October 6, 2016

I’m Voting For Donald Trump: Paid Opportunity

I’m curious why people are voting for Donald Trump. Please send submissions, any word count, to jeffrey.hartinger@gmail.com. These will be posted confidentially. For example:

“I’m voting for Donald Trump due to his experience in politics.” – Sarcastic Dude, 27, San Francisco, California.

But, don’t be sarcastic! It’s widely known that Mr. Trump has not worked in government in any fashion, so this would be an absurd reason.

Let me try that again:

“Donald Trump will get my vote due to his smart business practices.” – Girl Who Doesn’t Understand How The Economy Works, 22, Seattle, Washington.

No, he lost almost one billion dollars in 1995. Fuck taxes. Do you even know how many Beanie Babies he could have bought?

I want serious, valid reasons. I want people to defend their opinions!

For example:

“Respect for women? Baby, he’s got it!” – Aretha, 33, Des Moines, Iowa.

Ah, geez. I mean something like this:

“I’m voting for Donald Trump because he doesn’t flip-flop on major issues that will legitimately impact the lives of all Americans on the topics of the economy, environment and science, criminal justice, healthcare, privacy, education, immigration, religion and social issues, among other things.” – Hillary, 68, Chicago, Illinois.

On second thought, this is no longer a paid opportunity and I’m great and my boyfriend is handsome and things will be awesome and let’s build a fence around our yard and make our neighbors pay for it! #MakeJeffreysBlogGreatAgain

May 13, 2016

An Open Letter to Gay Millennials

There will always be animosity and strife within the gay community, but over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly dumbstruck at the vapid, self-righteous mentality of younger gay men in the United States.

We quickly ridicule those who are brash enough to give the LGBT community a critique, even those who have historically fought on our behalf.

Even as a progressive, gay liberal who has been out of the closest for the past decade, I can guarantee some social justice warriors will pick apart my beliefs. They’ll center on the fact that I had the nerve to call out unsavory behaviors that reinforce stereotypes and push those who could contribute to our continued struggle further into suppression.

Our generation should be driven towards intellectual development and social advancement, building on the tireless work of activists throughout American history. We need to question our peers, allowing for the cloud of superficiality to be lifted. We need clarity on the things that supposedly mean something to us.

Have you ever asked a friend why they admire Britney Spears? Write down ten things that you admire about her and the impact she’s had on the gay community. I’ll go first:

I admire that it only took a half dozen people to write the masterpiece, “Work Bitch.” I also admire that she’s pretty and fierce and rich and famous and, like, tons of other reasons. Did you note my sarcasm?

Similar to heterosexual Americans, we are so consumed by social media and constructing a world for others to envy that we float along with a distorted view of the world. We’re not aware of why we feel things, and as Donald Trump has continuously exemplified over the past few months, it’s now seemingly acceptable to make extremely general claims while giving no merit to these respective statements. This is shocking to me.

It’s also disrespectful to the first amendment to the United States Constitution.

Have we shifted to a culture where simply having a thought is good enough? More so, where an opinion is valued solely because someone has a view on a topic? That’s scary and detrimental to all, no matter your political affiliation or sexuality or gender.

We need to question ourselves and actions daily. We need to question others, even things that appear trivial.

That said, it’s not my intention to scapegoat gays who love Ms. Spears, but at 27-years-old, I think I’m getting to a place where I can say that some behaviors of the gay community are embarrassing; not because I’m a self-loathing dude with a bone to pick with those who exemplify stereotypes, but rather because we’re moving away from the strong, intellectual community of gay men that I thought existed.

It’s a pretty well-known fact (especially on social media) that if you’re providing gay men with unsolicited advice, feedback or insight, then you better be prepared to deal with the wrath of this alarmist group.

This behavior could be subconsciously rooted in our upbringings, as our lives were typically hidden from family, friends and peers during critical developmental. Positive reflections of the LGBT community for most Millennials came as we were entering young adulthood, usually a time when many American’s center on activism and finding their voice, especially for those who go on to attend college.

The internal battles during our youth has allowed us to become outspoken advocates with deep rooted emotions, but that is sometimes misdirected as we gang up on those who analyze our behavior, oftentimes labeling genuine people as “homophobic,” or grouping them with individuals who are actually evil and have an agenda against our community.

Similar to black and feminist Millennial activists, we’re sometimes misguided in our approaches to shaping the dialogue on social justice issues.

Rose McGowan, an long-time advocate for LGBT rights, drew ire when she made generalizations about gay men during a podcast with Bret Easton Ellis in 2014, starting that the gay community has “fought for the right to stand on top of a float wearing an orange speedo and take molly [MDMA]."

While she said the gross over generalization was fueled by her belief that gay men are more “misogynistic” than straight men, she added that her point still stands.

“Could have articulated my frustration in a better fashion? Undoubtedly. For that I apologize, but I stand by my overall point,” she tweeted. And I agree with her.

While it’s supposedly cute and new age to claim that “being gay is only a small part of me,” that’s not necessarily true. It’s completely, utterly entwined with one’s existence that it impacts almost every component of life, just as it would if one were heterosexual. Ironically, it’s possibly one of the reasons that we, as gay men, take things so personally.

Urban, privileged gays in coastal cities pick apart celebrities, who often have valid points, while hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of gays throughout the world wonder if today is the day they’ll get a bullet in the back of their heads.

Our collective behavior of endless shirtless selfies and blatant racism is a slap in the face of older gay men and women, who literally had their lives destroyed, or in some cases, ended. In the 1960’s, brilliant folks from the LGBT community were forced to take a stand, knowing their revelation would ruin their careers and social standings.

In the 2010’s, it appears as upwardly mobile gays (usually white, educated Millennials) float through major cities with their privilege and superiority, forgetting about our less fortunate peers within our community, in addition to other suppressed groups; particularly women, who have helped drive our quest for equality from the beginning.

Similar to McGowan, I’m fueled by anger, too. Please wake up. Obviously, my concerns align with the larger issue of a shift in American culture and how we perceive “reality,” but as gay men with growing power and influence, we need to continue to have a dialogue in order to develop unity in this trying time for our nation.

There’s nothing wrong with dancing on a float. If I had more rhythm, I’d probably be up there (although not in a speedo). There’s also nothing wrong with community activism, volunteerism and using our clout as an opportunity to lift up others.

Did I generalize? Maybe. Are you mad? Quite possibly.

Put on a shirt, close Instagram and write a rebuttal. A wise woman once said, “work, bitch.” And there’s a lot of work to be done.

#InsteadOfShirtlessSelfies, I write. What do you do?

December 21, 2015

Thirty Minutes To Alamo Square Park

It was a reunion,
Of sorts,
And I wanted to talk with you more.

But the Canadian transplant wouldn't stop his blabbing.

So I added fuel to the fire,
Disclosing that I was raised close to the border,
Because my silence was getting more awkward,
Bordering on rude.

"You're pretty much Canadian."

Three minutes felt like three hours.

Then we talked,
And laughed,
And walked.

Thirty minutes to Alamo Square Park.

"What's dating like in the Midwest?"

I was going to ask you,
But it slipped my mind,
And I assumed you were single.

Then we talked,
And laughed,
And went to bed.

November 24, 2015

The San Francisco Sob Story

As a recent transplant to San Francisco, I’m not going to pretend that I know everything about this city in a few weeks.

I could spend my time complaining about rent, tech bros and how creative people are being driven out of the area, but I’d rather spend my energy actually pursuing an art.

And come to think of it, some of the tech bros are pretty damn sexy. Maybe I should use my energy pursuing them?

The same folks moaning about the changing landscape of major American cities are probably the same ones constantly hooked to smartphones; their overpriced cocktails sit in front of them while the lingering, human conversation comes to an awkward close. Technology winning, once again. And not in a good way.

Why talk about about affordable housing, systematic racism and poverty in-person? This isn’t the 1960’s, dude.

We’re living in a hypersensitive, overly connected world where people jump to harsh conclusions on social media and believe a “like” or “share” is going to make a difference.

In some circumstances, the success of digital activism is astounding, but there’s more to be done than changing your Facebook photo to reflect sympathy for whatever the most recent tragedy happens to be.

“New York and San Francisco aren’t what they used to be.”

You’re telling me this as a 40-or-50 something, self-described creative whose lived in the city for the past few decades? I’m not looking for someone to blame, but if you are, it falls on you.

Most Millennials were trying to escape from the suburbs and finish college as the alleged creative pulse was ripped from the core of our lively cities.

In some cases, it’s a catch 22; you’re a recent graduate with a “hefty” salary, but you move into a “gentrifying” neighborhood that you can barely afford, paying upwards of half of your salary. Yet, somehow, you’re represented as the problem?

I highly doubt that young professionals with crippling student loan debt have a set agenda against low-income individuals in desirable cities.

The so-called Millennial rally call: “Let’s drive families out of this neighborhood that we can barely afford ourselves!” Bonus points if you have blonde hair, light eyes and a liberal arts degree.

I find it interesting that no attention is paid to the low-income families that were bought out of their homes, paving the way for slum lords and developers to turn the same place into a “condo.”

It’s easier to conceptualize that it’s income A vs. income B / race X vs. race Y, right?

Oh, geez. Leave it to a Millennial to think he knows everything.

October 27, 2015

I Design Skyscrapers In Seattle

"You look lonely."

I tried not to blush,
Considering my luck,
And your great pick up line.

"Come join my friends."

I listened to your story,
For less than three minutes.

I was curious how humans could be so different.

"Unions are big here. Not so much in Seattle."

They can work longer,
Build taller,
For about half the pay.

"So, San Francisco, huh?"

I walked back to the bar,
Motioning to my drink,
As I'd rather appear lonely,
Than talk to an asshole.

October 7, 2015

The Landslide

I listened to that song you told me about,
And I agreed with the lyrics.

Well, not anymore,
But I used to,
Or at least I thought I did.

You will find me,
But not caught beneath anything.

Not even a landslide.

Because you know,
I know,
That I've been trying too hard,
And I've been fighting too hard,
To get to that place where I'm going.

I'm not sure where that's going to be,
Or if it's with you,
Or with him,
Or with anyone,
To be honest.

But I know it's not in the lyrics.

I know that,
That's for sure.

Because one day,
Someone is going to read what I wrote,
And they're going to write something, too,
Pretending that they weren't inspired by me.

Just as I said that I wasn't inspired by you,
Or the band,
Or the lyrics.

We're all so original, right?

Because truth be told,
I know I'm going to be caught beneath the landslide,

No matter how hard I try,
Or what I try to scribe,
There's going to be someone new.

And that's fine.

For you,
For me,
And for the crowd,
That's for sure.

When that moment comes,
I think I'll see it,
Out of the corner of my eye.

I'll probably laugh,
And toss my work off to the side,
Because the landslide may be taking me.

But it's not taking everything.

August 3, 2015

I'm Leaving On Monday

The bar lined the Limmat,
Not too far from the park,
Where heroin addicts spent most of the 1980's.

I put up with the smoke,
Or smog,
Whatever it was,
For close to three hours.

Then I made my way across the bridge.

Do you really like to dance in that stuff?

I wasn't used to a small city,
Just yet.

I found myself longing for the late-night eateries of New York.

The bar was closing as I walked in,
And three people started to speak German.

"I'm looking for food."

You laughed,

Opening a pizza box on the bar.

One smiled,
The other man gave me a weird look,
And the bartender seemed annoyed and tired.

"You can have one of mine, if you want."

I ate while you talked,
And you told me that you'd be back on Wednesday.

"I'll see you later. Thanks for the food."

"I used to live in Oregon. Outside Portland."

"He's trying to close, no?"

"How long are you here again?"

I was leaving a few days before Wednesday,
On a Monday.

July 30, 2015

Millennials: More Racist Than Homophobic?

In 2007, I came out as gay. In 2014, I dated a black person. Guess which situation went over better?

While my coming out was relatively seamless (other than my mom trying to convince me that I was straight because I played sports), my black partner inspired a slew of questions and comments, such as: “Oh, I didn’t know you were into black guys!"

In New York, we received dirty looks while holding hands in progressive neighborhoods —from whites and blacks alike — something I almost never experienced with a white partner.

I’m in no way comparing my experiences to the brutal bigotry faced by black Americans, but these little instances added up; they helped me become more empathetic to the daily struggles of African-Americans. They also opened my eyes to the failings of my generation. On the outside, it appears millennials — those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s — are accepting of minorities, but internally, are we that much different than our parents and grandparents?

There's data to suggest that millennials aren't as racially tolerant as we'd like to believe. A 2009 study found that "younger cohorts of whites are no more racially liberal in 2008 than they were in 1988." The results claimed there's little evidence of a decline in the racial divide over the past few decades. And while 93 percent of millennials believe that it's "all right for blacks and whites to date each other," black-white marriages make up less than three percent of all wedded unions.

The dearth of interracial marriages doesn't necessarily imply that millennials, or older generations, are racist, but it all goes back to exposure. As I've lived in racially-segregated cities with large LGBT populations, like New York, Buffalo, and Los Angeles, I believe regular interaction with different people is the number one requirement for acceptance, respect, understanding, and, yes, relationships.

So while black and white may not interact as much as they should in this country — because of things like white-flight and unequal access to education — gays and lesbians reside in every state, city, and neighborhood in this nation. That reality, aside from increasing media exposure, translates to growing support for gay rights among millennials.

When national marriage equality passed in June 2015, an overwhelming majority (73 percent) of young Americans supported same-sex marriage. Over the past decade, millennial support has climbed 24 percentage points.

As a relatively masculine gay guy, I'm an "undercover" minority; I make first impressions and friendships as a white male. People get to know me as a individual first, rather than making a snap judgment about my character and background. Racial minorities don't have the opportunity to "surprise" someone with their minority status; they're sized up before they even utter a word.

Thanks to the constant othering of African-Americans by whites and the aforementioned systemic segregation, there's no question that the majority of millennials are more racist than homophobic. If you don't agree, poll your straight, white friends this weekend: "Do you want to go to a gay bar in the West Village or a club in the Bronx?"

June 8, 2015

Pride 2015: Why I'm Proud To Be Gay

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are greedy.

That's why our pride flag has so many colors. We want it all and we won't settle for anything less!

Well, technically, we've been settling for less for a majority of human history, but things are changing for the better. My biggest concern at the moment is that I'm unable to tell if handsome dudes in the Financial District are gay or straight.

Would it be inappropriate to propose that all people must wear their Kinsey scale ranking like a badge of honor?

What a terrible life I endure as a gay, white Millennial living in New York City.

But, in all seriousness, it makes me think: Why am I proud to be part of the LGBT community? Why am I proud to be gay?

Outside of being LGBT, you hear it a lot, especially on social media:

"I'm proud to be an American."

"I'm proud to be black."

"I'm proud to be a woman."

Again, why? On the flip side, it would typically be deemed inappropriate or bad taste for me to say that I'm proud to be white and male. I am proud of those attributes, but let me explain: I am proud of my mixed Caucasian ancestry - German, Irish, English, and so on - and how my ancestors came together in the United States.

I'm an American mutt, and I appreciate the struggles and roadblocks of my family since this country was founded.

I am proud that I stand up and advocate for the black, Hispanic and Asian people in my community. I am proud that I stand up and support women. I'm proud that I don't float along through life with a biased and ignorant mentality.

Thus, this is the reason why I am proud to be gay.

Being part of the LGBT community has allowed me to not only advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals in the United States and beyond, but it opened my eyes to the issues and concerns of various minority groups.

Sure, it made me apprehensive at times to advocate and assist individuals who were potentially hostile towards gay people.

When I was building huts in Trenchtown, Jamaica during one summer in college, it made me a little uneasy that, statistically, I was building a new home for a homophobic individual or family. Human rights groups consistently rate Jamaica as one of the most violent and homophobic places on Earth.

I thought there was a correlation between heavy marijuana use and open-mindedness, but I guess not.

This June, similar to every other month, I am proud to be gay. I'm proud to be from Buffalo, New York - one of the most beautiful cities in the country - and I'm proud of my home in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

If you're part of the LGBT community and attending events this month, take a moment to reflect; are you proud because you're simply part of this group, or are you actually participating and pushing the human race forward?

June 6, 2015

I Used To Think

I used to think there was a heaven,
And a place where people went,
When they didn't follow the rules set by man.

I used to think things would make more sense,
When I walked across the stage after four years,
But now I feel like I have more questions than before.

I used to think that love was a powerful force,
And I still believe this to be true,
But it's hard for me to grasp it in all dimensions.

I used to think that things would turn out fair,
And that I would tell my kids a story of the old days,
But now I don't know if the stories will be happy or sad.

I used to think about a lot of things,
And now I think about a lot more,
And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I used to think about my future,
As I sat with my back against my door,
With Nirvana playing across the room.

My parents had told me to go to bed hours before.

But I couldn't fall asleep,
Because I knew my future was coming,
And I just couldn't wait to get there.

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