I can haz rant!? “Colorado Native”

As I get ready to move from the great state of Colorado to the frigid north of Minnesnowta, I wanted to get something off my chest about Colorado pride.

I’m from Colorado, born and raised, and folks from Colorado have a bit of an ego when it comes to their state.  And perhaps they should…


The place is incredible!  Some of the best skiing in the world, beautiful hikes, mountain biking, fishing.  Plus, it’s damn nice to look at!

But those who were born and raised in Colorado are so proud of their state that it borders on absurdity.  Whenever there’s a conversation about where people are from, those from Colorado proudly boast, “I’m a native.”

“Native.”

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Love: Endlessly Selfless and Powerfully Selfish

This weekend, I had the incredible pleasure of officiating the wedding of two of my best friends.  If you remember my Letter to Baby Jett, they’re Jett’s parents.

It was a beautiful ceremony held in Western Colorado, and I am so happy for the newlyweds.  Because of its relevance to my audience, I thought I would publish my message from the wedding.  I hope you enjoy…

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As English speakers in the United States, we have a crisis of imprecise language.  Ancient Greek has five words to describe the phenomena we refer to as “Love.”  Latin has four.  Chinese has, arguably, 7-10 words to describe everything from love for a friend to the love for family to the love for a romantic partner to the feeling of cathexis, a strong physical connection with another.

Yet in English, we describe everything from the beautiful love Stacie and Brandon share for Jett to the way they love their friends to the way Brandon “loves” to be naked to the love we come together today to celebrate with one word.

One word!

This imprecision has gotten me in trouble in the past.  I once told a woman that was a dear friend that I loved her, meaning that I value her friendship and love spending time with her.  I didn’t think much of it, but it threw her for a loop.  She spent a week interrogating whether we would be compatible as partners and whether she should risk the friendship for romance.  A week later we found ourselves in a pretty tough conversation, and I was told, “Never tell a woman you love her unless you’re damn clear what you mean.”

And she’s right.  We need to be clear what we mean when we speak of love.

As they prepared for their wedding, I wanted to help Stacie and Brandon be clear in what they meant when they spoke of love, so I asked them to read together and discuss selections from a book that changed my life: bell hooks’ treatise on love and relationships, All About Love: New Visions.  More than just a simple self-help-style relationship book like Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, hooks aims to explore how our understandings and misunderstandings of love in the United States (and elsewhere) have profound implications for relationships, families, death and dying, politics, social justice, everything.

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An Eye for an Eye? Jerry Sandusky, Male Survivors, and Prison Rape

Trigger Warning: The following article has content that could prove triggering for survivors of sexual violence.

As the verdict was handed down that Jerry Sandusky, convicted child rapist and former Penn State football coach, would spend the rest of his life in prison, the twitterverse exploded!

(it’s notable that this came from a widely-followed sports reporter)

Now, I have to admit.  While I consider myself on the road to understanding peace through pacifism, few things make me want to inflict violence on another more than violence against children, particularly sexual violence.  It robs children of their innocence and scars them for life; any person that would inflict such violence on a child is seriously disturbed, and they deserve punishment.

But is wishing rape upon those who have committed atrocities the measure by which we should understand justice?

One of the great failures of our so-called “justice” system is that there are virtually no resources or effort put toward healing and rehabilitation.  In short, restorative justice is all but absent from the U.S. understanding of justice and punishment.

Now, Jerry Sandusky did some terrible things, and for that, he should be punished.  However, we also need to remember with as much empathy as we can muster that those who commit such violence against children are often doing as a result of their own trauma.  Perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse are significantly more likely to have experienced similar abuse when they were children, and they are often suffering from tremendous hurt and depression as a result.

Does this excuse their abhorrent actions?  Absolutely not.  But does punishing violence with violence, rape with rape, help anyone or anything?

When one of my best friends told me that she was drugged and raped, I told her that I wanted to beat the shit out of the man who did that to her.  Only later did I find out that such language only hurt her more.  One of the first things we were told when I was trained to be a sexual assault survivor’s advocate was, “Never introduce more violence into the situation. Even if you are angry and want to act in violence, to tell a survivor this or to act on your anger can often be tremendously retraumatizing or triggering for survivors.

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What is an Ally? Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love”

I’m kinda sick this week, and I’m a bit overwhelmed with work, but I didn’t want to leave my readers without a post, so I want to take a minute to highlight a powerful piece of art from some LGBTQ allies.

I wear a bracelet from the Matrix Center that says, “What would an ally do?”  I get a lot of questions about it, most often on airplanes when strangers are grasping for something to discuss.  I often try to explain, but those strangers don’t often really want to know.  It’s “uncomfortable” to discuss identity politics on an airplane.

But the concept is one of the most important ones in my life.  An ally is a person of identity privilege who works against the system that affords them privilege at the expense of others.  In doing so, an ally must knowingly give up as many of the benefits their identity affords them as possible in order to act in solidarity with those who do not have access to those privileges.

As an example, I recently attended the wedding of a Straight couple who wanted to use their wedding as an expression of their allyship (like friendship, but as an ally instead of a friend).  They announced in the ceremony that they would not be getting legally married until everyone of their loved ones, Gay, Straight, or somewhere else on the spectrum, could get married.  In doing so, they are knowingly giving up all of the benefits of a legally-recognized marriage, benefits that are nothing to scoff at.

Their act was one display in being an ally.

Similarly, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, both Straight-identified men, have released a powerful video in support of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual people, love, and relationships.  In doing so, they are risking certain aspects of their reputation as Hip Hop musicians.  As said in the song, “If I were gay, I’d think Hip Hop hates me.”

But they choose to stand on the side of love and justice.

I might not be the same
But that’s not important
No freedom ’til we’re equal
Damn right I support it

Give it a look, and please watch all the way until the end…