tremendous help. The Battle of Chancellorsville is the topic that required the most research; I did a lot of reading just about that one battle. The entire process took 11 years, but keep in mind that I did this in my spare time. TW: What was your process for writing this book? It’s your first novel, so how did you approach this project? JEL: I had an idea for the main characters, Andrew and Edward, and I also knew there would be an antagonist sister named Anna. I took that and just started writing the first few chapters. The other characters seemed to come to me. After I finished the first draft, I put together a focus group of five friends. I made sure the group was diverse (gay, straight, black, white, male, female). They gave me good feedback, and I continued to add to the story. At that time the book was only about 100 pages (8½ x 11); the final product is over 400. The idea of the voodoo priestess did not come to me until well after the first draft. There were lots of re-writes. I’m very fortunate to have a good friend, David Robbins, a professional writer who was instrumental in giving feedback and serving as a mentor. TW: I noticed that your home town of Covington, VA, is included in the Civil War action of the book? How personal is Wilmington Manor? JEL: Parts of it are personal in that I have some very interesting names in my family on both my paternal and maternal sides — for example, Georgie is the name of my maternal grandmother, and Virgie is the name of my paternal grandmother, and Hurley, Theopolus and Ryland are names of uncles. These names and others appear in the book. Since I’m from a very beautiful part of Virginia, the Blue Ridge Mountains, I wanted to incorporate something about the city into the book. There is one interesting point that I discovered when doing my research about graduation ceremonies at Virginia Military Institute: I have my main character graduating in the class of 1856, and when I looked at the actual list of VMI graduates from that year, there was someone from Covington in the class, so I incorporated that person into the story and made him a friend to my character. TW: What is your hope in writing and publishing this book? JEL: I hope the book highlights three areas. First, I wanted to tell the interracial love story be-tween the two lead males. I wanted it to be a love story, not a sex story. Second, I hope to highlight the topic of mental illness and depression among slaves. We hear about the devastating physical impact America’s system of slavery had on slaves, but we rarely talk about the emotional impact it had on slaves and their descendants. And third, I hope to dispel some of the stereotypes about slaves being very devoted to their owners even when they were mistreated. The slaves presented in Wilmington Manor are not overly rebellious, but they do retaliate in their own ways, especially the voodoo priestess. EVENTS: The Tattered Cover Bookstore LoDo, 1628 - 16th Street in downtown Denver, will host James during Black History Month for a reading and book signing on Thurs., Feb. 22 @7 pm. The Althea Center for Engaged Spirituality, 1400 Williams Street in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, will host James and his partner Brad for a larger, special event on Fri., Feb. 23 @7 pm, including a reception afterward. James is also a trained baritone who has sung recitals at the White House in Washington, DC and at the home of the Ambassador of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. He will sing at the 10:30 am Sunday service at the Althea Center on Feb. 25. For additional information: tkwdco@icloud.com [This article was written Jan. 28, 2018 for the quarterly newsletter of the National Association of Black and White Men Together.]
 NABWMT: It’s About Our Relationships by Co-Chair Gavin Morrow Hall • Relationship: The way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected. • Interpersonal Relationship: A strong, deep, or close association or acquaintance between two or more people that may range in duration from brief to enduring I﷯ like these two definitions of relationships. They speak to me and to why I joined Black and White Men Together when I was 20 and why I have remained in NABWMT for 35 years. Former IABWMT Co-Chair (we were the International Association back then) Charles Stewart led the very first BWMT event that I attended. It was a BWMT-Los Angeles “Rap” session and the topic was about fighting racism within the gay community. More than anything else the concept of not just being with a group of gay men but being with a group of gay men that were not only talking about racism, but were actively organizing to confront racism, drew me in and I felt instantly connected to the group. What I recall from those early days of the organization were the many stories people told about theirs and other relationships. I heard stories of people finding and loosing love in the organization. People who were in monogamous, open and polyamorous relationships. People who were looking for new friends, people who were looking for new sex partners. It seemed to my young eyes that the possibilities for new and different type’s relationships were endless. I have witnessed many types of relationships over the years and have seen what the power of relationships can mean in people’s lives. It has been in the relationships that we have developed with each other that has challenged, nurtured and sustained us over the years. Many call our National Convention their gay family reunion. That’s a remarkable statement—that the bonds and relationships we have formed have led us to think of NABWMT as our family. It is the relationships we have built that keep us coming back. Like any relationship there have been challenges. Over the years, NABWMT has been challenged by what to call ourselves, what should be the direction of the organization. We were challenged as to who and what we want to be. These challenges have sometimes led to passionate arguments, fights, resentments and hostilities, not unlike our own birth families. Yet through it all, it is not those challenges that have defined our relationships. Our relationships have been defined by love for each other and a commitment to the shared values of making the world a more just and equitable place. It was because of our relationships, our love, and our commitment, that we endured what became our biggest challenge—HIV. NABWMT’s response to the epidemic brought out the very best in our relationships. It was because of our relationships that we were able to galvanize people across the country to take action and to save lives. In 2018 our relationships continue to be challenged. After an expansion period of recognition, rights and respect, people of color, gays and lesbians, the poor and immigrants are increasingly being singled out for discrimination from the highest echelons of government. How will NABWMT survive these threats? What will NABWMT’s response be to these new affronts? We will survive the only way we know how. We will survive by building relationships together. Together we will build relationships with other individuals and organizations. Together we will stand united to fight social injustice. Together we will stand with immigrants. Together we will stand with the poor. Together we will stand with other LGBT organizations. Together we will support each other and take our relationships to new heights. Extended Article by Timothy Villareal Are we bearers of human intimacy or sexual objectification? As the #MeToo movement brings attention to sexual harassment and gains steam not only in the U.S. but around the globe, men who love men must confront a sad reality. The gay rights movement has yet to yield a masculine sexual ethic rooted first and foremost in intimacy; a sexual ethic that would repel any and all expressions of sexual objectification of our fellow human beings, male or female. At least here in the U.S., from Bill Clinton to actor James Franco, the LGBT community is politically and culturally awash with so-called “LGBT allies” whose “support” for our rights and sexual liberation seems more rooted in their own perverse self-interest: namely, a gut instinct on the part of these “allies” that a general loosening of society’s sexual mores bodes well for men who prefer to treat other people like pieces of meat. Thus, when asked to examine whether single or coupled relationships are better - or monogamous or polyamorous relationships - my gut instinct tells me this: the God-given gift of man-to-man sexual intimacy is too precious to reduce to a numbers game. Whether we have one partner or many, my only concern is that each of us—as brothers of all races and cultures—will consider what we, as men, bear to the rest of our fellow men. Do we bear the gift of man-to-man intimacy? Sadly, all too often it seems the mainstream gay community simply bears what so many of our fellow men would no doubt rather have: a mirror that reflects and affirms their own psychosexual stasis; a sexual immaturity that is content to experience other people purely as body parts, not as souls. As men who treasure our intimacy with other men of all colors, I believe we are in a unique position to examine more deeply what sexual values we actually bear to the wider society. Let’s face it, too many white gay men who date and partner exclusively with other white gay men are dealing with varying degrees of lingering racism, which by definition precludes any meaningful conception of human intimacy. Sure, if some gay white men are caught using the “N” word on cellphone video, or exposed for enforcing a “dress code” purely designed to keep black men out of gay bars, they will be able to repent and make amends. But can they really go beyond meeting that minimal standard of civilized behavior and experience genuine intimacy with men of races not their own? There’s always hope. Yet, as men who experience the blessings of intimacy with men of all races and ethnicities - in monogamous or polyamorous contexts - we must indeed be vigilant in ensuring that the more shallow impulses of mainstream white gay male culture, and the creepy political and cultural alliances that culture too often produces (think Bill Clinton, James Franco) do not distort what we may wish to bear to the wider culture: namely, an affirmation of the infinite beauty, goodness and Godliness of our multiracial man-to-man intimacy. Last year, the question “What do we wish to bear?” came to the fore with the mainstream LGBT community’s reaction to the death of pop icon George Michael. The late singer was arguably one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century, yet what he presented to the wider world about homosexuality and sexuality in general was dismal. Echoing the sentiments of many at the time of Michael’s passing, Sarah Garett, spokesperson for the British LGBT Awards said, “George Michael was an international LGBT icon, a trailblazer and a music icon.” The latter claim of him being a music icon is unquestionable. But a trailblazer? As another great entertainer of the twentieth century, Nell Carter, might put it, “gimme a break” on the trailblazer bit. Many will recall that Michael only came out of the closet in 1998 after his arrest for a “lewd act” in a Beverly Hills public restroom. Michael later admitted that “cruising” for other men in public restrooms was a favorite pastime of his. Post-arrest interviews with The Advocate magazine and on the David Letterman Show reveal how Michael chose to cope with the unwelcome exposure - criticizing the policing tactic used to deter indecent public behavior rather than focusing on his own impropriety. But nothing was more revealing about Michael’s attitude during that period than the song and video he recorded in the aftermath of the arrest, titled “Outside,” a defiant ode to the apparent thrills of public sex, whatever one’s persuasion. George Michael’s refusal to affirm his homosexuality in the 80s and early 90s, when he was at the peak of his cultural influence, is not by any means the most frustrating aspect of what could arguably be considered his stunted sexuality - his psychosexual stasis. Even to this day, there are entertainers, politicians and people in all walks of public life who choose not to disclose their homosexuality for fear of losing public support for their careers or for other personal considerations. George Michael certainly fit into that mold, but with this particular public figure, there was more unsavoriness to the story than the mere cost-benefit analysis of coming out of the closet. As the #MeToo movement is raising consciousness all over the world about sexual harassment, and the truly humiliating sexual degradation so many women have to suffer through on a daily basis, we can no longer sit on the sidelines. As men who love men of all colors need we must reconsider our relationship with all men who sexually objectify women - yes, even as the more shallow elements of the gay white male population may insist that treating women like cheap tricks is no big deal. Indeed, the unsavoriness that is so central, yet overlooked, to the George Michael story relates not to men, but to women: namely, an objectification of women that was a mainstay throughout much of his life and career. For many men of this world bent on proving their masculinity to other men, women and women’s sexuality are nothing more than a proving ground: pubic AstroTurf, as it were, in the male sport of proving oneself the very antithesis of queer. By his own accounts, Michael had sex with numerous women throughout his life, with some of them, he would later tell a reporter, making paternity claims against him. It’s unlikely we will ever know the full details of his relations with women, but there is enough in the public domain, in the singer’s oeuvre, to conclude that for George Michael - as with so many insecure men with no regard for female dignity - women and their sexuality were useful props. Even in the video for that post-arrest, post-outing song “Outside,” women are on screen gyrating, grinding, playing naughty, etc. Odd, given that the idea for the song, indeed its entire rationale, originated in Michael’s would-be sexual encounter with an undercover male cop. With the inclusion of raunchy women in the video it was as if Michael was attempting to say to the men of the world, “Yeah, I’m gay, but dancing and cavorting alongside these raunchy women means I’m still part of the male tribe, our ready willingness to sexually objectify women being the glue that holds our tribe together, bro.” Applying the same glue in a 2004 interview with GQ Magazine, the main of which centered on his coming to terms with his homosexuality, Michael couldn’t resist telling the primarily straight male GQ readership that Madonna had once expressed sexual interest in him, though he apparently declined. “Maybe I should have tried it!” he joked, like a 13-year-old boy whose objective conceptions of male sexuality and what his own male peers might think of him at any given moment are virtually indistinguishable. It’s a mental groove in which way too many men, whatever their sexual labels, are trapped well into adulthood. Only with our candid, compassionate witness to the treasures of deep, man-to-man intimacy can we help these men emerge from that miserable, dehumanizing psychosexual stasis. For sure, some of his hardcore fans may excuse Michael’s sexual objectification of women, public and private, as simply a consequence of the period he lived in - the psychological detritus, perhaps, of a closeted life forced upon him by a homophobic world. Yet one of his own musical contemporaries, a closeted gay man until his untimely death at age 54 in 2005, proved beyond doubt that a homophobic society can never be used as an excuse for closeted men to sexually objectify women. That contemporary of George Michael’s was a black man, and also one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century. I am writing of none other than the great Luther Vandross. Luther Vandross never confirmed his sexual identity publicly, but was known to be gay among his close associates. Though virtually his entire song collection is geared toward stirring the flames of heterosexual romance, it was human intimacy, not sexual objectification, that was at the heart of Vandross’ musical exhortation. A class-act gentleman to the end, Vandross wouldn’t touch a project that objectified women with a ten foot pole. For that fact alone, I’ll take a Luther Vandross as a positive male role model over a George Michael any day of the week. 2018 is already shaping up to be a year in which matters of sex and sexual objectification are at the forefront of national, even global, conversation. The conversation is long overdue. In that wider context, to be a man and to live a life open to sharing intimacy with other men of all races and cultures is just too good, too joyous not to bear to other men who are trapped in the mental and spiritual dungeons of racism and sexual objectification. Each of us is bound to have our own unique way of bearing the sheer goodness of that intimacy to other men. With brotherly love and understanding, we can encourage one another to stay alert to the trends in culture and politics - even when those trends are accompanied with wind-swept rainbow flags - that would have the effect of distorting what it is we really have to offer. With the physical and emotional well-being of men and women all over the world hanging in the balance, too much is at stake to risk being tossed in with the bearers of sexual objectification. Let us resolve to be bearers of human intimacy and human dignity at all times.
nabwmt.org
 Relationships – Straight and Gay﷯ Ken Scott Baron There appears to be a trend emerging these days, and that is, being in a straight and married relationship and then moving on to a gay life, which can include a same sex marriage sanctioned for now by federal law. In 1999, I may have been part of that trend of duality and benefitted from my situation of being in the right place at the right time. I was married prior to that year and brought up three kids. This was a joy and a source of great satisfaction. I was also working on my passion—science and engineering—with some of the biggest companies in the world. That’s the good news. The bad news was the homophobic environment. So, in my 50’s, I divorced and decided to come out. My kids were, and are now, supportive. I was then lucky to meet the love of my life. We eventually married, and our relationship is successful for us. If I am asked what makes my relationship in both my straight and gay lives, I would in one word say communication. My first marriage succeeded only in communicating of our needs and goals, and those of our children. What was lacking was my openness on my search for a soul mate. Yes, this is a trite expression for some, but for me, it embodies my feeling for my current life partner. How to keep it working? Communication, respect, humor and compromise. That’s my thoughts, how about yours? Single and Coupled Relationships By Brian Porter When I saw the opportunity to write about relationships, I figured, “Why not?” I’ve been both single and coupled in my life and recently married my partner of over 16½ years. Some say that’s an eternity in the gay world! Let’s briefly start out when I was single. But before I do that, I will say that the dynamics of both the straight and the gay worlds—whether you’re single or coupled—are identical. That is to say that things like communication, commitment, love, sex, honesty, fidelity, etc. are the same. When I was single, I was struggling for the most part, living paycheck to paycheck, aspiring in my career, falling flat on my face in some instances, only to pick myself back up and move forward. I always an ear and eye open for that relationship. In the back of my mind however, I really didn’t want to commit because I wasn’t financial stable, and hell, wasn’t even out to myself until I was 33 years old. To my single friends today some of whom may admire the love in my life and my relationship today, I ask, “Have you put yourself in the best position in your life to attract that husband?” When single, I was ok dating guys who were not out to their families. But they HAD to BE out to themselves. Some of the older guys like myself came out at a later age and was the most liberating experience in my life. It was not without huge risks. Would I lose my job? Would I ever achieve my dream job not being heterosexually married? Would I lose my family, parents, friends? Those were all pressing on me in 1993. Although I’m not a religious guy (raised Roman Catholic), I’ve always had a spiritual sense from an early age. So, my coming out was a coming out to God and with God as well. If everybody rejected me – since God and I have been tight, I will not only survive, but we will thrive—just me and Him. I had to have God to lean on in those days and still do today. All single men must be comfortable in their own skin, resolve internal conflicts of ‘homo’ being bad, etc, and be content with themselves and being single. Too often, singles say and think… “If only I had a spouse.” I say if what? You have to become attractable to attract. One need not strive to be become perfect in every way, but you must have your shit together! What do I mean by that? You can’t be just a dreamer, you have to be a doer of those dreams until some of them become reality… That process starts before the formation of a relationship. Striving for both emotional and financial stability or visibly moving toward those goals are essential foundations, since short- or long-term relationships must only enhance your already existing life. Anyone who says, “My life sucks because I don’t have a boyfriend or a relationship,” are missing the mark. Between my 30s and 40s, I too was looking for that boyfriend/husband-to-be but liked most that if it only turned out to be good sex. That, I might add, is quite ok! Why? I believed the in the absence of love, I’m going to have sex just like everyone else, because I really enjoy sex and I learned and surmised I could never commit to anyone unless both of us were in love with each other, not just in love with the notion of being in a relationship. So, over the years, I dated, had plenty of sex, but found that even with the greatest of guys, either I fell in love and he did not, OR he fell in love and I did not. So, under those circumstances, I never pursued a relationship. “I like you but….” So yes, plenty of broken hearts, both giving and receiving, but I fully appreciated those that were honest with me told me the truth, as I did to them. Love, Lust and Like? Can you separate them? Years ago, I decided that I’d continue having sex and if Love comes along, I’ll look at it and explore. I found out later that falling in love is magical, and it can’t be turned on or off like a light switch. We’ve often heard that once you give up looking or striving for love, it falls right in your lap. It’s somewhat comparable to ever hating someone and held a grudge for a long time, and then came to position to forgive that person. Did you feel the weight of the world off your shoulders and your inside and outside suddenly beaming with a new-found glow about you? The world can see and feel it from you too. As you release the pressures of having to have that husband, you suddenly become relaxed. Once my sister -in-law and brother stopped trying to get pregnant after 15 years—you guessed it—she got pregnant. Enjoying your life and learning to be content may coincide with the fact that you may be single now and for quite some time—or not! I was 40 years old when the magic hit. That is, we both fell in love—my one and only time–so I pursued this relationship as best I could. I honestly did not know him from Adam and he was only 1 of 3 f**k buds to come to my hotel room to do what adults do. Well afterwards, something clicked, and I followed up with phone calls and letters and to my pleasant surprise it “clicked” with him too. After that first meeting in November 2000, we talked and wrote letters to each other until July 7, 2001 when we both made a verbal and written commitment to each other. I didn’t believe in long term long distance relationships, so we had to decide who was to move where. Since I was at the beginning of my now long-term career employer, and he was at a no fun job- we decided for him to move in with me. We discussed our options and his commitments at his job, any long-term leases and his roommates, and he was not able to move in until February 2002, but our commitment date remains as July 7, 2001. So now what? We’re living together, both a first for us. Is this the test now? Well. in part yes. You get to learn more of each other, both good and bad, when you live together. “Am I perfect? No! Are you perfect? No! Since he accepted a fair risk to quit his job and move in with me, he had no idea of his job prospects, and I knew for me, that I’d have to financially support him while he was looking. That would only be fair, and I would have to give him all the time he needed to do so. We were both happy that he got a job within a week or 2 of moving in but I was prepared to support him for much longer. We did discuss much of this before the final move. Other topics for discussion: • Prior to moving in I was concerned about his being bisexual. My understanding of a true bisexual is you want and need both men and women for sexual gratification. Could a bi guy ever be monogamous? He said that he is with the person that he is committed to and that’s it. That alleviated that concern. • There is some truth to when you marry someone, you are marrying their parents and family. Having known that and also having been in relationship counseling, one warning flag for both people in any relationship, “Is what type of relationship do you have with your parents?” If it is toxic, guess what! You just married into that drama as well. How one treats his parents, how one views his parents, how one relates with his parents, is very telling and how your relationship will be with your partner. If your partner-to-be has negative issues with mom and/or dad, they should be resolved before you “tie the knot.” • When inexperienced we may have thought that when 2 people fall in love then monogamy will be instantaneous. • So now out comes the personality traits – can we live with them or do we have to move on? • How strong is your love and your bond to your love? How long will you last? Is the sex and lust fading? In all marriages, including mine, the lust diminishes, even the sex wanes- but the Love endures and grows like a well tendered garden. Physical violence and drug/alcohol addiction has no place within a marriage as is cause for divorce. • Everything else can be “worked out” and solved and fixed- even the seemingly biggest—infidelities. • As you ponder your current situation whether happily single or happily married or partnered, the glue that keeps anyone together is LOVE—not money, not job, not family and not sex—because we all had great sex with people we would never want to marry, right?! Space—the final frontier! It’s what you both need away from each other to sometimes remain sane. When we finally get together, we gradually incorporate our lives together that included friends, family, etc. We learn together what we like to do together and strive for that but by all means we must do stuff that we like that our partner may absolutely have no desire to partake in—that’s ok and quite normal. We can have our own set of friends and co-workers, hobbies, etc., that we do without partner. I believe these are common traits and characteristic of all long-term relationships. None of us are perfect at it but we strive to be kind even in the midst of disagreement. And finally, I do believe in the law of attraction—be good to attract good, be kind to attract kind, and if you want to be rich, hang out with guys like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, not the opposite. You want a long term successful relationship, hang out with couples who are already there…be responsible to yourself and your partner… live life… enjoy life…. The author is now legally married as of Nov 21, 2017 😊 in beautiful Key West, Florida, having been committed together since July 7, 2001—almost 17 years!
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Harvard Business Review Facebook Harvard Business Review By Holly B Shakya UC San Diego and Nicholas A Christakis Yale University. Research conducted to get a clearer picture of the relationship between social media use and well-being required data collection from 5,208 adults by the Gallup organization, coupled with several different measures of Facebook usage, to see how well-being changed over time in association with Facebook use. Measures of well-being included life satisfaction, self-reported mental health, self-reported physical health, and body-mass index (BMI). Their measures of Facebook use included liking others’ posts, creating one’s own posts, and clicking on links. They also had measures of respondents’ real-world social networks. Respondents were asked to name up to four friends with whom they discuss important matters and up to four friends with whom they spend their free time, so that each participant could name up to a total of eight unique individuals. “First, we had three waves of data for many of our respondents over a period of two years. This allowed us to track how changes in social media use were associated with changes in well-being. Second, we had objective measures of Facebook use, pulled directly from participants’ Facebook accounts, rather than measures based on a person’s self-report. Third, in addition to the Facebook data, we had information regarding the respondents’ real-world social networks, which would allow us to directly compare the two influences (face-to-face networks and on line interactions). Of course, our study has limitations too, including that we could not be certain about how fully representative it was because not everyone in the Gallup sample allowed us access to their Facebook data,” researchers stated. Results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction. Although we can show that Facebook use seems to lead to diminished well-being, we cannot definitively say how that occurs. We did not see much difference between the three types of activity we measured — liking, posting, and clicking links, (although liking and clicking were more consistently significant) — and the impact on the user. This was interesting, because while we expected that “liking” other people’s content would be more likely to lead to negative self-comparisons and thus decreases in well-being, updating one’s own status and clicking links seemed to have a similar effect (although the nature of status updates can ostensibly be the result of social comparison-tailoring your own Facebook image based on how others will perceive it). Overall our results suggest that well-being declines are also matter of quantity of use rather than only quality of use. While screen time in general can be problematic, the tricky thing about social media is that while we are using it, we get the impression that we are engaging in meaningful social interaction. Our results suggest that the nature and quality of this sort of connection is no substitute for the real-world interaction we need for a healthy life. The full story when it comes to on line social media use is surely complex. Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison, and the sheer quantity of social media interaction may detract from more meaningful real-life experiences. What seems quite clear, however, is that on line social interactions are no substitute for the real thing.
 ﷯My Intergenerational, Interracial Relationship by Robert Graham People always want to have discussions about the subtleties of interracial relationships or intergenerational relationships. No one ever discusses the dynamics of intergenerational and interracial relationships. This is my experience being in an intergenerational interracial relationship. Every relationship is different; this is my personal experience. The one problem I’ve had to deal with in the past were older white men who felt as though they had to provide and protect me. I’m not sure if they had some guilt trying to make up for racial oppression, if they just saw me as a child who couldn’t take care of himself, or they could have a control complex. Remember, there are some racist white men who love being with black men, and vice versa. If the two involved in the relationship are of two different cultures and generations, there tends to be an extra layer to consider. Someone of a different generation will have different life experiences and possible life goals. Even simple everyday items, such as tastes in music, movies, television shows, political/social involvement, travel interest, and slang, can create friction. On the other hand, being with someone of a different generation can give you a different viewpoint. I’ve been with my husband for 13 years, married for two years. There is a 22 year difference between us. I will be honest, the age difference has not caused any issues in our relationship. The bottom line is that any relationship can work if you share some common interest, as well as relationship and life goals.

 

Wilmington Manor Tells Story of an Interracial

Same-Sex Relationship during the Civil War Era

 

By Tim Wilson

 

First-time novelist Dr. James E. Laws, Jr., (pictured right) of Washington, DC has written an incredibly engaging and moving story of “historical fiction” — with fictional characters set within the backdrop of actual events in history before, during and after the Civil War. He will be in Denver, CO, Feb. 22-25, 2018 to promote his new book, Wilmington Manor.

 

James and his partner Brad Green, a 30-year member of Black and White Men Together, presented an in-depth workshop at the 2017 NABWMT Convention in Ft. Lauderdale, where I bought a copy of Wilmington Manor.

 

The many fully developed characters, who seem so real and alive as to jump off the pages, and their interwoven stories were so personally compelling to me that I read the entire book in just two sittings. That workshop, and even more so reading the book itself, inspired me to organize some events here in Denver where I live, in order to create new audiences for this wonderful book and its author. I encourage other members and/or chapters of BMWT/MACT to do the same, to support two of our own!  I would be happy to talk about how to do this with anyone interested (tkwdco@icloud.com).

 

From the book’s back cover:

 

“Secrets, like bindweed ready to choke verbena, lie coiled beneath the surface of Wilmington Manor, threatening all who call the place home. Wilmington Manor dares to expose one of history’s untold love stories. When Andrew, Wilmington’s heir, is forced to return home to take over the family business [plantation] after graduating from Virginia Military Institute, he purchases Edward, a slave. The two begin a journey into the truly forbidden, developing a relationship that could result in arrest and death. In the face of this danger, they must also confront entanglements with Andrew’s social climbing mother, vindictive sister, senile father, the Civil War, and Edward’s desire for freedom. They cling to threads of hope offered by voodoo spells cast by an enslaved priestess, understanding offered from the madame of a high-end bordello, and the dim promise of escape on the Underground Railroad. The price of freedom is high and may ultimately result in isolation.”

 

A native of Covington, VA, James has more than 30 years of experience in education, working at the local, state and federal levels. He has worked in administration and leadership, taught at colleges and universities, and served on the Richmond, VA School Board. He taught Sociology of Racism at Virginia Commonwealth University for 10 years and has also taught at Mary Washington, George Mason and Virginia State Universities. Self-published in May 2017, Wilmington Manor explores the same-sex interracial relationship between a young white plantation owner and a black male slave in the Confederate state of Virginia during the Civil War.

 

James took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions for members of NABWMT:

 

Tim Wilson:  When did you first have the idea for Wilmington  Manor, and what was the inspiration for it?

 

James E. Laws:  I first had the idea to tell this type of love story around the time that DNA testing confirmed the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and slave Sally Hemmings. Those of us in the African-American community know very well that those relationships happened between the white male plantation owners and black female slaves, so I thought it was important to tell the story about interracial same-sex relationships that also took place at that time.

 

TW: How long did you spend researching the historical background of the story, and how long did it take you to actually write the book?

 

 

JEL: I spent a lot of time at the Library of Congress. The Virginia Historical Society, museums in Richmond and the Archives Department at Virginia Military Institute were also a tremendous help. The Battle of Chancellorsville is the topic that required the most research; I did a lot of reading just about that one battle. The entire process took 11 years, but keep in mind that I did this in my spare time.

 

TW:  What was your process for writing this book? It’s your  first novel, so how did you approach this project?

 

JEL: I had an idea for the main characters, Andrew and Edward, and I also knew there would

be an antagonist sister named Anna. I took that and just started writing the first few chapters. The other characters seemed to come to me. After I finished the first draft, I put together a focus group of five friends. I made sure the group was diverse (gay, straight, black, white, male, female). They gave me good feedback, and I continued to add to the story. At that time the book was only about 100 pages (8½ x 11); the final product is over 400. The idea of the voodoo priestess did not come

to me until well after the first draft. There were lots of re-writes. I’m very fortunate to have a good friend, David Robbins, a professional writer who was instrumental in giving feedback and serving

as a mentor.

 

TW: I noticed that your home town of Covington, VA, is included in the Civil War action of the book? How personal is Wilmington Manor?

 

JEL: Parts of it are personal in that I have some very interesting names in my family on both my paternal and maternal sides — for example, Georgie is the name of my maternal grandmother, and Virgie is the name of my paternal grandmother, and Hurley, Theopolus and Ryland are names of uncles. These names and others appear in the book. Since I’m from a very beautiful part of Virginia, the Blue Ridge Mountains, I wanted to incorporate something about the city into the book. There

is one interesting point that I discovered when doing my research about graduation ceremonies at Virginia Military Institute: I have my main character graduating in the class of 1856, and when I looked at the actual list of VMI graduates from that year, there was someone from Covington in the class, so I incorporated that person into the story and made him a friend to my character.

 

TW: What is your hope in writing and publishing this book?

 

JEL: I hope the book highlights three areas. First, I wanted to tell the interracial love story be-tween the two lead males. I wanted it to be a love story, not a sex story. Second, I hope to highlight the topic of mental illness and depression among slaves. We hear about the devastating physical impact America’s system of slavery had on slaves, but we rarely talk about the emotional impact it had on slaves and their descendants. And third, I hope to dispel some of the stereotypes about slaves being very devoted to their owners even when they were mistreated. The slaves presented in Wilmington Manor are not overly rebellious, but they do retaliate in their own ways, especially the voodoo priestess.

 

EVENTS:

 

The Tattered Cover Bookstore LoDo, 1628 - 16th Street in downtown Denver, will host James during Black History Month for a reading and book signing on Thurs., Feb. 22 @7 pm. The Althea Center for Engaged Spirituality, 1400 Williams Street in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, will host James and his partner Brad

for a larger, special event on Fri., Feb. 23 @7 pm, including a reception afterward.

 

James is also a trained baritone who has sung recitals at the White House in Washington, DC and at the home of the Ambassador of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. He will sing at the 10:30 am Sunday service at the Althea Center on Feb. 25. For additional information:  tkwdco@icloud.com

 

[This article was written Jan. 28, 2018 for the quarterly newsletter of the National Association of Black and White Men Together.]

 

 

NABWMT: It’s About Our Relationships

by Co-Chair Gavin Morrow Hall

 

• Relationship: The way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.

• Interpersonal Relationship: A strong, deep, or close association or acquaintance between two or more people that may range in duration from brief to enduring

 

I like these two definitions of relationships. They speak to me and to why I joined Black and White Men Together when I was 20 and why I have remained in NABWMT for 35 years.

 

Former IABWMT Co-Chair (we were the International Association back then) Charles Stewart led the very first BWMT event that I attended. It was a BWMT-Los Angeles “Rap” session and the topic was about fighting racism within the gay community. More than anything else the concept of not just being with a group of gay men but being with a group of gay men that were not only talking about racism, but were actively organizing to confront racism, drew me in and I felt instantly connected to the group.

 

What I recall from those early days of the organization were the many stories people told about theirs and other relationships. I heard stories of people finding and loosing love in the organization. People who were in monogamous, open and polyamorous relationships. People who were looking for new friends, people who were looking for new sex partners. It seemed to my young eyes that the possibilities for new and different type’s relationships were endless.

 

I have witnessed many types of relationships over the years and have seen what the power of relationships can mean in people’s lives. It has been in the relationships that we have developed with each other that has challenged, nurtured and sustained us over the years.

 

Many call our National Convention their gay family reunion. That’s a remarkable statement—that the bonds and relationships we have formed have led us to think of NABWMT as our family. It is the relationships we have built that keep us coming back.

 

Like any relationship there have been challenges. Over the years, NABWMT has been challenged by what to call ourselves, what should be the direction of the organization.  We were challenged as to who and what we want to be. These challenges have sometimes led to passionate arguments, fights, resentments and hostilities, not unlike our own birth families. Yet through it all, it is not those challenges that have defined our relationships. Our relationships have been defined by love for each other and a commitment to the shared values of making the world a more just and equitable place.

 

It was because of our relationships, our love, and our commitment, that we endured what became our biggest challenge—HIV. NABWMT’s response to the epidemic brought out the very best in our relationships. It was because of our relationships that we were able to galvanize people across the country to take action and to save lives.

 

In 2018 our relationships continue to be challenged. After an expansion period of recognition,  rights and respect, people of color, gays and lesbians, the poor and immigrants are increasingly being singled out for discrimination from the highest echelons of government. How will NABWMT survive these threats? What will NABWMT’s response be to these new affronts?

 

We will survive the only way we know how. We will survive by building relationships together. Together we will build relationships with other individuals and organizations. Together we will stand united to fight social injustice. Together we will stand with immigrants. Together we will stand with the poor. Together we will stand with other LGBT organizations. Together we will support each other and take our relationships to new heights.

 

 

 

Extended Article by Timothy Villareal Are we bearers of human intimacy or sexual objectification? As the #MeToo movement brings attention to sexual harassment and gains steam not only in the U.S. but around the globe, men who love men must confront a sad reality. The gay rights movement has yet to yield a masculine sexual ethic rooted first and foremost in intimacy; a sexual ethic that would repel any and all expressions of sexual objectification of our fellow human beings, male or female. At least here in the U.S., from Bill Clinton to actor James Franco, the LGBT community is politically and culturally awash with so-called “LGBT allies” whose “support” for our rights and sexual liberation seems more rooted in their own perverse self-interest: namely, a gut instinct on the part of these “allies” that a general loosening of society’s sexual mores bodes well for men who prefer to treat other people like pieces of meat. Thus, when asked to examine whether single or coupled relationships are better - or monogamous or polyamorous relationships - my gut instinct tells me this: the God-given gift of man-to-man sexual intimacy is too precious to reduce to a numbers game. Whether we have one partner or many, my only concern is that each of us—as brothers of all races and cultures—will consider what we, as men, bear to the rest of our fellow men. Do we bear the gift of man-to-man intimacy? Sadly, all too often it seems the mainstream gay community simply bears what so many of our fellow men would no doubt rather have: a mirror that reflects and affirms their own psychosexual stasis; a sexual immaturity that is content to experience other people purely as body parts, not as souls. As men who treasure our intimacy with other men of all colors, I believe we are in a unique position to examine more deeply what sexual values we actually bear to the wider society. Let’s face it, too many white gay men who date and partner exclusively with other white gay men are dealing with varying degrees of lingering racism, which by definition precludes any meaningful conception of human intimacy. Sure, if some gay white men are caught using the “N” word on cellphone video, or exposed for enforcing a “dress code” purely designed to keep black men out of gay bars, they will be able to repent and make amends. But can they really go beyond meeting that minimal standard of civilized behavior and experience genuine intimacy with men of races not their own? There’s always hope. Yet, as men who experience the blessings of intimacy with men of all races and ethnicities - in monogamous or polyamorous contexts - we must indeed be vigilant in ensuring that the more shallow impulses of mainstream white gay male culture, and the creepy political and cultural alliances that culture too often produces (think Bill Clinton, James Franco) do not distort what we may wish to bear to the wider culture: namely, an affirmation of the infinite beauty, goodness and Godliness of our multiracial man-to-man intimacy. Last year, the question “What do we wish to bear?” came to the fore with the mainstream LGBT community’s reaction to the death of pop icon George Michael. The late singer was arguably one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century, yet what he presented to the wider world about homosexuality and sexuality in general was dismal. Echoing the sentiments of many at the time of Michael’s passing, Sarah Garett, spokesperson for the British LGBT Awards said, “George Michael was an international LGBT icon, a trailblazer and a music icon.” The latter claim of him being a music icon is unquestionable. But a trailblazer? As another great entertainer of the twentieth century, Nell Carter, might put it, “gimme a break” on the trailblazer bit. Many will recall that Michael only came out of the closet in 1998 after his arrest for a “lewd act” in a Beverly Hills public restroom. Michael later admitted that “cruising” for other men in public restrooms was a favorite pastime of his. Post-arrest interviews with The Advocate magazine and on the David Letterman Show reveal how Michael chose to cope with the unwelcome exposure - criticizing the policing tactic used to deter indecent public behavior rather than focusing on his own impropriety. But nothing was more revealing about Michael’s attitude during that period than the song and video he recorded in the aftermath of the arrest, titled “Outside,” a defiant ode to the apparent thrills of public sex, whatever one’s persuasion. George Michael’s refusal to affirm his homosexuality in the 80s and early 90s, when he was at the peak of his cultural influence, is not by any means the most frustrating aspect of what could arguably be considered his stunted sexuality - his psychosexual stasis. Even to this day, there are entertainers, politicians and people in all walks of public life who choose not to disclose their homosexuality for fear of losing public support for their careers or for other personal considerations. George Michael certainly fit into that mold, but with this particular public figure, there was more unsavoriness to the story than the mere cost-benefit analysis of coming out of the closet. As the #MeToo movement is raising consciousness all over the world about sexual harassment, and the truly humiliating sexual degradation so many women have to suffer through on a daily basis, we can no longer sit on the sidelines. As men who love men of all colors need we must reconsider our relationship with all men who sexually objectify women - yes, even as the more shallow elements of the gay white male population may insist that treating women like cheap tricks is no big deal. Indeed, the unsavoriness that is so central, yet overlooked, to the George Michael story relates not to men, but to women: namely, an objectification of women that was a mainstay throughout much of his life and career. For many men of this world bent on proving their masculinity to other men, women and women’s sexuality are nothing more than a proving ground: pubic AstroTurf, as it were, in the male sport of proving oneself the very antithesis of queer. By his own accounts, Michael had sex with numerous women throughout his life, with some of them, he would later tell a reporter, making paternity claims against him. It’s unlikely we will ever know the full details of his relations with women, but there is enough in the public domain, in the singer’s oeuvre, to conclude that for George Michael - as with so many insecure men with no regard for female dignity - women and their sexuality were useful props. Even in the video for that post-arrest, post-outing song “Outside,” women are on screen gyrating, grinding, playing naughty, etc. Odd, given that the idea for the song, indeed its entire rationale, originated in Michael’s would-be sexual encounter with an undercover male cop. With the inclusion of raunchy women in the video it was as if Michael was attempting to say to the men of the world, “Yeah, I’m gay, but dancing and cavorting alongside these raunchy women means I’m still part of the male tribe, our ready willingness to sexually objectify women being the glue that holds our tribe together, bro.” Applying the same glue in a 2004 interview with GQ Magazine, the main of which centered on his coming to terms with his homosexuality, Michael couldn’t resist telling the primarily straight male GQ readership that Madonna had once expressed sexual interest in him, though he apparently declined. “Maybe I should have tried it!” he joked, like a 13-year-old boy whose objective conceptions of male sexuality and what his own male peers might think of him at any given moment are virtually indistinguishable. It’s a mental groove in which way too many men, whatever their sexual labels, are trapped well into adulthood. Only with our candid, compassionate witness to the treasures of deep, man-to-man intimacy can we help these men emerge from that miserable, dehumanizing psychosexual stasis. For sure, some of his hardcore fans may excuse Michael’s sexual objectification of women, public and private, as simply a consequence of the period he lived in - the psychological detritus, perhaps, of a closeted life forced upon him by a homophobic world. Yet one of his own musical contemporaries, a closeted gay man until his untimely death at age 54 in 2005, proved beyond doubt that a homophobic society can never be used as an excuse for closeted men to sexually objectify women. That contemporary of George Michael’s was a black man, and also one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century. I am writing of none other than the great Luther Vandross. Luther Vandross never confirmed his sexual identity publicly, but was known to be gay among his close associates. Though virtually his entire song collection is geared toward stirring the flames of heterosexual romance, it was human intimacy, not sexual objectification, that was at the heart of Vandross’ musical exhortation. A class-act gentleman to the end, Vandross wouldn’t touch a project that objectified women with a ten foot pole. For that fact alone, I’ll take a Luther Vandross as a positive male role model over a George Michael any day of the week. 2018 is already shaping up to be a year in which matters of sex and sexual objectification are at the forefront of national, even global, conversation. The conversation is long overdue. In that wider context, to be a man and to live a life open to sharing intimacy with other men of all races and cultures is just too good, too joyous not to bear to other men who are trapped in the mental and spiritual dungeons of racism and sexual objectification. Each of us is bound to have our own unique way of bearing the sheer goodness of that intimacy to other men. With brotherly love and understanding, we can encourage one another to stay alert to the trends in culture and politics - even when those trends are accompanied with wind-swept rainbow flags - that would have the effect of distorting what it is we really have to offer. With the physical and emotional well-being of men and women all over the world hanging in the balance, too much is at stake to risk being tossed in with the bearers of sexual objectification. Let us resolve to be bearers of human intimacy and human dignity at all times.
nabwmt.org
 Relationships – Straight and Gay﷯ Ken Scott Baron There appears to be a trend emerging these days, and that is, being in a straight and married relationship and then moving on to a gay life, which can include a same sex marriage sanctioned for now by federal law. In 1999, I may have been part of that trend of duality and benefitted from my situation of being in the right place at the right time. I was married prior to that year and brought up three kids. This was a joy and a source of great satisfaction. I was also working on my passion—science and engineering—with some of the biggest companies in the world. That’s the good news. The bad news was the homophobic environment. So, in my 50’s, I divorced and decided to come out. My kids were, and are now, supportive. I was then lucky to meet the love of my life. We eventually married, and our relationship is successful for us. If I am asked what makes my relationship in both my straight and gay lives, I would in one word say communication. My first marriage succeeded only in communicating of our needs and goals, and those of our children. What was lacking was my openness on my search for a soul mate. Yes, this is a trite expression for some, but for me, it embodies my feeling for my current life partner. How to keep it working? Communication, respect, humor and compromise. That’s my thoughts, how about yours? Single and Coupled Relationships By Brian Porter When I saw the opportunity to write about relationships, I figured, “Why not?” I’ve been both single and coupled in my life and recently married my partner of over 16½ years. Some say that’s an eternity in the gay world! Let’s briefly start out when I was single. But before I do that, I will say that the dynamics of both the straight and the gay worlds—whether you’re single or coupled—are identical. That is to say that things like communication, commitment, love, sex, honesty, fidelity, etc. are the same. When I was single, I was struggling for the most part, living paycheck to paycheck, aspiring in my career, falling flat on my face in some instances, only to pick myself back up and move forward. I always an ear and eye open for that relationship. In the back of my mind however, I really didn’t want to commit because I wasn’t financial stable, and hell, wasn’t even out to myself until I was 33 years old. To my single friends today some of whom may admire the love in my life and my relationship today, I ask, “Have you put yourself in the best position in your life to attract that husband?” When single, I was ok dating guys who were not out to their families. But they HAD to BE out to themselves. Some of the older guys like myself came out at a later age and was the most liberating experience in my life. It was not without huge risks. Would I lose my job? Would I ever achieve my dream job not being heterosexually married? Would I lose my family, parents, friends? Those were all pressing on me in 1993. Although I’m not a religious guy (raised Roman Catholic), I’ve always had a spiritual sense from an early age. So, my coming out was a coming out to God and with God as well. If everybody rejected me – since God and I have been tight, I will not only survive, but we will thrive—just me and Him. I had to have God to lean on in those days and still do today. All single men must be comfortable in their own skin, resolve internal conflicts of ‘homo’ being bad, etc, and be content with themselves and being single. Too often, singles say and think… “If only I had a spouse.” I say if what? You have to become attractable to attract. One need not strive to be become perfect in every way, but you must have your shit together! What do I mean by that? You can’t be just a dreamer, you have to be a doer of those dreams until some of them become reality… That process starts before the formation of a relationship. Striving for both emotional and financial stability or visibly moving toward those goals are essential foundations, since short- or long-term relationships must only enhance your already existing life. Anyone who says, “My life sucks because I don’t have a boyfriend or a relationship,” are missing the mark. Between my 30s and 40s, I too was looking for that boyfriend/husband-to-be but liked most that if it only turned out to be good sex. That, I might add, is quite ok! Why? I believed the in the absence of love, I’m going to have sex just like everyone else, because I really enjoy sex and I learned and surmised I could never commit to anyone unless both of us were in love with each other, not just in love with the notion of being in a relationship. So, over the years, I dated, had plenty of sex, but found that even with the greatest of guys, either I fell in love and he did not, OR he fell in love and I did not. So, under those circumstances, I never pursued a relationship. “I like you but….” So yes, plenty of broken hearts, both giving and receiving, but I fully appreciated those that were honest with me told me the truth, as I did to them. Love, Lust and Like? Can you separate them? Years ago, I decided that I’d continue having sex and if Love comes along, I’ll look at it and explore. I found out later that falling in love is magical, and it can’t be turned on or off like a light switch. We’ve often heard that once you give up looking or striving for love, it falls right in your lap. It’s somewhat comparable to ever hating someone and held a grudge for a long time, and then came to position to forgive that person. Did you feel the weight of the world off your shoulders and your inside and outside suddenly beaming with a new-found glow about you? The world can see and feel it from you too. As you release the pressures of having to have that husband, you suddenly become relaxed. Once my sister -in-law and brother stopped trying to get pregnant after 15 years—you guessed it—she got pregnant. Enjoying your life and learning to be content may coincide with the fact that you may be single now and for quite some time—or not! I was 40 years old when the magic hit. That is, we both fell in love—my one and only time–so I pursued this relationship as best I could. I honestly did not know him from Adam and he was only 1 of 3 f**k buds to come to my hotel room to do what adults do. Well afterwards, something clicked, and I followed up with phone calls and letters and to my pleasant surprise it “clicked” with him too. After that first meeting in November 2000, we talked and wrote letters to each other until July 7, 2001 when we both made a verbal and written commitment to each other. I didn’t believe in long term long distance relationships, so we had to decide who was to move where. Since I was at the beginning of my now long-term career employer, and he was at a no fun job- we decided for him to move in with me. We discussed our options and his commitments at his job, any long-term leases and his roommates, and he was not able to move in until February 2002, but our commitment date remains as July 7, 2001. So now what? We’re living together, both a first for us. Is this the test now? Well. in part yes. You get to learn more of each other, both good and bad, when you live together. “Am I perfect? No! Are you perfect? No! Since he accepted a fair risk to quit his job and move in with me, he had no idea of his job prospects, and I knew for me, that I’d have to financially support him while he was looking. That would only be fair, and I would have to give him all the time he needed to do so. We were both happy that he got a job within a week or 2 of moving in but I was prepared to support him for much longer. We did discuss much of this before the final move. Other topics for discussion: • Prior to moving in I was concerned about his being bisexual. My understanding of a true bisexual is you want and need both men and women for sexual gratification. Could a bi guy ever be monogamous? He said that he is with the person that he is committed to and that’s it. That alleviated that concern. • There is some truth to when you marry someone, you are marrying their parents and family. Having known that and also having been in relationship counseling, one warning flag for both people in any relationship, “Is what type of relationship do you have with your parents?” If it is toxic, guess what! You just married into that drama as well. How one treats his parents, how one views his parents, how one relates with his parents, is very telling and how your relationship will be with your partner. If your partner-to-be has negative issues with mom and/or dad, they should be resolved before you “tie the knot.” • When inexperienced we may have thought that when 2 people fall in love then monogamy will be instantaneous. • So now out comes the personality traits – can we live with them or do we have to move on? • How strong is your love and your bond to your love? How long will you last? Is the sex and lust fading? In all marriages, including mine, the lust diminishes, even the sex wanes- but the Love endures and grows like a well tendered garden. Physical violence and drug/alcohol addiction has no place within a marriage as is cause for divorce. • Everything else can be “worked out” and solved and fixed- even the seemingly biggest—infidelities. • As you ponder your current situation whether happily single or happily married or partnered, the glue that keeps anyone together is LOVE—not money, not job, not family and not sex—because we all had great sex with people we would never want to marry, right?! Space—the final frontier! It’s what you both need away from each other to sometimes remain sane. When we finally get together, we gradually incorporate our lives together that included friends, family, etc. We learn together what we like to do together and strive for that but by all means we must do stuff that we like that our partner may absolutely have no desire to partake in—that’s ok and quite normal. We can have our own set of friends and co-workers, hobbies, etc., that we do without partner. I believe these are common traits and characteristic of all long-term relationships. None of us are perfect at it but we strive to be kind even in the midst of disagreement. And finally, I do believe in the law of attraction—be good to attract good, be kind to attract kind, and if you want to be rich, hang out with guys like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, not the opposite. You want a long term successful relationship, hang out with couples who are already there…be responsible to yourself and your partner… live life… enjoy life…. The author is now legally married as of Nov 21, 2017 😊 in beautiful Key West, Florida, having been committed together since July 7, 2001—almost 17 years! Facebook 
Harvard Business Review Facebook Harvard Business Review By Holly B Shakya UC San Diego and Nicholas A Christakis Yale University. Research conducted to get a clearer picture of the relationship between social media use and well-being required data collection from 5,208 adults by the Gallup organization, coupled with several different measures of Facebook usage, to see how well-being changed over time in association with Facebook use. Measures of well-being included life satisfaction, self-reported mental health, self-reported physical health, and body-mass index (BMI). Their measures of Facebook use included liking others’ posts, creating one’s own posts, and clicking on links. They also had measures of respondents’ real-world social networks. Respondents were asked to name up to four friends with whom they discuss important matters and up to four friends with whom they spend their free time, so that each participant could name up to a total of eight unique individuals. “First, we had three waves of data for many of our respondents over a period of two years. This allowed us to track how changes in social media use were associated with changes in well-being. Second, we had objective measures of Facebook use, pulled directly from participants’ Facebook accounts, rather than measures based on a person’s self-report. Third, in addition to the Facebook data, we had information regarding the respondents’ real-world social networks, which would allow us to directly compare the two influences (face-to-face networks and on line interactions). Of course, our study has limitations too, including that we could not be certain about how fully representative it was because not everyone in the Gallup sample allowed us access to their Facebook data,” researchers stated. Results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction. Although we can show that Facebook use seems to lead to diminished well-being, we cannot definitively say how that occurs. We did not see much difference between the three types of activity we measured — liking, posting, and clicking links, (although liking and clicking were more consistently significant) — and the impact on the user. This was interesting, because while we expected that “liking” other people’s content would be more likely to lead to negative self-comparisons and thus decreases in well-being, updating one’s own status and clicking links seemed to have a similar effect (although the nature of status updates can ostensibly be the result of social comparison-tailoring your own Facebook image based on how others will perceive it). Overall our results suggest that well-being declines are also matter of quantity of use rather than only quality of use. While screen time in general can be problematic, the tricky thing about social media is that while we are using it, we get the impression that we are engaging in meaningful social interaction. Our results suggest that the nature and quality of this sort of connection is no substitute for the real-world interaction we need for a healthy life. The full story when it comes to on line social media use is surely complex. Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison, and the sheer quantity of social media interaction may detract from more meaningful real-life experiences. What seems quite clear, however, is that on line social interactions are no substitute for the real thing. Single and Coupled - Then and Now By John E Bush, PhD There are many ways to consider the subject. However, we have to begin with being single first, primarily because we are single before we decide to join another in living out our lives. If all goes well, we may enjoy a coupled relationship until the end; however, we may approach the end having experienced several coupled ﷯ relationships. In the single life we spend much of our time attempting to figure out who we are and accepting or rejecting our discoveries (gay or straight) before moving on with our lives. As we move on being single, we are in control for better or worse without depending on a partner to help us define things. I think that is part of being single and it satisfies our known desires at that time in our lives. When we look back, as we all do from time to time, we recall our discoveries of new people and new places. We genuinely enjoy those experiences, and as we continue our lives of being single, we look forward continually to these new discoveries. If at this period in our lives, we find the lifestyle to really satisfy who we are or who we think we are and if the feeling gives us sufficient gratification, we may choose to remain with that lifestyle and not choose to search for a companion. However, in my own life, I do not recall many individuals who chose to follow that path. I am not sure of the direction younger individuals tend to be following today, but we all realize that there are more opportunities to be coupled, especially after President Obama opened the doors of marriage to same sex individuals. After that decision, many single Gays decided to become married couples. It was a win-win situation. If the arrangement did not work out, they could legally divorce and return to a single life again. In my own case as a single man in his twenties, after having completed college and military service and by that time in my life, and having accepted the fact that I was Gay, the next serious decision that had to be made was whether I should couple with a man who was not only Gay but also white. I discussed that in my book, The Right Season. The decision was indeed difficult, because I was also choosing to move from a single life to living in a coupled situation. Prior to that time I had not given the choice serious consideration, because I was still in the process of accepting the reality that I was indeed Gay! Living as a couple is also (like being single) something that it not taught. It is a difficult undertaking that is traditional, but often ends in failure. That was the situation in my life on two occasions. Living with another person requires much understanding and much compromise. Each individual must be willing to seriously consider and respect the other, and in many cases, accept terms that have not been previously thought about or considered. I particularly remember such a situation in my first relationship. I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in the Netherlands. I experienced a sense of guilt by accepting because it meant that I had to leave my partner for an academic year and I was frustrated by the situation, because I felt it was unfair to him. Later in our relationship, I learned that it was not that devastating to him, because it enabled him to “legitimately” live the single life again. As individuals grow older, we tend to regard them as a member of a couple. Generally, that tends to be the case, what with the institution of marriage. I tend to find this more often the case than not. As we grow older, it becomes easier to cope with the demands of life when there are two individuals working together, as opposed to an individual going it alone. Had not my partner died at a rather young age, I think I would be coping with the exigencies of life much better than I am as a single man alone. I might even conclude by suggesting that we were meant to be together. Dare I go back to Adam and Eve? It has often been said that it is better when there are two working diligently together to face and resolve problems in order to make life more manageable and especially to love and care for one another. (Now) Thus, two well-adjusted singles who join forces to make a couple is the best way to go and therefore, the best of all possible worlds!
 ﷯My Intergenerational, Interracial Relationship by Robert Graham People always want to have discussions about the subtleties of interracial relationships or intergenerational relationships. No one ever discusses the dynamics of intergenerational and interracial relationships. This is my experience being in an intergenerational interracial relationship. Every relationship is different; this is my personal experience. The one problem I’ve had to deal with in the past were older white men who felt as though they had to provide and protect me. I’m not sure if they had some guilt trying to make up for racial oppression, if they just saw me as a child who couldn’t take care of himself, or they could have a control complex. Remember, there are some racist white men who love being with black men, and vice versa. If the two involved in the relationship are of two different cultures and generations, there tends to be an extra layer to consider. Someone of a different generation will have different life experiences and possible life goals. Even simple everyday items, such as tastes in music, movies, television shows, political/social involvement, travel interest, and slang, can create friction. On the other hand, being with someone of a different generation can give you a different viewpoint. I’ve been with my husband for 13 years, married for two years. There is a 22 year difference between us. I will be honest, the age difference has not caused any issues in our relationship. The bottom line is that any relationship can work if you share some common interest, as well as relationship and life goals.
Extended Article by Timothy Villareal Are we bearers of human intimacy or sexual objectification? As the #MeToo movement brings attention to sexual harassment and gains steam not only in the U.S. but around the globe, men who love men must confront a sad reality. The gay rights movement has yet to yield a masculine sexual ethic rooted first and foremost in intimacy; a sexual ethic that would repel any and all expressions of sexual objectification of our fellow human beings, male or female. At least here in the U.S., from Bill Clinton to actor James Franco, the LGBT community is politically and culturally awash with so-called “LGBT allies” whose “support” for our rights and sexual liberation seems more rooted in their own perverse self-interest: namely, a gut instinct on the part of these “allies” that a general loosening of society’s sexual mores bodes well for men who prefer to treat other people like pieces of meat. Thus, when asked to examine whether single or coupled relationships are better - or monogamous or polyamorous relationships - my gut instinct tells me this: the God-given gift of man-to-man sexual intimacy is too precious to reduce to a numbers game. Whether we have one partner or many, my only concern is that each of us—as brothers of all races and cultures—will consider what we, as men, bear to the rest of our fellow men. Do we bear the gift of man-to-man intimacy? Sadly, all too often it seems the mainstream gay community simply bears what so many of our fellow men would no doubt rather have: a mirror that reflects and affirms their own psychosexual stasis; a sexual immaturity that is content to experience other people purely as body parts, not as souls. As men who treasure our intimacy with other men of all colors, I believe we are in a unique position to examine more deeply what sexual values we actually bear to the wider society. Let’s face it, too many white gay men who date and partner exclusively with other white gay men are dealing with varying degrees of lingering racism, which by definition precludes any meaningful conception of human intimacy. Sure, if some gay white men are caught using the “N” word on cellphone video, or exposed for enforcing a “dress code” purely designed to keep black men out of gay bars, they will be able to repent and make amends. But can they really go beyond meeting that minimal standard of civilized behavior and experience genuine intimacy with men of races not their own? There’s always hope. Yet, as men who experience the blessings of intimacy with men of all races and ethnicities - in monogamous or polyamorous contexts - we must indeed be vigilant in ensuring that the more shallow impulses of mainstream white gay male culture, and the creepy political and cultural alliances that culture too often produces (think Bill Clinton, James Franco) do not distort what we may wish to bear to the wider culture: namely, an affirmation of the infinite beauty, goodness and Godliness of our multiracial man-to-man intimacy. Last year, the question “What do we wish to bear?” came to the fore with the mainstream LGBT community’s reaction to the death of pop icon George Michael. The late singer was arguably one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century, yet what he presented to the wider world about homosexuality and sexuality in general was dismal. Echoing the sentiments of many at the time of Michael’s passing, Sarah Garett, spokesperson for the British LGBT Awards said, “George Michael was an international LGBT icon, a trailblazer and a music icon.” The latter claim of him being a music icon is unquestionable. But a trailblazer? As another great entertainer of the twentieth century, Nell Carter, might put it, “gimme a break” on the trailblazer bit. Many will recall that Michael only came out of the closet in 1998 after his arrest for a “lewd act” in a Beverly Hills public restroom. Michael later admitted that “cruising” for other men in public restrooms was a favorite pastime of his. Post-arrest interviews with The Advocate magazine and on the David Letterman Show reveal how Michael chose to cope with the unwelcome exposure - criticizing the policing tactic used to deter indecent public behavior rather than focusing on his own impropriety. But nothing was more revealing about Michael’s attitude during that period than the song and video he recorded in the aftermath of the arrest, titled “Outside,” a defiant ode to the apparent thrills of public sex, whatever one’s persuasion. George Michael’s refusal to affirm his homosexuality in the 80s and early 90s, when he was at the peak of his cultural influence, is not by any means the most frustrating aspect of what could arguably be considered his stunted sexuality - his psychosexual stasis. Even to this day, there are entertainers, politicians and people in all walks of public life who choose not to disclose their homosexuality for fear of losing public support for their careers or for other personal considerations. George Michael certainly fit into that mold, but with this particular public figure, there was more unsavoriness to the story than the mere cost-benefit analysis of coming out of the closet. As the #MeToo movement is raising consciousness all over the world about sexual harassment, and the truly humiliating sexual degradation so many women have to suffer through on a daily basis, we can no longer sit on the sidelines. As men who love men of all colors need we must reconsider our relationship with all men who sexually objectify women - yes, even as the more shallow elements of the gay white male population may insist that treating women like cheap tricks is no big deal. Indeed, the unsavoriness that is so central, yet overlooked, to the George Michael story relates not to men, but to women: namely, an objectification of women that was a mainstay throughout much of his life and career. For many men of this world bent on proving their masculinity to other men, women and women’s sexuality are nothing more than a proving ground: pubic AstroTurf, as it were, in the male sport of proving oneself the very antithesis of queer. By his own accounts, Michael had sex with numerous women throughout his life, with some of them, he would later tell a reporter, making paternity claims against him. It’s unlikely we will ever know the full details of his relations with women, but there is enough in the public domain, in the singer’s oeuvre, to conclude that for George Michael - as with so many insecure men with no regard for female dignity - women and their sexuality were useful props. Even in the video for that post-arrest, post-outing song “Outside,” women are on screen gyrating, grinding, playing naughty, etc. Odd, given that the idea for the song, indeed its entire rationale, originated in Michael’s would-be sexual encounter with an undercover male cop. With the inclusion of raunchy women in the video it was as if Michael was attempting to say to the men of the world, “Yeah, I’m gay, but dancing and cavorting alongside these raunchy women means I’m still part of the male tribe, our ready willingness to sexually objectify women being the glue that holds our tribe together, bro.” Applying the same glue in a 2004 interview with GQ Magazine, the main of which centered on his coming to terms with his homosexuality, Michael couldn’t resist telling the primarily straight male GQ readership that Madonna had once expressed sexual interest in him, though he apparently declined. “Maybe I should have tried it!” he joked, like a 13-year-old boy whose objective conceptions of male sexuality and what his own male peers might think of him at any given moment are virtually indistinguishable. It’s a mental groove in which way too many men, whatever their sexual labels, are trapped well into adulthood. Only with our candid, compassionate witness to the treasures of deep, man-to-man intimacy can we help these men emerge from that miserable, dehumanizing psychosexual stasis. For sure, some of his hardcore fans may excuse Michael’s sexual objectification of women, public and private, as simply a consequence of the period he lived in - the psychological detritus, perhaps, of a closeted life forced upon him by a homophobic world. Yet one of his own musical contemporaries, a closeted gay man until his untimely death at age 54 in 2005, proved beyond doubt that a homophobic society can never be used as an excuse for closeted men to sexually objectify women. That contemporary of George Michael’s was a black man, and also one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century. I am writing of none other than the great Luther Vandross. Luther Vandross never confirmed his sexual identity publicly, but was known to be gay among his close associates. Though virtually his entire song collection is geared toward stirring the flames of heterosexual romance, it was human intimacy, not sexual objectification, that was at the heart of Vandross’ musical exhortation. A class-act gentleman to the end, Vandross wouldn’t touch a project that objectified women with a ten foot pole. For that fact alone, I’ll take a Luther Vandross as a positive male role model over a George Michael any day of the week. 2018 is already shaping up to be a year in which matters of sex and sexual objectification are at the forefront of national, even global, conversation. The conversation is long overdue. In that wider context, to be a man and to live a life open to sharing intimacy with other men of all races and cultures is just too good, too joyous not to bear to other men who are trapped in the mental and spiritual dungeons of racism and sexual objectification. Each of us is bound to have our own unique way of bearing the sheer goodness of that intimacy to other men. With brotherly love and understanding, we can encourage one another to stay alert to the trends in culture and politics - even when those trends are accompanied with wind-swept rainbow flags - that would have the effect of distorting what it is we really have to offer. With the physical and emotional well-being of men and women all over the world hanging in the balance, too much is at stake to risk being tossed in with the bearers of sexual objectification. Let us resolve to be bearers of human intimacy and human dignity at all times.
nabwmt.org
 Relationships – Straight and Gay﷯ Ken Scott Baron There appears to be a trend emerging these days, and that is, being in a straight and married relationship and then moving on to a gay life, which can include a same sex marriage sanctioned for now by federal law. In 1999, I may have been part of that trend of duality and benefitted from my situation of being in the right place at the right time. I was married prior to that year and brought up three kids. This was a joy and a source of great satisfaction. I was also working on my passion—science and engineering—with some of the biggest companies in the world. That’s the good news. The bad news was the homophobic environment. So, in my 50’s, I divorced and decided to come out. My kids were, and are now, supportive. I was then lucky to meet the love of my life. We eventually married, and our relationship is successful for us. If I am asked what makes my relationship in both my straight and gay lives, I would in one word say communication. My first marriage succeeded only in communicating of our needs and goals, and those of our children. What was lacking was my openness on my search for a soul mate. Yes, this is a trite expression for some, but for me, it embodies my feeling for my current life partner. How to keep it working? Communication, respect, humor and compromise. That’s my thoughts, how about yours? Single and Coupled Relationships By Brian Porter When I saw the opportunity to write about relationships, I figured, “Why not?” I’ve been both single and coupled in my life and recently married my partner of over 16½ years. Some say that’s an eternity in the gay world! Let’s briefly start out when I was single. But before I do that, I will say that the dynamics of both the straight and the gay worlds—whether you’re single or coupled—are identical. That is to say that things like communication, commitment, love, sex, honesty, fidelity, etc. are the same. When I was single, I was struggling for the most part, living paycheck to paycheck, aspiring in my career, falling flat on my face in some instances, only to pick myself back up and move forward. I always an ear and eye open for that relationship. In the back of my mind however, I really didn’t want to commit because I wasn’t financial stable, and hell, wasn’t even out to myself until I was 33 years old. To my single friends today some of whom may admire the love in my life and my relationship today, I ask, “Have you put yourself in the best position in your life to attract that husband?” When single, I was ok dating guys who were not out to their families. But they HAD to BE out to themselves. Some of the older guys like myself came out at a later age and was the most liberating experience in my life. It was not without huge risks. Would I lose my job? Would I ever achieve my dream job not being heterosexually married? Would I lose my family, parents, friends? Those were all pressing on me in 1993. Although I’m not a religious guy (raised Roman Catholic), I’ve always had a spiritual sense from an early age. So, my coming out was a coming out to God and with God as well. If everybody rejected me – since God and I have been tight, I will not only survive, but we will thrive—just me and Him. I had to have God to lean on in those days and still do today. All single men must be comfortable in their own skin, resolve internal conflicts of ‘homo’ being bad, etc, and be content with themselves and being single. Too often, singles say and think… “If only I had a spouse.” I say if what? You have to become attractable to attract. One need not strive to be become perfect in every way, but you must have your shit together! What do I mean by that? You can’t be just a dreamer, you have to be a doer of those dreams until some of them become reality… That process starts before the formation of a relationship. Striving for both emotional and financial stability or visibly moving toward those goals are essential foundations, since short- or long-term relationships must only enhance your already existing life. Anyone who says, “My life sucks because I don’t have a boyfriend or a relationship,” are missing the mark. Between my 30s and 40s, I too was looking for that boyfriend/husband-to-be but liked most that if it only turned out to be good sex. That, I might add, is quite ok! Why? I believed the in the absence of love, I’m going to have sex just like everyone else, because I really enjoy sex and I learned and surmised I could never commit to anyone unless both of us were in love with each other, not just in love with the notion of being in a relationship. So, over the years, I dated, had plenty of sex, but found that even with the greatest of guys, either I fell in love and he did not, OR he fell in love and I did not. So, under those circumstances, I never pursued a relationship. “I like you but….” So yes, plenty of broken hearts, both giving and receiving, but I fully appreciated those that were honest with me told me the truth, as I did to them. Love, Lust and Like? Can you separate them? Years ago, I decided that I’d continue having sex and if Love comes along, I’ll look at it and explore. I found out later that falling in love is magical, and it can’t be turned on or off like a light switch. We’ve often heard that once you give up looking or striving for love, it falls right in your lap. It’s somewhat comparable to ever hating someone and held a grudge for a long time, and then came to position to forgive that person. Did you feel the weight of the world off your shoulders and your inside and outside suddenly beaming with a new-found glow about you? The world can see and feel it from you too. As you release the pressures of having to have that husband, you suddenly become relaxed. Once my sister -in-law and brother stopped trying to get pregnant after 15 years—you guessed it—she got pregnant. Enjoying your life and learning to be content may coincide with the fact that you may be single now and for quite some time—or not! I was 40 years old when the magic hit. That is, we both fell in love—my one and only time–so I pursued this relationship as best I could. I honestly did not know him from Adam and he was only 1 of 3 f**k buds to come to my hotel room to do what adults do. Well afterwards, something clicked, and I followed up with phone calls and letters and to my pleasant surprise it “clicked” with him too. After that first meeting in November 2000, we talked and wrote letters to each other until July 7, 2001 when we both made a verbal and written commitment to each other. I didn’t believe in long term long distance relationships, so we had to decide who was to move where. Since I was at the beginning of my now long-term career employer, and he was at a no fun job- we decided for him to move in with me. We discussed our options and his commitments at his job, any long-term leases and his roommates, and he was not able to move in until February 2002, but our commitment date remains as July 7, 2001. So now what? We’re living together, both a first for us. Is this the test now? Well. in part yes. You get to learn more of each other, both good and bad, when you live together. “Am I perfect? No! Are you perfect? No! Since he accepted a fair risk to quit his job and move in with me, he had no idea of his job prospects, and I knew for me, that I’d have to financially support him while he was looking. That would only be fair, and I would have to give him all the time he needed to do so. We were both happy that he got a job within a week or 2 of moving in but I was prepared to support him for much longer. We did discuss much of this before the final move. Other topics for discussion: • Prior to moving in I was concerned about his being bisexual. My understanding of a true bisexual is you want and need both men and women for sexual gratification. Could a bi guy ever be monogamous? He said that he is with the person that he is committed to and that’s it. That alleviated that concern. • There is some truth to when you marry someone, you are marrying their parents and family. Having known that and also having been in relationship counseling, one warning flag for both people in any relationship, “Is what type of relationship do you have with your parents?” If it is toxic, guess what! You just married into that drama as well. How one treats his parents, how one views his parents, how one relates with his parents, is very telling and how your relationship will be with your partner. If your partner-to-be has negative issues with mom and/or dad, they should be resolved before you “tie the knot.” • When inexperienced we may have thought that when 2 people fall in love then monogamy will be instantaneous. • So now out comes the personality traits – can we live with them or do we have to move on? • How strong is your love and your bond to your love? How long will you last? Is the sex and lust fading? In all marriages, including mine, the lust diminishes, even the sex wanes- but the Love endures and grows like a well tendered garden. Physical violence and drug/alcohol addiction has no place within a marriage as is cause for divorce. • Everything else can be “worked out” and solved and fixed- even the seemingly biggest—infidelities. • As you ponder your current situation whether happily single or happily married or partnered, the glue that keeps anyone together is LOVE—not money, not job, not family and not sex—because we all had great sex with people we would never want to marry, right?! Space—the final frontier! It’s what you both need away from each other to sometimes remain sane. When we finally get together, we gradually incorporate our lives together that included friends, family, etc. We learn together what we like to do together and strive for that but by all means we must do stuff that we like that our partner may absolutely have no desire to partake in—that’s ok and quite normal. We can have our own set of friends and co-workers, hobbies, etc., that we do without partner. I believe these are common traits and characteristic of all long-term relationships. None of us are perfect at it but we strive to be kind even in the midst of disagreement. And finally, I do believe in the law of attraction—be good to attract good, be kind to attract kind, and if you want to be rich, hang out with guys like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, not the opposite. You want a long term successful relationship, hang out with couples who are already there…be responsible to yourself and your partner… live life… enjoy life…. The author is now legally married as of Nov 21, 2017 😊 in beautiful Key West, Florida, having been committed together since July 7, 2001—almost 17 years! Facebook 
Harvard Business Review Facebook Harvard Business Review By Holly B Shakya UC San Diego and Nicholas A Christakis Yale University. Research conducted to get a clearer picture of the relationship between social media use and well-being required data collection from 5,208 adults by the Gallup organization, coupled with several different measures of Facebook usage, to see how well-being changed over time in association with Facebook use. Measures of well-being included life satisfaction, self-reported mental health, self-reported physical health, and body-mass index (BMI). Their measures of Facebook use included liking others’ posts, creating one’s own posts, and clicking on links. They also had measures of respondents’ real-world social networks. Respondents were asked to name up to four friends with whom they discuss important matters and up to four friends with whom they spend their free time, so that each participant could name up to a total of eight unique individuals. “First, we had three waves of data for many of our respondents over a period of two years. This allowed us to track how changes in social media use were associated with changes in well-being. Second, we had objective measures of Facebook use, pulled directly from participants’ Facebook accounts, rather than measures based on a person’s self-report. Third, in addition to the Facebook data, we had information regarding the respondents’ real-world social networks, which would allow us to directly compare the two influences (face-to-face networks and on line interactions). Of course, our study has limitations too, including that we could not be certain about how fully representative it was because not everyone in the Gallup sample allowed us access to their Facebook data,” researchers stated. Results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction. Although we can show that Facebook use seems to lead to diminished well-being, we cannot definitively say how that occurs. We did not see much difference between the three types of activity we measured — liking, posting, and clicking links, (although liking and clicking were more consistently significant) — and the impact on the user. This was interesting, because while we expected that “liking” other people’s content would be more likely to lead to negative self-comparisons and thus decreases in well-being, updating one’s own status and clicking links seemed to have a similar effect (although the nature of status updates can ostensibly be the result of social comparison-tailoring your own Facebook image based on how others will perceive it). Overall our results suggest that well-being declines are also matter of quantity of use rather than only quality of use. While screen time in general can be problematic, the tricky thing about social media is that while we are using it, we get the impression that we are engaging in meaningful social interaction. Our results suggest that the nature and quality of this sort of connection is no substitute for the real-world interaction we need for a healthy life. The full story when it comes to on line social media use is surely complex. Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison, and the sheer quantity of social media interaction may detract from more meaningful real-life experiences. What seems quite clear, however, is that on line social interactions are no substitute for the real thing. Single and Coupled - Then and Now By John E Bush, PhD There are many ways to consider the subject. However, we have to begin with being single first, primarily because we are single before we decide to join another in living out our lives. If all goes well, we may enjoy a coupled relationship until the end; however, we may approach the end having experienced several coupled ﷯ relationships. In the single life we spend much of our time attempting to figure out who we are and accepting or rejecting our discoveries (gay or straight) before moving on with our lives. As we move on being single, we are in control for better or worse without depending on a partner to help us define things. I think that is part of being single and it satisfies our known desires at that time in our lives. When we look back, as we all do from time to time, we recall our discoveries of new people and new places. We genuinely enjoy those experiences, and as we continue our lives of being single, we look forward continually to these new discoveries. If at this period in our lives, we find the lifestyle to really satisfy who we are or who we think we are and if the feeling gives us sufficient gratification, we may choose to remain with that lifestyle and not choose to search for a companion. However, in my own life, I do not recall many individuals who chose to follow that path. I am not sure of the direction younger individuals tend to be following today, but we all realize that there are more opportunities to be coupled, especially after President Obama opened the doors of marriage to same sex individuals. After that decision, many single Gays decided to become married couples. It was a win-win situation. If the arrangement did not work out, they could legally divorce and return to a single life again. In my own case as a single man in his twenties, after having completed college and military service and by that time in my life, and having accepted the fact that I was Gay, the next serious decision that had to be made was whether I should couple with a man who was not only Gay but also white. I discussed that in my book, The Right Season. The decision was indeed difficult, because I was also choosing to move from a single life to living in a coupled situation. Prior to that time I had not given the choice serious consideration, because I was still in the process of accepting the reality that I was indeed Gay! Living as a couple is also (like being single) something that it not taught. It is a difficult undertaking that is traditional, but often ends in failure. That was the situation in my life on two occasions. Living with another person requires much understanding and much compromise. Each individual must be willing to seriously consider and respect the other, and in many cases, accept terms that have not been previously thought about or considered. I particularly remember such a situation in my first relationship. I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in the Netherlands. I experienced a sense of guilt by accepting because it meant that I had to leave my partner for an academic year and I was frustrated by the situation, because I felt it was unfair to him. Later in our relationship, I learned that it was not that devastating to him, because it enabled him to “legitimately” live the single life again. As individuals grow older, we tend to regard them as a member of a couple. Generally, that tends to be the case, what with the institution of marriage. I tend to find this more often the case than not. As we grow older, it becomes easier to cope with the demands of life when there are two individuals working together, as opposed to an individual going it alone. Had not my partner died at a rather young age, I think I would be coping with the exigencies of life much better than I am as a single man alone. I might even conclude by suggesting that we were meant to be together. Dare I go back to Adam and Eve? It has often been said that it is better when there are two working diligently together to face and resolve problems in order to make life more manageable and especially to love and care for one another. (Now) Thus, two well-adjusted singles who join forces to make a couple is the best way to go and therefore, the best of all possible worlds!
 ﷯My Intergenerational, Interracial Relationship by Robert Graham People always want to have discussions about the subtleties of interracial relationships or intergenerational relationships. No one ever discusses the dynamics of intergenerational and interracial relationships. This is my experience being in an intergenerational interracial relationship. Every relationship is different; this is my personal experience. The one problem I’ve had to deal with in the past were older white men who felt as though they had to provide and protect me. I’m not sure if they had some guilt trying to make up for racial oppression, if they just saw me as a child who couldn’t take care of himself, or they could have a control complex. Remember, there are some racist white men who love being with black men, and vice versa. If the two involved in the relationship are of two different cultures and generations, there tends to be an extra layer to consider. Someone of a different generation will have different life experiences and possible life goals. Even simple everyday items, such as tastes in music, movies, television shows, political/social involvement, travel interest, and slang, can create friction. On the other hand, being with someone of a different generation can give you a different viewpoint. I’ve been with my husband for 13 years, married for two years. There is a 22 year difference between us. I will be honest, the age difference has not caused any issues in our relationship. The bottom line is that any relationship can work if you share some common interest, as well as relationship and life goals.
Extended Article by Timothy Villareal Are we bearers of human intimacy or sexual objectification? As the #MeToo movement brings attention to sexual harassment and gains steam not only in the U.S. but around the globe, men who love men must confront a sad reality. The gay rights movement has yet to yield a masculine sexual ethic rooted first and foremost in intimacy; a sexual ethic that would repel any and all expressions of sexual objectification of our fellow human beings, male or female. At least here in the U.S., from Bill Clinton to actor James Franco, the LGBT community is politically and culturally awash with so-called “LGBT allies” whose “support” for our rights and sexual liberation seems more rooted in their own perverse self-interest: namely, a gut instinct on the part of these “allies” that a general loosening of society’s sexual mores bodes well for men who prefer to treat other people like pieces of meat. Thus, when asked to examine whether single or coupled relationships are better - or monogamous or polyamorous relationships - my gut instinct tells me this: the God-given gift of man-to-man sexual intimacy is too precious to reduce to a numbers game. Whether we have one partner or many, my only concern is that each of us—as brothers of all races and cultures—will consider what we, as men, bear to the rest of our fellow men. Do we bear the gift of man-to-man intimacy? Sadly, all too often it seems the mainstream gay community simply bears what so many of our fellow men would no doubt rather have: a mirror that reflects and affirms their own psychosexual stasis; a sexual immaturity that is content to experience other people purely as body parts, not as souls. As men who treasure our intimacy with other men of all colors, I believe we are in a unique position to examine more deeply what sexual values we actually bear to the wider society. Let’s face it, too many white gay men who date and partner exclusively with other white gay men are dealing with varying degrees of lingering racism, which by definition precludes any meaningful conception of human intimacy. Sure, if some gay white men are caught using the “N” word on cellphone video, or exposed for enforcing a “dress code” purely designed to keep black men out of gay bars, they will be able to repent and make amends. But can they really go beyond meeting that minimal standard of civilized behavior and experience genuine intimacy with men of races not their own? There’s always hope. Yet, as men who experience the blessings of intimacy with men of all races and ethnicities - in monogamous or polyamorous contexts - we must indeed be vigilant in ensuring that the more shallow impulses of mainstream white gay male culture, and the creepy political and cultural alliances that culture too often produces (think Bill Clinton, James Franco) do not distort what we may wish to bear to the wider culture: namely, an affirmation of the infinite beauty, goodness and Godliness of our multiracial man-to-man intimacy. Last year, the question “What do we wish to bear?” came to the fore with the mainstream LGBT community’s reaction to the death of pop icon George Michael. The late singer was arguably one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century, yet what he presented to the wider world about homosexuality and sexuality in general was dismal. Echoing the sentiments of many at the time of Michael’s passing, Sarah Garett, spokesperson for the British LGBT Awards said, “George Michael was an international LGBT icon, a trailblazer and a music icon.” The latter claim of him being a music icon is unquestionable. But a trailblazer? As another great entertainer of the twentieth century, Nell Carter, might put it, “gimme a break” on the trailblazer bit. Many will recall that Michael only came out of the closet in 1998 after his arrest for a “lewd act” in a Beverly Hills public restroom. Michael later admitted that “cruising” for other men in public restrooms was a favorite pastime of his. Post-arrest interviews with The Advocate magazine and on the David Letterman Show reveal how Michael chose to cope with the unwelcome exposure - criticizing the policing tactic used to deter indecent public behavior rather than focusing on his own impropriety. But nothing was more revealing about Michael’s attitude during that period than the song and video he recorded in the aftermath of the arrest, titled “Outside,” a defiant ode to the apparent thrills of public sex, whatever one’s persuasion. George Michael’s refusal to affirm his homosexuality in the 80s and early 90s, when he was at the peak of his cultural influence, is not by any means the most frustrating aspect of what could arguably be considered his stunted sexuality - his psychosexual stasis. Even to this day, there are entertainers, politicians and people in all walks of public life who choose not to disclose their homosexuality for fear of losing public support for their careers or for other personal considerations. George Michael certainly fit into that mold, but with this particular public figure, there was more unsavoriness to the story than the mere cost-benefit analysis of coming out of the closet. As the #MeToo movement is raising consciousness all over the world about sexual harassment, and the truly humiliating sexual degradation so many women have to suffer through on a daily basis, we can no longer sit on the sidelines. As men who love men of all colors need we must reconsider our relationship with all men who sexually objectify women - yes, even as the more shallow elements of the gay white male population may insist that treating women like cheap tricks is no big deal. Indeed, the unsavoriness that is so central, yet overlooked, to the George Michael story relates not to men, but to women: namely, an objectification of women that was a mainstay throughout much of his life and career. For many men of this world bent on proving their masculinity to other men, women and women’s sexuality are nothing more than a proving ground: pubic AstroTurf, as it were, in the male sport of proving oneself the very antithesis of queer. By his own accounts, Michael had sex with numerous women throughout his life, with some of them, he would later tell a reporter, making paternity claims against him. It’s unlikely we will ever know the full details of his relations with women, but there is enough in the public domain, in the singer’s oeuvre, to conclude that for George Michael - as with so many insecure men with no regard for female dignity - women and their sexuality were useful props. Even in the video for that post-arrest, post-outing song “Outside,” women are on screen gyrating, grinding, playing naughty, etc. Odd, given that the idea for the song, indeed its entire rationale, originated in Michael’s would-be sexual encounter with an undercover male cop. With the inclusion of raunchy women in the video it was as if Michael was attempting to say to the men of the world, “Yeah, I’m gay, but dancing and cavorting alongside these raunchy women means I’m still part of the male tribe, our ready willingness to sexually objectify women being the glue that holds our tribe together, bro.” Applying the same glue in a 2004 interview with GQ Magazine, the main of which centered on his coming to terms with his homosexuality, Michael couldn’t resist telling the primarily straight male GQ readership that Madonna had once expressed sexual interest in him, though he apparently declined. “Maybe I should have tried it!” he joked, like a 13-year-old boy whose objective conceptions of male sexuality and what his own male peers might think of him at any given moment are virtually indistinguishable. It’s a mental groove in which way too many men, whatever their sexual labels, are trapped well into adulthood. Only with our candid, compassionate witness to the treasures of deep, man-to-man intimacy can we help these men emerge from that miserable, dehumanizing psychosexual stasis. For sure, some of his hardcore fans may excuse Michael’s sexual objectification of women, public and private, as simply a consequence of the period he lived in - the psychological detritus, perhaps, of a closeted life forced upon him by a homophobic world. Yet one of his own musical contemporaries, a closeted gay man until his untimely death at age 54 in 2005, proved beyond doubt that a homophobic society can never be used as an excuse for closeted men to sexually objectify women. That contemporary of George Michael’s was a black man, and also one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century. I am writing of none other than the great Luther Vandross. Luther Vandross never confirmed his sexual identity publicly, but was known to be gay among his close associates. Though virtually his entire song collection is geared toward stirring the flames of heterosexual romance, it was human intimacy, not sexual objectification, that was at the heart of Vandross’ musical exhortation. A class-act gentleman to the end, Vandross wouldn’t touch a project that objectified women with a ten foot pole. For that fact alone, I’ll take a Luther Vandross as a positive male role model over a George Michael any day of the week. 2018 is already shaping up to be a year in which matters of sex and sexual objectification are at the forefront of national, even global, conversation. The conversation is long overdue. In that wider context, to be a man and to live a life open to sharing intimacy with other men of all races and cultures is just too good, too joyous not to bear to other men who are trapped in the mental and spiritual dungeons of racism and sexual objectification. Each of us is bound to have our own unique way of bearing the sheer goodness of that intimacy to other men. With brotherly love and understanding, we can encourage one another to stay alert to the trends in culture and politics - even when those trends are accompanied with wind-swept rainbow flags - that would have the effect of distorting what it is we really have to offer. With the physical and emotional well-being of men and women all over the world hanging in the balance, too much is at stake to risk being tossed in with the bearers of sexual objectification. Let us resolve to be bearers of human intimacy and human dignity at all times.