Monday, September 23, 2013

Family Letter 3rd Quarter 2013

Hello from Houston!

Work has been going well for me (Evan). I have just passed my one year anniversary as an application developer at the University of Houston and recently had a big project of mine successfully go into production, with another one that will hit testing soon. One of the things I love about the work environment here is that I don't necessarily need to work through a middle man in order to communicate with the customer. For the last project, I was able to directly speak with the customer during testing, which helped me understand exactly what she wanted out of the project. My manager has done an excellent job in providing guidance over the last year, which I am very grateful for. Brian has had his ups and downs at MD Anderson, but he says management has expressed great appreciation for his hard work. Fortunately, work has calmed down for him after a very busy summer.

We spent a lot of time with the boys this summer up until they started school again. Brian was able to work from home and take some vacation time so we could keep them at our house for an entire week. They love swimming in the pool, playing with Shadow, and playing video games. We also were able to have Brian's mom stay home with the kids during the few days Brian had to work from home, which was nice. The boys like school so far. Jordan started 5th grade and Tim started 3rd grade. I first met them when they had just finished 2nd grade and kindergarten. They are getting old too fast! They recently signed up for the Scouts and will also soon be participating in Little League, once again. They are good kids and we are so happy that we are able to be involved in their lives.

We have been continuing our home improvement projects. We have painted some rooms and had some of our windows that run along the front of the house tinted. We also noticed that the foundation issues in our house have been getting worse, which is our next project to address. Here's hoping that this fix won't break the bank!

Last week, while Brian was visiting his step sister and her family in Austin, I made a trip up to Salt Lake City to visit with Demaree, Marco, and Elliot, and to also attend the Affirmation conference. It was great catching up with them and being able to see their house. In between sessions of the conference, I was also able to visit with my old co-workers from San Angelo, who had moved to SLC.

The Affirmation conference was incredibly uplifting for me and I felt like it was something I really needed spiritually. Steve Young and his wife, Barb, were the keynote speakers. Along with the Youngs, I was able to listen to Carol Lynn Pearson, Judy Finch, and Benji Schwimmer, as well as participate in an incredible testimony meeting. They also had several group workshops during the weekend ranging in topics like "Growing Up LGBT and Mormon in America" and "Restoring Your Relationship with the Church." I was very impressed at the number of supportive family members there. Being able to talk to several parents who were just addressing this issue in their family for the first time gave me hope that more and more members of our faith are learning to open their hearts on this issue. If anyone is interested, you can watch several portions of the conference on Affirmation's Youtube channel.

Anyways, it has been great catching up with everyone! Hopefully we will be able to see several of you during the holidays this year. 

Evan and Brian

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Attempt to Donate Blood

Last week, I participated in the National Gay Blood Drive.

Despite my parents almost regularly participating, I have never donated blood. Originally, I did not donate due to thought of blood being drained out of my body and my fear of passing out. But eventually, I became no longer eligible to donate due to being considered a risk since I would be an MSM donor (men who have sex with men).

So I headed to Houston's Med Center during my lunch break, took a rapid HIV test, attempted to donate blood at the blood center with my HIV- result in hand, and was denied. The local CBS affiliate, KHOU, happened to be there and wanted to interview me about my experience (video in the link):
HOUSTON -- Opponents of a federal ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men are demonstrating around the country.
Evan Clayson believes donating blood is an “important cause.”
“I grew up in a family where my parents would donate regularly,” Clayson said.
However, Clayson is unable to donate blood because of his sexual orientation.
The FDA said its policy is "based on the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex."
“All we can do is tell the donors that those are the regulations,” said Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center employee Dr. Beth Hartwell. "It's what we have to follow."
Clayson disagrees with the ban.
"There is an obvious discrimination within their regulations," Clayson said.
In the national gay blood drive, potential donors who are gay men are tested for HIV first. Their test results then forwarded to the FDA hoping to show how many more donors could be out there.
The goal is to show the U.S. Food and Drug Administration how much donor blood could be added to the nation's supply if gay and bisexual men could donate. That population faces an indefinite or lifetime deferral on blood donations.
I understand why the FDA put the ban on gay men in the first place. Not much was known about AIDS and HIV when the epidemic hit its stride. But as people suffered, medical science has progressed enough to the point where we know a lot about the disease. Every blood transfusion is screened. People can be tested for HIV. And the risk of someone unknowingly donating HIV+ blood is extremely slim. I hold the belief that this ban should be based on risky sexual behavior in general. Considering the fact that the American Red Cross is often short of blood, the FDA needs to allow as many eligible people to donate as possible.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wedding, My Family, and Facebook

When people say to not take social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ seriously, I take the stance that they are very much behind the times. Social networking is having a huge impact on how we interact with each other, how news is shared, and how change can be made. I am relatively passionate on this stance. These are powerful tools and what is being shared by the users on these sites should not be ignored.

Thus, I was thrilled to be asked by the Facebook people to share my story about how Facebook played a part in our wedding. I am also happy about the fact that the article couldn't have been published at a better time. So if you want to read my super condensed, slightly edited, 1000-word story on Prop 8, the wedding, my family, and Facebook, check it out at Facebook Stories.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Family Letter 2nd Quarter 2013

Hello everyone!

Not a lot has happened since I last wrote.

Work seems to be going well for me. They have given me some larger projects that have kept me very busy, so I haven't had a lot of time for extracurricular things. Brian, too, has been busy with work. He has been a lead for several projects, which has been stressful for him. He is considering getting into more of a development role at work since he believes he might enjoy that more.

In April we decided to adopt a dog named Shadow from the local humane society. He is a black retriever mix and will be one year old next month, so he has a bit of puppy still left in him. So far, he has chewed up my pillow, the couch pillows, some socks, a part of a comforter, and he put a hole in the couch. Oh, he also has killed some of our newly sodded grass. But he also gives us lots of love and he is very fun to play with.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I spent some time in San Angelo so I could see some family and friends. I was also able to visit my new niece, who is a total cutie!

The boys finished both school and Little League, which means summer time is here! Last week, we decided to take them to Dallas, which was new to them. We spent a few days at Six Flags, had dinner at Medieval Times, and checked out the Perot Museum.  They have a busy summer that will consist of baseball camps, museum camps, and a trip or two to Schlitterbahn. Summer time is also great because we can have them over and not have to worry about getting homework done!

Anyways, I think that's it for us. It's been great hearing from everyone so far. Take care!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Spoke Too Soon

We were just about to leave for a Little League game yesterday when we heard a knock on the door. I peaked through the side window and saw two men in white shirts, ties, and dark pants. It was them. It was the missionaries from my last post I thought would probably never actually come and visit. They drove out to our neighborhood and stopped by our house unexpectedly.

I told Brian I would get the door because it was the Mormon missionaries. I took a breath and opened the door. "Hello! How are you guys!"

I stared at two guys. One looked to be your typical young Mormon straight from the motherland in Utah: short blondish-brown hair, tall, pale skin, thin, perfect white teeth, and blue eyes (like me, but more of that Utah glow I suppose). He seemed nervous and I could tell he must have been a greenie. The other, obviously the senior companion, was a bigger guy, black, shorter than his companion, and probably not from Utah.

"Hi! Is there an Evan here?"

It wasn't a scripted response. I noticed their silver car parked in front. They weren't just perusing the neighborhood. They wanted to see me.

"Yes, that's me."

As Brian was holding Shadow back in the hallway, they introduced themselves to me.

"Hi, I'm Elder A___ and this is my companion Elder T___."

I shook each of their hands and said it was nice to meet them. Then there was a little bit of an awkward silence. I couldn't invite them in because we were about to leave, so I was waiting for them to say the next thing so I could explain that we were just about to head out the door.

"We were just checking in and wondering if we could talk with you." 

"We are about to leave actually, but I would not mind visiting with you guys another time."

"Sure, we can do that. When are you available?"

I looked back at Brian. "When is our next free date?"

Today (Thursday) we are going to a birthday dinner for one of the boys. Friday we may be going to a playoff game. There is another game on Saturday and that is the day we also try to catch up on everything around the house and spend time with friends we never get to see. What about Sunday? Do missionaries even do this kind of thing on Sundays? Maybe not.

After thinking my schedule out loud while looking at Brian, I eventually responded. "How about Monday. I get home around 5:30 everyday. So any time after that is fine."

"Sure. Is 6 okay?"

"Yeah, that will work. It was good seeing you two."

"Ok. I hope you have a nice evening. We'll see you next week."

As they walked back to their car, I noticed how hot and humid it was outside. That poor greenie from Utah is definitely not used to this weather.

"Do you guys need a bottle of water or anything?"

"No we are fine. Have a good evening."

I closed the door and looked at Brian. "I can't believe they drove out this way without giving us any warning. I feel bad that they wasted their time."

"Well, they probably should have called ahead of time. Should we hold hands next time they visit?"

 I never went on a mission, but I would go out with the missionaries to talk with potential converts a few times in the past. Seven years ago, I could not have pictured myself being on the other side of the door.

I am not sure what I am going to say to them or what they want to say to me. I will probably respond with a simplified version of my last post. But outside of that, I am not sure. I do not want to shove my issues in their face, but I do want to be honest. And no, Brian and I won't be holding hands.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Families Are Together Forever, Unless...

I was with the boys and Brian getting in the car after having some frozen yogurt when they called. My phone started ringing and I pulled it out to look at the number displaying on the screen. All I recognized was the Houston area code, but I decided to answer anyways.


"Hi, is this Evan?"

"Yes. I'm sorry. Who is this?"

"The missionaries. How are you doing?"

The kids were joking and laughing with each other in the back, which proved to give me difficulty of hearing the man speaking on the other end of the line.

"I'm doing well. I'm sorry, who?"

"It's the missionaries. We were just in the neighborhood and wondering if we could stop by."

"Oh, cool. I'm actually not home right now, but you are welcome to come over another time. I have moved a few times in the last couple of years. What address do you guys have for me?"

They repeated the address of the apartment I shared with Brian in Greenway Plaza. Two thoughts came across my mind when I heard this:

  1. I don't remember ever updating my records with this address. I am almost positive I never did this myself. 
  2. Were they really in the area? Greenway Plaza is mostly just office space with a handful of apartment complexes thrown in. I doubt these complexes allow solicitors. But maybe they were visiting a member in the area. Because I have never been a missionary, I wonder if missionaries tend to say these sort of things for the sake of making their visits appear more convenient.

I gave them my new address and they said they would check in with me another time. 

I still struggle with my Mormon identity. This faith upbringing was what my life growing up was centered around and it is something I just can't throw away or forget. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like attending regularly again, but for the last few years, every time I go I feel more out of place. If these missionaries actually decided to visit with me, how would I present myself? What would I say? So as I was writing this entry, I made a list of multiple reasons why I struggle to be an active Mormon. But there was one reason in particular that was so glaring to me and I believe this is the root reason why I have a hard time going:

Some families are together forever.

There is this church video from the nineties, "On the Way Home," about the conversion of a family who had a young daughter who died in a bike accident. Was I the only one that watched it dozens of times to the point where I could at one time recite the lines?

 So the entire premise of the the sweet and syrupy film is that a family, who are struggling to get over their daughter/sister's death, begins taking the discussions with the missionaries. This eventually leads to the entire family being baptized and the film ends giving viewers (especially potential converts) hope that they can be with their families forever.

During one of the discussions the family is having with the sister missionaries, one of the sisters states:
"Family relationships don't have to end in death. Through prophets, God has restored the knowledge that a husband and wife can be married for eternity. And God has promised... that their family relationships can endure forever. Not just death till you part... You can see your sister again!... I know you will be with your daughter again."

The concept of the eternal family really is beautiful. This a very core belief found in the Church and I believe it is a very valid reason for Mormons to cling to their faith. In fact, I still believe in the concept of eternal families. But I just cannot come to terms with the Mormon thought process on how God judges the make-up of families.

There are a lot of conditions where an entire family unit cannot qualify as an "eternal family" in the eyes of Mormonism; some families deal with divorce while others may have a parent or child who leaves Mormonism behind. Sure, in the eyes of the member, these families still have hope in the long run. A family member can return to the fold or a divorce could be fixed or could essentially work out for the better. But what about family units with same-sex parents? They certainly exist and good examples can be found here, here, and here.

In "On the Way Home", what if the family was headed by a gay couple? Would the dialog from the sister missionary change? Would the sister missionaries even bother to teach the family? Would there be no hope for the parents and their kids to see their deceased daughter again? There certainly are many same-sex headed households with children. According to the Mormon faith, it is impossible for these families to be together forever, even if every member of that household is more righteous than most members of the church,  even if the couple vowed for lifelong celibacy, and even if the same-sex headed family did convert to Mormonism. It won't happen. They will not go to the Celestial Kingdom as a family unit. As far-fetched as this sounds, how is this fair to a non-LDS same-sex couple interested in converting? How is it fair to their children?

I can get over some of the weird historical claims found in Mormonism. I can get over the fact that I have had to deal with less-than-kind members who justify their attitude because they think Boyd K. Packer says it is okay. Although it is still an open wound, I know I can get over Proposition 8. But I cringe and cannot get over the empty pit I get in my stomach when I see the Proclamation to the Family. Unless I were to do an about-face on the direction of my life and somehow justify the expected depression and self-loathing I would later deal with, there is no hope for me to be a part of an eternal family in the eyes of Mormonism.

Out of all the blog posts I have read and out of all the Facebook discussions I follow in these progressive Mormon groups, I have never noticed this hypothetical situation brought to the table. Maybe I am just weird and the only one who thinks about it. Am I the only one? I know there are some active Mormons who are in a same-sex relationship. Don't they worry about how the LDS Church defines a family?

Whatever the case, I believe in a fair and just God. I feel like in God's eyes, the gender make up of a couple means little to Him and what matters most is the love displayed within that family unit. So in the eternal perspective, I am not worried. :-)

(Edit: Two months later and the missionaries still have not called me back.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Our New Pet, Shadow

I have been sitting on an entry I have wanted to post over a week ago, but alas I have not yet finished it. So I will delay that entry further by sharing a big announcement in our household. We adopted a dog this past weekend! He is an eleven month old retriever mix named Shadow. Isn't he adorable?
We picked him up at the Houston Humane Society and he has been doing surprisingly well! He is already potty trained, he sleeps in his bed, he knows a few basic commands, and he reacts great around other pets and people.  We think we picked a good choice and are looking forward to raising him for years to come

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter at the Lake

Brian has been part a of a tradition with the boys where they go out to Lake Livingston for Easter weekend. His ex-wife's parents own a lake house up there, so it always makes for a great time to bond with the kids and that part of the family. Last year, I became apart of said tradition.

See? You do not have to drive that far from Houston to find natural beauty... okay, almost natural beauty. Lake Livingston is a man-made lake. In fact, in order to have it made, a whole town had to be flooded. I suppose it's not anywhere natural. But it's still pretty out there!

Tim took up archery recently. The Boy Scout in me became all excited as I helped him with his target practice.

The boys are also quite the fishermen. This is probably their favorite activity to do while at the lake, and it's not hard to tell why when they are catching something every five minutes!

That night, we commenced with the egg dyeing...

...followed by a game of Parcheesi, which we never finished. They blamed it on me and the blockade I formed. What can I say? When you grow up with nine siblings, a competitor spirit is natural to have. But it's pretty lame that we weren't able to determine a winner.

The Easter Bunny came by the lake house at some point that night. Among the candy and trinkets were two Angry Birds themed kites.

Shortly after I took this photo, poor Jordan accidentally let go of his Angry Bird. The handle got caught on a power line on the other side of the house and the bird remained in flight for at least a couple of more hours until the wind died down

We left as a thunderstorm came rolling in. Although it wasn't quite as impressive as a West Texas thunderstorm, it was still a rather fascinating view:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Family Letter: 2nd Quarter, 2013

Preface: Every quarter, my family keeps up with each other by sending out a mass e-mail updating everyone about what has happened since the previous letter. Since I have several friends who are not on that e-mail list, I share my (slightly modified) family letter here for them to read.

Hello everyone!

A lot of things have kept us busy since I last wrote, but here's a quick update on what has been going on for us in Houston.

This past Christmas was my first to be away from family in San Angelo. While we certainly missed seeing family there, we really enjoyed being able to celebrate Christmas day with Brian's kids and his side of the family. 

Our big Christmas present was the new house, which we have been enjoying. I have spent several hours developing a green thumb by learning how to care for all of the plants in the backyard. We have a grapefruit tree that needed some serious pruning, and some palms that weren't taken very well care of by the previous owners. But so far, none of the plants have shown signs of dying, so I must be doing at least a decent job. Last month, Brian and his dad made a plan on how we would replace the backside of the fence, which was falling apart. With the help from friends, we spent most of this past weekend putting up the fence, and are very happy with the results. Now we are thinking about the projects we would like to do during the summer and we can't wait to make good use out of the pool.

After a year and a half of being engaged, Brian and I finally married in New York City on March 12th, so that's the biggest news we have! Although it doesn't mean much for us in Texas legally, we are still very happy to have made the commitment. We both have always loved New York, so that's why we chose to have it done there. We appreciate the support we have received from family and friends throughout this.

Since we would love to have something more than just a couple of friends attend a ceremony in a city clerk's office, we are planning for a wedding/reception here in Houston for October. We would love to see whatever friends and family can make it that day.

Outside of the wedding, we had a wonderful time visiting the city. Newsies on Broadway was incredible and I can't wait to see it again (I'm still singing the songs in my head). Instead of going up the Empire State Building, we opted to go to Top of the Rock, which was very cool. Despite the fact that neither of us have really seen the movies, we checked out the Harry Potter exhibit for the sake of being able to find a nice souvenir for Jordan. I had a photographer friend who happens to live there, so we were able to get him to take some nice pictures of us in Central Park, in an area called DUMBO (in Brooklyn), and along the Brooklyn Bridge. The pictures turned out very nicely!

Brian's ex-wife put the boys in a church basketball league in January, which they loved. Because of that, they now spend at least an hour or two every weekend we have them playing basketball in the driveway. Basketball finished and they recently started Little League again, which keeps them very busy. They both won their first games and are doing very well so far. Tim is breezing through the 2nd grade, and loves reading and science. We are looking forward to Jordan finishing the 4th grade (I seriously can't believe how much homework he gets every night!). Jordan loves science and math.

When he isn't playing sports or doing school work, Tim spends the majority of time reading and playing Wii U. He recently told me he wants to read all of the Hunger Games books, followed by the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and then all of the Harry Potter books. I haven't read any of these, so my plan is to read them at the same time so we can discuss them as we go. Hopefully, we can make it through all of those books! Jordan has a fascination with both X-Men and Harry Potter right now. He loves watching the old X-Men cartoons on Netflix and has started collecting Harry Potter wands and other memorabilia. 

I think that's it! We have enjoyed reading other people's letters and catching up.

Much love,
Evan & Brian

Monday, March 25, 2013

Husband in New York (My "What's It Like to Be Married" Post)

Professional photos done by Michael Wiltbank.

Did you know that according to Hindu tradition, rain on a wedding day is a sign of good things to come? Outside of my lucky blue striped underwear, I am not a huge fan of that kind of superstition. But I suppose I will take the Hindu belief to heart and consider myself a lucky guy this time around.

I find it difficult to write this post because I am afraid I cannot adequately express how I feel after exchanging vows of commitment with Brian.

There was a time years ago when my future terrified me. It looked like a blank, empty canvas which seemed destined for emptiness forever. I felt as if I could not and did not deserve to share a life with the person I loved. That feeling of loneliness made me worry for my future and I would often find myself in regular deep depressions that I would try to cover up through school or work.

Now I see my life canvas full of vibrancy and there is a picture there of what the future could be if I keep pushing forward and continue painting. I actually started to notice the color before I ever met Brian because eventually, after making several necessary changes in my life, I allowed myself to be happy. I came to a realization that what others thought of me, even if they were my siblings or close "friends", did not really matter. I did not have to accept the crumbs of love with verbal "buts" attached to them. Fortunately, I found more friends, support, and examples in person and online to counter the ones I lost. These are the family and friends that accepted me completely and helped me climb over my own personal brick walls.

Brian and I both came from backgrounds full of adversity. We both grew up going to church regularly where people did not tend to look favorably towards gay people. I, Mormon. Brian, Assembly of God. We both were raised in families where money was hard to come by and budgets were tight. We both have dealt with depression and a lack of total support from some family members after coming out. Brian's coming out resulted into a divorce which caused him to have to juggle financing two households, school, and a solid relationship with his two very young boys. When I hear his stories, I feel like my trials paled in comparison to his.

But as Kelly Clarkson once said on the Top 40 radio way too often: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Adversity can be a good thing.

One of the most frequent questions I have been asked since returning from New York is: "How does it feel to be married?"

I always find myself pondering the best way to answer this question. In reality, the service was quick and easy. After receiving our marriage license the previous day, we returned to the City Clerk's office with our witnesses on a cold, rainy morning. We were greeted warmly by the employees there, given a ticket, and waited on a long green bench until they called our ticket number, "C62." After our number was called, we were greeted by the justice of the peace who showed us to the chapel room where he gave us few minutes to prepare.

When the JP returned, he gave us a few instructions and asked how we would like to proceed with the ceremony: Do we want to look at each other or at him? Each other. Do we want to place our rings on the stand or have a witness give them to us? We'll just leave them on the podium.

We believe the JP may have been an aspiring Broadway star or a theater school dropout. As he went through the vows, I could not help but look at him sometimes because of how much he exaggerated each line like a soulful pastor in a Southern Baptist Church. It all went by so fast though. Before I could fully feel the emotions of what was happening, Brian and I had already said our "I do"s, exchanged the Tungsten rings, and kissed before the minister and our witnesses. The minister congratulated us and handed us our official marriage certificate.

Yes, I know. That all might sound underwhelming. In fact, the individual act of going to the City Clerk's office was honestly underwhelming. No one cried tears of joy. We did not spend an hour taking pictures afterwards. There was no massive reception to look forward to. But we did take a quick trip to a bakery called Bruno's for lunch and celebratory wedding cake, which was absolutely delightful and delicious.

Having said all of that, I cannot help but feel like we took a monumental step forward. I mean, we did it! Despite the fact that the legal eyes of Texas does not give an iota about our marriage certificate, several other states do see Brian as my husband. The certificate is something tangible and we have already proudly showed it off to the kids (honestly, they were far more interested in the souvenirs we bought them).

But the meaning of this commitment is deeper than just a piece of paper. I find our wedding special because of the work it took to get to that point and the significant moments Brian and I have shared that have allowed us to grow as a couple.

I remember the time when we had our first date at Star Pizza. Most of our conversation was centered around techie things and our backgrounds. Somewhere within those few hours together, I had a feeling Brian was someone I should continue to pursue. Luckily, he felt the same way about me.

Or the time when we had our first Valentine's Day dinner together, which also happened to be the first time I have been able to properly celebrate Valentine's Day with another person.

The time when we took a weekend trip to San Antonio and I accidentally tasted alcohol for the first time while in our hotel. I spat it out immediately, told Brian his Gatorade/Vodka (or whatever the heck was in it) was disgusting, and once again swore to never drink.

The time when we had a rooftop dinner on top of the town home I rented a room out of. This was also the time when I proved myself to not be a skillful cook.

The time when I first met his kids one summer Saturday and we spent the entire day together at a local water park.

The time during our first long vacation together in California when Brian proposed to me in the cool, quiet night out in the courtyard of our hotel in Carmel.

The time when I first took him home to meet my extended family during Thanksgiving. And the time soon after when our car broke down in Brady, TX on a Sunday while attempting to return to Houston.

The time when my grandmother passed away and he was there to help comfort me every step of the way.

All of the times when we have had deep discussions about religion, career plans, the kids, our families, and our life together.

The time when we first walked into our new home with his boys shortly after becoming new home owners.

The time just two weeks ago when we were sitting together on a plane going to New York, holding each other's hand, and thinking about what we would soon be doing in a few days. All of these past significant moments that built our relationship led to the single most significant moment in the chapel of the City Clerk's office.

Although not many of our friends and none of our family could be in New York for us, we certainly felt the love and support online and by phone. To my amazement, several of my siblings congratulated us and even publicly announced our commitment on their own Facebook walls. A comment my very-much-a-Mormon Dad wrote on Brian's wall was much appreciated and meant a lot to us:
"Congratulations Brian, I am proud to call you one of my sons."
We feel very lucky and blessed to receive the kind of support we do. Of course, we want people who have expressed support to witness our commitment in person, so we will soon be very busy planning a wedding ceremony and reception here in Houston this fall. Maybe by then, our piece of paper from New York will at least mean something in the eyes of the federal government. But if not, we still plan to always be stuck with each other! :-)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Senator Portman and the Golden Rule

I woke up to the news this morning that Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman has reversed his views on same-sex marriage after his son, Will, came out to him as gay. Obviously, voicing such a controversial change does not come without it's critics. Some claim his morals are too malleable. Some say that he should support his constituents, even if these views affect the rights of minorities. Some welcome the change, but criticize him for only making the change since it affected his own son.

Personally, I can't help but smile over this, not because we now have yet another Republican on our side, but because of the story behind it. Imagine the pressure of being the gay son of a top ranking conservative senator. Now picture the pressure of being the only senator to break party lines on a controversial issue that will be hitting the Supreme Court in a few weeks. That's enough stress to make anybody go nuts!

But Will Portman overcame the fear and decided to be honest with his dad, who then handled the news like a champ. Despite the risk of losing his political career and being openly criticized by social conservative groups, other fellow politicians, and random online commentators, Sen. Portman provides his reasoning for supporting same-sex marriage in a way I could not have worded better myself:
"The overriding message of love and compassion that I take from the Bible, and certainly the Golden Rule, and the fact that I believe we are all created by our maker, that has all influenced me in terms of my change on this issue."
That's it. The Golden Rule. The number one thing (at least in my opinion) that Christians and other people of faith are losing sight of today. The rule that states: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." You can't get any more Christian than that!

It's unfortunate that some people will miss the lesson that can be learned from all of this due to not being able to see through the politics. What an awesome example of a good parent and what a wonderful family that must be. Thank you, Will and Rob Portman!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Explaining Our Wedding to the Kids

There was one time about a year ago when Brian said to the boys "You know Evan and I are more than just friends, right? We are more like mommy and your step-dad." They responded that they understood, but they have never asked about us or why we are together. Brian and I say "I love you" to each other regularly in front of the boys without hesitation. We are not afraid to show affection and they know we sleep in the same bed. The boys definitely know that we are together and I am not just daddy's "good friend."

With our civil marriage coming up, I started to ask Brian about whether or not we should explicitly bring up the fact that we are gay with the kids. I felt like we were serving an injustice by not talking about our wedding and I feared that we were adding to the possible shame they might feel about the subject because we were never talking about it openly.

A few weekends ago, we were driving Jordan across town for a birthday party. As we drove along the beltway, we had some light conversation about the party until Jordan became preoccupied with his iPod. I realized this was the perfect time to bring our wedding into discussion. It was just Jordan and we still had at least half an hour before we would arrive at our destination. I looked at Brian and he got my cue. He started the conversation like he did a year ago: "Jordan, you know Evan and I are more than just friends, right?"

Jordan glanced up from his iPod and let out what seemed to be a hesitant "yes." There was this immediate quiet, awkwardness that entered the air. Uh oh. Please, God, don't let this be traumatic for anyone.

 Brian continued. "Well, do you know the best word to describe us?"

Jordan quietly replied "Daddy, I know your secret."

 Uh oh. A secret? This was exactly what we did not want the boys to think of this.

 "Jordan, it's not a secret."

 "Well, I know you're gay."

I finally chimed in: "Right! And you know what, there is no shame in being that way. You know that right?"

Jordan looked at me through the rear-view mirror a little less awkward. "Sorry, I did not mean to use the word 'secret.' I know it's not a bad thing. I just was not sure if it was okay for me to talk about."

 What?! Where was he getting that impression?

 "Well, why do you feel that way?" Brian asked.

Jordan let out a sigh. "Sometimes the kids at school make fun of me and my friend at school and they call us gay because we play together."

Of course he felt this way because of his peers at school. I have always found it funny that social conservative Christians are paranoid that one day educators in public schools will teach children about gay people. Heads up, y'all! They are already learning about what it means to be gay. And they are learning it from other kids who tend to insert as much shame as possible into the subject by calling each other gay, homo, and fag without thinking twice about the damage the careless use of those words can cause.

Last summer, Jordan's mom shared a story with us where he stood up to a bully for calling another kid gay at school. This made us incredibly proud, so when we had Jordan we decided to try and ask him about it. We could not get him to openly talk about what happened, until we sort of brought up the incident specifically. He treated it like it was no big deal and it was clear he did not want to talk about. We should have had the discussion we were having in the car back then. Why didn't we?

"So what do you do about those kids, Jordan?" Brian asked.

"Well, I tell them to stop and to not use that word, but that doesn't work. So I tried telling the teachers, but they don't really do much. They just tell them to stop, too. But the kids keep making fun of us."

"Well, you know, I wish your teachers would do more. You understand that these other kids are using that word in a mean way, right? It's okay to be gay, but it's not okay to put someone down just because they are gay."

Jordan obviously understood what the kids were doing was wrong. But it seemed like he was having a hard time getting over the shame his peers were putting on the subject. I then tried to explain that there are a lot of good people who happen to be gay: the parents of the friend whose birthday party we were attending, the two moms of the twins on his old Little League team, and even the mayor of Houston, Annise Parker. When I mentioned women, Jordan looked at me funny again.

"Wait, but I thought the mayor is a girl?"

"Yes, but some women can be attracted to other women. They can be gay, too. Being gay just means you are attracted to people of the same gender." I tried to keep it as simple as possible for him. I then went on to explain that there would be a good chance he might have some friends who come out as gay when he gets older. As we talked, he slowly started to feel more comfortable about what we were telling him. When it was all said and done, Brian and I both expressed our love for him and that we cared about him.

"We want you to know that we love you, Jordan, and we wish you could be in New York with us. But we promise to do something here in town for you to see. Do you have any questions about anything?"

"Nope." He returned to his iPod game until we reached the birthday party.


Talking to Tim about us was much easier. We had the boys over last week when Tim asked about where I stood in the family. It was the perfect opportunity to explain our family. I looked at Brian. He knew this was the time to have a discussion, too.

"Tim, you know Evan and I are more than just friends, right? We are more like mommy and your step-dad."


Jordan became overwhelmed excitement when he realized what was about to be discussed. "Ooh! I want to tell him! Tim, come over here and I'll tell you!" he yelled from the kitchen table.

"It's okay, Jordan. Let me talk to him. Tim, you know how we are going to New York, right?"


"Do you know why?"


"Because Evan and I are going to get married."

Tim looked a bit puzzled. Uh oh. Was this going to be heavy like our conversation with Jordan?

"Why can't you just get married here?"

Phew. He was not confused about the thought of us being married. He was confused about why we wanted to travel over 1,600 miles to get married.

"Well, right now, Texas does not recognize gay people who decide to get married. It is not legal."

"Ok. Well, can you bring me a souvenir?"

"Of course! We'll bring you both something back." They both cheered with excitement.

I then made the same promise I made to Jordan. "You two know that we will eventually have a wedding here in Houston. That way you can be there to see it. We will even have a reception with cake!" The mention of dessert brought cheers and excitement again.

Tim then asked if he and Jordan could go with us to New York when they get older.
"Sure! We can show you everything!" I replied. (Any excuse to visit the Big Apple.)

And that was that. Right now, I feel kind of bummed that they can't be there for the ceremony. That's the main reason we want to have a wedding closer to home. But I really, really wish they could be there. I want them to go to the Top of the Rock with us. I want them to witness the greatness that is Newsies. I want to take them to see Tim's favorite landmark, the Statue of Liberty.  I want them there for the pictures Brian and I will take together. I want them to see where we will be getting married. Sure, it might not be a church or a temple or some massive cathedral; we are just getting married in a city clerk's office. But that place will always be special to me and Brian. It's a place where a promise will be made in a few weeks between us: a promise of commitment and love towards each other; a promise the boys deserve to see.

Monday, February 18, 2013

And Then He Asked: "How's Your Family?"

I was pretty surprised and confused when the second counselor of the bishopric friended me on Facebook. First off, I had never met the guy. Maybe this was some sort of outreach since I rarely ever go to any sort of church service now. But what was even more weird were the friends I had in common with him: John Dehlin, Joanna Brooks, Carol Lynn Pearson, Kendall Wilcox, and just about any other progressive Mormon you could think of that has been in the mainstream media at some point.

I thought this was odd, so I decided to message him about our common progressive friends. This soon led to an invitation to chat over lunch or before church services. I had a gut feeling that Brother M was a strong ally and I did not want to limit our time together over lunch, so I accepted an offer to show up before church meetings. I wanted to talk his ear off and figure out where he was on the progressive front.

The following Sunday was the first Sunday for me to step foot in an LDS Church in about six months. As I looked for Brother M's office, a guy from the ward approached me and figured he probably knew me since I obviously wasn't there for the Spanish speaking ward and I clearly was not dressed like a random investigator.
"Wait.. don't tell me.. you're Chris, right?" 
 "Hey! No, it's Evan."
"Oh yeah, that's right! How have you been?"
... I assured myself that I have never met this guy in my life and was wondering why he pretended to know me. But I continued the conversation politely until Brother M was available.

Once Brother M came over to introduce himself, we decided to sit in the closed-off foyer. I won't go into the details of what we talked about, but he did say he really liked the work John Dehlin has done with Mormon Stories and appreciated Kendall Wilcox's efforts to increase dialogue within the church about LGBT issues. After I admittedly stated that I was not really sure where I was spiritually, he stressed the importance of me always having a connection to God in whatever way worked for me and he hoped that I would always feel welcomed to attend the ward. I left the conversation deciding that I really liked this guy. I talked about how I was engaged to Brian and he didn't flinch. He seemed to understand where I was with Mormonism and there was no guilt or shame projected, just encouragement.

Since I was there, I decided to attend sacrament meeting. I walked in the chapel, sat in an empty pew and waited for a friend. Two guys I had never met walked over to me, introduced themselves, and then asked if I would like to help pass sacrament. With a smile on my face, I said no thank you.  And then an acquaintance I have known since first attending the ward happened to sit in the pew in front of me.
"Hey Evan! Good to see you! How have you been? How's the family?"
Wait. What did he mean? Was he referring to my immediate family? He doesn't even know who they are! Is he referring to Brian and the boys? Is that okay for a Mormon to ask that sort of question?
Still confused, I managed to get out a "They're great!"
"How's Brian?"
A little bit more dumbfounded, I answered "Yeah, he's doing well, too. We moved into a house not long ago, so we have been settling in. How have you been?"

Did I really just have this conversation about my family in the chapel of a Mormon Church? I let that thought settle in. I get that Mormonism as a whole will probably never accept my family the way they do other families; we will probably never have the opportunity to be sealed in a temple and the prophet will probably never openly say anything like what was said in 1978 regarding full fellowship of black members. I get it. It's not like I am expecting Brian or the kids to even baptize into the church if such a prophetic vision lifting policies were to come about anyways. But what I had witnessed felt like a glimpse of a different kind of Mormonism. It was a crumb of the kind of Mormonism many LGBT members hope for when first coming to terms with their identities. It was the kind of Mormonism where it truly did not matter who I was. 

Since that sacrament meeting, I have wondered what it would be like if every person in a leadership role had the attitude of Brother M. What if every member had the mindset of the member who so candidly asked how every aspect of my life was without dodging around Brian? What if every stake was like our stake president and was openly and willingly interested in helping the LGBT community feel more accepted? I wonder what sort of impact that would have on membership in the LDS Church. Where would my spirituality be if instead of rejection, people like me received a full embrace? Although Mormonism in its current state is not the best option for me and my family, Brother M hoped that I would feel welcomed at church. During that service, I felt welcomed. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Never Stop Rocking

Jordan, the older of the two kids, was sitting on the rocking chair glued to the Mario game on TV. He was also actively (almost violently?) rocking the chair back and forth.

"Jordan, can you stop rocking so much on the chair, please?" I asked.


Five minutes passed and he was violently rocking on the chair again.

I cringed a little. "Jordan, you need to stop rocking so hard on the chair. It's not designed for that and could break." Holy crap, I sound like my Dad!

"Sorry." He stopped and continued to play.

Another five minutes passed and he seemed to have forgotten what I just asked him to do.

"Jordan, please go sit on the couch instead. You can't rock on that chair like that."

Almost shocked that I was making him switch chairs, Jordan looked at me and proclaimed that my request was unfair.

"Just give me another chance!"

"I gave you enough chances. Go sit on the couch."

World War III was about to erupt. Arguing commenced with his belief that he didn't get enough "chances" and he refused to sit on the couch. I started to get really upset to the point where I was practically yelling. I turned off the Wii U and made him go to his room to lay down.

I want the boys to learn and realize that their actions come with consequences, good or bad. But I also hate being mean. Like, I seriously just want to be known as a nice parent, not just one who disciplines. I know this is wrong and it's a serious weakness I deal with. I want to be the good cop only! Brian can be the bad cop ;-).

Ten minutes passed and I decided to go to Jordan's room to talk with him. We had a short discussion on the importance of listening to his parents and why it's not okay to be reckless on furniture.

Within thirty minutes he is totally good again and it was like nothing ever happened. I breathed a sigh of relief. Phew.. he doesn't hate me... yet.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dear BSA, Here are Some Things to Consider Over the Next Three Months

Dear Boy Scouts of America,

Everyone is talking about you again. Are you surprised that it happens to be due to the controversial subject on whether or not gay youth and adults can participate in Scouts? I think not.

I know you have had the chance to think about this ban for the last thirteen years, but for some reason you feel like you still need a little more time to reconsider. Here are some points worth noting over the next three months as you agonize on whether or not it is okay to lift the discriminatory policy on gay young people and leaders:

  •      We [the people who think the policy is unfair] are speaking out on this because we care about the Boy Scout program. We recognize the values the program instills and how the skills help us progress more richly in our education, our careers, and our relationships with others. Please do not feel like you are being "bullied." (Can we stop using this term when referencing organizations?) The real victims here are the individuals being kicked out of the program. Look at this as an opportunity to blaze a trail and to set an example as to what is right and fair to the young men in the program. This is a chance to help remove the stigma of shame centered around being gay.
  •      Being out is healthy. Being in the closet is not. We should not require gay Scouts and leaders to remain completely silent in regards to their orientation. Imagine asking straight Scouts to never talk about which girls they like at school or who they are dating. Or imagine telling Scout Leaders to never even mention their spouses or family in open discussion around other Scouts. Lifting this policy is not about opening the doors to sexual discussion or "cramming a lifestyle down people's throats." It's about letting people be who they are. It's about letting young men open up to issues related to orientation with trusted Scout leaders and friends. It's about parents, gay or straight, being as involved as they want to be in the Scouting program.
  •      Yes, there is a chance that a young man who happens to be gay will be sharing a tent with another Scout who is not. Heck, I shared a tent on almost every camp out I went on. But here is a little tidbit you should be aware of. Being gay is not all about sex. We are not pulling these youth out of athletic programs because we are scared of what might happen in the locker room, are we? We are not making separate restrooms just for them. When I came out to my friends family, I did not do so because I wanted to talk about sex. No gay person comes out for that reason. I came out because I wanted to be completely honest with them and I wanted them to be aware of that part of my identity.
  •      Ask yourself what "morally straight" means. Obviously, it doesn't mean "morally heterosexual." In fact, in the Scout Oath, morally straight means being honest, doing the right thing, and just being a genuinely good person. And I hope this is not news for you, but there are gay people that have a moral backbone and who have also had a positive impact on the world. Comedians and actors like George Takaei, Ellen Degeneres, and Ian McKellen. Political figures like Mayor Annise Parker, Joel Burns, and Tammy Baldwin. Tech gurus like Tim Cook, Gina Trapani, and Chris Hughes. Musicians and artists like Elton John, Pyotry Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and Andy Warhol. Scientists like Sally Ride and Alan Turing. Here's a whole list of them on Wikipedia!
  •      Under the current policy, awful people like Sandusky could have easily participated in Scouting. Period. The best thing to remove those kind of people are putting in place background checks that are more strict, something which you have already put in place. We are asking you to lift the ban on gay people, not child molesters. Please know that they are not at all the same, and in fact, research exists stating that it doesn't make sense to compare the two.
  •      From an LDS perspective, the current policy disqualifies faithful, temple recommend holders from being involved in Scouting. That means the Mitch Maynes, Josh Weeds, Ty Mansfields, and any of the faithful Mormons who are open about their identity on Northstar's Website cannot participate. Is this fair?
I know the decision this organization has to make is tough. I know not everyone will be happy no matter what choice is made. But ultimately the best decision here is the one that best follows the Golden Rule. It's the one that sets an example for Scouts all across the country on what common decency means. I hope this organization, which has taught so many youth to be leaders in the past, can now take a stand and be a leader on what it means to treat others fairly.

Evan Clayson
Eagle Award: 2003

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Seven Reasons Why Newsies is Better

Photo courtesy of

When people find out Brian and I are going to New York, this is a typical conversation that comes about:
"New York! How cool! Are you going to see Book of Mormon?"
"No, we are going to see Newsies instead."
*Weird face and awkward pause.*

I was eating lunch with a friend the other day and I brought up my concern about why people look at me so strangely when I tell them we are going to see Newsies. "When you tell people you are going to see Newsies, it's like telling them you are going to go see One Direction in concert." he said.

Yes, I get it. Newsies is a Disney production, thus it is guaranteed to be more "kid friendly." One Direction can be considered wholesome for kids, too, what with their youthful image and positive messages. But why is it people associate  "kid friendly" with "not so fun for grownups."

In response, I decided to create a slew of reasons why the 2012 Tony winner for "Best Musical", Newsies, is a much more preferable option  than the 2011 "Best Musical" winner, Book of Mormon. Of course, this is from the perspective of someone who has seen neither production, but has listened to the soundtrack of each repeatedly. And I admit that all of these reasons are completely and totally subjective. I also reserve the right to change my stance if I ever happen to see both productions. :-)

So here are the seven reason why I would boff Elder Price and marry Jack Kelly:

1. It's easy to make kiddie entertainment. It's also easy to make adult potty humor and mature themed jokes. Want to know what's not easy? Creating entertainment that is suitable for children while at the same time making it fun for adults. 

2. Corey Cott as Jack Kelly will be amazing. Yeah, I know the original Jack Kelly, Jeremy Jordan, is no longer is in the show. He's onto bigger and better things now with the TV show Smash. But how could you say no to Corey Cott? He just has that "Darren Criss Appeal" about him:
Photo courtesy of

3. We don't have to sit there uncomfortably listening to a song that repeatedly says "$#*& you, God!" in Ugandan. Go ahead and call me a prude. I have listened to all of the other songs in Book of Mormon more than a dozen times each, I have probably only listened to this one once. Maybe it's my religious influence kicking in, but I just don't like it. Why pay such a high price for a show you already know you will not be able to completely enjoy?

5. Speaking of which, have you looked at the ticket prices for Book of Mormon? Please. And I'm not going to pay amounts that outrageous when the original cast members are not even performing anymore. Sorry. Perhaps I'll just go see it later this year when it comes to Houston.

6. The story is more applicable to our times. Sure, Book of Mormon actually has a shockingly decent moral message on what faith means. But Newsies is more of a David vs. Goliath story. Stand your ground! Fight for what's right! Stick it to the man! And do handsprings and cartwheels in the process!

7. Speaking of which, Newsies has super fit boys doing handsprings and cartwheels. Duh.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Is It Like to Be a Part-time Parent?

What is it like to be a part-time parent?

I can't answer that in one entry. In fact, if someone really wants to know the answer to that question, they'll have to keep following this blog or maybe get to know me preferably in a non-stalkerish way offline.

Like I said in my first post, Brian has two boys from his previous marriage. When I first found that out, I knew I wanted to date Brian. There's a lot to be said about a dad who has a great relationship with his kids. It's evidence of responsibility, commitment, and that he knows where his priorities should be. I knew I had to at least give him a chance. Obviously, I made the right decision. :-)

On the flip side, I was far more apprehensive about meeting Brian's kids than any of his friends or his ex-wife or his parents. In fact, I did not meet them until I had dated Brian for over six months. I felt like before meeting the most important two people in his life, I needed to make sure my relationship with Brian was solid; I needed to make sure he was the "real deal." I also realized that if my relationship with Brian was serious, my relationship with these two boys as a possible "step-dad" (a term I am not fond of) was just as important. Initially, I often worried that my relationship with Brian would be short and that the boys would get to know me for just a few months before I disappeared off the radar.

But what is it like to help raise these boys? Yeah, they are young, but I am twenty-five! Most of my friends either have no kids or kids who are just a couple of years old. Is it weird for me?

The quick answer is no, I don't feel weird or awkward around them. We love having them over. We love spending afternoons at the park or the museum. We love battling round after round in Mario Kart or seeing how tall we can get the Jenga tower before it crumbles to the ground. We love having milkshakes and a movie with them on the Friday nights we do have them.  I love helping them with their homework while Brian puts together dinner. And we love giving them responsibility by assigning them chores to do while staying with us. Their room better be clean before we have to take them back to Suburbia!

But despite only having the kids every Wednesday and every other weekend, I really underestimated how much personal free time I would be losing once I became included in their lives. If we have the kids on a weeknight or on a weekend, I officially declare that period of time in my mind as booked. "Family-friendly" entertainment is the only kind of entertainment allowed. Unless it's Chinese buffet, we rarely eat out with them. No shopping, unless we can separate the boys. No going out with friends either. On top of the days we have them over, there are also the activities the kids are involved in which require us to make regular trips to Suburbia: Little League, basketball, school functions, and more. I feel like I can now look at full-time moms and full-time dads with much greater appreciation. And although I have always been impressed with my parents for raising ten children, I now feel like I don't know how they managed to raise those ten kids without going bonkers.

I know. Full-time parents probably feel no pity for me and my part-time duties. But being a part-time parent kind of sucks, too. Sometimes I wonder how much of an impact we have with what goes on in their lives. I do get a little frustrated that I do not get as much of a say in what goes on. Not only am I (basically) their step-dad, but between their mom, their dad, and their other step-dad, I am the one that sees them the least, thus I am the one that often feels least involved. Ultimately, they always go back to their Suburbia home where they live by the rules of that house. Daily decisions and discipline are given by their parents there for at least two-thirds of the month.

The worst part of our days is the awkward silence of having no children in the house after we have taken them back to Suburbia. No yelling. No one running around. No one asking me for pretzel Goldfish. No one to clean up after and no one to play Clue with. Just silence. Brian and I sometimes talk about the possibility of us adopting or fostering another kid. I do not doubt that we would raise a child well with all of this part-time experience we are getting. But even the thought of having a child on a full-time basis brings about a bajillion other questions I could write multiple entries on.

Maybe just a dog to make some noise will be our only option if adoption is not in the cards for us.

Edit: I should point out that when I say "part-time" parent, I know some people might cringe. So I should clarify that although I do not see the boys on a full-time basis, my love for them is still full. I want to see them be happy and I want to witness their successes in life. When I say "part-time", it should be interpreted in a physical sense.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When Introducing Yourself...

One of the most daunting tasks for me to perform is initiating conversation. I just don't know how. How do I just go up to someone, say "hi", and then follow up with just some random question? What if I come off as weird or what if I choke in the process? I hate the anxiety I get when meeting new people. I hate that I so easily forget people's names because I am so busy making sure I don't look like a doofus when first introducing myself.

And like first conversations, I am not sure what exactly to share in the first post of my new blog. So I guess I'll start off with a basic introduction.

Hi! I'm Evan. I'm a mid-twenty-something year who is employed on the IT staff at a local university. I have lived in Texas forever and really don't ever plan on moving away for the sake of being relatively close to family and due to both mine and my fiance's career track. There's a lot of little things about me that make me unique. I am definitely a bit of a nerd. I own all three major consoles. I sometimes get these month long bursts where I become intensely interested in creating Android mobile applications. I think those bursts re-appear when I watch or read something along the lines of that film "The Social Network." The idea of developing something independently without restrictions and corporate money just seems a little bit of a thrill to me.  Right now mobile application development is on a hiatus because of the work required to create this blog.

I was raised Mormon and still have a level of respect for how I was raised and the history of my faith. I sometimes go on these stints where I meet with other disaffected Mormons about what it was like growing up that way. Never have I ever experienced a prolonged sense of being a TBM (True Blue Mormon? True Blood Mormon? True Believing Mormon? I still am not totally sure what that acronym means in Mormon circles). I still have my Book of Mormon (the actual book, not the musical) sitting on my shelf. I drink coffee every now and then, but only if it doesn't taste like dirt. Except for the few accidental moments, I have never tasted alcohol and don't ever plan to consume it unless someone happens to hand me an appletini while I'm watching a pride parade go by in Salt Lake City.

Like I said, I have a fiance named Brian. And he's a man... and yes, we are both gay. Kind of like Kurt and Blaine from Glee. Does that make you cringe? If so, just imagine us like you do your parents and don't worry about what goes on in the bedroom. Maybe that will help. We have been engaged for sixteen months and are planning on having a legal wedding ceremony in New York City this March.

Brian has also lived in Texas since the day of his birth, but has been even more limited to have only lived in the Houston area. He is on the IT staff of a fancy pants research center in the Medical Center. Brian is a nerd on a different front. He doesn't really care for video games, but loves science fiction movies.  He wants to have our entire home completely automated via his iPad and iPhone. I like to say that he is practically an Apple fanboy even though he still hasn't done his yearly iPhone upgrade. He also comes up with some of the most creative and interesting house projects... stuff I could never ever think up. Like what he did to our shower:

Brian used to be married to a woman who is now a wonderful ally and supporter of us. We both have a great relationship with her and her husband. Out of Brian's last marriage came two boys who are eight and nine. They primarily live out in the suburbs with their mom and step-dad, but we have the pleasure of having them over Wednesdays and every other weekend.

We all live in the massive Houston area and outside of the politics, we really do like living here. Most people in Houston seem to be very accepting of us. We love our friends. We like being close to Brian's parents and it's not absurdly far to see my parents on long weekends. We like the stable career environment we have here and find it unlikely that we will ever actually move away.

So that's an intro to who I am and a few of the important people in my life. Not too awkward, right?