HOORAY // MARRIAGE FOR ALL!

06/26/15

il_fullxfull.628108805_pcfy

I’ve written a lot about marriage over the past few years on this blog. And today Love Conquered All with the United States Supreme Court’s Decision to support marriage equality in the entire nation. I never thought I would see this day, and I am so thrilled. You can get my LOVE CONQUERS ALL print (pictured above) here in my shop.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

0
shares

On Love

06/02/15

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 12.55.21 PM

Yesterday, in celebration of the 2nd anniversary of my marriage to my wife Clay, I posted the image above from our wedding day & the following caption on Instagram:

“Two years ago on June 1, 2013 I married @clay_walsh // this was the best day of my life! // three weeks later gay marriage became legal in the state of California and we made it official // I spent much of my 20’s & 30’s feeling very dubious (and somewhat bitter) about whether I’d ever meet someone as amazing as Clay (and she is a truly stellar human) or ever have a loving & legal partnership with someone // my 40’s have been the happiest, most affirming time of my life // here’s to love, marriage & marriage equality! //  (photo by the ever talented @bonnietsang)”

At the time of this blog post, the image has 2879 likes and 195 comments. 99% of them are filled with love and support. One commenter, who has since deleted her comment, wrote the following in response (and this is an exact, unedited quote; the grammar errors are hers, not mine), which set off a small firestorm on my feed:

“I am a Christian Artist. I suppose my love for others is key. However one man to one woman is in my heart the purest since of equality if the understanding of is revealed in light of a God who loves us so much. He would lay down His life for us (his friends), so we are set free from the grip of sin and through His amazing love and sacred sacrifice we become adopted as His children. An experience that when happens causes one to evaluate and draw closer to other of the same like mindedness to understand what has happened that the whatever makes me happy is no longer my slogan, but “what can I do in light of your grace and mercy to become and be made more into your likeness and image, Lord.” I am challenged here to speak with love as I do not even know you but your lifestyle and the pit of lies in which you have fallen is a tragedy & will most likely lead others into the destruction of their souls as well. Praying that the eyes of your hearts be opened, and you find the road that really leads to true love and life.”

I get homophobic comments on occasion, but this was the longest and most blatant to date. I decided not to delete it (and sometimes I do remove mean or thoughtless comments). I also chose not to respond. However, as you might imagine, other people (including other Christians) did respond, mostly in defense of love and equality. It was an powerful thing to watch unfold over the course of the day.

I want to be clear that the woman who posted these comments is not an anonymous troll. She is a real person using her actual name (a fellow artist) who has followed my work for some time and has commented positively before on other Instagram photos (my feed is mostly images of my artwork, dog and two cats). So she, while apparently very disapproving of my “lifestyle,” has admired my work enough to keep following, even though I have never, ever hidden my sexuality or relationship online (in fact, I have been very out & open about my gayness since I started my first blog in 2005).

I also want to be clear that this post today is in no way meant to humiliate or shame the commenter. I have no doubt that she truly believes what she said, and, as such, felt compelled to express her beliefs (I imagine she’s been waiting for the right moment for some time). I also believe that no matter how misguided her own opinions about homosexuals are, she is a human being who deserves to be treated with love. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Interestingly, to her credit, as hateful as the language in her comment was, she acted quite humanely in the end. Initially she also posted her beliefs about me/my marriage on her Facebook fan page. However, after the barrage of responses, she not only removed her comment, but removed the post on her fan page, and attempted apologetic amends for offending other followers (and a mild apology directed at me, not for her beliefs, but for making people angry). While I am quite certain her beliefs have not changed, she seems to have learned a thing or two about making blatant homophobic comments with deeply sanctimonious religious overtones on the Instagram feed of a lesbian artist with 54,000 followers.

I have decided to respond to her words here — again, not to shame her, but rather to be clear — both to her and to others who might wonder — about where I stand on what she had to say, about my sexuality, and about love.

1) I was born this way. There is no religion that can “heal” me (or anyone) from homosexuality. To those of us who are gay, the idea that we could ever be different or change by altering our religious beliefs (or anything else) is preposterous. This is how I am wired. This is how millions of other humans on this planet are wired, just like millions of other humans are wired to be heterosexual. That is a fact.

2) I wouldn’t trade my life or my sexuality for anything. I can’t imagine being any other way. It’s not a pit of lies. It’s who I am at my core. It’s my own beautiful truth, just like who you are is your own beautiful truth.

3) There is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay (or bisexual or transgender). Let me repeat: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING GAY OR BISEXUAL OR TRANSGENDER. Period.

4) I’ll tell you what is wrong: hatred, intolerance, judgment, proclamations of superiority and closed-mindedness about what it takes to be loved, “saved,” real or worthy.

5) I’ll tell you what is right: love between humans, including but not limited to — embracing the beautiful differences in others, kindness, compassion, empathy, hugs, kisses, laughter, true mercy & grace, humility & tenderness.

And so I will say again! To love, marriage, and marriage equality! May we all be who we are, without apology. May we all live with a sense of dignity. And may we all live each day in the spirit of loving kindness.

Thank you to everyone who has showered me and Clay with so much love since yesterday (and to those of you who shower us with love every day of the year). You can read more about how I feel about the gift of marriage in this post I wrote one year ago on our first anniversary.

Have a good Tuesday, friends! <3

0
shares

One Year Later

06/26/14

loveconquers_print_lowres

One year ago today and really exciting thing happened in the lives of thousands upon thousands of people: in a historic pair of 5-4 rulings on the final day of the term for the United States Supreme Court, the justices struck down the sixteen year old Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples married under state law, and let stand a ruling that found Proposition 8 (a 2008 voter initiative that ended same-sex marriage in California) unconstitutional. What that meant for me was that Clay and I (along with thousands of other couples) could get legally married. Elated, I wrote about the ruling the next day here. And Clay and I did get legally married in July. It was a very exciting time in our lives and a time I will never, ever forget.

To commemorate the anniversary of this historic date and to advocate for the legalization of same sex marriage all over the country, I made a new piece of art, entitled “Love Conquers All” pictured above, which will be for sale as a print in my Etsy Shop starting July 16 (my shop is closed for the time being while I am on vacation). Sign up for my mailing list to be alerted when the print is available in July!

I wanted to also recommend a fantastic documentary, which I saw a week ago at the opening night of the LGBT Film Festival in San Francisco: The Case Against 8, which documents the fight against Proposition 8 in California. It’s a gut wrenchingly fabulous film airing now on HBO that follows the plaintiffs and attorneys in their multi-year struggle which ended this day last year. If you do watch, bring your tissues!!

Have a happy Thursday everyone! To marriage for all!

0
shares

On Marriage :: A Year Later

06/02/14

lc_2

One year ago, on June 1, 2013 I got married. I wrote about marriage a lot last year — what it felt like to be getting married as a gay person and as a 45 year old, what it felt like the day it happened, what it felt like when the ban on same sex marriage was struck down in my state, and what it felt like when we got legally married in July. And now I am going to write a little bit about what it feels like to be married, a year later.

First, let me provide some context. Last year was — aside from the wedding, our legal marriage and honeymoon, and short periods of time surrounding those events — one of the hardest years of my life. It was rife with challenges. From the beginning of the year, I was working a lot outside my comfort zone artistically (which I advocate for, but ain’t always easy). I wrote a book (which I am now quite proud of, but the process of writing it was grueling). And last fall, I went through a fairly public issue regarding copyright infringement of my work, during which time my own work was scrutinized. And that particular experience was so dark and so painful that I almost did not come out of it. It was, for me, the single worst three months of my life. I almost quit making art. I wanted to move far away and never go on the internet again. I was this close –> <– to giving up.

But I didn’t give up. Not on writing the book and, most notably, not on my work as an artist. And that is because of my wife, Clay.

Some people say that marriage doesn’t actually change your relationship too much, that it’s just a piece of paper. And maybe for some people that is what marriage is — mostly a legal agreement. Countless unmarried couples live committed and beautiful lives together.  I do not think marriage is necessary for intimacy or commitment. My community hasn’t been allowed to marry until recently (at least legally). But for me, the act of getting married, expressing my vows to Clay, in the presence of our closest family and friends, was an act of saying to the world: I will do everything in my power to protect this person from pain, comfort this person in her grief, love this person with every bone of my body, honor this person in every way possible, and to be absolutely truthful to this person.

So I knew marriage would change me. I knew that I would be a better, more thoughtful, more truthful, more loving, more accountable partner because of what I had committed to. But what I hadn’t given too much thought to was how marriage might change Clay. Let’s be clear: I married Clay because she is one of the most thoughtful, grounded, spirited, genuine, easy-to-be-in-the-presence-of humans I’ve ever known. And she’s pretty adorable, to boot. But I had no idea of the bounds of her love and the seriousness with which she took our relationship (er, marriage) until last October.

If you have ever gone through something so horrible that you could not sleep or eat or concentrate and where crying and panic attacks were regular occurrences, you know something of my state between October and December of last year. And you might also know that often when you are in that kind of state, all you want is for someone to tell you, maybe every 10 minutes if necessary, that everything is going to be okay. You don’t want them to necessarily fix it or tell you what you should be doing differently or tell you what might make you feel better. You just want comfort. That’s all.

And that, my friends, is exactly what Clay gave me, every single day for three months straight. She didn’t tell me I had to get over it. She didn’t make me feel worse about what was happening. She stood by me (often taking time off of work), without complaint, and provided me love and comfort and a sense of safety. She also helped to handle many of my legal matters, aspects of my business, and communication with important people in my life. I have never felt so loved or protected by someone, ever.

So I am not sure if the vows Clay made in marrying me are what caused the depths of her commitment to me last year. But I do know that something felt different during that time, and has continued to feel different since that experience faded. Instead of destroying us, the experience bonded us in a way I never thought possible with another person (and I also learned a lot of valuable personal and professional lessons). And that is the thing: often the most beautiful things come out of the most ugly piles of crap-shit.

So, yah, I love being married — and not just because I have a wife who is the bomb-diggity when it comes to being right there for me when things feel scary. I love being married, because I love Clay. I love everything about her, even the stuff that annoys me. Every day I cannot wait for her to come home from work. I never tire of her. She is my joy, my comfort, my world.

Here’s to marriage. May every single couple who wants marriage get to experience its beauty!

Have a good Monday, friends.

(Photo credit: the amazing Bonnie Tsang)

0
shares

The Best Day Ever

09/10/13

lc_19

As many of you know, I got married to my partner of five years, Clay Lauren Walsh, on June 1, 2013. I’ve written about my engagement and marriage a lot already, so today I am simply going to share some of my favorite photos of the day. These beautiful pictures were taken by the amazing Bonnie Tsang. Clay’s suit was made by Duchess Clothier & my dress by Jigsaw London. I made my braided necklace (my own design) out of neon pink string I purchased at the hardware store. My sister Stephanie did our flowers, including my bouquet and Clay’s boutineer. I designed–and my friends helped me make–all of our decorations. Our wedding took place at the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club. My cousin Robin officiated (in her rainbow stole, per my request). There were exactly 100 people in attendance, and almost everyone danced (and danced) the night away, including my 75 year old mother. It was the best day of my life.

lc_1

lc_25

lc_17

lc_2

lc_13

lc_14

lc_27

lc_3

lc_11

lc_10

lc_24

lc_16

lc_23

lc_4

lc_8

lc_18

lc_7

lc_15

lc_22

lc_9

May everyone everywhere get to experience the joy of celebrating love in this way. There is nothing like it.

Happy Tuesday.

0
shares