gratitude

A Gay Man’s Tribute to Fred Phelps

March 21, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES

PHELPS2

My original idea for this illustration included a rough line drawing of an oft-seen photo of Fred Phelps. The intent was to depict the sheer evil of the man in pen and ink, superimposed over a collage of the disparate groups of people his hatred targeted. I scanned my drawing and began layering in images on the computer: Matthew Shepard and the iconic fence he was tied to; a scene from a production of The Laramie Project; the casket of an Iraq War veteran, draped in the American flag; paper angels representing the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the interlocked bikers that protected their funerals; symbols representing Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons and Catholics.

As I fine-tuned the design, I hid the layer that included Phelps’ face. I looked at all of these otherwise unconnected people and realized I’d been going about this all wrong.

Phelps is gone…and what is left behind?

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage in Scotland? Aye!

March 4, 2014 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

With the recent barrage of news concerning LGBTQ rights, you may have missed (as I did) the latest addition to the list of nations legalizing same-sex marriage.

Somewhere between Michael Sam and Sochi, amidst a swirling stew of good news and bad, from all corners of the United States and around the globe, same-sex marriage became legal in Scotland.

scotlandScotland, legislation passed by Scottish Parliament February 2014; currently awaits Royal Assent. Same-sex marriages expected to begin Autumn 2014. McFabulous.

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Fridge Wisdom: Utah Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

December 25, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

utah

Utah: same-sex marriage legalized/first marriages performed, December 20, 2013 (Magnet courtesy of Bryan Almond & Jonathan Bailey. Fridge courtesy of Johnny & Beverly Almond)

Hot on the heels of New Mexico (which was hot on the heels of Hawaii), one of the bastions of conservatism in the United States has out-of-nowhere legalized same-sex marriage. I’m sure my post from a couple of weeks ago on Hawaii had something to do with it, where I (not really) predicted this outcome:

Yet same-sex marriage is becoming such a common occurrence that many media outlets don’t deem it sensational enough to cover. Perhaps they’re holding out for Utah or a Carolina or the Grand Wizard of all conservative states (that would be Texas, y’all) to change its right-wing ways before making marriage equality front page news again.*

Much has already been written about what Utah’s district court decision means for the rest of the states, for the country as a whole, for those opposed to marriage equality, who’s happy about it, who’s not happy, who’s surprised by it, who’s not… well, probably not that last one. Of course I was shocked, too. And for about a minute I considered a snarky headline like “Big Gay Love” or “Hasa Diga Homophobes”.

Yet this has a more personal connection for me. In addition to being the Mormon Mecca, it’s the adopted home of my younger (and also gay) brother. While he’s shared with me some of the ways having an older gay brother has been helpful, I know it’s also been a hindrance at times. He had to go through his own struggle and discovery, all within the shadow of a brother who was already in a long-term, committed relationship. Every relationship he had would be compared to Papa (already well-entrenched in the family); every decision, every step out of the closet compared to mine. While not entirely true, that’s how it felt to him a lot of the time.

And my journey — while over 10 years long — began in Texas and ended when I moved to DC, Bryan’s has taken him all over the country and the world, always hoping to find a place to call his own. And when he ended up in Salt Lake City, I was skeptical of how it would turn out. I worried that it could only mean more struggles and more disappointment. But it’s grown on him, and he, it. He loves many things about his new city and state, has a great new job, and has made many friends who accept him for who he is. And he’s been dating a really nice guy (Big Brother Approved!); they plan to move in together in the spring.**

bryan-jon

So this post is dedicated to my little brother Bryan, as well as all of the LGBT Utahans, their loved ones and supporters. Thank you for sticking it out, staying true to yourselves, and for giving us all such a wonderful Christmas surprise.

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*Texas and the Carolinas, we’re coming for you!

**I’ve already warned him I’d kill him if he got married now. A) He hasn’t been with his boyfriend all that long, and B) there’s no way in hell he’s getting legally married before me!

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Every time a country or US state legalizes same-sex marriage, I post a photo of a magnet from either my fridge or from that of a reader. Why a fridge magnet? Good question — I’ll think about that one and get back to you. In the mean time, take a look at the previous magnet posts.

 

Fridge Wisdom: New Mexico Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

December 20, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

Congratulations to New Mexico for becoming the 17th state (and DC) to legalize same-sex marriage!

After Hawaii, I thought it was going to be until another election before I’d get to slap another state magnet on the Designer Daddy fridge. But then New Mexico’s supreme court up and unanimously votes to bring marriage equality to the Land of Enchantment.

I could have sworn we had some New Mexico magnets around our house, but turns out they were all Arizona. Oh well… Arizona, we got you covered, so get on the stick!

NM2 NM1
(Magnets courtesy of Christy Schejnin and Jonathan Elliott, respectively.)

New Mexico: Legislation passes December 19, 2013. Weddings begin December 19, 2013. New Mexico does NOT mess around!

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I’m posting photos of fridge magnets as new states and countries fall into the AWESOME column on the side of marriage equality! If anyone has magnets from any of the countries listed below, send me a photo of it and I’ll post it on the ole blog!

Magnets still needed: Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Mexico (City), Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and France.

Fridge Wisdom: Same Sex Marriage Passes in Hawaii

December 2, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

The state that has given us several cool TV shows, a super catchy Christmas song, and the weirdest Disney movie to date, adds yet another dash of fabulous to our country. Today marks the day LGBT American can now get married in Hawaii.

Yet same-sex marriage is becoming such a common occurrence that many media outlets don’t deem it sensational enough to cover. Perhaps they’re holding out for Utah or a Carolina or the Grand Wizard of all conservative states (that would be Texas, y’all) to change its right-wing ways before making marriage equality front page news again.

But Hawaii deserves its day in the sun. The fight for same-sex marriage started in this loveliest of states in the early 1990′s when the Hawaii Supreme Court declared the state’s prohibition to be unconstitutional in Baehr v. Lewin.

So since our last state was the first in this epic journey, they’re getting THREE magnets. And also because I had two different people send me photos of theirs at the exact same moment I decided to break down and buy one myself.

Congratulations (Ho’omaika’i) to all of the new and future couples!
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Contributed by Josh Misner, who sent me this photo while on vacation. He promised to go back next year and get me one with two guys on it.

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Courtesy of Kristin Stork. Let the homosexual hulas and lesbian luaus begin!
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hawaii-1
Hawaii
, legislation passes November 13, weddings begin December 2, 2013. Just one question: Where are these couples going to honeymoon?

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I’m posting photos of fridge magnets as new states and countries fall into the AWESOME column on the side of marriage equality! If anyone has magnets from any of the countries listed below, send me a photo of it and I’ll post it on the ole blog!

Magnets still needed: Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Mexico (City), Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and France.

Fridge Wisdom: Same-sex Marriage in Illinois

November 6, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

I’m particularly proud of Illinois legalizing marriage equality, as I was born in Alton, and then lived outside Champaign/Urbana for a few years as a kid. I can’t really claim it as my “home state,” as I was a nomadic Military Brat, but I’ve always been proud to be from the Land of Lincoln. Now even more so.

same-sex marriage in Illinois
Illinois
, legislation passes November 5, 2013. Goes into effect June 1, 2014. The “S” may be silent, but gays sure ain’t!

Speaking of being nomadic… Now with same-sex marriage in Illinois, my state of birth, the only other states I’ve lived in that need to get with the program are Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, Colorado and Virginia. And also Japan. Still a lot of work to be done.

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Speaking of work needing to be done… Did you catch this particularly hilarious segment on The Daily Show about the two states competing to be the last to legalize same-sex marraige? If not, put down your beverage and enjoy:

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I’m posting photos of magnets as new states and countries fall into the AWESOME column on the side of legalized same-sex marriage! If anyone has magnets from any of the countries listed below, send me a photo of it and I’ll post it on the blog and give you credit!

Magnets still needed: Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Mexico (City), Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and France.

SalonLGBTQ: Reconnecting, Simplifying & Loving the Ladies

October 30, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES

Lately I’ve been lacking the time and energy to be an effective dad or a productive designer, much less a Designer Daddy of any measure. And I’ve got no one to blame but myself. But a recent trip to Atlanta brought about some much needed refocusing.

A couple of weeks ago I attended SalonLGBTQ, the first social media conference of its kind – for and about the LGBTQ community. My work schedule had slowly been reaching capacity, and culminated with several projects being due in conjunction with the conference. Amongst the professional stress was the ongoing struggle with our feisty almost-four year-old and his increasing use of falling on the floor and cry-whining as a means of communication. Add to that the pressures of preparing for this trip —where I’d also be making my debut as an “expert” blogger as part of a panel discussing parent blogging, social media and all things homosexual.

Despite all that, I managed to make it to the conference in one piece, though soaked to the bone from my walk across the street 2.5 blocks in the rain from the subway to the hotel. After cramming in some work and drying my socks, I went downstairs and enjoyed the hell out of the opening reception. It was Spirit Day, so everyone was wearing purple…except me. You know, the graphic designer who’s super keen on color and stuff. But it was a thrill meeting all manner of wonderful folk, including my longtime internet hero, Sarah/Nerdy Apple, and my new-found hero, Amelia. These two awesome moms have sons who don’t fit the normal norms, and they spend their time celebrating and championing them every chance they get. Plus these ladies both like to party. We were fast friends.

socks

Here’s my #SpiritDay purple, drying out from my trek through the rain.

purple

Flanked by some of my new favorite gals: Sarah “Smut,” Sarah “Nerdy” & Amelia “Blogger.” ©SalonLGBTQ.com

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Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage is Jersey Strong

October 21, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

Congratulations to the people of New Jersey, and particularly those same-sex couples getting legally married in the Garden State today! Welcome to the club!

jersey

New Jersey, legislation passed September 27, 2013. Weddings begin October 21, 2013. Think it’ll get overturned? Fuggedaboutit!

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Need a refresher on where same-sex marriage is already legal in the US and the rest of the world? GO HERE.

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I’m posting photos of magnets as new states and countries fall into the AWESOME column on the side of legalized same-sex marriage! If anyone has magnets from any of the countries listed below, send me a photo of it and I’ll post it on the ole blog!

Magnets still needed: Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Mexico (City), Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and France.

Fridge Wisdom: God Save the Queen (or Two)

July 18, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM

Another update to my magnetic commemoration of states and countries that have legalized same-sex marriage.

Long Live the Queen! Long Love the Queens!
God Save the Queen for Saving the Queens!

Piccadilly Circus! Fish & Chips! Bangers & Mash!

Okay, that’s enough of that.

Congratulations to our friends across the pond for their fabulously progressive monarch. Yesterday Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal “Yo go, girl!” to legalizing same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom.

So I scoured my mammoth magnet collection, and this was the closest I had to something  British…

wallace

While I love me some Wallace (and Gromit), this occasion warranted something more monumental. I put out a call, and my readers came through in spades! Here are my three favorites… READ FULL ARTICLE >>

A Gay Man’s Moment of Patriotism

July 3, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, MY 2 DADS

SCOTUS-gmcw2

I jumped out of a cab and into the sweltering DC heat. I jogged across the street and joined the other 100 or so men in red polo shirts standing across the sidewalk from the US Supreme Court Building. It was June 26th, and less than two hours before, DOMA and Prop8 had been struck down, giving significant momentum to same-sex marriage, and LGBT rights overall. This was more momentum — and public, official support — than gay America had ever experienced.

The guys in red were my friends family and fellow members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. We had been on call for a couple of weeks, awaiting word for when SCOTUS would read their rulings on these closely watched cases. The call had come, the rulings had been read, and we were there to sing — thankfully not in protest, but in celebration.

It was our time — so like a big, sweaty amoeba, we squeezed through the crowd of camera crews, ralliers and a grumpy passer-by or two. As we neared our designated spot, a cheer rippled through the group and I spotted Barney Frank trying to make his way in the opposite direction. I snapped a quick photo, then leaned in for an overly eager hug and a too loud “Thank you for all you’ve done!” in his ear. I may have even kissed his cheek.

We finished forming our rows in front of the steps; our director raised her hands to lead us in the first of our two songs — “Make Them Hear You” from the musical Ragtime. Written from the perspective of African-Americans at the turn of the 20th Century, the lyrics are universal in their admonishment of maligned people to protest peacefully, yet loudly. We reached the final verse…“Go out and tell our story to your daughters and your sons,” and I thought of my own son and the ever more tolerant world he’s growing up in.

We then began to sing the national anthem. I’m amazed at how incredible it feels — both musically and emotionally — to sing this. It’s a powerful thing to hear a host of men’s voices blending together, marginalized citizens showing pride and passion about the country slow to embrace them fully. I’ve had the privilege to perform it with GMCW several times at Washington Nationals’ games. Being behind home plate, hearing our voices echo up into the cavernous stadium full of fans, catching a glimpse of myself on the jumbotron — the experience is always exhilarating.

But that day in front of those steps, it was different. More momentous, yet more intimate. A shift had occurred, and we’d been brought one step closer to equal with our heterosexual neighbors, families and fellow citizens.

If you haven’t thought about the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a while, take a moment to do so:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

We all know the anthem is about our flag, surviving a brutal battle during the War of 1812. It remained intact, waving proudly amidst the turmoil, giving hope and speaking of bravery and endurance.

And that’s how I felt as we sang in the hot, midday sun. That we as a community had endured so much turmoil and discrimination, merely because of who we love. Yet we had only grown stronger, given greater visibility and resolve by the glaring rockets and bursting bombs all around us: Stonewall. Harvey Milk. AIDS. Matthew Shepard. Westboro Baptist Church. The countless victims of rejection, bullying, excommunication, suicide and murder.

As we neared the end, I choked up, unable to sing. My heart filled with pride for my country, my community, my chorus brothers, my family. My thoughts filled with anticipation and relief. My eyes filled with a mixture of sweat and tears.

We finished the song, and I hugged several of the guys and took a few more pictures to capture the day. But it was a swampy summer afternoon in Washington, and I’d had enough. I walked back across the street to hail another taxi for an impromptu trip to my husband’s office. I wanted to share and celebrate the moment with him before heading back to work myself.

As I cooled down in the air-conditioned cab, my thoughts went to the pile of work I had waiting for me, and the fatherly work after that feeding, bathing and putting my son to bed. I thought to myself how much time it had taken out of my day, traveling by subway and cab and on foot, the time it was going to take me to get home and the unavoidable stress… but then I stopped myself. I had experienced the struggle of gay Americans in a microcosm that day. Working so hard, traveling far, enduring the searing heat, then one moment of communal triumph… then back to work.

Time to get back to work and family, and all the day-to-day things that make up my life. The only difference was that my relationship and my family were now just as protected and supported as every other American… and that made all the difference.

The reception of our performance has been pretty astounding. It has been featured on PBS NewsHour, The Washington Post, Business Insider, NPR, MSNBC and most local news stations. Oh yeah, and even Glenn Beck’s web site. If you saw/heard it anywhere else, send me the link and I’ll add it to this list.

If you’re on Facebook, you can view my photo album from the performances here.

(P.S. That’s me in the yellow Superman visor, far left.)